Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Happiness and Revisions

I’m still unpacking boxes but am gloriously happy in my new home. Living without a kitchen is interesting, but since I was the one who sold the concept to my family as a big adventure, I’m not allowed to complain. Let’s just say that once the cooking on camping plates and the washing up in the bath comes to an end, I’ll be even happier than I am now. Fit to burst happy. Disgustingly, floating on air happy.

I had more happy news about Balthasar’s Gift. My agent M works with a fabulous London literary agency who sell her books in the British market, and she sells theirs in the German market. A couple of agents read BG over Christmas and reportedly ‘loved it.’ They have asked for some revisions and after a call with them next week, I will be getting to it.

This is the third set of agent revisions I will have done since August last year. The road to publication is not easy! And ’tis filled with revisions!

However, I can see BG getting stronger and stronger and that makes me – you guessed it – happy.


Small Glittery Things

This post is not about diamonds, though I am not above them. It’s about a scattering of small things that are bringing me joy right now. I only have to pick up one of them and consider its sparkle for a short moment to have a flash of happiness run through me. Let me elaborate.

I have just finished reading Maggie O’ Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It is a perfect book, neither too long nor too short. It’s a delicate balance of flavours that sit gently on the palate, never hitting a strident note. Not too say it’s genteel, because it isn’t, but it’s subtle, disturbing and lovely. A gourmet meal of a book, that leaves you sated but not crammed.

I finished my novel on Sunday.  That would be finished again, for the third time, now with comments from beta readers. I have some further outlying beta readers who I may still need to canvass, but right now it’s being read by a friend of mine who’s a talent scout. I also pinged a partial to a literary agent and please hope along with me that I was not being premature. The sparkle in this case is the feeling that my baby is out there, trying to stand on its own two feet.

Two blog pals and I are working on reinvigorating our blogs. We are all veterans now and are putting our head together to think about ways to rejuvenate and find the joy in blogging again. Watch this space! There are changes afoot.

A wonderful graphic designer is helping me design a professional writing website (different from this blog and my putative author’s website). It’s time to put my business card out there. She has recommended that I have a business blog and I would relish ideas for topics from you clever lot. What would a freelance writer writing in English but living in Germany want to write about? One idea I thought of was how writing a novel has affected my business writing (a lot, I can tell you, especially this revision phase).

I found this website and this one, both full of quirky travel options. There I found Camping Les Ormes and I’ve just booked a week’s holiday for my family in a Kalahari safari tent. It’s in the Dordogne, so we won’t hear any lions roaring at night nor will we have monkeys stealing our food, but it’s a thrill. And so pretty.

The Orange long list is out today. That’s 20 new books by twenty fabulous female writers that I can put on my wish list. I’ve read Wolf Hall and The Help, so make that eighteen, but still!

I bought new black sunglasses and am walking around feeling like I have a new angle on the world. Feeling rather film noir, I must say, but in a good way.

In three weeks I go to Prague with my oldest and dearest friends, K and D.

It’s about to be spring. The Burg burnt the snowman on Sunday and what the Burg says, goes.

Wishing you happy Spring! May your lives be filled with glittery things.


F is for Fifteen


Married fifteen years on 1 October 2009

Tomorrow we celebrate 15 years of marriage and to celebrate, I’m breaking with the memoir theme to give you Fifteen Things I Love About My Husband.


1. Makes me laugh, and finds me funny.

2. Buys cleaning products, and uses them.

3. Is co-dependent in the book habit.

4. Not scared of the gory jobs – anything to do with toilets, vomit, dead animals, he’s the one.

5. Let me win at Scrabble twice this week.

6. Cherishes our family life.

7. Loves and keeps up with his friends.

8. Found me at least eight of my best girlfriends.

9. Enjoys answering questions like “What makes an aeroplane fly?” and “How many seconds are there in a week?”

10. Makes a salad with as much flair as he cooks a steak.

11. Does all the crafting so that I don’t have to.

12. Is a wonderful mixture of dreamy and practical.

13. Recovered our dining-room chairs in three hours last weekend.

14. Has to leave the room during key scenes of The Office.

15. Is more hot and handsome than he was when we got married.

I love you my darling. Thanks for all the years. You are my one and only.


The Joy of Being Older

I have been spending time with a friend who has an adorable nine-month-old baby. I love this baby for her cleverness and charm, and the sweetness of watching her discover the world. Being with them has brought home to me how my childrens’ baby time is over, and, while I loved it, how grateful I am to have moved on to the next stage. I am 40 and my youngest is four. I’ve just traveled with him to South Africa and Greece, and didn’t need to pack any special equipment – no prams, no special food, no nappies. He pulled his little roll-on suitcase and walked with his sisters the length and breadth of many airports.

I have spent the last ten years in dedicated service to small children. I adore my kids, and now I especially love their growing independence from me. I am no longer essential to their physical survival – any other kind adult could do my job. As they grow and shed their extreme neediness, I feel as if I have also emerged from a chrysalis. Their independence is perfectly matched to mine.

I spent all of last year in preparation for turning 40 in December, and then spent the next six months celebrating that birthday. It was a huge psychological turning point. I turned my mind to fitness, healthy eating and writing – doing things for me, my body and my psyche. At the risk of sounding smug, I feel as if I have arrived. I am not becoming, but being. And the best thing is, I have got at least 40 more years ahead of me to feel this way.

Today’s Observer has a brilliant focus on old age. The people they report on are extraordinary – a 98-year-old marathon runner, a 71-year-old yoga teacher, an 85-year-old sculptor – and what comes across is the fun they have in living. Of course, what  they share is the luck of good health, the fortune of living in the privileged West, but even so they have survived world wars, epidemics and economic disasters.

Here are some quotes:

For Mary, aspects of growing old are met with relief, even joy. “In a way, emotionally, you change back. I am freer now to feel intense excitement like I used to as an adolescent – being out of doors, for example, or listening to music. I somehow didn’t have time for that when I was bringing up my children and working full-time. I have been able to spend much more time with my youngest grandchild than with the older ones, and that’s been wonderful, too.” Jean Crossley, grandmother, 100

“Yoga can have a tremendous effect on you, whatever age you start,” she says, “but I find I don’t need to do much practice to keep supple, as my awareness of my body posture has become second nature over the years.” She reveals that yoga has a more meaningful message, too. “I’m aware of the fragility of health and that it can change without warning. So I always retain a sense of detachment – I’m not pleased with myself if I do a complicated yoga pose, I’m pleased for myself. You’ve never got life cracked. Yoga teaches you that.” Pam Horton, yoga teacher, 71

The key to a healthy old age, he says, is continuing to work and “doing something you like doing. You’re so much more likely to go on living if you’re happy, and making art makes us both happy.” London, where he has lived since he married Sheila 60 years ago, has been another important factor. “Old people are really a pain in the neck and one of the joys of living in London is that you see young people. You could isolate yourself and be less stressed, but one of the pleasures is seeing what’s going on.” Sir Anthony Caro, sculptor, 85

And for Fauja age isn’t even a consideration: “I do not consider myself to be old. From the moment I do that, I would lose everything, because age is a state of mind – as long as you’re positive you can do anything.” Fauja Singh, runner, 98

Apart from luck, the common denominator amongst these amazing people is joy. I’d risk saying that their wisdom, joy and pleasure in life has been partially responsible for their health and longevity. Their stories increase my belief that I have every chance of being a joyful 85-year-old yoga-practising writer.


Where Was I?

Last night I was lucky enough to see these artists live on stage:

  • Tears for Fears
  • Kim Wilde (Cambodia, Kids in America)
  • Robin Gibb (Juliet, Saturday Night Fever)
  • 10cc (Dreadlock Holiday)
  • Denis DeYoung (Mr Roboto)
  • Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir
  • Musical comedians Igudesmann & Joo

Where was I?

The first to guess correctly and post their answer in the comments will receive a complementary package of Lindt chocolate from me, sent to anywhere in the world in time for Christmas.

While you ponder, please consider just how exciting it was for this child of the Eighties to see Tears for Fears perform this song live for me: