Conversations with my Brain

‘Here we go again,’ I think, looking across at the clock. ‘For God’s sake! Its four o’clock in the morning. Can’t you just let me go back to sleep?’

But my brain is having none of it. ‘I’ve thought of a great idea.’

I tut. ‘Shut up and leave me alone.’

‘But you’ll like it, I promise.’

‘No! I’m tired.’

‘Come on, you’ll love me for it in the morning.’

‘No, I won’t!’

‘OK, suit yourself, but you’ll be cursing when you wake up and you’ve totally forgotten that brilliant idea I gave you, and all because you couldn’t be bothered writing it down. You’ll be sitting at that machine again, getting frustrated because it all sounds rubbish. And here I am, giving it away for free.’

‘Alright!’ I snap. ‘But make it quick. You know I find it hard to get back to sleep again once I’m fully awake.’


It’s at this point that I decide my brain must be male. What woman would put me through this night after night? I picture him bouncing around with anticipation.

‘OK,’ he says, his voice full of enthusiasm now. ‘It’s about that bit you were struggling with?’

‘Oh yeah,’ I say, warming to him.

‘Yeah. I’ve thought of a brilliant way you can get round it.’

I try to shake off my sleepiness. I’d love to just turn over and go back to sleep right now but I know I daren’t miss this opportunity. I flick the bedside lamp on, the light stinging my tired eyes. Then I turn the light down low and reach for my notepad.

‘Come on then, but just this once and then I’m done. What have you got?’

‘OK, here goes. You should go back in time in the next chapter and keep the readers waiting for the denouement. There’s a bit you left unexplained anyway so it will keep them interested while they’re flicking through the pages like they’re swatting a fly.’ I can feel the excitement oozing out of him as he adds, ‘Ooh, they’ll be so eager to get to the next chapter.’

I must admit, I’m quite impressed with the idea and I quickly jot it down in my little notepad in the semi-darkness, hoping it will be legible in the morning. It’s not long before I fill in two pages then I switch the lamp back off and try to relax.

But the brain is fully awake now and it’s not long before he disturbs me again. ‘Eh, I’ve thought of something else.’

‘Don’t push your luck! I only agreed to the one idea.’

‘But I’ve thought of a great cliff-hanger. Chapter 41, the one you’ve just written, it ended a bit drearily, didn’t it?’

‘It wasn’t that bad.’

‘Oh, it was! And it wasn’t half as good as chapter 40. But I know a way you can spice it up.’

I try to ignore him and carry on with my quest to get back to sleep. ‘You’ll thank me for it in the morning,’ he whispers, tapping at my skull.

‘You’re such a pain in the arse!’

‘Yeah, but you love me for it, don’t you?’


I can’t resist a smile as I switch the lamp back on and scribble down some more notes. Again, I’m impressed. My conscious mind would never have thought of that. This time I switch the light off quickly, turn over and wrap the duvet around my head, in a vague attempt to drown out the constant interruptions. But it’s no use; he’s soon making his presence felt.

‘Psst. Me again. Have you thought about what you’re going to put in the chapter after next?’

‘No, I’ll deal with it in the morning.’

‘You sure?’ he asks, sounding hurt. ‘Only…’

‘Stop it! You’re giving me bloody writer’s cramp.’

‘I’m worth it though. Go on. Write it down. You know you want to… Please… Pretty please.’

I swipe the duvet viciously away, feeling myself weakening into submission again. ‘For God’s sake! Why do you always get your own bloody way?’

‘Because you love me.’

‘You wish! And stop being so bloody cute!’ I say resignedly as I switch on the lamp for the third time.

The thought occurs to me that if there are shift workers living across the way, then they probably think I’m practising Morse code. This bloody lamp has been on and off so many times, and it was the same last night. What I wouldn’t give for a decent night’s sleep! But I know that will be impossible until I’ve cracked it with this novel.

After the fourth interruption, I finally settle down to sleep. But I wake up in the morning feeling groggy with the after-effects of a restless night. I switch on the lamp one more time and swing my legs out of bed.

Then I notice it. The pad on the bedside cabinet. I pick it up and quickly flick through. Five pages full of notes, both sides. Wow! I’m ecstatic.

‘Y’know brain, you’re not so bad after all,’ I admit, grudgingly.

‘It’s only because I care. I did it all for you.’

I smile. ‘I know. I suppose it was worth it.’

Then I rush downstairs, determined to overcome my grogginess and get this lot down on the PC while I’m still buzzing.


The Upside of Sending my Son to Uni

OK, so it’s not a writing themed blog in the strict sense of the word, but I’ve just reached a major transitional stage in my life – my eldest is leaving home! I will miss him so much and worry about him every day so I thought it only appropriate to cheer myself up by taking a humorous look at the positive side of sending my son off to uni. Parents, I bet you can identify with some of these.

N.B. I had originally scheduled this blog for around this time having already written it a while back. However, due to recent events in the Mannion family household I did have doubts about publishing a humorous article during a period of sadness. After many deliberations I have decided to go ahead. One thing that my children’s grandparents have bequeathed them is a cracking sense of humour, and they wouldn’t expect us to stop having a laugh because they are no longer with us. So, here it is – a humorous look at what I won’t miss when my son goes off to university:

Leaving for Uni

  1. He has a giant amplifier and a set of drums – need I say more?
  2. My Muller Light toffee yoghurts are finally mine.
  3. I don’t take my life into my own hands every time I enter his room, which resembles an obstacle course for military training.
  4. The bathroom will now be vacant for most of the morning.
  5. I can open the kitchen cupboards and find clean glasses and, as an added bonus, clean cups as well.Pizza and Beer
  6. I don’t have to watch him polishing off a 12 inch pizza followed by a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, a packet of crisps and two cans of beer; yet still remain skinny. Meanwhile I have to diet continually just to stay ‘well proportioned’.
  7. I get to spend more time with my husband while his taxi service is suspended.
  8. There’ll be no more having to emerge dripping from the shower in search of my shampoo and conditioner, when I suddenly discover that he’s nicked them YET AGAIN!
  9. I don’t have to give any more post-hangover (his hangover, not mine) tips on the best methods of removing vomit from jeans to ensure that you don’t clog up the washing machine.
  10. I won’t have to listen to the migraine-inducing, ear-piercing, repetitive bleep of the freezer door every time he fails to shut it properly.
  11. I won’t have to put my hand into a sink full of gunge because he’s (a) pushed the plug in again and (b) chucked his leftover baked beans, hot chocolate and ice-cream into the sink resulting in a revolting and potentially lethal mash-up!
  12. I won’t be bothered by his refusal to wear slippers, despite 18 years of nagging, resulting in a rapid turnover of socks and a malodorous whiff when he enters the room.

A Mother's LoveI must emphasise here that despite his foibles I love him to bits and wouldn’t trade him for the world. I’m also extremely proud of him; he’s a loving son, a great character and he’s worked really hard to gain a place studying medicine at a top university.

To get back to the writing theme, I find that humorous writing is one of the most difficult genres to write for. I was tasked recently with writing some web copy for a consumer finance company. The snag was that I had to make it slightly humorous – a bit of a challenge to say the least! After all, what’s funny about wills, pensions and life insurance? Thankfully I managed to achieve it by turning things on their head slightly, but it wasn’t easy.

I think that most of us see the humorous side of life and having a laugh comes naturally. Quite often wit happens spontaneously but to have to produce humorous writing to order is very demanding. That’s why I take my hat off to the guys that manage to achieve it continuously.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the writing genres that you think are most challenging to write for and why.