Friday, 22 October 2010

Quirky things about Belgium: never having heard of THE film of the year

Me, to employee of one of the biggest UGC Cinemas in Brussels: "Excusez-moi, quand est-ce que le film The Social Network sort?"


"Ze sociaal networrrrk. Quand est-ce que ca sort?"

Gallic shrug.

Today!! To flippin day!! Nine days after I asked you! I was free! I could have seen it!

Now look what you've made me do: overuse exclamation marks.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

On Bradley and Twitter, for possibly not the last time

So, there we have it. Thanks to Jenny Wade, straight from the man himself:

How can you miss me if I don't go away?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Bradley Whitford is not on twitter. He wants us to long for him from a wistful distance. You know, I think even if he were on twitter, I may be able to manage that.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Dear Josh Player,

I didn't want to have to do this, since I think that one of the first rules of twitter role play is (or at least, should be) that you don't give away who the person pulling the strings is, or try and find out who the other person is. But this is the best way I can think of to communicate with you.

It should not still be bugging me, six weeks on, that you don't want to play with me anymore. But there you go, it is, and it's especially sad because the election is coming up and we could have a lot of fun with that. I know you have another Donna, and that I have another Josh, but people seemed to think we were good together, and we are the ones with the most followers. And I hate disrupting continuity, and well, yes, I miss you, our interaction, and the little world we had built.
Since you haven't told me what I've done wrong, I've had a few weeks to come up with my own theories as to what that might be.

Maybe you have another half in real life, and she/he was not happy with your online flirting. So let me be clear: I'm in character when I play, and I'm assuming you are too. For all I know you are an 85-year-old woman with no teeth. (Unlikely, I admit, but you get my point.) But if that is what it is, then I understand.

Maybe you regret telling me about aspects of your job. But I said your secret was safe with me, and it is.

Maybe you didn't like the way I was doing Donna, or aspects of our life together. That's fine - I'd have been happy to readjust things, very happy to communicate more to make it happen, iron out fine print. I didn't want to keep checking with you over everything because I didn't want to swamp you with DMs, and I didn't want to assume you were as into is as I was. I've also found it hard to keep up with the politics, what with being in a different time zone and not as knowledgeable as I'd like to be.

There's also another possibility, though I don't like it much. I've not tried that hard to cover my tracks - so maybe it's possible that you worked out who I was in real life, and decided you didn't like the sound of me. Well, obviously, that's your prerogative, but just a couple of things to bear in mind: 1) It's not me you are tweeting with, it's a character I am acting out and 2) I come on twitter for fun and frivolity. Some people, I know, tweet their deepest thoughts and their every sandwich filling. I don't. There is plenty going on in my life that I don't mention online. It is possible that my twitter feed makes me sound a little like a dizzy blonde trapped inside a brunette's body; friends have been known to tell me that my online presence does not really match up to who I am in person. The benefit of the doubt may be a nice thing to have from you in this case - especially since I have no idea who you are either. (I haven't tried to find out.)

I don't know if it's too late - I hope that it isn't. I'm sad it's come to this. Can we please be twitter friends again?

Your Donna

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Adventures in writing... the journey continues

Maybe it's my age, and the ticking of my biological clock, but the longer this writing adventure goes on, the more it feels like being a mother.

Let me explain.

You may remember that in the summer of 2009, when I was embarking on the adventure, I wrote a clumsy blogpost about how it felt a lot like being pregnant: walking around carrying the invisible promise of something new and alive and a part of you, something that consumes your every thought and hope and dream.  

Even the way it all started was a little like that sudden niggling realisation.  Uh oh.  I think I might be pregnant. I didn't purposely sit down to start writing a novel. I was coming back from one of my first lessons with a new student, thinking, probably, about the West Wing (this was at the beginning of my, erm, interest), and it occurred to me, wouldn't it be fun to teach Bradley Whitford French? And then I got out a notebook and started writing.  

And now? Well.  Maybe it's the later stages of a very long labour.  (I could get more specific, but I don't want to put you off your breakfast.)  At least, I hope it's the later stages.  I'm pleased with what I have so far, but I need another 12,000 words, and I'm not sure where they're going to come from; but then I also didn't know where the last 11,000 were going to come from, and somehow they appeared.  

Well, actually, not 'somehow'.  A lot of it was thanks to the midwife, my new friend Rebecca.  I've never met her in real life (yet) but we have talked a lot on Facebook over the last few months - we share a mutual, erm, interest - and she has been an incredible help and inspiration and support, cheering me on from the sidelines - push, push

I sent her my draft back in the summer, and she came back with such helpful comments and ideas and suggestions that where I thought I couldn't keep pushing, she gave me a fresh impetus. Above all, she is almost as excited about the novel, Inevitable, as I am, and that is so motivating.

And here's where it's also like being a parent.  Those of you who are mums probably remember what it's like to drop your first child off at school.  Are they going to be okay out there in the big wide world? Will they be liked? Will others realise how special they are? What a privilege it is to meet them?

At the same time as I sent my second(ish) draft off to Rebecca, I sent it to four other people, three of whom had asked me repeatedly to send them a copy.  Months later, I've heard nothing back from any of them apart from a couple of yes, I'm reading it comments.  

It's like your child coming home after you have spent all day wondering how they were getting on, and you ask, how was school, and they shrug and say, okay.  And you ask, what did you learn and they shrug and say, stuff.  And you ask, did you make friends and they shrug and say, I guess.  

Heartbreaking, isn't it?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Computer Geeks needed!


I've just dropped my nifty little notebook thingy (Asus) from a great height onto an uncarpeted surface and strangely enough the screen is cracked, but worse, it says: "reboot and select proper device".

I don't know what this means - can anyone help?

It doesn't have a CD/DVD drive so I can't insert anything.

I really, really need to get to some of the data inside... (Yes, yes. I know. I thought I had backed up. I hadn't. Wrote one of my favourite scenes last weekend and now it's gone... Slap me on the wrists if you like, but please offer a solution. Thanks.)

And if you're in Belgium - can you suggest a GOOD computer repair shop in either Nivelles or Brussels? (other than AZERTY in Nivelles, because when I took in my computer last year they made the problem worse...)

Thanks :)

(smiley face? really? I feel like crying...)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Misadventures in Cyberspace

About a year ago, I started tweeting as my favourite character from my favourite TV show. If you've ever met me or read any of my blog, you'll need no further explanation; if you haven't, well, then, good, we can retain some mystery.

Many of the other characters had been around in the past, but they were all dormant, so much to my chagrin I wasn't able to interact with them. Consequently, aside from the odd political comment or random observation there wasn't much I could do with the account. Then, oh happy day! I did a search one day and found that my man was on twitter too. There'd previously been several incarnations of him, but they'd all stopped tweeting a year or so back.

And this guy was, is, good. He's totally in character, very witty, well-informed about all the things that his character knows about.

We started bantering.

We were good together.

At least, I thought so. Judging by both our follower counts and various re-tweets, other people thought so too. It lasted about five months. I was perhaps ever so slighlty addicted, but it was a lot of fun; it was summer and work was scarce.

Then one day, from out of nowhere, he blocked me.

After much protest from me, and some intervention from other characters - who by now had jumped on board after seeing how much fun we were having - he unblocked me but said he wanted to uncouple the accounts.

Now, if you've ever watched the TV programme I'm talking about, you'll know that breaking these two up would possibly cause the universe to implode. So while that might have been the obvious solution, it wasn't an option here - particularly as we had been the cyber-picture of romantic almost-bliss.

All the characters that we were interacting with follow the two of us together, tweet about the two of us, stick up for this version of me when another one asserts herself. Our cyber-lives are intertwined ,but he wants me to pretend he doesn't exist. It's like dating a co-worker then breeaking up with them and seeing them every day and having to remove their email address before clicking reply-all.

It is, in fact, a lot like breaking up with someone. It's been a month and I'm still sad and cross, in particular because he never explained to me what the problem was. In particular, too, because this show, and especially these characters, always made me smile, and now that has soured. They inspired me to write, too, and it's probably not a coincidence that my novel has been taking up less and less of my thinking time lately.

I could slink away quietly. Probably, I should do that. But I have 630ish followers, and my pride, not to mention the impulse of the only child: "But I was here first!" And, also, we had built a universe I kind of fell in love with, and I'd be sad to leave that behind.

That said, that universe has kind of died already, and my account has become increasigly insipid, because I can't initiate any talk about domestic life, or about him and his work, which he might then contradict, intentionally or not. Everything has become complicated. It's almost no fun at all. Everytime I open twitter I feel sad.

He, of course, continues to soar in popularity. I can only watch miserably from the sidelines and wonder what I did wrong. And then kick myself for caring.