Tag Archives: Claire Carter

My mind’s gone blank, but I’m having a good Northern natter on the radio…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” where I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author… Photo of a Diary

My mind’s gone blank. I’m sat here at my computer and I can’t think of a thing to write. That’s what happens to my head sometimes, long periods of tumbleweed where I can’t think of anything to say and then when I do say something, it turns out to be complete bobbins. As it goes, this is what also happens to me  when I listen to myself speak on the radio. A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by the lovely Claire Carter for the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Breakfast Show – and this week it’s airing, every day, 5 mornings a week. Oh dear lord. ‘Who-hoo!’ screeches the youngest, dive-bombing onto our bed. ‘Ouch!’ I cry. ‘That was my stomach!’ Apologising, the youngest catapults herself in between me and my half-asleep husband and settles down for a listen. ‘Turn it up, dad. Mum’s on in a minute.’ ‘Whhaaaaaaaa!’ comes another yell, this time from the direction of the room of the eldest, the door crashing to the wall as she belts in and belly flops on the mattress. ‘Bloomin’ heck,’ mutters my husband, ‘it’s like WWF in here.’ Ignoring the fact that the coffee I am holding has just spilt all over the sheets, we turn up the radio and settle down to listen.

Now, I don’t know about you, but there’s something about listening to the sound of my own voice that I just find, well, cringey. I’m originally a Dublin lass, but when I was about 5, we sailed the boat to Liverpool and with my mum, dad, sister and new baby brother, we set up home in Leyland, Lancashire, and overnight, I became a fully paid up Northerner. Since my childhood, I have moved about a far bit. I went to University in Liverpool, mixing my voice into the melting pot of accents from all over the UK.  Later, I worked in Manchester, moving down to Bristol with my Southerner husband, eventually settling in the Cotswolds surrounded by a mix of the Queen’s English on one hand and the farmer’s on the other.  And so, when we sit in the bedroom and hear my voice, I am quite surprised. ‘Mum,’ says the youngest, ‘that doesn’t sound like you.’ We all lean into the radio. ‘She’s right,’ says my husband, sitting up, ‘it doesn’t.’ We all nod. ‘You sound nice, mum,’ says the eldest. ‘What,’ I say, ‘like I don’t always sound nice?’ The ensuing silence speaks volumes.

And so, each day this week, in the ‘Thought for the Day’ slot, I am hearing my voice on the radio talking about Gloucestershire. Some days I sound right northern, others I swear I could be from the south, but each time the things that I am talking about come across, well, okay, really. I return home later that morning and switch on the radio only to catch the second slot of the day at 8.45a.m. where they repeat my thought of the day from the earlier 6.45am slot. The thing that really touches me this time though is the presenter, Mark Cummings. Because, even though he doesn’t have to, when he introduces me he talks about my writing, mentioning my e-book, The Boy Who Played Guitar, by name. It makes me stop and think, about how nice people are sometimes and how, even when you don’t ask, they will do something for you, something that can help, something that can make all the difference.

‘Do you know,’ I say to my husband later that evening, red wine in hand, ‘when this week of radio interviews have aired, I’m going to send a thank-you email to Mark and Claire at BBC Gloucestershire. They’ve been so good to me, mentioning my book, tweeting about me, all sorts.’ My husband puts his arm around me and gives me a hug. ‘And they’re running your main book interview this week, too.’ My bottom lip wobbles. ‘Look,’ he says, ‘it’s because you’re so nice, honey, that’s why they do these things.’ I start to cry. ‘You okay?’ he asks. I nod and wipe my nose. ‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ I say, ‘if it all worked out and I really could make a living out of writing.’ He smooths back my hair. ‘What would you write about when you make it there?’ he says. I open my mouth to say something and then frown. I take a swill of wine. ‘What were you going to say?’ asks my hubbie. I shrug. ‘I’ve completely forgotten. My mind’s just gone blank.’ He sighs and we stick the telly on.

Catch me on BBC Radio Gloucestershire all this week at 6.45a.m. and 8.45 a.m. You can also listen to the Mark Cummings breakfast show on BBC iPlayer here

**Out tomorrow: “Thursday Thought”, where I post my local weekly newspaper column to the blog. This week: do we worry too much as parents today?**

How a nice cup of tea helped my will to win. Sort of…

Welcome to “Wednesday Wafflings” a bit of a well, waffle, where I post the latest in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

I need a cup of tea. Last week I was clumsy, this week I’m tired. For the past few months I’ve been getting up at 5 a.m. again to write –  and I think it’s taking its toll. Writing in the morning helps reassure me for the day because if other work takes over later on, at least I know that I’ve put an hour’s worth of writing on to the page. The thing is, I am now absolutely shattered. ‘You look tired,’ says my friend one evening as we go for a fast walk in the late sunshine. ‘I know,’ I yawn, ‘but it will be worth it.’ She narrows her eyes at me and stops walking. ‘Look,’ she says, her serious teacher face on, ‘you don’t need to push yourself quite so hard. Maybe move your deadlines back a bit.’ I rub my eyes and nod before we resume our exercise in the fading light.

When I get home later, I slump on to the sofa and realise that my friend is right. I am pushing myself a little hard. I have given myself a deadline for my second novel to be complete, and it’s quite a tight one. Thing is, I’m over half way through it now and I’m at that stage where I can get an idea of what the finishing line will look like. Trouble is, I am frying myself in the process, but isn’t that what we all do when we work towards something we so badly want and love? There’s a free e-book I downloaded the other day by Karen Brady. If you watch TV, you may know her as the advisor to Lord Alan Sugar on the BBC show The Apprentice; if you’re a footie (aka soccer) fan, you may know her as the Vice-Chairman of West Ham United. The book’s entitled Karen Brady’s 10 Rules for Success, and in it, amongst other things, she cites how hard work is essential if we want to get to where we want to be.  Sat on the sofa one night, iPad on, I quote this to my hubbie. ‘Honey,’ he says, ‘she’s right. You do need to work hard. But right now, if you keep getting hardly any sleep like you are, you’re going to make yourself sick.’ I blow my nose. ‘I’m not sick,’ I croak. He rolls his eyes. ‘Do you want some paracetemol?’ I pull the blanket on to my lap. ‘Mmm, I’d better. Maybe some hot water and lemon, too.’

The next morning, I take a quick look at Karen’s other top ten tips and try to see if I am already achieving some of them. ‘Know how to negotiate.’ Hmmm, I can get the eldest to have only one digestive biscuit instead of two, so, tick! ‘Have the courage to take a risk.’ Okay, so I did contact the Gloucestershire Gazette about writing a column, and I did try a raw scallop once, so yeah, I do risks, so, tick! ‘Plan to win.’ Hmmm…I stand and think. ‘Plan to win,’ I say out loud. My youngest must hear me as she rushes in shouting, ‘Who won? Who won? What did you win mum?’ When I tell her nothing, she drops her shoulders and sulks off. I flop into my seat. Planning to win is not something I normally do. Planning to juggle, yes. Planning to get my roots done one day soon, definitely. But win? It seems almost arrogant – and certainly alien – to think such a thing about myself. But I realise Karen’s advice is right. If I don’t plan to win, how will I ever, you know, win? Feeling a bit tired by all the thinking, I get up, get the kids to school and return to the house to find my mobile buzzing – it’s a direct message for me via Twitter. Clicking it open, I read it to see it’s from a radio presenter at BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Claire Carter – and she wants to do an interview…about my book The Boy Who Played Guitar.  Frozen to the spot, my heart bangs in my chest as Claire and I then proceed to send a string of messages to each other, the upshot of which is that she is coming to our house the next day to interview me. I immediately phone my husband. ‘Wow! Nice one, honey,’ he says. I let out a breath and say, ‘You do radio. Will you give me some pointers?’  He readily agrees and I am very grateful (he, the media tart, loves the radio, and does the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Business Briefing almost every week. He does TV interviews, too. Our kids now think he is famous. I know.) Next, I phone my mum. ‘Proud of you!’ she shouts. Then, finally, I phone my friend. ‘Jesus!’ she shrieks. ‘You’d better wash your hair.’ I nod. ‘And the kitchen sides,’ she says. ‘Wipe down the sides!’  I thank her – she is an oracle of advice.

While I am nervous to start with, the actual interview goes really well. Claire is lovely, so chatty and friendly, and we bond over talk of cuppas and fake tans.  The interview doesn’t just stop at the subject of The Boy Who Played Guitar, either. ‘Do you fancy doing the Thought for the Day slot, as well?’ she asks. I gulp. ‘Sure,’ I croak, but it’s all okay. Claire asks me five Gloucestershire-based questions and I answer them best I can. When we are done, she says each one of my thoughts will air every day on the Breakfast Show for a week. I am beyond chuffed.

‘The Breakfast Show?’ says my hubbie later that evening as we sip some merlot. ‘That gets the highest listening figures.’ I grin. ‘And she was so nice,’ I say. ‘She said she’d let me know when it was all going to be aired and tweet everyone, too.’

It gets to Friday, and as I turn to Twitter, I get a lovely #ff message from Claire Carter, saying kind things about me. It almost makes me cry. Smiling from ear to ear, I tweet back and then stick the kettle on. Switching on my iPad, I click on to Kindle and spot the Karen Brady book. ‘Plan to win,’ I say to myself. The kettle whistles, and I grab the tea bags. Whatever I plan to do, I’ll just make a nice cup of tea first.

Tired from writing or working? What helps you to keep going? Need tea or is coffee your thing? Pop on a comment and let me know. Thanks!

**Out tomorrow: my latest colulmn post for the Gloucestershire Gazette**