High Jinks Ensue

Type 3 web

This is a very long post and I feel it says very little. I’m telling you this now so you don’t feel diminished later on. Really, I’ve read two books that left me feeling I’d lost something by reading them. This is only a blog post, but still…

There’s definitely something to be said for taking a long time to finish a book – ok, it depends on the book, taking years to write an Agatha Christie would be a bit much, not least because she’s already written them so there’s really no point.

Anyway, I’ve been writing the book I’m currently working on for what, until today, I felt was far too long. I actually don’t remember when I started! That exclamation mark is for dear Agatha, I think she got a job lot and wanted to get her money’s worth!

I remember when I first wrote the story. It began as a movie. Through a friend I made my first Hollywood connection with an agent. Said agent would be happy to look at my work. That I had never written a screenplay didn’t matter to me. I bought a copy of some movie, I don’t remember, it was twenty years ago. 

Copying the format, I wrote the greatest movie anyone had ever written. It was the story of a has-been movie star who, attempting to revive his career, put himself up as a prize in a competition. High jinks ensue.

It was turned down as not being high concept enough to take to a studio. A few years later I nearly threw up when Win a Date with Tad Hamilton was released. That does not mean my script was ripped off, I got the idea from Tony Curtis’ autobiography in which he wrote about the time he was a prize in a competition, and, if memory serves, had to go and live with a family for two weeks.

Well, that Hollywood dream fell apart when the agent fell out with the person who had put me in touch, and I was released back into the wild.

But what I wanted to tell you about is the value of taking your time when writing. I wrote many different versions of that movie script, and even published one through Createspace. I think it even sold a copy, although many more people downloaded it for free. Sometime ago I started to turn it into a standard novel and I’m currently on the third draft.

Working on it tonight, I found myself analyzing each sentence as if it were poetry, while at the same time searching for the truth of the character. That’s not to say I didn’t do the best job I could with the books I have already out, but there’s something very satisfying about simply sitting there and looking at a sentence  that zings! (Dear Agatha) 

I don’t know how many more drafts before it’s finished, but I’m looking forward to writing them. Who knows, by the time it’s finished, I might even be able to play the violin I currently can’t even get to stay in tune.

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Forty Shades of Green

 

Here’s a snippet from the book I’m currently working on.

In 1972 Paul Lavin had been a hippy in a tweed suit, just out of teacher training school; his first job was in Frank’s school. He introduced his students to pomegranates, Georges Braque and the beauty of silent movies. He challenged them to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem, reminding the class that they had probably greater knowledge of mathematics than Fermat. He showed them films of the great museums, and sometimes fell asleep during them, (he wasn’t a fan of museums, but thought it would be good for the kids to see something of the world beyond their small Irish town.) This changed one day when panic in the classroom woke him up. For a moment he looked in confusion at the flames in the projector before realising what had happened. He picked up a magazine and walked quickly to the projector, issuing orders as he went. ‘Martin, lights. Francie, windows.’ As the room filled with light and air, Mr. Lavin took his jacket off and threw it over the burning projector. He closed the jacket around the flames to kill them.

The classroom door flew open and the principal, a grumpy-looking old man whom everybody hated, (he was one of those people who become teachers because of the authority it gives them), stood there taking everything in. He stepped into the room, barking, ‘What’s going on here?’

Martin looked up at him, ‘Sir, the projector went on fire, sir.’

‘Did I ask you?’

‘It just overheated. It’s ok,’ Mr. Lavin said.

The principal looked at Mr. Lavin, wondering if this would be a good way to get rid of him.

‘It’s ok,’ Mr. Lavin said again. ‘No harm done.’