100 Days of Writing: Days 68-72

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Day 68 of #100daysofwriting and a complete draft of the Mausu story has been done. A new character turns up in Mausu’s childhood, an antagonist by the name of Buta. He was fun to write because he shows Mausu’s character flaws up. I am always wary of characters that are fun, because they normally get the chop but this one is just a mirror, all of his traits come through the narrative of Mausu, and as a child she cannot be trusted.

For the more eagle eyed of you, all my characters in the story are named after animals. Each animal in my story has a way of passing into the settlement, it’s all about ritual in the valley and freedom on the hill, the chaos of the jungle and the structure of the religion.

Time to step back though and let someone else read it, normally that person is my wife, who is my biggest critic. Next is my son, who basically sits there and says, ‘Why?’ and, ‘How did you do that?. Plus, my personal favourite, ‘I’m going off to write this book I am reading better’.

I feel at a loss to what to do next, I have images of water in my head at the moment, something to do with water will be next and something back on Earth, something to do with climate change and not all change.

Day 69 of #100daysofwriting and I am reading water reports/recommendations for the SW of England to start in 2020 and the concerns of water availability in areas like Cornwall and Devon by 2080. By this time they could be deemed as deserts. The study is interesting in that it discusses the heatwave of 2003, and the European wide death toll of ‘30,000 premature deaths occurred as a result of the high temperatures’. The report, even though it is concerned with water, discussed psychological impacts and violence, failure of public transport and electricity due to sustained temperatures. So, the report discusses temperatures in the region around 36c, which is 2c over the norm in 2003. It goes onto say a temperature of 40c will be achieved by 2040. By then around 1/4 of the population in that area will be over 65. It then, for a water report, gets very frightening as it discusses impact plans and discusses mortality rates among those over 75, children, babies, those with health problems (including asthma and hayfever), mobility issues (which is me) and people who are physical. What concerns me the most is social factors, and more importantly the poor, who they deem will be hit the hardest. Their solution? To make sure that everyone has a water meter by 2020. I think this may be the basis of a story, and it frightens the shit out of me. Oh, and, Merry Christmas!

 

Day 70 of #100daysofwriting and I am on Bodmin Moor in 2040. There is the voice of a teenager, relating a story about living on a farm with no animals and his Grandad. How because they have a well others have to live with them, and how his father died when he complained and how down the road in Sladesbridge are the remains of pre-fabs where people of the past lived and droned on about summers as they were. It’s pushed beyond 40c in my story and Bodmin is turning into a desert, the well is drying up and his Grandad knows if the teenager stays he will die. So, the boy becomes an ark, sent out into the world to go North where there is still water. That’s all I have at the moment. It may work, it may not, but it’s not about water, it’s about the death of our way of living. Everything we take for granted, still elements of it there but twisted into a part of the UK that will suffer from lack of water, mass migration and ethnic/gender tensions. How far can we play at families when we’re nothing more than animals? Hence the image of the farm without animals, just humans becoming them. The leaving is the end of the story because the boy won’t make it, it is a choice between starvation or sickness. Between poverty and the slim chance of hope.
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Day 71 of #100daysofwriting and forewent the usual writing at night from day 70 to 71. Opting for a more leisurely write in the afternoon — I could kick myself — I’m with Vonnegut on this that you have to trust your gut. In Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut edited William Rodney Allen, Kurt discusses how humans are not built to work eight hours straight, that we can barely do four on a single task. Better to split up the work day. Kurt did this by working in the morning and early night. I found early on in my writing career that I work best in the morning and then very late at night — in fact, I am at my post productive in the silence that one finds after the cities have stopped playing for the night, that silence that lets in violence and creativity. So, I have only myself to kick when it comes to the fact that I was in bed at 2:00am and not at my keyboard. Trying to make up for it today, after reading that rather harrowing water report yesterday, I have started drawing up lists and sketches:

Water men
Water metering
Debt from water
Population growth
Heat stroke, death from asthma
A household with a large number of inhabitants

Find myself writing from an irate teenage point of view, suspect that’s my anger at myself for being lazy:

‘The water men travel in threes, one always has a weapon. We’re not talking bullet to the head stuff, more like a sock full of pennies or a piece of wood with nails dog legged out the sides. If you can get the wood, if the termites or the death watch beetle bobs ain’t got to it. Better some pennies in a sock, at least you have the sock to stick your dick in when it gets cold. The water men read the meter, make sure no one’s been cutting in to go with their scran.’

It’s a start but I have to be wary that this is a story about climate change and not all change. No tech to save them, just isolation and nonsense from their council. Like today.

Day 72 of #100daysofwriting and I find myself just typing away about my water story. A lot of exposition but this is a first draft and I find myself just losing myself in the typing, I look back at what I write and wonder where it came from, I know I wrote it but somehow I don’t. It’s that strange rhythm you sometimes get into as a writer. Anyway, here’s a little bit of my teenager talking about stuff he’s heard. I need to play with his voice more, look at Cornish dialect, I also want to get Richard Williams in it somehow, this is a relative of my wife’s who survived the sinking of the SS Schiller. This happened in 1873 but there is something about the sinking of a ship in all that water, in a water strapped society, that is almost obscene.

‘Temperature today is 41c and the loft is no place to be. We’ve spent the day breaking off slates from the roof to get some air in but by midday our clothes are discarded, a sodden mass in the corner by the hatch. We struggle on for another hour but Grandad says its time to call it day before we cook. We drink some water which tastes like burned piss in the heat. We have to take it steady, three quarters of a pint each and we must have sweated six just trying to get some air into the loft. Grandad says there’s some tarp in one of the outbuildings, it’s still locked and he has the key, we can drag it up this evening and use it as a water still and then in winter as something to keep out the worst. Water stills aren’t tolerated by the water men, its free water and water is owned by them, there’s no such thing as free water. A few years ago down Tor Marsh way, a few inventive families got together to tap the De Lank, and the water men cottoned on to it, some grass or flap mouth told on them so the water men poisoned the river just to make a few families sick so they have the proof. So they could fine them. The bastards killed what was left of anything in that river and they fucked up on the amount of poison they put in. All they got was four dead families and no one to bill for the funerals. They got arrested but only because they fucked up. No one heard whether they went to trial but then no one ever saw them again to ask.’

 

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