Just been out doing some weeding in the garden. The rose is flowering, the scent is heavenly. And I was pleased to see that the honeysuckle is about to flower. Two years ago, I cut it right down to the ground – it was just too wild and overgrown. It started growing back last year, but sulked then and wouldn’t produce any flowers.
It was Caroline who told me how to prune and train honeysuckle – I’m now training this one over a frame and it will look magnificent in another couple of years.

Her funeral is on Friday – naturally I’ll be there.

And now I have the Elfin Diary, as was her wish. I’m busy finishing the 2012 edition. It’s a couple of months behind and we have no real idea yet of how we’ll get it printed. But the wheels are slowly turning….

I sent a mass email out to all her customers that I had an email address for; nobody else seemed to be thinking of informing them, so I did it myself. I set up a Facebook memorial page also. The responses have been touching. She evidently touched many people though her Diary and newsletters. And I have a duty to carry that on.
It’s a bit intimidating – the Diary appeals to the New Age crowd, the people who believe in ghosts, the afterlife, angels, aliens arriving on UFOs, all that carp. Once I was a believer, like them. But I left all that behind years ago – so much of it is anti-reason, anti-science, anti-logic. However, here I am, pitched right back into it and faced with a very fine line to tread. Well, now I am the editor, so I shall decide what goes in the Diary….

I know, I’ve not been writing a lot here lately. Mostly, I can’t seem to think of much to write that will interest anybody else. Also, like lots of people I have trouble starting to write anything; I gaze at the empty page and wonder where and how to begin…..
No answer to the first problem has presented itself as yet. But I may well have found the answer to the second problem.
750Words is a website that aims to get you writing. What you do is sign up (it’s a new site and everything is free for now); then each day you log on and write at least 750 words before your local midnight. They can be any words at all – sublime poetry, the earth-shaking novel you always wanted to write or “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” typed out 75 times – your entries are completely private and only you can read them. You collect points for word count, plus frequency and speed of writing, but there are no prizes apart from personal satisfaction. There’s no penalty for not completing the required 750 words, or for missing days. You can’t go back and edit your entry once the magic hour of local midnight has passed (although you can export each month’s entries as a text file and edit the hell out of them thereafter) which teaches you to get things more or less right the first time. Various bits of software analyze your words for mood and so on, and present you with nice coloured pie graphs; I’m not sure how accurate these are, but they’re interesting to look at and further encouragement to write.
The idea is to get you into the habit of regular writing and to overcome the block produced by the terror of an empty page – you learn that it’s perfectly safe to write and that mistakes won’t be punished. I’ve been using it for about a fortnight and I’m improving perceptibly. I’ve only missed two days (and one of those was when we had a local power cut) and I’ve managed to pass the 750-word mark three times.
OK, so far, I’ve not produced anything that I’d care to show to anybody; mostly whinges and inane burblings about my boring day. But if – no, when – I produce something worth reading, I’ll copy it onto here.

Well, it’s been quiet lately around here. Getting on with the gardening, though I’m in danger of overdoing things. Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours battling the hugely overgrown honeysuckle in the front garden. I started with the naive belief that I would merely have to find a couple or three main stems, cut them off at ground level, then lift out the rest. Naturally, it wasn’t like that at all.
The bush, as I said was vastly overgrown. Being a climber, it had curled tenaciously around everything in the vicinity, including a big cotoneaster, a sycamore sapling and a couple of other shrubs. It had wound so tightly around the sycamore trunk that the stems were actually embedded in the bark. There were hundreds of stems and shoots everywhere, all amongst the shrubbery; getting them out became a matter of slashing randomly at bundles of stems with the secateurs, then heaving mightily and dragging them out by the handful.
At the end of it, I was left aching pretty much all over, barely able to walk. My knees were about the only part of me not aching. Until this morning, when the situation was reversed. My damm knees were throbbing. So it’s mostly been a day of staying off my feet and necking paracetamol like smarties.
Still, it gave me time to think. For instance, about just how wise I was to begin this vegetable-gardening project in the first place. Not too wise, given my state of health; however, I’ve started it, so I’ll have a good go at finishing it. Once I get the plot cleared, it won’t be so bad.
And I was thinking some more about writing my life story. It’s high time I got it done. There’s bits of it all over the place, in my notebooks, my diary, my various blogs, forum and elist posts. I really should start collecting and collating them. I’ve been looking at various writing programs. I already use Jot Notes for all sorts of notes, thoughts. writings and my diaries; I originally started using it as a beta tester way back in 2000 or so and have consequently been getting free upgrades ever since. It’s an excellent little note-keeping program with only a few drawbacks, chiefly the inability to open two notefiles at once – that makes copying and checking between files difficult. So it’s not that suitable for what I need for this particular project.
Programs I’ve been looking at are (all Windows/PC programs):
Page Four. This is pretty much identical to Jot Notes, with just a couple of extra bells and whistles; like Jot, it doesn’t have the ability to open more than one file at a time. There’s a free version which is limited to three projects, and the full version is pretty cheap. However, Jot is even cheaper.
YWriter4 This calls itself “novel writing software” and that’s pretty much what it’s for. Admittedly, I haven’t spent too much time trying it out, but all the features overwhelmed me – it was just too damm complex. And I simply don’t need most of the features – character notes, location lists, plot outlines and the like. However, it you’re into serious fiction writing, this is probably just right for you. And it’s FREE! I repeat: FREE. For that alone, it deserves supporting.
Connected Text is actually a type of offline wiki, running on your own computer. Just like an online wiki, you can add hyperlinks, images etc, write your own stylesheet if you don’t like the default skin, hyperlink within the document and so on; it exports to RTF and HTML. It’s really more suitable for a research project or dissertation; once you’ve finished your project, you can upload it straight to a website. Quite interesting, not too expensive, and something I could possibly use sometime. But not at the moment.
Liquid Story Binder looks more promising. Like YWriter, it has loads of features, but they don’t seem to be aimed exclusively at fiction-writers; there’s lots of stuff to help in planning and outlining, plus there’s the ability to embed images and recordings. Unlike the other programs, I didn’t uninstall it straight way; two days later, I’m still playing with it. It’s a paid-for program, but the free trial version has all the features and is not limited at all. You only have to keep using it – it locks after thirty days without any use.

Well, now and then….
Toniight I came across an old floppy disc containing all my articles that have been published. I had kept some of them on various websites (notably the Oakleaf Circle site), but lost them as I moved and revamped sites.
So I was quite pleased to find them again. Anyhoo, they are now back on the web, collected in one place. One of these days, I’ll put them onto this site, but the site needs reorganising (again!) and redesigning for that to happen. So for now, they’re up on a newoomh, a Google free site.
Go over and have a dekko….