Wednesday 28 October 2015

Falling through the cracks

I've been looking for diversions recently - books, but also DVDs - films I hadn't managed to see in the cinema, but also a few favourites. One of those was the heist movie involving  magicians - Now You See Me. Pleased to know that sequels 2 and 3 are on the way. Will they have the magic of the first? Ouch! Sorry.

Watching it again, I enjoyed it just as much, but was aware of a few gaps in the explanations. Of course, as one of the characters says - that's magic. Looking back, I posted something in a similar vein when I saw it the first time. Carried along by the film, you don't actually care if something is out of place. Known as suspension of disbelief - a compact between watcher and film not to enquire too closely.

My favourite editor?
Not so easy with a book, when the reader can flip back and check up on you - or when you have an eagle-eye wise owl of an editor asking awkward questions. Or when you're asking your own awkward questions. Sometimes when I'm going through something I've written I'm aware not of a change of eye colour, or a character being in two places at once, but of some sort of flaw in the logic - and they are a b....r to track down. You know that something doesn't add up - but what? Or is it all in your mind? Are you just too close? That's the point where I worry the script like a terrier until the stuffing falls out of it. 'I know you're in there, I'll get you in the end ...'

It's fine to create an alternative world, where vampires are real, people can read minds, or become invisible, buildings appear or disappear from familiar landscapes. But it still has to add up. Suspension of disbelief only gets you so far. This is not real life, but you have to make it look as if it might be.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Who am I today?

Don't you just love those automated telephone systems - press button zero if you want to ...

And you are?
After a while, once you've got the hang of how those work, it's not so bad, but have you encountered the next layer up - the ones acting as gatekeepers, where you have to answer questions before the machine will pass you through to speak to a real human being? This gives you a problem if you're not the person the machine would like you to be. I tangled with one of those recently, in the course of settling my mother's affairs.

Writers are used to pretending to be other people so, in the end, in order to talk to someone, that's what I had to do. Which probably makes me guilty of impersonation for the purpose of trying to sort out something involving money. (Trust me on this  - there is usually money involved somewhere.)

And then there are the forms - her address, my address, her date of birth, national insurance ...

As a result of all the phone calls and form filling messing with my mind, at any given point I can be a bit confused about who I happen to be at that moment. Of course writers have all sorts of people living in their heads most of the time, but I've never had to settle a bill for any of them. Yet.

Naturally too, being a writer, this idea is percolating in the back of my brain. There must be something I can use here in a story. Not sure yet what that might be - but there must be something.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Taking refuge in books

You know how it is - you read an article, or a short piece in a magazine, or a note somewhere on the Internet and then the same topic seems to be coming up everywhere. In this case, it's how good for you reading is. What a lot of us have known for quite a while is apparently official now. Escaping into a book helps lift your mood and combat depression. I have to say I've been taking refuge there recently - not my usual crime and romantic suspense, but more pure romance, historicals or romantic comedy. Thanks to Georgia Hill, Veronica Henry, Jules Wake, Chris Stovell, Tessa Dare, Janet Gover (I know there are more, but those are the ones I can remember) for assisting my escape at a difficult time. I've been to Italy, Herefordshire, Australia ... The chance to slide into another world, when this one is getting too much, via the pages of a book, is one of the easiest ways of loosing yourself for a while. I hate to be without a book in progress. Writing them has a similar effect - somewhere to go that is not HERE - but takes a lot more work and I'm not ready for that yet.

Is the reading gene inherited? Is it nature or nurture? If there are books in the house and you see your family reading, does that have an influence, or does it run deeper than that? I know my grandmother was a great reader. And my mum. Her ability to read and the joy she got from it never left her. The pile of books on her trolley table in the hospital was witness to that, and frequently remarked on by the nursing staff.  The last complete book she read was Anna Jacob's Peppercorn Street. She was eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series. She knew, from living with a writer, that she could read 'em faster than we could write 'em, but it didn't stop her wanting to know when I thought the next one might be ready.

She never got to finish Ann Baker's Wartime Girls.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

It's the little things ...

Saying the final goodbye to a loved one also involves dealing with the material things that are left behind. Which is why my front bedroom windows are now inhabited by matching aspidistra plants that are older than I am.

And then there is other practical stuff, like giving notice to have the phone disconnected ... and realising that you are never going to ring that number again and get an answer. That number has been with me for most of my life. My Mum took it with her through three house moves. I can remember the excitement when the phone was installed for the first time. It had to be in the kitchen as that was closest to the telephone pole and it had pride of place on top of the fridge. It was a chunky affair, made of cream plastic, with a rotary dial, of course, with that lovely whirring sound as the dial moved around. With the current interest in all things retro you can get modern push button  reproductions, which is one of the things on my wish list for when I reorganise my work room. When I was talking about my ideas for that, Mum confessed that she still had that original phone. She couldn't bring herself to throw it away. So I'm going to find it in a cupboard somewhere ...

Of course the number has nothing to do with the instrument itself - that's had numerous incarnations since that first one. It's the line that is the bit with the number attached. So many of the dramas of my life have come down that line - it's heard laughter, tears, secrets, frightening things and joyful ones. And now it's going. Presumably, in due course, it will be re-allocated to someone else who is still old-fashioned enough to want a land line. And the cycle of laughter and tears will begin again.