Thursday 19 February 2015

A day in the past

Yesterday, I escaped on a journey to the past with my sisters. The three of us took the ferrry to France and drove to the tourist town of Le Touquet Paris Plage with the goal of finding where both my grandparents and great grandparents lived at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Not only did we delight in finding the homes of both generations, we also went on to visit my great grandparents' grave at the local cemetry. It took us ages to locate it, only to be somewhat taken aback to discover it speared with a sign post bearing a tattered and disintergrating scrap of laminated paper (apparently weathering there since 2013) that said they were to exume and move the bodies since the grave was neglected.
We'd only found out about grave a couple of weeks ago!
After taking lots of photos, we continued on to discover the location of Hôtel du Golf, the hotel my grandfather managed until 1940 when it was bombed by the Germans. Our dad had told us how it was such a grand place, and that many members of royalty stayed there to play golf and relax. Apparently, my grandfather once chastised the young Prince Rainier with a clip round the ear for talking out of turn. We were eager to learn more!
Nobody around town seemed to know where the hotel was. We were directed to the local library by Tourist Information, where we discovered a local history book that said this sumptious hotel, which was at one time also used as a Canadian wartime hospital, had actually not been bombed by the invading Germans, but had been bombed by the allies to prevent the Germans getting of valuable secret documents stored there! Très intéressant!
To finish that part of our tour, we visited the site of the enormous hotel, only to find it replaced by lots of private residences, but also the newer, and much smaller, Hôtel du Manoir. It didn't look much, so we drove on by.
Despite the disapointment, the anti-climax, that there was nothing left of the original hotel, we had an amazing day. I would definately recommend visiting a place you are doing family research on, not only for the extra information that might turn up, but also because it gives you a wonderful sense of belonging...walking the streets your ancestors might have walked, seeing the places your ancestor might have seen...simply being there!
On the return journey, as for a recent day trip with my kids to Bruges back in January, many of the road signs pointing to Calais also pointed the way to St Omer, a place that has particular interest to me, being where the youths that stayed with Elizabeth Cellier, The Popish Midwife, attended Jesuit college during the trials of the Popish Plot.
Mrs Cellier became host to these students, who gave testimony against Titus Oates (creator of the Popish Plot and responsible for the deaths of many innocent Catholics) at the request of no less than Mary of Modena, wife of the Duke of York (future king James II). None other could safely take them in, without appearing to support the Catholics on trial for treason, and risk their life for it. Not giving too much of the story away, the Jesuit Youths are vital to the trial of the five Jesuits accused of plotting to kill the king, and Omer is mentioned throughout the trial.
Seeing the name of St Omer on signs all the way back to the port, it was as if I was being called to go there! I have to visit the Jesuit college, and walk around the town, get a feel for those students, who had been sent there to study by Catholics because their religion (and any teaching of it) was outlawed in England - my trip yesterday showed how important it was in getting a feel for people of the past - definately my next trip to France!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Oh no I did-n't!

I did. I went and did the deed!

I've watched as my kids have joined twitter and tweeted away from the top of their respective trees, not having a clue what it was about. They used some truncated form of language that I simply did not understand. Hashtags and '@' before every other just didn't seem to make sense. I couldn't see any full sentences, and I didn't really try to see the sense in it. Why would I?

I have two, three, ok, four blogs, I have two novels I'm editing, and another five I'm writing. I edit other people's books and work a day-job as a laboratory technician. Of course, I also have to cook meals, wash and clean and do all that sort of yucky stuff...

So, time to decipher a language that's only been created in the last decade or so? Uh uh! No, no, no! Too much else to do, and no time to do all the things I want to do already....but...

Well, I started looking someone up on Twitter a few days ago, found them and followed them. Suddenly three more Twitterers were offered up...'Look at these guys...they might interest you too!' I looked, and I was interested. More authors, more publishers, more editors, more people involved in saving the planet and all it's wildlife, more people who have similar interests to space and stars and animals and...and...and...

OMG! There are just too many interesting, wonderful, amazing people out there! And I've followed half of them (kidding! Only some) in just a couple of days. I'm like a woman obsessed. Correction. I am a woman obsessed! I just want to put my arms around all the creative, humorous, awesome, cool (you get the idea) folks and hug them all close! I want to know them all.

But, the downside? There are too many people to get to know properly. I want to. I really do. But I suspect I'll know only a fraction of them. But, if I get to know even a fraction of these people, I will count myself as privileged. Seven billion peeps, and I want to know who they all are...I'd better lower my expectations somewhat...the bar is a little too high. reminds me of a childhood dream. As I was growing up, I wanted to learn every language in the world, so I could speak to anyone and everyone I met. Hmmmm...unfortunately (and shamefully) I stopped learning languages, so that ambition will have to fall by the wayside. But, I am in awe of this opportunity to meet folk all around the world. How lucky I am, methinks, to be born in this era!

I wonder if everyone feels as lucky as me.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Why, oh why, does editing make me crazy?

I love editing.

I really love it.

It's where you take your hasty stream-of-consciousness and mould it, shape it, sculpt take the rough-hewn story, that has many of the right bumps and crevices in the right place, and chip away the extraneous blemishes, smooth the surfaces, present it in a more beautiful form, one that others will find pleasing and hopefully's where you turn it into the story you first imagined.

But it's driving me crazy at the moment.

I've edited many books for other people - mostly adult and childrens' fiction, a couple of screenplays, and a couple of non-fiction works, one written by someone for whom English was a second language...and usually it's a case of plod, plod, plod - you just gotta do the graft!

I enjoy the process almost as much as creating the first draft of my own books. But sometimes... sometimes I get stuck - stuck in a chapter that simply doesn't seem to work, is unnecessary or needs huge altering - but to get stuck on a paragraph? One that could be 'snipped' with a couple of clicks of the mouse? Ludicrous!

But it happens, I don't know why.

I'm currently editing 'The Popish Midwife' and getting stuck on silly little's really slowing me down! Maybe it's because it's my own book I'm being particularly pedantic over it.

I could take the offending paragraph out, get it in my sniper-sight and assassinate it. I could re-write it. I could highlight it and leave it until next edit, thereby dealing with it by the art of procrastination (which also actually makes sense, because next read-through I'd simply do what needs to be done)...but no. I sit on it. I go over and over it.

Change a sentence, then read from the beginning of the paragraph again to see how it fits now.
Change a bit more.
Read from the beginning of paragraph to see how it fits.
It's ok.
Look at the next sentence. Doesn't look quite right, now I've changed the preceding sentence.
change it.
Read from the beginning of paragraph to see how it fits.
Change it again.
Do I have to read from the beginning again? How about I just move on now.
Read next sentence. It's ok.
Last sentence needs tweaking though
Tweak it.
Read from the beginning of paragraph to see how it flows now.
Something not quite right.
Change sentence order.
Read paragraph again.
Better, but could be improved.
Change something. Satisfied.
Alter something else.
Read again.
Hmmm...maybe I should get on with the rest of the book...
Start reading next paragraph.
Have to go back and read last paragraph again.
Thinking I'm going mad. I don't need to do this. Move on.
Reads better now.
Work on the rest of chapter.
Re-read whole chapter
Uh-oh...stuck on that paragraph again. Something's still not right.

So, sometimes I get stuck on something that should be easily frustrating when there's the rest of the book to edit, and I just want to get it done!

How do I get past this? How do I learn to ignore such annoying little things and move on?

Ah well...plod, plod, plod. Still gotta get it done.

Script Alchemy - first step

Words that Flow has been a great blog over the years, and I love it for all it's been to me, but it's getting a bit old now. I've messed with the html so much that it no longer works as it should, takes too long to download, and is, frankly, a little bit of a mess. I tried to move it to an updated design, but much of what makes it the place I love simply disappears!

So...I've made my mind up to have a new beginnings are always exciting. You don't know where they're going to take you. Maybe nowhere. Maybe somewhere. Maybe they simply move you. But what I hope this blog will be is a place to write in the way I used to write on Words that flow - with myself as both the guide and the guided, and a place to add my favourite pictures of the day.

I don't have any hopes of this blog, except that it will be a place I return regularly. As I say, Words that flow is put to rest. I tried to rekindle it, but kept feeling I was trying to fit into a person I was ten years ago. Yes, that person is part of me, but I've changed a lot since then, as you do, and I would like to feel that the place I chose to write is the place for me-now, not for me-then.

Me-then was younger, a mother wrapped in bringing up four wonderful children, a fledgling writer, poet, photographer. Me-now, I see as a person who is more determined to make my dreams come true, especially as a writer. I have completed first draft of two very different a historical fiction, based on a real person, a woman I greatly admire, from the seventeenth century. The other is a 'magical realism' fiction, totally different. This one is the first of a series of (so far) another 5-7 books, probably more eventually, and is also in the process of 'first edit'.

My aim is to complete these two books this year. The Popish Midwife will hopefully be submitted through the traditional literary agency/ book publisher route. The others I fully intend to go straight to self-publishing. I've seen the difficulties of submitting even 'normal', well-written books to publishers, and how they reject virtually everything, especially if it doesn't slot absolutely into their genre groups or into either commercial/literary fiction...drives me nuts that books can't be taken simply on their own merit!!

So, anyway, I am not starting the journey from the beginning, I'm looking at the fork in the road and have decided, instead of taking the comfortable, well-worn path (Words that flow), I'm going to take that other path, so overgrown with tangled creepers and weeds that I can barely see the path, and can't even see the first corner - so exciting!

I welcome any that chose to take some of this journey with me, or who join me from my previous blog...old friends and new are welcome.

First step...