about writing and life and God

What the dormouse found

on February 17, 2014

The most recent marital bed was a wooden one from a very reputable London firm. Mattress supported on slats, originally it had four huge drawers underneath, just sitting on the floor, gathering dust and enticing the cats. Beds matter to me because basically I’m a dormouse and my sleep is important to me. So I need a comfy bed. The current one is a divan. No drawers underneath and no room for anything except lost earring keepers, tops of pens, and errant cats trying to avoid ejection.


Digital ImageNo room for book-length typescripts, although that’s seemingly part of the writer’s life. All those masterworks that never made the grade, or simply didn’t light the blue touchpaper in an editor’s heart (I’m not sure that Editorial Boards are allowed to have hearts?) that’s where they’re supposed to end up. Under the bed.

I have plenty of these typescripts. Enough almost to support the mattress without need of the divan base. Well, I have been writing for more years than many (most?) of you have been gracing this planet. I started in childhood. Falling in love with books at an early age, it seemed wholly natural and logical to write my own stories.

Clearing my mother’s house after her death, I found amongst lots of other writings, a fragment of a Scottish historical adventure at the time of Culloden. It featured a Highlander making his escape across a moorland as he fled from the English soldiers. I’ve no idea how the story was going to proceed!

But there are several completed works “under the bed” (actually in labelled folders still in packing boxes). My first full-length novel was science fiction/fantasy. It went out once and was rejected with great kindness that nowadays I would know was actually encouragement to keep writing and send them the next one. Alas, technology has moved on and superseded my imaginings so that one is not revivable.

I tried a Victoria Holt style gothic next (set in my home county). It dealt with love, alcoholism, adultery – ‘grown-up’ things it was many years before I encountered in real life. It’s not surprising I found myself floundering in the writing!

Another dozen or so followed. Some got sent out once. I was more persistent with a few others. Quite often another story would have taken root in my heart and mind and I was more interested in finishing the new one than pushing at stubborn doors on behalf of a previous work.

And so the pile grew, with non-fiction and lay preaching taking up most of my time and energy. Till the story of the 1921 Fishermen’s Revival took hold of me and I became immersed in the lives of new characters. ‘Following the Herring’ was a joy to research and write. I dearly want it to be published. I think it probably needs a US publisher as well as a British one. It may be too overtly Christian for many British publishers but I think US publishers might welcome its frankly evangelical flavour.

Meanwhile, tidying my study and rearranging books and folders, my eye hit upon one of the “under the bed” projects: a crime novel I wrote a few years back. I had originally started work on a different plot but found I needed a previous book for my amateur sleuth to earn her sleuthing credibility. And so I had written ‘Loose Ends’ set in the Somerset Levels where I’d been living. Tucked into the folder, along with the completed manuscript, were the contents of a ring binder in which I had kept ideas for follow-up titles. The plan had been for a series…

And so I wonder: maybe it’s time for Jill to come out of the dark under the bed and into the light?


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