Saturday, 30 January 2010

Phew ..there's that over and done with!

Workshopped Chapter One at Uni today was pretty much universally well recieved so I'm really encouraged. Intersting that some people completely got it and understood where I am comming from - others didnt.....and of course people have diferent style preference. I just like to break all the rules!

Am now sure I will start with Julie on the tube as my Chapter One(if you're reading this - you know who you are, thank you!)

Tutorialed the really tricky incident scene with Alison - but - she overall seemed to think it works quite well as it is. Just need to tighten here and there a little.

I enjoyed the day and it was immensley good for me to listen to/read the work of other fiction writers. Am learning a lot I think.

Tomorrow plan to rework/edit Chapters Two and Three then nose to the grind stone and start Chapter Four....I feel that I need to now revisit the Chapter precises again...I want to add in more on Julie after today. The plan will structure my writing schedule which I need to continue if I am going to meet the 60 k min. by June.

Having my first tango in London again tomorrow afternoon in MOORGATE(for those of you wondering what's happened to this part of my raison d tre).


Tuesday, 26 January 2010


..the gist, wiped out with jetlag most of the day. Read a classmates piece for Saturday. Later this evenning re read my Chapter Three and added a few words her and removed some there improving it it think.
Listened to a pod cast of my Uncle Vic being interviewed on Radio Norfolk. he's worked on the broads for 44 years. I remeber he used to take me onto the Broads when I was a boy. I used to fish for eels and smal fish using a homemade trap of wirenetting which I'd cast off from his dredger. the dreger was used to haul mud from the river and pile onto the banks to build these up. Once I stepped onto one, thinking it was solid but it hadnt dried out and I sank up to my chest in stinking mud! I must have been 13. It was the summer of 1971.


ugh !

ugh !

Monday, 25 January 2010

Back in Walthamstow and jet lagged!

We arrived yesterday from Buenos Aires after a gruelling 18hours on a dirty BRITISH AIRWAYS flying battery farm. We flew business class but it really felt like economy except for the flat plinth they refere to as a "bed". Fabulous trip - really great though, am already planning my return for more tango tuition.

Re editing Chapter One on Sunday night(with jeg lag)and have emailed this to all colleagues on the City course as I will be workshopping it on Saturday. Re read Chapters Two and Three also and very pleased with Chapter Three, which I have marked up with a pen on hard copy for a further edit but basically I feel works pretty well. Chapter Two I felt, dissappointing, needs more atention before showing - it just seesm a litle flat - its the most tricky of scenes to write so I mustn't be too hard on myself.

Finished reading Hotel de Dream by Edmund White - on the plane. Really good read I thought. Anywone out there read it?What do you think? Complex interweaving of plots within historical fiction based on real events with abit of imagination to tie everything up. I did feelat times though, he was trying to cram in as much period detail about 1900 NEW yORK just to impress the reader with the amount of research he'd done. but that was my only criscism. Best read since Slaughter House 5.

Back to my mere mortal atempt - I palan to circulate my First Three Chaters when they are ready - also to my local indicators(Flower SHOP lADIES, b AND b OWNER AND A COUPLE OF FRIENDS/ ALSO TO fOREST wRITERS , WHOSE WEDNESDAY i CANT ATTEND AGAIN TIL i FINISH cITY)...THE MORE FEEDBACK THE BETTER.

off to finish my dinner!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Finshed Chapter three - first draft

Worked from 10 am until 1.30pm today agin on chapter three, and finished it. I find that creating bu long hand with pen onto paper comes best for me. The I GO BACK AND THE FIRST REWRITE/EDIT COMES AS i AM TYPING THIS UP. I am tired, have finished my tango workshops with Natacha, H came to the sudio and met me then we went 10 blocks to a music store where I picked up some tango CD's9better selection here than in London, and about 1/2 the price). We had a slice of pizza next door to the shop then took a cab back to our hotel, from where I am now writing this. A battered drunken man on the sidewalk asked me for money when i jsut nipped out to get water and some of the local cornish pasties things. I bought extra water and a patsie for him and gave it to him on my way back. Having a rest now. Knackered. We have to pack, shower and then off to a contemporary tango themes theatre thing at 8.30, then on tho a milgona of "olds people" - but very orginal dancing according to Natcha. The in the morning we leave. neither of wants to leave buenos Aires - the tango, the food the hot, sunny weather.

I am pleased that on this trip I have completed a first draft of chapters one, two and three of my novel and hit the 9200 word mark. its hasnt seemed a chore at all. Wheteher its any good, if peple like it or not, thats the thing! Lets wait and see.


Finshed Chapter three - first draft

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A day just to write

(well a tango workshop this afternon at 3 but until then I am getting on with it and ploughing on with more Chapter three. Managed an hour before we went out last night(and another 250-300 words)

A day just to write

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Story of Ada Falcon

I HAVE to tell you the story of Ada Falcon - which was reated to me this afternoon by my tango teacher Natacha. She asked me what tango music I like and who I knew. I had arrived a little before the hour of my workshop and went next door to an antique shop from where old tango music was blasting from a wind up gramaphone. I went inside and started browsing through old 78's( I have a windup at home and have always wanted to get some tango 78's)..the shop owner didnt have who I asked for but I kept seeing the name Ada Falcon on the shellac discs I was looking through. I'd heard her years ago, when I went to Havanna and did some tango at the Tango Achive there. I made a note of her name becuase I liked her voice so much. She was very famous in the 1930's and early 1940's. She sang with a famous Tango orchestra and was the lover of the leader of the orchestra, who messed her around; two timing her and promising always they would be together but it never happened. One day Ada Falcon decided she'd had enough of this unrequited love and she quit and just dissappeared. She spent the rest of her life in a monestary in Cordoba but until she was into her very old age no one knew what happened to her. Apparently, just before she died an tv programme maker tracked her down and interviewed her - mostly off camera as she didnt want to be seen by the public in her old age. The TV interviewer played her some of her most popular old recordings. Then apparently, this shrunken 91 year old lady, from behind the grill of the monestary window - began to sing, beautifully, as she had done in her hey day. Her voice was still great and almost unchanged. I almost wept a little when I heard this very moving tale. And Natacha and I danced in the close embrace to Ada Falcon for much of the unbearabley humid late afternoon.

Well, I m just a soft old romantic at heart.But I thought that was such a moving little story, I wanted to share it .


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

reflections on setting targets ..on other things

I do believe one needs to have a disciplined schedule or the word count just wont go up. To acheive a minimum of 60k words (I am woking that from 1st February I will have a starting point of 10,000 - thats 10,000 words a month by the end of June.. ive spent mre time drafting my first three chapters than I probably will getting the rest on the page in first draft because I just think thats important, from the course and what the course is aiming help us achieve. I also seem to spend longer getting the opening page or so (500 words ) of each chapter together, I have to have it right in my head, and oftern rewrite these first 30 to 500 words several times and read them out loud to my long suferring partner - H - until I feel they sound ok - to see where the characters are and the plot is going. I have found it v helpful to sketch a chapter plan - the 12 scenes that Emily has suggested we do BUT Ithink this will change as I move forward with it, but thats ok - what it does is give me a working skeleton to hang flesh on, which I hope will move, later!

Hope these reflections help!

I spent 2 hours yesterday begining the first 250 -300 words of Chapter three! Butthey are good words(I hope)...par example...

Here is a little diversion :

I started another sort of workshoppping here in Bueno Aires yesterday - tango, with my new teacher Natasha. She satrted me doing everything I know in close embrace and although she tall, I am taller (as you know I am 6' 4") I rested(with her consent) my chin on her forehead as we danced to a song about how wonderful it is to smoke:
" My darling, I am smoking as I wait for you to come to me, I like to smoke because it reminds me of you, When I breath in the smoke I am breathing you in, I feel your smoke inside me,I feel your sensual mouth...and so on....

Natsha encourages me to put my arms around her and sqeeze her close, so we are two hearts beating as one ...she says she wants to feel my finger tips caress her back - at the point where her bra sarp is; I say if this is London, I'd be arrested for that! She laughs and tells me - you are in a different culture Nic - holas, and tells me she wants me to do it...when the music plays I do, and it works, and we both begin to melt like chocolate. This city is a magical place.

Its a pity I'm gay! Well, we are off to Tango Queer again tonight....


Sunday, 17 January 2010

Good morning from the most Southern City in The World

Uschaia's claim to fame - it started out as a penal colony. My take - one day is enough here!

to tired to write yesterday so late evenning started reading a new novel - Edmund White's Hotel de Dream - good so far(I read up to chapetr 5).


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Back on Terra Firma and over 6ooo words completed

Been unable to blog for the past 4/5 days because we've been cruisng down the coast of western Chile and on to Cape Horn(yesterday)50 mile per hour wind gusts revented us from landing there!. BUT I've been writing on the ship daily and have now completed drafts of Chapters One and Two(just over 6k words).

Tomorrow from here(Uschia - the most Southerly City in the world) back up to Buenos Aires for more Tango and hopefully will get some more writing done before we return to London on 24th January. Have made a start on Chapter Three. I will think about possibly re ordering the First TwO Chapters following my workshopping at the start of the new term at City and post my Tutorial beacuse I am not entirely sure which chapter will work best as the first chapter - I keep changing my mind about it at the moment.

Also, having been fired up when writing I then often seem to come down to a flat emotional state where I start to think I'm crap at this and It'll never get anywhere? This is normally writers bi polar state???


Monday, 11 January 2010

slogging on

...that sounds like its a chore - but its not so, I am enjoying writing here , usually for 2-3 hours each afternoon. Have now got 2/3 way through Chapter Two. I am writing it all long hand to start wth, then typing it up in the evenning. I find this a good way to do initial re reads and some editing. Great walk yesterday morning, the farthest I've walked in years at about 9 km. Lots of wildlife about too and caraceses of guanacos everywhere. This morning we went for a short walk to another lake to see the Grey glacier from the lake shore. Again, another lovely walk. Lunch soon, then a short siesta and back to Chapter two. I reckon I have 5k words atleast now. Am aiming for 10 by the first class of term and 3 chapters in first draft form. This afternoon it will be difficult I am anticipating - I have to write about the accident where the baby is flung from its pushchair and killed in the road at Almirs feet. I have purposely eft this scene to tackle on its own as It needs my full atantion and concentration. I have got Almir off to work on that day and at this moment on the page, he is 1/2 way round his stret sweeping beat having a bagel and a coffee and thinking about what he'll do when he finishes work(go to the gym, take a hot shower, met up with his only friend Elyes at the internet Cafe inear the tube station)..little does he know....!


Saturday, 9 January 2010

We moved rooms and I started Chapter Two

Last night as we were getting off to sleep there was considerable thumping on the floor from the rooms adjacent(no not sex) was little kids playing about, running up and down. I phoned reception. Really not good enough. I am sick of all these rich selfish parents who take their young children AND BABIES to exotic destinations. F~~~~~~~ selfish - I say. What IS the point? They were even arriving at Our Tango Hotel when we left Buenos Aires!!!!I mean, come on...

anyhow, we moved rooms to the opposite end of the hotel away from baby land and its much quieter now.

Did a walk this morning - great , stunning mountain views. Interseting fauna. Firendly group. Then came back to room and did 2 hours more on Chapter Two..have really got into Chapter To now. Hope to finish it before we leave this place to go on the shiP. I reckon I did about 1000 words , maybe 1200 - and - estimate this will amount to about 25 - 30 % of this chapter. Its an important one, with the big openning event - so I need to put more content in it than in Chapter One.


Thursday, 7 January 2010

First Draft of Chapter One Finished!(AT JUST UNDER 2000 WORDS)

....and now have to pack as of to Chile first thing in the morning and we have an early pick up! H telling me off - to finish up with my writing and to come to bed. Btter go nowand do as I'm told.

First Draft of Chapter One Finished!

Today is designated an official writing day

..I am not joining H on another tour today. Am staying at the hotel to write. I have booked myself a massage at 5.30pm as an incentive/ as its already 11am I really need to go asnd get started.Ive spent 30 mins checking and dealing with work emails on webmail.!!!!


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

sight seeing in Argentine Patagonia


Today H and I took a day trip to visit the Moreno Glacier...awesome . Jawdropping(literally) is all I can say.

On the bus back, I starting thinking a bit more about Julie - have decided to have her born and bred in E17 BUT moved out when she married(young)her builder husband Brian. Brian made quick money buying up large houses in Leytonstone in the late 80's boom and converting them into flats.Then more during the second boom in the late 90's. They moved out to Loughton, then evntually to neauvau riche Chigwell. When Julie got the Chigwell mansion and the Marbella apartment post divorce, she sold the chigwell place(bad memories she wanted to leave behind) and bought herself a smaller new build in buckhurst Hill(handy for Waitrose and the central line)

Julie's favorite colour is aquamarine was always"her " colour - suited her blond hair(now assisted by Garnier Nutriese!)this is the colour of the new dress she´s just purchased when we meet her first in Chapter One.

I also thought about Almir´s impression of the Depot he works from - after I visited this same depot myself just prior to comming away..what hit me above all was the all pervading is everywhere, even inside the canteen ..of..boiled cabbage and damp newspapers..

PLEASE SOMEONEOUT THERE..if you are reading this and have a view, make a comment .


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

el cafate argentine patagonia

A gruelling 3 hourflight on an MD80 metal pencil case! packed to the gills...we had specifically asked NOT to be seated near kids...and...guess what...we ended up in a kid sandwich....there is no wi fi at the hotel...inspite of them claiming ther to am struggling on a foreign and ancient keyboard to write this b4 bed. Going to the Moreno glacier tomorrow but the next day wil dedicate to continuing with chapter one.


Monday, 4 January 2010

nearly 1000 words of Chapter One completed tonight

Yes, really pleased. I feel I've made a good beginning for my novel(but we'll wait and see what receiption I get when I workshop the material at the end of the month back at City). I wrote a new couple of paragraphs which I've put as an opener - this gives a very clear picture (I hope of time and palce) and goes on to set up Julie's character and her predicament, nicely, I believe. I've also planned the rest of chapter one and know exactly where I am going with it. I've sketched a plan for chapters Two and Three also.

After writing this evenning we took a cab over to the Ricoleta district for dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant. There we also witnessed an unfortunate incident where another customer - a man of about 60 - part of a foursome of British tourists - choked on his meal. We saw him being given the Hymleich Manouver but it just made him make alot of noise and then he vomited into his knapkin and then also onto he floor. He was helped out of the establishment by his fellow diners - leaving their half devoured meal displayed - Marie Celeste like - for all to see. The incredible thing was the white jacketed, black tied waiters just carried on as if nothing had happened and evry one else followed their bad(or good , depending on how you see this situation) example. I dont know what happened to the man but he did not return to finish his dinner.(I think the party had to pay for it; they did return briefly and I saw them waving a credit card at the Maitre D.

We walked back to our Hotel in San Telmo. About 45 minutes. I was shocked by the amount of uncollected bags of half opened refuse on the streets - everywhere. And the numbers of homeless people , seemeingly with nothing. Many people begging amidst all this apparent afluence. It made me feel as uncomfortable as the choking man in the restaurant. When I put it to the man on our hotel reception desk, he said that in Argentina there are many rich but also many very poor people. He said that the rubbish isnt especially bad after new year(this was what I thought might be n excuse) said it's like this all the time! B.'s A's is a very dirty city with many homeless peple living on the streets.So it seems.

This I found disturbing. Not all Tango and Cafe dinning after all.


Have begun Chapter One !

Worked a couple of hours yesterday from the notes I'd made recently and have a fairly decent first draft of the openning 500 words of chapter one. Hope to do more later, after my tea and cake and siesta. Did my final tango lesson of the current series with Lorena today. Tommorow we are off to the very south of Argentina - to Patagonia.


Have begun Chapter one !

Have begun Chapter one !

Have begun Chapter one !

Have begun Chapter one !

Have begun Chapter one !


Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Tango Trots!

I think it's what we all ate on New years Eve - I wasnt the only one suffering. I managed to do my tango lesson but had to run to the toilet part way through! I went to bed in the afternoon to slept it off but felt wipt out until this morning so didnt manage any writing yesterday but am about to do some now.

still no comments/visitors to my blog????????Is anyone out there?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

NEW YEARS DAY - what happened next..

...we spent much of the day tango lessons to be had , even at our hotel. It was very muggy and hot. We walked to the dock development and ordered lunch at one of the Italian restaurants there but walked out without paying the bill when my lasagne arrived part cold, obvoiusly reheated! We both were bitten terribly by nastly flies that were everywhere - and H inspite of spaying himself with extra strenth inspect repellent. This morning we are covered in large itchy lumps. The worst are on the palms of my hands.

But I did begin my Chapter One yesterday...I wrote for about one hour and also did some reserch arounf dolly bird fashion on google . Julie was an original 1972 dolly bird and proud of it. She's on the tube with her new Harvey Nic's purchases remebering how she used to enjoy cloths shooping when she was single before, but that was 1/2 her life time ago. She looks around the tube carraige at other paasengers and sees a girl in her early 20's who's wearing a Maxi coat on top of washed denim mini skirt - justlike she used to wear when she was young....

plan to get the show on the write road again by doing atleast one hour per day til we travel on to our next destination - El Calafate - wher there will be no tango distraction and then I hope to get up to my old routine of 3 hours per day.


Friday, 1 January 2010

New Years Day in Buenos Aires

...we saw in 2010 from the roof of the Hotel Dandi...where we went after a ridiculously cheap fixed price dinner at a cheap and cheery local canteen at the end of the street. We were served veal with tuna sauce and capers(from which I abstained), chicken in a kind of salsa sauce with Russsian salad follwed by home made fruit salad, then fruit bread, small pieces of madeira like cake with chocolate bits and nuts and raisins - oh, and of course a glass of champaigne. "We" being H , myself, Alan(San Francisco psychologist) and his partner Monty - who'd flown on a day trip to Iguasu and back. H knows them from his trip to Ibiza with E,et al a few tears back. They are friends with his mate C, the ex pat Brit now living there who worked for Visa , now has given up corporate life to train as a psyhologist. Alan is his role model, apparently, since Alan worked on Wall Street , then gave it all up and also became a Dr of psychology.
They said Iguasu was so humid their hands began to swell up. Monty was so concerned tht he looked their symptoms up on the net. H explained it happens in very hot weather and we often get it when we've been hiking abroad or even in Britain in the summer.

The canteen was patronised only by locals from the neighbourhood and even by 11pm was only 1/3rd full(most portenos do the family thing at New year ) the few places that remain open are mostly expensive restaurants with all inclusive shows. Not us at all. We were encouraged to go for such a package deal by our hotel, over in the tourist redeveloped dock area, at 1200 pesos a head! We ended up paying just 60 pesos at the local canteen. Their were no tourists apart from ourelves. The other tables were occuppied by 3 pensioners(one of whom I saw this morning walking his small dog), two elderly men sitting alone at seperate tables - one was talking to himself and the other spent 20minutes playing with his salad - and an end table of s local kids in their early 20's.

From the roof of the hotel we watched fireworks exploding from all directions of the city. We were six storeys up - so alot of it went off around our heads - a new experience, not always pleasant ; a bit like being in the firing line! After about 1/2 an hour a gorgeous spannish hunk joined us -

a huge explosion, I turned around and there he was, a vision of tawt muscle in a combat green t shirt, shaven head, stubble chin and beaming teeth -

H reconised him as the boyfriend of a fenmale guest - we'd seen them at breakfast. Well, in this version of things, Mr Hunk just smiled at me and nodded - in my New Years fantasay version, well, I'll let you guess what happened next!

Yesterday I had a brilliant tango workshop with Lorena in the morning. I now have the idea to come back for a month or more sometime later on this year - maybe rent a flat - encourange friends to come visit - so I can do consistent daily tango practice/tutorials with Lorena.She is going on tour abroad again soon but am thinking possibly August would be possible.She says she'll definately be in B's A's then.She says I have the potential to be a very good dancer - and this is my dream - so I'm not hesitating about it anymore.

I checked my emails on webmail yesterday afernoon - just wondered if there'd be anything from Decongested about my last submission to them..but, although am not that certian about the piece I sent news is good news. I followed a link to Liars League site, where I speed read a very good short story called Pain Killer...(I think) and left a brief comment to say how much I enjoyed the read)..