It’s all change in the Grant household tomorrow. After seven years of working for the same company (seven years! Has it really been that long?!), my wife and I are finally going to be able to have the typical married couple, “How was your day, dear?” conversation. Yes, Jo is starting a new job – still as a recruitment consultant, but now for a bigger firm in the middle of town.
She’s nervous, as you might expect, but by contrast I’m as unafraid as you could possibly get. Why? Well, because Jo underestimates her own professional abilities to a crazy degree. She has the most insane work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met – she was always, without fail, first in the office and last to leave – and if she works anything like as hard for her new company as she has done for us, then she’ll be brilliant. The new people headhunted her (there could be only one), eventually persuaded her to join, and it’s obvious to everyone else that her new starter nerves – “Will they like me? Can I do the job?” – are about as necessary as the guy on the right in One Direction.
There’s going to be a somewhat weird period of adjustment at first because we’re so used to being in the same office together, but I’m actually really looking forward to not being in each other’s pockets so much – it’ll be a new situation where we’ll have stories to swap at the end of every working day. Not that I’ll have any decent ones, of course, being an accountant. There are only so many VAT anecdotes you can tell before they got old. One, really. Maybe less.
But anyway, the very best of luck to my lovely wife in her fabulous new job. I love her very much and I’m really proud of her. I know she’s going to be a great success, and the new company will soon find out just how lucky they are to have her.
I submitted my short story this evening. It received a more than glowing review from my go-to author, and reading it back tonight, I think it’s turned out pretty well.
There’s always a sting in the tail, though, and on this occasion it turned out to be Gmail. Due to the risk of viruses, the competition organisers asked for any stories intended for submission to be copied and pasted into the body of the submission email. I did this, it was all in the email box, sorted, fine, and then I hit submit. My job done, I relaxed with a nice glass of wine, and then a few minutes later I clicked on my Sent Items folder to make sure the email went off OK.
It appeared that the last page of the story didn’t copy, even though it showed very clearly on-screen at the time I sent it. Yet my iPhone Gmail app showed the whole story in my Sent Items. So did it go or didn’t it? I forwarded the email to my other external account to see if I could work out what was the truth, and the last page was indeed cut off. Noooooo. So what could I do? I copied and pasted again, this time splitting the story up into two blocks, and sent it as a test email to my other external account. This one seemed OK. So I then sent this second email to the competition address, including an explanation about why I was sending a second message. Crazily, while the email now showed in full on my other external address, my Gmail Sent Items once again insisted that the last page had been cut off.
So I’ve had to send another email to the competition address to make sure, a “did you get my whole story?” message. Now I look like a neurotic imbecile. Why does this always happen to me? Why did this one email – a simple copy and paste job – go screwy? It’s like the world does this on purpose, truly. But never mind. I’ll get a reply from the comp address, confirming that they have the whole thing, and everything’ll be fine. Hmmm.
But boy, is it annoying.
I’ve typed everything up. I concentrated on the short story, as the deadline for that is 30 November. It took a while to get down (transferring from longhand is a bitch), so even though I haven’t done much else other than write today, I’m still not feeling ahead of myself. The new draft of Certainty had to take a bit of a back seat, but as there’s no real time pressure on that (other than what I give myself), I thought it best to sort out the short story first.
I have no idea whether it’s any good or not, and I’d like way more time to be able to polish it, but never mind. It feels interesting, and though I haven’t written a short story since school (yep, I went straight to novels and screenwriting for some reason) and have next to no idea about what makes a good one, I’m hoping that my lack of knowledge in this area will make it seem fresh. Hmmm.
It’s a story which involves wish fulfilment going horribly wrong, and the key will be whether I’m able to transfer what is a pretty personal subject across to a wider audience. The competition is for stories which fit into the boundaries of science-fiction, fantasy or horror, so my love for high concept in the real world fits perfectly. It was nice to write something that I could finish in a few days and have a nice beginning-to-end. Although my focus is definitely still the novels, I enjoyed writing this smaller piece of work a lot more than I thought I would, and so I may well think about writing more of them in the near future. Though, of course, I may well be told by my go-to author that it’s a complete disaster. We’ll see.
Tomorrow’s definitely one of those “put up or shut up” days. I’m putting all the pressure on myself here – there’s no actual need to finish any of the stuff I intend to complete in this time frame – but it has to be done. There’s something I need to prove to myself.
While I was on holiday I wrote quite a lot of stuff. Maybe not quite as much as I was hoping to (I had that whole “eyes bigger than stomach” thing going on beforehand), but a sizeable amount. As I had no laptop I had to write it longhand, which means that there’s a lot to transfer to PC and it’s all had no editing whatsoever. Many successful writers still compose their first drafts on paper. Fuck knows how. The delete key, and the ability to properly sort out bollocks sentences, are absent on a pad without an ‘i’ on the front of it. What I need to transcribe are various sections of the final redraft of my novel, and a short story that I wrote on holiday. Both of them have problems – the novel’s missing a section which is going to be very difficult to write (the missing bit has the kind of scene that bugger-all authors can do justice to, and I’ve never tried anything like it… no pressure there, then), and the short story has a final section which currently doesn’t work at all.
Nonetheless I can see both pieces turning out pretty well, given a bit of logical thinking and a fuckload of editing. I’m going to enter the short story in a competition, and the new novel draft is going to secure me a kick-ass literary agent. In theory, anyway. Ha.
I’ll have much more idea about how things are going to pan out when I get it all down tomorrow. Here’s hoping that I’ll be pleasantly surprised rather than utterly depressed. It’ll be OK. It has to be.
I’m finally back home, which means that I can stop writing blog entries on my iPhone. Therefore, this post has already been written ten times quicker than those in the past fortnight.
I’ve written previously about my love/hate relationship with flying. I love the speed of it, but hate the actual mechanics of the thing. I’m kinda getting over the whole take-off and landing trauma, though. Landings are now a-OK – I don’t worry about them at all – and take-offs only rank at about two or three on the nerves scale.
However, turbulence is still a killer. Not literally, obviously, but at the time it feels like it might be. It’s a heart-in-mouth, shit-I-might-die-even-though-I-don’t virtual killer. My flight home from Grenada was a case in point. It was a night flight, so I was hoping to get quite a bit of sleep on the plane. I left at six o’clock in the evening, Grenadian time, and was to arrive back in the UK at eight o’clock in the morning, our time (four hours ahead), so I figured that I should try to stay awake for the first few hours and then sleep the rest. Ha! What actually happened was that the Caribbean trade winds wreaked havoc on the plane during the middle section of the flight, and caused three hours of nasty turbulence. Up, down, side to side – it was like going on a rollercoaster at Alton Towers without being able to see the track ahead. Just when I thought it was over, the plane would start rocking again, and soon there would be a violent lurch or two that caused me to grab the seat in front of me, rigid with fear. Unbeknownst to me at the time, because I was attempting distraction tactics with iPhone games and music with the volume turned up (only partially successful), several passengers on the plane were being sick and kids were screaming. Nice. I’m quite pleased I didn’t hear about this until afterwards.
Upon arrival at Gatwick, I heard more than one passenger swearing about how the pilot should have flown around the turbulence rather than straight through it, but the true legacy for my wife and I came with the drive back. Little sleep equalled much tiredness and reduced concentration, even after strong coffees. After Jo started swerving into the wrong lane just before the Reading Services, we stopped there as agreed, bought another caffeine hit, swapped places, and then I did the final leg. By the time I turned off for Bristol, my reaction times were also suspect, and I was very glad that I didn’t have to drive any further. The worst thing about travelling is definitely the journey home.
In two and a half hours I leave for the airport to go back home. Apparently to the possibility of snow! Brrr. I’m not looking forward to the jet lag or having to readjust to freezing temperatures. I think I’ll be going around in a big coat and putting an extra blanket on the bed for the next few days.
Amazingly I have managed to get some writing done on holiday (in longhand, though, so not ideal), and so as soon as I get back I’m going to ramp up my search for an agent and get this thing done. And that’s definitely something to look forward to, even if I have to freeze my arse off to do it.
See you on the other side, chaps and chapesses.
Well, it’s been my last full day in Grenada (I fly back tomorrow night), and while the weather wasn’t magnificent, I did manage to write half a short story in the afternoon when it clouded over, which for a first draft seems to be going pretty well. I also rediscovered my pool (as in: potting balls, nothing to do with water) form. On the final day! The inhumanity! Oh, and Jo beat me at Gin Rummy, running away with it in the penultimate game, meaning that she emerges triumphant as holiday champion, 3-2.
And that’s it. It was a bit of a lazy one, but everything’s pretty much packed, and soon I’ll be getting on an aeroplane to come home to sub-zero temperatures and the promise of snow. I’m very much looking forward to seeing my family, friends and cats again, of course, and having a big telly. But Grenada has been a lovely holiday, and it’ll be cool to share the footage that I’ve shot with you.
I must come back to this island in the future. The people are lovely, and it’s such a beautiful place. I really feel for them, too – 2004’s Hurricane Ivan practically obliterated their economy and it’s been a real struggle for them to get back on their feet. Their main industries were decimated and unemployment is at 25%, so to see the people still so cheerful despite their bad luck, and figuring out how to make livings for themselves in creative ways (in many cases, by hand-carving jewellery from pieces of coral), has really been humbling and quite inspiring.
Right, one more night’s sleep and then I’m off. Bye for now.