I do as I can

I’ve spent much time this week, so far, playing around with the blog, trying new themes, finding out how I can alter the one I’ve got—no blog theme would suit me absolutely, and I do as I can, write within this format that is new to me.

am interested.

I’ve wanted a blog for some time—and part of having this blog is to work out what I want it for.

I’m not ready to put extras on this blog—widgets—I can see how to do widgets, within the limitations of my theme, but which do I want, and what will it mean to me if I have them?

The most important thing for me is the writing itself.

For me, writing permits what it will.  It does not always let me say what I thought I might say.

Yes—I know—it is my hand here that is at the end of this pen, my brain that is…

And that’s just it.

My mind.

I have a subconscious mind as well, and that stops me, or allows me.

And I’ve found that is the best way to be for me.

At least in this blog I don’t feel as though I have to explain every little thing.

I can let things go—I’m not writing an academic essay now.

 

I’m already removed from what I’ve written—by the time you read this—my fair hand will have typed, pen put aside.

 

More on ‘Travelogue – to Ess, and Emm…’

I had trouble writing my last post, ‘…to Ess, and Emm…’

‘WEIRD,’ I’d put on a piece of paper, ‘THIS WRITING THAT I CAN’T DO.’

I’d tried it every which way and, at last, I’d set it aside, all the handwriting that I’d done for it (which ended up, with some editing, being it) plus some printed-out diary entries that I’d hoped might give me some idea—all these paper-clipped together.

I thought it was going to be impossible to write, after all, but it was insistent, the way that writing I just have to do—for one reason or another—is.  It kept on coming back into my mind—the fact that it was there.  I was disappointed.  I knew the writing was potentially important to me, but it wouldn’t be done.

I know that writing doesn’t always come of itself—at least to start off with—maybe you have to get something down—try something out—before the muse hits.

And I had tried all that—sure, there had been a flow, but it wasn’t right, and that pulled me up before I’d got much further than the first few paragraphs.

The problem was with the names of the places I travelled through—did I give them or not?

The writing was coming up stilted as I tried to get around mentioning those places by name.  I couldn’t write the writing without calling the places something.  But, on the other hand, I didn’t want to give the names that they would actually have on a map.

I thought I wouldn’t be able to write the writing at all—what I was handwriting (I most often start off with handwriting) all seemed so twee—it was almost like a school essay, adequate in that it said what happened, but not very elegant.

That was when I went to my diary.  I knew there was an entry there—at least one.

There were two:

 

‘Monday 12 September 2016

‘I’m in the bus station, waiting for the 42B to S…

‘I have more than half an hour to wait, but this is a reconnaissance mission—see how it would go, getting there—I need to set off from home a bit later than I did.  It’s 50 minutes to S, so I don’t want to go for a cup of coffee—I don’t want to be busting for a pee while I’m on the bus.

‘Mind you, I reckon there isn’t much at S that we would be interested in—there’s B, which is bigger than the one here, possibly worth visiting for fabric, the optician (which I’ve been trying to avoid) and—I’m hoping there is a second-hand bookshop.

 

‘Tuesday 13 September 2016

‘Well, I went to S yesterday, on the bus.

‘J happened to text while I was out.  She had wanted to borrow the wallpaper stripper.’

‘The truth of the matter is that there isn’t much in S to go for.  The most interesting part of the day was the bus journey.

‘I’ve walked too far—this is another thing.  Today, I have no option other than to rest up.’

 

Okay.  I’ve still edited that.

But, I’d printed out those entries (my diary is eventually typed), and the problems I was encountering were all written around in notes—‘Travelogue—so far—it flows on, etc, etc, but I put these, from my diary (all I have in there about the trip), into a separate file—and that all seems so much more immediate.

‘The handwritten version—quite clever in its own way in that it deals with problems…

‘I have a beginning, and a destination in both of those accounts (the handwritten and diary) but—the middle is missing…’

 

Travelogue—to Ess, and Emm, and Enn, and Gee-Hay

The other day, I went to a local market-town (sounds like fiction already)—on the bus.

It was something of a reconnaissance mission—to see if I would want to do it at all.

I knew before I set off that there wasn’t much in this small town—but I couldn’t quite believe that there wasn’t—or, I thought my memory must be at fault.

I arrived in the bus station much too early—I had forty minutes to wait—I resolved to set off from home later, in future, to catch this bus from the bus station to my destination.

Actually, not much of what I write here is entirely accurate—there was a destination—somewhere I would get off the bus—but there were other places on the way that also interested me.

In fact, I had been thinking that I would travel on that particular bus one day—it went through localities that we might move to—I had considered it—

And it turned out—as I should have known—that the best part of the trip was the journey out—

But—I can’t tell this story without saying where I was going, and—therefore—by a sort of default, saying where I am—mentioning by name those places the bus passed through—and from—

How Incognito do I want to remain?

Do I give fictional names?

Do I refer to these places only by the first letter of each—I was going to S, and passed through M, and N, on the way—places I had considered moving to—and GA—

I’ve been trying to write this for a few days—I met someone I know on a bus into town—a day or so after ‘the trip’—and the tale of going to S toppled from my tongue (I know).

Because it had been interesting, this journey.

Belinda texted me while I was out—she had rung me at home, and my husband had told her I was in town—that was what I had told him—by note—he had still been in bed when I set out.

I told him only that I’d gone to town because I wasn’t certain that I would go to S—from the bus station—I might decide, after all—not today—

How long would I be? Belinda wanted to know.

I texted back—I was in S, but waiting for the bus, which should arrive in half an hour or so, and that it was a fifty-minute journey on the bus—to the bus station in town, that is—and then there would be another bus, of course, from there to home—I’d say it would take me a while…

 

Okay—I have the set-off, I have the destination, I have the come-back—what happened in the middle?

Not much.

There was going to be a fair there for a few days towards the end of the week, and fairground-people were already setting up equipment and rides.

Some might say I was there on the wrong day.

I was hoping there would be a second-hand bookshop, but there were only various charity shops, which turned out to be dead losses.

From one, though, I bought a Mary Berry—cooking for occasions—I thought it might be useful to have some new recipes for when people came round—something easy and quick to put together.

I looked in a—let’s call it a ‘general store’—we have one in the town I come from, but the one in S is bigger.

I knew it stocked fabric—there was cotton, which was reminiscent, in thickness and pattern, of how cotton used to be, in the old days.

But it was—old-fashioned, and dull in colour—and I told Belinda, later, you would need to be thinking outside the box if you were going to use it—you would need to be something of a designer—otherwise, you’d look as though you had come from a different era—you’d got stuck in a time-warp and had only just found your way out…

I got fish and chips from a café—I had difficulty getting across to the person who served me that no, I didn’t want to take out, but sit in—I wanted a cup of tea—

But I was ensconced at last, and could watch, out of the window, other customers—they sat on benches in the sunshine, with cans beside them.

School-teenagers were coming out from the secondary school that I knew was in S somewhere—streaming out, going up the high street.  I watched them pass.

 

I ate my fish and chips—the chips could have done with being cooked for longer on a slightly lower heat—some of them were still raw in the middle—and drank my tea.

I leafed through the Mary Berry.

As I got further through it, I found a page with splashes of—well, you don’t know what, do you?—on it.

And more—as I turned pages.

Well, you know what your own cookbooks can get like.

And this one—I reflected that it would be not so bad if it had come from my Auntie’s—I would at least know it had come from a basically clean house.

But—uggh!—I resolved to take the book home, copy a few recipes from it, and then—fling it.  I didn’t fancy having it gracing my shelves.

And, with that thought, I went to get the bus.

I walked from one end of S high street to the other—and back again.

I couldn’t find the bus stop from where I could get a bus back to my home-town—there was the one on the other side, where I had alighted (not long before) but there was no—opposite number, as it were—on this side of the road—

I asked passers-by, but no one knew where the bus stop was.

Eventually, someone said—there was one on the way out of S, beyond the roundabout.

I said I knew the roundabout, and would walk in that direction, since that was the way I had been going.  School-teenagers went in shops, out again.  They had their favourite sandwich shops, it looked like.

It was a longer walk than I’d anticipated.  The sun was hotter than I thought it would be.

I walked on, and school-teenagers did the proverbial milling around me.

The bag with the book in it—it was getting heavier and heavier.

I passed a rubbish-bin—and took the book from my bag—the only thing I had bought, apart from the fish and chips, and tea—and flung it, there and then.  I wasn’t going to carry that any further.

I found the bus stop at last.

I had at least forty-five minutes to wait, and the bus stop was in direct sunlight.

I watched the school-teenagers on the other side of the road making their way back to school.  I thought they had probably checked-out the fair-rides while they’d been at it—getting their lunches.

I watched a woman in a strapped top and high-heeled shoes going past, and later—much later—watched her coming back again.  She looked as though she was managing the heat—and the shoes—very well.

There was an interesting old house on the other side (everything occurred on the other side now) and I left the bus stop for a while to go further along so that I could see it better.  It was probably an old people’s home—but it looked private—and I’d been reading novels that I counted as being historical (though I’m not sure anyone else would)—from the 1940s—and the characters lived in houses just like that one—why, there was the old summer-house at the bottom of the garden—and there were two cars parked further round a curved drive—do you know, I think it was a private house?

Something did happen on my side of the road, then—a young man came along and sat in the bus stop.

I went and sat in the bus stop with him.

He had headphones on, so I didn’t attempt conversation.

I sat a while, but the sun was full in my face.

I exited the bus stop, stood under a tree outside, but there were midges, so I found a spot part in and part out of shade.

The bus came at last, and the young man and I got on it.

The countryside was green, and had that fulsome but dusty look of late summer.

As we went back through GA I saw that still had its second-hand bookshop—but with buses so infrequent, who would get off there, and look in there—and find not much, probably—and wait an hour for the next bus to come along so you could continue to your true destination?

There wasn’t anything else in GA unless you were interested in the ice-cream parlour, or had brought a picnic-tea to eat beside the babbling brook.

The brook does babble—that isn’t a cliché—I have been to GA before, when times were more accessible.

And we passed the new-builds in N—but they were on the far side of the district—from my home-town, I mean—and my home-town was the nearest place of amenities.  N was surprisingly far-out.

 

I’ve just looked on the internet—from my home-town to S is 7.9 miles, as the crow flies—but I didn’t go that way.

 

Talking of writing classes…

I’ve taken a few.  I’m not sure, now, what I was trying to find there.  To be fair, they must suit some people—but me?

My general experience of writing classes was—I had opinions, I joined in and even led discussions—and then, over the weeks, I gradually got beaten down.

I did do a degree—that was one thing I did do—it was in Humanities—and it was the sort of course where you were taught, before all else, how to think for yourself.

Unfortunately, from what I have seen of education these days, even further and higher education, the idea of becoming an individual and having ideas of your own—that you could illustrate from reference to your reading, for instance—that seems to have gone.

They want things more certain—but what they don’t realise is that they never will get absolutes in that way.  We have language, and it is slippery, and they may think they have explained until the cows come home—but—people still don’t get it.

Of course they don’t.

Something means something to one person, means something completely different to another.

I don’t want to get into all of this, all at once.  There is too much of it.

But—people have their own interpretations and connotations.

You’re lucky if you happen to be on the same wavelength as a tutor.  Or an educational establishment, and I really don’t know how people do it, these days.  Here is pattern A—reproduce it, but by going through x, y, and z.  We need you to do that otherwise—how would we mark your work?

Try using native intelligence.

I’ve been going through stories that I wrote—quite a few years ago—and I did consider doing an MA in Creative Writing—and part of that—it was required that you hand in draft after draft…

Otherwise, how could they see how your work had developed?

Possibly, with difficulty.

But—would I want that?

I’m editing stories.  I am not keeping earlier drafts.  I am a different person now from the one I was when I first wrote those stories.  I write differently.  You could probably tell, from a piece of my writing, what year it was, how I was, etc, etc—if you found any that had not been written over—and inevitably, at the end of the day, there will be writings of mine, if any survive at all, that I haven’t had chance to put the final gloss on—before I—popped my clogs.

I don’t want stories going out, or being seen, as they were—I’d rather they were seen as they are.

 

Not the whole story

No—sorry—that wasn’t the whole story—that I gave yesterday.

I can’t give it all—I have it ear-marked as part of something that I’m currently writing.

But I can say that the typo wasn’t mine, and that it wasn’t a typo as such; it was from something written up in black marker on a whiteboard—in one of those writing classes I attended, long ago…

But I didn’t spot that it was a typo, or—a slip—until long after I’d done the story, and taken it to class, and read it out…

But I wasn’t the only one who wrote a story about a shoe on a shore.

 

Or—sometimes I work with a typo…

Whitby Written all Through it

[Revised 2012.  Second revision 2016.]

The moon lit a path towards the shoe as though pointing the finger of guilt at me.

 

“Ooo!  Look!”

My sister and I—either one of us could have said that.

Did one of us say—“Wow!”?

Was that a thing we would have said, in those days?

No.  I could set this within a historical period but, if I don’t, its potential threads are not yet attached.

Hard to describe—when it must have been described so many times before—the path of moonlight, silver, over still (so it must have seemed at dead of night) black water towards—

Did it stretch to the horizon?

I can’t, now, quite remember how it looked.

I try to picture the full moon, hanging (as full moons do) in the dark sky—the silvery path reflected from it over the water—

I can’t quite get the logistics of how it might be.

I have some vague geometric recollection—I imagine the problem as a diagram, on a schoolbook page, allotted paths designated by straight, ruled lines, and possibilities as dotted…the something-something—right-angle—on the hypotenuse—

Whether the silver path would appear to stretch to the horizon or not—wouldn’t that depend on where the moon was?

Thus, I reason.

If there was an obstruction, somehow, between moon and—where its reflection could fall—

Maybe an alien spacecraft passing in front of the moon, just at that moment, and the spacecraft so huge…

No.  That must be another story.

To describe this full moon with accuracy, I think, I would need to be able to view another full, or almost full, moon (minus the spacecraft)—somewhere, sometime—at night, of course—

No—it would be no good trying to watch from an alien spacecraft, in which case, I could conceivably look at it in the day—and anyway, if I did, I’d have difficulty spotting its silvery path, way below on some small sea—there wasn’t an alien spacecraft, in fact—

I would watch the moon.  I’d be on the ground, at night, and I would watch it from its rising—is the moon quite so white when it first rises?

When is it a blood moon?

The moon lit a bloody path—

You can see my problems of authenticity.  Another moon would not be the moon that I’m thinking of—and there was one, a particular one—

What?  I know there is only one moon—whether I look at it by day or by night, from whatever vantage point I may or may not have, no matter which day or night I view it upon.  I know that!  But—it’s a convention, see, to think of a moon at one particular time as—precisely that—a moon—and—if you look at it again another time—to think of it as another moon…

It wasn’t midnight when we saw this particular moon, my sister and I, but it was late enough, the moon high enough, the sea black enough—like treacle—the path…

The path was as long as it was.

It was beautiful, that moon—and its reflection over the water creating a silvery path…

I could give details of how it was we were in that place at that time—holiday, teenagers, parents at clubhouse—us, not even sneaking out—but saying, one of us—why not go—what a good idea (the other of us)—down the path—on to the beach at night—it was afterwards that our mother said—you did what!? you could have—oh, Mam!

To have read of such a thing, a moon casting a path over dark water, and to see it, are not the same—I know because I do have at least one experience of a moon’s lit path…

But not towards a shoe.

This is where some fiction could come in, if I liked…

I was out in a boat, somewhere near the horizon, and I saw the moon’s silvery path lighting over the slightly choppy, black sea, and towards a strangled beach—no, body—I mean a shoe, left upon the sea’s edge, the moon’s guilty finger of light pointing at it—or that could be me…

About what I wrote yesterday

Yesterday, I said I couldn’t edit what I had written, and that what I was giving there was what I wrote straight off.

That wasn’t entirely accurate, and it has bothered me today—to the extent of stopping me from concentrating on any other writing projects that I am currently working on.

I do edit, and I edit all the time.  Each ‘draft’ (you could see it that way) is edited—I edit as I go along.

What I wrote yesterday—what constituted ‘the story’—I’d handwritten it.  I like to handwrite, pen and paper.

Then, I tried to handwrite it from the handwriting—I didn’t like that idea of ‘marriage’ coming into the story, and I wanted to change it.

What I meant when I said that the writing ‘wouldn’t be edited’—I couldn’t cross that out—the ‘marriage’ part—or change it to something else—like plain ‘alliance’, which was a word I had also used.

No.  The story seemed to lose, somehow, without that reference of the alliance being a marriage.

It was that I couldn’t ‘edit out’.

ButI had written the word ‘today’ in that story two or three times and, in typing the handwriting into the blog, I edited out such ‘excessives’ without much thought.

If I saw a spelling mistake, I’d correct it.  If I was going through something typed and saw a typo, I’d correct it.

These are everyday jobs for me.  I do this sort of thing without thinking about it much.

But—in the story that I put in the blog yesterday, that idea of ‘marriage’ somehow persisted.

At one time, I read much historical fiction—and female protagonists in historical fiction frequently had problems with marriage.  Women were expected to marry.  It was a common conflict that I came across in my reading—women characters trying to make sense for themselves of this thing they were expected to do—marry.  (And they often had ‘miniatures’—small paintings—of their suitors, as ‘props’.)

I thought I may have some influences coming in from this reading of historical fiction—and I may have done—especially considering the ‘white bonnet’, which seemed an odd accessory, given what else the character was going to wear.

Well—maybe that did happen.