Bright tidings in the dark time of the year

I’ve never been subject to Seasonal Affective Disorder, but the intrinsic melancholy of this time of year is universally acknowledged. The clocks have gone back; the (temporarily) lighter mornings compensate for the early fall of darkness, but there’s no doubting the drop in temperature, even on sunny days. Fallen leaves are everywhere, blocking drains, pathways and railway lines. It’s good to sit beside the fire and read.

Soon I shall have more reading. This evening, my good friend Pamela Turton is launching her newly-published novella, Stalkbook. It’s aimed mainly at the young adult readership because its focus is on the use and misuse/danger of social media, so old coots like me are bound to miss a number of the allusions. Nevertheless, when I had the privilege of reading a draft of the book and offering editing suggestions, I was gripped by the theme, by the characters (as you’d expect with one of Pamela’s stories), and by the mystery that remains unresolved at the end: has a crime been committed or not – and if it has, by whom? I can see this being debated as endlessly as Edwin Drood! Anyway, I shall be at the book launch to proved support, and buy a copy. I’m also reading more of Hank Quense’s Zaftan stories, which are great fun and highly recommended. 

Meanwhile, the fable The Engkliastat that I mentioned a few blogs ago has been accepted by the publisher, and I’ve just signed and returned the contract! No doubt changes will be needed as soon as the senior editor has had time to get her teeth into the manuscript, but with National Cake Day in Ruritania having recently become available via the great monster Amazon (official publication date and release of e-book 26th November), this has boosted my opinion of myself as a writer. Of course, every rose bush bears thorns; I sent another novel manuscript to a different publisher a couple of weeks ago and I received one of those depressing form e-mails yesterday, which can be paraphrased: “This is an intriguing concept, it’s well written, but no thanks”. Well, no writer can afford to be deterred by such minor setbacks. I shall try elsewhere, and if I keep getting rejections I’ll take this manuscript to a literary consultant for advice. Literary consultants are expensive, but good ones are worth the money.

Also meanwhile, the folktale film project is progressing. A few weeks ago I spent an exhausting three days with my colleague Tim and with the cameramen, Dave and Bobby. Bobby had already recorded a number of the short narratives with me on site, but Dave had travelled up from Bristol to record some of the longer ones. He’s a consummate professional, a perfectionist and a hard taskmaster. We ended up doing numerous takes of the stories, bit by bit, but Dave was happy in the end and went away with plenty of material to edit. He also shot more landscape footage in South West Peak and Tim and I are going to meet soon so I can make audio recordings of the rest of the relevant stories to fit over those visuals.

I want to complete this recording work before 13th November, when I’m scheduled to receive my main cancer treatment, because I’m likely to be wiped out for a while afterwards. (Quite how long the “while” will prove is unpredictable because there’s wide variation among patients.) I need to prepare at least two creative writing classes for the sessions following the treatment because I might not be fit to drive to the venue for them, and it’s possible I might also have to cancel one or two storytelling gigs. Still, I might not. I could be one of the lucky patients who’s back on his feet in a couple of days.

Here’s hoping. We shall see.

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