I'm not going to lie & say I'm canvassing ideas for a mate, or my sister...cos I haven't got a sister, nor any mat.....oh!
Never thought i'd think of trying it, & not cos I'm a closet romeo either, far from it lol. More just to the kind of 'fear' of it, although the fear of blindly trying to chat up in a bar is worse, & that kind of environment has gone, & I hardly drink now anyway.
Any thoughts? And what the hell do you put down on the selection things? I was 22.5 stone 15 months ago, now 15.5, & i may well end up muscular, but is that 'slightly overweight' now or what?
the term is 'bricking it'....
Over the last six months I’ve been pushing myself to be more out there with my writing. To let it stand or fail on its own merits and learn from the good and the bad (and possibly even the ugly.) At this point my good friend Woolleybeans deserves an honorable mention; without my writing buddy I very much doubt I’d have got this far in six months or even ten years.
Writing over such a long period of time as I have means that you build up a fair sized back catalogue of work. Some of mine will never see the light of day. It’s kept to remind me of how far I’ve come. But what was I going to do with the rest of it? Let it sit on the hard drive forever? It came to a head two weeks ago. I was feeling anxious (and excited, but particularly anxious) as I was due to start Debi and Emma’s self editing course. How exactly was I going to lay out pieces of my novel which only I and WB had ever seen, when I’d never tried laying anything I’d written before a larger adult audience?
In equal parts panic and fatalistic glee I selected a bunch of short stories from my back catalogue and polished them up before sending them off for consideration by a selection of sci-fi and fantasy anthologies. I had a few gulpy, can’t breathe moments afterwards and then I felt better. It was done. No calling it back. The hurdle, which I’d turned into a mountain range in my mind, was leaped. I’d crossed my Rubicon. I then did my best to forget all about it other than the fact that I thought I might now be able to approach the self edit course with a bit more composure.
Four days after I had sent the batch out I received two 'yeses'. I was in shock. Heart pounding, that- can’t- be- what- the- letter says type shock. Of course there was excitement too. The standard issue happy dance of good news was enacted. But below it was the thought ‘oh hell, now loads of people will potentially be able to read it.’ I decided to man up. I’d been in brace position for rejection. It was ridiculous to be worried about success, especially such a small victory.
The following day (five days after sending the batch out) I received another letter. This essentially said yes, subject to final approval by the chief editor. They’d let me know in two weeks. I was starting to feel a bit winded. It’s nowhere near the success that other Cloudies have enjoyed. CJ’s news recently was a highlight for everyone I think. But I could understand why she might feel a bit daunted. I did and it was only three short stories.
So when I received my first rejection I was actually pleased. No. Not because I secretly don’t want to succeed. Or because as a control freak the world was now behaving normally so I could relax. It was because my first rejection wasn’t a template letter but a kindly worded personal note saying how much the editor had enjoyed reading my story and that while it wasn’t quite what they were looking for this time, they would like to see more of my work in future. The second rejection was very similar in content to the first – another personal note.
Am I insane to find it really reassuring that I was rejected in this way? That even though I hadn’t made the cut because the stories weren’t what they wanted for those anthologies, nevertheless they had been read with apparent enjoyment, then the editors had taken the trouble to write this and that they hoped I’d submit more in the future?
Throwing it open, especially to those with more experience with this sort of thing, have I completely misread this? Is it wrong to find this to be so positive? Perhaps I wouldn’t have if the rejection hadn’t already been ameliorated with a greater amount of success. I honestly don’t know. I do think I still would have found it encouraging that I didn’t receive a generalized rejection. So I’m feeling pretty good about the whole debacle. Yes I hope for more successes but ultimately the important thing is that I won’t feel so anxious about sharing my work in future. The worst thing that can happen is that it won’t be up to scratch. That’s something I can work with.
Some years ago, I was chatting with a colleague who’d had over a month off work. I knew she’d been in hospital and didn’t think she’d mind me asking why. She pointed to her not-insignificant sized breasts, for one so small, and smiled. “These little buggers,” she said. “Wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known I’d get Pleurisy and nearly die but,” - her glass was always half full - “at least they managed to save them, cost me five grand.”
It upset me that this gutsy lady had spent all her savings, and some more, on a ‘boob job’. It wasn’t on a personal level; I have no interest in what people do and don’t do with their own money. But, as a society, I wondered how we’d managed to become a country where this was so important?
Then I read that the most requested birthday present for American 18 year olds that year had been breast augmentation and my story, A Change of Mind, was the result.
I stashed the story away, it was only ever something I wanted to, ahem, get off my chest, but when I was skulking around my old directories recently, searching for inspiration, I decided to dust it off and enter it in a competition. It was a very little competition and the story won. Great!
I'm embarrassed that it won because, after taking part in the Cloud's very own Self-Editing Course and then casting another eye over it, I realised it was screaming out for a 500 word cut and polish. 'Tale' between my legs (sorry, I couldn't resist) I set to work and then I submitted it to Chase Magazine. It's in this month's issue, I'm delighted to say, and if you have a moment and the inclination, I'd love you to take a look: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/Launch.aspx?pbid=29a86ab5-22b2-4522-89b0-acbcbc92b87e
And to Debi, Emma and my wonderful fellow course participants, thank you, in my imaginary acknowledgements, you’re right there at the top.
On TV there are versions of some shows that are rebroadcast, usually in the small hours, with someone Signing the audio pictured in the corner. There are two points I wonder about. First of all, with so many channels available since digital broadcasting was introduced is it not somewhat insulting to do this? They could easily do a simultaneous broadcast on another channel. I don’t believe having hearing difficulties affects the body clock to the extent that affected people would watch TV at 2am and although it could be recorded, recorders are not universally owned.
But more significantly for me does Signing really help? I know that when I accidentally record such a show, or if I happen to go to the theatre and stumble onto a Signed performance, that even though I have no hearing difficulties I can’t easily watch or enjoy the main action because I simply can’t drag my eyes away from the person who is Signing. I have been told, although only by one person, that subtitles are not at disruptive because people can read in a flash compared with Signing. Also that theatres equipped with induction loop facilities are great for all but the profoundly deaf.
I am all in favour of people with any difficulties being helped. But Signing, which was designed for conversation, i.e. you need to watch the Signer to follow it? Is it a solution for live performance and TV broadcasting?
That said I am loosely addicted to history documentaries and recently I picked up a Signed version of one describing the death of Edward II. Some versions of his murder claim it was by a red hot poker being inserted up his innards via an obvious point of entry. Signing being a graphic visual sort of thing, the Signer’s actions and expression was great, although only because I knew what was being said, of course. I rewound it and watched it several times over.
I found it really hard! But I have been writing to themes for some competitions I have been entering and didn't struggle at all with them. So perhaps it's just the animal element that's thrown me. What do you think?
This is the shoddy piece I came up with...
Max finds the only way to keep warm now the weather has turned is to walk. He often wonders if he should go down south. He’s heard that it’s a different world down there – soft rolling hills, sunshine and exotic foods. But he’s never left the town that he’s from. Besides, the cold didn’t bother him when he had a lovely cosy house to live in. His lady friend hadn’t seemed to mind his unworldly ways either. She wasn’t exactly cosmopolitan herself and had given him the same food every day. He was positive it wasn’t exotic. He’d told her he didn’t like it but she’d carried on giving it to him anyway.
Then one day she stopped giving him any food. She stopped moving and talking too. Just stayed in her chair by the fire. Max didn’t like the smell that started coming off of her. After a while he got hungry and wandered off to find something to eat. He went back later to see if she’d got up but, no, she was in the same place. The smell had got worse too, so he left again.Ever since then he’s been wandering. Eating out of bins, catching some food if he’s lucky, but he’s a bit old and slow for that now. He’s been trying to make friends with another lady - turning on his best purring charm, rubbing against her legs. But so far she’s just stroked him and said hello. He’s beginning to think that she’ll never invite him in.
It definitely wouldn't impress any judges. Especially going by the insights from, Isabel Costello, who's been back on the blog talking about what it was like to judge the April competition. Probably of particular interest to you Cloudies who were on the shortlist and had your stories read by her.
I've given up my life in the UK for uncertainty in Thailand. We all have one life now, enjoy today is a Buddhist philosophy.
So I went out and bought a 5L carton of wine and a few bottles of beer. It wasn't raining. Hence, I am in my apartment enjoying the twilight of my existence, soon to be joined by my soul-mate for dinner (it's 18.30 here).
I am happy...
But, I am very attached to the cloud and I keep coming back to it every now and again to see how everyone is. When Secret Spi mentioned me the other day it really meant a lot, as well as being involved with Daisy White in her pop up bookshop. I am grateful to the support everyone has given me, and so I wanted to share a small (but probably insignificant) success.
I am thrilled with the fact I am in the charts today on Amazon... Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,402 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) #89 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Science Fiction > Adventure #98 in Books > Fiction > Science Fiction > Adventure
I know it is nowhere near the top or anything, but for me it means a lot! My book is only 98p and I have been trying to promote it via a free promo day last week, and sending Daisy postcards, leaving postcards at my gym, posting on the Amazon Forum, etc... whatever it is... it worked today! So, I just wanted to say thank you.
I am going to hopefully near completion of my third novel today so must leave the cloud to get some work done... I hope you all have an amazing day (the weather is gorgeous here - I will have to go for a walk at some point to make the most of it!)
Speak soon Vanessa :)
My father’s house was built in 1957 as part of the council house building frenzy of post war reconstruction. It was their first home; back then I had two parents so I should say “their”. They were young, of course. In fact the whole area filled up with young families most of whom were gaining their first home. It was, is, a pretty vast housing estate but perhaps as a credit to the times there were never any of the problems that seem to haunt such constructed communities these days. Everyone just got along and got on with their lives. And the interesting thing is that they stayed. Virtually all of them in "our" little corner. 1957 right, that’s 54 years. Mr & Mrs Parsons, Mr & Mrs Crump, Mr & Mrs Lloyd, Mr & Mrs Bond, Mr & Mrs Nokes, Mr & Mrs Gleeson, Mr & Mrs Wilcox, I could go on but it’s a list that only means something to me.
Hardly any of them have felt the need to leave even though through the right to buy legislation of the eighties many of them bought their houses and, theoretically they could have sold up etc. They live there, they die there. I’m prompted to write this because old Mrs Nokes died at the weekend. She was well into her eighties and so it’s not a tragedy. Mr Nokes went maybe thirty years ago, but his health was ruined in an iron foundry so he was never making old bones. Mr Parsons, Mr Crump, my mother, both Lloyds, Mr Lloyd was so long ago I can’t remember it, The Wilcox’s, Mr Bond. They all spent their lives in one house, part of one little community in something that is certainly not a village. And they don’t leave until they are carried out in a box, which is happening with increasing frequency and their numbers are dwindling. There are other members of my extended family doing the same thing, although they are getting few in number these days too. My two remaining aunts haven’t moved since they first moved in and my uncle who died a couple of years ago had had the same address since 1954. I know that my father will never move out. He has made his position perfectly clear. He just won't go.
Speaking as something of a rootless nomad I wonder what it is that makes this happen. Has society changed so much; or has it been changed.
The Devil and Miss Jones was on film4 earlier today (I meant to write this last week) with script by Broadway and Hollywood writer Norman Krasna.
Like a lot of writers of the early 30s Krasna came up through the newspapers and became a specialist in sharp comic dialogue (and plots involving mistaken identities). He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on the director’s only foray into screwball, Mr and Mrs Smith, and came up with the original story for Fritz Lang’s best Hollywood film, the socially conscious Fury (scripted by Bartlett Cormack with contributions from Lang and Joseph Mankiewicz). He also wrote Indiscreet for Cary Grant, won an Oscar for Princess O’Rourke, and penned the holiday classic White Christmas.
As complete films a lot of his work has not dated well but the dialogue remains utterly priceless, as so often seems to be the case in 30s comedies. But Krasna seems to have learnt that rat-a-tat screwball style in a way which, as far as I’m aware, is unique. He decided that he wanted to become a script writer after seeing The Front Page (1931), the first of many adaptations of the Hecht and MacArthur play (coincidentally the adaptation was by Bartlett Cormack). To teach himself the dialogue rhythm Krasna got hold of a copy of the script and re-typed it over twenty times. As well as the distinctive pacing of the dialogue, Krasna also absorbed the structure and character dynamics of the script, which heavily influenced his own first play Louder Please! and, some would say, much of the rest of his career.
What interests me about this is that, as I’ve said before, it is important for writers to read scripts; watching a film is not the same as reading a screenplay. Krasna seems to have not only realised this but also taken it to another level; he set out to learn how to write a play and this seemed the best way. I’m not about to sit down and type up The Godfather but it’s a fascinating approach. Mind you, I can’t help wondering what sort of writer he’d have become if he’d watched Little Caesar instead of The Front Page.