Monday, 20 July 2015

A local writing group for local people

We met at Tony's on Monday 13 July.

Annie is continuing to work on her children's poetry and has spent a picture-book-writing day with her Proper Writing Group.

Tony has been invited by Persephone Books to review one of their books on his blog. He has submitted three short stories to Popshot magazine and he's also planning to write a proposal for a book based on his research on wellbeing and mental health.

I have been revising the final two chapters of Karl Marx and Careful Driving. I was able to report that I have done two talks on the cycle-ride to Beijing: to Bromsgrove Motorcycle Club (Monday 7 July) and to Leominster Vintage Club (Wednesday 9 July), selling respectively thirteen and seven copies of 'Why Don't You Fly?'  

Linda has been working on a new book, provisionally titled Chelsea Beach. She will be entering A Head Full of Budgerigars in Mslexia's women's novel-writing competition.

Rob, who has been heavily involved in organising Bewdley Book Week, test-reading the manuscript of Karl Marx and Careful Driving and landscaping his garden, has been invited to three local reading groups to talk about his latest novel Out of such Darkness. I don't know how he finds the time, even in retirement.

The submission was from Rob's novel-in-progress The Petrified Fountain. Our hero flies out to Lisbon to meet a cousin he has traced through a private investigator. The descriptions of the city are testimony to the week the author spent wandering Lisbon's streets earlier this year specifically for the purposes of research.  We all enjoyed Rob's development of the fastidious narrator (a man, he assured us, who would absolutely have said 'quotidian' rather than 'daily') and the introduction of Luis Fonseca, the chain-smoking cousin who happens to be a private investigator himself. Tony remarked that Cross's meeting with his cousin in a dingy, smoke-filled office was evocative of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and wondered if it was for real or a parody.

As with all first drafts there was the odd typo to point out and the syntax was occasionally a little clumsy. Annie felt occasionally that the descriptions of Lisbon sounded a little too like a guide book and Linda was of the opinion that Rob might have added more of the city's sounds and smells. Writing convincing dialogue spoken by foreigners is a minefield. Given that Fonseca professed himself to be bi-lingual, I was concerned that Rob's efforts to make him sound foreign in the passages of dialogue might be misconstrued by some readers as poor writing. Rob countered that since the claim to be bilingual was Fonseca's alone, the faintly stilted English was a joke - but in my opinion one a little too subtle for the majority of readers to pick up (had the English been truly awful we'd have got it).

Cross dons neatly-pressed tan chinos and a plain Hawaiian shirt for the meeting with Fonseca. 'Plain Hawaiian shirt? Oxymoron!' we jeered, almost in unison. Not so. Plain Hwaiian shirts, we were reliably informed, can be bought on the internet.

Finally we discussed whether to use further or farther and complexion or complection. All spellings are permissible but farther is used exclusively for distances.

The next meeting is at 7.45 pm on Monday 27 July at Annie's. Linda will be submitting. Now I really must go and book those tickets for Bewdley Book Week.

Blog posted by Chris.

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