Dog Attack

Today I was attacked by a dog.

It was a random, unprovoked attack, by a black and tan beast that stands 60 cm (2ft) at the shoulder.

My office is downstairs but as there is work being carried outside its window, which would be a major distraction, I’m working in the living room. I’m researching the Piemonte region of Italy and looking for some less obvious places for visitors to see. So I’m hunched over the laptop typing random things about Italy’s second largest region into Google and reading everything that comes up. My goodness, there’s a lot of rubbish out there in internet land, so I opt for reference books I have in my office, I fetch them and settle down on the sofa to read.

As I discover that the Po is Italy’s biggest river, the iPod shuffles and, Tom Jones starts to sing, Sex Bomb, suddenly there’s a thunder of paws on the wooden-floor and I look up as Alf launches himself in my direction, his massive jaws wide open. He lands on the sofa knocking the wind out of me and rolls over, his tongue lolling out of his mouth like a roll of pink carpet. His tail is doing its unique form of wagging: helicopter wagging we call it as it goes around in a circle. His brown eyes plead with me to stop work and play with him.

I push him away but it’s no use, he’s back on top of me, grabbing me with his mouth and pulling me off the sofa. It’s no use, I have to put down my book and play, Find Meaky with him. After twenty-minutes of running around he’s ready for a drink of water and I’m ready for a glass of wine. As Sign of the Times, a blast from the past from, the Belle Stars plays, I carry on reading and Alf clambers up onto the sofa beside me, belches and falls asleep.

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BTW: Meaky is a squeaky blue monkey that Alf has adopted as his favourite toy, second only to the pink tumble-dryer ball.

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Flat Out

The magazine I work for is having a grand re-launch following a take-over and a make-over. The result being, my workload has increased, which isn’t a problem as with winter approaching I wont be subjected to the desire to go to the coast. Okay, I lie a little. Yes, there will be days when all I want to do is sit looking out over a throbbing grey sea rather than be tapping at my laptop, but these days will be few and far between though. so, (hopefully) I will be able to use my time productively.

My editor has asked me for my next three-month work schedule, this entails pitching all the new stories well in advance, discovering the ones the magazine wants me to write and setting my copy delivery dates in stone. I have finally organised a schedule and hopefully if I can follow this, I will know what type of feature I need to submit at any given time each month. The new regime means I can work out how much time I need to devote to each article each week, and maybe even build up a bank of non-specific date related features to help me out when procrastination creeps up on me.

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My OCD managed to have a hand in the planning, and categories soon became colour coded.

Non-Fiction writing is a fine balance between research and writing, too much research and you can become so bogged down that you delay the actual act of writing as you sift through all the facts that you have collected. Too little and your work will be flimsy and have no guts. So when do you know when you have enough research? – that’s a tricky one. For me it is when I have all the things I want to say at my disposal and looking for any more will over-complicate the story. For example, a piece I’ve just completed about visiting the catacombs in Rome features the important things readers need to know; where, when, how and who and yes a little history to colour the required word count.

Interviews can be tricky things, you have to initially ask some standard questions, then from these you can build up an idea of how you want the interview to go and ask questions that are specific to your idea and the client. Some people can be hard-work and you can be emailing backwards and forwards reams of questions before you get anything worthy of writing up. Some people however can be a joy, I have just interviewed a young man in Piemonte and it turned out he was a snowboarder and also enjoyed big Italian family gatherings around Christmas. Perfect for the December issue. The Only difficult thing about interviews is the restructuring of some sentences to fit them into the body of your piece without losing the meaning and truth of your interviewee.

Of course the iPod shuffles in the dock, I need the constant buzz of background noise when I’m working, for some reason it stops me being distracted, well that is until something like, Taste in Men by Placebo starts to play, and I have a stretch, remove my reading specs and sing along, as the dogs look at me as if to say, ‘the human has gone mad again’