Monday, 13 October 2014

Latest scribblings

The Yearbook and I are fighting the good fight once again...

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog entry, I know, for which I apologise to anybody who was checking back here for one. (I can’t imagine that represents a very large audience!) There hasn’t been a great deal to say about my writing in recent months, but there are a few things I should catch up on, for the record.

Firstly, I have actually earned a bit of money for some writing, which is always extremely gratifying! It makes it sound mercenary and shallow to feel as if financial reward somehow validates the effort of writing, but… Well, it does. It’s not the only reason I do it, of course – I do it because I am almost compelled to, because it’s the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life. But it’s always very satisfying when someone thinks you have written something good enough to be paid for.

It wasn’t for a piece of fiction, sadly, but for a magazine article which has yet to be published, so I won’t reveal here what it is – mainly because I don’t yet know when it will be appearing! But I have been paid over £500 for it, which rather took me aback. It was much more than I had expected!

In other exciting news, I have finally started submitting Another Life to people. At the end of June I sent it in to a new writing scheme being run by the publishers Cape, but after all of July, August and September had elapsed without my having heard anything back from them, I decided that was probably a write-off and at the start of this month I took the plunge, bought the new edition of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and began the process of submitting it to other agents and publishers.

Having said that, the first publisher to whom I have submitted it isn’t one I needed to look up in the book as I’ve had contact with them before, when I was sending The Wicket in the Rec to people. The woman I corresponded with last time is still there, and after an initial e-mail of enquiry from me she’s asked to see the whole manuscript of Another Life, which I have sent across to her. That was nearly a week ago now, so I am holding off on any more submissions while I await a verdict on that.

I have been doing some more writing over the summer months and into the beginning of autumn, mainly on two particular projects. Firstly, I have been playing around with some ideas for a possible future novel called This Other England, and indeed have written some background notes and a chunk of a few thousand words of one section. It’s an idea I’ve had idly bubbling away at the back of my mind for a while, the story of a fictional England World Cup team, so it won’t surprise you to learn that watching this summer’s tournament on TV finally inspired me to start doing something with it.

I quite like the idea, it’s quite a fun one to write, and there might even be a market for it… But it’s just a possible idea at the moment. The sort of thing I might play with every now and again when the mood takes me, and I feel inspired to write another chunk.

The other thing, which I have just completed the first draft of, is a long short story called The Ruined Heart. This is a sort of murder mystery set in 1946, and involves a character I came up with and wrote a few stories about many years ago, a kind of private detective-type investigator called Alice Flack (she even co-starred in one of my early efforts at a novel). She was always a contemporary character before, but now I’ve put her into the 1940s and given her a rather nasty war wound.

The plot itself was inspired by something I read about while doing some research for a radio programme, and thought “There must be a good story in that, surely?” It’s ended up being quite hefty for a short story, 24,000 words, and I am just going through it this week for the first major proof read. I’m reasonably pleased with it – it’s not spectacular but nor, I think, is it awful, and I even have half an idea of what to do with it…

I am toying with the idea of putting it up on Amazon, to buy for e-readers. I know, I know – I have gone on in the past on here about my distaste for self-publishing. But it’s not a novel, it’s an odd length that doesn’t really fit anywhere for submitting it to people, and I wouldn’t put it up for more than 50p or whatever the cheapest rate is. I haven’t seriously looked into it yet, and won’t until I’ve properly proofed it and got a few friends to read it and let me know what they think.

I do like the character of Alice, and I even have an idea pretty much all set out in my mind for a second 1946 story featuring her. It could be a series, I suppose, if people were interested in them, which remains to be seen.

So that’s the current state of play on the writing projects, anyway. I’m not sure how much work I’ll do on any more Alice stories or This Other England before Christmas, as there’s a lot to do work-wise, which eats up a lot of my free time – another Treasure Quest Live stage show to produce, and a documentary to be edited… At least I’m keeping busy!

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