Monday, 19 May 2008

By the Time I Receive My Passport, I will be Out of Date

I am sitting here waiting… and waiting… I have no option other than to sit here and wait… and wait… because Secure Mail Services are delivering my new passport sometime today. That is sometime between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m.

They can't be more specific than that because they actually don't give a fig that I and everyone else they deliver to have to sit around all day waiting… and waiting…

It would be impossible, of course, with present day communication technology being as primitive as it is, for them to be any more specific.

On the other hand, if you have something delivered by Amazon you can track its passage from start to finish. Obviously this is an aberration.

The BBC recently tracked an Osprey migrating from South Africa to its breeding nest in Cumbria every inch of the way. This too is an aberration.

But Secure Mail Services know you have no option other than to wait as they are delivering a document of fundamental importance.

Their slogan should be "Let them eat cake. Let them they wait…" (And the government wonders why the nation is becoming increasingly obese when it's all down to the Passport Office and their courier of choice.)

On a more positive note, my writing progresses. Admittedly at the same pace as Secure Mail Services, nonetheless, it progresses. However, the paradox is the more I write, the less I seem to accomplish. My book is shrinking!

I shall explain.

This may sound tangental but I read on Caroline Smaile's blog that she gave a writer's workshop last Saturday where she discussed how she writes. She gives an example of an item that inspired a whole scene, a photograph, and talks of memory recall being colour coded.

My book, the one I have been working on longest, started off as a huge blob of clay that I bought one day. I started to play with it having no real object in mind, pulling it, extruding it, generally exploring what was possible. I left it. Came back to it and decided I didn't like the overall shape but there were a few details I could work on. And so it continued. Eventually I could see, in a myopic manner, some sort of definitive shape appearing.

Unlike my old career as an advertising copywriter where one spends half one's life trying to distract yourself or a process of thought to look at the problem from a new perspective, writing has to be methodical. Routine and discipline, as I have mentioned before, are of the essence.

It is within this process that I discover the creative spark is generated. I find that as I am writing, I will type a line that expresses some thought that has arrived unbidden. Though often unwelcome, it seem, on reflection, necessary, even inevitable.

It is unwelcome in the sense that the new thought has consequences that takes the scene in different direction from the one to which you had initially imagined it was heading. And as one scene changes, even marginally, it will invariably affect those preceding and succeeding. The last time this happened I actually laughed out loud as I just knew I could not pretend it hadn't happened but would have to deal with it.

Consequently much of what I have already written will have to be consigned to the recycling bin. Hence my book appears to be shrinking. (However, I did say the recycling bin; much of the material can be rescued with more work.)

I fear I can hear the tutting of more experienced writers as they shake their collective heads at my hopeless methodology. My only excuse is that it is my first book and I wrote my MA dissertation in much the same fashion and I got a distinction. So there!

Snail Mail Image (with slight amendment) copyright of Gregg & Tracy Spender


DOT said...

With Machiavellian timing, the courier arrived at 4.10 p.m. thus ensuring that the whole day was wasted in nervous anticipation of whether I would have time to leave the building to complete a few chores that needed doing. I didn't.

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

You should've bought your passport from Amazon! They seem to be selling just about everything now.