November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those of you who aren’t writers). This is where people drive themselves mad trying to produce 50,000 words in 30 days – and I’m going to be one of them.
I think the main reasons for doing it are the attraction of being involved in something that other writers are doing - as opposed to always working solo - and the discipline and challenge of trying to get a novel - or at least a workable manuscript - out in 30 days.
It was the first meeting of our regional NaNo group the other night. Apparently there isn’t an official collective noun for a group of writers. Maybe this is because writing is a solitary business and too few writers come together too infrequently.
Based on that meeting though I’d suggest something along the lines of an “energy of writers”. I know it seems totally incongruous but it was the first time I’d ever seen a group of writers being so enthusiastic (and loud) about writing and being a writer. On the few occasions in the past when I’ve been in the company of other writers we’ve always been very subdued and almost apologetic about what we do.
The idea of an e-book collection of short stories has grown rapidly. I now have a finished manuscript complete with a cover. There’s a bit of reformatting needed but the plan is to upload the book, to be called Shades of Imagination, for sale through Amazon in early December.
The main purpose of this blog is to showcase my writing. So, in closing, here are the opening paragraphs of a handful of the stories that are in the book.
The grey bulk of the flats dominates my view. The building is a leech. It bleeds the colour from everything around it. The sky is grey. The burnt out Cortina in the parking area is grey. Even the children playing inside the car’s husk have a grey tinge to their clothes, and skin. The scene reminds me of old black and white TV programmes – but without the detached feeling of comfort and safety.
It is a shock for me to realise that people still live this way. The whole estate belongs to a darker, dirtier world. One that I fled long ago – never expecting to return.
The infant sun which had, a few minutes earlier, slipped across the window sill, now kissed the edge of the table. Steve Clark watched as the pool of light spread relentlessly across the polished oak surface, chasing away the last of night's shadows. He felt the fresh warmth of the new day as the light lapped at the tips of his fingers.
Thanks to satellite television, Johnny Harper could place a bet at almost any hour of the day. Thanks to satellite television, Johnny Harper was down to his last fiver, plus loose change.
Curtain twitchers of the world unite - and come to
Chestnut Avenue. Is that really fair? Probably not. It's been so long since I was last here, most of the busy bodies will be long dead by now. Either that or too frail to lurk behind their veils of lace, keeping watch on the street. The new occupants beyond those netted windows won't know me - and care even less who I am. To them I'm just another stranger using their street as a short cut.
Shadows fear light. They avoid it at all costs, as if conscious of flaws that would be displayed for all to see. They are timid; seeking only the company of their own kind: shunning contact with other forms - unless it is dark, unless it is quiet, unless they are alone.
Unless they become curious.
The weather seemed determined to make my first visit to
an unpleasant one. Bloated clouds, too heavy for the sky, sagged against rooftops, leeching colour from the walls. A skittish wind chased the debris of city life along the pavement like a terrier after a rabbit. Stray pages from a broadsheet wrapped themselves around my leg as I emerged from the tube station for my first glimpse at the city. Peeling away the damp newspaper, I headed for the nearest litter bin. Then I saw the advertisement’s catch line. London
A hand of spray slapped down over the men in the landing craft. It soaked them through: but did nothing to dilute the smell of fear. That was a smell Albert Barnes knew all too well. He had first known it four years ago, as he lay amongst a tangle of men, on the deck of the little pleasure steamer that had plucked him from the sea at Dunkirk. It was a unique smell, personal and honest. It scythed through bravado and stripped a man of his dignity: but in his naked frailty, it brought him closer to his comrades.