Friday, 13 November 2009

Monologue - Not 42 - as promised

Not 42 by Rosemary Dun

So, I says to the girl in the shop – Excuse me. But I know my feet. And they are a size 8 - which is a European size 42. Or a US size 10 – if you're being really picky.
No, madam, she says. All hoity-toity. Which is a bit rich, as she looks like she's still at school – not much older than my Kate.
We don't stock size 42. Because that's a size 9, and we only go up to a 41 – which is size 8, she says with a little smile.
But I won't be mollified by her shop-trained niceties and her Have-A-Nice-Day's. Oh no.
Size 41 is most definitely not an 8, I insist. That's a size 7.
C'mon Mum, says Kate, clearly embarrassed. All size 40 or 6 ½ of her. She'll never have to worry about them altering her shoe size without a by-your-leave. No. She's got average feet. But when you have big clod-hoppers like mine - well, it's upsetting when some EU Regulation goes and sizes you out of the shoe-shop market. Completely.
In Doc Martens, I continue (and these are Doc Martens). An 8 is a 42. In Next shoes an' all, I add. And M&S, (for good measure).
By now I'm quite annoyed that all this re-sizing malarkey has turned me into a right shoe anorak. I like to see myself as cool. Even at my age.
Mu-u-u-um … says Kate. Tugging at my arm.
I know she wants to be off to Top Shop: but I've got the bit – or should I say, shoe – well and truly between my teeth.
I decide to employ sarcasm with this shop girl.
Right, I says. So what you're implying is that I've gone and forgotten what size shoe I take. Is that right? The girl looks about her for some moral support, but the other shop girls all appear to be looking the other way.
Maybe, I continue, you are right, and 20-odd years of wearing size 8 or size 42 shoes count for nothing beside your superior knowledge and experience. Hm?
The girl turns her back on me and talks into some kind of walkie talkie, while I stand my ground. Holding the purple suede shoe-boot I was hoping to try on, in my hand. I look at it. I mean. Shoe-boot. Whoever thought of that? And just who was it who came up with that name for what is essentially a cropped boot? Some of the other shoe-boots on display have their heels and toes cut out. They remind me of those funny shoes I saw in Eastern Europe the year the Berlin Wall came down. Before Yugoslavia split into two – or was that three? - and the Balkans war began. I dunno. Is this the price we have to pay for an extended EU membership? Re-sizing? (pause) And shoe-boots?
I went there travelling that year of 1989. With my American boyfriend Mark. I'd met him in LA when I was roller-skating along Venice beach. I loved those skates. Bought myself a pair to bring back to Bristol. For using up on the Durdham Downs. They've got paths up there. Still, they're not quite the same as a beachside promenade in La-la land. But fun, all the same.
Those skate-boots were an American size, of course. You had to get them one size bigger, for the white knee length socks you got to wear with them. I wore white short shorts too – with a red trim. Very Boogie Nights! So in the end those roller skates were actually an American size 11. Can you imagine? Size 11? I felt huge compared with those tiny American girls. Like some big lumbering Viking. This guy - in a boutique in Santa Monica - even asked me if I worked out. I just stared at him. No-one in England went to a gym back then. Not unless you happened to be a lady weight-lifter. Which I was not. Thank you very much.
Right. So there I am. In this shoe shop. In The Galleries. Thinking, I've had quite enough of this nonsense. I'm off. And without further ado, I turn on my size 42 heel in order to execute a dignified – if a tad bit flouncey - exit. When next thing I know, alarms are flashing, and that young shop girl floors me with a flying rugby tackle. As in my hand I'm still clutching that damn purple suede shoe-boot. Bloody EU.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Scripts and Lies

So, having written a couple of scripts in the past and not done anything with them, it was a pleasure to be asked by Crysse Morrison if I'd like to contribute to their evening of 5 minute monologues on the subject of shoes. Onf Wednesday 14th October 2010. Now, anyone who's seen my shoes will know - first off - that I have huge feet, and also because of this/ inspite of (?) I make them a feature!!! Also, as I'm so rushed/ busy/ procrastinating, a short piece really suited me.

So, my piece was all about me, shoes, big feet, and roller skating in LA. I'll probably post it in the next post.

The following day I went to a day's workshop called Pitch! at Bristol Old Vic. As I don't have a play I'm working on, when we got to the bit about writing a pitch, I chose to do my novel. Which was most enlightening!! And helped me to see just why I'm having so much trouble with my plot outline.

My lovely new agent wants me to tidy up my plot, lose characters, and basically do a rewrite. As I'm determined to get my novel published, and I know that she knows her stuff, this is what I'm doing. But, heck, it's tricky.

I've had a haitus in my novel writing due to having severe ME for 5 years or so, and what I've discovered in the 10 year (god, is it that long?) since I submitted my last novel to my then agent who has sadly died - was that it's a very different world.

Gone are the days of starting a novel and seeing where it went. Now one needs to plot plot, outline, map, and get that novel tight. Also, unless you're a celebrity (who can publish pretty much anything - which is very sickening - but hey ho!), then the only things selling for new authors is historical fiction, crime, some misery memoirs (but they'd better be very different or, oh, guess what you'd better be a celebrity), or the now broad genre of chicklit.

Now, I think that chicklit unjustifiably gets bad press. It now encompasses all types of womens literature. When I first started out I'd say that I wrote contemporary women's fiction. But now that's chicklit - or maybe it's sub-genre mum-lit.

It's a learning curve alright.

So, back to the pitching a script. What I discovered was that a novel is an unwieldy beast (no shit) but of course in these days of cut throat publishing, you'd better have a pitch ready for when you have a chance meeting and someone says - so, what's it about, then? Also it's a terrific way to get an agent/ publishing deal.

Even though stories are the common currency with theatre and novels they are different too. Novels arguably have the opportunity to be more internal - or do they? I'm still unpicking it all and letting it all sift. Or maybe a theatre play is more like a short story, and a novel more akin to a full-length feature film ...??

It was lovely meeting up with old-new drama chums plus a new one. I hope we all keep in touch and that I write that script too.

My daughter who is always putting me to shame by writing more than me is currently not only finishing her novel (up to 62,000 words now) but also writing a 30-min script.

Oh heck. I know what will happen - she'll have her breakthrough novel published before me!

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Art Of Novel Writing

Have had a bit of an interesting week - tweaking my novel and trying to get it down to a blurb. This is murder when your head is full of novel and chocabloc with characters, scenarios, sub-plots, jokes - yes, I keep slipping in the odd one. Latest one I'm including is a Dusty Bin one - you'll have to wait to read it to see!

Anyway, is the sort of exercise I blithely give my novel writing students to do, so has been good for me in a kind of take-your-own-medicine kind of way. But you know, what it has done is to refocus me on just who my audience might be for my novel and just how it might be marketed. Because I'm not in it just for the fun of it. I do want to be published - oh, for all sorts of reasons - and yes, for the most crass reason of having the thrill of seeing it in a bookshop. I was bad enough when I got my collection of poetry into local bookshops - I kept popping in to see who was picking up, and rearranging the table so that mine was prominent. I even sidled up to some poor woman and said - That's good, that is. Which horribly shamed my children - who were there at the time. Yes. I look forward to the days when I stalk Borders and Blackwells to check that my book is on their shelves, and to rearrange their table, and try to get friends to phone up and order the book just to make sure that it stays there. Pathetic, you might think? But I prefer to think that it's the culmination of years of unseen (by the public) toil - am hoping that finally I get my moment in the sun!

Back to the actual process. I was thinking today about how writing a novel isn't just about weaving in various strands, nor is it really like juggling a line of plates atop sticks (although that's pretty similar at times) - I reckon it is more akin to painting with oils - dabbing on layers here, daubs there, standing back to see the whole, removing bits there, overpainting here, making sure the background isn't too much to the fore, and getting the main focus sharp enough.

I think I'm at the oil painting stage. Am on yet another edit and dabbing in the odd comment there, checking symmetry here, removing a whole bush which was threatening to overtip the balance.

So, am back to it in a moment. I forgot to check my to do list for last week. I hope I did most of it.

Oh yes, and I enjoyed Acoustic Night with my friend Lee. I did a brand new poem called Post-Coital (which apparently unnerved some of the men there ...) plus one I'm learning for the gig I'm doing at SWALK festival. That's

And here's a daft picture to brighten up this post.

This week my to do list is:

Finish writing blurb and get that off in time for Winchester Writers Conference and appointments with agents.

Wait with bated breath for agent to get back to me - she has sent me 2 holding letters so far saying don't contact anyone else, I'm enjoying reading it.

Send in a couple of poems and haikus and write a short story to send off

Fill out the 2 forms from Optimum Health Clinic and have a look at the fat pack they sent me

Read the other fat pack I've got from the OU

Stop faffing about on Facebook so much - that Helen Thomas is a big distraction!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Novels, reviews, performance

As usual I'm rubbish at this sort of thing and am trying to post a picture on here but not sure if and how that will work.

Anyway, I had a lovely time last weekend at the South Bank Arts Trail where I performed poetry on the Saturday at the wonderful 1 Allington Road - the smallest and friendliest venue in Bristol - and then went on to do some shopping. Buying some art work from the fabulous Alce Harfield who used to have the Silly Fish shop in Clifton and then in Bath. God, I'm such a shopaholic. I think I need a twelve step programme as I then went on to buy a Viv Westwood inspried dress at All Saints. I need to stop buying stuff as my gorgeous daughter Kate has just got into medical school. This is her third year of trying. It's appalling just how difficult it is to get into medical school - especially as she'll be not only a most humane doctor, but also is a feminist and socialist - my work is done.

On Thursday 14th May there was a party for us writers from Bristol Old Vic Writers' Room, and I'm frantically trying to change my evening for teaching Novel Writing at Bristol Folk House to the Thursday as I desperately want to go to some Workshops for dramatists (that's me too!). Anyway, it was lovely to see Crysse Morrison there, plus actually meeting an author who wrote one of my all time fave Women's Press books - Happiness Is A Dead Cat - Jill Miller. She's a darling and we chatted novel writing and I talked about an idea for a new book and she was great - especially on not needing to know everything about the person we are writing it about (mine would be about my mum) - but that we need to trust our writer's instincts that we will still write a true representation. I think she's so right. I had to leave rather sharpish as I was fast running out of energy. I also met a couple of old students there. One in particular is doing brilliantly - interviewing loads of celebs etc. - and we chatted about going to Southwest Scriptwriters, as I want to write a script next (for the stage I reckon).

One of my author chums - Lola Jaye who's doing brilliantly - has her third book out next month (that's 3 in just under a year - way to go Lola!) - called While You Were Dreaming. I'm hoping to go the her book launch, but have an Open University tutors thing to go to the weekend just before and have to be careful to not overdo things.

Speaking of which, have just signed up to do all sorts of things with Optimum Health Clinic - more in a panic as my current doc is retiring soon, and the NHS has still not caught up. Watch this space. But it's all money again. My friend Crysse says to ask the universe, and so am doing that now.

Actually, this blog (which I shall try to do weekly), I can now see is a great way to see just what you are doing and charting that. Great.

Oh yes, I finished the recording of The Beautiful Game and got that off to publishers. Have got the German text book coming out soon, and a great book review in Writing In Education, plus a great mention in June's edition of Writing Magazine p.31. And am still keeping my fingers crossed that I'm going to find a new agent.

I thought it might well be good for me to tell myself what I'm going to do in the week ahead, by writing a To Do list. So here goes.

1. Finish that poem re. Common Girl and perform at tomorrow's Acoustic Night at Halo's in bristol

2. Finish new short synopsis for novel

3. Carry on doing my final edit whilst writing on index cards details of each chapter of novel.

4. Have another think about the title

5. Finish editing my new website

6. Sewing labels onto all my Dad's new clothes

7. Visit Dad in care home.

8. Sort Dad's paper work

9. Write a summary of this year's course for the OU and ask students for feedback

10. Start to write paper for OU Research Event

11. Fill in questionnaire etc. for Optimum Health Clinic

There ya go. That should keep me busy.

See you all soon - hope I can work out how to post pix etc. soon.


Friday, 6 February 2009

First blog

Well, it all looked so simple ... but here I am trying to work out what on earth I'm doing and what I should post. So this won't be an exciting blog as I shall just be fiddling about and trying to see what's what ... oo, what's that picture icon ...???

Ah ... I see. To keep us all going I'll just leave the rather groovy pic on the front of my new cd.

See ya all soon.