At last I have got down to the Warm Fuzzies trial by keyboard. If you are not a cognoscenti, the mission is to talk about the story arc of the Main Character of your Work in Progress. Well, I can’t really do that because the WIP is not simply a fiction although it does have a main character. As a writer I believe I am what is known as a pantser. This is not purely lack of planning but a deliberate gift of freedom. Most of my stuff has been self edited to the bin and the rest has sat in the slush pile until it melted with the Spring sun. So – please excuse me talking about the main character of my short story “Sub Prime”.
Now this tale was written in my heart for many years after I had had the experiences described. When I presented it to a magazine competition it won the prize but they refused to publish it (Publication was actually the prize plus £50), because it could upset advertisers. Two of the judges clashed over the issue in my presence. One was a T.S. Eliot prize winner and the other an acclaimed author. I felt like the mouse in the herd of elephants. This experience changed my whole view of writing and in fact more or less finished my serious career ambition. It was the chance of a major breakthrough and no one was allowed to see it. (Thanks to Indie publishing it is now out there). I think it was then that the Romance writer was born. I love sex, passion, intensity and joy in my own life and I make no bones about it. Some writers are fantastic writers. I am just a being with a pen. Writing Romance is a turn on and reading it should fix you up a bit if you need a fix. However, I digress. By chance during a low ebb of my fortunes I came across the world of casual labour and illegal immigration which amounts to modern day slavery. The main character is a male, a tough guy who drives a truck until he is thrown out of work. As Christmas approaches he gets the chance of some cash and finds that maybe he ain’t so tough. He has to confront the matter of his own inner strength and finds himself humbled by someone far weaker. More humbling still is the generosity of the human spirit and the hopelessness of those without power. All I can say of this little story is that it makes me cry even today. If you fancy a look at it it’s FREE. I would only ever give it away although Amazon list it with a price so do not buy it there. You can get it FREE here on
Smashwords with audio. It is formatted for kindle, nook, apple, EPUB, kobo, pdf for PC or Mac.
In my life I have made a few faux pas. I have cocked it up, gone off on one, grabbed the shitty end of the stick and undoubtedly taken the biscuit. Today was a milestone in contemporary embarrassment. The bus company put me on a new route as a guest act. Because the kids were younger with very challenging behaviour I had an escort who was kind and lovely. This evening as we arrived at the school she warned me that one of our passengers was difficult and needed to be firmly advised that no misconduct would be tolerated. I saw the obvious passenger approaching flanked by two staff. The lad looked about 20 with bleached spikey hair and and bellowing a rock song while playing a violent air guitar. OK – I had to be firm.
“You’ll have to pipe down on the bus and sit quietly,” I demanded, standing aggressively in his personal space.
“I’ll remember that if I need to travel,” he replied.
I heard a shriek from the escort.
“Not him! that’s the headmaster,” she shouted.
Well, as you get older everyone looks so young. Apparently he was doing something for charity.Teachers and important people are a problem for me.
Emma thinx: Most people’s problems are people.
PS. Juliana WFBF 3 posts =15, 3 tweets = 3, Total 18?
Now, today is a slight departure from my normal approach. Generally I just blog away to my readers on any subject that comes to hand. Most of the time I’m not sure if I’m a bus driver, a Romantic novelist or just a slightly dotty old Doris with a fantasy literary life. The fact is that for the moment I drive a bus and I have written Romantic short stories and a Romantic novel that is selling quite well. My home is in France but for a short while I am living and working in the UK. Today I am back in France and as I strolled through the beautiful streets of my little town this morning I was thinking about my project which is to do a blog for Julia Brandt’s “Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest”. The subject to be approached is that of “Do you tell people you are a writer and what are their responses?” Just as this thought was hurtling around the empty space of my mind I came across a snail climbing a very long hill. I took a photo and it is posted above. The Great spirit of Happenstance and Inspiration touched my shoulder and I saw at once the situation of the writer: that slow climb to who knows where, dragging that shell of isolation across the pitiless tarmac of everyday life.
Yes, these days I do sometimes tell people I am a writer. However, I’m careful who I tell. I do not tell fellow bus drivers. Most would reply “Well, I’m glad to hear it cos you’re pretty poor at driving a bus.” It’s true I did break a mirror doing a reverse park and since I’m a woman it will NEVER be forgotten. I do tell a few posh middle class people in England. The responses are usually polite but flippant…”Wow – that’s so cool. I’m gonna do a really sooooper book myself soon. I hope you don’t do that stuff all about billionaires and sex in Paris. That is just so sad yah! It’s kinda like for people who need cheap escape and stuff and buy those awful supermarket books with hero torso on the cover yah.” When you are a something like a bus driver, people like to keep you in a safe slot. My partner Gilles is kinda posh French and has a well paid corporate job. A bus driver who is a published poet and prize winning writer just jangles a bit so I usually don’t say anything. Gilles enjoys the sport and usually blabs something. A few years ago I won the town Literary Festival prize. It was all very public but you know – no one ever said a thing to me. I was a bus driver – NOT a poet. If anyone ever read the poem, no one ever said.
Even more years back I was living in a fairly run down part of South London. My ex husband had been a truck driver and I did whatever temp work could fit in with bringing up kids. I entered a Christmas short story competition in a newspaper. My entry was “Sub Prime” and was based on real events from my life. If you are reading this blog you can get it free here (for every kind of e-reader device). There is also a link for the audiobook version.
A couple of weeks later, the judge – a nationally acclaimed poet and writer called me to say that she was so sorry that the paper could not publish it, but that it had won the prize. She went on to explain that the content was too gritty and could upset advertisers. All the same as a consolation they published a feature about me with a photo. I had entered the competition as Millie Webb. I hoped that no one would know it was me. A few days later a neighbour tersely remarked “Bit posh ain’t ya – writin’ stories.” I told them it was all a bit of a joke. It was sad that no one was able to read the story because they would have seen that it was on the side of working class people. As it was they just thought I was getting above myself. I never ever ever EVER told anyone I was a poet.
So that deals with the two social class poles in the UK. My lovely neighbours in France know I’m a writer because they tend to wander in and find me writing. France is a different society that views “artists” as normal. They do have slight social class/wealth issues but in any event I’m foreign and free.
The other group is of course FAMILY. My own children are completely and utterly embarrassed by the whole thing. I would talk about it but I think they would run out of the room with hands over their ears screaming. I am a parent. They know I write about sex and lust and they just could not reconcile themselves to me knowing anything other than not mixing up the coloured and the whites in the washing machine. I think I would have been the same with respect to my own parents.
These days the writer is visible public property. In some ways I think that the taciturn snail is most likely to produce the best work. Most snails play the whole thing down and tell folk they’re a slug with a carbuncle issue.
Emma thinx: Know where you got lost. Finding yourself starts there.
Well, it had to happen. I’m on the way back to the UK at least until Christmas. Gilles has to work in London for a while. (That’s where I grabbed him in the first place). There is also the very distinct possibility that I will be getting a job. It’s about time! I had enough savings to keep myself propped up during the summer and more or less dedicated myself to writing….and maybe a bit of hedonistic pure idleness. Being able to write in tranquillity without all the jingle jangle has been wonderful. The fruits of these labours should surface over the next couple of months. In the mean time I hope to take the kind of job suited to a Romantic novelist, poet and philosopher. Yes, you’ve guessed it – I’m gonna be a bus driver. Well, not a really real one. My friend Geoffrey Phillips who did the narration on “Sub Prime” works for a school bus operator and there is vacancy for ME. You may wonder why I have a bus driver’s license? Well, I’ll leave that question hanging just to excite you. But all this proves exactly what I said yesterday. All those top jobs and inside information never come out to the masses. So, even a minimum wage, no contract, casual job gets sorted out under the radar because you know someone. I am a pluto-rat and a self seeker. I am ashamed. In the case of a bus driving job this is known as Depotism.
But, I’m putting my shoulders back and breathing that pure air of the proletariat. The British climate is often horrid. I am anticipating cold wet darkness. I will be one of my own people, sharing their struggle, mashing my potatoes into their gravy, voting on X factor, building the barricades, frying my fish fingers, preparing Findus savoury pancakes. The serious issue here is that once again I will be able to comment on the national politics. In France I have always kept quiet because it is not my country and not my place to opine. I have loved my home in Charente Maritime and soon enough I will be back. Maybe the next book will be mega and I can once again think of writing full time. For now I just have a couple of issues on which to concentrate. Remember to drive on the left. Recover my proper accent!
Emma thinx: One door closes. A trap door opens.