Thursday, 22 December 2011

A taster...

Sweeping Up the Village
By Bren Gosling

In time of daffodils (who know the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,
remember how.


Kosovo, 24th September 2001.
Outside the compound it is dark. Even the blanket of snow covering the ground exudes only a neutered glow. The night smells of cold. Beyond the electrified perimeter fence, on the far side of a ring of birch trees, the city lights glimmer like dampened embers. From inside the compound, the occupant of Room 31 can see nothing of this. Room 31 forms part of an inner complex. It has no windows – for “security reasons”, they say. Yet the young man holds this vision of the night outside firmly within his imagination.
Ten long weeks have passed since he’s been brought to the centre – for his personal protection – and his stay is beginning to feel like an incarceration. He opens his eyes, stares through the half-light at the wall beside his bed, and then scans the room’s interior. Its spartan furnishing gives him a flimsy reassurance: a cast-iron radiator sitting in the middle of the wall facing the door; a wardrobe and small table and chair are snugged against the long wall opposite his bed. This place was once used as a prison by the old regime. An overzealous heating system, which he cannot control, pumps the room almost to the point of ignition. He lays on top of the bed, stripped down to his boxer shorts, but there is no respite from the suffocating heat. As the moment of his departure grows closer, he turns listlessly back and forth.
He looks at his watch: 1.45am. He sits up and reaches over to his jacket, slung over the back of the chair, and fumbles through one of the pockets, then switches on the bedside lamp and removes a cigarette from the blue and white packet. He lights it and inhales. Insomnia has dogged him, on and off, for months; ever since he’d made the decision to leave. The stillness of the hours bring an acute awareness that this is his final night here, his last in Kosovo. Soon he will leave for ever; there can be no turning back. This twilight time marks an ending, but also a beginning.
He takes another draw on his cigarette, savouring its familiar taste and recalling the ritualistic manner in which he has packed the few essentials for the journey ahead.

• one shirt
• one T-shirt
• one change of underwear
• one pair of socks
• the hand knitted sweater given to him by his aunt
• a small bag of toiletries
• one hand towel
All are folded neatly and packed into a green plastic holdall. Packed, unpacked and re-packed. Unpacked, then packed again.

He stands up, his body heavy with the burden of restless days and nights without sleep, then walks over to the table and sits down, banging his knee against the sharp edge of its top.
There is still something he needs to do.
He looks at the holdall on the floor and, like he is in a trance, gets up and moves towards it. He kneels down in front of the bag, as if in homage. He unzips the top and begins to unpack its contents, placing everything into a tidy pile.
Then, there it is: cupped in the palm of his hand, the badge severed from the sleeve of his battledress uniform. There is no hesitation in what he does next – he cuts and rips the fabric with a razor. The black two-headed eagle on its blood-red background is decapitated; its’ wings clipped. The letters U C K, embroidered large across the badge’s base, fall in torn fragments into his lap. He gathers up these remnants, carries them over to the desk and places them inside the waste-paper bin. He places them; he does not throw or cast them. He places the remnants of his badge as one might place a dead chick. Without further thought, he returns to the holdall and repacks it. Exhausted, he falls back onto the bed.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

This waiting game is horrible !

My manuscript is sitting out there somewhere in an agent's office,or on their laptop and I have no idea if it's been looked at yet;or, if it has been looked at how has it gone down? Etc, etc etc...I have let my child go off alone into the world and am waiting for their first call home. The characters,the novel plot are very much alive and in my head all of the time. I care about them/the story as though they are close family. At our City Writers reunion last Saturday ,one of my peers told me how he is still waiting on an agent to commit or not to his novel after almost four months from them recieving it! I should really begin something new as I've not written for over 3 weeks now.The other evenning I did critique a friend's poetry, which she wants to translate into English from the original Icelandic.That was interesting to do.

Oh well, la,la,la,la... Off to a Panto tonight and on Friday up to lovely Aldeburgh for a long weekend.

Bren Gosling

Saturday, 26 November 2011

This waiting game a doldrum time. I sent my manuscript off to two of the four agents who've expresed an interest in seeing it. After one week I heard from one of them to say that the subject of my novel is a worthy one on which to write but that the novel itself wasn't to her particular taste. Not alot to be gleaned from this !She did encourage me to continue to send it out. I haven't heard back from the other agent- who shall for the moment remain nameless,but I would be very excited if I would be offered representation with them.

Meantime...yesterday I got an email informing me that 'Sweeping up the Village' has made the long list for the 2012 Harry Bowling Prize for new writing.The shortlist will be announced in January.

I've done no writing since submitting my novel to agents and it feels odd, like something is missing from my life.I am going to start up again next week, with the reworking of some short stories.I have missed writing short fiction. I've been treating myself though -went to Gothenburg to stay with my friend Mikeal for loads of tango and been to the opera, theatre and cinema. Shortly off for a reunion lunch with the City writers crowd,to share and hear everyones news.

Bren Gosling

Friday, 21 October 2011


After two weeks of more or less round the clock close editing I have finished the redraft and just sent my manuscript off to be copy edited. Nail biting 2 weeks! Tomorrow I am going to Jordan for a weeks holiday. My completed novel comes in at 75 k words. I am knackered!

Bren Gosling

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sitting here distracted

...havent written for a while as no time because of work and, last weekend - TANGO!
Am sitting here distracted from the looming task of beginning again. I always feel this way after a break of a few days. It's like the feeling you get when you open an e mail from someone you know, aware there is something important within but you are not sure if it's good or bad.

I was thinking about the detail of my climactic scene following the skype session with my University of London source - I didnt feel it was quite right, factually, though am happy that the writing itself is strong. So I arranged a short follow up skype with the source last Friday and my hunch was correct - the geographical location for the scene needs to change - I now have it - also the detail of the action to make it more plausible in that place and time/historical context.

So now I am going to rewrite this climactic scene and then start again at the begiining of the novel and work in the more minor re writes. Up in Aldeburgh at the w/e and have today and tomorrow to write so ---- here we go!
But the new short novel " The Auschwitz Violin" BY Maria Angel Anglada I purchased two days ago on impulse whilst waiting for a friend to buy clothes in Walthmstow's Selbourne Walk shopping mall is vying for my attention. It may win if I am not careful.

Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Poised...for 'write bytes'

I am poised to begin another redraft...though I know ( AND HAVE HAD FEEDBACK) that's I 'm nearly there it still seems daunting. The only way is to look at what I now have to do in terms of 'write bytes ' - discrete sessions where I focus on one or two tasks. I will now - after I've downed another cup of tea, get on with the redrafting of the latest chapter I tutorialed with Emma last week and integrate it into the manuscript.

On Sunday I interviewd a PhD student at London University SEES to check again the detail of the back story of my novel and make sure I have accurately portrayed every thing according to the cultural norms and chronology of the time period. The interviewee was immensely helpful - also with language issues - so I now have a template for Almir's speech pattern, but will probably leave this aspect until I have done everything else as I will have to go through the entire novel from start to finish with only this in mind.

Bren Gosling

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Letting it brew !

Have now recieved all four sets of feedback from my trusted guniea pig readers - overall very positive but I do need to make some changes and complete another redraft. Had a 2 hour tutorial with Emma Sweeney my mentor yesterday which was really helpful as usual. I have distilled what I need to do , what I don't need to do and what I can do optionally. But it seems an endless task, this writing a novel business! I completed a re working of my synospsis (last tackled well over 12 months ago) which was a very helpful excersize at this point in focussing on plot again. I took the best part of 7 hours - split over an evenning and an afternoon - to get it shaped into a tight 500 words. It reads much more 'immediate' now. I am having a day off from writing today. After yoga in my hotel room then breakfast I went for a long walk along the Altoner Balkon (I am in Hamburg for Queer Tango) in the warm autumn sunshine(such lovely weather, it would have been a crime not to be out enjoying it) then had something to eat and now I am back, need to rest before going out later to dance tango. Even though I know having a day off from writing IS the right thing to do I still miss it and still feel guilty I am not at the page with a pen poised.

Bren Gosling

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Waiting in the wings and doing the right thing.

I have had feed back from two of my four readers - and both are really positive, although I'll need to make a few more tweaks and probably need to add one more scene/chapter. Waiting for the other two sets of feedback is a bit like waiting in the wings to go on stage. I am plagued with angst about the impression my "performance" will give to my audience.

I was a little miffed when I had dinner with one of the four readers on Friday, expecting a full feedback only to discover the reader had only got as far as page 35 and, contrary to my specific requests, had embarked upon a close read and mark up. This particular reader is the only one of the four who knows my characters to any real degree. He was my original mentor, though is not specifically a creative writer - more an academic one. That explains his habitual inability to refrain from marking up I guess. I did feel rather flat after seeing him though as he said to me he felt he knew what was comming in the novel, because he already knew the story . This is partly true but not really. He did know alot about the story as it stood when it was a short piece more than 2 years ago but it has changed almost beyond recognition. It has made me think that probably it's not a good idea to give your manuscript to people who already know (or think they know) too much about your plot and characters. This reinforces what I thought about holding off from showing anything more to agents who've asked to see more - other than the completed finished manuscript in it's enitity when it's ready. How else can one gauge what impression someone will have of the novel as a whole. If they 've seen substantial bits, in my view, the overall impact is lessened as they can half guess what they think will follow.This may or (in my case) maynot be accurate. So I think have done the right thing in holding off from submitting anything more to agents until I have the whole manuscript ready.
And this is now only a few weeks off.
Ben Gosling

Friday, 26 August 2011

A question of chronology

Today's editing has revealed that there are a few markers in the plot in the middle of my novel that don't fit. It's a detail that might easily be missed by readers but I think its important.It' about total believability, so everything has got to be historically accurate. I have a scene with one of the main characters being stood up by the protagonist(his lover)...and put in this scene what is on TV that night - a popular programme that was on at that time(May 2002). I had to get this spot on because what comes immediately before on the plot timeline, and what comes after are crucial to the overall plot. I picked Big Brother series three - first episode but when I got to the subsequent scene this didnt work as chronologically I was somehow a week short! So I had to go back and find something else, something from the previous Friday to make everything fit.It needed to be a programme that was also popular and one readers might luck would have it , I found something but I cant seem to get the TV schedule for that night to find out what time this programme started. Oh well! I will have to' ask a friend'.
Bren Gosling

Enforced seclusion brings rich rewards

I have a fithly cold. I should now be dancing tango in Oslo but I had to cancel and as H is in Berlin, here I am alone in our big Walthamstow pile. This misery has become an opportunity . I am hard copy reading my completed manuscript for the very first time, along side my four ginuea pig readers who recieved their copies yesterday(ohh, er...!!!). It's a chance to hone the text even further aswell as see how the characters and plot develop in one uninterupted weekend. So far I 'm at Chapter 19(of 42). I am also taking a close look at chronology especially the time line of the novel. My story takes place primarily in London between February and July 2002 and so it's intersting now to check details of those few months - the weather - if Ive given a date then is this the correct day of the week in my telling of certain sequence of events. What was on the tele then?What was major in the news (I already hvae researched this some time ago) and how would such news filter through my characters eyes into my novel and how can I make this not seem like a broadcast. When were there full moons(yes, you heard me correct- read the novel!).
I am finding this whole process totally absorbing. I may have a stinker but I 'm totally immersed in another world - events that played out almost 10 years ago in my neighboorhood - it seems real to me - yet of course it's all made up in my head. This is the buzz writing fiction gives me.It's real but infact it's all made up!
Bren Gosling

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Another milestone passed.

Last night at just before 10 I completed the draft manuscript of my novel Sweeping up the Village. I say finished. I am expecting more edits but the back has been broken. This draft I will send to my four carefully selected guniea pig readers today. When I get comments back I'll incorporate these into the further draft that then goes out to agents.
Bren Goslings

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Back from a week in the wilds of Northumberland ...

where I managed to get some writng/editing done and also some walking(despite the almost constant rainfall). Now I am so close to the point of no return(sending the completed manuscrpit out to my four guniea pig readers and then the agents) I'm getting seriuosly nervous and thinking it's just crap. If you are a writer reading this you will recognise my angst no doubt. I had a good tutorial with Emma my mentor just before going away so shouldn't be disheartened but it's a scary psychological ride, writing a novel.

Hi RUTH MIDDLETON and thanks for becomming a follower of my ramblings.
Bren Gosling

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Welcome Lyng !

Thanks for taking an interest in my blog and becomming a follower.
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Berlin, immer Berlin but have kept on writing !

Have been here since last Tuesday enjoying the Queer Tango Festival. Inspite of 3 and 4am milonga finishes Ive managed to maintain my daily writing routine - and enjoyed it...perched on my stool infront of my tiny desk in the Motel One (Mitte) bedroom. I've completely edited almost 6k words of one important section ...incorporating all the critique feedback from first draft readings.Today I sacrificed a trip to the Reichstag to get it finished and off to Emma my writing mentor in prep for our next tutorial on Friday.So, am well pleased as I log off(at an early - for Berlin ) 5 minutes to one a.m.
Bren Gosling

reply to Mike's last comment

Hi Mike - sorry not to have replied sooner but I have been (still am until tomorrow) in Berlin at the QUEER TANGO FESTIVAL. In answer to your question - no - since I am so immersed in each part of the rewrite(and am actually enjoying it). That time will come no doubt in a few weeks time though - but I am not thinking or worrying about it until I have finished and done as good a job as I can. Deadlines are useful. I understand where you are comming from. I think it's necessary at some point to frame it all and aim for a deadline( and then usually another and maybe even another - but atleast that way the project doesn't remain open ended. Besides , for me personally, I 've other stuff I want to write that's currently on the back burner until this novel is finished.
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Another writing orientated weekend

H left for his 10 day buddhist retreat on Friday afternoon so Ive had no distractions and have knuckled down well, averaging 4 -5 hours daily. Today I completed a 'from scratch' re write of a scene that wasn't working but now I think is.It'll need an edit once I have it returned from typing though. I have put last Thursdays research to good use! I went to visit a friend who is in Chelsea and Westminster hospital...and on the way home went to the BFI and saw Last Year in Marienbad - which was weird yet wonderful. I found it oddly rather inspirational with regard to my writing.I can't quite explain why.
Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

got started again

yesterday completed rewrite of another three chapters. After that I find I've used up most of the creative energy I have so it's best to stop and resume the next day. I cut an enire section from the end of one chapter yesterday, rewrote it from a more major character's point of view and inserted it earlier in the novel. Not sure if I'll have much available today to do more although this evenning am meeting a friend whom Ive briefed about my problem re French langauage ability of a 12 year old with two terms of learning that language. So I'll hopefully get feedback when I see her and can attribute today to research!
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Letting it mull !

Had planned to keep editing all weekend ..Saturday went well with 3 more chapters out of the way but today...urgh...ground to a halt. I was intending to re write the scene with Jade and Roland having lunch out but realised I need to do research on the french level of a 12 year old at a good Comp. who's completed 2 terms! so put that aside...phoned a friend for help and left a detailed message about it. Moved onto Roland and Al..the chapter where Roland asks Al to leave the flat after a row. But as I re read what I'd already written it was apparant this whole section of scenes needs to be redrawn as chronologically they're slightly out of sync. So I just masde a few notes and went for a walk around Walthamstow Village - guided by the local history soc. which is all good in the name of "Sweeping up the Village". Never the less I feel edgey not to yet be on top of it again, quite. Rather irritable actually. I must be a sod for H to have to put up with at the moment.
Bren Gosling

Thursday, 7 July 2011

ploughing on !

Did alot more editing over last weekend and on Monday and am making headway although what is interesting is that it's not just about effecting the changes Ive got from feedback/ my mentoring critiques. Reading through the chapters again fairly closely and in context with the novel as a whole often means I am putting in new bits...maybe a sentance here, a paragraph or two there after I have been thinking over a particular section.And of course I am cutting or pruning aswell as I go along. I can't do more than 4 hours in one stretch as I am finding it almost as mentally taxing as just writing. But it is moving along and shaping up rather nicely. The word count needs beefing up to an 80k minimum... I am hovering around 72 k but this changes with each editing session I complete. I'm not hung up on that at the moment though. Best to just keep it all moving.

Bren Gosling

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Editing going well now !

Have now edited the first ten chapters of Sweeping up the Village( currently there are 39 chapters in total) so thats about 25% done - all of the openning section - and I'm pleased with how it reads so far. Spent best part of 9 hours on it over this weekend...but had a haircut in town and then dinner locally with H and two friends last night, and today after more editing all morning from 9.30 am until 1.30pm I went to Tango on the Thames - and tangoed well for a couple of hours on HMS President before meeting H at the NFT to see Cutters Way- which I found dated and slow( I nearly dozed off more than once)...
Tomorrow I am being shot for a mens clothing magazine . I cant quite believe it...I was spotted by a scout at Hackney milonga a few weeks ago and was contacted by him again last week to say would I do a photo shoot on Monday at a hotel in South Ken. so better get some shut eye now! My life is becomming like a work of fiction!
Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Think I've "unblocked"

Had an early morning eureka moment whilst waiting for my yoga teacher(thank you for being late this morning!)...two specific areas of plot thread in the last two chapters I've been editing just didn't seem to be working but I think I've cracked it. The ideas came up and semed to be staring me in the face. Just goes to show - again - these things can't be forced or hurried. Sometimes the have to be mulled over and teased and teased until they come out.
Bren Gosling

Monday, 20 June 2011


I'v been reading again guidance material from the City Course and also sections from various creative writing books on revising and editing. Today I feel I 'm in a place where nothing will come right, everything I am writing is rubbish and it's not good enough. Apparently this is part of the course... I know this...but it's frustrating I can't make it happen when I really do want to get on with it. I just feel completely distracted today.
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 19 June 2011

An entire afternoon editing

From 12 noon until nearly 6pm(with 1/2 an hour off for lunch...I'm now up to chapter 8(of about 40). Close re reading seems to generate mini re writes of parts of sections of chapters and in the case of Chapter four almost an entire re write as I've introduced a different plot thread. Tonight we had turkey dinner for seven! - This was the perfect anti dote to the afternoon - social and lots of discussion about things like death, the nature of conciousness and metaphysics(yes we covered all of this and more). A relaxed and wondeful evening!
Bren Gosling

A week of editing in Aldeburgh

came back on the train on Friday night. Managed to fit in a couple of festival things and some walks too. Was roped into attending a dance class by my neighbour, which turned out to be an aerobics dance worksout. I felt naked without leggings! I left early.
Editing not going so fast as I thought it might. Some chapters dont need much tampering with but others- like the last one Ive been doing- need a whole rewrite. Ive introduced a different subplot thread. Even though the word count had actually drooped on this chapter, I hope it 's better. Emma, my mentor liked the idea.
Am cooking dinner for 7 friends tonight - thought a turkey would work - so will try to write once I've got the said bird in the oven!
Bren Gosling

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Editing progresing !

I have now edited the prologue and first three chapters of my novel. It took me 7 hours over two evenings!I feel I am over another psychological hurdle!
Bren Gosling

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I have just finished interviewing a Kosovar Albanian guy who is the same age as my protagonist and came to Britain in 2000...although when I embarked on this project two years ago I interviewed by telephone another Kosovar Albanian and one year ago I interviewed an Albanian academic at University of London School of Eastern European and Slavonic Studies - nothing compared to bearing witness to the testimony of someone who'd lived through the Kosovan Conflict -talking about his terrible experiences whilst sat across from me at my own kitchen table. The interview was a humbling experience for me and so incredible to believe that such hardship and terrible things were taking place in Europe barely a decade ago. As a writer this was an great opportunity. I feel it has also come at an incredibly fortuitous time - at the point I am starting the editing of my completed manuscript. Now I have a very real sense of Almir, of what he lived through and what he had to do in order to survive. Much of the research I have already done is strengthened by this mornings interview. And I feel now inbided even more with a need to tell this story. I know, though Almir is a fictional contruction that all my story is plausible.

Tonight I cancelled dinner with a friend(I believe this is what's called writer's sacrifice)in order to attend a MeetUp Group of The London Writers Cafe nr Liverpol St. The topic is Editing and the speakers are editors from The Wordpress - so - again, this is perfect timing for where I am in the evolution of my novel.
Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Have read from start to finish my entire completed draft

Did ths over the long weekend, up at Aldeburgh. This was a good excersize. There are still flaws and repetitions but nothing too difficult to put right. The story reads well overall and to look at it in this way for the first time has been a morale booster for me. I was feeling very daunted about how to begin the rewrite. My next task is to re read everything and close mark up the changes.
Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Back after a complete 10 day break from writing

and I think I am rearing to go again. Will pick up a pen tomorrow and see!Have been to Stockholm, tangoing and then to Yorkshire(back today) where H and I spent our time eating cooked breakfasts and walking the Dales around Grassington. Finished reading the novel ' Beware of Pity' by Stephan the end I thought quite old fashioned with alot of irritating repetition(maybe its a bad translation from the german). Am trying to get stuck into 'So Many Ways to Begin' Jon Mc Gregors second acclaimed novel but again I am struggling with his style. Its beautifully written but the structure I find is irritating me and the plot (I am sure Ive already after just a few chapters, worked out the ending), seems rather pointless therefore. But I'll plough on.
Good news - one of the agents who expressed an interest in my novel has made contact again asking me how I am getting on. Encouraging!
Bren Gosling

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Sometimes getting into the right head space takes a few days!

But I finally managed it today after much deliberating and wrote the very end of my novel.I read it aloud and its only 9 minutes but it took(aside from the last couple of weeks thinking about it constantly) three hours to draft - from notes started the other day which took me about the same amount of time! My next job is to go back to to the Epilogue and re write this to incorporate more back story relevant to the plot . Then I can print everything off and start again from the Prolugue and edit and fill in the gaps and make sure the plot threads add up.There are a few further scenes I will need to write still.
All my four especially selected readers - pre sending off to the agents - have agreed to read the complete manuscript in August- so I have to be disciplined over the next few weeks if I am going to meet this deadline . But it is possible. The hardest part I believe is done.
Off out to The Crypt in Clerkenwell tonight to tango off my angst!
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Angst in Aldeburgh

Having a lovely week of walks, cinema and local fish eating! BUT have got a bit stuck with my writing(well, yesterday). Since returning from The Writers Retreat Ive written about 1000 words of the second part of a chapter with R and A in the middle of the novel, which took AGES but I think is alright. But trying to write the ending is proving a real angst making excersize. I sat down yesterday for 3 hours and kept starting and crossing out and restarting , ending up with about one side of hand writtten A4. The thing is I have important back story to reveal at the end and I am not sure the best way to do this. So, after opera beamed from the NYC Met at Aldeburgh cinema last night I slept on it ...and this morning am going for a long walk over in Minsmere with our neighbours then hopefuly I may have a 'light bulb' moment.
Bren Gosling

Monday, 25 April 2011

Back from my Writers Retreat in France

at Circle of Misse which was hard work but really worth it. Fuelled by wonderful food, a nice long walk from my bed and breakfast each morning to Misse and inspirational tutorials and talk with my mentor and other writers I have now resolved some of the remaining issues with my storyline. I also got three old short stories critqued and ideas on where I should send these out to. The chapter plan of my novel is redone and I can see where I need to write a few more scenes(not many) and I have (ATLAST) put all the chapters into one big document file! I am going to print it off next week so I can read it all in one go...then I 'll read it a second time and mark up with comments and edit requirements. Still alot of work to do but it does now feel that it's realy comming together very well.
Bren Gosling

Friday, 15 April 2011

From The Guardian Book Blog - Sara Sheridan

I read this and thought it food for thought:
Bren Gosling

Why writers must embrace social media, no matter the genreGuest blogger and local novelist Sara Sheridan shares her digital journey, arguing that writers need to grasp social media or risk losing their rights - including freedom of speech

Share Comments (14) Sara Sheridan Living in Edinburgh I consider myself particularly lucky – we have the biggest book festival in the world, a plethora of fascinating libraries and museums and some of the greatest architecture in Europe. It would be easy not to look outwards at all – our capital city is a comfortable puddle for a novelist. We are awash after all, with writers of all stripes. But that's not my nature – and I'm very aware we are the first generation ever to have such incredible opportunities to express ourselves publicly to a worldwide audience.

As an historical novelist – there are few jobs more retrospective. I dumped science at an early age. I expect that initially my interest and indeed patience for Twitter, blogs and html came from the fact I live with the Greatest Geek alive. So enormously scientific and complex is his day-to-day job that I still don't really understand what he does. Suffice to say it's something that enables 30 million users to simultaneously log onto a website without it crashing.

Before I met the Greatest Geek I avoided technology and only adopted what my more savvy friends had road-tested and recommended. I was the last to get an email account in the late 1990s, the last to indulge in online shopping and I still sport a brick of a mobile phone rather than a flash Android or iPhone (this last because one of the prerequisites for my mobile phone is that I have to be able to fling it at a wall if I lose my temper). However, I'm a professional writer and I consider it part of my job to publicise my work and these days part of that job is done online.

Beyond the book festivals
I was reluctant. The Greatest Geek poured me a whisky and sat me down and said he'd help, but that this was my job and I'd have to do most of it myself (his time being taken up with the 30 million users). I started by building a website for my work on Google Sites and soon I was clicking the html button with aplomb and could understand enough to delete rogue lines or alter links.

Then, on a trip to London I was introduced to someone in the digital marketing department at HarperCollins who told me I ought to try Twitter. My soul rebelled. This wasn't my thing. No way. But I started - tentatively at first, and then surprisingly, I found I really enjoyed it. Writers don't get to meet readers very often and when they do it's only for a short time (after a book festival or library event, for example). On Twitter, people who had read my book followed me and I could see what else they were reading, why they'd liked what I'd written and by the by, more about them than I'd ever elicit from two minutes in a tent at a book festival, stuck at a signing desk. It was fascinating.

Next I started following and being followed by librarians and archivists, schoolteachers, events organisers, writers, bookshops, agents and publishers. A whole network was opening up. People were interested and fun and generous. I was offered a couple of event slots and the opportunity to write for a magazine. A famous writer to whom I got chatting gave me career advice. Then I decided I'd try blogging and wrote (non historical pieces) for other people's blogs rather than starting one of my own. The response was wonderful – people got back in numbers and told me what they thought – not something that happens when you're writing a story based in 1840s China or Arabia.

After that, I tried Facebook (which didn't really suit me as it has a bias towards personal rather than professional data) but unperturbed I continued to blog occasionally, to tweet and also administer my own website.

I joined Linkedin (to which events professionals seemed to respond) and bought a Kindle (which I love). Then people, or rather, festivals asked me to come to talk about it. And there, I think, was where I became an evangelist.

Sheridan has more than 3,000 followers on Twitter, but admits initially her 'soul rebelled' against it 'What do you tweet?'
I was in a book festival green room surrounded by luminaries when I first realised there was a huge split in the writing community. I asked if anyone else was on Twitter – in fact, you'd have thought I'd asked if anyone else had recently stabbed their kids in the heart. It just poured out. Writers who'd seemed retiring and quite reasonable started to hiss about intrusion of privacy and the importance of paper books and how un-green it was to sport a Kindle. What, I asked, innocently, less green than felling trees like billy-o, transporting them all over the place and then pulping 40% of them? Privacy? Is anyone asking you to blog or tweet or even Facebook (if you must) your personal life? This is about reading and books – it's an interesting way to meet people and share information.

'What do you tweet?' one eminent writer sneered. 'Do you tell the world whenever you've had a scone?'
'Nope. Just when I'm off at a book festival or reading something interesting,' I told him. 'It's a great way to meet readers and they've all been so nice.'

This buttered no parsnips. One or two people said they simply didn't have time for 'that kind of thing'. These are people who would have dropped everything to do a newspaper interview or appear on radio. People who complained that their readership was falling and their publishing contracts were not being renewed. Even people whose readership was in the 12-16 age group, who (as yet) didn't have a website despite the fact that kids of that age are enormously active online.

One woman texted her daughter every five minutes whilst saying she had no time to write an 140 character tweet (lady, it's the same thing). It was simply odd. Other writers and book trade professionals who were taking part in the social media revolution were, like me, bemused. Then some weeks later, I was verbally attacked at a public event by a writer who was mortally offended that I'd suggested she give it a shot (at worst you might not like it, at best it could revolutionise the way you work, I'd said. She hadn't taken it well.).

These days, to be honest, as a result of that experience, I never evangelise unbidden though I am increasingly being booked for festival and writers' groups events to talk about my experiences online. I tend not to argue with writers who put up a barrage about how impossible it would be for them to have a website or start a twitter account or a facebook fanpage. It makes me sad that these are writers – professional communicators – who are shying away from a medium that is crying out for their skills and demonstrably is the best way to communicate with a wide readership.

Implications for freedom of speech
Most of all this is an era where our digital rights are being defined and because so many writers consider it beneath them, many important issues are not being considered and decided by writers themselves but by the digital operations departments of major publishing houses, online booksellers and other corporate entities.

I am not thinking only of digital copyright – net neutrality is probably the most vital issue for freedom of speech online and should be at the top of any writer's agenda. Most don't even know what that means (it's that the fastest broadband speeds might be chargeable at a rate well beyond small scale bloggers or individuals). If net neutrality is abandoned, individual voices will download so slowly that they would be unheard. This has huge implications for writers, yet in the writing community net neutrality is largely unspoken.

The net has provided a level playing field for criticism and comment – anyone and everyone is entitled to their opinion – and that is one of its greatest strengths. We're all (quite rightly) demonstrating about library closures but I worry that at this critical time in our history that many people are thrusting their heads into the sand rather than opening their eyes to what is happening – both in terms of opportunity and possibility and the actual structure that will contain us as an online community if we allow it to do so.

I didn't expect to love being online as much as I do. I've met some wonderful people and discovered that however arcane some of my interests that there are people out there who are interested too. It's also been a lesson in what my readership do and don't like and what does and doesn't work in terms of promoting my work. And best of all I've made some friends.

Sara Sheridan lives in Edinburgh and has just released her latest book, Secret of the Sands. She can be found tweeting @SaraSheridan.
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Literary Edinburgh

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Have just purchased a copy of Tennessee Williams Notebooks

...well, after a seriously solid meeting with my accountant followed by a crap film in town (The Silent House) I needed something light and interesting!
Bren Gosling

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Organise, organise, organise

...this is what I'm trying to do now with the material(well over 80k words) I have drafted - some of it not needing much more work, some a complete re write. Alas, I'm HOPELESS with computer filing systems and I atempted today to collate every file I've put a scene or a chapter or other relevant notes in all into a latest version of a COMPLETE draft of my novel. I gave up after files began dissappearing and not pasting into the master when I thought I had copied them. Instead I made sure everything's backed up for now. I want to print a hard copy of the entire draft so far(I'll have to go to the local printers for that) and read it through at this point in time. I did manage to email prep for the Writers Progress Retreat I will be attending from Sunday at Circle of Misse in France, to the retreats' writer in residence - who happens to be(lucky for me) my mentor, the wonderful Emma Sweeney. I am going to workshop first the re write of the chapter which introduces my R character in the novel. Thereafter I want to work soley on the ending.
Shave, shower and get ready for my Tuesday Tango class then milonga up in The West End now.
Bren Gosling

Thursday, 7 April 2011

ah, sweet relief !

Ive just uploaded the re-write of the chapter whch introduces R - my second main character in the novel. It took me, I reckon 7-8 hours over two sessions, the last of which was done in my hotel room at the NEC in Birmingham where I spoke today at a conference(nothing to do with writing fiction, alas). I get this same feeling of sweet relief each time I complete a discrete section/chapter/scene/rewrite. The process is really moving along nicely now .Its often hard to sit down and apply oneself , especially if I am having to fit writing in alongside work - work. But the pay off emotionally is worth the effort.
Bren Gosling

Friday, 1 April 2011

When something apt becomes something old

A couple of years ago, when I was starting out as a writer, I was inspired by many things - one of them being music. I used to put down in my notebook pieces I had heard and liked. On the Radio one day I was struck by Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvon Pert. I imagined it playing in intense emotional scenes I was begining to think about writing. If you know this piece you'll understand it is apt for such high emotion; at once poignant and moving(it was used in the documentary series on Auschwitz a few years ago)But the piece now actualy has begun to irritate me as its been used for this very such purpose so many times in films and TV dramas - the day before yesterday I heard it in Hattie - the excellent drama on BBC4 about Hattie Jakes and last night it was used also in Women in Love(not so excellent,this drama came across more like a Catherine Cookson romp to me!)To get back to my point - Spiegel Im Spiegel IS indeed a beatiful piece of music entirely apt for high emotional scenes BUT it has become so overused - now when I watch new drama I am hanging on the edge of my seat expecting this music to come -its actually become something 'old'. I guess this analogy fits writing too in that one might write a scene of high emotion beautifully well but because its style is not unique, the reader will have 'heard it before' , it actually doesnt jump off the page anymore. This is the challenge for writers who want to get noticed and - hopefuly published. Not only must they demonstrate that they can tell a good story well but also are they able to say something often said, in a different way.

This cold that has kept me grounded all week(no tango!but lots of television watching)I hope is now on the wane. I did this weeks tutorial with Emma via telephone(we were supposed to meet face to face at our usual venue in The Welcome Centre Cafe). This having a writing mentor - an experienced writer who sees almost everything I write and critiques it - is helping me tremendously. Had very good feedback,encouraging, a couple of things that need a little more work but most is good. We discussed the forthcomming Writers Progress Retreat at Circle of Misse that she is leading and I will be attending - in just a couple of weeks. I've decided to use this time to work on the end section of my novel.
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Another chapter re drafted

Came in last night at 9 ish and started work on the redraft of another chapter and had finished it by 1am. Edited this today as a cold has delevoped! Bouying myself up with hot chocolate made with 70%Green and Blacks chocolate bar chunks.
Saw Never Let Me Go yesterday afternoon at the Odeon Panton Street. Thought it a fair adaptation of the novel. Enjoyed. Menacing scenes of crowds,protest noise and hovering helicopters as we came out into Leicester square(Public Sector Workers protest march). Glad to get onto the tube and get home.
Bren Gosling

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Arrived back in London

at 7.15 am today after a long flight. How absolutely beautiful it all looks. Our street in Walthamstow village and our garden is bursting with spring plants. It all seems so fresh compared with Buenos Aires. Three months there was great - did loads of writing aswell as tango practicebut am glad to be back in England for spring. H has- incredibly- gone for a job interview today. I cooked us lunch after a walk around the village and going through my mound of post - then went to bed for 1 1/2 hours.If I am up to it I'd like to try to get the rewrite of chapter four done so that Emma will see it with the other stuff Ive sent her before we meet for my next tutorial at The Welcome Centre in Euston next Wednesday. "More Tales of the City" has arrived from Love Film - yippee! I am now going to sit and watch it with a cuppa and a bit of victoria sponge cake left for us in the fridge by Heather, our yoga teacher, who house sat while we were away.
Bren Gosling
Bren Gosling

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The moon

Last night after going to the cinema and sitting thorugh 2 hours plus of American Hollywood crap ( Last 3 Days) we decided to walk all the way from the centre of town(Lavalle) back home to Recoleta. When we got to the cemetery we stopped to look at the beautiful moon through a Hubble Space telescope some astronamer had set up on the pavement. It was asounding looking at the moon in all its pitted crater glory - the detail of it you could see was amazing. This morning we went for a long walk through the eco park as far as the river Plata...also amazing with the skyscapers of Puerto Madero zooming up above all the bullrushes and vegetation....and the first time in 3 months I can say I have managed to escape this city's constant traffic din.Am going to edit the Chapter three re write later(after a milonga lesson at 5).

Bren Gosling

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Have finished the rewrite of Chapter Three

Worked for four hours on it last night . Together with about another four to five hours over the past few days it was hard going. I re wrote from scratch, basing it on the original draft but completely re writing most of it. The scene now opens with a dream sequence which I think works well. I have shifted the POV entirely to my protagonist which was challenging as I had to somehow describe the setting which I'd previously shown through the other characters POV. A very useful if arduous excersize though and I hope its a stronger chapter for all of the work done.

After much procrastination have now booked to go on the Writers Progress 'TAILOR MADE' retreat at Circle of Misse in France in a months time. The writer in residence is Emma Sweeney my mentor, so I am hoping the week will prove helpful and productive at this key stage of the rewriting. The food and setting look good !

After two weeks away our landlord came back at 8am this morning getting us out of bed. It will seem strange having him around the apartment again. Milonga lessons today and tomorrow and tango and tango VALS workshops and a milonga on Monday and Tuesday as part of the Queer Tango Marathon. Back home to London on Wednesday(overnight) arriving Thursday and I'm looking forward to going home now.

Bren Gosling

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Re writing dialogue...

can be tricky. Its not a few words here and there its the whole chunk of dialogue that has to work. I am still slogging away at my re write of chapter three which has a fair bit of dialogue, and difficult dialogue to boot in that it aims to show an awkwardness between two characters meeting for the first time. I am re writing POV from one characters(original draft) to anothers(my protagonist) which is taking time to get exactly right. Should be there in another session though I hope.
Bren Gosling

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Its like being back in the early 1970's

Ive now experienced two power failures here in Buenos Aires in under a week.On Thursday I arrived for a tango lesson out in the sticks and there was no street lighting. The taxi driver at first didnt want me to get out because of a group of street kids loitering but I assured him that Id been assured I'd come to no harm. But he was convinced they were dangerous. I survived and got into the building unscathed and had the first 30 minutes of my lesson by candlelight and without music. Last night the power went off in our block in Recoleta and only came on again at 5am . 32 degrees, high humidity and no fan meant for one sticky night! But it took me back to growing up with the powercuts we had in Briatin when I was in my 14/15 in the early/mid 1970's.

Have begun the rewrite of Chapter Three. The theme /scene remains the same but I am changing the POV and have started it with my protagonist in a dream. I wrote the dream openning(excuse this aweful pun)yesterday morning - the first time Ive written a dream scene. I think the idea must have come from the novel I'm reading currently - Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett.But I am only using my dream once not thoughout my novel. Have nearly finished Neil's book now - when the power went off last night H and I went down to the Cafe Josephina and sat al fresco with hot chocolate and read our books.
Bren Gosling

Monday, 7 March 2011

Finished the re write of Chapter two...

and comparing it with the original version, its quite different - and - I hope much better. Spent much of today editing it and have now sent it to Emma ready for our next tutorial. Had a block about starting the re write of three though because I need to change the POV and for some reason its making me up tight. Oh well...had a good tango lesson and am off out tonight to practice - on the roof I hope if its not raining.
Bren Gosling

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Am reading a brilliant novel at the moment

Skin Lane - by Neil Bartlett. Beg, steal or buy a copy and turn the first page and I guarantee you you will be hooked.Thank you Neil Barlett(in the extremely feint possibility you may come across this posting)!Thank you.
Bren Gosling

Friday, 4 March 2011


SEX - always an interesting topic and a challenge to write, I agree. For me, of contemporary writers, Alan Hollinghurst does it well in The Line of Beauty( though I dont have a copy of the book to hand as I am in Buenos Aires at the moment); Ian Mckewan too - in a very different way, capturing the awkwardness of it in On Chesil Beach. In my own writing I learned a difficult lesson the hard way .My novel Sweeping Up the Village is essentially centred around the development of an affair between my protagonist and the other main character; plenty of opportunity for writing about sex very early drafts last year, when I started to think about the development of this main relationship in my novel I wrote lots of (very bad) sex scenes, most of which nolonger exist or have been completey transformed in their re writing. The key is for me comes back to show and tell - its important that I include some sex scenes to describe the passion and the physicality, after all here are two lovers engaged in an intimate relationship and I want to bring the reader in and up close to share their turn ons and their pleasure of it. BUT... and here is the caveat, its about how much detail and what to leave out as much as what to put in. And it also depends on what the scene is doing in terms of showing the reader(I agree with Emma on this) ; is it early raw animal attraction or naked lust? Is it an emotional tension eg a shift - from being just sex to something more(love, obsession, uncertainity) or is the sex incidental to the overall purpose of the scene , and just needs a passing mention.Like in everyday ordinary life sex happens but its what signifcance is attached to it and by whom and what are the consequences of it happening that matter to me as a stortyteller. Its about quality not quantity- like most things. I am finding myself often using the close third person POV from one characters perspective for most of the scene , to so build up of tension and then I often finish the scene with a shift to the other characters perspective ( but again in close third person POV, as this is the style I am utilizing for this project) - just for a paragraph or even only a couple of lines, so as to underline/emphasize the impact of what has just occured in the scene on the other character(usually my protagonist).The consequence in other words is more what I am after , when I think about writing sex.

I've just remembered another couple of good reads for examples of the art and skill of writing sex and dare I say it the 'L' word. Both novels I would absolutely recommend also because they are both fabulously good reads.

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
oh yes, and there are passages also in After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell which do it for me very well too.Hope this helps!

Bren Gosling

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Have started the re write of Chapter two

because it just feels thats what I need to do. I keep comming back to the opening section(the first 4-6 chapters of the story) in my mind because I know I have to get this right, with the chronological sequence of character introductions and the (new)inciting incident(which will link directly with the climactic scene in the novel).

Yesterday I spend a few hours close reading a piece of research entitled : Understanding the ocupational deprivation of refugees; A case study from Kosovo - by Gail Elizabeth Whiteford from The Cnadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. I have had this article for some months now. Its really useful for my protagonist characterisation- to set his recent past up in my own head so that when I now begin the story again on the page I can hopefuly make it come alive more - with this 'inside 'knowledge. We'll see. I also read again some photocopied articles from the City and various other writing courses Ive done - about Showing and Telling and how to achieve immediacy in writing fiction. Also an article from the Guardian by Tobias Hill about the process of writing itself and his personal experience of it - which amused me but rang true. I then close-read again my new chapter one to set my self up for todays writing task (of the rewriting of chapter two). After two hours I now have 300 words of the first scene of the new chapter two! Not bad.I am ok with this, it always takes me ages when I 'm beginning a new piece - I have to get the openning right before I can allow myself to go on. Time for lunch now, well deserved!;siesta then tango practice. I plan to return to writing more this evenning after dinner.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Reading with my own novel rewrite in mind

Just finished reading Black Moor - and interesting novel and a good read - by Edward Hogan.It has some lovely prose in very many places, an original plot idea and I found it a complete page turner. I did not like what I saw as the intrusion of an omniscient narrator which seemed to cut in alot towards the end of the story. It took me away from the former excellent close observation and the characters therefore also.If anything I wanted to feel even closer to the boy Vincent by the end of the book.This is why I am planning to use first person POV for my protaganist at the climax of my novel. Perhaps Mr Hogan intended his omniscience for effect, a kind of overview summing up of the way things have turned out for all of his characters - especially Vincent- at the conclusion of the story but for me it didnt work well. Perhaps he is using the POV shift as signal to the story's ending.Also some of the dialogue - especialy between the boy Vincent and his 'girlfriend' Leila didnt feel authentic. So - in summary -a good novel but also pointers to note for when I begin the rewrite of my own.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Its not like constructing a 'dot -to-dot'

I had a really positive tutorial yesterday with Emma , my writing mentor and the feedback on the new material I was feeling so jittery about was excellent on the whole - it seems I have pulled it off in the scenes Ive written where I am showing a different side to my protagonists personality. I have made him more active and also moved the relationship between him and his lover up a notch- now they see each other as "a couple". We talked about the doing process - how you have to write to uncover things and that you can't just always predetermine in a novel. Its not like contructing a 'dot-to-dot'! I had a wonderful 'uncovering' during the last piece I wrote, basically about a plot thread. Previously I had a plot thread but it seemed too obvious and I didnt feel it was somehow right, though I had no idea about how it really ought to be. Then, when I was writing the last piece the new thread idea just emerged - it was like hatching, as I wrote I simply had the realisation of the new plot thread and I just knew it work brilliantly. When I put it to my mentor she agreed. So - some very good work done over the last couple of weeks.

I have decided to hold off from begining the re write until I return to London and after my next tutorial on 30th March. Until then I will continue to just write, explore the story and see what turns up.

I desperately need a haircut and have spotted a place but I dont know what I'll end up looking like. Atleast , finally, I managed to locate a place which is not a unisex.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Reflecting on where I'm at

A writer friend of mine who did the same graduate London City University Certificate in Novel Writing course as I did last year has been commenting on his blog about the dilema which must face all novelists - especially novice ones.Essentially the question he raises is - how do you balance the need for constant refinement of the material you are producing with keeping to a time frame in order that you can see an end point and the novel completed. I got to bed very late last night after dancing on the roof of an old apartment building at a queer tango practica and when I got in had difficulty getting to sleep, so have been musing on this isssue raised by Mike Clark on his blog.

I think that the readings we gve to literary agent/industry profesional at the end of our course WERE DEFINATELY a good idea, for me, atleast. The fact that I had interest from four agents and that I went to see one and they allowed me to talk freely through my ideas for the book- acknowledging that it was no where near ready at that stage to show more – I found inspiring. It’s no garuantee of course that publication will follow but the fact that I know the story I am writing is of interest to someone who doesnt otherwise know me has been a great kick start. The situation of having agents who have told me “send it to me” when its completed has spurred me on.I have printed off the email from each agent and put these up on my white board at home. Similarly emails from a couple of writers from my local writers group who are published novelists already and have made nice, encouraging comments about the qualities they see/like in my work.These are carrots have to dangle all the time and especially when I feel the task before me is insurmountable. The road which Mike describes I know well ; it is a hard slog , a balance between constant refinement and achieving a satisfactory end product. I believe that its important to be able to visualise the end of the process in order to succesfully move toward it. Having the agents waiting is a good motivator but also setting a structure within which to work is equally important to me. The targets I set do move as the novel evolves but the end is now clearly in sight and I know where I am going and by when. If you do not set a time frame to complete then it will make things harder.
The monthly check in with Emma/ my mentor is proving invaluable. She sees almost everything new I am writing and discusses with me the stage I’m at, encourages me to linger or leave and move on. And my writing has got better with this constant practice and challenge.
Sometimes I have found the presure of it extremely weighty – thats why I write scenes/chapters in sections and not in any start to finish order. Every now and then I look at the bigger picture and where things should all go, what needs to change , what further work needs doing and what new research I need to undertake. But once you have this thing in you, it just has to be let out in its entirety – and – Mike I certainly get this sense from you too about Kim et al in your novel The Angel. So make a plan, keep going – even if the plan changes – set yourself a time frame, even if you have to reset the clock occaisionally. And give yourself a break sometimes – read, do something else for a few days. The story of ones novel is always there and when the time is right will resurface and cry out for you to begin again the telling of it.
Bren Gosling

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Just completed a new chapter

The dictation when I read it was 40 minutes so I guess its a longish chapter. It was hard work.Seven hours of writing over two days. I dont know if it does what I want - if Emma gets in in time for Wednesdays tutorial I'll get feedback. The chapter comprises of three scenes in diferent locations and what I hope I'm showing is a realisation in one character that actually he is in love with the other character and sees the two of them as "a couple" for the first time( its been sex, then an affair up 'til now). The scene takes place on the weekend prior to the Queens Golden Jubilee weekend in the summer of 2002 in Wathamstow. Its the weekend before the principal character's(in whose POV this chapter is shown- well - close thrid person) 36th birthday. He's thinking back to memories of the 1977 Silver Jubilee(WHEN HE WAS 10) at one point,prompted by recent memories of a photgraph in an album cleared by him and his sister from their recently deceased mothers house.

Did an hour of yoga immediately after this and have just finished a delicious home cooked lunch of pan fried trout, rice and ratatue. Resting now before tango later.H away traveling to Bolivia and Chile since Wednesday. No skype contact and already I am missing him dreadfully.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The concept of Pychic distance - Emma Darwin

This very helpful blog post from Emma Darwin is useful for a writer like me who is writing a novel primarily in close third person POV, in mutliple POV's - especially the rule of not shifting directly across from a level 5 in one characters POV to a level 5 in the other characters POV - this is likely to jar/confuse the reader..better to slowly do it by moving down from a 5 to a 1 or 2 and then creeping up to a 5 again in the other characters POV(if shifting POV within one scene or chapter). I am now doing this sometimes to heighten my readers "hunger"to read on, rather than just have whole scenes/chapters in one POV only - although this is mostly what I am doing.

Psychic Distance: what it is and how to use it
Psychic distance is a concept which John Gardner explores in his book The Art of Fiction, and I think it's absolutely crucial, not difficult to understand, and not nearly talked about enough. Basically, it's about where the narrative (and therefore the reader) stands, relative to a character. Another way of thinking of it is how far the reader is taken inside the character's head. Gardner breaks it down thus:
1. It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway.
2. Henry J. Warburton had never much cared for snowstorms.
3. Henry hated snowstorms.
4. God how he hated these damn snowstorms.
5. Snow. Under your collar, down inside your shoes, freezing and plugging up your miserable soul
Obviously it's really a spectrum, not separate stages, but you can see what this is about, can't you?
1) is remote and objective. It has a nice 'Once upon a time' feel to it but doesn't give us any sense of the man as a person with thoughts and feelings: a consciousness. It tells us a lot about where we are and what's happening, but if it stays at this level we might not care much about this person, and it limits the writer's scope for exploring how he experiences the world and himself.
5) is tight close-up and subjective. It's very much in his voice, and it's extremely expressive of this person's character and situation. But it doesn't give us any information about where we are, who this is, and so on. We empathise with how he feels, but if we stay at this level we may never understand what's going on, and it limits the writer's scope for bringing in other characters and their consciousness.
And 2-4 are various stages in between. Gardner's point is not that one is better than the other, or that you have to stick to only one. Indeed, it would be a mistake if you did, because it can make the piece very monotonous, specially if you stick at the 1-2 end. Just as good novels have a rhythm of action and reflection, so they have a rhythm of intimacy and distance. So I've extended Gardner's concept to think in terms of the psychic range of a piece, from the closest to the furthest that it covers.
It's not only important to know (roughly) what the psychic distance is at any one point, but also to understand the possibilities of the different distances, to control the reader's involvement with the character and the story.It's also intimately connected with Showing and Telling, which I've blogged about here.
It's also helpful to bear in mind that jumping straight from, say, 1 to 5, may risk leaving the reader behind: there'd be nothing to tell you that the man we were shown stepping from a doorway is the same as this person with snow down his (her?) neck. Competent readers may make the assumption, but everything they read till their assumption is confirmed is, as it were, provisional, and means they can't be so involved with the story. Other readers, not being sure where they are, may give up any involvement at all. It usually works better to work your way by stages from, say, 1 to 5, making sure the reader comes with you through at least some intermediate stages.
Understanding psychic distance is also the key to working with a moving point of view. It's obvious that even if you limit your narrative to a single point of view, how far inside your character's head you take the reader will vary. If your third-person narrative moves between several points-of-view within a chapter, say, then you have to start coping with the transitions. Many beginner writers are guilty of of 'head-hopping', which is switching points-of-view too often and too abruptly. But it's not necessarily that the transitions happen too often (though it may be, and some teachers and editors are very doctrinaire about it), but that you haven't handled them properly. Handle them properly, and you'll find that said teachers and editors may not even notice, let alone disapprove.
I'm working on point-of-view for another page in this Resources section but, put simply, if the reader is deep inside someone's head, then teleporting us to deep inside someone else's is going to be a wrench for us. Not only will we suffer the literary equivalent of jetlag, but we may simply get confused about who's doing, say, this 5-ish kind of thinking. And readers who feel wrenched from a character they were living inside lose their involvement, as do readers who get confused. The feeble tutor/editor's answer is not to switch viewpoint characters, but when did the fact that something's hard to do well mean one shouldn't do it? The key is to move us slowly, by Gardner's stages, out - 5-4-3-2-1 - of one character, and in - 1-2-3-4-5 - to the next. Or something like that: obviously it's much more fluid, and you need to listen to your instincts about how and how fast to move. But that's the idea.
Next time you're reading some fiction, have a look at how the author handles psychic distance: what range they use, and how and why s/he shifts betwen different stages. Have a think about how that affects the way you experience the piece. If it's told from more than one point-of-view, how do the transitions that interact with the psychic distance? And if you want an example of a lovely story which is pure 5, Jane Gardam's 'The Great, Grand Soap-Water Kick', in her collection The Sidmouth Letters, is pure joy. But it's not an easy trick to pull off.

Monday, 14 February 2011

completed a new scene

yesterday evenning and edited it this morning. I have been looking at another blog - Aspiring Novelist Diary-"Sam" is doing a PhD route to her first novel. I was interested in her post about using the Grid template that Emma Darwin recommends as a tool for structuring a novel. I am going to utilise this I think to approach my redraft when I'm ready.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

tango paranoia

returned to me last night. Ive been out quite alot and danced.most dances have been o.k. but I havent yet had any moments of it feeling really good. Even when you do dance this place (Buenos Aires) seems so precious and up its own arse - the tango scene is very close knit and difficult to penetrate , enough to make an outsider squirm each time he puts foot onto the dance floor.I am going to start writing again today - if I can stay awake for long enough.

Although Ive not been writing for a week I have been making notes on character and setting for short story ideas (about Buenos Aires)...mostly Ive been doing this in cafe's when Ive been having lunch on my own. It is very tempting to commit to writing a new short story or two. Of course this genre has different kinds of challenges but you do see an end result fairly swiftly and I find the process very satisfying. Like dancing tango if you dont often get to feel good about your writing even now and again your self belief system can get badly messed up. A few people have been asking me about my writing here, "oh, you write!"( yes, I write) - ..."what do you write about" (fiction, what ever takes hold of my interest, I've written short stories in the main but am trying to finish my first novel at the moment). The word 'novel' almost always triggers the enquiry" Are you famous?"(no, I'm not famous - I only began to write 3 years ago) ..."agh - so what's your novel about then?"(Nothing to do with Buenos Aires - its about an immigrant from Kosovo who gets a job as a street sweeper in London and tries to build a new life but his past comes back to haunt him, basically...)"Oh. Interesting"...(at this point the conversation sometimes concludes but sometimes it does continue and we talk about writing, ; the Aladdins cave-like book shops here,South American writers - some of whom Ive not heard of. I shared a cab back from the tango class yesterday in Abasto with a local psychoanalyst who - like me - is frustrated by tango dancing and we got talking - during our fifteen minutes in the back of that cab - about the creative process, Borges, Allende and Lorca( whom she had notheard of - even when I mentioned 'Blood Wedding').I said how wonderfuly poetic some of the lyrics are in tango - especially the early tango, from the 1930's and early 40's) and how I wish I understood more spannish. We exchanged email addresses.


Friday, 11 February 2011

Last night MUCH better my second milonga class and I really enjoyed it. Another student commented on the different "style" he'd been shown in another class earlier that day- and so its clear that the Porteneos are just out to confuse!
Been reading Blackmoor by Edmund Hogan - on Emma's recommendation - mostly for the close observation and sense of place(similar approach to to own novel) - It shifts POV a fair bit and also uses omniscience and second person POV ...but this does work here I think -and its a good(if perhaps not great) yarn. Before this I read James Baldwins Giovannis Room - much more literary in style and very period(Paris early 1960's) - apart from the 'intrusion' of French dialogue which was mostly beyond me - I think this is - indeed- a classic short novel, which I very much enjoyed. The characters and their psyche's are especially well developed. Again useful for my novel. Have not written at all since last week end - by intention. May start up again over the weekend. I want to let things brew.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tango travails

Had a difficult start to tango this week which sent me into a mini depression. At the Practica on Monday I couldnt lead 3 women in a row...not properly...and it got very frustrating because the teacher was trying to work out why and I couldnt understand. The style he is teaching seemed a variant of what I know/am learning. I left feeling very inadequate and downtrodden. Tuesday evenning wasnt much better -I went to my usual class at Salon Canning with Javier and Monica - v good teachers, friendly class but all in spannish and so many beginners - I felt I was not really able to practice what I know as beginners dont know what to do I have to keep it simple - which is ok up to a point. After a rest and dinner I went to Tango Queer - meet M as arranged - had one tanda with the Swede I meet rcently at La Marshall - then M told me he'd been ordered to leave immediately by his ex - who runs virtually the entire queer tango scene here ...lovers hate/jealousy ! But so petty(apparantly they split 18 months ago and are both with other partners now, so I dont see the problem). I did stay but didnt enjoy myself as the dances I had werent very satisfactory - though not my fault .I came away feeling it was all my fault, that I will never get the hang of this or break into the local scene. M is a very good dancer/follower and a real pleasure to dance with and I was looking forward to progressing by having the chance to practice with him twice a week - now it will only possible when he is out of his Almighty ex's range- which is on Sundays at El Monita(the only other milonga where men can dance with other men, though its not a gay milonga)_. Tango can really get to you - make to feel as high as heaven or as low as so you feel almost suicidal when things arent going right. My teacher has been great and offered 'tango counselling' along with the teaching and hopefuly I will overcome all of this tango scene paranoia. Its hard. A friend in London is having similar issues there and I have just been trying to persuade her not to give up. I have to keep on going - tango is like a class A drug - once its taken hold of you, youve had it...!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Maybe I'll wait a bit

write some more scenes - take a set back for a few more weeks. I think thats best.

I am ready to begin the redraft but, oh...

its like I am sitting my finals again ...if I bit my nails there'd be none left by now...its just that initial picking up the pen and going back from the beginning again..I really want to do it, it just seems hugely daunting.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Its odd being fiftytwo

Half way almost through this 3 month trip to Buenos Aires and have been reflecting on the water under the bridge since I last did a 3 month trip away. That was 20 odd years ago 1990. I had just finished my M.A. degree in Social Policy and Research and remember finishing off my dissertation at Brisbane airport and posting it back to the UK for typing up. H hand delivered it a few weeks later - no email or skype back then. But that trip - which I did completely alone, taking unpaid leave of absence from my job as an OT with Tower Hamlets social services, was amazing and life altering. I spend most of it hiking in Australia and New Zealand. I fell in love with New Zealand and its natural beauty and a year after I got back returned as a Polytechnic Lecturer to Otago for 12 months. Here I am two decades later - and my life has taken different turns and twists. Ill health and bereavement led me to begin writing creative fiction(I lost my mum, two friends and then my best friend Uschi all within 3 years when I myself was housebound with CFS/M.E. - a terible time when I was hardly able to walk let alone dance tango). Being 52 feels odd compared to being 32 but it still feels good to be here.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Is more, less?

...when it comes to writing intense emotion between characters. I hope that it maybe so, atleast sometimes. I have just spent the best part of 7 hours over 2 days writing one very tricky scene - staring at the page and thinking about what my character/s are thinking, going over and over and over it until I feel I've captured what it is they are feeling.Writing and re writing as I go. Atempting to show and infer (by leaving out more than perhaps I leave in sometimes)a shift in the intensity of emotion between the two of them and, therby a shift in the nature of their relationship which has hither to just been about sex and playing sport together.

Its been a slow day really, after my morning writing session and lunch cooked by H we went to the Museum of Decorative Arts - which I found mostly rather tedious. The humidity of the afternoon made me feel very flat and irritable. I was thinking all the time about how I might progress and conclude the chapter I was working on. We sat in the Square infront of the cemetery in Recoleta, under an ancient rubber tree whose branches were propted by iron stays, eating ice cream and fending off beggars and hawkers of one kind or another.Then came back to the flat where I had a nap before starting my evenning writing session. Pleased to announce FINISHED THE CHAPTER. Made a quick salad and ate it watching a clip video on my notebook of our friend Claire being inaugurated into the House of Lords. Sent her a congratulatory email. Going out for hot chocolate and cake now. Tomorrow the tango routine begins another week at 10pm when I go off to practice at El Monito with Miguel. Want to start a new chapter tomorrow if I can.


Friday, 4 February 2011

How plot changes

I looked at my original synopsis from 12 months ago and although the core story is still there, intact, gone is the opening melodrama of a major street accident involving a baby,gone is the Trudie character and her brutal mugging and Julie has a much lesser role/prominence. I deleted the original synopsis from this blog because I think it also told too much. Its interesting now to look back on how far I have come in the process of devloping the characters and plot. The characters I now know much better and much of the story is about close observation of their relationships with each other and the world rather than a heavy reliance on melodrama. The characters drive the plot and not the other way round.The original first chapter has gone completely and a new one wriiten but only a few months ago - entirely different from the original.I feel this is much stronger. Goes to show you dont really know your novel until you are in deep.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

on keeping it real and being fumigated

Having begun my other new chapter about showing a kinder, caring side to my protagonist Almir - so that his lover Roland sees something more in him and is drawn deeper into their relationship inspite of Almir's other shortcommings - I thought I had better seek further advice. After all I am making it up as I go along, more or less. Would a traumatised war veteran be able to show this other side to his personality - and in the way I am writing it/ I mean - I think so but...SO...I have contacted my psychiatrist friend for another character behaviour profile check in on Almir. She is writing her first novel too - partly set in Buenos Aires - so I may have to be her research agent by return. My other friend(NOT a writer of fiction)- I just skyped to chase him on my required contact with the U.N - to do more research about witnes protection in Kosovo a decade ago at the end of the war there)... says he is on the case but "had to fly because about to interview the head of war in Afganistan">>>well, I have the best possible links dont I!

Went to Tango Queer last night..met Miguel again who is back from his hols with his boyfriend....also danced with a Swede I meet last week at La Marshall, who complimented me on my lead and musicality - a real boost - stayed till it closed at about 2.30am. When I got back to the flat my landlord had bolted the door from the inside so I couldnt get in...OMG! Eventually I managed to rouse him and was let in and he apologised. Neither H or I slept last night and today, the icing on the cake, our apartment is being fumigated.

Monday, 31 January 2011

New Chapter finished today!

and just back from a brilliant tango lesson. Off to a practica this evenning after a rest up. Have decided about the next piece I need to write...again its continuing with the theme of showing what attracts people/characters to one this case it will be Roland to Almir. I want to write something that shows Al being supportive and which brings out Als maturity beyond his years which makes Roland want to take their relationship to a different level. I know what device I am going to use(but am keeping it a secret on the blog). Its a definate knack being able to craft how relationships - especially sexual/love relationships- evolve and what the initial attractions are and how these change as a relationship grows and develops. When Ive done this I am going to complete a time line with this theme to set these changes into the plot of my novel.

Still in awe of the Net and how fairly instantaneously one can call up information - when I was writing today I needed to match the time Almir left the gym with it getting dark. I knew it was March I just googled and got a whole table of sunrise and sunset times through the year for London. Also gave another of my characters bed bugs and wanted to see what bed bug bites loOk like and how they feel...again, I googled the question and got the response straight away, which allowed me to carry on writing the piece I was working on to completion, without getting too side tracked.


This city can get to you

The humidity and constant din of heavy traffic is sometimes making me want to scream. Went to tango milonga Saturday night - inc the pre class...had a few tandas but didnt feel very inspired by the music, atmosphere and again the "preciousness" that seems all pevading. On sunday started writing a new chapter- I am trying to show a kind side to Almir, that he isnt just a victim - and continued with it last night for 3 hours. 2/3 done...want to finish today if I can. H is calling me to do the washing up. The love travails of our landlord and his boy continue...currently they are menu del dia but tomorrow it could be all off again.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Its a hard slog/Can anyone help?

When I started my blog about writing a novel I thought I'd picked a cheesey title but evolution is the best way I can think of to describe the process. You have a plan, get to point "x" but enroute discover something that takes you on another journey. Its a bit like embarking on a longhaul motorway trip youve never done before. You have an idea of the route and how long it will take but you cant be sure until you actually get on the road. The tutorials are like stopping for refreshment breaks!And when I get going again after each one I tend to see things on another level than the section of the journey that came before.

I have Almir nailed now but not quite Roland - well, his core character yes, I have that but I need more work to understand how his personality plays out in his relationship with this significant others - namely Almir and also his 12 year old daughter Jade...these scenes I am re writing many times..which is both intersting and a chore I sometimes dont want to do it but it does seem to be bringing Roland more to life as a real person. But its hard slog!

ps a long shot this - but do any of you out there who may be reading this know of/have any contacts with the U.N. - I need to check something about Kosovo in 200O/2001...which I have drawn a blank with on the internet. I really need to talk to someone with insider knowledge...IF ANYONE CAN HELP DROP ME AN EMAIL. Thanks.


Thursday, 27 January 2011

I found a way in...

to the milongas. GO TO THE CLASS BEFORE THE MILONGA. Even though its very mixed levels its a way to chat to other people and get your first tanda of the night when the milonga starts. I did this at La Marshall last night and had a great time...dancing with atleast 3 difersnt partners,following and leading. Got home not too late ,,,just before 2am but neither H or I slept much because of the humidity and the noise. Our bedroom is at the front of the flat on a main bus route. The buses are diesel and LOUD. Have a private lesson at 6pm..want to go onto a milonga class after will need to go back to bed this afternoon.

As I said - re my novel - lots to think about and to do. Just when you think youve seen the summit, down come the clouds! But its all positive. I need to carry on with my writing routine and stick with the plan and I will get there. As I read somewhere recently - writing a novel is not a linear process. The title of my blog "Evolution of my Novel" might be cheesey but it is apt!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

There is still MUCH to do

Had my tutorial with mentor today. The scenes with Almir got the thumbs up , but the stuff with Roland and Jade needs reworking... will pick just two scenes over their weekend together and focus on these to try to bring out the nuances and depth in the relationship between father and daughter. Also I need to look at writing a few more scenes and the backdrop thread of the Two Royal deaths of earlY 2002 followed by the Golden Jubilee needs to be weaved in a bit more - but overall GOOD! What I must do is research again the situation in Kosovo in 2000/2001 so that I get Almirs new begining arrived at in a way which is 100% plausible. I need to speak with someone from the UN side who was involved/was there at this time. A challengebut am on the case already.

Humid again here today... had a 50/50 private tango lesson this afternoon with Lore - almost broke down and was preparing myself to give up in the first half...then in the second half I really proved to myself that I can dance and have it in me to improve to another level. Will try the class at La Marshall tonight as a way to try to break into the milonga that follows.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

No water or emails - I feel abandoned!

Just when we want to use the loo and take a shower(think 34degress and humid all night) the water supply has been cut . It could be something to do with the mini niagra flowing down the lift shaft yesterday). Also just spent an expensive 30minutes on my mobile to claranet in London trying to sort out why I can now not send emails. Yesterday I could send but not recieve! Gave up after not getting anywhere! So - in despartion have phoned my pc support in London to see if they can help via remotely accessing my laptop. Going out to the botanical gardens now...its stiffling in the flat and I cant really do mch work without emails. Having a day off from writing - tutorial tomorow(oh, errr)...out to tango class with Javier at Salon Canning this evenning and then Tango queer MILONGA AROUND 11pm. Hope I can shower before I go out!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Gypy guts are back!

After celebrating four days of passing solid fuel both H and I have got the shits again...a very hot and humid day today. I ve been trying to forget about tango as had such a difficult week at milongas which sapped my self confidence. After breakfast I Skyped a friend who is making a documentary film in Afganistan . There its freezing.He seems unconcerned about the safety thing of being in such a place.

I gave up trying to plough on with London Tryptiche - I could guess the end of each story anyway. No surprises there! Back to Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin tonight.

Wrote for a couple of hours from noon until 2pm and again this evening from 7 until 930pm and completed another chapter which Ive just uploaded for typing. I've asked Emma if I can squeeze it into my tutorial on Wednesday with my other new material.

This afternoon H and I took a cab to visit a couple of museums in La Boca.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

An unsatisfying read

Got stuck into a new book yesterday - a day off from everything - after I had a massage. London Tryptich by Jonathan Kemp started off very promising. Entichng pretty pictures on the cover and an intrugues set up - 3 stories told from 1st person pov in three different historical periods 1894, 1954 and 1998. It got into the period feel of 1894 immeadiately and skipped forward reading these episodes in advance of the others - then went back and re read it all chronologically BUT after a good opening the novel falls down on its face in my opinion. It relies almost entirely on exposition - its all told and very little at all is shown and falls into gay cliche and stereotyping. The 1998 section comprises mostly the character from this period recounting in details his arrival and adventures on the London gay scene - very rapidly - in 1986 - which I found confusing. Its down under the device of a letter to lover who the character is "confessing" this past to now - why I am not sure. But I soon lost interest. There is period interest but the actual charcters seem mostly stock and the endless description becomes irritating. I dont know if I can bare to go on reading. And this novel - a first novel - is described by Time Out as "A thoughly absorbing and pacy read...a fresh angle on gay life and the oldest profession"- WELL - I dont see much at all fresh about it. No where up to the literally prowess of Hollinghurst or White (Hotel d' Dream). But I suppose it depends how deep you are aiming- or how surface level. It also got a mention in the Times Literary Supplement.Not that its bad but just a predictable and for me ultimately unsatisfying read. Lesson in that.

It took me two hours to complet the first paragraph(1/2 a page) of a new chapter this morning and 3 hours to reach 500 words and its still no quite right. But I want to complete this new chapter by Tuesday if I can. Out to try practice tango at Nino Bien this afternoon. Dont want to return to the unfriendly class in Abasto. Plan to try a differnt class on monday night instead - alongside the Tuesday class at Salon Canning which I like.
1/2 an hour skype with my sis in Norwich, U.K. this morning after breakfast. Incredible how you can now link up around the world for peanuts. How technology is is moving so fast and becomming so acessible.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Had lots of support(but have had to redo the ironing)

Loads of supportive emails and advice from people Ive now meet here,after a difficult tango week of dissapointig milonga attendances. I have danced but its not been as much or as satisfying as I want it to be. It was affecting my self confidence. Turns out its always like this for us foreigners. I have to just stick at it. Am determined to not let this exclusive attitde beat me. Another challenge.
Will begin writing again this morning. Had an early night(11.30pm!) yesterday for the first time in a week, so am up early for yoga which is good. Off to make myself some green tea now.
The crap cleaner is doing the flat again today. Cleaners here are something else. They seem to spend hours waving a rag around at dust will little effect. They like to dance around with headphones on! We gave her some ironing - paid extra - and I had to do it all again myself when she'd gone!
NoT a patch of our wonderful housekeeper in Walthamstow - Elaine.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Welcome to a new follower

Hi Marc! Great that youve decided to follow my journey to master and enjoy dancing tango - which - as you will by now have gathered is linked into my life alongside my other passion - writing fiction. If you are at all interested - I have a short story(creative non - fiction) posted on its called Return to the House of Tango - you can see how I got started with both Tango and writing.
Picked up new pair of tailor made tango shoes after my lesson this evenning. Having a rest and dinner then off out to La Marshall around 11ish ...last night at Tango Queer had 4 tandas -1st with a nice young guy who'd only had 4 lessons - we just walked to the music, some of my favorite tunes(early 40's), then a woman who said she was also a beginner - tried a bit more - so so - but ALL VERY AMICABLE, THEN ANOTHER YOUNG GUY..SAME LEVEL AS THE WOMAN - BUT NICE CLOSE EMBRACE ...then...was led by a woman who is advanced and teaches here...LOVED following!!! I still would like to have the valium handy before I go into any milonga here though!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

completed another chapter today...probably 1200words

,so shortish but hopeful to the point. It took six hours to write - split over 2 sesions. The scene shows Almir and Roland in bed after their 3rd time having had sex together. I want to show how each, but especiallty Roland, is becomming a little more curious about the other and a little bolder in his familiarity. This early time in a relationship - when the sex is still "hot" but when you still dont know what really makes the other person tick, is what I wanted to write about. Will see what Emma thinks with what Ive done.
Off to Salon Canning this evenning for a local tango class - the same one I went to last week...then around 11pm off to Tango Queer to practice(I can feel my nerves beginning to shake already!)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Tango tears and all that...

Tango here is daunting! Going out to huge crowded milongas and not knowing a soul. But yesterday I had a bad experience in one of the classes I had started to attend which really threw me - I felt I was being completely cold shouldered by the local students who all semed to know one another and ignore me. Two of them attended the same milonga I went to in the week - guess what - they blanked me there too. How can I be expected to dance passionately with someone who has no interst what so ever in trying to make any connection with me. I walked out of the class saying how I didnt feel comfortable there - and went on a downer...H - my wonderfully patient, long suffering and suppotive H,took me to the pictures instead to see The Fokers - which was absolutely the right antidote to my mood. It was really funny.

Worked this morning for a couple of hours typing up and refining my revised chapter outline/plot.Want to begin the re write now. Will start in the morning in earnest! Today it poured down with rain, which H and I watched over lunch from the cafe Josphine down the road . then we hopped ino cab to the modern art museum where we also saw old film based on a Stephan Zweig story in the museum cinema.We walked back to the flat in Recoleta.Gustavo, our host , has managed atlast to get us onto the internet at the flat - so have been catching up wth wrk emails this evenning and paying bills. Its humid again now.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A panic followed by feeling of exhilaration

When I sat down this morning at my desk to begin the complete re write I freaked out , noT knowing how to start. I panicked and called my mentor and left a rather anguished message. But then I made myself sit and think about the plot again and after 2 hours produced a re reviewed plot/chapter outline which actually seemed to nail it all rather well. I felt excited and exhilarated. The emotional ups and downs of writing a novel!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


all the words written here in Buenos Aires so far this afternoon. Pleased with the chapter I 've done with Roland and his 11 year old daughter staying over but wil see what Emma says in my tutorial on26th (via SKYPE!)Tango leson this afternoon and out to La Marshal tonight . Will be brave a ask strangers to dance with me...oh,

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Another chapter completed

after 3 more hours writing this morning. Off to another tango clas this evenning then back for a rest and something to eat at the flat before Queer Tango Milonga at 11pm

Monday, 10 January 2011

On gypy guts,going out to far off milongas and other things

Both H and I have had dodgy guts since our arrival - it comes and goes - it's definately comming right now and I will have to run off to the toilet...oohhh...errr...mission acomplished. Have been to a local tango class and also last night paid for a taxi partner to take me to a milonga as its so daunting to finfd a way in to the scene. This worked well actually and have arranged to meet him at Tango ueer on Tuesday at 11pm.

Writing is going well...did 3 hours this morning, on a 3rd new chapter since our arrival, though only completed just about 600 words. This is about my mark though when beginning a new scene from scratch . Once I'm in the writing comes quicker usually so tomorrow I hope to get half ay in and may be even complete this scene.

Friday, 7 January 2011

In a flat in Recoleta next to the cemetery

...sharing with the owner who does massage and ...colonic irrigation! But the flat nice and I have a workroom to write and for us to do yoga. Have had a few stres ful days without the NET as the system in the falt is down. Have found a local cafe in lieu. Finsihed the new chapter Ive been working on yesterday. Will begin another today . Have had 3 private tango lessons this week with Lorena - all good- les sucesful out at the two milonga but I picked complete beginners as partners. Mike - something else to make you smile if you are reading this - the flat owners user profile for wifi is "Adolfo Hitler"...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

(almost)naked writing

managed yesterday afternoon to write for a little over 2 hours - almost naked in the 34degree heat - new chapter begun - completed approx 6oo words...will continue this afternoon. Thought I had got heat stroke yesterday after we wondered about like mad dogs the mid day sun.Went to first milonga last night with H and 2 other non dancers from our b and was predictably a disaster...I picked the only guy sitting alone and went and asked him for a dance. Turned out he'd was virtually a complete beginner. It was not good. But he was graciuos and polite. I lost my confidence after that as everyone else seemed to be sitting in couples or groups. Still...3 months of pracice left!