Over the past months in lockdown, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with several writers via video. One of them also writes for Authors Electric — the lovely Bill Kirton. We’ve known each other nearly a decade through our stories and have collaborated on numerous flash fiction pieces. He’s responsible for my joining this esteemed group. This past week, we’ve been writing another story together. We boldly write in an unconventional method. It's served us well, given we've created nearly a dozen joint stories! If you wish to know more about how we write, feel free to hop over to Bill’s website to learn more.
This post, however, is not about our writing process, but about how working with Bill has contributed to my use of words. I’ve always felt that the fewer the words I need to say something, the better, that compression makes my stories more powerful for the reader. Why tell a story in a hundred words, when I can do it in fifty? Economy of words. We’ve all been in the presence of…
As I get older, I realise, as I’m sure we all do, that our biggest battles tend to be with ourselves. I am not going to run myself down ( I’ve given that up.) There are some things I do easily and well, but my kindest supporter would have to admit that I am not a person who keeps track of things I don't care about. I can rarely find a matching pair of socks, am as likely to have five new tubes of toothpaste as none and have run out of space for notebooks I never use. I am a restless kind of writer, inclined to get excited by something new only to abandon it for a better idea. Anyway, the upshot of this character flaw is that I don't keep track of my own writing very efficiently. (Don't worry I am very efficient with other people's) Last week, I found a whole cache of poems I'd forgotten I’d written and I’ve lost count of novels I have written but done nothing with, or ideas I have come up with but never worked on. My main problem is that once I have wr…
Perhaps this is a lockdown experience or perhaps it’s a
reversion to earlier ways of living and working. We, like so many other
families, find ourselves working from home, each in our separate
spaces. Bertie’s in the attic, laying-out books with Indesign; Francis
somewhere downstairs trying to find the right angle of physical endurance for
solid hours of Private Eye deadlines
and me … well, to be honest, I’m most characteristically surrounded by WW2
naval memoirs, copies of Lloyd’s Registers and overflowing scribbled papers … in
bed. Together with my faithful laptop, miraculously fact-checking and emailing,
tweeting and posting. Thus Golden Duck (UK) ltd keeps busy.
One of my favourite Margery Allingham novels Flowers for the Judge (1936) tells the
story of Barnabas and company, publishers since 1810 at the Sign of the Golden
Quiver. It’s a perfect setting for a classic murder mystery: an enclosed location,
limited number of suspects, distinctive atmosphere, range of possible motives…
for this month's post my paintings ok?" I got this sudden WhatsApp text
one evening, earlier this month. It was sent from my dad's phone. The sender
was in the drawing room and I was in the bedroom - a mighty distance of -----
meters separating us! This is
her latest excitement: sending me texts from a different room, using Baba's
phone - "I am hungry"; "When will you have your tea"?;
"How am I looking here (in a selfie)"? Since I am trying to restrict
her screen time on my mobile, she has now caught hold of Baba’s. It actually
works out far better for her: since he doesn't know what to do with it beyond
phone calls, she has all the space in the world for taking selfies and typing
texts to her heart's content. I don't
indulge this habit of hers a lot, but it was a commission I couldn't ignore,
especially as it was made way in advance! What follows is a photo essay of the
artist's latest creations!
What is your personal mask policy this summer? The official advice keeps changing, and will probably have changed again by the time you read this, but at the moment masks seem to be compulsory on public transport in England, and also in some shops, cafes and bars should you choose to get a bit closer to people - although you can presumably take yours off to order drinks, devour a quick sandwich and catch up on gossip with the friends you haven't seen since March, or how will anyone ever do what they went to the cafe or pub or shop to do in the first place? And how will you survive a long train journey sitting next to a (masked) stranger? Forget snacks or drinks. Or actual conversation. In fact, why not spend the entire journey staring at covid statistics your phone?
I live in a seaside town and up to now haven't seen many masked people around - let's face it, a mask on the beach would leave you with a serious suntan line. But I have noticed a few older people wearing them…