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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paper Cups of Words

Almost Easter already and how much progress have my writing plans made? As far as the novel is concerned, they're still in the same place!

I'm waiting for further news, but not holding my breath. So far, the feedback is generally the same: the writing itself is all right, but there is no market for this book. It's a simple road trip: an English family in a car heading towards divided Berlin. In common with their destination, the car is filled with tension. There is a xenophobic grandmother, a father on the point of a nervous breakdown and even a brief appearance by a guinea-pig in a tutu. There is a Cold War, but no spies. Just a family spilling secrets and sharing sorrows. Plus some irreverent humour.

I enjoyed writing it more than I could ever describe and remain timidly hopeful, but definitely not expectant. That way, I won't be disappointed if it stays unpublished. (Who am I trying to kid?) Anyway, if I consign it to the What Might Have Been pile, it was still a wonderful trip.

In the meantime, I'm free to start the next one, for which I'm trying a different method. I've written the synopsis first this time, hoping to ensure the pace won't sag and the structure is sound. These are the main issues for me with writing novels, rather than short fiction. Juggling the comparatively enormous number of scenes and characters is quite overwhelming. I returned to short stories recently and enjoyed the novelty of a smaller cast. And having eight - instead of eighty - thousand words was blissful.

My short story news is going to wait for the next post, which hopefully won't take so long this time.

For some reason, I'm thinking about these lines from the Beatles' 'Across the Universe':

'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy...'

Not everything written is published. Some beautiful words might, at least for the present, 'slip away'. But setting one project aside doesn't diminish the continuing joy of words, nor does it pull the shutters down on anyone's writing dreams.

And I like the idea of a paper cup of words. It sounds like one of those strange gifts you can buy, some sort of writerly prompt perhaps.

Wishing everyone a very happy Easter and great success with all your writerly projects. xxx