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No discrimination welcome – an ally’s view on Pride…

It’s Pride month.

Why am I writing about it? It’s not my fight – I’m straight, cis and, amongst other privileges, have never suffered outright discrimination on the basis of my gender. It’s very simple. When I looked around my working world, my social world, I saw people coming in a range of shapes, colours, sizes and flavours. When I created the world for my book, I created a world that reflected this diversity. Yes, I deliberately created conflict not to be politically correct but to show how the assumptions we can all make can be way off the mark when applied to others.

I support Pride because I can think of nothing worse than being told to suppress an aspect of yourself. Where people are allowed to be themselves, we all win and our society as a whole benefits. Unfortunately, those benefits are intangible and, as we have seen in some shocking reversals of legislation and threats, rights won are not always kept.

And that is one area where all of us should use the weight we have to influence. To fight for others’ rights does not erode your own. We have seen the initial screaming hysteria when any equalisation of legislation is proposed become more muted in relation to some aspects of sexuality (though shocking incidents remind us that prejudice is still very much alive). We still have fights for trans rights and, overall, a huge campaign of education and familiarisatiowe to make the whole issue something so ho-hum that we wondered why we ever got excited.

beautiful-rainbow-flagI’m proud to be an ally and wish everyone a safe Pride.

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It’s been a year…

Yes, so my timing is perfect to do a review of the year. What I hadn’t realised is that it’s been a year since my last blog post. Which does rather suggest I haven’t got the hang of this yet.

OK, well, to make up for it, what has happened this year? Lots of this thing called life, with loss, frustration and a few specific people being absolute arses (with every prospect of continuing that behaviour into 2020). Having got the winge out of the way, it has also been a year when a book was finished, friendships maintained, new ones made and a few intriguing developments which have the potential to make the new year very interesting.

I’m looking forward to it and am going to start by sweeping away all the crud that has built up. It’s taken a long time but I think I finally get this decluttering lark, so I will be the avenging angel with the mop.

Hoping 2020 brings you joy…

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In praise of #bookbloggers…

Anyone who follows this blog must have, in addition to their excellent taste, a large supply of patience. I originally started this blog with the intention of publishing weekly. That soon slipped to fortnightly, then once a month became the without-fail.

Now I hear a lot of people saying ‘how is it December already’ and I’d love to blame them, the world at large, the price of fish and anything else that moves for the lack of posts. However, that would be cowardly, so instead, I’m going to cheat. I did write a blog post, just for someone else.

If you are into book Twitter, you may have seen a criticism of book bloggers. @SarcasticEnigma asked for contributions on what authors and publishers thought of book bloggers and, because of *insert excuse here*, I’m posting it here as well…

The act of putting words on a page sounds so simple and yet – I ask myself regularly why my blog is so intermittent. I generally scrape a daily wordcount on the current work-in-progress and far too many tweets (come and say hello ) but both of these outputs have the distinct advantage that they don’t have to be coherent (the novel because it will be edited later, the tweets, well, ‘nuff said). My jaw drops when I look at the work of book bloggers and the thought and effort that goes into their reviews. Their comments have a breadth of view from being keen readers, without the pretension of language that can come from someone who is trying to make a literary point. I love reading book blogs, both for their insights into works I have read and for new books to try. We should celebrate book bloggers and be grateful they are sharing their love of reading with us.

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Is this a book I see before me?

One of the factors that really unlocked my writing career was when my circumstances changed and I began to read. Prior to that, I had been studying, climbing the work ladder and didn’t read outside of set texts or work emails. Then, redundancy gave me time to discover fiction again.

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Now, the buying and reading of books is one of my greatest pleasures and, at the same time, my greatest irritations. There is almost nothing better than getting lost in a good book, when you look up from the pages and are suprised at where you are, because your head is in the book world. This particularly happens with Golden Age crime novels, when I look up expecting to be able to ring for my butler.

I do try and ease myself out of the comfortable warm bath of Golden Age (How dare you, Sir – no gentleman would ask a lady such impertinent questions) into other genres, in order to broaden my perspective. And this is when the irritation comes in. There are some books I find harder to read than others but I grit my teeth and keep going. There is normally something worth knowing in each book, even if it takes a bit of thinking about. There are some books where I forget the main character’s name each time I put the book down but there will be some phrase, some description that resonates. Most of all, I think it is the act of reading that trains my brain to be ready for writing.

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It lives…

Dear all, after a gestation period of approx 9 months, I’m delighted to present a bouncing baby draft. This is a strange creature, a novel-to-be. Who knows whether it will live, evolve and grow into something worth reading, or end up chucked out with some handy bathwater. Don’t worry, you don’t need to say how beautiful it is – it’s got a bit of evolving to do yet. But, it’s here, that’s the main thing. And now, I’m going to go and do something completely different…

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The sense of an ending…

How do you finish a book? This is definitely harder than starting a book – now I know I’m lucky that the blank page (or screen) has never held any terrors for me. If anything, the problem is not finding an idea but keeping to just one and focusing activity. No, the problem is how to finish it and I’m not talking about the pure logistical elements of making sure loose ends are tied up.

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From one angle, you could say this is a nice problem to have. Over time, I’ve got to know and like my character and she’s got places to go. So I don’t want her to end up just anywhere: really, I don’t want her to end up somewhere that I wouldn’t want to end up myself.

So, how to finish her story? I am half suspecting that I don’t want to finish because then I move from the creative phase to the editing phase which, in my experience, both takes longer and is harder than the actual writing. I feel like a bit of a life coach at the moment, asking my character, well, where do you want to end up? Here’s hoping she tells me…

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Meet the family…

This writing lark is very peculiar. You actively ignore real-life, flesh and blood people to spend time with made-up, paper people. Then, there is that magic moment when the characters you have created become real and, if you are lucky, start writing their own stories and all you become is a channel for their words.

But this isn’t so strange, because we do it all the time. Sitting on trains, I’ve heard fellow travellers earnestly discussing the contestants on Love Island as if they were friends of theirs.

‘Oh no, she wouldn’t do something like that – that’s not like her at all.’

‘Well, he’s always been dodgy.’

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They are basing this on a few hours of television, where the characters are portrayed in roles and wound-up to act out their parts (NB basing this on conversations like this as, shock-horror, I haven’t ever watched Love Island). So I don’t feel so bad about having conversations with the characters in my head because they feel as real as these figures on the screen.

 

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