Adios, Writers Group

Does there come a time when you’ve outgrown the Writers’ Group you’ve attended for well nigh on three years?

I think I may have reached that point. In fact I’ve told them I’m taking a break from their fortnightly meetings for a couple of months. At the moment I can’t see me returning. Is this because I’ve given up writing? Certainly not. Why then?

Several reasons.

When I first started at the group I was writing short pieces, about 500 words, and putting them up on a blog. I continued that length in response to the various prompts the group had on their agendas, slowly building them up 1000 words, 1500 words at most. I covered a variety of topics: pieces based on a book or film I’d read or watched, responses to listed proverbs, sayings, headings, even personal pieces relating to my experiences in recent years. But after a talk from a visiting local author I began to experiment with longer pieces of writing. Prior to attending the group I had managed to write a story of about 24,000 words. Now, inspired by the writer and her suggestion of using Scrivener as a writing platform, I attempted to turn this long piece into a fully blown novel. After a number of months I hit 110,000 words, even after editing. Since then, apart from a few shorter pieces, I have written two novellas and am nearing the completion of a third, around 35, 000 to 50,000 words each. I’ve tried taking excerpts from these into the group’s meetings, with a summary of the story up to the point the extract starts from. But it’s proved hard for many of the group to give useful feedback. The more serious writers there do, they appreciate I want comments on dialogue or description or a character’s voice, etc, whatever I ask for before I share the piece. The others, the majority, are only really there for the coffee, biscuits and a chat. They rush off a simple rhyming poem as a contribution and their feedback consists of ‘That’s okay’, ‘Um, yes, I quite like that’, It’s okay’, or nothing at all. If it hasn’t got a beginning, middle and end, they’re lost.

The group has changed over the three years. People have left, people have joined. Sadly the overall quality has dropped. This means I’m getting the useful feedback from the same two or three. If they’re absent, or one or two are, then it’s a largely wasted two hours. Interestingly enough the group’s leader is also taking a break from the meetings for the same reasons as me. When I emailed him he rang me up within ten minutes saying we must me psychic as he was discussing the same thoughts with his wife that very moment.

The traveling. A forty minute journey there, two hours seated at the meeting, then forty minutes back home. That’s a lot of sitting down – not healthy. It’s a nice enough road, not too busy, going through places that bring back many memories for me, and the town where the meetings are held is also somewhere I lived when very young and our parents lived in or near for much of their married lives. But if the meeting is not worthwhile then the journey starts to become tiring, mentally. And I can still visit the town, and drive along the roads, without going to a meeting I don’t enjoy. In bad weather, of course, the reasons for not going only multiply.

So for now I’m happy to continue writing by myself. I’m nearly at the end of my present work and that’ll be up on Amazon once edited. And no doubt I’ll start something new to keep me occupied in the coffee shops.

Adios, Writers’ Group…

 

 

 

Advertisements

Another day, another coffee

A terrible habit, three bought coffees in three days. Well, blame it on the Bank Holiday weekend. And to make matters worse I added an almond slice to today’s latte. My excuse? I’d driven some twenty miles to get to the coffee shop and was in need of sustenance. You only live once, don’t you? No doubt my doctor would counter with ‘You only die once…’ So, no more bought coffee until the weekend, back now to decaffeinated, milky coffee at home.

2017-08-29 09.42.24

Mr Bean’s Coffee House in the small town of Tenterden is worth a visit, friendly staff, good location for people watching and newspapers available. Only drawback can be when young mothers come in with screaming kids, then it’s time to vacate the building.

2017-08-29 09.43.12

Yesterday I finished editing the original version of the Bobby Olsen novella, the one with the made-up hyphenated phrases that the main character uses. These divided opinion at my Writers Group but a few people liked the novelty so I think it’s worth making this version available for them. I’ve started making the necessary alterations for uploading as an e-book and should get it up in the next few days. Then, finally, that story is finished with! Until I decide to rewrite it as a full-blown 100,000 word novel…one day.

Now this is ready for blogging I shall pop outside and plant a few daffodil bulbs as the packet has sat on the kitchen floor for two weeks now. And it’s a lovely sunny day again, too good to spoil in front of a computer. Tomorrow rain is forecast so I can type away then…maybe.

 

Paperback version

‘Bobby Olsen’, my novella, is now available as a print-on-demand paperback from Kindle. Both the e-book and paperback have a different cover too. There may be a few tweaks to be made to the layout, to try and get all pages nicely filled with text, but the basic story is there on paper. An interesting exercise getting it up as a paperback and probably not helped by all the changes I made along the way, especially starting the tale as a sequence of separate 1500 word exercises. Putting them all together may be the reason my chapter headings are in different positions on the pages in the paperback version!

Finally published

So, after delays caused by the house move, I have finally found time to finish editing my novella ‘Bobby Olsen’ set in late 1950s America. I can’t guarantee there aren’t errors here and there, I just reached the point where I wanted it published and finished, but the tale’s out there.

This is the ‘conventional’ form of the story, with the made-up hyphenated words removed. I will produce the original version later in the year as I know some of my Writers’ Group liked the language.

Now to consider publishing it as a paperback.

Bobby Olsen by Jamie Neve – find it on Amazon as an ebook now.

 

Preparing for Kindle

Finally, after a long drawn out house move, I have managed to finish editing my novella. I mentioned it earlier on this blog, the one where I had used a lot of hyphenated words I had created. In this edit I have removed these unusual words, partly because I was getting a bit tired of them after working with them for nearly a year and partly because I knew some of my Writers’ Group members were not keen on them either. So I now have a more conventional story. Later this year I will edit the hyphenated version as it was this style which gave me the inspiration for writing the story and also some people actually liked the use of these new words.

Last night I set up the chapter headings correctly and the page breaks, and inserted the front pages. Kindle seems to have produced a new beta version of a guide but I found that problematic as some of my chapter headings went in strange positions – my fault no doubt, I’ve played around with the original episodes so much. I used the simple guide Kindle had earlier in the year when I put up my long short story as a practice run for publishing on Amazon. With this novella I will try and publish it as a paperback too, just so I can have the book on my bookshelves.

It’s curious and amusing to read back over episodes of the story. Some of them genuinely bring tears to my eyes – and not because they sound awful! – but because I can’t believe I managed to write a certain phrase or paragraph. Some of the incidents also have great poignancy for the story and, as I was making the plot up as I went, some incidents were to have great significance on the outcome of the whole tale. One character I casually brought in for one episode ended up becoming a key figure right through to the end and into the follow-up novella. Those moments bring a lump into my throat. At that point I realise I don’t care if no-one else likes the story, I like it, and I realise it was a story I must have been waiting to write, simple as it is.

So now I must hold back from publishing straight away and go through looking for any obvious errors which are highlighted in red. I’m not worried about producing a perfect piece, I’m sure my friends will eagerly point out spelling errors and the such like, I just want the story finished and published.

 

Slow editing and distractions

I am continuing to edit my novella set in 1950s America, about one episode or chapter a day. As this is the ‘conventional’ version with none of the made-up hyphened words I am finding that the word count is increasing as I rewrite the phrases into ‘normal’ sentences. It already stood at near 43,000 word,s which is long for a novella, but now it is edging towards 45,000 with about a third still to go. I keep thinking about editing out a whole chapter or two but just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I just have too much in the story. It would be possible to build it up to 80,000 or more by expanding each chapter and adding more detail as the story does zip along but at the moment it’s all I can do to keep editing the short version.

I haven’t watched Masterchef for several years but have found myself absorbed by it this year. I got caught up with the early rounds when there are many contestants and couldn’t help but play that game of trying to spot the winner from just the first round. I think also the fact that I have adopted a healthier diet over the last three months has heightened my interest in food – even if I can’t eat most of the dishes they concoct on the show! I’ve also taken more strenuous exercise and have lost half a stone even though I didn’t need to, consequently I find myself feeling quite hungry at times and really looking forward to my next meal. I probably need to have more healthy snacks around the place so I don’t get these hunger pangs, I’ve probably overdone the diet and exercise.

Another distraction has been a proposed house move. We started over a year ago, have ‘sold’ the house three times and still not moved. Long story. Right now we are sold, have a place to buy and are waiting for our solicitor to get answers to her ‘further enquiries’. We will probably still be here at Xmas. I’ll vote for any party which promises to hang, draw and quarter solicitors…

Ahhh, only forty minutes until food preparation time, my stomach is rumbling at the prospect.

Change of plan

There I was happily editing my novella of hyphenated words when I began to grind to a halt. Having spent a year developing this curious style and being absorbed in using it to write not one but two novellas I found I had had enough of these creations, at least for a while. So yesterday I began editing a second version of the first novella, this time editing out all the hyphenated words and turning the story into a conventional tale.

I have to admit it was quite therapeutic to carry this out and to end up with several chapters of ‘normal’ script, something which I can promote without having the added weight of convincing people that hyphenated words were the language of the future. I haven’t given up on the new style, I think I just need a rest from its complications and implications. The aim now is to produce two versions of the story.

Here’s an example of the difference between the two versions:

Hyphenated style of opening chapter

New York, mid-December ’58, and my snowshoes were basement-stored but ready for unpacking should the hanging snowflakes hold hands on the ground. The blizzard back in March had dawned slow weather-wise and in folks’ brains; no-one wanted catching second time with their pants down in a snow drift.

Now I was out walking down 48th Street with the words of ‘Sugartime’ lyric-lashing my head. I tried forcing phrases of the Everly’s ‘Dream’ into the early evening air but the McGuire Sisters’ sugar rush kept returning.

After a weekend celebrating twelve months since my PI registration with Dirk and his alcohol-awash sidekicks, I wanted something more carefree cerebral. I stopped outside the Plymouth Theatre and watched people shuffle inside. The Marriage-Go-Round was rave-reviewing and the chance to eyeball Boyer and Colbert was not to be missed, promising light laughs easy-jawed. I took a position second balcony high and played writer eye-watching near eight hundred people creaking worn seats.

 

Conventional style

New York, mid-December ’58, and my snowshoes were stored in the basement but ready for unpacking should the hanging snowflakes hold hands on the ground. The blizzard back in March had dawned slow on the weather horizon and in folks’ brains; no-one wanted catching second time with their pants down in a snow drift.

Now I was out walking down 48th Street with the words of ‘Sugartime’ lashing my head. I tried forcing phrases of the Everly’s ‘Dream’ into the early evening air but the McGuire Sisters’ sugar rush kept returning.

After a weekend celebrating twelve months since my PI registration with Dirk and his alcoholic sidekicks, I wanted something more carefree cerebral. I stopped outside the Plymouth Theatre and watched people shuffle inside. The Marriage-Go-Round was getting rave reviews and the chance to eyeball Boyer and Colbert was not to be missed, promising light laughs in abundance. I took a position second balcony high and played writer watching near eight hundred people creaking worn seats.

I intend to read the latter opening chapter at the next Writers’ Group meeting. It will be interesting to see what the reaction is, I know some like the hyphenated style but others don’t. I’ll probably get the same division of opinion.

Still, two books from one story – can’t be bad!