I was speaking to a friend and she said something which really resonated with me… not in a personal sense, thank goodness, but in a creative way. She was talking about a family she knew and how difficult it had been for them over the holiday period, and as I listened to what she was telling me, I thought how very fortunate we are, my husband and I still together and in love after twenty-five years, with two children who have come home to share the holiday with us because they like as well as love us.
The family my friend was talking about have not been so lucky. The couple have both been married before, the husband has four children by his first wife; two of the children are no longer with their own partners so their own children have only one parent living with them. The wife has two children who are not speaking to each other, and with whom there are other complications revolving round their own children.
My friend said, it is like a family picture, which once it is broken can never be properly put together again, there are always pieces missing, and some of the pieces which are still there are damaged…
I thought that was such a vivid way of describing families where things have gone wrong… Whatever the reasons behind things not working, there is always sadness and hurt… I really hope that the family my friend knows has a better future, and that their problems and difficulties are resolved as best they can…
Meanwhile, I might just use the image in my writing…
I’m always very grateful to people who read my e-novels, and who comment on what they think, and comment honestly. I really do welcome helpful criticism, whether it is typos or errors which I haven’t noticed when I’ve been checking through and editing, or inconsistencies of any sort.
One of my pet hates when reading other novels is when a writer seems in my opinion too become too fond of a character, ‘indulges’ him or her, and becomes a little blind to what a reader might be thinking… in other words losing objectivity because they like their character so much! I have consciously tried in my own writing to keep my distance from my fictitious people; however I fear I might have slipped into my own pet hate in my Radwinter series.
All characters have back stories which to a certain extent have to be revealed to the reader, but when the back story has been written in a previous novel, the writer has to balance how much is revealed (to those who haven’t yet read the previous stories), how much is assumed the reader knows (for those who have read the other stories) and how far the writer keeps each a completely stand alone novel.
In my Radwinter series, I think I have lost that sense of balance; a friend who has just read my three novels one after the other, commented that he was getting a little fed up with two of the ‘people’… not them as characters, but the way I have written about them in the first person narrative. I was so grateful! I so appreciated his comment – I had lost sight of what I was doing in this particular aspect, concentrating on the plot and setting and the new characters.
I am just editing the fourth in the series, and I have gone through with the specific purpose of tightening up what I’ve written; not cutting out those characters, but just fine-tuning and balancing them. Another thing I am working on in this editing is the development of the main character; his personal circumstances have changed hugely since the first novel, and I have tried to make him change too… however, as my narrator is a thirty-something man and I’m an older woman, I have to really try and get my head round a masculine character… and this was a comment my helpful critical friend made, that my character is a little too much in touch with his feminine side!!
If you haven’t yet read my Radwinter novels, or my other stories, here is a link:
As bridges get swept away, and people’s homes are flooded for the third time, as livestock are rescued from the hills and the army arrives to help rescue people from their own homes, the rain keeps coming… a new storm, Storm Frank is arriving over the Northwest and West of the British Isles, inundating the already sodden hills. For us who live a matter of miles from the Somerset Levels which were disastrously flooded at the same time of year in 2013-14, it is a terrible reminder of what a dreadful danger water and flooding can pose.
To be sure there is unprecedented rainfall, more is coming down from the sky than has been recorded ever before and the land has absorbed more than it can hold, the rivers more than they can contain, and other water-courses have vanished under the lakes moving with swift running and deadly currents. The flood water isn’t just filthy with mud and debris, but is vile with sewerage, dead creatures, oil, chemicals and stinking rubbish and muck. I am sure in past times there were dreadful floods and inundations, but these days there are certain things which are done which we actually know cause problems.
Outside of the debate about global warming and whether or not our different events are due to what we do (which I actually believe they are) it makes no sense at all to build new houses on flood plains, to change the courses of rivers so they run more conveniently, more straight, to disregard what local people say about the particular events which happen in their own region… where it floods, where water lies, where tides affect the surrounding littoral…
As Frank approaches and night draws on, I really hope the people of the North of our country are safe, and it doesn’t rain quite as much, the river doesn’t swell quite as expected, the earth absorbs a little more…
Lots of us are looking back over the last year…
The Chiding Stone, Chiddingstone, Kent, family holiday 2015
… ad a sonnet from John Masefield:
I went into the fields, but you were there
Waiting for me, so all the summer flowers
Were only glimpses of your starry powers,
Beautiful and inspired dust they were.
I went down by the waters, and a bird
Sang with your voice in all the unknown tones
Of all that self of you I have not heard,
So that my being felt you to the bones.
I went into my house, and shut the door
To be alone, but you were there with me;
All beauty in a little room may be
Though the roof lean and muddy be the floor.
Then in my bed I bound my tired eyes
To make a darkness for my weary brain,
But like a presence you were there again,
Being and real, beautiful and wise,
So that I could not sleep and cried aloud,
“You strange grave thing, what is it you would say?”
The redness of your dear lips dimmed to grey,
The waters ebbed, the moon hid in a cloud.