Friday, 31 December 2010

New Years Eve - Buenos Aires, Argentina...

have been settling in here..have found a flat share with a bloke who does massage - and colonic irrigation! - he has cleared out his treatment room for me to use as a writing space.I may have the same writing routine as Virginia Woolfe but I bet she never wrote in a space where people had their bottoms evacuated! The room has a desk and seems quiet as its at the back of the apartment so I can sit in solitude. Have agreed my schedule of tango lessons with my teacher Lorena - they will be later afternoons so I plan to get into a routine as soon as H and I move to the flat on 4th January - writing after breakfast for 2-3 hours - then tango then another 1-2 hours then dinner then sometimes tango..BUT I will need to flex this when I settle on tango class/es aswell as Lorenas lesons , and practicas and acount for some late milonga nights.. Ive worked out I have then 3 blocks of 20 days until we go back to the U.K. for me to complete the re write start to finish of Sweeping up the Village. I hope work work remains manageable within this - but it should I think fit around everything else. Relaxing in our B and B until next week . I think here it will be difficult for me to write as its SO hot with no air con and our room is stiffling . I cant concentrate unless I can completely detatch and shut away in a special writing space. We will see.The B and B and Maggie - an expat Brit - is wonderful and a font of information on about anything and everything you might want to know about this amazing city.
Happy New Year to all my blog Followers!


Monday, 27 December 2010

The day after Boxing Day

H and I have had a quiet and very relaxing time in Aldeburgh - doing a decent walk each day and yoga or meditation and watching DVD's of favorite films. I have not picked up my pen for atleast 2 weeks and have takne Emma's advice to have a break and then start up again with the re write from the beginning when I get to Buenos Aires (we fly out tommorow night!). Yesterday walked atleast 9 miles to Snape and back . The land was frosted and crisp - trees with their bare branches sillouetted against the backdrop of a georgeous sunny day. Back to London by cab this evenning. About to do the Thorpness walk agiain. Have been thinking about bits of my novel - and trying not to be overwhelmed by the fear that I wont be able to start up again. Ive thought a little more of bits of plot development in certain scenes which need more work - so everything is joined up for my reader.Have also been thinking how I need to use my 3 months in Argentina productively - for both my writing and tango - I will need to settle into a routine fairly early on.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Something borrowed?

Went to the pictures last night and saw Loose Cannon - a beautiful Italian "gay"film - uplifting and full of humor. I was interested in the opener - which is a flashback to the past...the end scene looped back to the opening scene. Like my novel - the tale is "bookended" and it worked very well. The final scene in the film reminded me very much of an "AIDS" movie from the 80's called Parting Glances -the idea of having the past and the present, the dead and the living all mingling at a social gathering happily had an moving and uplifting effect. I wonder if Loose Cannon's director borrowed this idea from Parting Glances? Its useful as a writer to observe how storylines are structured in good films - particularly beginnings and endings - to see what can perhaps be borrowed in structure and technique to achieve a certain desired emotional impact .


Sunday, 19 December 2010

And last night(Saturday) tangoing at the Crypt was fabulous!

Led and followed - great atmosphere, people and music - which just goes to show that the right ingredients are always necesary if you want to create something special! London is hushed by the heavy snowfall that came yesterday. Magical.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Cant just turn the tap seems almost sacreligious

At a certain central London venue on last night I had a lousy tango experience- and I was So looking forward to it. It was mostly about me - I need to feel inspired by the people, the music and the atmosphere and none of this was forthcomming so I didnt dance once. One poor woman came to me and asked if I'd just walk her round as she was a beginner but Id seen her with some other leader earlier on and I couldnt face being complicit in a repeat performance.Selfish?Guilt trip?Angst!!!
The creative inspiration needed for good tango dancing is the same as that needed for good writing. I cant just turn the tap seems almost sacreligious. But I did watch and learn - from the good and the bad - sat alone at an elevated corner table. When I cant turn on the writing tap - then I read, watch, listen and mull it all over in my head until I am ready to begin again.
Ive just finished watching DVD set of Dennis Potter's Pennies from Heaven - now there is inspiation a plenty. What a bloody genius that man was!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

You Tube for research

I have been researching setting for my novel - to help me where my protagontist reflects back on his former life in Kosovo. I found some really good You Tube vids showing life in the town he comes from and also his village. This is perfect for me in creating his memories of growing up, moving from village to city and then fleeing back again during the Serb shelling of the city at the start of the war.I also unearthed a city plan showing it's division on ethnic grounds and major landmarks and layout.

Went to Forest Writers Christmas party last night - low key but friendly. Also put an email out to the four agents who've said they want to see my novel when its completed - letting them know how I'm getting on well with the writing of it and how I am heading for Buenos Aires for 3 months where I plan - alongside taking tango instruction and SKYPE working-to go for it and tackle to start to finish re write - now I have amassed 60k words, reviewed the chapter plan and know what I need to do. Well - thats the plan...


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Squirm session and mincey pies !

Waited more than an hour beyond my alloted appointment time to be seen at the Hospital today...the usual overbooking of appointments I asume unless its done so us patients have a chance to dwell even longer in limbo worrying about where the outcome of our test results might lead us...(oncology,cardiology,lipid doctor etc etc) I know its for my own good and they do a good job but I HATE having to go there every quarter and go through this predictable squirm session. Well - all is ok - and I got a pat on the back from my Consultant who threw in a comment about me being " a really good writer"(yes - she has read some of my short stories). When it comes to posiive feedback- like the dreaded Tesco phrase -"Every little helps" - particularly when one is about to emark on the final rewrite of ones debut novel, don't you know.So it was pizza from Belize Park Emporium Bakery eaten on the tube ride home to Walthamstow and when got home I polished off the last two remaining mincey pies with cups of strong tea!

I'VE GOT BACK INTO "If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things "by Jon Mcgregor - which Emma recommended some time back. Its got some of the most beautiful descriptive prose I've ever read contained within its pages...though am not too amoured of the plot. The author writes in an unusual style where dialogue is merged within the main body of text(not an inverted comma to be seen)within an unconventional structure.

Tonight H and I are off to the South Bank BFI to see 4 early 1950's documentaries about London life - then may hike it over to Oxford Street to see if I can find a case for my three months in Buenos Aires. I bravely bore my local Argos yesterday and selected 1st,2nd and 3rd choice suitcases only to be told sorry, we dont have any of them in stock. I hate the way these robot buinesses always say"have a nice day" regardless of the fact that the encounter Ive had with them has been a complete and mind numbing waste of time. In REAL life - no one would actual say such a thing.Progress?I don't think!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Just back from Tutorial with my writing mentor

who says its all comming along very nicely . But much there is to do now with the rewriting...Julie will now not be given a POV(we will see everything throught A and R...Trudie will be zapped entirely from the story(but thats ok by me as the story has now outgrown her). More references to Virginia Woolf and my approach to writing the novel(similarities)...well lets hope I don't come across a river with a pile of stones lying on the bank. Ive had a mental week with work and thinking about going away soon and getting everything ready. Nothing much to conclude here and now except that scoffing another of my sister's homemade mincey pies definately makes everything seem better.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Never turn down the opportunity for a good walk....

BUT don't go online late at night if you want to sleep!
Yesterday had good intentions for a writing day - well - all weekend really BUT it didnt turn out that way. Saturday turned into what I call a "London day" -taking advantage of the lady and all she has on offer. Went to th Tango Tea dance at Hop Gardens which was friendly considering I knew no one. Had some relly nice dances. After - meet up with my old City course mates for dinner in Garrick Street then after that , walked over the river in the rain(but it was still magic!)to meet H at the BFI. we watched a silent film -from 1923- "Salome" which was accompanied by live piano. When it finished, I said to H, let walk aong the South Bank and over the Millenium bridge to Liverpool street - and we did. There werent that many people and the views of St Pauls and and all the familiar landmarks were stunning. On Sunday we went for a short walk locally but as it was a lovely sunny morning I suggested we walk down across Hackney Marshes to Springfield park.I thought about my novel and whether R and A might not take this walk. Its so intersting as its a bisection through the vilage, the market and evry language but English, the poor end and then the marsh nature reserve with bull rushes, roaming cows - the lot. When we arrived at the Park I suggested to walk on to Victria Park and we did. Past the Olympic site with its giant flying saucer stadium. Hadnt been this way since 2003 when I got M.E.and its changed so much(for the better). Had our sandwiche and a cuppa at Victoria Park as it got dark and then walked back via Hommerton, Chatsworth and then very traffic laden Victoria Road.9 miles round trip.

Spent a quite evnning in front of anothet great episode of Every Human Heart on the telly then went onto my notebook and rediscovered the compilation file with all my work so far ...well most of it. I thought it had vapourised lat weekend when I was pulling it all together. The temptation was to great and I finished coping everything into it and came up wih a heartening word count of 56k. But it was after midnite and - guess what - I couldnt get to sleep. So here I am now at 8am waiting for my yoga teacher to arive and only wanting to go back to bed!

Some thoughts on doing courses and writing process

I think that it depends WHERE you are as a writer...I know for me getting started with creative writing as something completely new, signing up for a few creative writing workshops initially was helpful. A bit like doing parenting skills classes. Although I'd written professionally for many years in my vocational field (journal articles,masters disseration, conference papers) Id never atempted anything like writing fiction. I started this originally out of a sort of deep urge to express my self creatively - after comming out of a very challenging period in my life - the feeling was almost primal; quite "from my guts" infact. This was the absolute beginning for me and that was done alone and had nothing to do with being taught on a workshop or any course. But then I felt I did need something within which to frame what I was doing. Not having any kind of literary background(my father was an electrician not a famous novelist; my mother a cleaner - not some Pulitzer winning journalist) - unless you count a grade B in O level English in 1975! completing a few basic "creative writing workshops" was both inspiring and informative I found. But also then I realized what real writing is about - hard, soul searching slog working alone...though I'll come back to this later because its not just this, its far more than this infact- and- met some of these writing course junkies who were always seeming to be dreaming about the next course rather than actually about geting down to compleing a project of their own. I think therefore that workshops can be useful for learning the basics through writing excersizes - often these might generate ideas for scenes/charaters/a story. Endless worksops and short courses are not helpful in my view.
What I found helpful is being selective and choosing when you need to do these and what outcome you are expecting. The first course I did was six weeks long, two hours every Thursday night. It involved writing and then performing a 4 minute monologue. The next course I took about 6 months later was the excellent London CityUni 12 week evenning course in Short Story writing with Katy Darby. In this I was expected to complete one short story by the end of the course - which I did and it ended getting published in Decongested Tales and being read at their Foyles monthly short fiction event. A few months later I took another 12 weeker at CityUni - Intermeadite fiction writing - which was really more like workshopping with a small group. This gave me an idea about how to go about writing a longer piece and the level of skill required. Then I enrolled in the year long Graduate Certificate in Novel writing - a mixture of taught and experiential modules looking at various genres and reading alot( for me especially I developed at art of readng with a writers eye )and also encouraging a writing habit - a regular routine. The course also has links with the publishing industry who look at graduates for new talent.

I 've done also a couple of led writing residential retreats and would say these are useful for different people in different ways. Some use thm to overcome block or for inspiration or to see how the "masters" do it. But I found networking with other writers(as others have pointed out, writing is mostly something done alone)and having an environment supportive to write..whether its to produce new ideas or begin a new piece or move something started forward. Out of the two I did I produced two short stories again which were published(eventiually).

Joinng a good writing group I think can be extremely important - nothing beats airing your work and guaging its impact , although its important that you pick a group that is supportive and right for you. Now I've embarked on my first novel I am finding haing a mentor is really helpful to me. A montly check in, written and verbal feedback on new material Ive produced and small excersizes to stimulate new ideas for scenes, characterisation etc are all helpful.

But as Emma says - it really does always come back to you, producing new material and for this you need discipline and a regular habit. I personally cant write non stop all day for days on end. I just find it counter productive , I get bored and dont create .For me its 2 1/2 hours from 11am then STOP and pick it up again in the evenning for no more than 2 hours. That way I may produce 1000 1200 (sometime half that!) words but good words and am satisfied not by the word count perhaps but by the material.
The word count goes up over weeks and months.
Research is a good way of maintaining interest - investigating things that flag up and take me down paths Id never have imaginged which then bring me back to a different place in my writing perhaps.
OVERALL, I find its most important to ENJOY the process. Yes it can be hard slog , is usually slow and longhaul - but it must be something you learn to love .

OMG - how I've gone on.


Friday, 3 December 2010

Back from a tutorial with my mentor

in the cafe of the Welcome Centre Library. London is oddly vacant with all this cold and snow - like a perpetual Sunday afternoon - I quite like it inspite of people constantly moaning about the weather. Tutorial went well - and Emma brilliantly helpful, positive and constructive in her support.Did a couple of short writing excersizes which generated new scene /chapter sketches. Need to do a plot /chapter plan review for next time. Nice food in the Cafe. Packed as usual.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010


another two hours of work and Ive finished this latest chapter - R and A out at a club in town. Ive experimented with leaving out graphic descriptions in an atempt to show more by saying less, rather, focussing more on subsequent actions/behaviour and thoughts to up the strength of this chapter.Lets hope it works!

Wrapped up and writing again!

This afternoon at my kitchen table began writing again after a break of a couple of days. It took me ages to get the first couple of paras but now its flowing. Last night braved the snow and cold and ventured into Oxford Street and did a great tango class - the last of this term at tango movement - and came home knackered and slept like a log. Been reading A. Maupins Mary Anne in Autumn - latest of his Tales of the City novels and am almost finished. Its sureal as H and I have been also watching concurently episodes from the first tv series of T.O.T.C. - so - I have Mary Anne visually as Laura Linney the actress who played her in her mid 1970's mid twenties version , whereas the latest novel has her written aged 57 with uterine cancer and I cant picture her as any older.

A great yoga session today teacher - Mistress Heather -is driving me hard with two new alternating routines but I'm already feeling the benefit of this in terms of muscle strength and stamina improvement. She says my body is getting younger(what about my mind!)We wont go there - and I shall go back to my writing now...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Writing a novel IS a long, slow slog !

These comments were made by my writing mentor after I texted her whilst on a real downer on Saturday. I'd started writing a new scene , and although it took me ages to get going with it I was relatively pleased with the result. But later on I decided to pull all my scene/chapter files into one single file and the word count wasnt any where near as much as I'd imagined..alot but not enough yet. Worse ...the new file vapourised and search as I may I could not recover it! So I went to bed dejected and got up in a foul, irritable mood. But its passed now, thanks to a couple of long walks in the snow up here on the Suffolk coast. I just have to carry on writing. I cant see it being completed until early summer now at the earliest. But I'm talking it through with my mentor on Friday. Meantime have just enjoyed tea and a toasted teacake at the Brudenell Hotel.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

An hour an a half snatched during lunch time

...all I could manage today BUT actually having such a limited time was a lesson in itself. Better to write atleast some words than not write -even if you only have a short period of time. I was forced to focus on moving the current chapter I'm writing along and actually realised I needed "extra" atention on a short section of a scene in a street to get my protagonists narrative take on what he is seeing going on around him - and this worked well and I got it done by just lingering for the whole hour and a half on those few moments of him walking down the street with his lover - something I might not have done faced with 4-5 hours of writing time ahead of me and a pressure to move the scene to conclusion. Interesting.


Monday, 22 November 2010

Welcome follower did you find me? I checked your own blog and the moth thing rang very true as also had this problem last year and had house sprayed FIVE times over to exterminate the wool hungry beasties - we had to decant into a hotel the last time the smell and fumes were so bad. But - it worked - and - they are departed - pleased to report.
I hope you enjoy following my blog and that you will feel free to add your comments, whenever.

Have done a couple of hours writing - sandwiched in between work and yoga - three thousand new words since Saturday - and good words I think.Will be intersting to see how its all shaping together when I review evrything next week. Got the New Begining first chapter(an alternative to my original ) back from typing this morning and I am pleased with how it reads.Ditto the other scene I wrote with R thinking about"perfect relationships" alone in his flat on a Sunday night...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Its a write weekend for me !

And am pleased with progress. Have written an alternative opening chapter after musing and digesting the meeting with my psychiatrist friend last Thursday night AND have begun new material with R thinking about the nature of his relationship with A after J his ten year old daughter has returned to her mums following a weekend stay at the flat in Walthamstow Village.

Took time out this afternoon to listen to Radio dramatisation of Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin - which I read several months ago when it came out in the English translation. The dramatisation -it was the second part (and I missed the first last week)- was disappointing...poor acting and savage cuts from the novel made it no where near as good as the book.

Have made myself a cuppa and now getting back to my own writing for a couple of hours. H and I will unwind latter with a DVD of Revolutionary Road which Ive not yet seen (or read - though its waiting for me in the cupbaord at Aldeburgh).

THIS IS MY 200th post on this blog!


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Meditating helps get me on the right track and thinking time is as useful as actual writing time !

After yesterday and this morning's sits I saw a way forward from a bit of a block about where I am with the first draft, esp the begining of it.I've noticed this before and did read somewhere at some point that all writers should learn to meditate. Interesting to reflect that my creative writing took off at the same point I learned and began mediatating on a regualr basis - about 3 years ago.

Last night after a heavy work day(and week, though good)I went out to Carablanca milonga and had an aweful time. I was really up for it but once there everything seemed to tip against me and my mood turned and after a couple of unsatisfying dances with partners I felt no conection with whatsoever, I left early feeling flat and forlorn. I also had my novel on my mind , mulling over the conversation I'd had on Thursday when I meet the psychiatrist friend. Its been dawning on me since, that the beginning of my novel doesnt work well..its too dramatic...and I need to save the drama till the climax. Thinking time is as useful as actual writing time when I hit moments like this. I think I have it now...revised and mapped out and already re begun on paper with 3 hours writing new material this morning.
An e-moan to two local writer friends who've both been published - produced supportive emails by return overnight and this is immensely helpful in keeping going!

Friday, 19 November 2010

I have my protagonist "nailed"

Thats according to my psychiatrist friend who took Almir's case history last night over a chinese meal in Islington - she suggested a few behavioural embelishments and the session was really helpful. I did then realise that there are some timeline gaps about his past and growing up I still need to plug and I need to perhaps consider changing the openning of the novel. I am now wondering whether I should drop the whole witness protection story and just have Almir come to the UK as a refugee? Well, will discuss it with my writing mentor in a couple of weeks. Meantime need to get cracking with producing some more new material today and over the weekend.
A fellow writer from my local writers group - Linda Stratman - has got a new publishing deal for her historical novel with The History Press. Thats inspirational news.She also doing someting for the BBC. It still feels a long way off for me...but thats just how it is I suppose.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Been thinking about bearded ladies in launderettes and

that first period in a new love affair when you cant stop thinking about the other person - mostly you just want to have sex with them all the time. Thats what I'm writing into my current chapter.There used to be several years ago a woman who everyone tagged as the bearded lady who worked in our local launderette and I have put her into the latest village sweeping up scene as she was very much a local character - the sort of person you can never imagine ever having looked any different from the way they do now.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Have begun a new chapter

about 60O words done this afternoon, adding another piece to the jigsaw. Went for a walk this morning after looking at a work presenation I have to do in London on Tuesday. Tonight we had fish and chips then went to the cinema but only to find they were showing live opera from the Met in New York and we'd missed the start by an hour and a half. However, there was theatre on in the Jubilee Hall and we went along there and saw Miller's Death of a Salesman - which I quite enjoyed - though it seemed very " of the period" and the leading actors accent was an odd mix of Brooklyn and cockney! Walked home along the prom. looking at the stars.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Off to Aldeburgh later today

hope to get some new material on the road , though I have a presentation to complete for a work presenation on Tuesday first. Went to Hackney tango last night and had one of those aweful nights when I felt I cant dance...I suppose its a bit like writers block...but I made myself stay (when I just wanted to flee from there)and danced with the most inexperienced followers ..which is like making myself write when really nothing will come...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Follies was GREAT!

Hard to believe we we not watching a West End production. Apparantly the actors we doing it for free so as to get noticed by agents. Ye Old Rose and Crown was the pub were we saw this production is an intrguing place - a pub like no other. Linda from Forest writers has been going on about it for ages. They had racks of vintage(mostly womens) clothes up for sale and a DJ who looked just like a british jazz singer who died not that long back whos name escapes me (and H who Ive just asked)...he was large, over 60 and wore a famboyant suit with a white fedora. This DJ only spun old shellac 78@s. I rummaged and managed to find a tango record which he sold nme for £4.

Passed by the old Walthamstow EMD cinema(I wrote this into my last scene) which is in a sorry state indeed these days(it closed in 2003).

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Good intentions... do a couple of hours this afternoon but work is just too busy at the moment. Did finish new chapter off yesterday though and its back - at 1200words and not bad but needs tidying.
Off to see Follies at a local pub theatre now with only 50 seats!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sitting here trying to get this thing started...

...Ive got a bit stuck on where I should finish off the scene I have written with R and his 10 year old daughter in Mcdonalds. As he's treating her I thought he would take her to the has told me that in 2002 Walthamstow EMD cinema was still open...and a search of films from that year tell me ICEAGE and Lord of the rings came out(It just came to me I can recall seeing it with H in Bangkok where we went that New Year -and hating it). I need to start writing it now!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Want to try to get started on new scene today

because next week will be busy work wise I know already. Just trying to wake up. Had away day yesterday and later H and I trained it down to Lee to a party at friends. We didnt get home til after one this laid in until 8.45am.

I WOKE UP THINKING ABOUT THAT FIRST NEW LINE of the scene with R and his daughter in Mcdonalds.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Positiv tutorial with my writing mentor

Feedback is encouraging. Some very useful pointers to what is working and whats not -and whats not is mostly what Ive had my own doubts about and wont take much to sort out.Am aiming now to write four specific new scenes that are warranted by their absence in the story line so far and then will review what I have and do a word count . Thus far Ive resisted doing a word count and I really dont have a clue what Ive totted up to date. The writing seemed the more important get out what needed to come out. Then at my next tutorial with Emma I will se how near I am to completing a first draft of the whole novel.Hopefully this will be by Christmas.

On the way back waiting for a tube train on the Northern Line I experienced what could easily make a great opener for a novel or short story. In the entrance tunnel a young man just ahead of me had a sheet of paper blown out of his hand. I watched it get blown along the platform and then onto the line, persued by the man. The man wanted to jump onto the track to fetch it. Couldnt speak good English. I stepped in...along with one or two others and warned him DEFINATELY not to do this as it was very dangerous. He said the document was valuable - It MUST HAVE BEEN FOR HIM TO CONSIDER RISKING HIS LIFE TO RETRIEVE IT . I SPOKE TO THE STATION CONTROLLER via THE help POINT ON THE PLATFORM, WHO TOLD me to tell the man to come back in the morning and they would pick up his piece of paper when the current is swicthed off overnight. This was of course ludicrous - even if they find it would there be anything much left of a single sheet of paper by then . I just could see it in my minds eye being blown further and further into the tunnel.



Such a good night... lovely Hackney tango, which is getting more popular. Enjoyed the lesson and milonga afterwards(left just after midnite. The fire roaring in the gratE - and in my heart for tango!) Outside walking to the cab place I was propositioned by quite a nice young man but he was either stoned or a little drunk but anyhow a pleasant end to an upifting evenning.(I politely declined).

No new writing completed since the editing I did on Monday of the tutorial material as Ive been busy with Company stuff - we have an Away Day tomorrow and tenders on the go. I'm seeing Emma my writing mentor today(OH GOD, OH GOD!)... I am pleased with what I've done but have no idea if she'll think it's any good.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Have just finished the section I've been working on

Decided more is less where the sex scene is concerned. All off for typing now. Will edit my other new material in prep for Fri's tutorial with Emma this afternoon and the new chapter tommorow when it comes back then email it all to Emma tommorow night. Tube strike again Tuesday to Wed so will not be able to get into town to my tango class!
Off to cook lunch now then will get stuck into the edits. Tonight H and I are out at friends in Finchley for dinner.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Got thinking late last night...

...about how "swimming ly" my writing is going at the moment( and got my Graduate Certificate in Novel Writing along with a nice letter for the course leader in yesterdays post)and it got me thinking. I need another layer going on in the story...I HAVE to really apreciate how A's past lives with him on a daily basis in the present and how this presents in his manner of thinking and personal behaviours...I have the obvoius ones - but need to personalise these more and show the reader how this filetrs through as A tries to build new relationships with the other characters esp R. I've contacted some one I met earlier this year on Vicky Gruts Novelists club course - who is a psychiatrist - to see if she'll discuss A as a case history. That should help. going to my kitchen table to try to move into the first sex scene btw A and R.( OMG!)

Friday, 29 October 2010

Moved on... chapter nicely yesterday and have reached the tricky sticky point(where they have sex)...went out to Hackney tango last night. Great atmosphere and good dancing as usual. H up and away to work b4 I got up this morning. Tango lesson this afternoon in Moorgate and opera at the ENO tonight...we are seeing the Handel thats had such bad reviews!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Waiting for washing machines and yoga teachers !

A new scene done - three hours and 600 words completed yesterday afternoon at the Old Street flat whilst I waited for the arival of a new washing machine. I am at the point in the story where Almir goes back to Rolands flat for a second time...and it all heats up..I can't decide if they will have sex at this hunch is they will...hope to get moving on this waiting for arrival of our yoga teacher Frani...she's normally here by 7.30am and its a quarter to.She's normally prompt so not sure if there's a problem.

Is this a new trend creative process is spurred on by waiting for the arrival of washing machines and yoga teachers!!!?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Yesterday was a writing day

...and was the main focus. I got so immersed that I ran late for tango class and so missed it - I was tired though and will be going later this week(3 x)...I HAVE FINISHED ANOTHER NEW CHAPTER-h u r r a y ! Its funny what new writing throws up isn't it. I found myself suddenly needing to know about mobile phone handsets that were popular in 2002 - what sort would Julie have - and googled but that wasnt too helpful. I will need to re check the details later once Ive completed a first draft but for now have settled on a Mortorola flip "V" and made it silver and purple - any help from any one out there would be welcomed.

In atempting to dwell more on moments of high drama I wanted to write about the shape and feel of one of those caramelised biscuits you get given with your latte - I dont eat them but H must have collected some 'cos I found two in the there at the dining table (where I always write when at home)examining it as my character might examine it as he thinks deeply about the impact of something he's just said to another character.

Yesrdays progress was good because last week got only a very little done dur to work - work. I did finish reading Maggie O' Farells book "After You'd Gone" which was an amazing read...some beautiful writing and great close observation - what I didnt take to was all the flitting POV's - I know this is a device the author probably designed to reflect the protagonists situation - she's in a comma...but I found it jolted my attention. I also didnt like the ending which was a real downer and she semmed to repeat favorite phrases - like red mouth - quite alot. But its a really good read and I'd recommend it if your looking for something new. I've started If Nobody speaks of remarkable things by Jon Mcgregor - its unlike anything else Ive read - one big prose poem really. Hard going(but this type of overly stylised writing I always have difficulty engaging in for the long haul) The prose IS beautiful again though.

NEWS! I have another follower ...Sue...Please do introduce yourself!!

Friday, 22 October 2010


Have not had time for any new writing since Sunday post. Work's been very busy and have had tango . But did go to Forest Writers and work shopped some of the new material I havent yet(but will) tutorialed with my mentor AND it went down v well. Got some useful feedback on a couple of things I wasnt sure about - so - proves its always extrmely important to have a forum to workshop new stuff evry so often to make sure one is still on the right track and not losing the plot(sic) also gives a well needed and deserved boost when you feel you might be flagging. I want to finsih this whole section with Almir and Roland from when they first meet to the start of the deepening of their relationship ...before I my next tutorial with Emma my writing mentor 5TH November - if I can.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Did more in the week

another scene with Almir in the village on the Beat AFTER he has met Roland ...but its not quite finished how I want it...but have left it where it is for now and tonight began another scene with Almir again in the Village but much further along in the story - well thats what came.only managed 300 words in 1 1/2 hours but its a start. I almost didnt write anything as I was tired afetr being out all day. We came up to Aldeburgh on the train yesterday evenning and today walked to Snape, had lunch then went to a recital at the Maltings as part of a Britten Weenkend. Got a lift back with friends who live here permamnently and then went for Fish and chips and ate them on the beach as it got dark. Came home and wrote - like I said for 1 1/2 hours thn watched a DVD - rather mindless Sliding Doors -with Kate Blanchette.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Finished another Chapter this afternoon

wrote for three hours continuing on from yesterday and joining from the previous scene. All emailed for typing up. Had to research what an Arsenal FC official mug looks like and who was a top player in 2001 as this info I needed to insert into this latest chapter, which has Almir back at Rolands flat for the very first time for a post work out coffee( note -no sex is involved yet!!)


Monday, 11 October 2010


and have just managed to get 2 1/2 hours of new writing done and am happy to have moved on my scene with Almir's first visit to Rolands flat. I really had to think hard about what he'd notice and HOW he'd notice things. Hope to get more done tommorow, though I know I'll have some work - work stuff to attend to first thing.

On Sunday listened to the second part of the Radio Four dramatisation of Isherwoods I am a Camera/Goodbye to Berlin - enjoyed it v. much,especially as it's not long since H and I were strolling about around the Nollerndorfplatz oursleves. H visited(well looked at from the street, as its not a museum or anything) Isherwood's old rooming house, just a short walk from our friend Berndt's flat in Grunewald Strse. - I think I was writing myself at the time as I didnt go.

off to bed now.

Just Back from Aldeburgh

H went onto a work meeting in Wimbledon.Didnt really write - maybe did 1 hour - whilst away as the weather was so wonderful...we did a couple of nice long walks and Sunday night I had fish and chIps in front of the telly - a rare event these days and one I'd normally chide myself over but I fancied just putting my feet up and watching a DVD of Atonement then a Loius Theroiux prog about Lagos gangs and state corruption(a crazy place nIGERIA!!)THEN A REPEAT OF THE FIRST IN THE NEW SERIES OF THE Apprentice(entertaining but the candidates seem such dummb heads).sTARTING READING A NOVEL eMMA HAS RECOMMENDED WHICH i BOUGHT IN fOYLES LAST WEEK - aFTER YOU'D gONE - mAGGIE o 'fARRELL - READ FIRST FIFTY PAGES - GOOD BUT IT DONT HALF JUMP ABOUT A BIT.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

getting ready to go to a tango milonga workshop

and then catching the train up to Aldeburgh. Wanted to do some writing this morning but its already after 10am and I need to shower, pack and pay some bills so they'll be no time I fear.

Deferred to Emma (my mentor) about submitting to Circalit novel competition - you have to put in first thirty pages - initially thought I might enter but then my gut feeling was confirmed by Emma that this would create a distraction AND I am not ready to go back to the beginning of my novel at this point - to do another revision - I need to keep the momentum up and continue from where I left off(ie somewhere in the middle). Anyhow I have already jumped through that hoop - of getting access to agents(this is the prize Circalit is ofering). I know that four agents - all of whom I respect and and expressed an interest in my novel - have said to send it to them to read when I am ready. I have to hold on to this, though I do admit to writing being a labor its a labor of love. There is nothing(except maybe for those special moments when I'm dancing tango and feel everythings going right and my partner and I are just at one with the music) like this feeling I get when I am really immersed in a new scene - inside the characters heads - seeing the world as they see it, feeling it as they feel it.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

another scene done - partly written in the Barbican

yesterday afternoon after a work meeting in Chelmsford and waiting for a tango lesson in Chiswell Street. Wanted to do more today but work - work got in the way and my turn to cook dinner - chicken stew - which we've just eaten. H is reviewing Waugh's Brideshead Revisited for the gay Book Club at Gays the Word so has got out the DVD set from Love Film and is avidly watching it end to end. It now(it was first shown on TV in 1981) looks stilted and dated with annoying background music. Jeremy Irons is SO camp...

off to Hackney tango tonight..will try to get there in time for the lesson at 9 so need to get moving.

Monday, 4 October 2010

New Start

Managed two hours yesterday beginning a new section at the centre of the novel...producing about a side and a half(!) of long hand...but that's usually how it goes when I begin a new section . Going to try to continue it this afternoon now I have got work stuff out of the way.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Apparantly my writing routine is like Virginia Wolfs'

...according to my mentor Emma with whom I had a tutorial yesterday. Ive more or less settled into the habit of writing for 2 1/2 hours in the morning and then continue in the late afternoon or early evenning for a further 1 1/2 hours. In the afternoon I go for a walk or do work-work or a tango lesson and late in the evennings go out to either tango or other things. I still am under no illusions about how much there is to do - the next section I will tackle I think for me will be the most challenging as its at the core/middle.Emma was also encouraging with her feedback on the new material and where a couple of things dont work I 'd already had my doubts so overall yesterday was a confidence booster.
I have another cold and felt aweful yestrday on my return from Euston - we have tutorials in the Welcome Centre Cafe - and made myself hot lemon with maple syrup and watched TV which was memorable mostly for the continuous bombarding of adverts. I hardly ever watch TV these days and prefer to be engaged with other things but when you are ill its a distraction I suppose.

Bumped into Sue Lovett yesterday - ex City Cert.course student - who has also started mentoring tutorials with Emma. Sue's novel is set just down the road from mine in Leyton and is more or less comtemporary with mine! I admireher writing and like what she's doing.


Monday, 27 September 2010

The things Ive jotted down...

when we arived home to a house shut up for 10 days I noticed - because I nearly tread on it - Peacock butterfly on the red staircarpet...clearly on its last legs and shut in since we left(we had an open house party just before going off Berlin)...I took it into the bathroom and put it on a shelf - goodness knows why...where it revived just enough to unfurl its wings then fall to the floor and expire

thats been noted down to use somewhere in something I write


I noticed I was particulary observing the pavement when I went out today for a walk- how the rain had left irregular patches of damp, the hotch potch of tarmac repairs, the cracking caused by roots of unseen plants, the edging up against walls lined with an asssortment of moss and weeds - cigarette ends and dog dirt...and the shoes of other pedestrians

AM definately using some of this in the novel....


Just catching up again in E17

When we got back home yesterday I spend several hours editing the material I'd written whilst in Berlin before emailing it to my mentor for Friday's tutorial. There are still some bits I am not happy with but others I think arent bad...

off for a haircut and a fix of film at Soho Curzon tonight - to see Winters Bone.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Last Day here in Berlin

Did more writing on the dinner party scene yesterday...plenty of dialogue and quite tricky with there being 4 characters involved...lets see what Emma thinks. Have just emailed this entire section for typing - it will need editing before I send it off pre my next tutorial. Its been a fruitful week. Have to take care that the story remains not too focussed on the gay thing...this is tricky at the moment because I am writing about R and A's relationship...but the story is about more than this...I think I am going to end up with lots more material by the time I am done..must keep writing and see what comes. Think I now need to revise my chapter plan and merge everything soon to see how its looking and check the word count.

Went to the same milonga last night I went to last Fri...but although I had a few dances and chatted and danced with a girl I met at the wED MILONGA i FELT AWKWARD AND UNEASY. tHE FLOoR WAS CROWDed AND IT wAS DIFFICULT TO MANOUVRE AND i WAS JUST FEELing my usual inadequate self.

Its Berlin marathon here this weekend but we will most likely miss most of it as we are leaving early in the morning to the airport for London.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Back to it

Want to finish the dinner party scene today and get this off for typing and start editing the material over the weekend. Had an intersting day out at Wansee yesterday and came back for an indian meal and then H and I went to the old Odeon Kino in Schoneberg to se Fish Tank - which I thought was an acomplished film but nothing really ground breaking.


Thursday, 23 September 2010


I have been so productive with writing new material that Im having a day off with H to visit Wansee today. Have completed three new scenes/chapters here - so am pleased with how its gone(thants working for about 4 hours daily- 2 1/2 in the morning aftr breakfast and again for 1 1/2 hours in the evenning before dinner and tangoing) Ive also discovered how good it is to have a space without tel or internet distractions like that in Berndts place. Also I find it helpful to just write about what I want - not necessarily what comes next in the novel - but it is important to complete a scene and not leave it half done.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


...the clouds to day. Am in the cafe across the street for wifi and also tEa and scrambled eggs. Have been productive with my writing in the past 48 hours and perhaps have written another 5k...which I have dispatched for typing. Now going back to the flat to write some more. Tonight we are going along to a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie.

H tried to get me to acompany him up the Berlin Fernsehturm yesterday but I chickened out at the last minute...the thought of being herded into a giant golf ball 100's of feet off the ground didnt really appeal. I didnt get mt ticket money back!

Later after doing more writing at the flat I went off to another tango milonga in Wilmersdorf about 4 stops from here on the U bahn. I arrived at an old apartment building and made my way - latterly in the dark as the light went out and I could not locate the switch- up 6 flights and it just seemed like the door to an apartment. Then I decided to just try the door - and - it openned and I walked in on what appeared to be a private diner party BUT infact was the milonga. Only 5 euros about 12 guets and a great floor under the gabled roof . It had a jutting balcony wih amazing views out onto the night time city too. I had dances with four ladies. The standard was v good but I managed to get round ok.

Monday, 20 September 2010

spaced out in the dark

its SO DARK in Berlin...we are permanently in a state of zombieness. Have written another scene with Roland in his new flat and editied an early chapter but got very down about it all last stratergy is just to pick up a pen start at a defined place and keep going and see what comes rather than keep going over material Ive written already.

Went out to tango here on Friday night - it was really friendly and I had lots of dances.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Wir sind jetz in Berlin!

...ensconsed in Berndt's flat - back at the cafe cum antique shop across the road for internet and tea. Have dealt with work stuff and now will check the web for tango milonga's . Then back to the flat to write - There is still much to do so Ive settled on the policy that just starting with something I want to write about - rather than in any particular chronological order - if often the way forward. Ive only had a week off from writing but now it seems as daunting as ever until I get immersed in it again.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010



Sunday, 12 September 2010

Its almost 11.30pm on Sunday night

and we have just said our goodbyes to the last guest at our party which began this afternoon at 3pm...loads of good company, the catering went off well and the weather was kind so we all spilled out into the garden.

My Friday Tutorial went really well - Emma's so helpful - with the monthly check ins and sending in advance new material the project now seems definately achievable withing the next 6months, not sure how near to finihing I'll be by christmas though. The issue cam eup about publishers not being so happy about a white man writing about a black man - I may check in with atleast one of the agents whove expressed interst but I am not kean at this point to rewrite the R character as white and frankly why the hell should I. He is so shaped now in my head that it'd be tantamount to commiting a murder - I dont think I can do that!

No writing done over the weekend becuase of guests satying over from Berlin(and we are heading to their Schoneberg flat on Thursday) and we've been doing some of the E17 Arts Trail - really good this year. Invited one of the artists we visited to our party and he and his party turned up. Chatted with him about things creative - intersting take on what sparks the creative process and we discussed how it works for him as a painter and muyself as a writer. He is a fan of Aimee and Janguar - also of Stephan Schweig - esp Beware of Pity - so full marks in my books!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Night at The Opera

going to the Stadts Oper tonight here in Vienna to see The Magic Flute

Monday, 6 September 2010

Social networking or pack animal psychology?

I dont do Facebook and have never responded to the requests I sometimes get out of the blue to join other sites like Linkedin or Badoo. I dont Twitter. BUt I did join Circalit - a site aimed at supporting screenwriters of all levels, but only to enter a short story competition. I put in a piece of creative non fiction - Return to the House of Tango- which is basically about how I started writing. Talk about baptism by fire...I was ganged up upon by a couple of diehard members who accused me of making up my own reviews! For a while I felt quite upset by this. Then out of the woodwork came my supporters and the sand bagging ratings these die hards gave my piece were removed after I and my supporters complained to the site administrator.

I think Circalit does a great job in promoting networking, peer reveiwing and supporting screenwriters and clearly has a strong following but with openning out into other genres they seems to have created a stir within.

The experience has confirmed all my personal gut feelings about belonging to social networking sites - instant friendships, instant on line peer reviews, instant everything! One hears about people being bullied on sites- I think it must be a terrible thing to go through.

Have already meet some nice and interesting new writers aswell though so I suppose its swings and roundabouts- but I wont be joining anything else just yet. I also value my privacy too much.


nursing a cold in my hotel room

but managed to do final minor editing to my first draft of the Epilogue and email this to Emma in prep for our tutorial on Friday.Have almost finished reading Ishiguru's novel - Never Let Me Go - which at first I didn't like because I couldnt get into it. Once I was able to engage with the narrator I began to enjoy the book very much.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

No TANGO in Vienna

...I have a cold. I was planning to go to a milonga this evenning and even recieved an email notification about it but I have a cold so am not going. Managed to finish the intial draft of my epilogue this morning after another 3hours work writing. I have dictated it and await its return from the dictation company. I will email it - afetr editing - to Emma with a meek request that she might look at it with the other material I have sent for our tutorial on Friday in the Cafe at The Welcome library in Euston.


Saturday, 4 September 2010

I like Vienna !

Beacuse its easy and civilised and I can write here. Took a day off yesterday. In the evenning after the Third Man Tour (it was intriguing to hear how Graham Greene came here to research and write the script basing it on an amalgum of real characters/events) went again to the Burg Kino and saw the new docu movie narrated by Jonny Depp about The Doors - great stuff! I might use some of Jim Morrison's words as one line quotes in my novel...will see...if it fits...

This morning after breakfast I resummed writing. Since Ive been thinking about a new ending lately it felt right to get going on that, its not especially set in stone but want to get it down as it is in my head at the moment to see what Emma thinks. Worked solidly for three hours from 11am until 2pm and got about half way with what I need to get down as a first draft. Going well.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

In Vienna

all sachertorted and schnitzeled out already(and lovin iT - sic)...went to the fabulous Leopold gallery and saw some great art by one of my favorite painters Schiele. Later went to the Burg Kino and watched a real reel version of the film The Third Man...tomorrow we are doing a location tour.

This afternoon edited the last bit of new material for Emma/ my tutorial next week, and emailed it to her with a few ideas I have..another ending came to me yesterday, which H thinks is v good. There is still tons more to do but soon I think I'll have finished the climax section and can go back to the point where the characters converge in the village. Then I will re draft the beiginning. God knows when I'll finish but lets just see how it goes. Best I think to carry on writing within the structure I have given myself and review where I am in a month or tos time.

Have had a couple more v good reviews of my circalit competiton enntry and have moved up to number ten in the never know.


Tuesday, 31 August 2010

No Tango in Trieste !

but HAVE MANAGED TO WRITE...DID THREE HOURS THIS AFTERNOON...ITS a very odd place Trieste..H and I are sharing reading a book by Jan Morris about it...not many tourists here though...tomorrw we take the night train to Vienna...


Friday, 27 August 2010

From Verona

Hot and humid here...going to se Carmen to night in the amphitheatre. Just checked Circalit and no one else has reviewed my competition entry...thanks Mike and much for social net working sites !!


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Editing in the rain

Have spent most of today editing the 6k plus of new material Ive completed for my next tute with Emma in a few weeks time when I return from holiday. It's been raining virtually non-stop all day and I have been infront of my lap top! Going cross eyed now!! Have to pack for holiday as we leave in 2 1/2 hours for Gatwick and havent even started to think yet about what I'm taking - except of course my notebook and a writing pad and my tango shoes!(and if the forcast for Verona is correct - an umberella and some waterproffs too...)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Have just entered a short story competition!

read/comment/vote for my entry at

Its a short piece of creative non - fiction. I am missing writing short stories and have promised myself NOT to do anymore until I've finished my novel. This piece - entitled "Return to the House of Tango" I suppose explains how I really got to start writing in the first place.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Back from my research mission

...managed to secrete myself on a bench right at the back of the Penatacostal church. A sea of black faces, all looking beautiful...many with young children. A few distracted looking young people (a penny for their thoughts!) lots of "Praise the Lord"s and indoctrinating preaching....incredible gospel singing and definately a useful visit-- lots of food for thought about gay black Rolands' baggage...I am sleeping on it(I didnt sleep well last night) for a while then will jot down my most memorable impressions, as these will imform what I decide for Roland's baggage from his churchy upbringing in Brixton.


typing service is great!

I sat down at the end of yesterday afternoon and wrote for 3 hours and then dictated it, posted the audio file and it came back early this morning. Just think - whilst I was out tangoing in Holborn last night at Carablanca -someone, somewhere was making a piece of my novel come to life. I wonder if they ever read what they have to type??Ive speed read the 814 words(and that , my dearies - makes 6k of new material since my last mentor tuorial!) and its more or less good I think.In less than an hour I am off to the Afro -carribean pentacostal church - being my Roland character - lets see if it works...


Thursday, 19 August 2010

I am going to church in the name of research

yeah, forty years after I got chucked out of the choir at my local, I have arranged, through my friendly Jamaican cabbie Alfie, to attend a Jamaican Pentacostal Church this saturday. One of the main characters in my novel - Sweeping up the Village - is a black afrocarribean 35 year old who's comming out as gay, so I am immersing myself in his fictionalised baggage...well, its an excuse to put on a nice suit, though I am actually quietly rather crapping my pants.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

On seeing it typed up...

...I got my latest 5k of new writing back from the online Company I use to do this task for me. I always start new writing by long hand - nothing like holding a pen over a blank sheet of paper! I am hopeless at typing and I found on my notebok if I type for too long I get wrist pain anyway. So I dictate all my new stuff onto an audiofile and upload it to the Company's site and get it back typed within 24hours. I can also hear the new stuff read aloud when I replay the audio file - which is also a very useful way of seeing what works and what doesnt. There is nothing quite like seeing new material you've created typed up on the page in hard copy. Of course there are usually glaring typos , layout issues and thing that dont work or need reworking BUT it gives a little boost to the process of moving the story along.

Plan to do more from tomorrow and over the weekend so I can wrap up this section of the novel which I have been working on and send new material to Emma(my mentor) before I leave for Verona next Wednesday. I will of course take my note book, paper and pens to write whilst I am travelling too. Its become a habit of mine now to select a hotel /pension room because of its suitability to write in - ie desk or table and chair and quiet.

Last night after my regular Tuesday Tango class went with a new friend from the class - Barbara - to a small milonga until 11pm at The Langley Court Hotel(basement bar). It was really nice , very friendly and informal. A great way to relax after the tuesday class...will go again next week!


Sunday, 15 August 2010

Going Luney at Tango Milonga La Lune

I went to this milonga in the Glass room of the Holiday Inn in Camden Town tonight. It was a soul destroying experience. Full on lighting, packed with"couples" - completely straight and an aweful- cheesy amateur show which I was forced to sit through as My seat was literally bordering the floor and I couldnt leave . I asked one poor victimn for a dance and made a cock up of it - kicked her a couple of times, bumped into another couple and she couldnt really follow my lead...we managed to remain civil but after the four obligatory tangos I made my rapid escape. The milonga had all the ambience of a corporate event where everyone has eaten alot of hard boild eggs. It was so unfriendly. What a complete contrast from Hackney Tango the other night which could not have been more genuinely Bohemiane tango - and I loved it, though there were few there. I will NEVER go to La Lune again.Not even if you paid me

Managed another 750 words /2 1/2 hours of new writing today.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Hey world - a new social networking channel !

...I have decided to categorise my blog as "whitter" because it seems to have a very select following - namely myself, Mike Clark from City and soemone called Crafty Creative who I think used to belong to Forest writers and then moved to Milton Keynes - well there you go.

Had a fab tango lesson yesterday afternoon - though was half asleep. The lady who was waiting for the slot after mine remarked"Is that choroeographed?" to which my teacher replied - no, Nick made it up - Nicks spontaeneous creation - so after all this effort and money spent of classes and private lessons ,its paying off and I atleast Look like the real thing when I am dancing tango now. It must be the magic of the Dalston Boys club!

Meet H in Mayfair later and we went to see Coco and Igor - but almost feel asleep it was so tediously slow - if there 's a new category in the Ocars next year for Best Adagio French Language film - this ought to win hands down. After that we went for food nearby- sat down at an outside table at a Lebanse restaurant next to an American couple - the woman was half - no - full cut - really pissed...and wasnt going to leave us alone, so we asked for another table but the restaurant was fully booked - so we left. We ended up at an Iranian restaurant which was very nice.

This weekend I have to make myself clear up my home office and chuck out all the discarded papers and email print outs. Curently it looks like a junk room and it has to change! I wont continue any new writing til its done - its the only way to make myself tidy it all up.


Thursday, 12 August 2010

Night out at The Boys Club

Hackney Tango at the Dalston Boys Club IS FANTASTIC! Though the werent many people there I had quite a few tango's and the venue is friendly and the setting amazingly atmospheric. Intimate, with art hung all around the walls and a small gallery. I hope this remains Londons best kept tango secret - if too many people get to know it'll definately spoil the atmosphere. Sadly like alot of tango milongas and classes this milonga has now closed for the summer break until the end of September. Good job I will be in Europe again - I will have to put myself about again in Vienna and Berlin!

Someone just made my day nicer!

I was out for a walk around the village late this afternoon - all dressed up in my retro tweeds(its been cold!) and some youth approached me as I crossed the road and remarked"I just have to say, how nice you look! - you look really nice man!" into it what you like but wouldnt it be great if we all made an efort each day to make a positive comment to a stranger. I have managed to complete 1000 words of new material today..and have my two heros arrived up at their hide away togeher! So - an nearly ther with the entire penultimate scene now.

Off to Hackney Tango tonight in Dalston, to check out the milonga.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The shadow of the black dog has returned

I think I said on this blog sometime ago that writing fiction is like bi polar disorder - one minute you think youve created a master piece then the next its total crap. I got my revised frist chapters back from City course at the beginning of this week. Lots of encouraging coments (and some helpful editing) but when I re read them it doesnt feel they are right still! I think Ive moved on with the whole story since I wrote them. I wanted to read something out at my local writers group last night and chose to take chapter 2 - Julie visits Almir for the first time. Reading this now it seems far too labored - as one critiquer said to me earlier this year - its as if I am trying too hard. I suppose being so emotionally involved with the project is a good sign but on days when I feel like this its a struggle to keep going - But thats exactly what I must do.

Finished reading Jill Dawsons' The Great Lover about Rupert bROOKE WHICH eMMA MY MENTOR RECOMMENDED FOr its strong narrative voice of Nell - the maid he has a thing with - enjoyed it, though I didnt feel Ruperts' voice was convincing compared to Nells-it sounded "made up", though the structure of the narrative, weaving the POV of these two characters was an interesting device.I also thought some of the period detail was rather laboured.It did made for a good read however.

I wonder how the others on the course are faring? I know a couple have signed contracts with agents already. I am still no where near ready to show my work(will I ever be?)...

G - at last nights writers group read a short story and I do miss writing in that genre as I know I do it well. Writing a novel continues to present much more of a challenge!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Had a very good 2 hour tutorial yesterday with my mentor Emma Sweeney in Cambridge...really extremely helpful in moving things along, development and bringing it all together now. Have clarified about adding a couple more new scenes with her - also have now almost completely writen theclimax scenes . But I wont know the ending(though I have a few ideas) until I finish the rest. Before my next turorial in a month I wil return to the beginning of Almir and Rolands affair - as I wil know them much better and start wting that all over again - its all about REWRITING darlings!

Went into town last night and saw two great new films Undertow - which I went to see with H - and then Gainsburg - which I went to on my own as H cycled home whilst it was still light. At the later I counted only 9 inc myself in the audience. I got a free ticket with credit on my Odeon card so sat there smuggly enjoying a great film in the middle of the west end on a Monday night feling quite exclusive!

Having checked my work emails and done this its already almost 9am - so - have missed my chance for early morning yoga!

Its raining like the tropics outside. Have booked a singing "assessement" with a local singing teacher at noon today - so that should be a laugh - best put your earplugs in if you happen to be in the vicinity.

Have booked flights for H and me to Buenos Aires for my 3 month sojoun to tango and write there jan to March...any British Airway - just let me tell you - you are damned expensive and I expect some edible food on the flights this time and an entertainment system that actually works!

The troublesome foxes in our back garden ARE NOT GONE! inspite of a visit which we had to pay for from a Fox "expert2 WHO SAID THEY 'D PROBABLY LEFT NOW. oVER THIS PAST COUPLE OF NIGHTS - they have kindly brought onto our lawn and patio aone dead rat, an asortment of refuse inc fast food chicken , one rubber toy chicken(full sized) ans a n assortment of platic bags containing dog dit and other unmentionables!
Bring in urban foxe hunting I say - I will lead the way - they have got completely out of control. I wish them now harm but all this mess they bring so close to our house is a hygiene concern that no one at the Council really gives a toss about. It a case of "THE LONDON COUNCIL'S burying their collective heads in the sand and sitting on the fence not wanting to offend anyone.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Been walking in Yorkshire

for the past week. Had a weekend seeing friends in/around Hebden Bridge- then H and I went on to Grassington. Cooked breakfasts , poridge and daily 8 mile walks got my creative jusices flowing and I managed to write most days and got another 3k words down. Have my second tutorial with Emma Sweeney in Cambridge today. Have also almost finished The Great Lover novel Emma suggested I read and read the short story The Parrot Factory. Cant get into Never Let Me Go though - I will perservere if I'm told.Got feedback from my final City course assigments- good - but the end of my novel still seems a long way off.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some Local Exposure

No, I didnt streak(do people still do that these days?)or expose my private parts in public BUT I did read my latest material - 3k words of the penultimate and climactical scene of my novel - at the Forest Writers Group last night . It went down really well. I was surprisingly(after all the City course workshops) still v nervous but feedback was very complimentary so pleased and went for a drink with some of the regulars to the local pub afterwards.

Have just completed another two thousand words which join with the stuff I read at the Group. Will email it all to Emma (my mentor) later tonight . Off to Yorkshire tomorrow to see friends eat curry walk write and generally chill out! My ankle still troublesome. Just been to osteopath - but no tango in the Dales so will rest til my return.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

End Revelation written now

...more or less 3000 words. Have decided that probably one scene like this is plenty..but will see what my mentor thinks about that. Meantime must keep writing.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

a bit more done

have managed now just over 2 k words and stil going...I wonder who/how many people regulary follow this blog...?

wading through treacle

have managed a meagre 1 page in 1/12 hours...

why do people behave the way they do?

Met up with dear friends C and M last night at the Modern Pantry in Clrekenwell..had dinner outside - such a warm evenning then went for about an hour to The Crypt Tango club.Many people from the Tuesday class there - they same ones v cliquey and standoffish - how can such cold fish claim to understand the passion of tango! A few people I know said no one from the Tuesday class had approached her for a dance all night - which is mean indeed. I thought the club itself was friendly - I'd definately return on my own - in the brief time we were there I danced with a complete stranger who chatted too. For the first time saw two men dancing together in London club...nice!

Having prob with my bloody left ankle now...since the class at the Edward the last Thursday week. Had a week off and saw osteopath yestrday and it seemed better but then walking last night even before tango it seemd v tight and uncomfortable..oh dear..

C and M and H and I reflected on what we have all personally been thro over these past years - health wise and - my god - it really does beggar belief. We are a tough bunch indeed.

Did 2 hours of new writing yesterday morning and will continue today.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Have started new writing again

I was coming back from town on Thursday night and walking back from the tube to my house I caught site of an almost full moon - absolutely gorgeuos - and it inspired me with an idea to start writing the new scene which comes towards the end of my novel. I got in and wrote for about an hour and a half until one thirty, but of course then didnt get to paid for it next day! Next day I managed two hours writing so now have a decent draft of the beginning of the new scene.

Have designated this as a writing weekend, though am going out both evennings - dinner then - I hope - a litle bit of tango at the Crypt in Farringdon.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Feel Like I'm at Base Camp

Had my initial tutorial with Emma Sweeney my mentor yesterday in was very helpful BUT made me realise just how much of a huge task writing this novel will be. I have to now get back into some kind of disciplined writing routine - something which has gone out the window of late - in order to get 5k of new material to Emma by 5th August in prep for our next tutorial on 9th. I am going to begin at the climax and write these scenes in first person present tense protagonist POV - god help me1
I read - over the weekend - the draft of the middle section of Nicki Cormwell's new Novel - Romeo and Romeo - and popped round last night to give her my feedback and we shared words of encourgement! I need it to get my flow back. Will bite the bullet at the wekend. I want to do this. I can do this.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Nothing like a cuppa tea loosen tongues and generate ideas. Yesterday the childrens writer Nicki Cornwell came round for our planned exchange of ideas session. Over a cuppa we chatted about one anothers writing - Nicki described to me her path to becomming a published childrens novelist and what works for her in terms of a writing routine. I talked with her about my plot and characters and she gave me a few excellent tips/sugestions on both.She's asked me to critique the middle section of her most recent draft of her new novel in progress(it has a teen gay protagonist) - which I will do over the w/e in Aldeburgh . This is a great set up for me - to have such an experienced writer just living around the corner - to exchange work and ideas with!

On monday I have my first mentoring session in Cambridge with Emma Sweeney.

Last night tried out a same gender tango class at the Eddie in Islington - great teacher - really nice atmosphere in the small upstairs room above the main bar, though the floor was dippy and I have slightly strained my left ankle from over doing it with the ocho's!


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

after the party!

...following the reading I did at The Art Workers Guild I was approached by four different literary agents - two on the night and two via email the following day. I have spoken with all of them and their feedback on the extract and my novel story line is encouraging. After the ego boost however I have decided not to show them anything further - not even a synopsis - until I have a completed first draft to a satisfactory standard. They have all been fine about this. I know now that there are atleast four slush piles it won't end up on, so thats a big carrot, incentivising me to plough on. To that end, I have arranged to become Emma Sweeney's mentee until atleast December. Our first session is on Monday in the Cambridge Uni Soc Cafe.

I did go in to meet one agent - a very positive experience - again very encouraging. But lets wait and see what happens when I send in the finished manuscript.

It feels very strange not having to go into class at City on a Monday and Wednesday now!

Have not sat down to write anything new for weeks as busy finishing off course work for City(commentary assignment and editing chapters 2-4) and preparing for the end of course reading.

I have - however been mulling over - I did the final follow up session with Vicky Gruts' Novelists club last saturday which was helpful in this process. I'd submitted for peer review the confessional letter I had my protagonist write - as an excerisize - from which I will write in first person present tense the final chapters of my novel. Having another writer who is a psychiatrist with tons of experience in treating post traumatic stress was really a plus - I am going to contact her to arrange a meet for research to help me plant flash backs and behaviours in a realistic way throughout the story.

I also re read feedback on the last two pieces I work shopped at City - which has helped me enormously in clarifying the overall tone of my novel and what I am aiming for and what I am not. So though I have plenty of raw material from these pieces and other material I've scribbled from the past - I have some serious re writing ahead. Already I have changed how and when Roland and Almir become aquianted and where and when they first "do it" but I am not giving away any more here. All this proves to me that experimentation - trying out scenes and work shoping them - is crucial in dicovering not only what works and what doesn't BUT WHY and in which direction the novel is developing and whether this is the best direction.

This afternoon my neighbour and fellow writer Nikki Cornwell is comming round to chat about writing - she is working on her third novel- and we are readers of one anothers work. Looking forward to that!


Monday, 5 July 2010

The End of the Course

Tonight was the last class of the Certifcate in Novel Writing2009/10 at City uni. I spent much of the past week editing and redrafting Chapters 2-4 - it took ages....but was a really useful excersize. We went out for a chinese meal after class. Seems like only yesterday that I had my interview with Alison for the course.

Friday, 2 July 2010

filling in from wherE I left off...

... wednesday night reading to invited audience of industry professionals went well, although the wait for an approach,( it took about 20 minutes after the end of the readings and start of the drinks and "mingling" to get the first of two on the night from two agents who wanted to see my novel) was nerve nerve racking!Since then I've had a further two approaches from other agents by email. After some deep thinking I have told all that I would like to wait until I have a decent complete draft to show and they are all happy with that.
Meantime have been editing and re drafting Chapters Two and Four for the final City Course assignment submission on Monday. Still got a fair bit to do on Chapter Two but have completed the reworking of Chapter Four now, so still Chapter three and finishing off Chapter Two to do over the weekend. All the other chapters Ive completed plus the chapter notes for those I have yet to complete are ready after that to get stuck into over the summer and Autumn. I will have the structured support of my Mentor Emma Sweeney to help move it forward.


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

a little bit of editing

..of my new chapter two...only about 1 hour and a half this afternoon as I got caught up with work and other stuff, then had a haircut at 5 pm in Soho, then stayed out for tango til 8-10pm. Did the critque of Simons reading for next monday in Cafe Berteaux over green tea and a vanilla slice.
Hot and Humid!

Tomorrow the readings.

Monday, 28 June 2010

application required...

I am still trying to sort out all my edits. I’s taking bloody ages…on one level I wish I’d done them straight after my work shops ; however an another level I was able to carry on and work on producing new material, so now I do have a fair ol’ lot(though much more to go!)Having the distance of time from the workshops and now some several weeks/months! later re reading everything does shed a different spin on everything and it’s much better this way. Just a bit of pressure to get these four chapters done by next Monday!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Up bright and early

another sunny day looks like! Yesterday was tremendous. Very hot . Took our guests on a walk through Minsmere and over to Dunwich. Saw a dead snake on the road. Managed to do some writing /editing Saturday morning before they arrived and whilst they were here and last night read and critiqued the 4 pieces for tonights class work-shop. This morning want to do some more editing to get my chapter two out of the way. I have decised now to submit the internet cafe scene as my chapter 4 and NOT the one which introduces Roland.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Georgeous Morning in Aldeburgh!

Up early and did yoga and meditation practice then niped down to the High street deli and bought some stuff for lunch. Walked down along the fron to beyond the Bru and now all set to go with my editing of chapter2-4, fortified with tea and a sausage roll!

Friday, 25 June 2010

need to go to bed!

Just finished an email to my new mentor - E - with chapter/plot outline, current synopsis and thoughts I had on the plot, the flash backs and the ending after a couple of hours thinking about them this morning before we went over to Orford for lunch at the Oysterlry, followed by a 5 mile walk and a stop off on the home leg in to car at Iken Church - a favorite spot. We bought organic stawberrys and plum jam paid for with coins into an honesty box. This evening went to the pictures and saw Lebenon - powerful war film - though I think we all got the message by 5 minutes in that war isnt, actually, a very good idea! Then strolled the prom in the late evening light. Few people about. Lovely sky!Delicious full moon. Then came back and did some writing from 9.30pm until 11.30pm

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Plenty to chew over!

I havnt completed my redrafts post feedback of my chapters 2-4 yet – so I ve brought all the feedback on all the scripts in a black binliner(how apt- I hope NOT) up to Aldeburgh to plow through..I know Julie is going as Chpter two but some of her from that original chapter will appear in the new chapter two – which was basically my original chapter 3. Chapter 3(new) will be Julies fourth visit to Almir(four weeks later) …I didnt workshop this but tutorialed it with Alison…and chapter four will be Roland(the chapter I am workshooping on 5th July with City) but which I’ve already workshopped in Vicky Gruts Novelists club and got positive thumbs up…I have another chapter- with Almir visiting Elyes at the internet cafe…which could be chpater three..chronologically it fits more or less–again, my fellow City students haven’t seen this chapter but I did tutorial it with Alison (last Monday and she thought it was very good….so perhaps I might use that instead – then incase she and the rest of City peers hate the Roland Chapter…anyhow , plenty to chew on this week!!!


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

It's going well but still no final decision on POV

My tutotrial with Alison Burns was helpful. All very positive feedback about the chapter set in the internet cafe - ticks galor! So v. encouraging...we talked through a few other things, again POV - as this scene is written in omniscient...Alison suggested I might want to keep it as its "so good", though there are a couple of places where a pov shift to Almir would work slightly better - we concluded that I should just maybe carry on with what works until the completion of a first draft.

The specific question I asked about whether I should show Almir having counselling for Post (war) traumatic stress syndrome - in the chapter I showed in the tutorial(not one the class/my peers have seen or will now)and whether the scene where I havie him log onto the internet to look up P.T.S.using his real(kosovon) name nad nick name)which he has as a password. Alison thought they worked effectively.And the idea of revealing Almir's real original name(his first nameonly) so early onis not a problem. The reader who's but the other charcters Almir meets do not know...Roland only finds out at the end and the reader only discovers the reason behind the name change right towards the end.

My new idea for the way in which to end - Alison thought too was interesting and plausible. Iobviously am not going to give it away here.

I approached Emma Sweeney - Emily Pedders replacemnet tutor at City now she's on maternity leave - regarding becomming her mentee after the Cert. course ends to help me complet a first draft of this novel by Christmas. She has agreed and we now have one meeting a month booked from July until(and inc) am excited about that(if also a little nervous).

Last night in class - handed in my Commentary, which actually took me ages! and the book blurb. We did a dress rehersal run of our readings for next week at the Art Workers Guild.
Off the Aldeburgh around late lunchtime today until Monday. H has hired a car - its a year since we've had one . I may atempt a drive once we get up there. I need to take all my critues from chapetrs 2-4, inc tutorial feed back, with me and start to edit these chapters. This is the final piece of assigment work I will nedd to do for the Certificate course. They have to be handed in on 5th July! I have a Company Aawy Day next Saturday and a Tango party at Sadlers Wells Saturday night - so have to get moving on it this wekend. We have guets saturday, staying over on Sunday too. I also have some work - work to get done - draft a new revised recruitment ad before the end of tomorrow!


Monday, 21 June 2010

Assignments and stuff

Finished my Book Blurb and worked on my Commentary assigment over the week-end and also re read and made minor alterations to my 4 minute reading. Its a real sunny summers morning today, in contrast to much of the weekend which was more like early March than June!

Nikki Cornwell - the children's writer who lives round the corner from me and with whom I have formed a writing"bond" - we critique each others work in progress -has just announced she has her had her second book accepted for publication! Well Done Nikki!

I have a tutorial tonight with Alison Burns, which I'm hoping will help me sort out a few things I'm still stuck on in my head. Ive send Alsion an scene I wrote before the course began - with Almir visiting Elyes in the inetrnet cafe...its mostly done in omniscient POV.


Thursday, 17 June 2010

The reading is comming!

about 10 days now til our City Course end of year reading at The Art Workers Guild and in last nights class we did another run through giving oneanother feedback on content and delivery. I declined from having myself videoed. A useful exercise - and - I have subsequently this morning- completed a few minor edits that make it stronger. Also completed a blurb. This week and weekend have to do the commentary essay - have started this already(whilst in Berlin)...but I know it'll take me most of the next few days. Then its focus on furthr editing and revision of Chapters 2-4,which have to be handed in by 5th July.

I have decided to buy time with a private mentor to help structure my completeion of a final first draft - which I'd dearly like to have done by December - before I go off to Argentina again.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

chilled after my windmill retreat on he north norfolk coast

Came straight into City Uni late yesterday afternoon armed with Sheringham bought fresh crab sandwiches, cuppa tea and a kit kat(mercifully I refrained from placing a knotted handki on my head and rolling up my trousers!) from my weekend buddhist mediation retreat. Had a coupl of hours before class and so sketched out my Blurb...think I have it now so can tick that off my to do list . I'm workshoping in class next week the Roland intro quite nervous after what my peers feedback about the other recent chapter involving him although after a few days to let it settle I found the feedback helpful. I am going to make the necessary changes which I do agree will work better (make Roland drug averse, include more on his week at work, let him become more obseesed with Al AFTER they have had sex for the first time - not before, make Al more reticent to Rolands initial aprroach.This means I'll probably now scrap the material I have planned to use for they first date in the local gay pub - gven the afoementioned - I ont think they'd choose to meet up there - atleast both characters are intersted in keeping fit, I am toying with the idea of maybe Roland inviting All to practice hoop with him one saturday morning and it could develop form there? any COMMENTs for City peers would be appreciated.

need to shower now and get off to London Bridge for a work meeting.


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Further thoughts on characterisation

I felt Mike's refelctions on my blog entry about our characters being real people – in our heads – was intersting. I too was rather annoyed when some people giving feedback said – Almir wouldnt speak like that, it sounds too street (when the research interview I did with the Albanian professor at SEES indicated that a young Albanian man with little english comming to London for the first time would not have difficulty with Enlgish pronounciation – and – especially if he lived in a place like E17 , would quickly pick up the language of the street.
Also if felt many people giving feedback didnt apreciate/have knowledge of how gay men do it – crusing I mean – it IS cold and matter of fact – like a business transation almost - and usually sex comes first then the romance(if that comes at all) – so the comment that -” how can this become a love story when they cut to the chase so quickly didnt ring true for me.
ALSO I was surprised at the number of commentators who’d never heard of the term “batty man” – which is the perjorative term usied by homophobic black (men mostlty)people in reference to gay black men.

Perhaps the answer to all of this is to modify for the “less informed” reader – elaborate by spelling out meaning which might be ambiguous or unknown in the popular mind;also to make it more literary – its fiction after all – so that it makes for an easier and better read – I mean eg the dialogue – like Rose Tremain has done in her book The Road Home where she has her Romanian immigrant protagonist speaking perfect english like all the other characters…

I may – as a result of the last City workshop feedback on the bakery pick up – have Roland avoid taking drugs and be anti quick pick ups/one night stands – he’s had a few and sees the “scene” as superficial – ok when he was in the closet for a quick occaisional anonymous foray – but now he’s comming out – he wants more – the attraction to Almir IS sexual at first but I do agree that Almir needs to be more coy/guarded to the come on – I will have them dance with each other a little longer in the scene I workshoped and also a few more brief encounters before they get to this point. Almirs needs to have more curiousity about Rolands motivation – maybe he asks him if he wants to chuck hoop(basket ball) on a saturady..

I think too that I will make his arousal less sexual over this scene – It will come afterwards – when theyve become passionate lovers. I think too I will make a short scene about the night out at Barcode – minus Roland on e – maybe he does still go back to the Highbury flat – then feels numbed by the experience …or just aknowedges it as anyomymous sex, which doesnt fulfill his needs entirely.
I will show his week at work in the new job – maybe AFTER he’s started the affair with AL – that would make him more distracted for sure – if theyve already had great sex – he wouldnt want to get out of bed to go to work and all he’d think about would be his next fix of the sexy, horny Al!

a little more about Rolands back story I agree with too – though theres some in the previous chapter which City hasnt heard but which I work shopped to excellent feedback in the Novelist’s Club – my other work shoping outlet at the moment. I read through all the City feedback and Novelists club feedback again – late last night before I went to bed -I slept like a log – so I must have made peace with it all. Often thats the best approach I am finding in response to “heavy” or conflicting feedback /comments/critique – read it again after the distance of a few days- then sleep on it.


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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Lovely Day!

It really was such a beauty today - I even got Santander Bank to transact my money transfers, unbelievably!(Well - it was my fourth visit inside a week)...came home and critiqued a fellow student 's from the Novelist club first 30 pages and synopsis - took me all afternoon ! But having to make myself look at other people's work so closely I am finding tremendously helpful when I come back to complete a rewrite of my own material. One more to do tomorrow for Saturdays Novelist's club meeting and then 4 critiques to do for City cousre workshop on Monday night - no time for my own stuff til after that! Then need to move on with the end of term essay which I have begun in draft longhand - that shouldnt be too hard to do - it will also give me an excuse to review my blog - I havent really looked back on my entries since I began. I also have to do a 100 word jacket blurb for my novel and tidy up chapters 2, 3 and four - so I'll have to "section off" some blocks of time to get it all completed by the end of the month.

I also want to rework "My Angel Face" short story that I wrote last year and recently had feed back on from Vicky Grut/The Literary consultancy - it was really complimentary but I need to rework a couple of bits - but its worth I think looking at this piece again - I need a new title - a german one perhaps - something reflecting the Berlin setting. I also am gagging to get going on another short story I sketched out and began last year - Obiedient Niece - so - maybe when Ive completed all this course work I'll take a pause from the novel and work on these two smaller projects for a while.

Some kind, thoughtful soul let their mut shit turds in a neat little line all along our front fence - just as you step out on the street. Our house keeper E cleared it away with a bucket of water and bleach. Low and behold - after working on the critique in the back garden I went out to post a couple of letters and someone else had let their "best friend" - DO THE SAME THING!!!! I had to chuck a second bucket to wash it away - have a nice day - all you dog lovers out there!!!


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Dry run

Tonight taxi'ed in from Stanstead to City Uni for wed night class - we stuffed 150 invites into addressed envelopes and these will be posted out to agents for the 30th June reading at the Art Workers Guild. Did a dry run through reading tonight - mine went well - continue to make small adjustments here and there. Got back to Walthamstow about 9pm and passing the Walth School of Music and Drama noticed that Forest Writers were meeting inside popped in and joined them for the end of their evening. Havent been able to get there for ages because it clashes with the City Course.


was a good boy last night

I critiqued the first 30 pages and synopsis of a childrens nvel from a fellow writer particiapting in Vicky Gruts Novelists Club - two more to do before Saturday's workshop. I also looked again a- briefly at some of my old material on the Alison character I had originally down for Sweeping Up the Village and also character nortes on trudie - both are useful but as reference notes for new draftsonly. I also peeked at a short story I started last year when I completed the City Uni Short Story Writing course with Katy Darby(which was - if anyone out there is thinking of doing a course in short story writing - bloody excellent)... the story - entitld Obedient Niece - is about child abuse. I felt what I've written on it so far is good and I could soon work this up into something decent of around 2- 2.5k words. I will consider doing this as respite from all the critiques I now have lined up(4 more for the Cert in Novel Writing next Monday...

leaving Berlin for London soon. just have popped into the cafe across the street to check emails etc.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Its grey and raining in Berlin...

...AN I BOUGHT THE 1910 windup gramaphone, along with a 1920's wardrobe and long case pendulum clock(Ive aways dreamed of owning both a big horn wind up gramaphone and a long case pendulum clock) We are having them shipped to London - they should arrive - hpefully intact - in about 4-6 weeks.


Monday, 31 May 2010

Are we living with imaginary friends?

Hallo from Berlin!
Mikes comment on my last post got me thinking - I really feel that my characters ae alive and I might almost call them up to met for a coffee. Is this dangerous? Its ok to have imaginary friends when you're a kid but at 52?

Well - Kim , Mike, would be prud of me , as on Saturday night I dragged poor H along to an atmosperic tango milonga in Kreuzberg. It was held on the second flor of a warhouse behing a carpark! I managed 8 tangos with two partners before H got to boiling point with boredom and we had to leave.

Went by train to Pottsdam yesterday - looked around the palace of Frederick the Greta - one of the clan apparently but not explicitly mentioned in the school boy german is remarkably commimg back and I am using it all the time to get thing and get around.

Writers block after the feedback from Wednesday Class at city - I need to re think the whole relationship revealation between A and R ...its not right so back to the drawing board. Have started the 2500 word essay assignment for this final term of the course...doubt if I'll have much opportunity to write much more for a while as have 3 x first 30 pages of new novels from The Novelist Club to read and critique for this Saturday in addition to evryhing else going on with the flat purchase.
Today we are visiting the Schwule museum...

I am sitting writing this in a lovely small cafe across the street from our flat in the Grunewald Strsse. - it sells antiques and plays music from the 40's. When we came in on Saturdsay I looked up to see this woman dressed out of that period siiting having a cofee. Apparatly there are a group o people who dress and live as if it is the 1930's and 40's nd they congragate around this cafe. The owner is now - as I write- setting up an old gramaphone - wind up with horn... oh god..I am tempted to buy it...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Interesting class at City last night!

Our guest speaker for the class was a publishers agent. We were afforded quite a useful insight into - how it works - its obviously crucial to find the right agent for ones work and still perhaps even more crucial that lady luck is blowing in the right direction !

Off to Berlin today to stay in friend B's flat in Schoneberg. Back next Wednesday. Weather overcast again. Again the dilema of what to pack. I will take my tango shoes (just incase I am brave enough to go out to a milonga somewhere) and of course a pen and writing pad.


Monday, 24 May 2010

Mixed feedback

Tonight in class on the City course I work shopped the chapter I had written where Roland meets Almir for the second time and asks him out. The feedback I got back was mixed... somepeople didnt get how gay people often do the dating thing - sex first, romance later and "switched OFF" because the "lost interest apparently"...there were clear consistencies on some issue though - most people wanted me to make more - expand on Roland's day out with his daughter Jade(but I dont want to write about that!), about his night out in Barcode(well, ok, alright) and about his first week at work(am ambivalent about doing this too)...also regarding making it clearer as to exactly why Roland is infatuated and giving a fuller physical description...most people also wanted more on the actual dialogue between the two of them and suggested that(probably right) Al would be more hestitant and coy.

The feed back is much more in depth on these sections than I recieved from The Novelists club...

Overall...I need to put it all away and then when am ready get it out and decide what criticism I agree with and what I do not. I also read somewhere recently that it's not necessary to make your every chapter gripping and emotional deeP and its ok - infact it is preferable - to leave a few gaps in back story and let the reader work it out for them selves...its a shame we didnt have a chance to debate this point (though of course its impossible in the time we have).

Clearly though, I have to do more research into recreational drug use!( and I dont mean taking any myself - Ive never done anything worse than sniffing poppers or smoking a little spliff occiasionally) - these days I have long since abandoned such things and dont even touch alcohol - which I never drank in copiuos quanties either.
The thought of going back into Barcode for the first time since 2003 scares me i must say. I am in a very different place as a person - but , oh well, for the sake of reasearch maybe.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Glowing after a sunny, warm weekend outdoors

In Aldeburgh. Came up by train on Friday afternoon and had fish and chips on the beach at the waters edge before it got dark, then went to the pictures to se Its A Wondeful Afterlife - which was a perfect andedote to the busy week in London - light and comic. My friend P has been staying with us. Have done some long walks. I cooked a chicken dinner yesterday. Tonight we are having fish bought off the beach boats. Cod. My request is for parsley sauce - home made I think - yum!

I said the week in London had been busy - apa, rt from much a do about my writing - tutes with Alison and Emily and producing a log line for my novel, H and I went flat viewing on Wednesday afternoon - saw 4 - really liked one - which is very close to Whitecross street market in the City. Offered on it on Friday - did the deal on the train up to Aldeburgh and got an offer 20k below the asking price accepted by the vendor. Only problem now is getting completion before the Governments emergency budget on 22nd June - if we cant make this deadline the vendor will pull out due to the new swindging CGT tax rate comming in. Fingers crossed.

Have spent alot time critiquing the 3 other readers for Mondays work shopping class and also re editing the piece I am reading too and sending this out. Had intended to write this evenning but after the long walk and planting up geraniums we bought at the garden centre on our way back, in the window boxes - I' knackered - so may not.

I have to finish the new chapter I started last weekend wabout Al and Rolands first date - I have to complete their having sex/making love for the first time as the second part of this chapter - so I need all my energy and concentration for that! I need to have it domn within the next couplef days as it has to be sent out to the Noelists Club for the next Saturday work shop comming up in a few weeks. Then there will be ariving on the 28th three new 2first 30 Pages" of 3 other Novelist club particiapants to critique. Its a good job H and I are off to Berlin on the 27th(Thursday) !


Wednesday, 19 May 2010


The City Cert Course has and contiunues to be busy from now until the end of the final Semester-WITH 3-4 critiques to pre read/complete each week for Monday classes. Theres also the end of term assignment to write - an assessment piece on "the Novel Writing process"- and the blurb ...and...a logline. The log line is what I am struggling with. Had a go yesterday (drafting on the back of a bit of paper on the tube after reading and rereading my synopsis again)..have a tutorial with Emily Pedder tonight so hopefully will have something approximating the finished article soon. Need this for the publicity for our readings at The Art Workers Guild on the 30th June.

I had a really very helpful impromptu tutorial with Alison Burns on Monday before the class - its got me back on track with the plot and plot development points - I'd begun to waiver from the original plot idea because of other critque suggestions, but it didnt sit right - so what I now have is a modified version which tones down the nature of the inciting incident triggering Almirs initial bout of angst , cutting the Julie character as the main focus of chapter two (I agree this is an unecessary distraction) but introducing her in a revised version of my existing chapter three, which now becomes chapter two(, that makes sense to anyone reading this who doesnt have insider knowledge from my workshopping of these chapters!)..but I wont be giving anything away or the surprise wont be in the final complete reading.

Going to view some flats - investment/pied a terre potential - in the City this afternoon prior to my tango lesson at 3 pm and then on to City Uni for wednesadys class and my tutorial.

Been working on my OTHER LIFE Company new logo revision this morning, following a good solid couple of hours of yoga and meditation practice before breakfast.
The suns come out too and its feeling warmer today(AT LAST!)