Writing about writing a book – Day 3

Yep, in changing characters and timelines and thinking about the plotline between Bill and Ellen, a lot has changed, well, perhaps not a lot, but some fundamentals in the relationship.

Whilst I am determined, for some unknown reason, to write the first draft by hand, it leads to using a lot of paper and wearing out several self-leading pencils.  I have a bin with screwed up paper, and yes, if I get it in, it’s three points.  A lot don’t make it and lie forlornly beside and in front of the bin.

If only I had a cleaner to clean up.  When I’ve become a best selling author.

I look at the pages I kept.  God, I didn’t know I was that messy.

Coffee first.

I start typing the first draft on the computer using my trusty old version of Microsoft Word, only because I know how to use it.

I have Scrivener but haven’t yet worked out all the bells and whistles.  That will come, no doubt, with book number two.

But, as you might think, I am getting ahead of myself.  I have yet to finish the first.

A cool breeze blew briskly across meadows of tall grass, giving the impression of the ocean in a storm.  High above, clouds scudded across the sky, occasionally allowing the sun to shine through to bathe the ground in sunshine, intensifying the richness the greens and browns.

It was spring.  Trees were displaying new growth, and flowers were starting to show the promise of summery delight.  An occasional light shower of rain added to the delightful aromas, particularly where the grass had recently been mown.

I was there, too, with my grandmother, the woman who had, for the most part, brought me up at her country residence.  But, as I got older, the dream changed and sometimes there were storm clouds on the horizon, or I was caught in the rain, alone and frightened, or lost in the woods in the dark.

There were other visions like these from my childhood, now a million years away somewhere in a distant past that was hard to remember or say where and when they belonged.  It was a pity some were now based on images stolen from the start of a movie seen on TV late at night as I was trying to get to sleep.  Or that the psychiatrist had said there was some trauma from my early childhood, trying to work its way out.

Like every other morning, these images came to me as I was hovering somewhere between conscious and unconscious, just before the alarm went off.  Then it did, filling the room with a shrill noise that would have woken the dead.

I cursed, and then dragged myself over to the other side of the bed where I’d put the alarm clock, and hit it, killing the shrill sound.  I’d put it there so I would have to wake up to turn it off.  And, worse, I’d forgotten to turn it off the night before because it was, technically, the first day of my holiday.

Not that I really wanted one because since Ellen left, my life consisted of work, work, and more work.  It kept my mind off being alone, and in an empty apartment except for the books, a bed, a table and two chairs, a desk, and well-worn lounge chair.  I’d been there for a while and still hadn’t bought any new furniture or anything else for that matter.

And the last holiday I’d gone on had been organized by Ellen only a few years ago in Italy after our two daughters had finished school and graduated almost top of their class.  We’d both thought it might help mend the damage, and for a while we were happy, but happiness was too fleeting for me, and soon after the rot had set in, and it was the beginning of the end.

I remembered it only too clearly, coming home, opening a letter addressed to her, and finding proof of what I think I’d known all along.  She was having an affair, had been for quite some time.

It should not have been a surprise given what I had put her through over the years, since my discharge from the Army and later the nightmares active service had fuelled, but it was what it was and sent me spiralling to a new low.

But that was two years ago.  I came out of the fog a year after that.  Ellen was away most of the time with a new partner she never told me about, and the girls, who shared a unit not far from mine came to see me from time to time

But for all of that, all I now had left were memories.

I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.  I was on holidays.  No work, no pressure, nothing. 

I thought about going back to my grandmother’s house and visit, but my grandmother was no longer there, and my mother, who was, was too judgemental, and I didn’t need to be told, yet again, how I had let the only woman for me slip through my fingers.

I could do almost anything.

I’d almost managed to doze off again when the phone rang.

I jumped to its equally shrill sound cutting through the silence.  It had to be a wrong number because no one at work would call me and I didn’t have many friends, at least none who would call me at this hour.

I let it ring out.

Blissful silence.  For five minutes.

Then it rang again.

Ignore it, I thought.  It had to be someone from the office.  I’d told them all not to call me, not unless the building was burning down and they were all trapped in it.

And even then, I’d I said I would have to think about it.

Burying my head under the pillow didn’t shut out the insistent ringing. 

Almost reluctantly I rolled back, pulled the telephone out from under the bed, and lifted the receiver to my ear.


It was Carl Benton, my immediate superior; an insipid, loathsome, irritating little man, the last person I would want to speak to.  He’d insisted I take this leave, that the office could survive without me, adding in his most condescending manner that I needed the break.

I slammed the receiver down in anger.  It was a forlorn gesture.  Seconds later, it rang again.

“I seem to remember you were the one to tell me to go on holiday, that I needed a holiday.  I’m off the roster.  It can’t be that important.  Call someone else.”  I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to speak.  Not this morning.  I was not in the mood to listen to that squeaky, falsetto voice of his, one that always turned into a whine when he didn’t get his way.

And hung up again.

Not that it would do any good.  I knew that even if I was in Tibet, he would still call.  Then I realized it was too early for him to be in the office, and if he was, he would have been dragged out of bed and put in a position where if he didn’t produce results, they might realize just how incompetent he was.

At last, my holiday had some meaning and smiled to myself.  I’d make the bastard sweat.

A good days work if I say so myself.

I only wished I was better at typing, but it was a self-correcting ribbon and would suffice.

Tonight it would be the sleep of the just.

Tomorrow, more plotting, more characters.  I need a friendly head of a department, one that suffers Benton, a name for the assistant, and what are the circumstances that drag him back into work?

Death, murder, police, or security?

And all I thought I had to do is write!

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

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