20 October 2009

Writing Workshop - My Space

For this week's Sleep is for the week writing workshop I chose writing prompt number 5:

Sit in a room of your house you spend a lot of time in. And really LOOK. Notice all the details you usually miss, and describe them with all the creativity you can muster. Let the every-day inspire you.

I spend a great deal of time sitting at our dining table. I'm either feeding myself, feeding my children or playing on my laptop. So for this exercise I don't need to move.

Looking around me I firstly take in the piles of stuff.

I see my higgledy piggledy 'to do' heap, including:
An unpaid Barclaycard bill.
A nursery brochure. I must put Presley's name down NOW or he won't have a place next September.
The leaflet that came with the boys' playgroup photographs. I will write that cheque before we go tomorrow.
My note pad, open at the 'to do' list.
An envelope with another, more urgent, list of 'to do's'.
A printout of a short story I wrote using one of the spooky prompts given to us at last month's creative writing group. I'm going to a live literature night later on. There are open mic spots available. There's even one reserved for our group. Dare I get up on stage and read my short story? No, probably not. If they're desperate though... I'll take it with me. Just in case.

I see unread Sunday newspapers that are half obscured by a wood veneer table mat. I write 'new table mats' on my Christmas list in the notebook. They go directly below the slanket.

I see the highchairs, a tangle of straps and missed mouth morsels. They stand on an alphabet splash mat. Andy and I enjoy the odd quick game of splash mat Boggle. Today I can see the word Dior. I hadn't noticed that one before. I must pick those crusts up before the boys come downstairs after their naps. Cash will probably pick a crust up and start eating it. Of course he wouldn't eat it at lunchtime, but stolen food clearly tastes better!

I've been trying to avoid looking at the ceiling, walls and floor. I don't mind looking at Andy's framed postcards on the wall in front of me. They're an odd collection: the boss-eyes cat, the sad clown being cuddled by a monkey, the Elvis caricature with the quiff, the fat man sitting on a chair in his pants and the old woman walking through a meadow with her skirt billowing Marilyn Monroe style.

We came house-hunting when I was seven months pregnant with Presley. We drove up to Preston from Surrey one weekend and saw fifteen houses. We'd done our preparation. We had a checklist for each property with tick boxes for number of bedrooms, gas central heating and space to record whether there was room to hide a Dyson upstairs and was there adequate visitor parking. We made notes so we would remember each place we viewed, so we could weigh up our options. Of course we completely forgot that you know within seconds of walking up to the front door whether you can see yourself living there. We still dutifully filled in our checklists.

We had seen Location Location Location. We knew that you have to look at the potential of the house and ignore any decoration that is not to your taste. That is cosmetic and can be easily changed.

On the checklist for this house I had written.
Decor: vile
Carpets: hideous

There was Anaglypta wallpaper everywhere. Fortunately most of it was painted white. There were accented walls swirling with peach and pale green patterned shiny wallpaper. Coordinating peach and pale green borders were stuck on the coving. Green paint had been lovingly applied to parts of the ceiling roses. The curtains were a deep peach velvet with brocaded tie-backs. The carpet was new. It was green with peach flowers on it. It's the sort of carpet that doesn't show the dirt.

We'll decorate one day.



  1. Our house looked like a Chinese restaurant when we bought it. The living room was painted a ridiculous pink, with the ceiling grey with gold stripes.

  2. There's a great law about decorating houses. You move into a horrid house, you do it up, you make it lovely, then you decide you need more space and move again.... the moral of the story? Never decorate, and stay put and happy (and save on stamp duty!).

  3. It sounds full of family life. our first house was a pink palalce - every room had been painted a shade of pink - urggggggggggggggggggggg

  4. This is great :)
    Isn't it funny how you move in with plans to change EVERYTHING because you can't possibly tollerate it, then as the months roll by, it's suddenly not so bad :P

  5. Wow, that is super organised house hunting! Still the decoration is only skin deep it is what fills you house, love and laughter that makes it a beautiful home.

  6. I'm very impressed with your checklists! Lovely post.

  7. Love your splash-mat Boggle Sandy!

    And you should DEFINITELY take your short story to the open mike night ;-) (that's an order) x

  8. Love this. Isn't it funny how you start to live somewhere and it becomes your own and you just don't see what you considered to be so hideous once upon a time!

  9. Mwa, hmm, it sounds lovely!!!

    PlanB, it's true that we need more space, but we said right from the beginning that this was our last move. I try to blank out the decor!

    The Mad House, I'm not really a pink person either. If we ever decorate (probably when the boys go to school!) we'll be going for plain, neutral and simple!

    Miss Leslieanne, if only that were true! I HATE it, but we just haven't got the time to do it ourselves, or the money to pay someone else. One day...

    Kelly, ah, that's so true. x

    Not Such a Yummy Mummy, we had to be organised. Mind you, I was still at work, so I probably did the lists there!

    Josie, well, I did take my short story, but Jenn Ashworth read a chapter from her new book before the interval and the open mic spots were immediately after. She had written about teenagers and so had I. Her teenagers were a million times better written than mine! I'll read my story out in front of my very supportive creative writing group and get some feedback from them :-)

    Hot Cross Mum, thanks. I do see it, but have to blot it out!! I only really notice the state of the place when I know someone is coming round for dinner, then I imagine it through their eyes. I clean and tidy like mad to make it look a bit better. We always ask people if they like our new wallpaper and watch them try to disguise their disgust! :-)

  10. I do 'to do lists'.Then I either loose them or my 18 month eats them or my 4 year old draws on them.Every room in our house is a shade of blue except or bedroom which is cerise pink.Good luck with the open mic spot.

  11. Alybean, ah, I didn't get up. The real writers were too good!!


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