Monday 28 September 2009

Better to travel than to arrive?

Several Macmillan New Writers - myself included - have had disappointing news this year in that our second or third novels have been rejected for publication. Most of us will have spent at least a year on each of these novels; a year of writing, of thinking, of planning, of ups and downs, and of hope. But thinking back over my own year, I have to conlude that it's the journey that really counts, not the arriving. Yes, it's wonderful to be accepted and published; great to hold in my hand the first copy of a new novel; fun to attend a book launch and book signings, and to see my book in a shop window. The money's nice, too. But nothing quite compares with the exhilaration I feel when a piece of writing is going well; when the story take over, and flows as though coming from a source of its own; the moment when another (brilliant, of course) idea strikes, and I can't wait to get it down on paper. So, yes. It's deeply disappointing to be rejected and to have to put the novel and all its well-loved characters away in their virtual drawer, and turn to something else. But regrets? None. A waste of time? Absolutely not. Speaking for myself, it was worth every minute. And that, presumably, is why we keep on writing.

Monday 14 September 2009

Police checks and paedophiles. A rant

Have you had a police check? Because if you haven't you're pretty sure to need one sooner or later. I had to have one for teaching adults in an evening class. Big strong adults. There were twelve of them and one of me. But never mind. If police checks protect children, they're worth it, aren't they?

Well, maybe not. I have a friend who's a single mother. She's a brilliant mother and adores her five-year-old son. A year ago, she discovered that her estranged partner - her sons's father - had been systematically sexually abusing their child for a year, threatening him with his mother's death if he were to tell anyone. Eventually, the child spoke out. His account was detailed and graphic, and included details that no 4-year-old could possibly know, and although he convinced his mother, his GP, his teachers and his extended family, my friend was told that his evidence didn't count because he was so young.

A year on, after striving tirelessly and heroically for justice, my friend has managed to ensure that this man is on a sex register, and will never be allowed near her son again. But that is all. He is already involved in a club for young sportsmen and has formed a relationship with a woman with two small children. Meanwhile, her little boy is still trying to come to terms with his appalling ordeal, and she is still angry, frustrated and appalled that she should have entrusted her child to someone who would perpetrate such terrible acts against him.

Scary? You bet it is. Police checks? Forget them. They're not worth the paper they're written on.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Returning to the WIP

I've always thought that writing is a bit like, say, trying to draw a horse. You know what a horse looks like, you can see it in your mind's eye. But get a pencil and try to draw it, and unless you're a consummate artist, the drawing is nothing like what's in your head. So it is with the WIP. I see what I want to create, I have the shape and the characters and much of the plot in my head, and it's all oh-so beautiful. But get down to it, and the reality is a far cry from what I planned.

So - I've given myself a few weeks to recuperate (after all, the muse isn't going to work after major surgery, is it? Of course it isn't), but now it's time to face the novel again, especially now I have an almost-agent. Displacement activity abounds, including, as now, blogging. Meanwhile, I can feel myself circling the WIP warily, like a bird of prey which isn't quite sure whether or not the prey might bite back; wondering whether to take the plunge, or wait a little longer; until tomorrow, or next week, or next year...