Thursday, 20 September 2012


I keep thinking about writing a blog post then thinking I don't have anything specific to say. But it's like that sometimes, isn't it?

So I'll just start telling you things and see what happens.

I had a tooth pulled out. Before it came out there was the nagging, persistent ache of toothache, and the swollen gums from the infected tooth, and I couldn't sleep or even rest my head on the pillow when it was at its worst, and I was trying every homespun remedy I could find on the internet (garlic, vanilla essence, cloves (of course) salt, teabags) until I could get to see a dentist. Then I saw the dentist and she gave me some options, and I thought the easiest, simplest, fastest way to stop the pain and deal with the infection seemed to be to take the tooth out.

Now, I've had teeth out before. I was quite a lot younger, a child in fact, so surely, I reasoned, I'd be even better equipped now to deal with having a tooth pulled out. I don't have a fear of the dentist. I even half know the dentist who treated me, she's very nice, it was as relaxing as it could be.

However. I was not prepared for the wrenching, the real, real, pulling effect, the effort it would take to get this tooth out. The fact that I'd have to have my held held still by the hygienist (she said it was like I was trying to reverse off the chair), or that my legs would be shaking so violently, or that the anesthetic seemed to do NOTHING despite me having been injected with extra doses of it.

I feel like I was a bit naive to think it'd be easy. I was also very desperate to get the infection out. The tooth, my gums, the nerves, would all have been extra sensitive, I'm sure. Plus it was a tooth at the back, it had 3 roots, 'the biggest tooth in your head' she told me. Afterwards.

The teeth I had out as a kid just had one root. I'm sure I remember they just came out with a little shuffling.

BUT. It's gone. It was sore for a while, but once I got home and over the shock (I do think I was in shock, actually) I fell asleep and when I woke up I was just so relieved to not have tooth ache anymore.

And then the next day I went to the Yorkshire Dales for a weekend with my writing group, and with a little help from a glorious combination of Ibuprofen and Codeine, I had a lovely time.

And what I'm focusing all my writing energies on at the moment is my entry for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize - and with just over a month to have 30,000 words of short stories ready to sub - I have a lot to do.

So I'll probably be here and on Twitter more than I should be.

(Turns out this post is not at all general, it's actually very toothy.) 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Telling it like it is. I’m being real. I won't lie to you. That's just me. 110%. No?

Ever uttered any of the phrases above? Hang on - ‘uttered’ isn’t right. If you’re a real person who 110% tells it like it because you’re not gonna lie you’re just being you, you don’t utter. You throw your statements with conviction - as you should with all that insight you have. 

This post is about to get all opinion-y. Usually I just write about writing but today it's more about talking. It's me writing things about the things I've heard other people say. 
I love language, of course - I'm a writer so I'm interested in the way people express themselves. And I have no desire to write about anyone's 'bad' grammar or 'bad' English because I don't see language in those terms. 

What I'm writing about is this trend of making a really obvious claim about yourself and then glowing with pride about it. Mostly I don’t like this kind of talk because it can be used to excuse bad behaviour. But it also presents interaction – and people – in a black and white way. Not into that. But if you are, that’s cool. Just follow my guide to ensure you’re selecting the right banal statement for your needs.

‘I tell it like it is.’
Say this if... you've offended another human and need to justify it. ‘I'm just telling it like it is,’ you say. No - you're telling it as you see it. THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING.
‘I'm being real.’
Say this if... you believe you have a superpower: you, as a real person, have the ability to announce you are a real person. EVEN BETTER you can also spot a fake person. This is convenient because your world is divided into real people and fake people. (Nothing to do with automatons, unfortunately.)

‘I won't lie to you.’
Say this if… you like saying really ordinary things and making them sound controversial. ‘I won't lie to you: I don't like eggs.’ Great. And, in general, can’t we just always assume you won't lie to me?  

‘That's just me.’
Say this if… you want to behave however you like, and you can, because 'That's just me'. Being yourself - I’m cool with that. But if you use the 'I'm just being me' excuse after you've been a dick, you need to add it on: ‘I'm just being me. And I'm a dick.'

Say this if… you know the word 'Yes' but it’s just not enough. You need to make sure people REALLY understand how much you mean ‘Yes’ so you use the faithful percentage measurement. And, not content with the world-wide accepted maximum of 100, you like to add some on. Bizarrely, it’ll either be just a bit: 110. Or fucking loads: a million.  

Say this if… you want to appear like you're inviting people to disagree with you, but mostly you want to sound French. 'And this is what life is all about, no?' Eugh. Just no. As in NO.

Okay, those final two expressions are not as criminal. They’re habits. But the others display an absoluteness I’m suspicious of. They’re a sinister step up from ‘I’m mad, me!’, but at least the I’m-mads just want to be seen as interesting. The Tell-it-like-it-ises take pride in being twats, while simultaneously thinking they are astute. ‘I’m real, she’s fake’ and that sort of talk feeds into categorising personality types, which is limiting and finite. Be confusing; be confused about people. Explore the grey areas.