It’s that time of year (for some). The time when you have to think up presents for everyone. It’s hard.

But there’s one person who wouldn’t be a problem. You know exactly what you want to give that person. You know she’s quiet and locked inside herself. You know he’d benefit from reading

because you’ve read it yourself. You know it’s an easy-to-read, no-nonsense, comprehensive book.

However, there’s still a problem. You don’t want to embarrass that person. If he opened it in front of others, he wouldn’t thank you for giving it to him.

How can you give her the book, disguise what’s inside the package and make sure she opens it when she’s alone?

This is where your creative abilities come in. I’ve done my part. I wrote the book and I put the challenge to you!

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There’s a competition at the end of this post.

I listened to this week’s Last Word from BBC Radio 4. Sir Richard MacCormac, an architect who recently died (obviously, otherwise he wouldn’t be on Last Word) said, after explaining that his interest in architecture came from making things as a child:

I now feel an essential aspect of creativity is a kind of playfulness.

This is certainly true of writing. Writers enjoy playing with words. When penning my last post, I particularly liked the beginning paragraph:

These are the comments that halted me in my perusal of the Internet this morning and made me decide to pour out part of my inner world. Sorry if it makes a stain on your day.

Although I went on to some serious stuff, I had fun playing with the opening words.

My Scrabble partners, A, G and D, and my Boggle partners, D and D, will testify to my love of word games. Most writers play word games when they write, employing several techniques in the process. One of those is onomatopoeia.

Dictionary.com says this is:

1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk,  or boom,  by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.
2. a word so formed.
3. the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.
In other words, I’m talking about words that sound like the things they represent.
Then I came across a list of Hebrew onomatopoeic words, which I have tried to transliterate as closely as possible:
  1. Tsartsar
  2. Bakbook
  3. Zimzoom
  4. Rishroosh
  5. Tiftoof
  6. Girgoor
  7. Gimgoom
  8. Pkak
  9. Pitzpootz

So here’s the competition. Without looking anything up (I’ll have to trust you on that), can you guess what those words mean? Write your answers in the comments and I’ll decide who wins the prize of… well, it depends who wins and whether that person has read Neither Here Nor There, but it might well be the novel itself.

Hint: They are all nouns and most of them translate to “ing” words.

Rules:

  1. The competition is open to anyone who doesn’t know Hebrew.
  2. The competition will end when I decide to end it, so don’t tarry.

I’ve been very silly. I’ve left the last decade out to rot instead of putting it neatly away in the deep freeze. I’ve read what other people accomplished in the last decade and decided that I didn’t accomplish anything. But now that I think about it, I was at a very different place ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was struggling to do things without really understanding why they were hard. Now, I still struggle but at least I understand what I’m struggling against.

Ten years ago, I was still attempting to keep my childhood out of my life, as if I could pretend that it didn’t happen. Now, I’ve come to terms with it and accept that it’ll always be there. Sometimes, it’s even useful.

Ten years ago, the people I went to school with were nasty, hurtful children. Now, they’re some of the nicest women I have met.

Ten years ago, I didn’t know Gill. Now I know her as a wonderful friend, one I will always be indebted to.

Ten years ago, I hadn’t even thought of doing any writing (apart from technical writing). Now, writing is something I enjoy immensely.

Ten years ago, my only social hobby was folk dancing. Now, I also look forward to the fortnightly meetings of my writing group.

Ten years ago, I lived in a small house in a beautiful neighbourhood. Now, I live in a large house with a beautiful garden in a less beautiful neighbourhood. You can’t have everything!

Ten years ago, I hadn’t visited India, Mexico and Guatemala. Now, I have.

Ten years ago, I didn’t have any online friends. Now, I have friends on Facebook, Twitter and more, friends with whom I can connect on a level rather than feeling like the unwanted poor relation.

Ten years ago, I didn’t have this blog. Now, I have the perfect tool for explaining all the things I couldn’t say.

As I hurry to pack up the last decade, I wonder what the new, fresh one will bring, where I will be in ten years’ time. I hope it’s a good place. And I hope all my readers will be in good places, too.

Writing and speaking are two different skills. I write. I hope you’ll agree that I write well. I speak badly.

http://writetodone.com is a great site written by a great writer (now two writers with others). It’s full of great tips by someone – Leo Babauta – who obviously has his feet on the ground and his head in the air. He knows what he’s doing and he has the imagination to carry it through.

And yet I, a less experienced writer with plenty to learn, have the cheek to disagree with him. Only about two of his sentences, though. This is the problematic section (I don’t think it’s visible on the site any more):

… a great blogwriter … is someone you want to be friends with. It’s someone interesting, someone who can tell a story and hold a great conversation and be fantastic company.

I disagree because I know better. About this one thing. I don’t claim to be a great blogwriter; I’m just starting out. But I’m sure there are some great blogwriters who suffer from similar problems to mine, making them poor conversationalists.

An exception that doesn’t disprove the rule? I’m not sure. A lot more people than you realise suffer from social anxiety.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.