What’s your favourite word? And which ones make you grimace?

_MG_5249I recently came across a blog devoted to the word “moist” and how much the writer – and many others – hate this word. It brought a smile to my face as it’s a word that one of my good friends, Catryn, absolutely loves. I understand why some hate it because it tends to be used in quite a dirty context. But I have to admit, it’s a word I find quite amusing.

I have a word that I love: undulating. Don’t ask me why; it just has a gorgeous sound to it. From where we live, there are a few different routes to drive into town and one of them’s a country lane which is very undulating. My daughter loves it because it makes her belly go up and down like a rollercoaster and I love it simply because it’s undulating!

_MG_5264There are other words I really love too like scrumple, gargantuan, drenched and ditzy. The thing all of these words – and undulating – have in common is that they sound like the thing they describe. At first I was thinking this is onomatopoeia. (Now that’s a tricky word to spell but a beautiful word to say). But I think that’s words like splash and bang and plop which do actually make the sound of the word. I do think undulating and gargantuan sound like what they describe … but perhaps that’s because I know what they are.

I’m sure I’ll think of loads more words I love when I’ve posted this. Ooh, grimace is another one.

However, it also works in the reverse. Many of the words I hate also sound like the thing they describe: insipid, lubricate, smear. I don’t like the colours grey and taupe. Actually, I have nothing against the colours themselves; I just can’t bear their names! Such incredibly dull, boring words. And nobody can seem to pronounce the latter one; torp or toap? I have put “lol” on there in honour of my writing friend, Jo, who hates it as a phrase. For me personally, I don’t mind the phrase providing it’s not overused but I do hate it when people actually say “lol” as a word in a normal sentence. Shudder.

_MG_5248Of course, there are other words I don’t like that are rude and I didn’t want to spell them out on my scrabble board but I’m sure a few have popped into your heads already.

Returning to lovely words, I did a quick straw poll on Facebook a short while ago. My good friend Jackie responded with several corkers: mermaids, serendipity, pelagic, odyssey and zephyr. I love serendipity both as a concept and a word. Wasn’t quite enough room for it on my scrabble board! She also said “arse”. Now arse is a hilarious word which has provided Jackie, Catryn and me with hours of entertainment. Many years ago, Catryn and I were on holiday in Turkey and we invented “the arse game”. This involves finding as many words as possible with the word arse in them like gl-arse, arse-pedistra, p-arse-ly and so on. However, you do need to say the “arse” part in a Bristol or Devonshire accent. It has a far greater impact that way. We taught it to Jackie when we met her on a diving holiday and, between us, we’ve taught it to loads of people. What was hilarious was that Catryn went out to Egypt to dive one year and someone on the dive boat tried to teach it to her! It was our legacy and a proud moment. Very childish. Very funny.

Anyway, other suggestions included “strewth!” from my friend Sharon “with the emphasis on the !” I suspect she may be having a bad day. “Tibbletastic” came from my friend Karen whose surname is Tibble so I suspect she’s made that one up (although it should be a word cos it’s fabulous) and “chocolate” from my cousin Janice. Amen to that. And another friend, Carole, joined in with squidgy (love that word!) and doppelganger. Nice choices ladies 🙂 My best friend from school, Susan, suggested Timbuktu and merry-go-round. Fabulous words. And former work-colleague Sharan came up with some gems: flabbergasted, genesis, chanel (and coco!), quintessential, Mississippi and tea (as a word and a beverage). Lovely words. Thank you all for contributing.

My friend Liz said she didn’t have a favourite word but she does sign language and she had a favourite sign which is the one for “fire”. Unfortunately that’s not going to translate here but thanks for playing, Liz. My older brother, Mike, was a late-comer but he was rude. I loved one of the words he suggested but my husband looked it up. Yep, not going to put that in the post! My younger brother, Chris, suggested music and beer. I’d say that both brothers were very predictable 😉

_MG_5268What are your most loved and hated words and why? And if you can think of an arse word, do join in and play the game! I think we’ve exhausted them but are always excited about the possibility of discovering a new one. The gauntlet is laid down!

Photos are copyright of my talented husband, Mark Heslington and huge apologies to Mark for missing the ‘h’ out of drenched so that he had to put the board together again for me after he’d done all the photos. Oops!

Stop the ride! I want to get off!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been driving my husband mad.

Text from me late morning at work: “Has the post arrived?”

Reply from him: “Yes. No MS.”

Text from me: “Grrr”

It got to the point where he’d pre-empt my question and text me as soon as the postman had been. Then the news I’d finally been waiting for arrived at 11.31am on Thursday: “The manuscript has landed!!” Only problem was, I was out for the day at a local play park/petting zoo with my seven-year-old. And I didn’t think she’d appreciate me saying, “I know we’ve only been here for 45 minutes and you haven’t fed the lambs or handled a guinea pig yet but we’re going home so mummy can read her critique.” So I stayed. And looked at the lamas. Or are they alpacas? Never really been sure of the difference!

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At 3.30pm, I finally convinced her it was time to leave. Even without the MS waiting for me, I’d had my fill and would have been leaving about then anyway so I didn’t feel too guilty.

I eagerly ripped open the jiffy bag, curled up on the sofa … and my heart sank.

Oh dear.

It wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

😦

My day job is in learning & development. I coach people for a living. I train them for a living. I develop them. Feedback is something that I give and receive regularly and one of the things I really loved about the two reports I received for book 1 were that they were balanced. Both flagged up improvements that could be made (particularly the 1st one where I was still learning and knew I needed further guidance) but they also had lots of positives about my writing style, my characters, the story, my use of dialogue and so on. I’d expected (and hoped) this year’s report would be similar. But it wasn’t. Before I go any further, I will say that the NWS is an absolutely incredible opportunity and I’ve been so grateful for the feedback during my three years of membership. It is a privilege to receive feedback from experienced published writers and I feel that I’ve been able to take the feedback on book 1 and use it to fine-tune my first novel into something pretty special (I hope!) I don’t think I’d have been able to take it where I’ve taken it without the insight offered by both reviewers.

This year, however, has knocked me. The report was filled with opportunities for improvement and, whilst my reviewer said I had great potential within my storyline, I was left in no doubt that she didn’t think I’d exploited the potential. At all. Did I cry? Did I get mad? No. I just felt completely and utterly deflated. And numb. And that feeling continued for the next two days. For the first time ever in the eleven-and-a-half years since I first had the idea for book 1 and started to write, I seriously questioned what the hell I was doing thinking I could do this. Why was I investing hours and hours of my life in research and writing and submitting and hoping and waiting … when I clearly had no talent whatsoever. My writing pals, The Write Romantics, and I have often likened being an aspiring writer to being on a roller coaster ride. At the weekend, I wanted to stop the ride. I wanted to get off. I’ve never, ever, felt like that until now. I felt lost because, if I did stop the ride, what would I do? My life is writing. I’ve worked everything else round it. I love it. It’s part of me.

By Saturday teatime, I wasn’t feeling much better. The Write Romantics had rallied around and been incredibly supportive as always which helped massively. One of the group, Alex, suggested that I put book 2 and 3 aside and work on something different. I know what my 4th book is going to be about. It’s set in the same fictional town as the trilogy but it features a new cast of characters. She suggested I start to think about them instead. So I went into the spare bedroom and chose myself a new notebook from the huge collection in there (I have a thing for notebooks) and started to create the four characters. It was the best thing I could possibly have done because it was new material so it was exciting. Best of all, it made me start to believe that I could do it.

Last night, I decided to start working through my MS again and was surprised to find little pencil entries like, “Really lovely”, “Nicely expressed,” and “Love it!” Those little scribbles were just what I needed. Whilst my reviewer had focussed on all the improvement areas in the report, there were some things she liked but they were on the MS instead. Phew! Another Write Romantic, Jo, has also suggested that much of the feedback may be as a result of going blind into book 2 when there is a prequel. She could be right. My beta readers loved book 2 and are clamouring for book 3 but maybe you need to read book 1 first to feel this way. Alex hasn’t read book 1 so she’s going to beta read book 2 for me and Jo (who has read both) has asked an avid reader friend of hers to do the same. It will be interesting to hear their views and compare them to the critique.

How do I feel a few days on? I’ve asked the fairground operator to slow the ride down but I don’t want to get off it as I love it too much. I just hadn’t realised there would be quite so many bumps in what had seemed like quite a smooth ride until Thursday. I’m going to finish reading book 2 and making some minor tweaks and then I’ll factor in the feedback from Alex and Jo’s friend before I do anything major. Because, as my reviewer said at the very end, it’s only her opinion and, so far, it differs from the opinion of all those who’ve read it so what’s to say it’s the opinion to be listened to. Tricky. Very tricky. Watch this space for more news of where the ride takes me next!