Well, my dears – you may have spotted that whereas I used to blog every day like clockwork, since I moved I am not doing so. This is not just because of Sorting Everything Out, it is because I have decided to blog only when I have something I really waant to say. Hence the stuff about Mark last week. This is still going on, of course, but since I have nothing really new to say about it I have not blogged any more. I’m sure I will come back to it, but at the moment things are sluggishly moving on and slowly digesting so there’s nothing new to report.
But! in other news, I have had an acceptance! This is the thing I wrote about twenty years ago which has been sent back, redacted, resubmitted, sent back again, buried in soft peat, reconfigured, cut, pasted, cut, cut and cut again – and submitted once more with the swearing of an oath that if they didn’t accept it THIS time it would be burnt. (And burning a pen-drive is not pretty, let me tell you that.)
But they accepted it, thank god – although they’re going to do a little pruning of their own because apparently readers can’t cope with quotes of more than a line and a half from the original text (FFS) and so it will be appearing on the Thresholds blog at some point in the near future. Thresholds is a group of writers who focus exclusively on the short story, and my piece was about a collection of stories entitled ‘Ideas above our Station’, of which, by the time I’d finished, I was heartily sick, as was the library of my continually renewing and re-requesting it.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print – except that I found out that some of the original limericks (ie pre-dating Edward Lear) were utterly disgusting. No, I’m not going to reproduce them. I couldn’t possibly…
PS Oh, and all our furniture has now gone – to a lovely and very appreciative couple who might be interested in buying our old house. How weird would that be?
I wrote a condensed 100-word revision of Sunday’s story to send off to a free competition (see extra post yesterday). So today I shall be working on my review of Ideas Above Our Station short story collection, also the Memoir of Forgetting; plus I have a poetry collection to send off.
Philosophy yesterday fizzed with excitement, everyone batting ideas to and fro like a dozen simultaneous games of ping-pong: I, however, was stuck in brain-fog in the Land of Having a Cold and did not contribute much. We are still on Descartes and I was impressed to see that Penny had brought an edition of the Pensees in French. I would have liked to study it, but sadly there wasn’t time – although we did consult it for the original meaning of a particular word.
Descartes says that animals are basically machines and don’t think; ie they don’t have a ‘mind’ or a ‘soul’. Nowadays we would dispute at least part of that and say that animals – some animals – exhibit emotion. They show fear or happiness; they exhibit care for one another and some species even show signs of grief when one of them dies.
But! back to the short story and I am listening to a podcast about the craft of short-story writing:
Condense and be precise – that’s the motto for writing short stories.
It’s a library kinda week; I’m still waiting for my train to come so I can finish the review of ‘Ideas above our Station’, a train-based short story collection. I have submitted this twice now to Thresholds and they keep saying they like my style etc but could I just…? So I did just… – and now they’ve come back to me again saying, yes it’s better but couldn’t I just also…? Oh, and by the way I need to reduce the word-count. So they want more content but in fewer words.
* Sigh *
I guess this is pretty much par for the course, though. So to occupy me while I’m waiting for my train-book to arrive, I shall be going to the library to take part in the Crime Group, where we will be discussing Rod Duncan’s book, ‘Backlash’. I shall be complaining that due to the sustained tension of the long final scene it kept me awake until 1 am. But to sustain me after that I am now reading the much gentler ‘Thrones, Dominations’ which is a sort of post-mortem mish-mash of a Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Begun by Dorothy L Sayers and completed by Jill Paton Walsh, it’s turning out to be an excellent read, and much better bed-time stuff than a high-octane chase through the back streets of Leicester. I shall post a full review when I’m finished.
And now I must away. The library beckons!
Yes, just like the couple themselves I decided to give ‘Burton and Taylor’ another go. I found the acting convinced me better than I had thought; it takes a while to get used to Helena B-C as Taylor and I was never quite sure about the accent, but the character was there. Similarly Burton emerged as a convincing version of the man himself. The trouble was that the more the programme went on, the more I remembered just how tedious the couple were in real life: how bored I got with the endless stories (his alcoholism, her drug-taking, the never-ending will-they-won’t-they? of their thrice-spliced relationship) I was bored to death with it all, so that in the end all this programme did was to remind me of just how tedious I had found them in real life. So I haven’t finished it. I may go back and watch the end but frankly, watching people squander their talents and behave like spoilt children has never been my favourite form of entertainment, whether in fiction or real life. Anyway, it’s still there if you want to watch it:
But today is supposed to be about book reviews: and at the moment I am finishing a review of ‘Ideas above our Station’, a short story collection, for Thresholds. The premise of the book is stories about railway journeys; however it is nothing of the sort and often the stories don’t involve journeys of any kind at all. Some are set in airports, some at motorway service stations and one – the most depressing but also my favourite – in an underground toilet where a woman has imprisoned herself after an abusive marriage. My second favourite, however, does take place on a train and is a kind of antidote to the first in that it tells the story of someone finding happiness by paying off the debt of a stranger. Ironically she is on her way to a conference to give a talk on ‘how to be happy’ and at the end she realises that all she needs to do is to tell this story; the story of what happened to her on the journey.
There’s some good writing in this collection. Uplifting it is not, but worth a read all the same: