Sunday, 22 March 2009

Revision and Lytham (and Doktor Hotfingers). Wednesday 18 March 2009.

Mother’s day poem from Ellie:

My mum is so great
I could eat her on a plate
Please don’t be late
Or I might be deflate
You make me laugh
when you’re in the bath
So glad you didn’t call me Kath
There are lots of things I could say…..
but we would be here all day.

Easy to see where my literary genes came to rest more or less unadulterated.

I'm brassed-off because my first drafts sound childish. My writer friend tells me that they wouldn’t sound any less juvenile if they’d been written by an older me; they sound like infantile shitty first drafts because that's just what they are. And the only way I’ll get them to sound any more mature is to redraft them twenty times, or more. I really think she was trying to cheer me up.

Motored to Lytham St Annes for Saturday afternoon Whelan's fish and chips . Lytham was the hanger-around-staring-at-stuff-person's dream. First there were clog-clad morris ladies.

Then there were exuberant hankie-waving, bumper-boot wearing morris men (that last was a heavily premodified noun phrase).

Then, outside Clifton Walk shopping tunnel, there was Doktor Hotfingers - tricked out in a red-spangled top hat and playing an electronic keyboard. I didn’t get a photograph of him because by the time I’d been into the watchstrap shop, bought and had fitted a new watchstrap, and come back out into the light, he’d packed-up and buggered-off; dammit.

I've faffed and fannied around with these pictures trying to get them in the right place and they just won't conform; they'll have to stay where they are.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Process and Development - and twitting protocol. Wednesday 11 March 2009.

This day we was starting to learn about crafting scenes, dialogue, plotting and back story. All that.

For practice the Writer with the Writerly Name set us an in-class exercise to write about two interesting characters in an interesting place doing something interesting. In addition we had to disclose a third character; divulge a bit of back story; reveal something of the characters of the people in the scene; feature moments with no dialogue; introduce a crisis. I had a vicar and a tart dry stone walling up Beacon Fell, the third character (of course) was a Bishop. However, in an attempt at wit and originality I made the vicar female and the tart male.

I have been researching to amass some back story for the fiction I’m properly trying to write. The story is set in the 1970s but the back story is set in the 1940s and 1950s and involves seedy things. I quickly discovered t’internet isn’t the place to research prostitution in the 1950s. Luckily I’ve found a library with lots of out of date social science books and I’ve hoarded a few bits of ‘credible detail’ which was what I was after. Still sounds pretty shite though; like a pretentious 15 year-old’s essay.

The stuff set more recently is even worse. Great platform-boots of clunky 1970s iconery fish-sliced in: Crimplene, Players Number 6, Brian Cant, Cortina mk 3, BBC 2, Bryan Ferry, Play School, uncut moquette and Hamble. It makes me cringe to read it; it’d be a whole lot more subtle to do an information drop: “It was 1976”.

Watched Red Riding to see how to invoke period in a more restrained manner but got caught up in the story, again, and forgot to notice. Think they did it with flares and spectacles.

Ali asked me what I’d like for mother’s day so I sent her the link to three bits of loot I’m after: Darwin: A Life in Poems by Ruth Padel, Why Evolution is True Jerry A. Coyne and Darwin's Lost World: The Hidden History of Life on Earth by Martin Brasier. Obviously, there’s a bit of a theme going but she said she couldn’t possibly order any of those; Amazon’d keep contacting her with all sorts of ludicrous titles that people like her buy; it would, she continued, “be the sci-fi thing all over again”. Miniature hydrangea in a decorative pot it is then.

What's the protocol when a (very agreeable seeming) stranger twits you? Anthony twitted to me: "yay Preston :D" (we were both twitting from Preston). Do I: ignore it (rude); twit back "Preston yay :)" (bit trying too hard to be hepcat); follow him (creepy, he's literally less than a quarter of my age); twit back "hello Anthony, do you enjoy living in Cottam? (stupid). So, I followed him; then instantly unfollowed him in case he told his mum. Although maybe grannys are fine to makeup numbers - I don't know. Then I replied but tried to to achieve that that exact right mix of self aware and witty. I spare the details.

Happy Birthday Frankie

Monday, 9 March 2009

Second person and research. Wednesday 4 March 2009.

It is exhausting trying to write fiction; you can never relax. All the time you’re driving Stuart Maconie, or Andrew Marr or Alan Bennett reading an audio book or Terry Wogan are inundating you with nicely turned phrases or agreeable expressions – just when you’re least able to jot them down with a view to stealing/borrowing them.

On Friday you had to drive thirty miles in rush-hour traffic repeating the phrase “reserve that hides the hurt” (courtesy of Anita Shreeve) over and over so you didn’t forget it before you arrived home. And now it doesn’t seem that special out of context; you’ll still find a slot for it though.

All that last bit was written in second person. I used to think that second person had little to recommend it but now I find it quite chummy (back to first person).

this is Ellie managing to look lovely as the Tinman (and David as Colonel Harland Sanders).

to be continued....