Once again- apologies to those expecting the usual ‘Essential Guide’. This week, luckily for me (perhaps unluckily for you) Isabel Costello has kindly tagged me in Lucky Seven – Seven Lines from New Works. These are the rules:
Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
· Go to line 7
· Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
· Tag 7 other authors to do the same
This is an extract from a work in progress called ‘The Romantics’. I have to laugh as I write this because it has been in this state of ‘progress’, like a disoriented Galapagos turtle with one leg shorter than the other, for more years than I am willing to admit.
It concerns a group of friends who meet in the 1960’s and are reunited in the present after long estrangements based on the usual stuff; misunderstandings, love, betrayal, toxic lemon curd. Those currently watching the BBC production of ‘White Heat’ written by Paula Milne, may find this theme a little familiar. It is always one’s worst nightmare as a writer, that someone will write your book before you. Luckily Ms Milne hasn’t (no lemon curd for instance). On the other hand when I submitted this novel to a Literary Consultancy for an ‘In-depth Editorial report’, it was said, that readers wouldn’t be much interested in a bunch of university educated baby-boomers cracking smart dialogue back and forth. Perhaps, I thought, now that hippies are objects of derision and that generation are being accused of being the authors of today’s woes, no one will want to read my little book. Then ‘White Heat’ came along. I also started reading Linda Grant’s latest novel ‘We Had it So Good’ which covers the same time period, tracing a couple and their friends through to the present. I began to think that maybe there had been a market for ‘The Romantics’. The transformation of flower children who eschewed capitalism and were kicking out the old order, into pillars of today’s existing order is perhaps a little hackneyed, but I still find it fascinating. Whether anyone still has an appetite for this subject or if that joint has been smoked, is up to you, dear readers. Please feel free to let me know! Meanwhile if the thirst for things 1960 have been quenched, I’ll blame it all on that lumbering bloody turtle which has been going round in circles for too many years!
On turning to Page 7 line 7, I find that it is the moment when main character Bryony (aged 17 in 1968) is just reeling from being kissed by the gloriously Byronic and ironic Edmund March; a boy whom she has previously considered to be so out of her league, as to make this intimacy an absolute impossibility. Edmund has just finished his second year at Cambridge, he is glorious to look at and hitherto has been the permanent boyfriend of someone else. Bryony is a naive girl who has flunked her education and settled for a drab job in a provincial town. Just before kissing her, Edmund tells Bryony that she is bright and should go to university. He suggests she comes to Cambridge to take her A levels at the F.E . College. When she asks why, he says that if she was there, it would give him something to go back for.
His words tumbled in her mind, a candied elision of syllables, which she fought to shake into any kind of sense. Was it an actual invitation or a piece of dialogue straight from one of her most saccharine fantasies? Either way it was absurd. But Bryony attached herself to the absurdity with limpet madness and sucked out every sweet possibility. Maybe she wasn’t simply the sum of her estimations; not a fairly ordinary girl, with an ordinary mind in a plump body, but a girl who could belong, who should belong, in the rarefied world of Edmund March.
‘I’m sorry’, she asked, ‘what did you say?’
So now according to the ‘rules’, I have to tag 7 other lucky writers. here’s my list:-