So close, I can almost taste it

Although, what do books taste like?

I imagine the boys in J2 could tell me, as they used to chew up pieces of paper and spit them at anyone within spitting distance (except teachers). Charming, but then nine year olds are pretty uncouth and (literally) unwashed, aren’t they? Or maybe that was just the 1970s. Or just Birmingham. I dread to think. Although having said that, I am reliably informed that it wasn’t just the Wumpty buses that had ‘No Spitting’ signs painted on the interior walls…

What’s a Wumpty bus? Ahhhh… So, here’s a bit of history. The Transport Act of 1968 created Passenger Transport Executives in four major British conurbations. Each PTE was managed by transport professionals carrying out the policies of a Passenger Transport Authority made up of elected representatives from local authorities. Their task was ‘….to secure or promote the provision of a properly integrated and efficient system of public passenger transport to meet the needs of that area….’

The initial tools were the municipal bus undertakings in the relevant areas. The West Midlands PTE absorbed the Corporation buses of Birmingham, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton with effect from 1 October 1969. The largest contribution to the new WMPTE came from Birmingham City Transport, accounting for around two-thirds of the new 2,100 strong fleet and 8,500 employees. Birmingham’s dark blue and cream buses were well constructed and maintained so the new PTE operations began life in good condition. (I found this information on the Transport Museum Wythall website, in case you’re a fan of public transport!).

So, WMPTE becomes Wumpty, and Wumpty was also a cheerful bus conductor mascot for the transport executive, as you can see (I remember him well!). I found him in the comments on the Beauty of Transport blog. Ah, the 1970s, when bus conductors were still a thing… (along with power cuts and three day weeks). How times have… improved…?

Anyhoo… back to my initial reason for picking up the blogging ‘pen’ again. I’ve finished my final post-editor edit. There’ll be just one more read through to check for those sneaky typos that seem to regenerate when your back is turned (I know, right?), and then Anti-Virus will be winging its way to the magical Becky at Platform House Publishing who will be waving her formatting wand and making it look professional on the inside (thank goodness for Becky, I have minimal patience for that kind of task). Her husband James is the marvellous book cover designer – they are a dynamic duo between them and I highly recommend them!

So, this is the state of play. It’s getting closer, ever closer, this publishing my first novel lark.

Gulp!

Dark matter

What does this writer do when she’s not writing on this blog?

OK, I’ll start again, because writing about myself in the third person feels decidedly icky!

If I’ve reinvigorated this blog, why aren’t I writing on here very often? You might well ask. I’m not resting on my laurels, far from it! Here’s what I’ve been up to (aside from my day job, because bills still need to be paid).

Back in 2014, I started writing a dystopian novel. I had a germ of an idea and then it became a project I wanted to take in a specific direction in honour of my late father who had died the year before. I made it too big, too important and in the end, I had to put the work to one side – I was in danger of writing myself into a breakdown.

A few more ‘life’ events happened – these things tend to hunt in packs, like rabid dogs or zombies, don’t they?

Here we are in 2020. I’ve dabbled on here a bit, but something made me pick up my abandoned half-formed thing and inspect it. Bit by bit, I started to see my way towards a finished project, and bit by bit, I finished the first draft – at 6.37am on 28th December 2019 to be precise. I gave myself a bit of a break and have now started my first edit. I’m excited to be at this point so unexpectedly quickly. All being well, I want to have edited and polished my novel sufficiently well to pass to beta readers by the end of this year.

Mixed in with that, a random idea has also borne fruit – it basically started with a question – I wonder if Instagram has a writing community? I posted a first image on 18th November – my feet photo that you see on this blog – and it’s snowballed pretty quickly. I’m somewhat stunned to have around 900 followers already! If you aren’t on Instagram I strongly encourage you to try it out – the community there is lovely. I’ve made some good friends over there.

So, there we are. That’s what I’ve been up to, as well as reading a lot.

If you want to pop over to Instagram and say hello, I’m @freyathewriter over there. May as well keep the theme going, right?

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Because it means something

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“… don’t just paint it red because you like red, or because that’s the only paint left in the store or whatever. Paint it red because it means something. And so every idea, every use has to have a meaning, as well as every cog and every screw.”

This is an extract from an interview with the author Sara Baume, which I read in the Spring 2016 edition of The Moth magazine. It was guidance given to her by a tutor when she was studying her art-based degree.

This really piqued my interest. I try to make every word count, try to excise the superfluous from my writing, but sometimes, I don’t quite manage it. I’m human, after all. Life (the non-writing part) sometimes interferes with my concentration and dedication. Oh, the perils of writing in your spare time – we all know it, right?

Sara Baume is the author of ‘Spill Simmer Falter Wither’ which is a fantastic book. I haven’t quite finished reading it yet, but I adore and admire it greatly. The Guardian describes it as ‘An atmospheric tale about the friendship between one man and his dog’. They are both outsiders, both not quite fitting into the world around them, both have ‘histories’ that shape who they are.

Perhaps I am enjoying it so much because I feel like a complete and utter outsider myself. I do catch myself thinking that unless I’m writing or creating art (a more recent rediscovery of mine), then I’m pretty much acting a part. That I’m not quite shaped for the world around me to fit in quite as I should.

That may be all in my head, but aren’t we all in our heads, to some degree or other?

The novel is lyrical, flows like a river, intriguing, painful, beautiful and heartfelt. And goodness me, the publisher (Tramp Press) made very few changes to the manuscript – such an achievement!

Anyway, choose red because it means something. That seems a decent guideline to live by.