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The way it ends...
Posted by Simon on 27th, August 2011 at 07:06:06
A question I'm persistently asked - and have been so again this week - is do I know how the tvdetective series will end?
The answer is yes, and as it's the Saturday of a long weekend, and you've caught me at an upbeat moment, I can even give you a few little clues as to the outcomes.
Firstly - and this is the most commonly posed question of all - yes, the Dan / Claire situation will be resolved. But I'm not saying any more about that! You'll just have to wait and see.
A little aside here (you were waiting for it, come on, you know me well enough by now), and it's one particularly for my female readers. Yes, I know Dan is an idiot, yes, I know he treats poor Claire dreadfully, yes, I too wonder what she sees in him sometimes and why she hangs around, and yes, I'm sorry about all that! He's just emotionally inept, and that's the way it is. Give him some leeway, he might just come round and learn... maybe.
And no, don't start asking that other oft-heard question about whether Dan is in any way based upon myself! That's a definite no comment.
Right, back to the point. I'm guessing, at the moment, there will probably be around ten or twelve books in the series, which puts us roughly at the half-way point (that's based on the sizeable assumption / hope that people want to keep reading them, and some poor publisher will be willing to inflict them upon the world).
I've got plots in mind for at least the next three books, depending on how they pan out when I start planning them properly. All the familiar characters should feature until the end - I don't have much in the way of plans to kill off one of the "stars", though it can be tempting sometimes!
There'll also be the return of a couple of other characters you've met along the way, particularly one from The Balance of Guilt, and for an important reason. Why? Well, I do intend to let you know why Dan is such a coward, or at least appears to be...
And that's quite enough of that for now, before I write too much! See how you make me give things away?!
Finally for this post, the big question of how is it all going to end? I'm not sure how much I can say about that, except to disagree with - TS Eliot, was it? - about the way the world ends. I hope to manage at least a passable bang, rather than a whimper.
And lastly finally (honestly!)... just a couple of sentences from the heart. When the series is finally done, I sure am going to miss it, to put it mildly. It's been such fun, an absolute joy, and the passage to another world for me, one that I've come to love.
My fickle mistress
Posted by Simon on 24th, August 2011 at 07:59:31
A little musing upon the muse...
She's been remarkably fickle of late, and I'm not quite sure why this is.
When I came back from the fine times of the Writers Hols in Swanwick, she was resolutely missing and not a clue where she might have gone. This was quite a concern, until I came to think it was a mixture of tiredness - and boy, I was tired - and post hols comedown.
So I waited, got some rest, and bingo! Back she came, bursting into my life, as only she can do.
I'm talking here in the context of my current "project". A quick aside (you're well used to them by now) - I love the way writers use that word as it can cover such a huge range of work, from a few sentences to a great novel.
My project of the moment, as I've mentioned in previous ramblings, is a stage play. I'm very much enjoying writing it, and making passable progress - but all that's conditional on the muse coming to visit.
And now she's really playing games. Yesterday she was here and vividly and lovingly with me, as I just wrote and wrote. And looking back this morning on what I did yesterday, most of it seems to make some kind of sense.
Today however... no matter how I search the house, or the reaches of my mind, not a hint. Which is frustrating, to put it mildly, but then that's the way it goes.
I was trying to work out if there was some link between the muse and my physical state, whether tired or fresh, my emotional mood, the weather, the time of the week, what I had to look forward to in the coming day or whatever. And I can cheerfully report I have come to no useful conclusions whatsoever. She is simply fickle.
Yet another aside here - I'm wondering whether other writers suffer similarly; I'd sure be interested. You're always welcome to let me know. Don't forget you can get in touch via the contact page of the site - www.thetvdetective.com/contact.html
Anyhow, back to the final point, and it's this. I've now had to put into practice a hard-learned lesson. When it ain't coming, it ain't coming and there's nothing I can do about it. So for now I'm walking away, going for a run around the river, and thinking of other things instead.
And, like a lovelorn lover, desperately hoping she'll come back to me soon!
A hard landing
Posted by Simon on 20th, August 2011 at 07:37:48
Here's a peculiar happening - a Saturday morning that feels rather like a Monday.
I suspect it's the old return home after being on hols (kind of!) thing, a sort of bumpy landing on the airstrip of normality. As mentioned in my previous blog, I had an amazing time in Swanwick at the Writers' Summer School, but as ever with something so exhilarating it all ends far too soon.
A quick and traditional Hall aside here - why must it be the way in life that the dull bits drag on and the fun bits fly? "Dear whatever powers that be, can you kindly change this in future upgraded versions of existence..."
Anyway, as I was saying, last night I slept for nigh on ten hours straight through - Swanwickers, you tired me out! - something which I can't remember happening since the carefree days of childhood. And I awoke with a mix of great pleasure at the week and sadness at it being over.
Thanks firstly to all those kind people who've got in touch to compliment me on the lectures, and to request my friendship on Facebook. I'm proud to report I now have 140 friends, which in my view almost makes me young and very happening!
And secondly, now my mind has settled, a quick recap over the many highlights, on the surface to share my thoughts with you, "like what these blog things is supposed to be about", or perhaps just for me to have the pleasure of reliving them -
The buskers night and the great entertainments there, the discos and the dancing (attempted dancing in some cases), the spontenous chats that sprang up anywhere and everywhere, fuelled by the shared passion for writing, the guest speakers, the pleasure of lecturing to a great and talented group of crime enthusiasts, and finally, and most importantly - simply the people.
I met some amazing folk at Swanwick, some of whom touched me in ways I wonder if they'll ever really understand. Thank you so much one and all, I hope we'll stay in touch and get together again in the years to come.
Off to the gym now for my standard Saturday morning beating myself up session - I need it after all the rich puddings of last week (not to mention the odd half of fruit juice here and there.)
So, yours for now, with far less of a Monday morning feeling after reliving all those many smiles...
Posted by Simon on 18th, August 2011 at 13:37:39
I've just finished my last lecture of the Swanwick Writers' Summer School, and am left amidst a mix of emotions.
Firstly, there's a great and warming pleasure in that - from my perspective at least! - it's gone well and the kind folk who came along to the talks appear to have got a fair bit from them.
I think I can now reveal that a sizeable mass of work went into the lectures. In fact, the planning started just after Xmas. I was keenly aware it was the first extended session of teaching I'd ever done, and quite something to take on.
So, there's plenty of relief in the old Hall mind at the moment too. But there's also a strange sadness.
One of the most wonderful things about Swanwick is how quickly people bond here. It may be the holiday thing, it may be the shared passion of writing, it might even be the excellent entertainments that we enjoy night after night (I tried some Latin Dancing last night, but that's another story entirely, and maybe an 18 certificate - needless to say of one cursed with clumsiness that my efforts weren't entirely successful, to put it mildly), but it just happens.
I've been made to feel so very welcome, and enjoyed the company of my group to the extent that when the lecture was winding up today I could feel a tremble in the voice and a gathering tension in my throat.
It's been a privilege to be here to share in a fantastic week, so here's a formal, but heartfelt, thank you to all the people who came along to witness my ramblings, and of course the organisers for all their hard work.
Finally, before I crash out for a much needed doze, if you've ever thought about writing I can thorougly recommend Swanwick to you. I very much hope to be allowed back in the years to come, and to maintain the friendships I've found here.
And don't forget, if anyone wants to keep in touch, let me know how they're doing with their writing, or send me any feedback or thoughts about the tvdetective books, or my lectures, you can get in touch via the contact page of the site - www.thetvdetective.com/contact.html It'd be a pleasure to hear from you.
A writing "holiday"
Posted by Simon on 16th, August 2011 at 16:37:08
By my reckoning, that's half way through my Writers' Holiday at Swanwick, so I thought it was time to put fingers to keyboard to let you, my poor, long-suffering reader, know how it was going.
Great is the simple answer!
The easy bit first, the teaching. Regular sufferers of this blog will be familiar with my agonising about teaching - the old "who am I to do it, how do I even know what to do?" thing. Well, the kind folk here have eased those concerns beautifully. I'm blessed with a great group of aspiring crime writers, very talented too, some 50 in number, who have been good enough to listen to what I'm saying and even feedback that it's all making some sort of sense.
Big relief, and, if truth be told - big smile too. I've been preparing for these lectures since just after Xmas!
Secondly onto the more vague issue of the "feel" of the place. And that's a big rocket to the clouds too. It's great. All the people here, staff and students, have been so warm and welcoming, there was never an issue of me feeling awkward or out of place. The campus is stunning; beautiful and peaceful too, as is the local countryside. I never thought I'd say this, but I went for a run yesterday and it was nearly (nearly!) as fine as my native Devon.
The school is beautifully organised, it's impossible not to feel at home, and here's a measure of that. We had a disco for our entertainment one evening, and even the ungainly, arhythmic Hall creature felt no hesitation in dancing, or some such approximation thereof.
So, for those of you who aren't here and might spare a tiny thought for this wandering author, fear not for all is well. And for those of you who are, here's a hearty thank you for treating me to such a fine time. Cheers!
Posted by Simon on 12th, August 2011 at 15:35:32
I'm good at doubts. Lots of things in life I never really got the hang of - relationships, reverse parking, fashion sense, throwing the javelin, baking cakes, multiplying matrices, and many, many others - but doubts were never a problem.
Self doubts are a particular strength. And so I write to you today surrounded by a whole host of the carping crowd.
It's back to teaching again. Tomorrow, I embark upon the longest spell of the teaching of writing that I've ever attempted - almost a whole week, no less. I've worked hard at the plans and ideas, the exercises and the interactive bits, and think I've come up with a passable series of moderately informative and even occasionally entertaining lectures...
...but now, as the moment to deliver them approaches, here come the doubts.
It's all back to the same old question, the one I've mentioned many a time before - who am I to try to teach? What do I really know about writing? Why should anyone listen to me?
I'm trying to reassure myself with the soothing whisper that such feelings are only natural, a sort of "first night nerves" thing, but nonetheless I'm feeling a tad on the wobbly side at the moment.
I know I'll get through, it's something I've experienced before. In the run up to any big gig or talk, I'll commonly feel like this. It's only natural.
But that's not helping to ease the doubts away!
So, a curiously downbeat blog for a Friday. I shall go take some of my special medicine, the fermented vegetable products type, courtesy of a nearby public house, and talk to some of my fine friends, and doubtless I shall feel better.
But the real point of this blog? Just to ask you to occasionally spare a thought for the performer.
As you sit at an event, a talk, a lecture, whatever, remember the person at the front there may not always be as calm and in control as it may seem... so, if you'd be so kind, smiling, nodding, appreciating and laughing at the right points is always very welcome for a fellow human being in a position that can often feel more than a little lonely...
Posted by Simon on 8th, August 2011 at 07:28:56
One thing I've said time and again in these blogs is how much you discover about yourself when you start writing.
For me, a key revelations is the trait that I have to continually challenge myself. When I first thought about writing, the question was whether I had the discipline and ability to write a book?
When I managed that, it was whether I could get the thing into a passable enough shape to be published. And after reaching that rather surprising/alarming landmark, it was onto the nerve wracking business of going out and talking about the thing at libraries and literary festivals.
And then came the even more daunting prospect of writing another one...
The reason for this continual need to test myself goes back to my childhood I suspect, and feeling I always had to prove myself. I don't think I'll go into any more of that here if you don't mind - I'm happy to say a fair bit in these blogs, but that might be a trespass too far into a very tender land.
Anyway, back to the point, and it was this. I mentioned before about this play I'm writing, based on the tvdetective books. I'm now looking back in amazement at how easily I agreed to do it, as if it were just the simplest of natural progressions from writing novels. Naive or what?!
I'm now well into planning the play, and have come to properly understand just what a mammoth task I'm taking on. It's not just the plot and characters and writing, it's all the direction and lighting and scene changes and thinking about how to use the stage and so much!
I confess here to a very intense visit to the library, to look up some of the great playwrights and an attempt to crib tips from the masters.
Which isn't to say I'm not enjoying it - I very much am - but just a musing on what it seems to take to keep me entertained. A continual need to break new ground, to challenge myself is, I've come to think, a welcome trait - mostly. But the question that lingers in the darkness at the edge of my mind is - when do I ever rest and properly relax?
Well, I think I've said quite enough for this entry. That last question is not one I'm thinking about for now! It's time to exit the online world stage left. I need to get back to this play...
Posted by Simon on 3rd, August 2011 at 14:40:10
You kind folk who take time to be interested in my humble scribblings are certainly into your music.
It doesn't feel so long ago that I wrote in a blog of why I don't - unlike quite a few other authors - quote or mention songs in the tvdetective books (to recap - because I think it can be exclusive to those who don't know the works in question was the reason).
Well, another musically themed question has arrived, asking what my favourite sad songs are? And as I'm in a kind of appropriate mood to answer it, here we go.
A quick aside (you're used to them by now, come on) - part of the reason is that I've been feeling a little nostalgic of late. It's hard to say exactly why, but at least some of the explanation is a song I heard on the very fine BBC Radio Station Number Two.
It was Roger Whittaker's The Last Farewell, and it took me straight back through the many intervening years, an instant transportation, to my childhood. I recall my parents playing it in the car, back in what must have been 1975 or so, and thus suffered the old misty eyes syndrome for days long lost.
Anyhow, back to the question, and away from another of the familiar Hall digressions. The answer is as follows -
Oh, first one more little caveat. I might just be speaking for Dan and myself here, if you know what I mean - and I suspect you do.
Probably the saddest song in our limited scope of knowledge and floundering efforts of opinion is Fleetwood Mac's Man of the World. It's that ruthless puncturing of an image - one of someone so successful they could never have a care. It's pure Dan, who on the surface is doing so well, but scratch a little at the surface and....
Following that, and not in any particular order now - Elvis's I Just Can't Help Believin' (the live version) is tearful for its summation of forlorn, lovelorn hope. Then there's For the Good Times, the Perry Como recording (although Elvis also did a belter), for its lament of the end of a precious relationship.
Another which thuds the heart is Kevin Johnson's Rock and Roll I Gave You the Best Years of my Life, because of the way it captures the cold death of a dream. And finally for this little roll call, Dan would always point you to the Stones' Paint it Black, for the way it portrays how we - sorry, he - can sometimes feel.
Cor, that was quite a blog, it just flowed out and felt remarkably cathartic to write. I hope it provides some kind of passable answer for my questioner (you know who you are!). I guess, as Elton John once memorably sang, Sad Songs say so Much.
Don't forget, if you've got a question about the tvdetective books, or any area of my writing, you can get in touch via the contact page of the site - www.thetvdetective.com/contact.html