Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Breaking the Drought


I haven’t been here lately. Since my confession two Fridays ago, I have written Not One Word. Not a word of novel, not a word of blog. One dead tortoise. Then I read this on Helen’s blog – Forty Things Surprise – and thought, “I want to do this too!” Thanks, Helen, for the inspiration.

1. My uncle once: got charged by a rhino and had to take refuge in a tree.

2. Never in my life: have I been to Monte Carlo in a sports car.

3. When I was five: I was impatiently waiting to learn to read.

4. High school was: painful but oddly wonderful.

5. I will never forget: the exquisite agony of unrequited love.

6. Once I met: Pete Burns.

7. There’s this girl I know: who used to be a little kid and now is a consultant in charge of a hospital.

8. Once, at a bar: someone quoted William Blake to me, so I had to marry him.

9. By noon, I’m usually: looking forward to lunch.

10. Last night: I stayed up ridiculously late fantasy shopping at this vintage clothes website for the prom dress I believe I need.

11. If only I had: a ticket to Cape Town to go and give my friend a kiss on her birthday.

12. Next time I go to church: will be in September for the service celebrating Daisy’s starting school.

13. What worries me most: is that the novel I am writing will be underwhelming.

14. When I turn my head left I see: a picture window with the darkness of Germany beyond.

15. When I turn my head right I see: a white wall.

16. You know I’m lying when: I come over all glib.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: random snogging.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: Puck.

19. By this time next year: I will be facing an awfully big adventure.

20. A better name for me would be: …. actually, I like the one I have.

21. I have a hard time understanding: oppression.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: try to get my head around Maths.

23. You know I like you if: I make myself available.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: Toni.

25. Take my advice, never: think diplomacy is better than honesty – you only end up hurting yourself.

26. My ideal breakfast is: cooked by someone else.

27. A song I love but do not have is: Suzanne by Leonard Cohen.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: visit my brother’s fabulous indigenous plant nursery and spend some time talking to the tree man. If you are a single and available female who likes veeerrry laid-back men, please ask him on a date.

29. Why won’t people: do unto others as they would be done to?

30. If you spend a night at my house: expect very friendly children who will crawl into bed with you and request stories. Also, good food and lots of wine.

31. I’d stop my wedding for: Colin Firth, the Darcy years.

32. The world could do without: patriarchy.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: lick the belly of a worm.

34. My favourite blonde(s) is/are: sleeping upstairs.

35. Paper clips are more useful than: styrofoam cups.

36. If I do anything well it’s: dream.

37. And by the way: I had Thai beef salad for supper.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

26 thoughts on “Breaking the Drought

  1. Oh, I’m stealing this!

    Hope you get the writing mojo back soon. I’m sure you will. Sometimes you just need to give your subconscious time to process, I think. There is only so much you can do in terms of discipline to force creativity but, even knowing that, the times when it’s not flowing can be stressful and frustrating- at least that has been my experience.

  2. Wah, your favourite blondes are so cute! My favourite brown-haired thing would crawl into bed too but make “cocoons” for his trains and be very annoying!

    There isn’t really a dead tortoise is there? I hope nobody is sad…

  3. Well, it’s good to hear from you! Are three things missing? Oh no, I won’t be able to sleep tonight! WHAT ARE THE OTHER THREE? There is only 37 here, it’s supposed to be 40….

  4. I love this list. It made me laugh and wish I were more clever. I liked the line about the blondes. This is soooo Jungian.

    I want the other three things, too.

  5. Pingback: Forever Tuesday Morning « Make Tea Not War

  6. You stole my #31 🙂 Do see Then She Found Me, if you can. He’s yummy and wonderful in it!

  7. Hi Dead Tortoise,

    Do not worry about not writing from time to time. It’s normal. Writing a novel is like swimming the Atlantic Ocean. Two thousand miles behind you, two thousand ahead. And everytime you want to see where you are, all you get is a face full of salt water.

    Distance measured in miles, progress allocated in yards. You have probably been putting on too much pressure and your psyche has rebelled. Nothing to worry about. You’ll soon get withdrawal symptoms and be back as good as new.

    Play music that you love. It’s good for the heart.

    Have fun


  8. dear charlotte i am a novel waiting to be written i have no name when you wrote catching a feeling and angel in the garden you walked right by me charlotte i saw you but you did not see me i called your name but you did not hear

    young child with dreams dream every dream on your own when children play seems like you end up alone papa says he would love to be with you if he had the time so you turn to the only friend you can find there in your mind shiloh when i was young i used to call your name when no one else would come shiloh you always came and we would play charlotte is that not a beautiful concept for you the writer and me the page to explore can we not take a leaf from neil diamond

    will you write me together we can do great things i dont have a name but when you see me you will know who i am i am not very literate but i do dream will you perhaps dream too

    try this for sighs spend only a minute a day and you will find me record everything you remember as a child everything your husband remembers everything ongoing with each of your childrens lives thats five childhoods you might combine into one fictional life or two or three friends will be happy to give you raw material too one guy i know will give you fifty bizarre memories like playing hide and seek with a rifle children hiding among river bank reeds and one child flushing them out by firing the rifle into the reeds you better believe

    a minute a day is 360 minutes a year six hours in a few years you will have enough raw material for my pages say three hundred memories don’t write me now fifteen years from now will be about right when your fledglings fly away you and i will have fun bringing them back

    in a sentence or a para evoke the concept that so appeals in stories like

    addie pray aka paper moon by joe david brown eleven year old addie sells bibles faster than her confidence trickster father he’s not sure if he is her father because her deceased mother was a good time girl but whenever he says he’s not her father she demands her inheritance back charlotte you and i will be very good at writing funny

    the snow goose by paul gallico the delicate relationship between twelve year old frith and forty year old deformed phillip ryader then he is killed while the snow goose flies overhead naively she was in love with him and she bawls her eyes out charlotte you and i can handle a concept like that people will say wow

    to kill a mockingbird by harper lee the brother sister love between scout and jem their fantasy that bo radley is a monster but he stalks them to protect them and rescues the children from being murdered charlotte we could have a lot of fun with such a concept in our own story

    tom sawyer by mark twain tom and huckleberry burying the dead cat in the cemetery at midnight to cure hucks warts they see injun joe murder the doctor tom tells the judge injun joe threatens retaliation tom and becky only eleven going steady enchanting lost in a cave for days seeing injun joe inside the cave wow charlotte you and i could have a ball with those concepts

    the old man and the sea by ernest hemmingway mandolin the little boy banned by his parents from fishing with santiago because he is unlucky spends his own money at the canteen to buy the old man a tin mug of coffee and a bowl of fish stew charlotte you the writer and me the unwritten novel we could bring many of these concepts together in one story

    the fires of spring by james michener the orphaned boy brought up by his strict aunt earns pocket money by working at a fair ground meets all the bad people there loses his virginity at fourteen goes on to edit pulp magazines as a young man and after struggling becomes a writer nice feeling for our story too

    ragtime by e l doctorow the little boy in the sailor suit watches everything that goes on turns out he is the story teller and one of the third person characters too tateh ties his daughter to himself with a wash line to stop people stealing her charlotte this is the acme of writing short and tight you will be spellbound from the first sentence this is where we are going to be you and me together if we dream

    with your raw material and the concepts charlotte we can string together a roller coaster of a novel which will be me and you will give me a name a fun novel primarily a love story full of passion joy and sadness ribaldry and naivety evocation and humour success and failure absurdity and menace pathos and charm barefoot fun

    will you dream of me charlotte i may not be your first born as novels go but I could be the one you cherish i do not know how to sign off because i do not have a name maybe one day when you dream you will give me one


    just me

  9. Pingback: Forty Things Surprise meme « Writing Under a Pseudonym

  10. Hope it’s okay for me to steal this! I am sure your writing mojo will come back soon, perhaps you just need a rest from it to recharge your batteries!

  11. Not so sure about that Pierre guy 😉 But Pete here thinks this meme was very cool. Will have to write one now too. Regarding the worry that your novel might be underwhelming, I’ve just read a review of Doris Lessing’s latest book Alfred and Emily (which I’m now desperate to read) and Frank Kermode writes: “She has not, over the long haul, repeatedly troubled her readers with complexities of design or language; on the whole she prefers transparency. The claim on ordinary readers is not that they should wonder at her virtuosity but that they should consider the truth of what she says.” I like that – truth and transparency over complexity and virtuosity.

  12. Hooray you are back. I missed you. Thanks for your lovely thoughts. Wish you were here too.

  13. I really enjoyed reading this one Charlotte – I think I will have to steal it too!

  14. Now this is a classy meme, and of course with classy answers from you , Charlotte. Don’t worry about the time out – give it to yourself knowing that you’ll be even better when you go back to it.

  15. OK, my brain stopped functioning when you said you met Pete Burns!! :o) Tell all, you 1980s child you!

    Loved this meme & loved your wonderful answers, especially no. 8. I may also steal this – have been struggling to find the time to blog as my best friend from SA whom I’ve known for 36 years (yikes!!) is visiting and there are a million better things to do than blog…

  16. Great to hear you again – I’ve been keeping a low blog profile too recently, but keep peeking in to see how you’re doing. Good luck with the writing mojo – it has probably just gone inside for a break and will burst forth again soon refreshed.

  17. I liked your answers too! Your blondes are better than mine. Does anyone know what the last three things were?

  18. Must come visit, if that’s what’s on the agenda.

  19. I’ve been suffering a similar drought. But I love the way you came back. Such interesting responses!

  20. Love this, especially #28…very cute 🙂

    I may have to steal this from you….

  21. This is great! Number 32 had me whooping out loud… and I love a good whoop 🙂

  22. Cooksister’s To Do list:

    Steal meme from Charlotte – ticked and done!

  23. Really enjoyed reading this Meme so I tried doing it as my first Meme. Glad to see others appreciate mischievious Puck! I also couldn’t wait to read, I kept asking my Mom “what it felt like” to read. I was only satisfied that I could read when I got the book, as I didn’t believe my teacher that I was ‘reading’ the flash cards. I ran across the road to Mom shouting, “I can read! I can read!” when she came to pick me up from school that day. Instead of reading just the two pages for homework that afternoon, I read the whole book five times. Who can forget “Run Rover run!”

  24. Having forgotten the Cape Tonian’s birthday (problem with watch and new birthday calendar), I wished it was my birthday and you were writing about me! Loved this, loved the blondes too!
    Random snogging – what were you thinking? Best you snog your husband baby!
    How can your book be underwhelming? Write this one for you! The mere fact that you are writing it and growing three children is overwhelming. And you’re fit and fabulous at the same time. WOW!

  25. Welcome back! I love Suzanne too… The first time I ever heard it, we were living in a little town in Bavaria, and it was coming out of the window of an apartment in one of those post-war not very beautiful concrete apartment blocks. It’s on my soundtrack for writing.

    Your novel will be wonderful — and you will get it all done and when you are finished not a hair of it will be out of place. xo, L

  26. I started a novel this week too. Already I hate it and am thinking of buying a shredder just to see it properly destroyed.

    I’ve also copied your meme. Your answer to number 8 is so much nicer than mine. Although it is slightly dissipated by your answer to number 31. But I’m sure you’re joking.

    Happy Friday to you!

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