A Year of Writing: Days 231-240


Day 231 of #ayearofwriting and this is for you, Dad

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Day 232 of #ayearofwriting and today I am finding words to get my Dad’s death certificate and plan what should be said at his funeral. I talk with Carol about a recent story, how one of the characters echo my Dad’s world view.

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Day 233 of #ayearofwriting add your own caption today and tell me what you are writing.

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Day 234 of #ayearofwriting and grief is so hard to put into words when you are asked to write something for your Dad’s funeral. Every time you say something, put it down in words, you feel like a piece of what you should be saying slips away. Like a shack folding in on itself and you’re in the centre, there’s not enough hands to keep it all back, to get down the words that should appear but haven’t. You’d think as a writer I would be used to that but today I am not at my best.

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Day 235 of #ayearofwriting and I used to keep a diary through my teen years but the problem with having diaries is that you want to read them. That is the big mistake. This also applies to notebooks and old writing. You find yourself cringing at an earlier from of yourself, the lack of knowledge, the lack of craft, the lack of words. However, when you are a teenager you plough on with the diary because you are the most important thing in the universe. This is why in my twenties I burnt my diaries, I couldn’t stand the whinging. Diaries should never be read back but now, with my Dad dead, I wish I’d kept them because he was in there sometimes between all my teenage whining. Sometimes, like notebooks, diaries should be put in a box and forgotten about and only pulled out when you are mature enough to listen to your younger self.


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Day 236 of #ayearofwriting and yesterday was a difficult day. We said goodbye to my Dad for the final time but as a storyteller, I know my Dad is never gone, his personality permeates some of my characters. Remember the old adage only write what you know? It should be changed to only write who you know. I don’t mean put your parents in a spaceship or put you sister in a cabin in the woods. You grew up with these people, they informed and formed who you are. There are things about them that you love and things that annoy you but when they are gone, those things that annoyed you the most will be the things that you miss the most. You look carefully at your work and you will find them there, your parents, your siblings, your lovers and friends. Moments gone, boiled down, rewritten and given life because of the people around you. Writers do write emotion they know, they don’t write people they know, not always, they take elements, they take love, laughter, anger, hate, frustration and then they build worlds from them.
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Day 237 of #ayearofwriting and I have a rejection from a magazine I wanted to be in. So, how do I cope with it? I send the story off to another publication. Rejection does not mean a closed door, it just means a closed door to the story, not you.
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Day 238 of #ayearofwriting and I am irritable. This does not make for good writing, anger does but being irritated by my son is not a good thing. I love him to bits but I am finding it hard to be around people at the moment, he wants my attention as all small boys do but emotionally I feel like a wasteland. Sometimes I find an oasis on the horizon only to find it is a mirage. I feel like I am in bad 1930s B-Movie about the French Foreign Legion in which I am supposed to be the plucky hero, but instead I feel like I have been buried up to my neck in burning sand. That is grief sometimes, it is exhausting. I want to cry. I want to write and I try, a few drips, a few drops wrung out. So, I find solace in reading Angela Carter, John Brunning and short stories from Interzone. When I set out on this task I didn’t think that my Dad would die that year, suddenly and unexpected.

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Day 239 of #ayearofwriting and I decide to throw myself into research about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the sheer scale of deaths, nearly half a million dead and their names collected in books. I wonder how the Americans paid retribution for dropping the A-bomb and burning the sky. The answer is square dancing, they taught the Japanese square dancing and it caught on. It was a big hit but I wonder how many of them pasted on their smiles, did their swings and dosados, just because they didn’t want to think about what they had witnessed. What anger was born out of that?

He coulda been a contender | Far Flungers | Roger Ebert

Day 240 of #ayearofwriting, Earlier in the month I spoke about Writing Is Not Easy, which descended quickly into the problems around arts funding and not the nuts and bolts of why writing is not easy. Or, to use the new improved acronym, WINE. The great thing about WINE is the sound of the acronym which bookends both ends of the practice of writing. Read more here.

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