A Year of Writing: Days 131-140

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Day 131 of #ayearofwriting and it is often hard to balance family, work and writing but as a writer you have to be a little selfish, set aside time to write, even if it is in a corner of a wedding reception. Writers like all people have many masks, and we have dilemmas too, more about that this evening.

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Day 132 of #ayearofwriting and ghosts come out to play, leaking from Saul’s dreams into the daylight.

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Day 133 of #ayearofwriting and in this draft I am honing and clearing away things that will bring nothing to the story but now I have the reason for Saul’s betrayal, the thing that loses him his son and wife. Like Eve, the blame is firmly placed at his wife’s feet but as the reality reveals, he did not have to do it and he did it for his own selfish reasons that had nothing to do with temptation. A hunting Saul will go, the very thing that Martha fears.

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Day 134 of #ayearofwriting and on the drive home something strikes me about Collins. Why does the town gossip come back for Saul? I remember the characters Brother Alwyn in Babylon 5 and Ozymandias in The Tripods. Neither one appeared what they were. Two men playing roles to con those around them from finding out that they were recruiting to save the world. Then it strikes me that Collins may be from somewhere were technology still exists, where the world has survived and like H.G. Wells Things to Come, they can’t just drop in on the heathens. They have to watch, to recuit, to discover what has happened. Saul is living history and Collins is always asking him what is beyond Dovestones and the river head. Of course, this will not make the story but it does give me a direct line to the novel. Never underestimate world building via short stories. I am Ozymandias, King of Kings.
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Day 135 of #ayearofwriting and you can sometimes tell where the story took hold when writing. The editing often becomes easier here, the cuts less, the strings thrown out backwards into the rest of the story, like streamers, like tickertape falling to the floor of the real story.
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Day 136 of #ayearofwriting and I move into draft four and realise why Saul lost his eyes, he took them himself to escape the ghost of the dead girl following him. He doesn’t realise that the ghost is his sin, his fear, his murder.
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Day 137 of #ayearofwriting and I slide into the fourth draft. Now comes the brutal cuts, the forming of river mud into reeds, and in my first hour I concentrate on the opening section, dredging the mud, forming the reed, planting it and seeing if the prose is washed away:

My sight is nawthen more then fog that moves across tha hills. I hear tha cicadas, my boy, out theer, a dance of fat wings amongst tha grass that flit past thin boned men who chop tha trees, who pull tha wood wed moans an creaking bones. I aupen tha window so I can hear them, tha cicadas aar nawthen but jumped up grasshoppers, coming in wed tha heat. Remember how I tould you that tha grasshopper cocks a snoot at tha ant. I lean out tha window an if anyone is out in tha rain they will see a blind fool getting touched by God. Tha rain feels good on my cheeks, it runs through my beard an tha sound it makes as it drips onto tha sill pulls me down into tha wash of low river renning through me. I slip as easily as a baby into tha tide an tha arms of tha sea. I see here, caught in tha ebb an flow of my memories. I am at a window but I see a sail abew me, billowing through what is left of Bideford. I move my coracle betwix crumbling rooftops which lounge abew tha tide line. At Torridge bog, tha bottom of my boat grates along tha spines of monsters that sleep theer in tha mud. I drop anchor at tha church on tha mount, ropes still trail in tha ebb of tha tide from her stone work. Crenulations. I learnt it from a man I met afore, catching eels, he points to what remains of tha church abew tha water line an sayst tha word, Cren-U-Late-shons. He offers me a bed fer tha night. I see his nets aar empty an his bones hold up his clothes. I sail on, tha man hollin to me to stay until I lose him in tha reeds. Theer no sign of him this time. A bog oak turns under tha boat, it stirs up tha ded in tha silt an tha grasshopper sings of wild fields, ded sheep, an tha bodies at St Mary’s on tha mount which swing to tha hymns of those huddled inside aginst tha rising tide; singing to tha ded that God will saave them. Tha cicadas sing that song too.

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Day 138 of #ayearofwriting an the word count ticks downwards as I edit, cut, and tighten each sentence. A group of children becomes one child because it becomes more dramatic, the last child in the village. Because if there are four children it’s a gang, it’s support, it’s last dramatic and Saul compares her to a mermaid as she walks away, her feet slapping on the cobbles and we know in that moment that she is doomed.
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Day 139 of #ayearofwriting and the four children become one. I call her Henny, and she is beaten, asthmatic and barely surviving the rise of heat in the village she lives in. Her lungs like dried grass that wait for any spit to find its way there. It is bad enough that she is a character that is doomed because of climate change but her weakness is seen as a family weakness, and she is beaten. Saul reads her face finding the fresh cut and the swollen shut eye, he can smell the scent of pine sap on her and knows it is her father that has done this. Saul is blind but sees the truth, her lungs are like torn bellows, her words are more a whistle rent between the fabric, she is not long for this world.
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Day 140 of #ayearofwriting I have just over 10,000 words and I want to enter the Bridport, that means I have to lose 5,000 words to get to the right length. The fun of editing.

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