My new word

Posted Tuesday, 16 March 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: etymology, not writing (boo!)

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Manuscript, derived from the Latin manus, meaning ‘hand’, and the Latin verb ‘to write’. In other words, ‘hand-written’.

But I don’t write my novels by hand (anymore). I’m a new-fangled e-writer. ‘Computerscript’ sounds like something quite different, so that won’t do. More importantly, I’m not sure the device used to create the work is what’s important. Whether it be by hand, ‘puter, voice recorder or [insert other method if you can think of one here], the book is written first in the mind, yes?

So, what’s the Latin for ‘mind’ then? Well, I think it’s mens or mentis or something similar. Hmmm – ‘menscript’? No; that won’t do at all. ‘Mentiscript’? Has a familiar ring to it.

Wait; I have it; ‘cerebrescript’, from the Latin cerebrum, meaning ‘brain’. That is, ‘brain-written’.


OK, let’s use it in a sentence:

One day in the not-too distant future, I hope to return to my cerebrescript, because I miss it very much and hope it will still be my friend after all this time.

Note: I have no idea how Latin works and don’t care; I like my new word.


I might be going crazy…

Posted Saturday, 6 March 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: not writing (boo!)


The toilet door in our house had a squeak; a loud, reliable squeak that reminded me of a particular Ewok’s battle cry from Return of the Jedi. I asked TB to put some WD40 on the hinges so the door wouldn’t squeak at night. Now the door is quiet.

Too quiet.


Proust in the prose

Posted Wednesday, 24 February 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: Writing

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I’m having a Proustian moment. I ordered a cheese sandwich for lunch today – just cheese on white bread, not toasted – knowing it would arrive wrapped in thin paper and delivered in a paper bag. When it came, I smiled, thanked the man behind the counter and turned away, pressing the white paper bag to my face and inhaling the memories of early childhood.

I’m at school, just six or seven years old, and I’m standing in line at the tuckshop. The lady behind the counter gives me a brown paper bag and I hold it close to my face, breathing in the smells of paper, bread and cheese. That smell makes me smile. I’m suddenly hungry and I join my friends on a nearby bench, each of us chattering with full mouths, crumbs drifting down onto our blue uniforms. We sit in the sun because it’s a little too cool to sit in the shade of the big trees. The sunshine is as warm and welcome as a soft blanket on a cold morning, an invigorating change after the darker, colder air of our classroom. I can see the faces of my friends, the Indian Myna birds chasing after our crumbs, the bitumen of the parade ground at our backs and the short, green grass of the schoolyard where we will play when our sandwiches are just a lingering taste of cheese and soft crust in our mouths.

I see my Mum’s handwriting on the paper bag, letting the tuckshop know what to give me for lunch and that a little change should be left over for me to buy a Slippery Sam – a long tube of frozen orange cordial – as a dessert. My Mum has signed her name with big, beautiful loops that I love; I wish I could write that well. I hear the jingle of the left-over coins in the bag and decide I will get my cold, sweet treat; the sun is just warm enough to make it perfect.

I haven’t a care in the world except how to keep orange cordial from spilling down the front of my school uniform.

It’s a nice feeling, remembering that innocent moment; Proust had his cake and tea, but a cheese sandwich wrapped in paper is all it takes for me. The memory is all the more powerful and tangible for having been triggered by smell. It sort of works in reverse too. The first book of Stephen King’s I ever read was The Dead Zone. In the opening chapter, the main character – John Smith – takes a knock to the head playing hockey on a frozen lake. As he’s recovering, he’s sat down next to a fire – two rubber tires burn[ing] sootily – and that smell will be with John for the rest of his life. The smell of melting rubber was strong and pungent, making him feel a little sick to his stomach. For some reason, that description reached out and dragged me into the book and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m a sucker for descriptions of smells, odours, scents, perfumes, fragrances, reeks and stinks; they’re just so incredibly evocative, genuinely bringing a scene to life. It’s something I try to remember when I’m writing, to think beyond the visual and find something more, something visceral.

Something smelly.

Separation Anxiety

Posted Sunday, 21 February 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: not writing (boo!), world gone mad


I haven’t written a word since my WYOAD weekend a fortnight ago. I haven’t had a conversation with my characters or come up with an idea that had to be jotted down. I haven’t read anything from the manuscript.

The polite way to describe how this makes me feel is to say it sucks like the last, biggest, badass black hole that will consume the universe a bit. This enforced lay off from my manuscript isn’t because I’m being lazy or pathetic, just the wretched intrusion of my day job’s busiest time of year. I’m at the computer reading and writing and working, but not on my book. It makes me anxious. I worry.

The busy time doesn’t last forever. By the end of next month, I’ll have my weekends and my evenings back. I’ll run back to my book in one of those slow motion scenes across a green field of spring flowers with surging, momentous music in the air, we’ll fall into each other’s arms and promise never to leave each other ever again.

Until next year.

Saturday at the computer (but not in a good way)

Posted Saturday, 13 February 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: not writing (boo!)

Tags: , ,

So many things happening today that I would have loved to be part of – QWC‘s Open Day in their new home; Chinese New Year; a sunny day outside – but I had to work. By work , I don’t mean the wonderful work that is writing my @ss off; I mean ‘day job’ work, the stuff that makes sure we have food to eat and a place to sleep. Not really how I like to spend my Saturday, but it’s a crazy-busy time of year and it’s just the way things have to be.


I did get to work at home though sitting in my new command office chair listening to music. That’s a plus, right?

First Sunday Club Update: February

Posted Tuesday, 9 February 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: First Sunday Club, making a difference

Tags: , ,

I’ve been slack getting this post up – too busy with WYOAD and snack-talk – but over at Rebecca Sparrow’s blog, the deserving cause for this month’s $10 donation is Street Swags. This is another of those simple ideas that can make an enormous difference in someone’s life. As their slogan says, ‘sleeping rough is tough’. If you’d like to see what it is Street Swags do and maybe help them in their efforts, head over to Rebecca’s blog for more info.

WYAOD: Report

Posted Sunday, 7 February 2010 by Meaghan Douglas
Categories: Writing

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I had promised that yesterday, Saturday 6th Feb 2010, would be the day I dedicated 8 hours to my writing as part of Moonrat’s ‘Write Your @ss Off Day’ challenge. Buoyed by a new comfy chair and an array of normally forbidden snack foods (like Tim Tams and chippies), I set to and had a very productive day, editing through twenty-one scenes (or about 24,000 words, of which at least 2,000 were written yesterday but countered by the 1,600 word scene I deleted as ‘no-longer-required’), but I didn’t make it to 8 hours. After about 6 hours of solid work (with a 1 hour lunch break) my back said ‘Enough!’ to the whole sitting at a computer thing and, while my tummy was full, my brain was empty. I went off and read some inspirational source material for a while (history of kung fu), then was forced to provide some hugs to kitties that felt I’d short-changed them by shutting myself away for most of the day. A thunderstorm rolled in shortly after that, so the primary writing ‘puter had to be shut down for safety reasons.

Still, I do feel I achieved a lot more than I normally do on a weekend, especially as I’ve given myself more time today as well to complete the 8 hour stretch. I’m definitely past the halfway point in the revision of Fall of Bitter Rain and with some momentum now to push toward the finish. There’s an unopened packet of biscuits in the kitchen that have already been designated as ‘motivational snackage’ for another WYAO event next weekend.

Many thanks to Moonrat and all the other writers around the world for providing much-needed inspiration. Cheers all!