|LAST RESORT: The short story is set in Lyme Regis. |
If you look closely you might spot a clue to what it's about.*
THE last couple of months I've finally been trying to finish a short story that I've been considering for quite a few years.
What I always find interesting is how even an idea that's been percolating in your brain for a fair old while doesn't turn out exactly as planned.
More often than not this annoys me. In fact it's probably why most of what I attempt stalls at three quarters of page. Trying to put what's in your head in 12 point text is like trying to put a summer breeze in a jam jar (I can't be the only kid who tried that).
But while I'll probably always prefer free-range prose, I admit that seeing a story take sudden unexpected twists once it's turned into text is rather fascinating.
For instance, when I sat down to write the opening paragraph I twice changed my mind about the main character. As it happens both the original choices are still part of the plot, but I'm now trying to tell the story through the eyes of someone I didn't know I existed when I started out.
There's also more humour than I expected. When I began I envisioned quite a dark tale, as if a Greek myth had taken a holiday in Dorset. There's still strands of that, but with a concept that borders on the vaguely ridiculous (it's set in the West Country after all) I wasn't sure that playing it completely straight worked somehow.
And then there there's the conclusion which is perhaps the first I've ever thought of which owes a debt to simple arithmetic. It wasn't the end I'd intended, but once I'd done the sums I couldn't really argue. That won't make too much sense now, but if I post the piece up here you can work out what I mean. All I'll say is that it wasn't planned - in more ways than one.
If you think I'm being unusually optimistic about my writing, it's mainly because I have to be.
Last year, aside from increasing the amount of fiction I finished, I set myself the lofty goals of getting the Tories out of Downing Street and myself back into full-time journalism.
I admit that the first was always going to be something of a joint enterprise, but that doesn't mean I don't feel utterly bereft by the oh so predictable war on Jeremy Corbyn.
As for the other matter, I feel increasingly lacking in hope. I don't know which was harder - extricating myself from a job I wasn't paid for or trying to get back doing the job I was being paid for but wasn't allowed to do. The sad fact being that if I'd stood up for myself three years ago I wouldn't have to be pondering that question all this time later and feeling ever more bitter about it.
Turning back to the third of the items on my list of top priorities - write more. Which if I'm honest was the only one that wasn't at the whim of a turbulent job market or a fickle electorate. 12 months ago, I may have tried to argue that stacking paragraphs in order was without a doubt the hardest of the three labours. Toppling governments or finding a way back into a collapsing industry would surely be small-fry by comparison. But I was forgetting of course that they rely on other people making the "right" decision, whereas stories start and end because I've made the decision to write. Which isn't actually as hard it appears.
* - You won't, I just wondered what weird theories you might ascribe to the name of the boat.