Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing Frustrations

Writing is such a frustrating process. Of course, whatever one writes it is not going to be liked by everyone - it standards to reason - we don't all like Brussels sprouts or Parmesan cheese so why should fiction be any different? When I do a book review for The View From Here it is, as any valuation is, a personal opinion given at one moment in time.

You know, I think I might actually be better suited to being a a restaurant critic. I'd probably be really unpopular as I'd have a lot to say about any dish containing Parmesan cheese but, on the other hand, I could handle being known as a food bitch in exchange for all the free meals. Not to mention those lovely little after dinner mints you get with your coffee. Hmm.. maybe chefs would solicit a good review from me by sending me lots of lovely little mints....and champagne... and a year's supply of their ready made sauces...

I'm open to offers! Email me if you know any good openings....

So anyway, my latest review for The View is a book called 4 a.m by Nina de la Mer which I completed on the weekend and will be up sometime soon. I'm not going to go into too much detail here but it's an excellent debut which shows the author to have a wonderful ear for language. Unfortunately, I don't have an ear for languages - I have an ear for earrings (and a mouth for chocolate) so I found it difficult at times to get to grips with some of the book which is partially written in Glaswegian slang. Nevertheless, I was really impressed with the way Nina uses language and speech to accurately portray her characters.
4 a.m is a coming of age story about two young squaddies in the British army who get involved with the Hamburg rave scene.
I'm getting to the point about frustrations. Really I am. So, after having finished my article I stuck my feet by the fire and pulled out a copy of a well known writer's magazine which I occasionally buy and started to read their winning romantic short story.

Blimey, it was dull, dull, dull. Especially coming after Nina's colourful book. Okay, to be fair, some readers of women's magazines would probably have loved it. It was your typical romance story. Boy meets girl... girl meets boy...blah, de blah blah blah blah blah blah...and everyone lives happily ever. I think there was some conflict in the middle but after the first few paragraphs I was so frustrated I just skipped to the end in case by some wild stroke of originality there was a different ending than I expected. And, amazingly, what I discovered was...

... the heroine had accidentally discovered her boyfriend was a cult leader who was also a stand up comedian who makes jokes about Christianity. The heroine was so distressed (as her father was a pastor) she lobbed herself of the Golden Gate bridge where (because she was having a streak of bad luck) she got stuck on the railings  for three whole days until a passing motorist stopped ( he was throwing up after having a dodgy curry the night before) and saved her. In a moment of spontaneous passion they had wild sex in the back of the man's car (luckily they both suffered from anosmia) and then went their separate ways. Later, she discovered he's a movie star and was really, really annoyed because she declined to take his telephone number.

Okay, okay...I'm lying. I made that all up just to amuse myself.  I can't even remember what happened except for there was a happy ending. You know.. boy marries girl blah, buys a nice set of ear muffs.... blah de blah, blah, blah.....

Anyway, what really irritated me was that the language in the story was totally wrong for the characters, unlike 4 a.m. Young men and teenage boys do not talk like eighty year old nuns. Well not the ones I know. Honestly folks, by the third paragraph I thought the hero was going to get a sex change, develop an ageing disorder and check himself into a nunnery. Not so my friends - he met a girl, there was some sort of conflict over ear muffs and blah, de blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...

So to continue my research, today I decided to purchase a second magazine and look at their wining story and the first line was "When William is six, he can have a puppy." At which point I nearly cried. For the puppy obviously - I mean fancy taking it away from it's mother so young. How cruel. Anyway, I read on and the story was better than I expected and the runner up's story was pretty good too and actually had (dare I say it) sex in it (gasps of amazement, glass shattering), so I'm thinking this is a magazine I might send in some stories as maybe they're a little bolder in their choices.

On the other hand, maybe I should just write about ear muffs or get a proper job.

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