Although I like to plan out my storyboard in different coloured pens, I’ve always ticked and crossed out the part I’ve written with a pencil. Don’t know why, I just do! For some reason, years ago, when I was nursing and had much longer hair, I used to push my pen into my ponytail or whatever gripped my hair together. It was an automatic, kind of natural thing I did without thinking – heaven knows what my scalp looked like after a twelve-hour shift! I was an intensive nurse for most of my career, and for most of that I worked in paediatrics, so I wore scrubs. Scrubs are not designed to accommodate one pen, let alone the three different colours the observation chart required to make it look nice and pretty. So like I say, it just became a habit to push said pen/pens into my hair. Then I got a bob!
I have had a bob now for… well as long as I can remember. It’s quick, easy, neat, and hassle free. I do change it up slightly: short and graduated; all the same length with bangs; it’s currently just above my shoulders and I’ve grown my bangs out. So now, once again, I can tie it back so I get the best of both. While sat in my coffee shop one day some time back, I must have pushed my pencil into my tied-back hair without thinking. It was when my younger son was doing one of his shorter sports classes, and I must have packed up in a hurry to pick him up. As I walked the short distance across the street to the community centre, several people along the way appeared to be looking at my head. It was my son’s instructor that said to me, ‘You do know you have a pencil stuck in your head don’t you?’
More recently I’ve been writing in the evenings at home as – sadly – the classes are finished and school is out. My husband was quick to notice one evening that I had pushed my pencil into my hair, and he declared it was something he had always liked about me when he saw me at work. My female character in the novel I’m currently writing is a paediatric intensive care nurse, with lots of long hair. My husband’s love of such a simple thing that apparently always made him smile – and still does – gave me an idea for a scene. In my first novel I will give you sexy fruit… in my third I will give you the sexy pencil!
How do you write in an accent? There are so many of them, but unless you’re familiar with the way they sound, reading someone’s else’s interpretation can make the speech hard work. I played around with this when I was writing my first novel, attempting to use the Geordie accent of my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne. There are a number of famous Geordies I could name for you to give you some idea of what it is meant to sound like… Sting, Mark Knopfler, Rowan Atkinson, Eric Idle, and more recently people might remember Charlie Hunnam who was almost Christian Grey. I had mixed feedback; the Brits got it, the Canadians struggled. So I decided to just use terms of endearment and specific words that are commonly used within Geordie-English. This felt more natural to write, but then I stuck a Glaswegian in the story and had the whole dilemma again! However, the Scottish accent is known world wide, though specific regional dialects are probably not so widely known, but that didn’t matter for this character. As long as the reader knows he is Scottish, most people will have a good idea of what he sounds like, so for his speech I felt I was able to write the words exactly the way you would hear him say them. I’m presuming it worked because my editor didn’t raise any questions, or make any comments about the speech containing these ‘accents’.
I am now a short way through writing my third novel and find myself in a similar situation. My main male character is an Aussie, an accent which is not unfamiliar to me. There is an Aussie in my first two novels, and her speech came very naturally as I have two very good friends from Down Under. However, this cheeky male character is quite the joker and he needs to sound like a ‘bloke’. So I turned to the great god Google to teach myself some Aussie slang. Why didn’t I just ask my friends, I hear you say? Well, one lives in another province and the other one has an 8 month-old baby – the last thing she wants is me bugging her about translating my book.
It turns out that Google is an old-fashioned Aussie, and doesn’t really say the same things that my 30 year-old hot bloke would say. Although I wanted to get further through this novel before I let my Albertan Aussie friend read it, there were parts of the speech that just weren’t sitting right with me. Having been one of my readers for the first two, she was more than happy to have another excuse to avoid the housework. She was very quick to pick up on my old school Aussie-isms. It was quite interesting and very amusing to understand the real meanings of some of their lingo. She has now sharpened her ears to pay more attention to the little gems that her charming husband periodically comes out with. After reading my most recent chapter, she reassured me that I was finally starting to get it right. So now, among my many pages of notes, I have a hand written dictionary… of Aussie slang!
This just sums up my week. No further with publishing, and very little writing done.
Between sick kids and a teachers strike, not to mention the chores of everyday life, I am frazzled and it’s only Wednesday. My body doesn’t do well when it’s taken out of routine and given extra loads to deal with. I’m dreading my next physio session, it’s going to be brutal, but wait a minute… all my sessions are brutal 😦
A pathetic excuse of a blog… sorry. Hopefully next I will have a publishing update and I won’t be so beaten!