And so life goes on. I work from home, in my day job and writing. This has its advantages, like not having to do battle with public transport every day. But it’s got its disadvantages too, one being that I work in what used to be my elder daughter’s bedroom. It’s in the front of the house and, all too easily, I get distracted by what’s going on outside. I would love a room of my own, it’d be a writing room, studio and music room all at once, somewhere I could sing as I made jewellery as I wrote. Maybe, if the room were big enough, I could have a swimming pool at one end. I’d have to use waterproof ink and paper.
But as I haven’t won the lottery I need to find a way of making myself concentrate on writing. I find the hardest part of the process is getting ideas. Different folk have different ways of doing it, and I’ll be writing about that next time. But one way is – use someone else’s.
I don’t mean plagiarize others’ work. But to take old stuff and do something new with it. Almost every plot Shakespeare used was borrowed, but what he did with them was highly original. Every thought has been had, but we have never existed before we’re an original passage through which the idea can flow.
I did it. Some time ago, I had a story published called For Old Times’ Sake. I’m always happy to get an acceptance was particularly pleased about this one. Here’s why.
I posted in August about my father the writer. My mother wrote, too – she died when I was seventeen and many is the time I’ve wondered what she would have thought about the things that happen in the world and to me. I’d love to talk to her about writing. Her discussions about it with the teenage me didn’t extend further than “What shall I call the boyfriend in this one?” “Tony” “No, don’t like that. Steve.” “Again?” We kids got the carbon copies of manuscripts for drawing paper. Were we scribbling on the back of untold and unsold tales?
I have a stash of magazines in which her stories appeared, containing articles about cooking and knitting, or the pill and abortion, depending on the target age group. I found it interesting to note that many of the stories just wouldn’t work nowadays, as we have cellphones and the internet. For example, there’s one where a woman has flounced off, leaving her husband. She gets on a bus. He needs to tell her something so he drives after the bus. Or another, where a woman is stuck at home waiting for the phone to ring with the results of a pregnancy test – today you’d buy one yourself and get the answer in a few moments.
A few years ago I found a bundle of some of her original story manuscripts, dating from the nineteen-sixties. There were four that I realised had never been accepted. I examined them with a critical eye, and I could see why three of them hadn’t been. But the fourth – no clue. Only that, in those days, women’s magazines didn’t print stories about the supernatural (nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find a women’s magazine in the UK that published stories about anything, but that’s another matter). So I took that basic idea – meeting an old friend who may or may not be a witch, and wrote my own story.
If I believed in any of it, I’d hope that my mother is pleased that the idea finally saw the light of day, at least on the internet. But my beliefs about the hereafter will have to wait for another day.