Monthly Archives: October 2009

Taking the plunge into story-writing

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I went to my third short story writing class last night. My second one, last week, was spent mostly with people reading out their work and then discussing it. I didn’t have any work to read as I missed the previous week, and I hadn’t even written a story from the first class. So I was in the luxurious position of listening to everyone else put themselves out there, and actually, it was really interesting and inspiring to see others’ writings and hear the feedback. I felt emboldened to give it a go for this week.

The assignment involved choosing from a selection of character roles, places and problems, and constructing a 500-word story. I managed to choose from the selection with no difficulty, to create a situation I could readily write about. The only problem was coming up with a plot. In the end I didn’t really have one; it was just a description of a situation, and thoughts, which included a recounting of past events leading up to it. Nothing actually “happened”. Lacking a plot idea kept me stuck to begin with, but then I settled on a lousy idea for something to happen at the end and just got on with it. But I liked what came out and actually forgot about the lousy ending, leaving it in suspense instead.

I was very keen on reading it and getting feedback, because I wondered whether my writing would move anyone or not. I was genuinely curious. But also, since I had written almost autobiographically, I was interested in people’s reactions to the character (very narcissistic of me, I know) – would they like her? What would they think of her approach to the situation?

Regarding the character likeability, some people had mixed feelings, one person said he was rooting for her, and a couple of people commented on a descent into stark negativity in the thinking, which I hadn’t even really intended. That was so interesting. And very odd, I must say, to have people discussing me without knowing it was me.

It sounds like I succeeded with the character portrayal – people said they felt she was very real, different to all the other stories which were more about events. Someone even said he could completely relate to the experience, and asked me point blank if it was based on a real person. I said, “there’s a lot of me in it,” and I got the feeling that surprised no-one! One kind person said she wanted to read more, to see the character experience what was coming next.

There is a lot more I want to explore – plot, dialogue, other types of characters, imagery and scenes… some of which will be harder I’m sure. I think doing this class was a good idea after all.

Flat problems

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In addition to recurrent plumbing issues, our flat has electrical issues too. I have long suspected this since two internet routers burnt out – the third is still going (touch wood) but it’s plugged into a different socket.

This weekend (and why exactly is it ALWAYS a weekend when these things happen?) we lost power as the washing machine went into its final rinse and spin cycle. Actually it flickered on and off for a while, then went off. C flicked the trip switch off and on and we were back in business. Something made me believe it was triggered by the washing machine; I’m not sure what exactly, but we didn’t attempt to resume the washing machine programme until last night, just incase. Sure enough, as soon as we did, the power went off again. Did the thing with the trip switch, set the washing machine to “drain” which seemed OK, and then left it at that, thinking there must be a fault in the machine.

A short while later, I put something in the microwave and set it to heat, and BAM – power off again. To our dismay there was no bringing the power back this time. This meant a night without heating and hot water (the boiler seems to require electricity to work even though it’s gas), and instead of roasted potatoes and baked salmon, everything had to be fried (at least we have a gas stove top). Fortunately the lights were still on.

Apparently the electrician has changed the fuse box today and the power is back, but I have no idea whether it is likely to happen again. Sounds very dodgy to me.

Back on the subject of the plumbing, C spent a long time plunging the bath yesterday to try to fix the slow draining of all the outlets. It has been so bad that when you drain the dishwater in the kitchen, water pulsates upwards out of the bath plughole with a gurgling sound. It was even worse than that when we moved in – water was backing up in the washing machine. They unblocked the drain for us then, but now a year and a half later it is getting intolerable again. As he plunged the bath forcefully, water repeatedly shot up out of the sink. Not nice clean water either, as you can imagine. The bath ended up full of nasty black bits and for a while it wasn’t draining at all. A massive plug of hair eventually came out, but who knows what else is down there. By the time he was done it seemed to be draining OK. Let’s hope it lasts.

After all this we honestly wanted to move.