I hate editing!

It seems that writing the novel is not the hard part.  I have no trouble getting the words on paper.

It’s the editing I hate.

For instance, the latest book on the chopping block was one that I wrote nearly 40 years ago, and it shows it’s age.  The location is nothing like it used to be, the working conditions were totally different, and it was in an age before computers and mobile phones.

So, editing is difficult because I want to leave it in the period it was written.

Do you know how hard it is not to get the MC to pick up a mobile phone and call, or, for that matter, send a text?

This was an age of telephone communication, where public phones were the mobile phone of the age, and telegrams were the text equivalent.

If you wanted to say something, you had to arrange a meeting, and then say it face to face.

How on earth did anyone get anything done, how did people meet, and then communicate?

Oh, yes, letters.

Ask a ten-year-old today what a letter is, and you might get an answer of ‘bills’, but only if their parents go to the letterbox and pull out those dreaded window-faced envelopes.

Was every relationship basically long-distance, even when you might, in reality, be only one or two suburbs away?

It’s being hard to cast my mind back to those old days, and try not to let the 2019 trappings creep in.

Of course, there are the other problems of writing from back then, it is a bit messy, but the core of the story doesn’t need tampering with.

It is also a reminder of how easy relationships are these days with the constant bombardment of calls and texts to keep the dream alive, and, sadly, how easy it is to break up.

Back then you would have to survive from meeting to meeting, perhaps once a week, or maybe, if you worked in a city, once a day, briefly.  The idea of telephone communication would sometimes be offputting because you dreaded the possibility of talking to a parent.

Perhaps we should go back to those days because it seems to me that more people of my generation are still together because back then it required a different kind of commitment to keep it going.

OK, time to climb back in the time capsule!

In a word: Fourth

When you realize you are the fourth child, you are really hoping that the split is two boys and three girls.  Woe betide you if you are a boy and you have three sisters.  It could also be as interesting, notice I didn’t say intolerable) if you are a girl with three brothers.

Hang on, I know someone who was in that exact same situation.  Fortunately, being a girl and the youngest, she could do no wrong in the eyes of her father.

But I digress (as usual)

The meaning of fourth is self-evident, just count to four and it’s the fourth number, perhaps better explained by the fact it is one after the third in a series

Then we use it with other words like,

Fourth-gear, usually reserved for the highway where one expects to geta clear run.  Of course, with more and more cars on the road, sometimes it’s difficult to get out of second.

The fourth estate, no, not what a rich person owns, along with a lot more one guesses, but another name for the press.

One fourth, your share of an estate, if of course, you have three other siblings.  And, in murder mysteries, usually those fourths seem to die mysteriously, and your fourth becomes a third, a half, and then you go to jail.

in fourth place, where it seems all the horse I back run

And,

This is not to be confused with the word forth, which sounds the same but means something entirely different, like

I’m sure we’ve all been told to go forth and be something or other, which means to go forward or come out of hiding

It is also a Scottish river, one notably called the Firth of Forth, and if it sounds odd, so do a lot things in Scotland

You could also place back and forth, much the same as you would in a hospital waiting for the birth of your first child.

Past conversations with my cat – 14

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This is Chester, the literary critic

 

It’s important to get that first sentence right, so I’m rattling off a few lines to get his reaction

‘It was a day like no other’

‘Yes, I know’, says the all knowledgeable Chester looking down his nose at me, ‘it’s been used before’.

We are sitting in the writing room and as usual, Chester is trying to ignore me.

I’m trying to start a new novel, looking for that first line that’s going to hook the reader.

I read him a few lines.

He gives me a disdainful look, ‘Heard it all before old boy, try again’.

Once Upon a time?

‘You’ve been watching too much TV’.

It was a dark and stormy night.

He yawns widely, ‘As if you haven’t used that before’.

He’s right, damn him.

Why am I talking to this cat anyway?

He jumps up onto the desk and sits on the keyboard.

Ok, writing is over for the day.

A writer’s experience – this will go in a book

New York is amazing place, filled with a multitude of experiences that often you have to go looking for, or, as in the case of the Brooklyn Diner, stumble over when out for a walk around the block, a very large block I might add.

This is one of those surprise discoveries.

On an early morning walk, I discovered the Brooklyn Diner, a small restaurant tucked away in a street not far from Columbus Circle, perhaps a piece of history from the American past.

After all, if you’re going to take in the sights, sounds, and food of a country what better way to do it than visiting what was once a tradition.

This one was called the Brooklyn Diner.  It had a combination of booths and counter sit down, though the latter was not a very big space, so we opted for a booth.

The object of going to a Diner is the fact they serve traditional American food, which when you get past the hot dogs and hamburgers and fries, takes the form of turkey and chicken pot pies among a variety of other choices.

Still looking for a perfectly cooked turkey, something I’ve never been able to do myself, I opted for the Traditional Turkey Lunch, which the menu invitingly said was cooked especially at the diner and was succulent.  I couldn’t wait.

We also ordered a hamburger, yes, yet another, and a chicken pot pie, on the basis the last one I had in Toronto was absolutely delicious (and cooked the same way since the mid-1930s)

While waiting we got to look at a slice of history belonging to another great American tradition, Baseball, a painting on the wall of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets field, long since gone from their home.

The Turnkey lunch looked like this

which didn’t seem to be much, and had this odd pasta slice on the plate, but the turkey was amazing and lived up to the menu description.

The Chicken Pot Pie looked like this

And looked a lot larger in reality than the photo shows.

But, sadly while it was not bad, it was a little dry, and could possibly do with using the more succulent thigh part of the chicken.

All of this was washed down by Long Island Ice Teas and Brooklyn Lager.

AS for the Diner experience, it’s definitely a 10 out of 10 for me.

I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 26

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

When I woke, I was outside the warehouse near an ambulance, and when I opened my eyes, I could see my mother, looking close to hysterical.  Further back, behind her, was Benderby himself, looking concerned.

A voice was saying, on the other side, “Just take it easy.  You’ve had a nasty knock to your head.”  I tried, instinctively, to move my hand there, but it was not responsive.

That scared me.

I tried wiggling my toes, and it felt like something was happening.  That was a good sign, wasn’t it?

Then I realised there were more people around the gurney I was lying on and a lot of chatter about a break-in and possible casualties.  There was only one, wasn’t there?  Me.

I went to say something to that effect when I stopped.  Not a good idea to say two masked assailants came to interrogate me about a map.  Firstly, my mother would be annoyed I was wasting my time on frivolous matters with Boggs, and secondly, everyone would think the blow did more damage to my sanity.

If they were calling it a break-in…

“What happened?” I asked.

I moved my head sideways further and could see the Sheriff standing next to Benderby.  The sheriff moved closer.

“We think one or two unknown persons got past the perimeter security, disabled the alarm system, and broke into the warehouse where you were.  One of the night security guards was doing his rounds when he found you on the floor in the main office.  Can you tell us what happened to you?”

One of the paramedics answered for me, “We need to stabilise the wound, check for concussion and any other side effects before you can question him.  That might have to wait until we get him to the hospital.  Now, I need everyone to stand back.”

And he meant everyone, including my mother.  I guessed they would let her come to the hospital with me, but if not, I was sure Benderby would bring her.  He actually had his arm around her, talking to her.  I didn’t think she liked him that much or was I just delirious?

I was about to tell the paramedic to tell the sheriff to go check on Boggs, but that would only lead to uncomfortable questions, and since Boggs had been so cavalier in putting the assailants onto me, I wasn’t very happy with him.  But I did wonder if they had gone back to him about my lack of co-operation, and what they might do to him.

Or, I just remembered, maybe nothing, because they thought it might be an elaborate hoax.  I was beginning to think that myself, despite Boggs giving me a copy of the map.  When I looked at it, on the surface it seemed to be the same as the one Osborne was peddling.

Whilst getting my head bandaged, I saw one of the sheriff’s men come running up to him, speaking and gesturing wildly.  I thought I heard a name, but the paramedic chose that exact moment to accidentally wrap the bandage around my ear.

Then I heard it, sharp and clear, perhaps as an answer to a question by Benderby.

“It’s Boggs.  Looks like someone gave him a severe beating and left him outside his house.”

The result of an equally forceful interrogation, or had it been a warning not to waste people’s time?

It would have to wait.  I had problems of my own.

© Charles Heath 2019

Being Inspired – the book

Over the past year or so I have been selecting photographs I’ve taken on many travels, and put a story to them.

When I reached a milestone of 50 stories, I decided to make them into a book, and, in doing so, I have gone through each and revised them, making some longer and into short stories.

50 photographs, 50 stories.  I’ve called it, “Inspiration, Maybe”

It will be available soon.

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Conversations with my cat – 51

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This is Chester. Our standoff continues.

I can tell he’s not happy because when he’s going down the paasage and I’m going in the opposite direction, he changes sides.

Instead of coming over to see what food he’s getting, he waits in another room. Tgat is fine by me because it takes a liitle longer to find out he’s not in an eating mood.

And come to think of it, he no longer climbs up on the tab l e when we’re having fish. I’ve told him mire than once that eating off someone else’s plate is just not good manners.

Perhaps i should not be so concerned he’s not talking to me, because he’s almost become the cat I’ve always wanted.

What’s that expression, cut your nose off to spite your face.

But, it isn’t going to last. This morning when I go down to the library, which is just a fancy name for my writing room, he’s sitting on top of my closed laptop.

I never used to close but the last time I cleaned it I found cat hair, an alleg a tion he vehemently denied, and tried to tell me it the dog we used to have.

I didn’t bother telling him the laptop is new, and the dog’s been gone for 12 years.

I ask him to move.

He yawns and makes him self more comfortable.

He still hasn’t realised that all I have to do is pick him up, and move him, which I do.

I sit down to start work, he jumps up on the table and gives me that ‘I dare you to do that again’ look, I stare back with the ‘do you really want to do this’ look.

Fifteen minutes later…