Thursday, August 30, 2007

Characters and counselling

Enjoyed my counselling session with Kunu today - we talked about family (poor Uncle Leonard ...) and the importance of being oneself. Two subjects which, to me, seem to be completely contrasting of course. Bizarrely, I think that the loss of the rapidly diminishing older generation (sad though it is) is actually making me feel rather liberated. The fewer of the power-brokers there are in the family, the more I feel able to be myself and not be judged for it. And the more level the playing-field between me and my brothers & cousins (all male, damn it) becomes. I think I've grown up amongst a family who believe that the menfolk are more likely to be in the right and, as I'm the only woman in my generation, that's been a bugger to be in, to be honest. I've always started from a position of weakness. Now, it's as if the air above me is clearing and I can begin to appreciate the sky. And see more clearly to fight (and believe in) my own corner. Sorry if that seems overly poetic, but it's true.

Interesting too that after Leonard's death, Mum rang me up to ask me my opinion on whether she should go to the funeral or not. Good God, but that's the first time in living memory that the power has been on my side of the fence, or that she's ever asked my opinion on what she should do, I think. My answer of course was no: travelling 200+ miles after a major cancer op is the height of stupidity and I (in my sudden and totally unexpected role of Decision-Maker) told her so. Even more unexpectedly, she agreed and hasn't gone. Ye gods indeed! Neither, of course, have I. I mean: me? Family? Not to mention coping with the Great and the Good in York Minster, and a zillion-and-one passing clergymen - no way! My (nasty) cousin of course seemed to expect it and rang up earlier in the week to give me copious different instructions. Which I ignored, deleting him sharply and without response from my voicemail. Dream on, buster .... I'd rather go oop north and pay my own respects to the dear departed in my own way later in the year. Perhaps taking my recuperating parent with me (as long as I still hold the power, of course!) - we'll see.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch ... I've sketched in the character studies I need for The Bones of Summer, and hope to do a few paragraphs on each later in the week. Bloody hell, but it almost feels like a real novel now. Almost. I've also popped round to see Gladys, but I think she was either hiding or asleep, so I just left a message. Or perhaps, in my new persona as Power-Crazed Individualist (you mean that's a change??), she's too scared to see me. And I was wearing my special caring face too - ah well.

Ooh, a spooky moment - I was uploading the beginning of The Bones of Summer onto my website - which can be found under the Novels menu - and realised that my beginning punchy scene has exactly the same number of paragraphs as my beginning punchy scene in The Gifting. I was so traumatised by this that I wrote a poem:


Each of my last two novels
has started
with a short section

comprising exactly
thirteen paragraphs
before the punch occurs.

Is it a call for help,
or is the other side
trying to tell me something?

God help me - answers on a postcard please ... Or maybe I should just opt for writing the haiku novel? I think the whole story is there in miniature after all, really.

I've also just dragged myself kicking and screaming to the end of the much-hyped Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. Deep, deep sigh. Honestly, I don't think it's as good as it thinks it is. And there's way too much history and no character - not surprising from an author who up to now has only written history books, I suppose, but did she have to browbeat me with her knowledge of the era quite so much?? I'd stick to the non-fiction if I were her. It was amazing what an absolutely irritating cow she made poor Lady Jane Grey into as well. A feat in itself, I suppose. But about three-quarters of the way through, I seriously wanted to take the ruddy axe and chop the wretched child's head off myself. It would have saved so much pain - mine. Not to mention history's. The best character was the evil, cold-hearted mother - I could really understand where she was coming from and had every sympathy for her! Mind you, it does serve to emphasise what a stonkingly good writer Philippa Gregory is - so my advice is if you want to read a good historical novel, drop Weir and go for the Gregory. Every bloody time!

Oh, and Juli from Mighty Erudite Publishers has asked me to take a quick look at a novel she's interested in publishing - which I'll be delighted to do as it's by Mark Wagstaff, and his stories are so wonderfully dark, bitter and London. If you know what I mean. I can highly recommend his marvellous short story collection, Blue Sunday Stories - if you like your reading edgy and powerful, that is.

Tonight, I've got to clean the flat as we have people for dinner tomorrow (people! Oh no, where can we hide??), and do the recycling while Lord H gets to grip with a summer pudding in the kitchen. And there's about six zillion things on TV which I want to watch also. My dears, where will I find the time?

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Writing
3. Mighty Erudite work.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website


Anonymous said...

You have got the magic touch Anne, getting a parent to agree with you. Wow.

I like your poetic statement at the beginning, it fits well and good that you are feeling that way.

And cracking on with the novel!

Truly inspirational.

Sue xx

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Sue - not sure I can do it again though!!

Thanks also for the support - hugely appreciated



Peter said...

Sounds like a good plan for your and your mum to go up and pay your respects at a later date...

Anne Brooke said...

Just as long as we can avoid the home-made wine crisis, Peter!



Graeme K Talboys said...

Interesting about the thirteen paragraphs. It was received wisdom (and may still be for all I know) that a movie screenplay should have its first big punch on page 17 (or seventeen minutes into the movie). Perhaps there is a natural place to have that first punch in a novel?

Anne Brooke said...

Could be the case, Graeme - but I suspect it's just my OCD going overboard!