A Year of Writing: Days 341-350

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Day 341 of #ayearofwriting and throughout this project I have not had a space of my own. Now, after many years the bookcases are in my office. Craft books, poetry books, collections and fiction burbles out of boxes and back onto the shelves. There are text books I have taught, craft books that have been gifts and shelf after shelf of wonder. Writers who do not read are on a one way train to nowhere.

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Day 342 of #ayearofwriting and writing is not just about writing, reading or even scribbling. A lot of it is about thinking, thinking outside the box, thinking around the box, thinking you are the box. In this rather scruffy analogy we see that the writer is much more than the introvert, the extrovert, the writer in a room banging away at the keyboard (though it does boil down to that in the end). Before all that happens there must be space to think and dream. Then sometimes you just have to jump.

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Day 343 of #ayearofwriting and I am in submission mode, between thinking, scribbling and writing on here, I am bubbling up something new, it may not start fully before this side of Christmas but it will spill out on to the keyboard soon – that is simply an awful image.

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Day 344 of #ayearofwriting and as I go through a submission phase, I get the obligatory rejections from the last phase. It’s part of the course but I do get suspicious when the rejection letters are the same word for word, which somehow suggests editors nowadays are Googling rejection template letters and just substituting key phrases. Maybe I should start a rejection bingo game? Which words do you think make a good rejection? Eyes down…

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Day 345 of #ayearofwriting and if concerns about the east Antarctic ice shelf come to pass. We will see a 28m rise in sea levels in our lifetime. That means parts of Lincolnshire will be islands and most of Yorkshire will vanish under the sea. Oh, and London, will be a story you tell your kids.

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Day 346 of #ayearofwriting and let’s consider displacement when writing about climate. After considering the melting of the eastern ice sheet in Antarctica, I just wanted to see what the major impact in Europe would be and in the Netherlands alone, 18 million people will have to find a new home. Now, consider all them entering countries around them, legally at first and then as the EU gets more concerned, illegally as we have seen in the Syrian conflict. Europe can’t handle those numbers and they are barely breaking 100,000 in the last year. So, how long before borders in such events are a wall of concrete, barbed wire and gun nests?

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Day 347 of #ayearofwriting and much of the writing process is the what if process. Getting this over to new writers or those people who want to write is often hard. There is the old adage that everyone has a book in them but some people really shouldn’t throw it up. I deal in what ifs’ because that is something that fires my imagination. I have lists of them. Many come to nothing but sometimes when you look at something that has happened in the world, look to history, you can see patterns that form time after time. Much of writing is reading. Much of the act of writing is research. Writing is a job that involves more than just sitting at a computer. It is the act of saying, ‘What if…’

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Day 348 of #ayearofwriting and reading this.

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Day 349 of #ayearofwriting and yesterday the demons of the web buggered up my post. So today, here it is. I am starting small, starting with an image. That’s how I work sometimes as a writer, you will notice from the last 349 days that I often use black and white photos, or photos from films. You see for me, my earliest dialogue was with the visual, certainly with TV and later film. Even before Iconsidered to be a writer, I was already being written by the language of the twentieth century. That for me was film. I am afraid that film is now dying, and though I am involved in some film projects, they are not what they once where. Blame Brexit. Blame Arts Council cuts. Blame cinema goers. Either way, the golden age has gone but I still think in images. Today, we start with this.

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Day 350 of #ayearofwriting I didn’t grow up with the sea. The sea for me was always thrust onto the word, ‘side’. It inevitably involved car sickness, fish and chips, some form of argument and ice cream. It more than often meant crowded beaches, stinking refuse and in one incident a wet sister and dog in the back seat of the car wearing my acid house t-shirt. I never saw wetlands until I was in my thirties, never really considered them as a place of habitation or a place to visit. This was the place of middle class people, people who watched birds for a hobby while the rest of us ducked the seagulls as the seaside as they stole our fish. There was something exclusive about such places that seemed to me to be further than the seaside, as if someone had sailed off the edge of the world. With the threat of rising sea levels now becoming more and more apparent on our coast, they have now become a working model to how much damage salt water causes to soil, wildlife and people. I wonder, I dream of a man in a coracle, a keeper of the water, the last man alive in an area that is becoming more and more tropical. I think of William Golding and The Inheritors, I think of things that get eaten in the night. I think of the last Water Man. For those of you who have followed my climate change world, you know that these right wing bastards start in this story http://mironline.org/road-liable-to-flooding-by-andrew-oldham/ (there is an enormous sense of smugness that I can direct you there and proves that daily writing pays dividends) but fast forward another sixty years and they have become diluted. I see Crusoe. I see Mother Goose. I see a forgotten Japanese soldier. I see film.

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