Friday 11 May 2012

I Really Should...

Use my notebook! The one beside my bed. I keep it open with a pen right next to it, but what do I do when inspiration strikes in the middle of the night – I think, “Oh, I’ll remember it in the morning.”

I never do. I think we’ve been through this before, so now I’m repeating myself - sorry.

It is tricky to reach it with Indy snuggled up next to me and I don’t like to disturb him. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But things that seem like a good idea for a story or a blog at four in the morning usually aren’t. So I’ll spare you the bits I do remember, particularly the one about the catchphrases of the various birds in the dawn chorus.

I’ll also spare you my planned rant about the new recycling system our local council has put in place this week. A new system which appears to mean more waste going into “normal” waste and less going to be recycled, but with the addition of two new (very small) recycling boxes and a fancy new dustcart that the dustmen seem very unwilling to use if the amount of stuff left behind is anything to go by.

But I said I was going to spare you so I’ll shut up. I won’t tell you about the annoying huge yellow stickers they bung on everything with boxes ticked as to why they didn’t take it or about the man, when tackled about why he’d stickered a plastics box, who shrugged and said “Don’t ask me, I’m on food waste.” Hm.

Anyone seen any of the Playhouse series on Sky Arts 1 HD? I love them!  Half hour well-crafted and thought provoking stories. Sheila Hancock is brilliant in hers. Well they all are. Bring back more of this kind of thing I say!

Speaking of Playhouse, I bought my Jubilee copy of My Weekly today and was thrilled to see a story by Rosemary Timperley in there. It took all my willpower not to sit down and get stuck in. Rosemary Timperley was a huge influence on me when I had my early writerly stirrings.

She was an extremely prolific writer of novels, short stories and articles and she once said that she lived very much in her own mind. Well we know that feeling don’t we?

And the Playhouse connection? One of her stories was turned into play for the ITV Playhouse in 1960 and starred June Brown, Phyllida Law and Hugh Burden.

I hardly dare say this, but you can see blue sky out there and it’s been visible for most of the day and it hasn’t rained! And yes, I’ve had a glass of wine – well it is Friday.

Happy weekend – and I hope the skies stay blue for you.


  1. Oh, I do that too! The idea is SO good it's unforgettable, so no need to write it down. But in the morning, it's invariably gone. Why don't we ever learn?

  2. I have that notebook too, Teresa...beside the the the front my bag...on my desk. And yes, I jot down all my 'good ideas'
    The really 'brilliant' ones get keyed into my computer, printed out, and then filed in my 'Really Good Ideas' folder.
    From time to time I get it out and have a trawl through.
    Do I ever actually use any of these ideas?
    PS: Just received my complimentary copies of the Linford Large Print edition of my 'Danger at Mellin Cove' novel, and there is a lovely blurb about your novel, 'Without a Shadow of Doubt' inside the back cover, Teresa. That's another one for my library list.

  3. I was brought up on TV drama, Teresa. Some of those old black and white, studio-based plays were so atmospheric. I've never forgotten one that I must have watched in the early sixties about an Englishman visiting a French town where something very strange was going on with the local cats. A couple of years ago I fed "cats" and "French town" into Google and discovered it was "Ancient Sorceries" by Algernon Blackwood. I read it but it didn't have the same impact as the play.

    Do you know the name of the Rosemary Timperley story that was dramatised? I may very well remember that one too.

  4. I'm as bad as you, I've got out of the habit of using my notebook daily, although I do use it a few times a week.

    I jot useless bits of information in it, names, I might use, and I make lists or mind maps. They are messy!

    Wine o' clock started early for me today too. Have a great weekend.

  5. Oh yes, I know the feeling well. Keeping a notebook by the bed doesn't always help, especially if you do what I once did and try to write in it in the dark to avoid waking your bedmate. I woke the next morning to find I'd written every line virtually on top of the next and it was illegible. My handwriting's illegible at the best of times... this was not the best of times.

    Also, you can try keeping a 'dictaphone' machine by the bed. However, you're likely to scare the sh*t out of your bedmate when you are apparently muttering to yourself in the night - especially if you're plotting a murder scene. :-)

    I find that if I lie quietly for 10-20 mins after waking, keep the thoughts of what needs doing for the day at bay and just think, I can often remember the writing stuff that came to me in the night and write it down then. Doesn't always work though! Life often interrupts and the stuff is gone like a genie in a puff of smoke.

  6. I always assume I'll remember those brainwaves in the middle of the night. I don't understand why I trust myself every time when I know I'll fail. I'm very smug about telling people that I keep a notebook and a Dictaphone by the bed. But I never use them and always regret it. Having said that, I think a lot of my midnight moments of inspiration might be a little bizarre and my brain makes a point of discarding them in case they embarrass me when I wake up.

    I must see the Playhouse series. Thank you so much for letting us know about it. I can't wait. That's my favourite kind of viewing. I remember the ITV Playhouse programmes and loved them.

    We are about to have the same recycling arrangements as yours. And I'd only just got used to the old way. It doesn't seem very logical, but I imagine I'll get the hang of it just before they change it again.

    I hope the sun keeps shining for you, Teresa. Thank you for a lovely post. x

  7. Great post as always Teresa. It does make me feel better to know I'm not alone in my writing failings!

    We were only saying yesterday where has all the wonderful drama gone from TV. Now it's all reality programmes most of which we just aren't interested in.

    Still - perhaps it's a good thing there's not much on. Feet up, glass of wine, watching brilliant stories v seated at computer screen, brain blank, trying to WRITE brilliant stories - hmm! I know I love writing but . . . .!!

    Lovely sunshine as I write and looks as if not going to be a bad weekend. Hope the sun shines on you whatever you are doing. :o) xx

  8. Forgotten many an idea because of not writing it down - and it's getting worse as I (whisper) get older!

    Funnily enough I was just reading a letter in the new Radio Times about those plays, but I don't have Sky.

  9. How true, Frances x

    Same here, Rena - notebooks everywhere and ideas jotted down now and then - the latest one says, "Intro mother wheelchair" and I have absolutely no idea what it means.
    Danger at Mellin Cove sounds intriguing - I'll look out for that :-)x

    They used to be so good didn't they, Kath! The Rosemary Timperley one was called Missing from Home and from the story "An Idyll". Algernon Blackwood was another writer I loved! x

    My notebooks are messy too, Maria - things crossed out and circled, sums, all sorts of rubbish but no masterpieces! x

    That must have been frustrating, Jacula!! That is so right about the puff of smoke and everything gone x

    That is a very good point, Joanna - when I do manage to remember some of these brilliant ideas they certainly do cause embarrassment! Hope you can catch the Playhouse - thank goodness for Sandi Toksvig!! x

    We never watch reality shows, Sue and hunt out any piece of decent drama we can! x

    I won't argue with that, Rosemary - I find exactly the same! x

  10. I woke one night last week with a title in my head. A great title, I thought to myself as I drifted back to sleep. But it had gone by the morning, of course.

    Sun shining here today - and we are officially no longer in a drought! Happy weekend. x

  11. I think we should do an authors' swap of notebooks to see if someone else can make any sense out of the scribbles. It mightbe like visiting the 'Ideas and Plot Shop'.

    As for TV, we've started buying DVDs of series from 60s, 70s and early 80s: The Power Game, The Brothers, The Beiderbecke Affair and, the latest purchase is The Travelling Man. LOL we're set up for ages now because we only watch for an hour or so each evening.

    Have a great weekend

  12. I have a big notepad beside my bed so I don't have to find my glasses or turn the light on. What I do is write down a couple of words which is just enough to trigger my memory to what the idea was.

  13. No, don't recall that one, Teresa, but I have Googled again and discovered that the version of "Ancient Sorceries" I must have seen was part of a series of Algernon Blackwood adaptations shown between 1961 and 1963 by Associated Rediffusion (I'd have been aged between 8 and 10). Each episode was only 25 minutes long - amazing when you think I've never forgotten it. Isn't the internet fantastic sometimes!

    I have to say that when I write any ideas down, it seems to be the kiss of death! I just never end up writing them.

  14. Awful isn't it, Joanne and you can be almost certain that title will never come back. Sun is shining here too and not a cloud in the sky :-) x

    The DVDs sound great, Pat! As for your idea of a notebook swap - brilliant!! x

    I used to find jotting down a couple of words was all it took, Jarmara, but more often than not those words make no sense to me at all x

    It clearly had a big impact on you, Kath. I remember watching Alfred Hitchcock when he used to introduce short plays and one in particular about a little girl that turned into her doll!
    There is a fine line isn't there between writing enough to jog your memory and not too much so you kill the idea - we writers walk a tightrope whenever we pick up (or don't pick up) our pens!!! x

  15. I write down ideas all the time and then lose the notebook. Blasted things are all over the house and then they get used for something else by someone else and all my ideas disappear. The one in my handbag gets drawn in by various grandchildren when they are bored. My best source of ideas is my minute book at work. When I am bored at meetings (usually when someone is delivering a presentation) I jot them down in the back.

    Indy doesn't look her age. She is beautiful and so well behaved. Not like the 'gremlins' as I call our two 18-month old Springers, Hector and Norman!

  16. It does seem that we all suffer from memory block the morning after the night before. And strange that what seemed a good idea in the middle of the night has loads of flaws in it by the light of day.

    Our recycling in South Staffordshire is quite good (better not speak too soon), but we don't have those little boxes for waste food yet, thank goodness.

  17. Oh don't get me started on recycling system! LOL!! My lovely council have stopped all plastic recycling claiming how it's totally unprofitable. Hm. Didn't know we were in it for the money. Hm!


    Yes, this weekend is lovely and the sun is shining and the skies are blue! :-)

    Take care

  18. I have a notebook full of drawings by grandchildren too, Annie :-) Hector and Norman sound wonderful - Indy is very well behaved, except when he's chewing up pieces of jigsaw puzzle or hypnotising small children into feeding him :-) x

    Our recycling used to be really good, but they seem to have taken a step backwards here, Maggie. It doesn't help that they now close the tip two days a week x

    Unprofitable, Old Kitty! Hm!
    It has been a gorgeous weekend hasn't it - just need it to warm up a bit now x

  19. I've been plussing the Playhouse series and watched the Shiela Hancock one today.I liked that one too. I used to watch Playhouse when i was younger (well alot younger ahem) they were good then.Did you ever see Abigail's Party?
    I used to keep a notebook by my bed but i gave up as i couldn't remember anything in the morning, only dreams! I do keep one in the car, in my bag and on my desk though.

  20. I do try to write down ideas when they occur, but in the middle of the night - too sleepy. (Also, husband not impressed!)

    And Rosemary Timperley has written some wonderful stories, hasn't she? Must buy that copy of My Weekly.

    But as for Algernon Blackwood - my very favorite writer ever! (Well, wait a minute, amongst about ten others). And his best story? 'The Wendigo' - incredible. I also love and re-read every so often (which is not something I do very much with short stories) 'The Willows' - by Blackwood - about two men canoeing down the Danube in the 1920's - who get stuck on one of the thousands of little islands in the Danube marshes in the middle of the flood season. Apparently, 'critics'(whoever they might be) have rated it as 'one of the best stories of the supernatural ever written.'

  21. Debbie, it looked as if Sheila was trying not to laugh in places. I thought she was brilliant! Oh yes, I remember Abigail's Party - Alison Steadman is in the one after the Sheila Hancock one (with Tom Jones and Brenda Blethyn) :-) x

    I hadn't realised that Rosemary Timperley wrote for magazines, Biddy. It doesn't surprise me that Algernon Blackwood was said to have written one of the best stories of the supernatural ever :-) x

  22. From she who is always preaching about keeping a notebook and pen or record on the mobile phone when ideas strike in the middle of the night (that would be me) I did not heed my own advice the other night and did tell myself, 'oh, i'll remember it in the morning. Too good to forget.' Yes, I forgot and I am soooooo kicking myself!

  23. Don't kick yourself too hard, Diane :-) x

  24. Hi Teresa
    There is a little bit of blue sky out there right now! I hope it stays a while.
    The Playhouse sounds great, I'm rather envious as I don't have sky :(
    As for the crazy recycling system, it drives me mad, where to put all the boxes and bins!! (But never mind, we're not talking about that)
    Cate x

  25. We had a bit of blue sky earlier, Cate, but has now been replaced by murk! Hope yours hung around! ;-) x