Archive of November 2008

Sun 30 Nov

Bad Sex awards (they're for WRITING about it!)

As I near the end of my NaNoWriMo writing one of the things I might need for my ending is a sex scene (no, it is not gratuitous!), but I am no fool and do not underestimate the potential for a literary prat fall here.

So perhaps you can imagine my interest when I read in the paper that it is that time of year and this award has been given again, this time to Rachel Johnson.  You can read all about it on the Times Blog here.

Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Awards were inaugurated back in the nineties and I think I may have made mention of them to someone on nano, or on a blog comment or something.  So it was nice to join up the dots and find them splashed on the paper.  I think they make for some hilarious reading, and literary greats are not imune from these shortcomings, John Updike was nominated four times (and I respect him greatly as a writer, perhaps all the more because he does not shy away from sex scenes in his writing).

I hope this may have made one of the more amusing blogworthy posts, I enjoyed adding it.  I remain puzzled as to exactly WHY it is that WRITING about sex should be quite such a difficult proposition though!  I'll have to think on that, my only hunch at the moment is that it is a deeply personal experience, unique to everyone and entirely personal (yet how is it that we share it by  definition with another person!).

Tue 4 Nov

Jackanory...

For whatever reason, I had one of those clearing out the loft moments going through ancient boxloads... and I turned up this exercise book that had something in it I wrote years ago intending it to be a childrens story perhaps for my daughter (she was just a babe at the time).  I thought I would type it up as a post.  Wish there was a way I could incorporate it in my novel (have to think on that!).  Here it is anyway:-

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There's a wind that blows, and it starts over Spain.  In Spain the sun shines so hard it makes the rocks very hot in the day, but the sea keeps cool because it's so big and blue.  Then, when night falls, the air rushes in from the cool sea to the hot rocks and a special wind is born.

It starts from the sea to the rocks as a gentle breeze, only just enough to blow a crisp packet along.  But as the night gets cool it blows a little stronger and starts to blow its way further up the hills.

The hills in Spain can be very steep indeed, and in some places they are like mountains, except that they are flat on top.  As the wind blows up these hills it gets very strong and can even blow some small trees up the hill if they haven't got their roots into the soil properly.

Here the wind often helps birds to climb up high into the sky without even having to flap their wings - it is like an up escalator for the birds. They soar high into the early morning sky, because that's when they start their hunting.  It has taken all day and all night for the wind to blow from the sunny seaside to the top of the hills in Spain.

Up at the top of the hills in Spain it is called the plain.  It's called the plain because it is very flat, but it also happens to look very plain indeed because the sun burns so brightly that not much grows.  Here the wind gets tired in the midday heat, just only blowing hard enough to make the grass sway a little and ruffle the manes of the horses that play there.

The wind pauses and thinks of a place where it blows into the Americas; here there are ponies too.  Some of these ponies have come all the way from Wales a long time ago.  They are very pretty ponies and their owners still speak to them in Welsh.  This place is called Patagonia and the people who live here have to live a simple life.  When the wind blows they are glad because it often brings some rain.

On and on the wind blows across the plain, leaving the rain behind as it blows along.  After another day the wind reaches the end of the plain and here there are mountains rising up high into the clear blue beyond.  The wind gets thin and cold as it goes higher and higher to pass through the Alps.  It gets so cold that the rain that's left turns into snow and hail.  The wind finds gaps to blow through in the rocks that make the mountains, whistling as it blows higher and higher and thinner and thinner through the mountain passes. It seems to be calling out a sound which might be the name this wind is given in Spain.  Here it is called the Scirocco.  Or perhaps it just got the name since it blows from the sea to the rocks of the Andes mountains.

After a while the wind blows right up to the tops of the mountains - here it is so fierce it can turn the snow into the hardest ice in an instant.  If a man stood up straight when it was blowing its hardest he would be blown straight off the top of the mountain into the valley below.  There is a rumour that a creature called the Yeti can stand up here without getting too cold, because the Yeti can live here - but no man has seen such a creature and lived to tell the tale.

The next day the wind blows down the other side of this mountain range into a new country, far from the sea where it started out all those days ago.  This country is called France, so here the wind has a new name.  It is called the "Mistral" and it brings the cold weather that is the start of winter for the countryside of France.

The people in this French countryside are used to a wonderful long hot summer, so it is a big shock when this wind arrives from the mountains blowing along lots of snow and ice.  All the French farmers rush inside and put their heating on at full blast to keep warm in the storm as the Mistral blows through.  If any of them have left their grapes still growing on the vines then they get very upset because it's too late to harvest them when this wind blows and brings the cold to freeze them on the vine.

After another day and night the wind has blown all the way across France and left the cold of the mountains far behind,  It blows over the channel and picks up plenty of rain to worry any farmers who haven't finished making their hay or harvesting their crops.  But this rain only falls on the hills where the sheep are feeding - so the farmers can relax and the sheep can enjoy nice green grass for pasture.

After another few days of peacefully breezing over the English countryside - where the wind is known as Gale if it gets too strong - then the wind blows up to the lowlands of Scotland where the land starts to rise and the wind gets a little bite to it again.  Because Scotland is lucky at this time of year the sun is shining and the wind gets warm again in the lowlands.

Then after another day and a night the wind gets up to the Scottish mountains where the Golden Eagle nests in the mossy crags at the top.  The eagles fly out from their eiries (that's what these big nests are called) onto the breeze, which lifts them up high over the plains below so that they can hunt baby sheep and rabbits.  Here the wind blows so peacefully and quietly that it hasn't even got a name - or perhaps its name is just forgotten in the peace and quiet.

Eventually the wind reaches the sea at the end of Scotland.  Here the land is quite barren and rocky and the wind blows more strongly with all the open sea and islands ahead.

This is where the wind blows over the sea to Skye (which is one of the islands) and it once took a Prince to hide away on an island - but that's a story for another day.

As the wind blows out to sea at the end of its journey, and at the end of summer too, it lets out a long sigh after blowing so far and falls gently off to sleep on the softly rippling waves of the deep blue sea.  Just like you and me at the end of the day when we go to bed.

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I remember being happy with it as a bed time story for a child at the time.  Now when I read it I feel less than satisfied with my writing and unsure how a child would receive it, but I still like the idea behind the story... Perhaps I'll print this post and try reading it to Isabel tonight... Perhaps a reader or two may like to try reading it to their children?  If you do any comments from them would be appreciated.