Sunday, 17 May 2009

Stress, Tears, Tarn and Twinks.

I haven’t had the time or inclination for writing of any description lately. I’ve been ill with the sinus infection from hell, so painful.

On the home front exam stress is taking its toll. My eldest son is in the midst of revising for his upcoming ‘A’ levels and is uber sensitive to everything. We’re all afraid to breathe too loudly for fear of incurring an outburst. To make matters worse my youngest son got ruthlessly cast aside by his girlfriend (of three weeks duration) and it was all tears and teenaged trauma for several days. It was his first girlfriend so he’s taken the rejection very hard. I must admit to crying with him, he was SO devastated, it was heartbreaking to witness. He’s only 13, bless him.

On Friday we travelled down to Lancaster to look over the university that my son will be going to in the autumn (all being well with his exam results) it’s a massive campus and he was a bit overwhelmed by it, and by the distance of it away from home. It’s an anxious time for him really. He suffers from episodes of depression and doesn’t adapt easily to change, so there are some tough times ahead for him. I just hope he can keep it all together. We stayed overnight and had a wander around Morecambe next day. There’s a big art deco hotel on the seafront, The Midland, and for years it was all but derelict, but it’s all been done up and looks really beautiful. The weather on the way home was horrific, the heavens just opened and it took us hours to get back. The roads turned into rivers that threatened to sweep us away.

I’ve recently joined an online writing group called So far it’s been a very worthwhile exercise. I posted a couple of stories and got some feedback that was invaluable to me as a writer who really wants to grow and improve. Constructive criticism is so very difficult to give. Some people think that literary criticism is all about telling an author how much they hated or liked your work, and it isn’t. One guy, a real published author no less, ;-) just about gave me a line-by-line critique of a story and it was great. I was pleased that he thought enough of my story to want to take the time to do that. It was useful not just in the context of that one story, but for my writing in general. I got other useful feedback as well. It’s just putting it all into practice that's the problem. There aren’t enough hours in the day for serious and fun writing.

On the fun writing front, just as I think I’m ready to call time on Tarn and Twinks permanently, I get an email from someione who has found and really enjoyed the diary, so it makes me reluctant to close it down altogether. I started writing their story back in 2004 and that’s a long time, especially in this genre where novelty rules. Taking a year of journal entries and turning them into a book was a fantastic writing exercise for me. The journal was written off the cuff, just like a real diary. I never knew what I was going to produce. I’d sit down at the computer and just write what came into my head, perhaps influenced by some item on the news or something I’d observed during the day, and then of course I had to extend on it, which in itself was a good writing exercise. The part where Twinks goes missing for example, I just about wrote myself into a corner with that storyline. I had no idea where it was going. I wanted to create a cliffhanger situation…in a way I was testing for reader reaction, and I got it, lol. Making him vanish was one thing, bringing him back was quite another. :-D

Going back over the journal entries I was struck by several things, the sheer volume of work, and the number of typos and misplaced commas. I really worked hard to hone and polish it all up. There are over 300 pages in the book; there were almost 500 before I started re-editing. I expanded on some things and shortened others and completely cut some passages. I reckon it could stand another editing, and yet another, but I could go on forever doing it and really there’s no point because I’m more or less serving only myself. I’m pleased with the overall result. Tarn and Twinks as characters are very dear to me; the diary contains a lot of my emotions. It’s a personal thing and it gives me pleasure to see all that work encased in a tangible form. As we all know, websites are not guaranteed to last forever. Geocities is closing and a lot of writing will be lost. It’s sad, so many people put so much work into building personal sites and now yahoo has decided it has the right to just wipe them away. A friend of mine made a very apt analogy. She likened it to a community garden, where people are encouraged to plant and tend things and then the council decides it wants the land for something else and just comes along and tears it all up.

Another fun project I’m currently working on is a story called Deadlines. I began it a few years ago. It was then called Tales From The Stationmaster’s House. My challenge is to resolve the mystery of Jude (the brother of one of the lead characters) I have a scenario all worked out in my head, but the hard part is getting it out of my skull and onto the page, it isn’t as easy as it seems. I also want to work on the characterisation of both Joseph and Michael. By way of incentive I’ve had a book cover designed. You can see it on my website on the Coming Soon page. The lady who did it was the same one who designed the cover for Moving On. I love her work and I find that having a professionally designed cover that incorporates elements of my story actually helps me keep focussed.

On the serious writing front I’m thinking of putting together a collection of poems. I’ve been getting some encouraging reviews for the few I’ve posted on Authors Den. I’ve got hundreds, but most need work, they also need rescuing from the floppies they’re stored on, again, it’s all about time.

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