On the writing course I’ve been doing at the American Museum in Bath, run by http://writingeventsbath.co.uk this week we were thinking about other ways of telling our stories – maybe a letter, a diary entry, an email… I have explored these different methods in my short novel for reluctant readers, ‘The Story of Rufus Redmayne’. Different chapters were written in different ways, newspaper reports, TV news broadcast, dialogue, tourist guide, first person and third person narrative, and diaries. In my Radwinter novels I have used old newspaper and court reports and personal accounts written as if in the nineteenth century – that was quite a challenge!
We were asked to write something on the course, and I was for a moment stumped… then some characters I’ve been playing with came into my mind… It’s an untitled novel at the moment, and maybe an actual romance – I’ve written novels with romantic elements, but never ‘a romance‘.
This is the scene I wrote some time ago:
She didn’t recognise the car parked beside hers at first… it was only when she went into the house and Clare came through with a glass of wine in her hand that she realised her daughter was home.
“Darling! How lovely to see you, you should have told me you here coming… I’ve been at book club, I would have cancelled if I’d realised.”
“That’s OK Mum,” Clare kissed her cheek. She was wearing a different perfume, lemony and light, lovely for this warm weather. “I’ve brought the car.”
Her heart sank.
“You can give it a test drive and I know you’ll love it and then we can sort everything out.”
“Yes, come on… I thought we could go out along the coast…”
“What now? I can’t go now, I’ve had best part of a bottle of wine… if you’d told me you were coming… I mean I’m thrilled you’re home, but I just didn’t realise…”
Clare put her glass down. “Well, never mind, I’ll take you out; I know you’ve been in my car before, but just to remind you…”
She had never been in Clare’s car before… but she wasn’t going to say so.
“I hope you’ve only had that one glass…”
Clare gave her a cross look which she quickly smoothed away.
“Only the one glass, Mum, and I’ve only sipped it…”
They went out to the car, Clare chatting brightly and slightly artificially… but maybe it was the wine she had drunk at the book club which made her daughter’s seem trivial and contrived.
As they set off, it seemed that Clare was driving rather quickly, but maybe that was the drink, which made the houses they flashed by seem blurry.
“You will love how instant it is, how quick… you’ll just love driving it, Mum.”
“Clare, I haven’t changed my mind; I can’t afford to buy this car, and I can’t afford the insurance on it… I’m having to be careful with my money… I work at the Fort just to get extra. My pension isn’t huge and I won’t get my state pension for more than another ten years.”
Clare didn’t answer; she turned out of the small estate and set off along the coast road, past Opal Harbour.
“Look how responsive it is, look how it takes the corners!”
She was actually holding the arm rest because Clare seemed to be driving far too fast for the narrow road.
“Wonderful, Clare, but perhaps you should hang onto it for a while, save your money…”
“I haven’t got any money, that’s why you need to buy it so I can get the other one.”
“I’m really sorry, sweetheart…” No she wasn’t, she wasn’t sorry at all. “I’m really sorry, but you’ll have to ask your dad; he earns much more than I do, and when he does get his pension it will be more than twice what I get.”
Clare didn’t respond but turned so sharply the tyres squealed as she cut up a narrow lane which would lead to the main road from Easthope to Castair.
“See how it handles, honestly you’re going to have such fun!” Clare ignored her completely and was now driving so fast that it as dangerous.
Her daughter was like a stranger to her, and so she said nothing more until they came to a halt back on the drive.
“Come in darling, and I’ll make some coffee… have you eaten, can I make you something?” She opened the door and stood waiting for her daughter to lock the car.
“No thanks Mum; I really need you to just sort out the finances…”
“Clare! I cannot afford to buy your car! I can lend you a small amount of money, sweetheart, but I don’t want it! I don’t need it, it’s not big enough, and the insurance…”
Clare flung open the door of the car and almost dived in. She started the car and swung out of the drive and the door slammed shut as she shot off down the road, her headlights coming on as she came to the slight bend. There was the sound of a car horn, as if she had unexpectedly met someone coming towards her, and sure enough another pair of lights came slowly down the road and turned into one of the neighbour’s drives.
I took this scene and imagine the mother writing an upset letter to Clare her daughter:
She wrote a letter, an actual letter on paper that she would never send. She’d learned her lesson on that one – in the dying days of her marriage she’d written to Gerry in her full fury, an email full of invective and vitriol… as soon as she’d pressed ‘send’ she’d regretted it and it was only because somehow she’d made a mistake with his address that it came back undelivered – and she had deleted it straight away.
So she wrote an actual letter, with a pen, on paper to Clare.
Hi darling, it was lovely to see you but I was very anxious that we parted on such bad terms and you drove off so upset – I was worried you might have an accident.
Darling, you are the most beautiful young woman, you have your father’s dark hair and your grandma’s perfect eyebrows and eyes –
She refrained from making any comment about Gerry or his mother –
– but when you get angry, as you did with me this evening, those eyebrows come down in a furious line, and your blue eyes blaze with rage – and quite honestly darling, it makes you look ugly –
– and here she descended into a torrent of words –
– your nostrils flare and your nose goes red, and tonight all I could see was your pretty mouth distorted with venom –
– she scribbled the last lines out, the eyes, the nose, the mouth.
You were such a beautiful baby, people would stop and admire you in your pram, and you grew up into being a stunningly beautiful woman, head-turningly beautiful – and it breaks my heart when you get so angry with me because I can’t, actually, truly can’t, give you what you want.
I’m not sure i will ever finish this story… meanwhile, if you want to look at stories I have finished, here is a link to my e-books:
This particualr story was inspired by the music of Jonas Carping, whose picture i have used for my featured image. Here is a link to his page and his music: