Monday, 11 March 2019

The Sound of Stories

Stories are like pieces of music You don't need an audio book to hear them - they play in your head with their internal rhythms contributing to the meaning - and the mood. When you read, you listen!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The absence of mothers

The absence of mothers is the final taboo.

Disappearance - Angie Phillip, Aja.

I heard that on the radio this morning. Someone was talking about having left their children for their mother to look after because of a drugs problem.

I started thinking about my stories and about Dani (the daughter) and about Esme (the mother). I think my stories are redemption stories - previous series title was Blood and Love, but Redemption Stories is better.

Yes, all the stories are about motherhood and trying (needing) to be a person at the same time as being a mother (and the guilt that is so difficult to get rid of even though it never helps) and about the vulnerability of the child (never realised quite how vulnerable until I wrote from the child's perspective - maybe didn't dare). 

It's important that I show the niceness of Esme as well as her selfishness. There are lots of happy bits and funny bits that make up lives as well as the godawful hard parts. There's a whole heap of washing up and cleaning houses in there as well, so time consuming even when done as little as possible so it does creep into the stories but only at the edges.

Perhaps my preoccupation with genes and adoption is borne of a hope (desperation?) to believe that destiny is mainly in the genes which absolves the mother (me?) from some of the responsibility. Ha ha. But as ever - it's impossible to untangle all the ideas and the thoughts - it is easier (and more therapeutic) to write stories. 

Although I've switched from writing with the main focus on Esme to putting the main focus on Dani, I think that Esme and her concerns are illuminated by Dani's life. The two lives are more than interwoven - they are entangled forever. 

The fact that the two lives are entangled makes the stories much more difficult to write. It's much easier to write from just one person's point of view. In fact, I've tried it. I've just rewritten novel number 2 from just Dani's point of view. Esme is in the background but it's all from Dani's point of view. And it worked. Flowed nicely but I've abandoned it. It's a copout. I've gone back to the more complex version where both Dani's and Esme's stories are told together so I'm struggling to bash this version into shape. It's more fictional than the first novel in this series Girl Too Loud but the roots of it all spring from within me. How could they not? (Apparently Beryl Bainbridge said that all her stories were autobiographical - she just had someone die or killed somebody if the autobiography was showing through.)

And yes, I have tried (and am still trying) very hard to be respectful and honest about all the participants. Everyone has their own needs and desires and everyone does their best at the time. But it does make it harder to write - straightforward baddies and goodies are a lot easier. And maybe they work better? Not sure. Am learning as I go along.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Mixed POV probs

When a story is told from multiple points of view and the main characters are different ages - as in daughter, mother, grandmother - what age will the readers be?
I think it depends on:

  • main point of view
  • story content
  • readability

What matters most?

The story I'm writing is told from 3 points of view:
Dani (13 yrs) 1st person
Esme (her mother) (30) - 3rd person
Frances (grandmother) (60s) - 3rd person

Dani and Esme are the two most important characters. Esme has the most 'story' i.e. plot, but Dani's is the viewpoint that matters most.

What's the age range that I'm writing for? Is it YA or adult?

I've thought of making Esme's the most important point of view. That would solve the readership problem, but I prefer it to be Dani. That's what the story seems to demand.
And now I'm off to rehearse for our Blue Rumour gig.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Eyes by Chuma Nwokolo

[Metamorphosis 2 - Angie Phillip as Aja Gap]
(Inspired by Metamorphosis 2, a painting by Angie Phillip)

you stare astounded at my own astonished eyes.
for once, at last, we see.
soon, to feuds and warring clans,
may come this antidote more radical than guns,
more mind-blowing than drugs,
more harrowing,
truly more harrowing - and

nothing more drastic than truly to see the enemy
and his blood; simply to look unblinkingly -
not through our usual black-and-white filters -
but to stare astounded. to stare, and stare until
the truth of sight becomes a mirror to our soul.
until we feel the mettle of his blues,
read his face’s panoply of hues,
his draining pools of dreams, and the
streaks of tears and rust…

so that when his blood
comes spurting redly at our thrust
we cannot look
away. no. and we will own his pain as

©Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. (2008)

Wanted to share this poem that Chuma wrote more than 10 years ago. Hope you (whoever you are out there) like it, too. Also - wanted to try this feature on my blog that I've not tried before where I can share the post to Twitter. Let's see if it works.....

Age doesn't matter but....

[Shoreline - Aja Gap]

viewing angle does.

The story can have people of all ages in it - but

If you're writing for little ones - you have to be one.
If you're writing for kids - you have to be one.
If you're writing for teens - you have to be one.

And of course, you can be. I can be. All writers can be whoever they want to be - how amazing is that. And laugh out loud enjoyable. As well as a struggle sometimes - art mimics life.

Are you a writer for young adults? Or for kids? What do you think? 

Saturday, 2 February 2019


Does the reader age have to match the age of the main characters?

Friday, 1 February 2019

Marketability - Let it go!

[Falling Apples - Aja Gap]
Who was it said that letting go is the best way of holding on?

Novel marketability. It's like chasing a mirage. Not even that.

Good agents have to lean into the wind and listen. One step ahead of the Zeitgeist. Even then they can get it wrong.

The only thing to do is write what you want to write as honestly and as well as you can.

And enjoy it! 

That's what I did before. That's what I'll do again. Let it go and carry on.