True Love, Scarves and Grandkids

The festive season is officially in full swing, even though I jump started crimbo by putting up decorations a good couple of weeks ago. My mum and her two sisters and a friend are in London for a girlie weekend to celebrate my youngest auntie’s 50th, and although I haven’t heard from them yet (they arrived last night), I’m hoping I’ll get to see them today or tomorrow or at the very least more than the dinner we’re having on Monday. Oh well, as much as my mummy nerve is aching (it’s torture to know mum’s here yet not with me), it’s my auntie’s weekend and not about me. Besides, we’re off to Sweden for Christmas in just over two weeks, so I’ll get my mum quota filled then I guess.

B’s at his gym class and once he’s back we’re heading to Monkey’s school’s Christmas fair. Tonight is B’s work Christmas do (well the first of them – next weekend we’re in Stockholm for the second), so I’ve been messing around with false lashes. I do have good natural lashes, but figured I’d go all out and add a bit of festive flutter and they’re much easier than I thought to stick on. There’s a fine line between a gorgeous result and comedy, though. B reckons it works, and indeed he couldn’t really tell the difference until I pointed out to him I was wearing falsies, so hopefully I can pull it off without looking like some middle aged sad case desperately attempting Disney princess.

It’s a beautful day – clear, blue skies, bright sunshine and a chill in the air, frost everywhere first thing this morning. According to my weather app, there’s snow in Sweden, so here’s to a white Christmas! Apart from another Christmas do in Stockholm next weekend, we’ll have B’s sons here the weekend after that, which will be wonderful. He lights up around them, and no wonder. It’s hard to tell how comfortable they are with me, but have seemed fine before – their parents were married for over 20 years and their dad moved on with me just months after leaving, which is quickly by anyone’s standards, but hopefully it’s all starting to take on some shape of normality now.

Slowly but surely, I have started to really get into the writing following the editorial feedback, and it feels so good to know where I’m going. I did before, of course, but now I have an increased sense of direction and getting rid of the dead wood, that in all fairness I already deep down knew didn’t quite cut it. So we’re all good. I initially had this super strict plan that I’d churn it all out and have a complete first draft by the end of November, write the whole thing in three months. I even had a weekly word count target of 7,000 words, which would have meant I’d be hitting around 100,000 words. Some weeks I wrote two or even three times that, but more often much less. What I did learn – thanks to R – was not to beat myself up about it.

So instead I’ve learned to celebrate the victories, and even though it’s December and I’m at the half way mark still, I feel incredibly pleased, excited and joyful about where it’s all headed. Of course I’m incredibly lucky to have the feedback I received – not necessarily the good stuff the editor said (although that is indeed wonderful and worth celebrating) but rather the critique she gave me. It’s a touchy subject, but as a writer I need to embrace it all – I love Alice and have poured my heart into her, her story and the people who matter in her life, so it could have been difficult to have to face that she wasn’t as perfect as I felt she was.

Whereas I know her and therefore also know what a warm and witty person she is, I’d failed a little in portraying her faithfully, and instead the editor came back saying she comes across a little spiky. That’s not my intention, so it’s given me real direction and clear goals now that I approach the rest of the novel, as well as going back to inject a little light to balance what is actually a very dark and heavy theme. As dark as it is though, its underlying message is love and our capacity for forgiveness.

Speaking of love, I rang my grandmother last night. My mum’s mum, given her three daughters and two of her grandchildren (she has four kids, 12 grandchildren and hm… let’s see, unless I’ve counted wrong, nine great-grandkids) are all in London this weekend. Plus I was knitting my Alice scarf (gosh, it’s the biggest scarf ever – it’ll end up being a shawl at this rate), which made me think of her. Somehow, we got on to my granddad. He passed away a few years ago, and we talked of the photo of him she has framed in her living room. I have the same photo framed in mine. It’s from the 50s, black and white, and he looks like a movie star – his thick, dark hair styled in a gorgeous quiff, he’s all James Dean stylish, his Italian looking features chiselled and swarthy, and he is casually leaning against the grill of a lorry.

6 Dec 2014 pic granddad

Oh, he was so handsome, and he always dressed so well,” my grandma reminisced, and I could hear the smile in her voice as well as the deep love for the man she was married to for over 60 years, “he turned heads. I remember this suede jacket he had, and he always used to wear this pale blue tie. What a dish!” she giggled with a little love struck sigh that made my heart soar.

The way she described my granddad summed up how I feel about B. And I know when I speak to my future grandchildren (if I’ll be blessed with grandkids – who knows what life choices Monkey will make), it’ll be with the same love in my heart that I’ll be recalling the point in time that is right now the present, how handsome and wonderful my B is.

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