Last Tango in Swindon

I have a confession to make.

It’s been a week and a half since Happy Valley finished and I can’t stop thinking about it.

The adverts that trailed it led me to believe I was gonna get some sort of Yorkshire based Tuesday night, pass-the-time TV drama. Something akin to Last Tango In Paris, which while quite wonderful, was fairly easy going TV – especially as it starred Sarah Lancashire and was written by Sally Wainwright, both direct transplants from Last Tango in Paris.

Plus, going from the advert alone, I quite fancied one of the characters – the one who would be the main antagonist, Tommy Lee Royce.

We – the todger and I – watched it, sort of in the background while we got on with work and other things. I enjoyed the dialogue, I enjoyed the delivery of the dialogue and I looked forward to the next week.

It was good TV – what I have since described as good solid Sunday night fare.

And then there was episode three. And then episode four.

That seems fairly logical in the general order of things, but those of you have seen it will know exactly what I mean.

The tail end of the series became essential viewing. I needed to see it, not just in case someone spoiled it, but because I NEEDED to know what happened next.

Last Tuesday, the first Post-Happy Valley Tuesday we’ve had, I was a little bit sad that there wasn’t a new episode to watch.

Why am I talking about this? Apart from a cathartic need to get it out of my system, and my desire to turn this blog into a semi-review based blog, I want to talk, mostly about me.

That’ll be a surprise to those of you who know me, I’m sure.

Happy Valley is the kind of TV program that inspires me and makes me want to give up all at the same time.

I want to write TV. Part of me knows that I’ll never write something as good as Happy Valley, but a bigger part of me wants to try.

I’ve started a screenplay version of Memories of a Murder. I could bore you even more than I normally do, by talking about it now, but I feel that’s a topic for a future post. It’s something I started some time ago, something that I set aside to concentrate on the second novel.

Things like Happy Valley confuse me, I don’t know what to work on next.

Indecisive Valley.

Good Things Come…

It’s been over a month now since I blogged about my novel – I was a bit preoccupied with BEDM14.

But that doesn’t mean that things have been quiet.

In my job I’m lucky enough to meet many different people within the industry: buyers, authors, illustrators, agents and publishers.

These days, I try not to wang on about the book too much. Most of the time I’m seeing these people in a professional capacity so I try not to make it all about me (difficult, as that’s generally my standard setting, in work or out), but occasionally, the topic will come up, one of my colleagues might mention that I’ve written a book.

When that happens, I tend to go for it, collecting names and numbers of people I should maybe think about sending the book too.

That last happened in March when I met someone who asked me to send her a copy of Memories of a Murder – I was mid-way through doing a massive edit on it, which I finished at the beginning of May, so sent it to her following that.

She promised to have a peek, and told me to nag her if she didn’t get back to me. That’s completely against my ethos, because I know I get enough people telling me that they’ve written a book when they learn that I work for WH Smith, and the last thing I want to do is read what they’ve written only to either give them false hope, or feel I have to lie to their face.

The people that I meet get it all the time, in the same way that doctors at dinner parties are asked about strange growths. People found out they’re in publishing and they get ‘I’ve written a book’.

I’m always reluctant to nag. I did email her again the other day, several weeks after I sent her the manuscript, as a gentle reminder, but I probably won’t nag her again.

But that’s not the advice I’d give to anyone else. For me, I’m not nagging because I will likely have to see these people in a professional capacity again, once they reject me, and I want to give them the option of rejecting me, rather than feeling they have to give me false hope.

But if anyone else out there is writing a book, contact agents, contact publishers and if they give you any shred of hope, grab hold of it, and run with it.

Having said that, if you find yourself in a social environment with someone in the industry, don’t tell them you’ve written a book like you’re the first person they’ve met who has ever done so.

The Deconstruction of May

For the last month, you’ve had to put up with new blogs from me every day.

Back on the 1st May I said that the reason I wanted to do it was because it would be a great challenge and would be a new way to flex my writing muscle.

So now, 31 blog posts later, what have I learnt?

At around 500-1000 words on average per blog, I wrote somewhere upwards of 20,000 words in a month, and it wasn’t a quiet month for me.

I was busy, like, incredibly busy. But I still managed to write that many words. It’s proven to me that it’s not about finding the time to write, it’s about making the time to write.

I said I was good with deadlines, and that also, when given a prompt, I could probably write something on it. I won’t lie to you, I flagged a little bit in the middle, but I managed it.

Some of the prompts that I thought would be hardest, were actually really easy, and vice versa. In addition, it was interesting which posts gained the most traction with the audience, which ones got shared most, and viewed the most, and which ones didn’t.

The last prompt of the month was Write a short story. It preyed on me the closer I got to it, mostly because I’m not very good at brevity.

Before I started it, I knew what the first line of it would be, but not what it would be about. In fact, the first line ended up being something different, with my original line appearing later on. I wrote the thousand words or so in an evening.

It’s not perfect. I knew that even when I finished it, but it tells a tale, and it has a twist – or two. I might revisit it at a later date and explore the idea a bit more. I’d like to flesh out the main character of Sally a bit more, and it’s possible that it will become a bigger story one day.

BEDM was mostly a fun distraction, although it did increase my audience. Now that May is over, I need to return to thinking about my writing career and working out what happens next.

The first step, will be looking into hiring that hot gay guy to be my PA.