Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cally Phillips has GONE FISHING.



Cally Phillips has gone fishing. If you want to read HER story on the reasons why you’ll have to click HERE  In her absence, Jack MacRoary is filling in the gap/s. Some of you may already know Jack, if you don’t, you’re in for a real treat!

We had an author visit recently. Yes, a real author came to TattyBogle Primary. Her name was Cally Phillips. It’s the last big and exciting thing that’s likely to happen to me till I move up to DrumTumshie Academy after the summer. And the author talked to us a lot about writing but mostly said that she wanted us to write something ourselves. So we did. She said to write about something that was important to us. And me, I like fishing. Even better than writing.  So I wrote my story which you can read in a minute.

But first I should explain how I got my inspiration. Because the author talked to us about inspiration. About where we get our ideas from. She made a joke and said that often people ask her this and she just says ‘I get them from IdeasRUs shop.’  Because she told us that ideas are all around. We are having them all the time. The only thing you have to do is choose which idea you want to write about. Sometimes even someone being mean to you can give you a good idea.  But mostly she said it’s important that you choose an idea with legs. That worried me at the beginning because my story is about fish, and they don’t have legs.  But she told me not to worry because once she read my story she said it wasn’t just about fish, but about lots of other things too. I asked what and she said, well, it could be an analogy for publishing actually, as well as other things. What it means depends on what the reader ‘gets’ from it as well as what you write about. 
So if I tell you where I got my inspiration from, I think it means you can choose your own legs. How cool is that? I wouldn’t choose my brother John’s legs. They are longer than mine but very hairy and his feet are smelly. John’s legs wouldn’t give anyone inspiration.
We were sitting round the dinner table at home like we always do and my mum and dad were talking about the news.  About Bulgarians coming into the country soon and taking everyone’s jobs.
‘All been said before,’ dad said, ‘The Asians,  the Polish, they all get the same xenophobic rubbish, but they all come and do jobs no one else wants to do and why shouldn’t they move here. I’d move to Canada in a heartbeat if they’d have me.’
I didn’t know if he wanted to move with us or without us, and I was still reeling from the fact that my dad said so much all at one time and used such a long word, starting with an x as well. I mean, how many farmers know long words beginning with x?  My dad’s a dark horse. That’s what writers call a figure of speech because actually he keeps cows and sheep not horses. And my mum has a pig called Micro we bought her which ate her Kindle, but that’s another story.
My mum was obviously impressed by my dad’s speech (which is probably why he did it, trying to keep up with my mum’s new found level of culture which she’s learned through her reading group who we call the Kindle Cronies) and she picked up on the ‘x’ word too.
‘Xenophobia’s an ugly word,’ my mum said.
It’s also a very difficult word to spell, and that’s why I thought I’d write about racism instead.
Dad just went back to his chips, happy that he’d had his say and impressed my mum. She’s a hard woman to impress, my mum.  Maybe that’s why we all try so hard to do it.  It was trying to impress my mum that got me being a writer in the first place as you’ll know if you’ve read my ebooks Tales from TattyBogle and More Tales from TattyBogle. (You have to do that if you’re an author – mention your works when you get the chance!) The author on our author visit told us that. It’s called promotion. My mum loves promotion. I’m not so sure.

So anyway, when I sat down to my story, I thought, I’ll write about racism. That’ll impress mum.  But just writing that racism is bad isn’t an idea with legs. Even I know that.  And I like writing about fish. Because I like fishing.  And if you want to be good at fishing you have to learn to think like a fish – that’s what my dad told me. So I decided to use an allegory, like the author told us. Because she told us that many stories have other stories inside them. Like Jonah and the Whale. Or sharks and mackerel.  Or… well you get my drift.  Stories can have morals – which doesn’t mean they are religious, it just means that they have a point rather than just a plot.  And I wanted to throw everything I could at my story to give it legs so I thought having a point would be a good thing to do.  So that’s what I did. My story is called The trout who dreamed of being a salmon.  My brother John said I should subtitle it ‘a fishy tale.’ But I’m not so sure.  He said it would give it more mystery. I’m not trying to write mystery though. I was just trying to write a story about fish with legs. Oh, that didn’t come out quite right. Never mind.

This is me. Visiting a castle. 
The really exciting thing that happened was that the author liked my story so much she wanted to go fishing with me.  And she said that so that she could take the time off work, I could post my story on the Authors Electric Blogsite as a guest, on her behalf. So that’s what we’ve done. So by the time you read this, we’ll have gone fishing.

The trout who dreamed of being a salmon.

Once upon a time (though this isn’t a fairy story) in a small river in Scotland there was a trout. There were lots of trout in the river actually but this trout was special. This trout dreamed of being a salmon. Most of the other trout were quite happy being trout.  Happy just swimming around in the river and finding good pools to rest up in when the weather was too hot or cold to make swimming around after something to eat any fun.
Our little trout wasn’t happy though. He’d heard stories. He’d heard about trout who went out to sea. Who had adventures. He thought an adventure sounded like a good thing to have. And as he swam around his family pool he watched the salmon fight their way back up the river and wished he was a salmon too. Yes, he could see that they brash and boisterous but he also thought they were brave and beautiful and he so wanted to be a salmon. The trout he lived with were calm and quiet and just lived their lives being trout ‘the way trout were meant to be’. They had no more ambition in life than having enough flies and insects to eat and avoiding being eaten by an otter or caught by a fisherman. The other trout knew their place in the food chain. They knew that otters and fishermen like salmon more than trout so as long as they were trout they could probably have a long and happy life in the pools and swimming around in the river without all the ‘adventure’ that the boisterous salmon preferred.  But in spite of the sense and reason of his trout family, to our little trout the salmon still looked brave and bright and he so wished he could be a salmon just like them.
The little trout knew that while he could swim around in the river snacking to his heart’s content, the salmon, when they came rushing back up river, didn’t eat at all, not all the way to the spawning grounds or all the way back to the sea, and he thought it wouldn’t be fun to be that hungry all the time. But it was a sacrifice he was willing to make because something in him yearned so strongly to be a salmon.
So when the salmon went down the river to the sea, he went with them. He had heard that there were other trout who had tried this before.  Not that the trout at home liked to talk about them. They called them ‘sea’ trout.  It was a term of abuse.  But our little trout ignored all the warnings. He took off down the river towards the sea with the salmon. He had many adventures and was buffeted around a lot in the sea and he was quite frightened a lot of the time. Actually most of the time he was at sea he wished he was back in the calm pool with his friends and family, feeding on flies.  But he stuck with it. After all, he was going to be a salmon now. King of fish.
And when it came time for the salmon to come back up the river again, our little trout came with them. Of course he was a bit stronger, a bit more river savvy than he’d been on his way downstream.  He fought his way up with the best of them. But when he came to his family pool, he decided to stop for a while and catch up with his friends.  He was hungry and he just wanted to stop and have a snack with his friends in his favourite pool.  And he wanted them to see that he’d become a salmon and to be impressed by his tales of adventures on the high seas. So he stopped. But instead of being impressed by his tales, they just jeered at him and called him ‘sea trout.’ 
‘I’m not a sea trout,’ he said, ‘I’m a salmon. I’ve swum down the river and been to sea with the salmon and I’ve come back up the river so now I’m a salmon, like all the rest.’
And the young trout laughed and the older trout smiled and the oldest trout who had the greatest wisdom, and who had evaded both otter and fisherman for many, many years said,
‘Once a trout always a trout. I’ve got nothing against salmon, young trout, but going to sea does not make you a salmon. Now you’ve been to sea you are a sea trout. You’ve had the salt water in your gills and the river will never be a place of comfort to you again.  You’ve given up the peace of the pool for the rush of the ocean. But you are not a salmon. You will never be a salmon. A trout you were born and a trout you will die.  And that’s all there is to it.’
And the trout looked at himself and realised that he’d been very stupid. There was nothing wrong with his life in the river or the pool. But he’d lost it because he’d wanted to be something he never could be and in the process he’d become something he didn’t want to be. And there was no going back.   That’s the end of my story except to tell you the moral. And the moral of the story is that you should be happy to be what you are and not try to be what you’re not.

The author said what she particularly liked about this story was the analogy it gave to publishing.  I didn’t really understand that till she explained to me that mainstream publishing is like the salmon, and small independent writers are like trout and that there are some writers who dream of being salmon and even behave like salmon, but then they find that they have just turned into sea trout and they are sneered at by the salmon and shunned by the trout.  

5 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

Brilliant, Jack. Loved the story (and its layers) and glad you found the author's visit so useful. I hope you'll hang around AE. Actually, one bit of what you said reminded me of a character in Spike Milligan's Puckoon who sits in the sun, looks at his legs and complains that they're rubbish and that the writer 'doesn't write very good legs'. I hope you and Cally are enjoying the fishing.

Dennis Hamley said...

Lovely story, Jack - or may I call you Cally? The analogy with publishing works beautifully. It makes an interesting comparison with Nick's post yesterday. Jack, don't let this be your last AE blog and Cally, PLEASE STAY WITH US.

Chris Longmuir said...

I really enjoyed your story Jack/Cally, and I promise to stay a trout.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Oh I love this. Helps me a lot on a very very difficult day!

Jan Needle said...

in puckoon, the writer promises to develop the hero's legs with the plot. another fine insight into the process of fiction and development. ruddy hell! philosophy...
great tale, jack.