I’ve been busy at work this week – I did put a post on this blog about all the excitement of Annual Council week, but removed it (Lane knows why). I’ve written a very ‘nice’ short story instead and posted it off to the ‘People’s Friend’ because I think it will appeal to that kind of market. I’ve called it Albatross because I know I’m sailing close to the wind at work by blogging but I’ll probably use a pseudonym on the remote chance it is accepted. Anyone who would like a sneak preview, let me know and I’ll e-mail it through.
I’ve submitted no less than four short stories this week. Before anyone collapses in disbelief I have coaxed over forty unsubmitted stories out of the writing closet over the first months of this year. ‘Magpies and Marigolds’ was first written in 1984 and made me chuckle when I typed up the handwritten script. I had obviously based the central character ‘Sheila’ on my grandma. I’d captured her character exactly and it made me shed a tear because it felt as if she was still here. Grandma had written on the bottom of the script ‘I’m not sending this off – everyone will laugh at me’ (I always used her name to submit short stories.)
I also submitted ‘Torchlight’ and ‘Full Circle’ but to different magazines.
Anyhow back to the novel. I need some advice. I’ve started Book No. 3 and the working title is ‘Going Back’. I have posted off the first three chapters and synopsis to Suzanne Ruthven to work on in the workshop ‘Plotting and Coursing Your Novel’ in July/August in Caerleon. The thing is, I’m getting the same sort of excitement I felt with ‘Twisted Garlands’ and I can’t resist galloping on with it. I know I shouldn’t really, but the pull of the characters and the plot is very strong. I just have to get on with it while the enthusiasm is at its peak.
Going Back is written in the first person present in the odd numbered chapters – with Tamsin telling her own story in real time as she begins her frantic quest to find her roots and a family she not only has never met, but who don’t know of her existence. The pace is very urgent and emotional as Tammy discovers not only shocking facts about the past, but discovers her inner self too. The even numbered chapters are told in the third person past, as her father, Alan – after 30 years of silence – reveals the back story of his unusual marriage to Tammy’s mother and the reasons why they cut themselves off from their families. The even numbered chapters are deeper and more slowly paced that Tammy’s emotionally-charged first person present chapters.
My daughter has read the first three chapters and declared it better than Twisted Garlands (very undiplomatically I must say!). However, I read some on-line advice that said that telling two parallel stories in this way should be avoided by new writers because it is very difficult to balance the two, with the reader usually preferring one of the plots to the other.
Has anyone else heard this? And has anyone got any advice on how I can manage it? I really do want to try this approach in ‘Going Back’ because as well as mixing the past with the bang-up-to date present, I want Tammy’s determined personality to break through as the novel progresses and the best way I can do this is by using the first person present and a fast pace.
All suggestions gratefully accepted before I race off into the sunset in the wrong direction!