I’ve been working, for some time, on a story about an old man and an old woman who are visited by a junior reporter from the Isle of Thanet Gazette newspaper. I split the story into three sections – the first section was written in third person and describes, in some detail, the journey taken by the young reporter to the old couple’s home. The location is real, as is the journey, and I wanted to give the story an authentic feel so I’ve used bus numbers and street names and I’ve described the houses as they were during the years the story is set (1975).
I wrote the second section as a play script and formatted it in that way. I was interested in writing something a little different and experimenting with medium. I thought I was being very clever. I enjoyed writing the script part as much as, if not more than, the prose part. Here’s an extract from the second section:
You: What was your job around that time, Mrs Tapp? What did you do at Fairdale’s?
Albert: Sweet Fanny Adams, if my memory serves me.
Beryl: He’s asking me, thank you very much. I worked in the laundry room washing and ironing the garments with some of the other girls.
Albert: That’s not all she worked.
Beryl: What’d he say?
You: Nothing. Nothing. Go on.
Beryl: From seven thirty in the morning to half five in the evening.
You: A long day, Mrs Tapp?
Beryl: It was a long day. Sunday off, mind. I was good. Some days I’d press up to thirty shirts.
Albert: That’s not all she’d press up to.
Beryl: I had nimble fingers, see. I was quick. Swish, along the collar. Swish, down the sleeves. Swish, side panels. Swish, back panel and up onto the hanger.
You: I can imagine. You made a note of that – ‘nimble fingers, swish,’ you wrote. Well done. Fat lot of good that’ll do you when you get back to the office.
I finished with a third section and reverted back to third person prose. I wrote and rewrote until I was happy with it. Next, I made an audio recording of it. I screwed up plenty of times and found myself having to go back and start again. I swore a lot. I have several outtake recordings to prove it. Finally, at around 10.45 p.m. last night, I uploaded it onto MacGuffin, an exciting site for writers which I discovered a while ago but hadn’t, until last night, had the courage to upload my writing onto.
I felt very pleased with myself – I’d worked really hard, over several weeks to get the story to a point where I was happy to share it. Now I look at it, re-read it, re-listen to it, and it’s still very much a work-in-progress, I can see the plot flaws in it, it doesn’t quite hang together and the characters’ responses are a little forced in places. Finally, the ending isn’t right. So, why the photograph of the angry looking bird? Well, when I picked it for this post, I thought the bird was an owl. Now I’m not so sure – which leads neatly back to the way I feel about my story.
Here’s why I haven’t been posting for a while. Just before we broke up for the summer holidays I sat down to add some bits and bats to the site and everything went tits up. All of the menus refused to stay in place and the more I tried to solve the problem the more unctuous it became. In the end I swore at the site – I called it a wanker – then left it to its own devices – sound advice, I reckon, when dealing with any kind of wanker. I did revisit it sporadically during the summer break but I got nowhere slowly. A couple of days ago the rather marvellous Ian from work took the site to task and set it straight again.
So, here we are in the now. I mentioned in the last post that I planned to make my own writing room and the photos above are testament to that end. I dismantled the room, repaired and painted walls and ceiling, made and fitted the skirting, architrave and coving as well as making a small cupboard door and hanging a new entrance door. I also made the bookshelves in the right-hand photo using discarded wine boxes given to me by my old mate Tom.
That’s about the long and the short of it for the summer – I’ve been writing, of course, and I’ve been reading lots too. I’ve also been eating too much and so I’ve regained a few pounds. Oh, and I watched two entire series of ‘Last Chance U’ on Netflix. I’d recommend it. It’s about American football but it’s so much more than that too. It’s about religion and poverty and black expectation and the American Dream and how that delusion very effectively lays all of an individuals failures at their own door. There’s no consideration of circumstance, intellect, life experience: if you screw up it’s no one else’s fault but yours. And if life throws a shed load of shit at you, you just have to soak it up – it’s God’s plan and that can never, under any circumstances, be challenged. The programme is depressing and heart-breaking a good deal of the time but the spirit of some of the young lads, the innocence and blind faith they show despite enduring some of the most awful childhood experiences, is truly moving.
On a lighter note. I’ve made myself a roster for each evening. It includes working on my site (check!), working on my Open University courses (not check yet as they aren’t due to start just yet), writing (check) and finding someone – anyone! – to publish my short stories. Onwards, upwards, backwards, stagger sidewards a little, then onwards again!
Not the view I’ll have from my new writing room but I have a good imagination, right?
A month has passed and I haven’t written a thing for TWIYC (pronounced Twick). Quite simply, I have been busy doing day to day things – reading, looking about myself, scratching, gazing, finishing up at work, eating…pottering. I’ll also be working a three day week when I return to work in August. I have plans – I hope to write more, I now have an almost dedicated room to do this. The walls are a cool grey and there are yellows and soft whites involved too. I say ‘almost’ because my writing room will double, or even triple, as a guest room and nursery for my beautiful but as yet too young granddaughter when she comes to visit.
The room has a new wardrobe and single bed and I have my eye on a blue/black desk with grey tubular legs which will be my workstation. The view from the window will be into my neighbour’s garden, which is grand as my neighbour is a keen gardener. I hope to continue developing my ‘A View From The Gasworks’ collection of stories. I have three new ones which I am working on at the moment. ‘Secrets’ is the story of a working-class boy who returns home from university desperate to unburden himself of a secret he knows will destroy his parents. ‘A Life Well Spent.’tells of an Isle of Thanet Gazette junior reporter as he journeys to the Linksfield Road estate to interview an elderly, and bitter couple who have been married for over 50 years. And ‘God The Father.’ is the tale of a wheelchair bound woman and her stuffed dog, recalling the terrible havoc men have reeked on both their lives.
Well, would you Adam and believe it! I’ve had such a good weekend, starting with my reading of ‘The Glorious and Much Celebrated Death of William, Henry Muggs.’ at the Story Friday event at Burdall’s Yard.
The audio will be out soon and I’ll post it up for you to have a listen, if you’ve a mind too. You better have a mind to or there will be trouble. Maybe even double trouble. I don’t know yet. I haven’t decided. But anyway, there will be trouble. Which puts me in mind of that song by that fella – what’s-his-face – you know the one, the one that sang that song about trouble being ahead. He was the one with the head. Two eyes, that sort of thing. Nose. Mouth. Chin. He had the lot. Oh, yes! No half measure for that guy. Hair! He had hair! I think. Or was he bald? I don’t know, I can’t remember. Don’t ask.
Don’t ask but do listen. Listen to my filthy and foul-mouthed story about an angry, bigoted
cnut – tunc – ncut and his timely (or should that be ‘untimely’) death. Leave a comment too – that would be grand and it would create the impression I’m not typing this stuff to an audience of one – un – bun – sun – fun…
Very pleased to announce my piece of flash fiction ‘The Sun on the Dash.’ has been published in this year’s National Flash Fiction Anthology. Here’s the link: NFFA
This is the image I’m using to promote myself as a creative writing gnu (I was going to promote myself as a creative writing guru but there are lots of those already). I mean, think about it, who would you rather be tutored by? A guru or a gnu? Yep. Thought so.
I’m not convinced the photo is creating the right impression. My head looks like an egg – it’s even a similar colour. My shirt might be perceived as being a bit racy. Then there’s the old ‘right-ear, left-ear’ stand-off. My right ear looks bigger than my left and I’m pretty sure, if it could circumnavigate my noggin (it couldn’t, it would never make it round the shiny bits of my bald head without losing its grip and plummeting to it’s death on the cold, cold kitchen floor), it would do so and bully my left ear. Meanwhile, my left eye holds a twinkle whereas my right eye looks like death. Yes. You heard me. Death. I wrote a play about Death once.