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!)


Sunday, 16 May 2010

Anew chapter is on its way...

have been doing 2 hours a dayfor the past two days on the scene where Almir and Roland go out on their first date...hope to have the draft completed today...did a 2 hour milonga workshop in town yesterday - and loved it, loved it!


Friday, 14 May 2010

faffing around

yes - thats all Ive been doing today...watched the boy in the striped pygamas on DVD and again - thought the story was v good - the way the plot develops - the themes etc...there is something missing in my story - I cant find it yet...the answer is Im not sure I suppose I need to just carry on writing. Have started a new chapter(yesterday) about Al amnd Roland's first date. My dilemas I will leave to my tutorial on wednesady with Emily.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

My birthday today

but I'm not saying which one!

No new writing done yet...Mondays City Cert class readings were interesting. Out for lunch(apt for someone of my seniority!) then the pictures in Town to see "Agora" then Nat'l Gallery to view an exhibition and then a chinese in Islington with firends tonight...nice!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I feel SO sleepy

havent really slept vry well since the beginning of the week now and the dull lightless weather is not helping me stay awake. Went for dinner last night to a local hotel where we were served by a very nice young man. I made me think of oxytocin and penetration again!

When we got back home we watched the DVD of The English Patient - which I enjoyed for the umpteenth viewing...It made me think about my own "atempt" at a novel...I didnt go into a downer this time, by comparing myself inadequacies as a new writer with the very fine example of Mr Odantje's BUT did have cause as a result toreflect on my own plot.Some of the criticism Ive had so far on the openning incident being too much of a downer and also the proganists resultant depression - well...actually The E. P. begins with an aircraft being shot down and the pilot being horribly burned..then his nurses best firend being blown to I shouldnt tone it made me think about richness within plot, how important it is to have little subplots that temporarily side track the reader but which are interesting of themselves and interweave with the protagonists story....all food for thought. Hope to do a little new writing today - if I am able to stay awake for long enough!I also have 3 more fellow City students critiques to complete by tomorrow nights class back in London.

Have been on the Net looking up potential long stay accomodation options for my return trip to Buenos Aires at the end of this year for a prolongued tango exposure. H has said he'll come for 2 weeks initially - then I'm on my own. I think he wants to travel wider afield - maybe Bolivia. I will go to Uraguay as its only a hop from BA and...there's tango there too!


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Grey hairs over reworking existing drafts!

...just been reading Mike Clarke's MacNovel blog and note all the redrafting he's done subsequent to class workshopping feedback. I must admit this subject has been uppermost on my mind also. There is of course the advice which says - dont stop, you have to just carry on and get - it - all - out and THEN go back and rewrite...which is very valid for me as I have already written alot and more or less know where the story is headed and how it panns out. HOWEVER I am also aware that - as the remote possibility of hooking in the interest of an agent on 30th June or subsequently looms - I really do need to have atleast three polished first chapters maybe a compromise here is required. I do need to re write the first 4 chapters...even the first one isnt quite there yet, it could be more polished and I need to look at it again with fresh eyes. I am going to set aside a week to do it...maybe after I get back from Sitges . I have decided Julie will be cut as Chapter Two - its too distracting and a jump so early on in the plot set up....this is afterall a story primarily about Almir, about Roland and Almir... about them and Walthamstow Village.


Friday, 7 May 2010

my 4 minute reading

I spent most of last bank holiday monday afternoon reading, rereading and parring down the very first few pages of the draft of my novel for the 4 minute reading we will each -at City - be delivering up to an invited audience of publishing agents on 30th June. On Wednesday night in class I read it out out and recieved a universal thumbs up...even my usually fiercest critics liked thats that sorted. Didnt manage to fit in any new writing time over the rest of the week due to work - work and tango and stuff...and hadnt been sleeping very well (first period of this in months!) consequently permantently tired.

Came up to Aldeburgh on the train yesterday afternoon and critqued a fellow City Uni students latest piece for next Monday evennings workshopping with ALison(thats not a bad title for a novel, actually)and when we arrived got lovely Aldeburgh fish and chips and then went off to the pictures to see "I anm lOVE" the new Italian film with Tilda Swinton - which both H and I "loved"(sorry...)

H stayed up til 4 am this morning watching the election results. I went to bed with Brick Lane at 11pm(loved the opening of this novel)...this morning walked along the beach to Thorpness - a sunny but windswept day and then met a local friend Tom for luch in Aldeburgh.

Have to cook the cod we bought off the beach today - god, its already 6pm and we are going to the pictures again tonight to see "Ghost".at 7.30 so I need to get the oven gloves on...


Monday, 3 May 2010

a mixed day of editing and making a curry

Spent the afternoon editing my prologue to make it suitabley "tight" for my 4 minute piece read...hope I'll be able to trial read it in class this Wednesday.I wonder how many people actually have looked at my bLog and how many who've looked follow it. Maybe if it were a porno blog I'd get more interest? Later made curry for dinner...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Novelists Club with VG

...I participated in the first of 3 folow up 1/2 days yesterday in the small but atmospheric function room of the Lamb pub on Lambs Conduit Street(just up the road from my dentist!!)...I recieved feedback from the other participants and gave my own on the work of two others...this continues to be a really helpful prcess in the maturation of my writing. To see what works and doesnt on the work of others and hear what and how they maybe stuck with something that can ring bells...also I got very encouraging feedback about - and especially abou the may choose this piece to read at our City course end of term event. Other students havent heard this piece yet but both tuors have and have also given it the thumbs up. Will trial it at the monday night class at the earliest opportunity.

After Novelists club - which finished at 4pm I tubed it over to Soho for a haircut...Neil - my master with the scissors told me NICK CLEGG had had his hair cut in their salon - just two chairs away from mine - the day of the final TV debate...oh, er...

It was peeing down so only made it two doors down into a cafe after I left Neil ...then it eased off a bit so walked to the cash point in Oxford street but then when I found that Oxford Circus station was all shut up took a cab to Morrgate for my tango lesson(which took ages 'cos of the saturday traffic and road works/closures around Tottenham Court road end) cost me £17.60!!!

After tango - my techers gave me a lift to Upper Street where I meet up with H to see the film Id boght tickets for "The dissaperance of Alice creed" last Wednesday evenning. We were ushered into the wrong screen and only realised it when the film came on - though I was a little suspicious as all the other audience seeemd to be about aged 20 and up for clubbing afetrwards - sure enough - they were waiting for a ful on dose of something banal - called Kick Ass - anyhow when we found where we were supposed to be ther werent any seats left...we evenuatlly were able to sit dowm and enjoyed the film - a new brit thriller - violent with a gay twist - which - even now in 2010 managed to raise a few sniggers of revulsion and tittlation when two men snogged and said they loved each other on screen! Afterwards - I complained about our misdirection to the wrong screening and got two complimentary vouchers for a futre was still rianing heavily when we left the Vue...but...after a short walk up upper street we managed to hail ablack cab which took us home...(coulnt face a deraggled, "change at seven sisters" last tube journey to Walthamstow - so the fare was worth it this time.

Its STILL RAINING this morning and just as heavily...this afternoon wH and I are going to the theatre to seee a play about Benjamin Britten.