100 Days of Writing: Days 83-87

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Day 83 of #100daysofwriting and I am back in Bodmin Moor and from notes I am into the first draft. I do about 1200 words before I call it quits, even typing this is hard as my voice in this story has a voice that ranges from slang through the pock marked face of bad grammar. I loved the word emmet he uses to describe incomers, emmet is a derogative term for tourists but by the time this story is happening, emmet means anyone not from their area. Cholera is sloughing and he has a neighbour who he calls Dung Chops. Even an old school friend of mine becomes a character, Killy a trader appears, who’ll buy anything, rob anything – this has nothing to do with my old school friend – but I find I collect names like a magpie. I am enjoying writing in fragments, piecing them together to build a story. I like how Brown Willy and Rough Tor are more stone, more cairns than grass.


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Day 84 of #100daysofwriting and the story is showing the realities of over crowding, the tensions, the pleasures and pains. Water men are part vigilante and judge, drunk on the power of illegal water on the black market, and the things it buys them and the misery they have to inflict to get their fun down on Tor Marsh market. I still have to come up with a title for the Mausu story yet, it is sat there with an old title that no longer fits the story and I am unsure of the title of the Bodmin Moor story I am telling.

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Day 85 of #100daysofwriting and I am writing in my usual stint of Saturday night through to Sunday morning, and the story I am writing is part of the novel title I am working on for my PhD, The Song of the Metal Grasshopper. Here within the fabric of this story is the myth around it, the image of those sound boxes you could get as a kid that go moo and baa. Within this story the dealer tells him about the myth of the grasshopper and the ant but the boy not knowing what either is, only sees the metal sound box chirruping and sees only the ability to crush anything smaller with it. This becomes a perfect analogy for the novel I am thinking of writing on climate change, something huge that we cannot comprehend and something which is being used to crush us from both sides of the debate. I am always concerned with climate change that people are forgotten, they become statistics and their stories are lost. The fact is that any change in climate will ultimately destroy us, we are and have always been a dead species walking, we are no greater or better than the dinosaurs. Our time will come and go, and like before, climate change will be a factor for it wasn’t the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. It was the impact of the asteroid on the climate. So, I am sat here thinking about how we are ants and grasshoppers, all being crushed. I am swept up in an early image from my childhood. I am in Rivington and back then there were still plenty of sheep on the land, in my teen years I started to notice there were less and less of them. It was one of those moments my Dad took me out to walk the hills and we pass an open sided stone keep, old, part of the very stone of the hill and inside it is a dead sheep, it’s stomach ripped out, its guts everywhere and at the time I think there’s wolves on these hills and it is something unknown, bigger than me, destructive. I see the climate change debate like this, and how it makes me feel is like someone watching a dead sheep that everyone in the flock is ignoring.
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Day 86 of #100daysofwriting and the children have come up from the Tor Marsh markets with their Fauster, a derivative of foster and Faustus, a Fagin like figure that uses children as an army, as a shield, as a weapon or sexual gratification. I find the latter disturbing to even mention but there is a history of this in child soldiers, there is form, there is repetition throughout history of the strong using the weak. Even Tor Marsh has become a marketplace where children and adults pass through as refugees but few leave. Though this is not seen in the story it is mentioned as a side business between the market dealers and the water men who move the refugees around the west country. Only the strong and clever get through the markets. So, there is my Fagin, my foster Faustus who brings the devil with him and the protagonist will have to flee soon from the death he brings to the farm.

I haven’t spoken much about craft during #100daysofwriting and this is not because I am being lazy. The task never asked me to write about craft but the very act of sharing here is one that has allowed me to chronicle ideas, try to explain what the ideas behind a story are and sometimes/most times this has given me focus. It has put into writing my aims and means that I can’t wander off at a tangent. This is my story, this is what is at its heart, stick to it, Andrew, you have told others and no matter how much is disgusts you or scares you, you must finish what you have started.

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Day 87 of #100daysofwriting and the willow pattern weaves into the story. It’s a hand me down from his Grandma but her daughter skipped out to Bristol on her, and has never been seen again. The boy in the story says, ‘up North I bet they has parties, and girls, and beer and things that go fast, and rain that tastes like fucking sugar.’ Up North to him is Bristol. It’s rather sad but understandable and ties into my own youth where I thought the city was something wondrous and fearful compared to the dying industrial town I grew up in. This story is precursor to my novel The Song of the Metal Grasshopper, therefore I have decided to call this story, The Song of the Grasshopper, the origin of the world I am building. This short story is set fifty years before the events of the novel and I hope this voice makes it in as an old man. This is the first time that a novel idea has spawned a short story for me, they tend to be two very different practices for me but as I get older I see correlation between ideas, and the short story as an extension of the novel. It’s hard to put into words what I mean by this, but I see the short story here as a snapshot, a foundation stone for things to come fifty years later in the world. I have a fondness for long story arcs. I suspect that this will help me form the world of the story without exposition, that these snapshots – and I am not ruling out that there may be more – will show me how the world gets as bad as it does. For the record, even this image doesn’t conjure the fears I have about the cities of the future and population problems.



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