Friday, December 30, 2005

White End

Two minutes ago, while the snow was still twirling outside,

I wrote the last word of the last line of the epilogue

(for those of you who wanted me to lift the veil a little on the contents, that word was 'Véronique')

and the word-count stopped at 50010 words.

I am a novelist. It's an amazing feeling...

Monday, December 19, 2005


Only two days into week three, and already, it's happening:

Word-count: 31200 words, a whole 2861 words ahead of schedule.

I've been averaging two writing sessions a day for the last few days, and it's paying off.

Apparently, as I reached the top of the half-way hill on Saturday, and looked gingerly over the edge, far far away in the distance, dimly, the words 'the end' became visible.

Now it feels as if I can just let myself smoothly glide towards them, gathering speed as I go.

And presumably, having gathered a bit too much, smash straight into the 'paneau' in beautiful kamikaze style. But hey, this time, I don't mind the way it looks, because this just ain't about grace, it's about style with capital SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.... and I got plenty of that!

Fantastic feeling.

Am again winged-novelist, goddess with an attitude, soaring angel with balls, and much much more!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My better half

In writing marathons, clearly, no news is bad news.

Following the onset of the week-two storm, things did not get better,
the plot lost the little momentum it still had,
the sub-plots turned out to be dead-ends,
the characters, who all sounded suspiciously like me in the first place,
suddenly decided they'd said enough already, and simply refused to speak,
and I was left with a new (and rather unwelcome) addition: a particularly annoying 3rd person narrator, who seems to be a clone of my internal editor, on one of her particularly bad days.

To add to these joys, I had two sessions of language-testing in one week, which would be enough to kill the inspiration of a flying Picasso, let alone good old little me.

Then, last night, to cherry-top the proverbial cake, Isabelle fell victim to a bout of particularly violent vomiting which continued with a frequency of about 10 minutes from 6 o'clock in the evening until approximately 4 o'clock in the morning.

Finally, the cherry on top of the cherry is the fantastic migraine that I inherited as a result of sleepless nights, and which has actually made the right-hand side of my face collapse.

So.... the view from here is: things could certainly improve...

On the up-side, despite having lost all the advantage I had accumulated, I still managed today to reach the half-way line,

and with a grand 25015 words, am still a whole 10 words ahead of schedule!!!!!!!

According to the guide, it's all smooth sailing from here. Well, let's hope they know what they're talking about, because smooth sounds just peachy...

Monday, December 12, 2005

14th Post

It's bad luck to stop at 13,
and I need all the luck I can get,
so here is my count so far:

10 days, 17492 words, 56 pages, 9 underdeveloped characters, 1 shaky official plot, 32 very real and unrelated subplots, 45 lengthy descriptions of various parcs, and an internal editor that has not been sent to the kennel because we couldn't locate her when the van showed up.

No wonder I feel a bit harrassed ...

Dream III

... actually, I can't afford to write about my dreams here anymore.

Not this week.

The psychological storm announced for week two of the writing marathon is coming in fast, and it's here to stay.

I've spent the entire day lying on the couch watching sentimental American movies, and stuffing myself with potato chips.

In my pyjamas.

With the curtains drawn.

While a beautiful sunny day was gently ticking away outside...

(just realized it's a GOOD thing I didn't pass this link on to my boss)

I feel bad. I mean real bad: your typical no-inspiration, everything-I-write-sucks, why-did-I-ever-start-on-this, who-cares-whether-I-finish-anyway, and, more dramatically, I-think-I'll-just-quit-now kind of bad,


if you were planning at any point to drop me a line saying how heroic, fantastic, absolutely fabulous, incredible and inspired you think I am for doing this,

RIGHT NOW would be the perfect moment.

In the meantime, I'm going to go and credit one of my characters with the dream I had last night, since apparently dream sequences are legal padding (I heard this from a little bird),
and so you'll have to wait until the official publication to find out about Dream III, and even then, you might have trouble distinguishing it among all the other dream sequences (nobody said how much legal padding is legal, and I'm a generous person...).

So a very good night to all of you lucky sods who are actually going to sleep!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Weather Report

Word-count: 10.595, still 593 words ahead of schedule. Not counting the ones I lost through untimely computer crash.

Very tired little person is off to bed.


... Happy Birthday, dear grand-father!

Dream II

I dreamt that my psychotherapist had gone barking mad.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oh no! She's back again...

Yes, as you can see, having completed my word quota for the day, I am now at a loss where to pour my wordings ... so here is a little something:

Most of us family sods, around this time of year, worry about one thing and one thing alone: how to survive the holiday period. I need not specify the particulars of such worries, but let me simply mention the words 'presents', 'in-laws', 'budget', 'fights', 'too much food', 'too little food', 'food gone bad' (tu te souviens de la mousse au chocolat, Michael?), etc.

Now today, miraculously, all my mounting worries evaporated like thin and yacky snow under my mother's hairdryer. How? You wonder. Actually, 'where?' would be a better question.

At the doctor's office.

With a friendly smile, in less than 15 minutes and for the mediocre sum of 35 euros, he made them all go away.

Because now, I worry about January.

What the good man told me was that those two charming quirky bumps on my head that have been keeping me company for so long 'simply had to go'. Now those of you who, like me, had come to believe that they were, respectively, 'la bosse des maths' (the maths bump) and 'la bosse de la linguistique générative' (the generative linguistics bump), you can cheer or mourn depending on your constitution.

The good doctor, however, just thinks that they are evil infections with potential (and, as we know, in tumor-world, unlike in novel-writing, potential counts). While he was at it, he thought he might as well catch some moles on his way out, so ...

... combining this with my standing January appointment at the dentist's, I have come up with a grand total of 6 injections that will be carried out on my little person within the span of 30 days.


The Golden Notebook syndrome

In Doris Lessing's famous (pre-)feminist novel entitled 'The Golden Notebook', the main character, Anna, keeps her diary in a number of separate notebooks, each devoted to a particular area of her life, and recognizable by the colour on the cover.

I think she has a red, a blue and a black notebook, and maybe one other one (I say I think because despite appearances and following a long family tradition, I have spent an entire paragraph now creating the illusion that I have actually read this book)
(I haven't)
(... but it is lying on my nightstand, so it's bound to happen one of these days)
(the truth is, I read the preface, written ten years post-partum (I mean later) and it was such a great text, I decided to wait a while before reading the book itself, to give myself a chance to enjoy the preface in its own right)
(have now been enjoying preface steadily for at least two months)

Anyway... this is all besides the point (as parantheses tend to be),

but no, it's too early to get to the point yet, allow me one more tangent:

Anna does this (see above for reference) because she is convinced that unless she keeps all the threads of her life tidily separate, she will go mad. Of course, she goes mad anyway, and the whole point of this book (now that is an ambitious statement to make from my not-yet-reader perspective), as the title indicates (ah, the misleadingness of titles) is that it would have been better had she allowed her life to integrate more, weaving all these colourful strands into one golden web.

So, and now we're nearing the point, the reason I haven't written of late (all of two days, admittedly, but I'm sure you fans out there are already gasping for fresh news) is because I had the idea that this blog was an I-blog (i.e. an Isabelle-blog) and should therefore contain exclusively details of how that young shoot is doing.

And the thing is (the thing, not the point, the thing), I've had other things on my mind these last few days, namely (PAY ATTENTION NOW, THE GOLDEN WEB IS BEING WOVEN!) my novel.

Following the fantastic inspiration of my friend Sam, who managed to begin and complete a 50.000 words novel between the 1st and the 30th of November... all right, let's stop a moment and give her a warm applause,

'Well done Sammy!!! You rock, girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'

Following her example, I decided to take on the challenge and on the 3rd of January, I should have for you, if all goes well, that first novel some of you have been hearing announcements of for as long as I've lived (or, alternatively as long as you've known me) (or, if the two coincide...).

So, from now until January 3rd, there might be less of Isabelle in these pages, and more of my 'états d'âme' as I struggle, jubilate, brag, swear, get depressed, and finally collapse.

Any support you might offer me in this difficult month is not only welcome, but an absolute life-saver.

In exchange, I might promise not to do it again. Maybe.

And to warm you up nicely, here is the first news report from the frontline. We are officially on day 5 of week 1. This means that at a rate of 1667 words a day, I should have in my possession at least 8335 words by midnight tonight.

Knowing which, you will be absolutely flabbergasted (how to spell?) to hear that the novel so far consists of no less than 8841 words, which puts me a whole 506 words ahead of schedule!

More later, as the native is getting restless in the bathroom!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Post-structuralist identities

Total silence in the house. Isabelle is hiding behind the couch.

Her well-trained parents only take a few moments to enjoy the peace before starting on their trodden quest.

'Waar is Isabelle?'
'Où est Isabelle?'
'Oh non! On a perdu Isabelle.'

After what seems like (and probably is) ages, a curly head finally appears above the cushions, grinning so wide it could swallow both Americas, and it screams:

'Isabelle, daar ben je!!'
(Isabelle, there you are!)

I hope the symbolic system remains at bay just a little bit longer, so that my baby can enjoy finding herself a few more times...

PS: if you have no idea what I'm on about, it's ok, neither do I. Just trying out some of my new lacanian vocabulary...

Friday, December 02, 2005

La Tondue

Who ever said Samson was a boy?

Following the visit of Wendy-the-friendly-children's-hairdresser-qui-visite-à-domicile, our entire neighbourhood (ten streets or so) had no electric power at all (not even street lights) for over six hours.

Which, as you can imagine, greatly increased the commercial value of the below (opposite of 'the above')

(Of course, we will only sell it if we hit on hard times, and even then only after having sold our silver, gold, crystal and diamonds)

So, the recently-shorn and her parents huddled in their big bed, under many blankets and a variety of hats (clearly being shorn, recently or not, is no advantage in a freezing house) and sang songs to each other in croaky voices, with puffs of icy smoke coming out of their blue mouths, which they could not see, since it was pitch-dark.

La morale de l'histoire (the moral of the story):
1) listen to your parents in-law (nah, that's not it);
2) listen to your baby-sitter's neighbours (doesn't sound quite right either);
3) feminism will save the world (true, but not really relevant);
4) listen carefully, I shall say this only once...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Whale-watching in the Lowlands II

... where all is revealed...

When Isabelle uses her binoculars, she squeezes her eyes shut, very hard. This has often in the past led to a situation combining the following ingredients:

1) Isabelle, eyes closed;
2) the binoculars;
3) me repeatedly saying 'il faut ouvrir les yeux, ma puce, ouvre les yeux' (open your eyes, my duck, you have to open your eyes).

Dream I

I dreamt that my dream was a website, and by scrolling down it I made the dream happen, in a chronological order. But I kept getting distracted by annoying pop-up banners and a malfunctioning mouse whose idea of scrolling was jumping randomly up and down the page.

Whale-watching in the Lowlands

Early morning conversation with Isabelle:

I.: Isabelle ogen open parti
(phonetically: Beje oge ope pati)
(translation: Isabelle eyes open gone)

V: Qu'est-ce que tu dis mon amour?
(phonetically: keske tu di mo amoer)
(translation: what sayst thou my love?)

I. (much louder): Parti ogen open Isabelle
(phonetically: see earlier and reshuffle)
(translation: idem.)

Long silence (while V desperately attempts to make a number of unusual but relevant neural connections)

V: Ah, tu as perdu tes binocles!
(phonetically: a tu a perdu te binokl)
(translation: Ah, you have lost your binoculars!)

I.: Jaaaaa
(phonetically: jaaaaa)
(translation: yeeeeeees)

Please take a moment to admire V's clearly psychic powers. Thank you thank you, no more flowers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


This is so much fun, I'm back already, though this time with a sad note.

Tonight I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend of mine. She is flying back home, to her far away country, early in the morning, and we don't know whether or when she will return. Seeing her tonight for what might have been the last time made my heart cry out, and yet I am so grateful that I was given the chance to meet her, live with her and love her.

May the goddesses carry her on their wings to a place of safety and light. May they watch over her always. May they bring her joy and strength. And also some nice books to read while they're at it, since I've been told the postal service is somewhat unreliable in G......

So there goes one more piece of my heart, and by now it's spread out all over the planet (or almost), and I'm thinking, it's a pretty thin spread, so why don't you guys all move back a bit closer, then my heart tendrils don't have to reach quite so far. I mean what's wrong with here anyway? We have a nice temperate climate...

... and many other advantages you just have to experience first hand.

Right, I'm off to bed, to read 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' and ponder at length the meaning of life.

No more lard! Long live the bees...

This feels very odd. Please to forgive unease of first few posts. Will get into it soon. It's a promise.

Glad tidings from the wetlands: To all of you out there who worry about the psychological effects of being called 'spek' by one's parents, worry no more!

Isabelle has come up with her own nickname, she calls herself 'abeille'. Which we think is an eminently suitable name. She looks a bit like a bee. On a cloud background. Now we just wait for her to grow up and start reading Winnie the Pooh.

This morning her shoe had been filled by Saint-Nicolas, which in her rendition came out as 'koja schoen koja'. Chocolat and Nicolas being homophones and all that.

I'm off to get ready to play ersatz nymph (what is ersatz anyway?) at the defense of some Spanish person I've never heard of. Apparently, this is a hole in market: Lost your paranymph? We provide cheap and decorative replacements within the hour! Call +1-00-xxx. The Lost Nymph Service. Nah, that doesn't sound right. Will definitely think about it very seriously if multitude of other planned careers fail to materialize.

Off I go, nymphing nymphing away...