Novel Thoughts

It is said that everybody has at least one novel in them. Mind you, I’m not sure who says it. And, come to think of it, I’m not sure what it really means. (And I’m sorry for starting a sentence with “and”. It just came out like that.)

In one sense, everybody has the story of their lives to tell. Fictionalising your life or taking aspects of it to use in fiction; well, that’s another story.

I know of at least three people who are writing novels. One of them is apparently writing a novella, so he can publish ahead of his friend. A novella, according to the nearest dictionary, not the internet, is a short narrative story. Before you scoff, presumably ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ are novellas. Enough said.

I know at least one more who has a plan, this time for a series of children’s novels. I will not rant about ‘celebrities’ who think they can write children’s books. I am very sure the person I have in mind will make a superb job- she’s a teacher. Which is not to say that all teachers can write good novels.

Of course, writing and publishing are not necessarily the same thing, but I feel there are some remarkable novels that have never been published. However, the authors are probably not starving in the traditional garret.

Novel thoughtsMore than 30 years ago I wrote a 100,000 word novel which is best left unread. It was a pre-marriage project, written last thing at night. At least I was a disciplined writer. Last year I started to put bits of it on a WordPress blog (see obliquefictions). However it’s so poor that I have lost interest. It’s the story of…. gasp, a teacher! Who is frustrated but can’t get a boyfriend! No, not a girlfriend- I had what I thought at the time was the brilliant idea of writing it from the point of view of a woman. Hindsight makes me see it was a tiresome idea. It only proved that I had little insight into a woman’s point of view. The novel also proved that I had little idea about sex, for obvious reasons.

I started on this post after realising that so many people have wonderful stories to tell from their lives. I seem to have had more time to listen after finishing teaching. That’s nothing to do with teachers not listening, just to do with being busy.

I’ve met a man who was separated from his twin at birth, and fostered; he has only just learnt he also had another brother. Another gentleman worked for a small industrial firm whose owners turned out to be gangsters. A lady I was talking to recently saw a West Indian immigrant in the 1950’s, immediately resolved to marry him and did so, defiant of the prejudices of the time (from both sides of the relationship). They are still happily married. Others have spent their entire lives looking after their severely disabled children, now adults. Just this morning I was hugely entertained by stories of adolescence in- let’s say Tyneside. Motorcyle misadventures (how many teenagers can you get on a bike?) featured largely. I wish I’d had a recorder or a notebook.

Perhaps they are, after all, best left unfictionalised. Should they tell their stories? It would be lovely to think they could be shared. I am astonished how many people quite happily tell of affairs they or their partners have had. Maybe we have a compulsion to tell stories of our lives, even if we don’t write them down. Perhaps, having clarified my thinking in the course of my writing, as so often, I should stop there.


New Bloggers, Blogging and Life

This is a reblog of a thought-provoking piece reaching far beyond blogging.

Find Your Middle Ground

blogging and life

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon recently with new bloggers. Perhaps, if you are reading this, then you may have noticed as well. There are flurries of Likes one after an other and then a Follow.

I doubt this new generation has superhuman ability to read so quickly… and it makes me wonder if they are actually reading what is posted, or are simply wanting reciprocation, with multiple likes and a follow. Is the goal to accumulate lots of Likes and Followers, regardless of connection with other bloggers?

It makes me think of my adolescence where there was much self doubt and a craving for validation. If I do this for you, you’ll do this for me. If I like you, you must like me. This, of course, is encouraged in all Social Media.

Perhaps this keeps many people in a state of wondering what others think, and being seen…

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Grumpy Older Person on the heatwave and uniform

A news item today condemned a school for making pupils- sorry, students- wear school uniform in the “heatwave”. The aforementioned uniform was a polo shirt and trousers.

My goodness, writes my grumpy older person alter ego. In my day we wore blazers, pullovers or waistcoats, shirts, ties and woolly vests. With caps. And gaberdine mackintoshes in all weathers. Woe betide you if your socks were not the regulation thick woollen ones. Why, I remember in the heatwave of ’72, when birds were dropping out of the sky from the heat…….

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, uniform. Well, it’s hard to think of a uniform that’s cooler than a polo shirt. I suppose shorts could substitute for trousers. I don’t suppose many students would be seen dead in sandals, however.

The news item has made me recall my schooling, which doesn’t often happen. We did have to wear blazers or jackets (and ties) in all weathers, unless given permission by the teacher of the lesson we were in. I remember Miss Young (a rather wonderful English teacher- one of the old-school types who never shouted or punished, but who never, ever had any class control problems) allowed us to take our jackets off. The room was suddenly bright with white shirts, and the odd grey one.

While we’re on the subject of uniform, hands up who remembers gaberdine macs. On of my abiding memories is the smell of them drying in the cloakrooms. Unforgettable. We take for granted modern fabrics: waterproof, cool or warm, stain resistant, easily washed and often not needing ironing, cheap……

Anyway, enjoy the heat. You’ll be moaning come the winter….

Note: More apologies (in the unlikely event of anybody reading my old posts) for some of the comments. Some are just weird. including instructions for storing medicines. Wot? Nothing to do with me, gov……

A Literary Wedding

DSCN6753Briefly- We went to a lovely wedding the other day, where there was something of a literary theme: hearts on the table punched out from a copy of Pride and Prejudice, paper bouquets made from books and magazines, themed course names, and so on.



DSCN6752I particularly liked being asked to choose a present for myself: a book from a selection made by the bride and groom. The idea provoked discussion and pleasure. I know it has motivated some guests to read, or to read something new. I chose ‘Underworld’ by Don de Lillo, as the groom particularly recommended it. Looks like a cue for a blog review. Eventually; it’s huge. Thank you, Michael and Christy-Anne

Election Notes 7: It’s easy, go and do it.

Making a pencilled cross on a piece of paper isn’t such a big deal; yet, when I vote, it always makes me feel great. I live in a country where it’s allowed; where it actually makes a difference. Nobody can tell me how to vote. Nobody can know how I voted.

It’s not difficult. Get your polling card (although you actually don’t need it) and go to the polling station given on it. You can ignore the people outside; they are party representatives trying to work out how many of their supporters have voted. (I always politely just say “no” when they ask me.) They CANNOT by law ask you how you vote. Go inside, give your card to the nice person behind the desk. They will give you a ballot paper. Go to the booth, make a simple cross against the name of your chosen candidate with the pencil provided. Resist the temptation to write or draw something rude. Fold the paper, put it in the box. Thank the nice person behind the desk (not obligatory, but it’s a thankless job). Go out, ignore the canvassers again and go for a coffee (not obligatory).

That’s it. Simples. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the end for another five years. You can get involved, write, campaign, etc. More on this later. (No groaning at the back there.)

Oh, and if you still aren’t decided, pick the candidate whose policies you dislike the least.

People died for the vote. I cannot get out of my head the image of South Africans queueing for hours in the sun to vote after the end of apartheid. Don’t let apathy win.

Vote Oblique

Note: There is a good article for first time voters here: BBC News- What can you NOT do in a polling station?

Election Notes 6: The Others

Just for the sake of balance and completeness, here are election pamphlets from the other political parties in the our constituency. We had not yet received them at the time of my post Election Notes 5: Who Should I Vote For?.

None of them have photos of their party leaders, although the independent candidate probably is the party leader.

As usual, I am sitting on the fence until the splinters hurt too much; but a vote for a minority candidate is not a wasted vote; if that person fits your views best, then you have made your views known.

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