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My Works in Progress

Sunday, 11 November 2007

I've set up this blog because I think I'm too old for facebook!

I absolutely love writing and have done all my life. Up until today my writing has always been stuff for work - or anonymous. I did get a short story published many years ago, but gave up when my next two were rejected! Boo hoo. Oh well – you live and learn.

I really have two completely different writing styles. In my working life I am a local government officer (yes – I can hear the groans!). I am the faceless, anonymous and slightly patronising "a spokesperson for the Council said …." or the "for more information please contact ………….." at the bottom of official notices in the local paper.

My work writing style is succinct, non-fiction, boring official claptrap. Anyway, enough said about that – I think you get the picture.

In my private life I am a true "wannabe". My husband calls it "my writings" and pats me on the head as if I was a ten year old doing her homework. My grown-up children think I'm slightly mad but all of them agree that I am a "proper" mum. I think that means that I am fat; don't embarrass them too much in front of their friends; make nice dinners and hide my ironing instead of doing it. I also only hoover half way up the stairs because – well what's the point?

I have written an entire book – 118K words - and I am going to try and get it published. Apparently there were 46,000 entries to the Richard and Judy competition and UK publishers receive about 1,000 manuscripts per month. Oh well – I suppose there's more chance of me getting published than winning the lottery – and I still do that every week!

There. I've said it now. I have committed it to print and emboldened it. I am going to try and get it published. (Please note, Mercedes, and thanks for all the encouragement.)

I have made some fantastic virtual friends through the wannabe a writer website chatroom. Mercedes and the lovely Henry, Lane – of pointy sticks notoriety, Kev – wannabe sci-fi writer alias Cap'n Black, Linda and Jane – apparently never enough but occasionally one too many.

If it hadn't been for Jane Wenham-Jones' marvellous tome, published this year "Wannabe a Writer?" I would have been an eternal closet scribbler, secretly trying to break free from the straight-jacket of local government monotone officialdom which disguises itself as "plain English" and gets a crystalmark.

I can't recommend Jane's book highly enough. It's a brilliant book, written as if Jane is speaking to you personally. As the book says, it will either give you a little tingle of excitement that maybe you can do it or realise that you can't. Even if, after reading it, you realise that you can't, I can assure you that you'll enjoy reading it anyway.

Below is an extract from my book. It's not the beginning, but somewhere in the middle. It is a completely random extract.

Daisy and Bill arrived breathlessly at the ambulance station door, barely five minutes after they had left the scene of Tom's accident. The persistent rain earlier in the evening had developed into something approaching a downpour, made worse by the intensifying wind. They squinted through the stinging, cold rain at the typewritten notice taped to the inside of the door.

"The Services of the St. John Ambulance can be Obtained by Contacting Mr Quentin Andrews at The Co-operative and Labour Institute Next Door during the Social. Please Ask The Doorman for Assistance"

"Bugger it," said Bill. "We'll have to go in the Social looking like drowned rats."

He grabbed Daisy's hand and ran back down the alleyway and up the first two steps to the Institute. The doorman looked suspiciously at the bedraggled youngsters standing before him as he held up a hand to bring them to an abrupt halt.

"Have you two got tickets?"

"No, my dad's fell down a drain and we need an ambulance quick."

The doorman sniffed suspiciously as he peered down the steps and weighed up whether or not the young girl was telling the truth.

"Mr Quentin Andrews?," enquired Bill. "We need to speak to him now – it's an emergency!"

"You tell your dad he needs to take more water with it," chuckled the doorman, without moving. He crossed his arms, his lower lip covering his top lip, his eyes rolling upwards as if asking for divine intervention.

"Please, sir!" begged Daisy.

"Stay there, don't you move, mind. I'll see if Mr Andrews is available."

"Jesus!" exclaimed Bill, as the doorman closed the outer door on them, leaving them on the steps in the driving rain.

Inside the hall, trestle tables were half empty of food and the room was filled with smoke. Mr Andrews was talking to a group of giggling girls, who were anxious to attract the attention of three of his sons, who were obliviously playing cards nearby. The doorman called a lanky eleven year old boy over to him.

"Will you go and fetch your dad for me?" he asked the boy. "I think he might need to take an ambulance out to a drunk in a drain."

"What?" questioned the lad, screwing up his face as he tried to hear above the din. "A what?"

"Drunk in a drain!"


"A drunk in a drain! You deaf, lad?"

The boy sauntered off to find his father, shaking his head and wondering what on earth the doorman had said.

Outside, Daisy and Bill shivered in the cold, wet doorway . After a few minutes, Quentin opened the door. After listening to Daisy and Bill's account of the accident and carefully making a written note of Tom's predicament he told them to run around to the yard where the ambulances were kept and wait for him to join them.

After a few minutes he re-appeared with a bag and his eldest son, who took a final drag on a cigarette and threw it into the gutter, where it was carried away by the rivulet of water rushing towards a grating.

The four of them clambered into the front of an ambulance, the smell of their wet clothes intensifying in the small space and the driving rain hammering loudly on the roof of the cab. Daisy was squashed against the passenger door and Bill held her tightly to him, scared she would fall out if the door burst open as the vehicle negotiated a corner. Quentin drove carefully, but as quickly as he could, the windscreen wipers squeaking rhythmically.


I can't believe I've just put a bit of my book on the world-wide web, for all and sundry to pick to bits! Hopefully, not many people will read it, and equally hopefully, if they do, they will all be "wannabes" and not smug alreadydoneits". Note to Jane: I do not class you as a smug alreadydoneit because you are a nice, kind lady.

Feedback appreciated.

Here is a serious thought for today.

On Remembrance Sunday

I forgot to buy a poppy. I feel really, really bad because I forgot to buy a poppy. I went to Tesco's yesterday and hoped there would be a poppyman (or poppylady) outside, but there wasn't. I wondered how far one should go to buy a poppy? Does driving around, searching for a poppyman, contribute to global warming or is it a necessary journey?

I felt ten times worse when my grandson asked me where my poppy was, as he proudly displayed his – and he's not three yet!

Oh – the shame ….

And here is a not-so-serious thought for today.

On being fifty-something and meeting virtual-friends-I-have-never-met-before on 30th January next year

I hate the feel of make-up on my face and tend to avoid looking in mirrors instead of plastering it on. Should I start wearing make-up every day and break a lifetime's habit so that I can practise - ready for the big meet-up? Will people think I am trying to fill the cracks if I start now? Or worse – will I look like a clown. Help – I don't know how to put make-up on!


Lane said...

Hi Annieye and welcome to blogland:-)

Great first post! Well done on finishing your novel and love the dialogue in your extract.

Ironing? I'm not entirely sure what that is:-)

And as for make-up - maybe start with 'less is more' unless of course you want to go down the Barbara Cartland route:-) I hear she published quite alot of books so it worked for her:-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,

Before I became unemployed in February, I was a techie, so if you ever need advice on computer related things, feel free to ask. Even if I don't know the answer I have several techie friends who can help.

Not that you'll need any, judging from this blog. Don't be afraid to put your stuff on-line. I overcame that fear a while back, though I was quite nervous at first. It's been useful to have feedback and you can only get that if you 'release' the work. FionaMac sent me some very useful tips and comments on 'Fugue In D Minus', my longest released piece so far. I've sent you some feedback by e-mail, rather than posting it here, in case you want to keep it private.

I'm looking forward to the meet-up in January. It will be good to meet the faces behind the names. On that subject, I do not believe you need to wear any make-up, though I generally think that's true for most women. I guess I just prefer the natural look.

Oh and nobody is too old for facebook.

Fiona said...

Don't be nervous about putting your work up Annie, not only will it help you but it helps others as well. I don't mean that people will copy your work but you can sometimes see how a writer has coped with a plotting or pacing situation and a little light bulb goes off.

Anonymous said...

Btw, you are never too old for facebook! its all just a game really on there...you know people pretending to be something they are not. Your work is really good! I can see I have a long way to go! Id love to go on one of those writing weekends....fat chance of that happening!X