Saturday, February 22, 2014

I, me, and possibly you.

When I was 10, 11 years old I was "bullied" by someone slightly older, whose streetwise I took as reality and respected.
"Look! Quick! You just missed it! That whole bus load of people who went past were laughing at you."
I believed it, and it certainly wasn't helpful. Neither were  the frequent observations that I was "queer", which had a different meaning in those days.
When my daughter turned 35 a few months ago, I pawed through birthday cards and finally, in despair at their banality, sent her one meant for the parents of a newborn child, that said  "A  baby girl is a wonderful thing". I sent it to her  (because I think she is a wonderful thing) , very aware that it came under the "you are queer" category. I know that I do "queer"things that maybe make sense only to me and those on my wavelength.
Older, that bullying shaped my world. When I was 56 I was amazed to find out, by chance, that my children thought that I looked quite nice, whereas in my mind it was only cosmetic makeup that allowed me to create some kind of illusion of looking ok: anyone who really knew me, as the bully did, I assumed knew that I was strange rubbish.  There were quite a few experiences in my life that had suggested otherwise: I had  constantly dismissed them. E. G. At one stage, many eras ago, leaving lectures on the way to the Women's Union, we had to cross a plaza where the Engineering students, all male at that time, to my horror and mortification,  would line up and shout out my name and clap to its rythmn, . I cringed, could not possibly see it as a compliment, and in time started going to the men's union. That they suggested that I beome "miss engineering" seemed a twisted joke. This was fortunate, because the genuinely beautiful Tania Verstak took the role and became miss universe or more. Other experiences, along the same
I'm writing this because Charlotte Dawson, a tv presenter whom I had never seen, never watched, and whose name was  unknown to me has chosen to bow out.
Photos of Charlotte show her as looking exactly "right": more than I could have dreamed of. Lush hair down past her shoulders could have been by LÓreal. Wide eyes. regular, lovely features like a Claudia Schiffer. Wide mouth, full lips, beautiful straight white teeth. Breasts, apparently enhanced. Exactly a la mode. A high level public exposure. An exceptional career.
And yet she has chosen to kill herself. Her life was so painful that she chose to exit it.
 She was actually 47 years old, although she looked considerably younger. That must have taken a lot of effort, a lot of money and given her considerable fears for her future.
It sems to me that my own grouches didn' t stop me growing. Didn't stop me striving, achieving.or indeed moaning and looking for and finding different paths.

I'm actually sorry for my bully, who I still know. It can't be nice to look back on your life and see that you were nasty, can it?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And so it goes

30000 words now, or more precisely, 30002.
This does not mean that I am writing quickly. I actually started this way back last July. Then I was sick. Then my computer crashed (again). I was lent a laptop, which stopped working. In October I was given another computer. This has its eccentricities - eg, it likes to put an umlaut over vowels instead of quotation marks, and can be sneaky about capital letters.
After Christmas I did naught for some weeks. Got sick again. Had visitors.
30000 at this point of my not very thrilling plot is not enough. My story is at least half way through, so to reach the goal of 80000 I should be at circa 45000 by my reckoning.
Reading fiction more analytically, I can see how much of and usually how skilful the "padding" is.  Many plots could be summarised in a page or so, although the book may be 400 pages or often more. Very clever and difficult to maintain reader interest through this.
I know that I need to plump out my characters. And settings.  These make the story come alive, and they don't come naturally to me at all. Elizabeth Jane Howard said that she always easily visualised the scene that she was writing. Lucky her.
At present, I occasionally - think of the trees! - print out the pages. As I read through I make corrections, add bits etc. This is a tedious process.  When I allow myself to print the pages out again - which I need to do to check the "flow", I inevitably see more places where I need to add, subtract or multiply.  If I add 300 words each time I edit this way, I will need to do it 50 more times to make up my missing 15000. Or I need to add more plot twists. I don't think I have it in me. But maybe I do.
Tinkering can be a dangerous process. Was it Degas who used to borrow back sold paintings to fix them up a little? And then kept them for so long that sometimes the buyers had to steal them back again? And sometimes they had been so altered that the buyers could be in doubt as to which painting was theirs.
I did my stint as a housewife-painter, (see my avatar), and know that reworking, fixing something up a little, can take all the life out of it. 

As I am generally a "near enough, good enough" person, it tickles me that it matters to me to get this right and be happy with it.  I don't particularly expect it to be published - that would rather surprise me - so it is for my own satisfaction alone. We can be odd  bods indeed. Or perhaps I should only speak for myself. You may well be saner than I.

I have read a few "ördinary"fiction books which have elevated themselves into a higher category by citing the famous. Instead of saying, "It was a nice day," one says "It was a nice day, as Nietzche once said." I assume this makes people feel that they are reading something of intellectual significance.

Enough me, me, me. Writing is solitary but not necessarily lonely. I am interested in and enjoy other people, but can forget the pleasures of mingling.