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I got one finished!!

Unfortunately, it was another one of the Wheel of Time so this isn’t so much a review as a discussion point.  There are (sort of) spoilers ahead!

Book 48 – A Crown of Swords, by Robert Jordan.  This is book 7 of the series, so I’ve reached the halfway point and the speed has slumped somewhat.  However, that is not what I’m going to talk about today.

No, what I’m going to talk about is sex.

For a fantasy novelist, Jordan’s descriptions of sexual encounters is a little shy.  When sex is mentioned it leads to blushes, fingernail marks or haylofts…  This is good because badly written sex scenes are uncomfortable to read, but it does mean we are in a fantasy world with Victorian morality.

In this particular book there are three sexual encounters that really stood out as being different:

  1.  A man is ashamed of having sex with a female character, calling himself a ‘monster’ for ‘forcing himself’ on her despite the fact that she initiated the encounter and was as willing as him.  I do not understand this scene.  It took the story no further forward, made very little sense and made the male character seem foolish.  Arguably, it shows the female character as being empowered in some way but as the most likeable of the women it wasn’t really necessary.  I think what it mostly identifies is that the male character has a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders that makes him hard and potentially cruel, and that he fears being cruel to women more than anything.  That would gel with the character but we’ve seen that enough times not to need it again!
  2. A woman sleeps with a man she hates, to save herself from a man she fears.  This made sense in the scheme of the story, and for the character.  It was treated as a serious event, something from which she would have to recover and shown as something deeply painful, more painful than the physical danger to her – it hurt more than she would have realised.  For this particular character, it highlighted both how far she was from the world she knew and how alone she felt,despite being surrounded by people who cared for her.  The tone of this section of the book was sombre and reflective.
  3. A man is pursued by a more powerful woman and, ultimately, raped.  This section gave me great pause for thought.  The character is cajoled, starved, dragged, bullied and ultimately threatened at knifepoint to sleep with a woman who has taken a fancy to him, with the laughing help of various women.  The situation is treated as comical, with one of the key female protagonists mocking him for it and saying it is a taste of his own medicine (despite it being clear he would never force his attentions on anyone).  It is revolting, and there is absolutely no reason for it to happen in this way or for the reaction to be as it is.  Despite not liking the female protagonist anyway, I can say it is utterly outside her normal behaviour and is another example of Jordan writing women badly.  Quite honestly, as the male character is only in this situation to aid the female protagonist and keep her safe, I kind of hope he doesn’t bother again.

I love the series for the world it creates, and the complex weaving of magic and its own internal history, but there are such unnecessary choices sometimes I find it frustrating to read.

The series is long – the total series length is about 4.25 million words, discounting the prequel! – so it is hard to maintain a sense of focus when the story meanders into sections that negatively impact on both the progress of, and my enjoyment of, the tale.

I remember struggling with these middle books before, and nearly stopping.  The only thing that keeps me going is my historic inability to give up on books – I have overcome that with new reads, but because I know I got past this point before, and the books get better again, I will keep going for now!

If you’re reading with me, just don’t expect to understand the morality of Rand al’Thor’s world.

On another point – I won’t get through 52 this year, but I gave it a good go and am reading a very long series!  Here’s to adding a few more to the numbers next year!

Happy reading,

EJ

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I finally finished the second Germany trip book, only to find it didn’t finish!

Book 37 – Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell. This book follows the life of Molly Gibson. She is the daughter of the widowed village GP, a quiet and well-behaved girl who has a close and fulfilling relationship with her father. But, as she grows up and a young man who Dr Gibson is training falls in love with her, the Dr realises things need to change. She is set to visit a nearby invalid lady who has no children of her own, and Dr Gibson proposes to a seemingly suitable woman.

As the story develops, Molly’s life changes remarkably. Gone is the warm closeness of her home life and instead she lives with daily irritations and frustrations. HOwever, what she loses on the one hand, she gains on the other with a beautiful and irresistible new sister.

However, that sister seems destined to deprive Molly of the one man she could ever love…

I knew how this story would end – but sadly, it doesn’t. Gaskell died part-way through the serialisation of the story, and all we are left with is a rounding up of a few loose strands by the editor of the magazine in which it was published. I was really disappointed, actually – I was invested in Molly’s relationships and the people she met. I wanted to see what happened next to more than just her.

I enjoyed it, and thought the characters – especially Molly, Dr Gibson and Roger Hamley, all very sympathetic characters – were incredibly charming, for varied reasons. Mrs Gibson veered towards caricature but had redeeming features which rounded her off a little, and the rest of the characters all had their own quirks which gave them a sense of individuality. It’s worth reading – but without an ending you need to make up your own, and in this case it wasn’t quite as satisfying as I thought it might be!

Book 38 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander (Ok, J.K. Rowling!). This book was sold for Comic Relief and is a real-life version of a book referred to in the Harry Potter stories. There is an introductory section about how a magical book could be for sale in the Muggle world, then Newt Scamander’s intro and the A-Z of beasts. Inside, there are margin notes by Harry, Ron and (just once, I think!) Hermione.

This isn’t really a book for review like the others – I bought it for fun because it was being sold for charity, and I do love the way the Harry Potter universe is so intricate and detailed. It’s not long, and it’s light-hearted, and it’s easy-going. It’s quite clearly aimed at children, and I may use some of the creatures described as inspiration for the decor for my family Halloween party!

If you are interested in the Harry Potter world this is a fun addition to the bookshelf, and if not, it’s sold for a good cause!

Happy reading,
EJ
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I have feelings about this one.  I am not sure where they will end up, so this review is as much about unpacking them as sharing with you!  There will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum

Book 36 – The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton.  Nella Oortman is just 18 when, in 1686, she is married to a stranger and sent to live in Amsterdam in a house full of shadowy conversations and unexpected characters.  Her husband Johannes barely looks at her, her sister-in-law is sharp and evasive, the maid is rude and the man-servant is a black man who, whilst deemed free, has a hazy past in which his status is very much a mystery to Nella.  Trying to give his wife something to focus on in her many hours alone, Johannes presents her with a replica of their house, for her to fill at will.

Nella feels a degree of aversion to the replica but after events lead her to reassess her situation, she seeks out a miniaturist to fill the house with things that will fill the voids in her own life.  However, the items she receives are far more than she expected, and set in motion a train of events that may, or may not, be influenced and controlled by the artist.  As Nella’s life judders out of control, and terrible secrets are revealed, she finds herself unable to stop them all heading for disaster.

This book has been lauded by critics, and is certainly an interesting take on the historical novel genre. There were some lovely details that gave the book depth and texture: the era was integral to the tale.

However, I did feel the characters were very modern in a number of ways: *spoiler alert* for example, the household’s acceptance of, and reaction to, homosexuality seemed out of kilter with what we knew of their characters and the era *end of spoiler*.  I felt that the growth of Nella, in the course of the story, was out of keeping with anything that could be expected of a young lady of her background.  The use of foreshadowing and signposting sometimes took away some elements of suspense for me as well.

I also felt that the miniaturist storyline was less engaging than it should have been. It started extremely strongly but as the story grew it felt less and less integral to the plot, and it concluded without the punchy impact I wanted.

Still, the way the story ended for Johannes and his sister was very powerful because it highlighted the view that people cannot hide from fate.  There was a strong sense of what is, and is not, inevitable throughout the book.  Nella exhibited a sense of arrested childhood due to situations outside her control, had constant distractions when seeking out the Miniaturist, and had to think in a brand new way to cope with the future she was facing.  All these things made it seem that her path was not of her own choosing, but that fate helped prepare her for what would come to her.

I liked the book – it was very hard to put down once I started, and the language was satisfying.  Repeated motifs of shadows and light were used to good effect, but with subtlety.  However, I also found its central pillar – the Miniaturist storyline – a little unsatisfying and vaguely concluded.  It never really went where I expected and seemed to hang just over the horizon in some way.

The characters were interesting, if a little out of time, and their strangeness to the Amsterdam norms neatly reflected Nella’s own feelings of not belonging.

I think this may be more enjoyable second time around; not only because details might be more readily picked up but also because I wouldn’t be waiting for evidence that my assumptions were right!  So perhaps I’ll pick this one up again in a few months and see if I can sum up my feelings any better after a repeat read…

Happy reading,

EJ

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In two weeks, I’ve read one book – I need to pick up the pace a little, I think!

Book 28 – Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe.  This book is described as a true account by the eponymous Moll Flanders of her life as, variously, ward of state, whore, wife, mother, thief, adulterer, convict, transportee, plantation owner and Christian.

Moll’s tale starts with her less than illustrious birth to a criminal mother, some good fortune in coming into the care of a good woman, and her subsequent favour with some wealthy benefactors.  Her life starts to stumble downwards from there as she falls in love with the eldest son of the house, who takes her virtue and pays for her silence.  From there is a catalogue of marriages, barely-there children, good fortune, bad fortune, crime and punishment.  Some of the more dramatic elements include unwittingly marrying her own brother, being paid for sex by a Baronet and then robbing him (and finally becoming his mistress), repeated bigamy, and the robbing of people whose home was burning down.

This is an earthy tale, one where the key character both hides and reveals her wickedness, with lewd comments veiled over and sexual behaviour covered with off-hand comments.  I can imagine that, for its time, it was quite shocking in subject matter.  However, Moll, despite her evident ‘wickedness’ remains a character the reader can sympathise with – her initial, bruising encounter with the wrong type of man set her on a path that inevitably tested a young woman of the time, and many of her trials, and poor behaviours, were a direct result of the fear of poverty.  Her later avarice seems inevitable when you consider how many times she has lost everything.

I also think, as a modern reader, some of the ‘sins’ she committed – such as sex outside of marriage, and having a child as a result – would be viewed very differently – so it seems doubly cruel that she was so damaged by it.  In fact, I mentioned to my husband when I started reading it that this book probably couldn’t be written in such a way nowadays.

Of course, an attempted theft wouldn’t lead to hanging or transportation now either, so some of the horror and fear was a little lost on me at first, but the depiction of the prison reminded me how far removed we are today from the plight of our forebears.

This book is a classic, but having never read it before or seen an adaptation of it, I didn’t know what to expect.  What I got was a long book, with an engaging lead character and some really odd narrative choices.  As the book may be based, in part, on the real-life experiences of Moll King, it is possible that Defoe was trying to utilise some of her experiences.  However, the choice to inadvertently marry Moll to her brother seems a little weird to me!

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and I think it bears reading again.  Moll is a character who, even when utterly penitent about her previous criminal life, still lives with a twinkle in her eye.  She’s never dull, and she’s never hateful, and she owns her own mistakes even as she repeats them.  This book has a surprisingly modern feel considering its age, and it was a far easier book to read than many others I’ve tried!

Happy reading,

EJ

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Do you remember the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? It was made at the very tail end of the 1980’s (I hadn’t realised it was as old as that!) and starred Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. It was a silly film with a good heart.

There was one line in it that keeps springing to mind at the moment – ‘be excellent to each other’.

 BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER -  BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER  Bill and Ted

(image from quickmeme.com)

Isn’t that a great sentiment? ‘Be excellent to each other’. Not be nice, or do the appropriate thing, but be excellent. Be the best you can be, the top of your interpersonal game. Be the one leading the way.

I think of excellence as being something close to perfection, but maybe to be excellent to each other means genuinely doing what we can to help and support the people we meet on our journey through life.

To make it real, to make it our mindset on a daily basis, takes work, but so does everything we really want. How hard did we try as babies to learn to sit, to speak, to be understood? How hard do we strive for the things we feel are important?

We are human, and imperfect, and we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for that.  But if we all work hard at being excellent to each other, at least we’ll know we are trying to be our best selves, and that’s a great thing in and of itself.

Have an excellent few days and I’ll be back on Sunday.

EJ

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I am aiming to get myself back on track over the next few weeks, so expect to see a few random choices from the inheritance pile (of slightly thinner books!) as well as some more well-known tomes…  I will also warn you in advance that this post is really long due to book 26!

Book 25 – The Kings Shadow, by Judith Polley. This book follows Katherine Ashley, daughter of one of Cromwell’s finest commanders, whose fiance is killed by the Royalists in Worcester, in 1651.  She is told that Justin Douglas, the ‘King’s Shadow’ gave the order and a fierce hatred is born in her.  When she meets Douglas in an inn, she concocts a plan to lead him to his doom – but things go awry and soon she is his prisoner, faced with the truth of her fiance’s death, and beginning to trust the man she wanted dead.

This is a proper, 1970s, historical romance.  There is the tearing of clothes, the fainting, the cruel father, the vicious pursuer, the Stockholm Syndrome love.  It was absolutely full of all the tropes of the genre, and I think that’s why I find these books so much fun – as a writer I can see the gaping plot holes and the clichés, the systematic use of genre-specific characters (the beautiful heroine – tick; the brooding, misunderstood hero – tick; the violent and obsessive Other Man – tick; the distant and abusive father – tick; the jolly innkeeper’s wife – tick…) but as a reader I can dive in and escape from reality.

Katherine is brave and naive whereas Justin is brave and cynical, and the book rests on us believing these things.  Everything else requires suspension of disbelief!

This is not the kind of book you’d read if you were looking for a really literary offering, but it is enjoyable and readable, and that is perfectly fine for a summertime story!

I read this at the same time as:

Book 26 – Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  This review has major spoilers, so be warned… Part one: On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick and Amy start the day with crepes.  By that afternoon, Amy is missing, and we follow the unfolding story of her disappearance, and Nick’s public demonisation.  Part Two: Amy is revealed to be alive, and the disappearance a sham to frame Nick.  Nick realises this, and starts to fight back.  Part three: Amy returns home and the two become trapped in the miasma of their mutual love/hate.

I really didn’t enjoy the book, although I appreciate its clever style and use of unreliable narrators.

In part one we are introduced to Amy through a series of diary entries, which show her to be a bubbly, happy, lovely, wonderful, scared, terrorised, panic-stricken woman (in turn).  I thought diary-Amy was a self-centred poser.  Everything about her screamed privilege, and she was incredibly annoying – oh, the trust fund was just enough to make me comfortable but not to make me lazy; oh, I write quizzes for a living using my psychology Masters but I am a REAL WRITER (caps lock appeared a lot)…  It was interesting to move on to psycho-crazy-murderous Amy after that, to see a more fully fleshed-out person. However, psycho-crazy-murderous Amy was both too clever – she’d thought of everything to implicate other people – and yet foolish enough to be manipulated into returning to Nick by a few well-chosen outfits and a couple of key words.

Part one Nick was also a self-centred poser, not to mention a cheat, a liar and an obnoxious idiot.    He had an affair, having dragged his wife away from everything she knew to care for his father (who he never saw) and his mother (who Amy spent a lot of time looking after once he used her trust fund remnants to buy a bar with his sister).  They rented a house, because Amy didn’t want to settle in his hometown – a compromise, he called it – and then he bought a business there anyway…  Part two Nick is a rage-fuelled, manipulative liar who dreams of killing his wife. and becomes steadily more unstable himself.

These characters are awful – and that’s what works brilliantly in this book.  I genuinely didn’t care who ‘won’ out of the two of them and I felt that Amy was treated shabbily by Nick.  For a writer to make the framed husband, who is ostensibly a ‘nice guy’, and the psychotic wife equally loathsome was incredibly clever.  I have such a strong reaction to both Amy, and to Nick, that writing about them makes me feel tense: that strength of reaction to any character is amazing, but to have it with two/three in the same book is an astounding writing feat.

A lot has been said about the ending, which I didn’t enjoy at the time.  In retrospect I think that too was a brilliant story-telling decision.  By the end of part three Nick was as unstable as Amy, and as trapped by her lies as she was: him trapped with her, and her trapped in a fake personality.  The ending highlighted to me that there was no way out for either of them, and that they had become the absolute opposite of the loving couple they were when they got married.  More, it highlighted that they had done it by choice.

I found it hard to get into, and I found it gruelling as a read – it is very dark, and I really don’t enjoy the style even as I appreciate the skill.  I will probably not read it again, but it was a masterclass in creating characters that are like barbs under your skin.

Happy reading,

EJ

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After a very limited sleep and going back to work today, I’m not 100% sure this post will be any better than it would have been yesterday. Still, needs must and all that, so here goes…

Book 18 – The Goldsmith’s Wife, by Jean Plaidy (one of my Grandma’s old books). This is a fictionalised account of the life of (Elizabeth) Jane Shore, one of the most famous women of King Edward IV’s court, lover not only to the King but also (after his death) to his stepson and one of his most trusted advisers. It explores how her beauty and warmth captivated the powerful, and took her from a respectable, if stultifying marriage, into the glamour and sensuality of the Court.

Plaidy takes some liberties with the accepted history of both Jane’s first marriage and her later relationships, but the narrative flow of the story is an intriguing picture of a woman both warm and beautiful; someone who used her power with the king not for her own sake but to petition for pardons for those who had fallen out of favour.

However, there is one relationship that Jane forms that fundamentally changes the readers perception of her wisdom and goodness, which seemed to be abusive. I don’t know if this was Plaidy’s plan but based on the known history it was one of many ways to explore the relationship and this choice didn’t fit with the character or the rest of the story particularly comfortably.

The story generally paints a number of the male characters in a negative light, but surprisingly paints Richard III as a victim of circumstance and false history. I wonder how she would feel about the finding of his remains and his reinterment…

I do enjoy Plaidy’s books, and they’re great holiday reads, but this one didn’t connect as well as some. The time period isn’t one I know much about, the abusive relationship was a narrative choice I can’t really get behind, and the ending was much sadder than the evidence suggests was the case for Jane. Still, it did give me a way into a period of history I really ought to try to learn more about!

Book 19 – Coffin’s Ghost, by Gwendoline Butler (one of my Nan’s old books!). This is the story of John Coffin, Chief Commander of the Second City of London Police, in a fictional world where London has been split into two cities. As Coffin recovers from an attempt on his life, the arms and legs of a woman are found on the doorstep of his old home. The story follows this and a number of other crimes being investigated, and how they cross and tangle each other.

This was an unusual read. I wasn’t too keen on the style early on and even by the end there were choices made by the writer that irritated me and took me out of the story. The big reveal was almost mundane, considering the clue crumbs that were dropped through the story, and it didn’t work for me particularly well.

However, I enjoyed the core of the book. The characters were generally interesting and sufficiently twisted and complex that I had absolutely no idea who the dead woman was, or who had put her there. The unreliable nature of the police officers was a great storyline, because there was never any confidence in what they were saying – any one of them could have been a liar, or telling the absolute truth – there was no way of knowing.

There was some heavy-handedness about pushing certain ideas, which made me doubt them, and I did think I knew who had committed one of the crimes stated quite early on, but despite my disappointment in the ending I left this book thinking it was an educational read, genre-wise.

This is one of a series of books with the character, and if I find another I will certainly read it!

So there you have it – 2 holiday reads, neither in any way taxing, but both bringing entirely different styles to the table!

Until next time – happy reading,
EJ
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Sorry, panto rehearsals ran massively over yesterday and I was practically asleep by the time I got home – and it’s 11pm and I just got home from today’s run through so I was nearly another day late!

Book 9 – Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This book flicks back and forth between the modern day and Depression-Era USA, telling the story of Jacob Jankowski as flashbacks from the man now in his 90’s.

In his last weeks at Cornell University, Jacob’s parents are killed in an accident. It becomes clear that they have left nothing for Jacob; their house is owned by the bank, and Jacob is left penniless and without access to the family veterinary practise he has trained to join.

Jacob’s loss is too much for him to process and he walks out of the university and jumps a train. This happens to be a circus train and his life changes irrevocably as a result.

Jacob falls in love – with a married woman, a menagerie and an elephant called Rosie. As times get hard for the circus, the difference in experience of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ becomes ever clearer. Jacob brings a sense of right and wrong into a world that doesn’t follow the rules he knows, and he grows to loathe the very people he relies on to stay on the train. Meanwhile loyalties and friendships are tested and it becomes dangerous to be known as Jacob’s friend.

As Jacob struggles to accept the fate of his friends, it is others who take out their revenge on the circus and release him from his chains.

Reading that, the book was quite exciting – it certainly covered a lot of intrigue and action. But I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was well-written, full of rich detail and very well researched, but the tone of it was unpleasant. The constancy of the violence and threat which underpinned the story was oppressive. The life-long love story wasn’t romantic (for me); it was obsessive and dangerous on his part, and on hers it seemed very submissive.  Sadly, I don’t know what about her made him so ready to risk everything.

There were also elements where you thought something else awful had happened, only for it to be a red herring; with all the awfulness I’d already waded through I didn’t really want any more.

I guess the key point is that I didn’t like the nature of the story being told.  That is very personal and not a reflection on the writing – there are books I’ve hated written by people who also wrote books I love, so it wouldn’t put me off reading more of Gruen’s work.  This one just wasn’t for me.

I have to say though, that the style of writing must have been very engaging as I got through it, and quite quickly at that!

One final thought on this book – I liked the ending, and it did put a little spin on the tale that Jacob told.

I’d be really interested to know whether any of you felt similarly, as I know this book had a huge success at least partly as a result of word-of-mouth praise.

Onward and upward, as they say – I’ll look for another cheery one next!

Happy reading,

EJ

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This week’s book was gruelling reading.

Book 7 – Empire of the Sun, by J.G. Ballard. The book follows the experiences of Jim, the child of British ex-pats living in China when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. As the Japanese take control of Shanghai, the 11 year old Jim is separated from his parents.

The book follows his experiences of the war, first living alone in the deserted mansions of Shanghai, then in the care of the unscrupulous Basie, and onto life in the Lunghua prisoner camp. We see Jim become wily but also unsure of his loyalties, separated from the other prisoners by age, heritage and attitude. The reader is given the impression that Jim protects some of the other camp prisoners, but there is a sense of Jim being unaware of the actions and attitudes of those around him who protect and watch over him. By tying himself to Basie he lives a life on the edge of morality, crossing over it as the need arises.  Despite being a prisoner of the Japanese he finds himself hoping for their military success, and in awe of the pilots he sees fly off into their own experience of war.

Although the book isn’t a direct autobiography, Ballard stated that he drew on his own experiences of the camp to write the book, and that gives it an awful resonance. Jim becomes inured to the death around him, fascinated rather than appalled at the bodies and bones he sees. The descriptions of violence are generally very bare but every so often something is described in almost cartoon-like colour and vividness which was hard for me to read.

Jim is clearly damaged by the experience and yet seems to gain a degree of emotional strength from the art of surviving; this resilience is shown to be a facade though, because for all his experiences he only feels safe, and at home, in the camp.

I read this book knowing what it was about but not knowing how hard-edged it would be, and I think it’s one that will stay with me, whether I want it to or not. It was tough and I need to read something completely different next.

It has encouraged me to leave the gritty stories aside for a while, but it was powerfully written and very effective.  As far as reviews go, I think the book did what it was trying to do, and that’s all any writer can want.

Happy reading,
EJ
🙂

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This week I continued with the whodunnit, caught up on some of the coursework I should have done, and got back into the swing of writing group.

I’ve pressed on with the whodunnit despite still feeling a little conflicted about the detective.  I have gone for a police detective for realism but the more I think about it the more I think the likes of Marple or Holmes work precisely because they are not official – they are not constrained by the rules of the law and can do things that wouldn’t make good policy!  I also feel that it’s made the story become a bit sludgy as I try to get the jargon and legal process right.

In a last-ditch attempt to get a balance between professional detective and civilian sleuth, I have had a Miss Marple marathon running over the weekend in the background.  This week my writing time will be very limited as I have things on every evening after work – predominantly rehearsals, sadly! – but I will revisit the story and see which direction I want to go.  I am trying not to get too bogged down in the minutiae, bearing in mind my reason for trying this was purely to practise the written art of misdirection, and think if I continue down my current path I’ll lose focus again which I don’t want to do!

In the meantime, I have started work on a new poem for performances, called ‘The Ties That Bind’.  I like it and I feel it has legs so will be working on that in the next few weeks as well.

Alongside the writing, I am getting back into my studies, on a fairly basic level – I am doing the bare minimum work and no interactive elements such as forums, because I don’t have time, but I wanted to get back to learning which I find so inspirational.  I still have ideas to explore about history and society that may become poems rather than novels or short stories just because I want to get them onto paper!

And finally, this week also saw the return of writing group.  We have a new venue which is a local pub, and I’m not sure it’ll be entirely successful but we’ll give it a while to try it out.  As we arrived it was snowing, and a great big log fire was a very welcome sight!  I am pushing us all to have writing targets this year, and we are going to run a children’s writing competition locally, so I hope everyone’s a little more invested now.  We even have newbies joining us, which is great fun!

I’ll leave it there as it’s nearly midnight and I have to get up for work!  Decisions on detectives will be made soon…

Happy writing,

EJ

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