Tuesday, 19 June 2012
We all had a happy Father's Day last weekend - apart from the father in question, who was struck down by some sort of flu-bug. We joined my own father, sister and nephew in town for a late breakfast, during which I noticed my husband didn't seemed to be speaking at all. Whenever he was addressed directly, he answered: 'Huh?' while looking all glassy eyed and spaced out. So it took me quite a while to notice anything was wrong - har har!
Back at home he went straight to bed, where he wrapped himself in a woolly jumper, three blankets and two hot water bottles - inside which he shivered and sweated relentlessly. Even his teeth rattled. Unluckily, the nine year old had spent an entire day drawing up a fiendishly tricky Father's Day Wordsearch as part of his gift. (It was rendered even trickier by the letters not being strictly in line - or in some cases not even being the right letters!) Heroically - and shakily - my husband completed the whole thing before allowing himself to fall asleep, even though I offered to cheat and do it for him. I think this is the kind of thing that really good dads are made of.
I'm feeling a lot less peeved about not winning a prize in the Mslexia competition since I read the winning entry on their website. It's better than mine.
It's incredibly hard-hitting and not something I could've written myself. To be honest, it's not the sort of thing I'm aiming to write. Although I can admire the writing, I'd baulk at the subject matter. It's written from the point of view of a mentally-handicapped woman who is raped by one of her carers in exchange for biscuits. When she becomes pregnant, her baby is taken away from her because she is unable to care for it. Years later she saves another new baby that is being manhandled by a young boy. This serves to make her feel slightly better about what happened. 'Blimey,' I thought.
I haven't analysed my own choice of subject matter in much detail, but I know I want to write stories that are funny and surprising and exciting and romantic - escapist stuff rather than the powerful (but bleak) stories that win all the prizes. I refuse to be snobby about it - there's nothing wrong with wanting to cheer people up!
It's a really good feeling when you're enjoying a book so much that you look forward to each page. I'm reading such a lovely book at the moment that I've been staying up late to cram in an extra chapter or trying to read bits early in the morning, in the bath or at mealtimes. It's called 'The Blue Castle' by Lucy M Montgomery (who wrote all the Anne of Green Gables books) and it's super-cheesy! Look at the cheestastic cover...
It was recommended by an internet blog. I know I should attribute more, but I hop around so much I've never got any idea where I've been - sorry! Anyway, it tells the story of a downtrodden spinster who discovers she has only a year left to live and - basically - decides to spend it being rude to people and doing whatever she pleases.
One of these things is to propose marriage to the local ne'er-do-well, Barney Snaith. This is her family's reaction...
"Do you mean to say that you have actually gone and married - married - that notorious Barney Snaith - that - that - criminal - that - "
"Then," said Uncle James violently, "you are a shameless creature, lost to all sense of propriety and virtue, and I wash my hands entirely of you. I do not want ever to see your face again."
"What have you left to say when I commit murder?" asked Valancy.
Uncle Benjamin again appealed to God to bless his soul.
"That drunken outlaw - that - "
A dangerous spark appeared in Valancy's eyes. They might say what they liked to and of her but they should not abuse Barney.
"Say 'damn' and you'll feel better," she suggested.
"I can express my feelings without blasphemy. And I tell you you have covered yourself with eternal disgrace and infamy by marrying that drunkard - "
"You would be more endurable if you got drunk occasionally. Barney is not a drunkard."
"He was seen drunk in Port Lawrence - pickled to the gills," said Uncle Benjamin.
"If that is true - and I don't believe it - he had a good reason for it. Now I suggest that you all stop looking tragic and accept the situation. I'm married - you can't undo that. And I'm perfectly happy."
"I suppose we ought to be thankful he has really married her," said Cousin Sarah, by way of trying to look on the bright side.
"If he really has," said Uncle James, who had just washed his hands of Valancy. "Who married you?"
"Mr Towers, of Port Lawrence."
"By a Free Methodist!" groaned Mrs Frederick - as if to have been married by an imprisoned Methodist would have been a shade less disgraceful. It was the first thing she had said. Mrs Frederick didn't know what to say. The whole thing was too horrible - too horrible - too nightmarish. She was sure she must wake up soon. After all their bright hopes at the funeral!
I'm enjoying Valancy's adventures hugely, but they may well be an acquired taste, since all the bits I've quoted to my husband have been met with a frown of incomprehension and a plea that I pipe down and let him go to sleep (maybe he's still shaking off the flu?)
Also on the Mslexia site were short biographies of all the winners which told stories of endless rejection letters and far more years than I've spent in fruitlessly trying to attract an agent. They were enough to make me stop sulking and realise that I just haven't paid my writing dues yet.
I'm easing myself back in to my work-in-progress. Just a few hundred words a day at the moment, but it's better than nothing. I've had to do all the holiday washing, looking after poorly children, gardening duties, opticians appointments due to broken glasses - just too many domestic chores to be ignored really. How ever much I want to be a writer, I'm never in any doubt that the family stuff comes first.
Wordcount....is around 83,000...