100 Days of Writing: Days 88-92

These posts collect together posts from social media, you can find the page I have been using most to collect ideas and books I am reading here or find me on twitter @bongosherbert

Day 88 of #100daysofwriting and after some feedback from my reader. I am back with Mausu story sorting the timelines and scratching my head with tense confusion!

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Day 89 of #100daysofwriting and I am back in Bodmin Moor. Though I am editing the Mausu story, editing is another hat and is exhausting. I find I can edit in short bursts but that I can write for longer periods, rattling out around 2000 words a day but editing around 1000. Editing can unravel a story and make you think about what it is about or as one writing mentor I had called Simon Van de Borgh said to me, ‘What’s the story about?’ You’d start to tell him and he’d fix me with a dead eyed look and add, ‘No, what’s it really about?’ I don’t think he ever wanted me to have an answer there and then, I think he just wanted to remind me that I should consider why I am writing it, what is flustering me to want to write this story. Anyone can write a story, but most miss what the story is really about. My Bodmin Moor story is my anger that the poor get poorer, that diseases that should have been wiped from our country are back and that we have a government who are strong and stable for the few and the rest of us can starve. I think Simon would have looked at me and said, ‘Good, that’s a start’. It was always better than him saying, ‘I’m listening but the roller blinds are going down behind my eyes’. Looking back and watching now, I think that is a big problem with most of us, we’re listening but we’re detached due to wanting to hang on to our own comforts. I am concerned where I sit in this debate and how much I can give to something that is threatening us across the globe.

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Day 90 of #100daysofwriting and Tor Marsh market is burning in my story and though it is miles away, my protagonist can see the smoke and the flames. There is something biblical about the image, something that is bigger than him and something he doesn’t fully understand. This is the death of the old world, the world of his Grandad and his Grandad cannot take the journey he will have to go on. He cannot cross the threshold.

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Day 91 of #100daysofwriting and I have completed a first draft of the Bodmin Moor story, coming in at just under 11,000 words. I know that short stories in the UK should be around 2,500 words but I find this to be fatuous and market driven, it is fashionable and I find fashion in writing to be deeply disturbing. I have never had a problem finding a home for longer stories and though I know it sometimes hones my practice to stick to a short word count, some stories simply can’t, the voice is too important to cut it short. As we move into the Christmas period, the epoch of fashion, I am trying to carve time out for myself to write and I am struck by the Cyril Connolly quote, “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall”. I wonder who reads Connolly now, the fashionable critic of his age and how fashions change, I wonder if Connolly realised that family is a gift, that it is something that is forever changing the length of its own word count. That stories too will forever flex and grow, shrink and shorten, and then repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

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Day 92 of #100daysofwriting and I am carving out time between Christmas celebrations and the need to get back to editing the Mausu story. Now my Bodmin Moor story is on it’s second draft, I want to complete the Mausu tale and leave the other story to rest so that I can see it with fresh eyes. When I was a younger writer, I would often rattle out poetry and stories, but as I have grown older I have begun to appreciate the idea of just leaving something to settle before tackling it. I’m not saying my early work was bad, I was prolific, quantity often won over quality, but nowadays I just like the idea of something sat there talking to itself and deciding whether it’s right. So, I am back at the watch tower above the settlement, and I am chipping back phrases, deleting images and lines that are repetitious, finding those moments where I don’t trust the reader. I’ll talk about that more tomorrow, when I have allowed that to settle in my mind and your’s.

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