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By the Time I Receive My Passport, I will be Out of Date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

Monday, 5 May 2008

Mr Smug Bites Off More Than He Can Chew

I have just been flicking through the blogs of other members of the Novel Racers, though I am not sure I am still an official member, when I looked in on JJ's blog. She is, to quote, a 'British woman in Bangkok: living, writing, drinking tea.'

She recently returned to England for a break during the course of which she met up with fourteen other Novel Racers. What courage! I would feel totally inadequate in such a gathering. I feel faint just thinking about it.

It is a peculiar calling to write. In many respects it is nothing more than a childlike desire to show off. A desire to hear the oohs and ahhs, the sighs, gasps and laughter at all the right places. Above all, it is the desire to hear unalloyed praise and prolonged applause.

The last thing you need is someone else hogging the spotlight. And the last, last thing you need is to meet fourteen others all harbouring the same desires yet neurotically trying to disguise the fact.

I would dribble. I would become hopelessly drunk. I would behave completely inappropriately. They would have to replace the carpet.

JJ nobly claims she was astonished at the generosity of published writers.

Think the worst of me, but if I were a published writer I too would be generous to the unpublished. I would be lavishly extravagant with my generosity. With the aid of a crane and bucket, I would ladle out massive portions. People would stagger away and die of my generosity.

I, for my part, would return home to swell up and explode from a surfeit of smugness - having uttered one single, fatal, wafer-thin, patronising comment too many.

Return To Sender

This is an error. I was learning how to post YouTube stuff and found I had posted Mr Creosote (see above) twice. Now I find I cannot delete this post but have to fill the space with drivel.

Then I remembered I had done a doodle that seemed singularly appropriate for the post that follows. Et voila!
While on the subject of posts that have been misdirected, does anyone have any idea how you delete a post you don't want or have created in error?

Friday, 2 May 2008

Amy's Story Illustrated

I thought I would post the final, well final all bar a bit of fiddling, versions of two of my illustrations for Amy's book.

They took me all Sunday to complete but I hope, now that I know the effect I want to create and how to achieve it, the others won't take me so long.

However, as most of the story takes places under the sea, I can foresee further challenges.

As a postscript, I was discussing the disappearing view of the sea at work with a colleague, a new building that is being erected has finally obliterated the only patch of blue visible from our offices, when he made some comment that has given me the plot for my next Amy book.

This is important as Danny, Amy's father didn't feature in Amy Book One, a weakness of which I was always aware and slightly embarrassed. I don't mind teasing him occasionally, okay, all the time, but excluding him altogether was unfortunate.

But now I have a plot in which he can star with the young Amy so the balance should be restored in the Danny/David relationship. (Well, until Manchester United beat Chelsea in the Champions League Final as I support the former and he the latter.)