can you do anything else?

Published by: mike on 12th Oct 2017 | View all blogs by mike



       This is really a postscript to Richards’ blog.  Some people write because they cannot do anything else.  I cannot recall which writer said this?  I think my writing experiences are quite common and similar to other world clouders.   I am of the same generation as Ishiguru and William Boyd but I have never had anything published,  I think I had as much chance of publication than most people because I write from my imagination and don’t adhere to any genre.  

     About thirty years ago, there was a competition which offered readers’ reports on novels, books for children -  and stories.  The reports were on any entry submitted.  I posted manuscripts  off for two  of the categories.   I had  sent off a teenage novel.  This received  an excellent reader’s report which was very complimentary about my writing style  and how suitable the style was for a teenage audience,  I came across this report recently. when clearing stuff out.  I did not win the  competition,  but I had forgotten that  the reader sent me the address of, presumably, a friend of hers in publishing.  I sent the novel off but this  reader  had the opposite viewpoint!   I also have a rejection slip from ‘Faber and Fabers’.  This was about the  same time.   This letter was handwritten and the reader said that my writing is of a publishing  standard.  This was for non-fiction. But if you are not a professional biographer,  it is unlikely there will be market for your book.

    It  has occurred to me that the reader  of the teenage novel, would not have given me the address of her colleague,if she thought the novel unpublishable. I remember I started a new novel but I kept the day job - no choice at the time - and carried on researching non-fiction.  This is on a literary background going back two hundred years.  But writing became a hobby.

          It is, perhaps. a lack of confidence,  but I work over my sentences.  I recall the reader said that my prose scans and this may be the reason.    I go to play ‘Upwards’ on Sunday.  This is with someone who is nearly 90.  ‘Upwards’ is a version of ‘Scrabble’  My competitor complains that I cannot spell.  My grammar is inaccurate andI do not pronounce words correctly.  But my writing style has often received compliments.   I had no wish to be a celeb but  iI would have liked to join the chattering classes.

          A good writing style seems to be important - at least it was.  My model is ‘the cat sat on the mat‘   

          I recently wrote a play which I sent of for a competition and things have probably not progressed much further than thirty years ago, I did not win.  But I seldom send material out and the play only has a context for that particular theatrical space and the competition.,  The judges, asked for a play  lasting forty five minutes and I submitted a play lasting exactly  forty five minutes,  A large clock on the wall ticks the  forty five minutes backwards - so the play ends where it began.. I am extremely pedantic and, as the play is about nothing, I could probably extend the drama to one of Wagnerian proportions.  

       I read Squidge’s blog and wrote the first line of a children’s novel:

       ‘Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and some are born with wooden ladle but, on the occasion of her birth, Svetlana was born with nothing more than an unpronounceable name”

     I don’t know where the idea would go and I am not intending to pursue it but it would be about the English class system and and a girl who does not fit because she is from a different country.  I  recently saw a young Russian pianist and Svetlana  would be plain - but really beautiful - and can only express her feelings though classical music.  She is at a school where she is ridiculed because all the girls like pop-music   I know nothing whatever about teenagers and family life and the book would be total fiction.

     I am at a loose end - project wise - but read though one of a grandfather’s travel books because he had warned people not to read it if they wanted a laugh. He is right, it is a bit mirth free and atrociously written.  It is not really a  travel book and seems to be about a half caste - we have to say dual heritage now - who falls for a Mohammedan who seduces her,  drugs her, and makes her dance in an underground cavern for the amusement of his friends.  Tragedy follows on tragedy much to the sorrow of the local beachcombers living in a shipwreck who frequent the local grog shanty. ( One of the author’s heroines was called Zetta Grogetta).  The book set in Tai-o-hae in the Marquesan Islands.

    This grandfather had been a street busker and his family recall him producing his violin and performing for the bailiffs when they came round.  He used to dip pieces of bread into gravy and say to his children, ‘Look at the meat, look at the meat‘   The book was probably  just scrawled out to try and pay the rent.  But I don’t know?  It seems more constructed than seems apparent.  It would work at half the length - and half the adjectives.  Every sunset is purple.

    I’m off to see a film called ‘Gifted’ which is the sliver screen offer. I am going to see ‘The Battleship Ptomkin’.in the evening.   A live orchestra   is playing the score, and Vladimir Ashkenazy is conducting.  It cost me £12 for the seat so he better be good, 

    I should really write a best seller as I am a theatre junkie and the habit needs feeding. I wrote this a few days ago and re-wrote the  sentences constantly. Or I constantly  re-wrote the sentences - or!!!

    I think my writing style might be close to Richard’s and the children’s novel would be  in the style of Bren or Secretspi.’




  • Dolly
    by Dolly 1 day ago
    Hi Mike. I think I have three different writing styles, though an expert in these matters would probably disagree. I have a particular style when i write prose, be it serious or humour, another style for poetry, and yet another for song lyrics. I suppose there will be a recognisable link in all these that would identify me. But, I think if you want to write in a recognisable and established genre, you would have to adapt your style. I don't write in any particular genre, I just write because I like to create. Its a very individual thing writing. For instance, I used to go to poetry workshops and met a published poet who graced us with his presence. I asked him if he always knew what he was going to write, to which he replied, 'of course, don't you?' To which I replied, 'No!' because I don't. I've written stuff that just happened. Popped up out of the air and wormed its way into my mind. Sometimes my problem is not the writing, but what to do with it afterwards.
  • mike
    by mike 19 hours ago
    Dear Dolly,
    I tend to write in the same way whatever I do. But I don't think you have to adhere to formulaic writing. I write prose in rather old fashioned traditional way and this seemed yo have gone down well. The teenage novel will have dated but the schoolgirl heroine fronted a pop group which was unusual at the time. It was about a girl who got 12 kisses for a Christmas present - one for each month of the year . The idea is totally innocent.
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