You join me a week after the end of NANOWRIMO and forgive me if I am a little self congratulatorythis week, but I did manage to complete the mammoth challenge I had laid out for myself and wrote 50,816 words in just 30 days. I finally uploaded my words for verification and felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders; especially as the weekend before I had only uploaded 26,000 words. I had hand written more but did not know if I had written an achievable amount or if I would be too far behind.
I know if you cast your eye over any local paper you will see hundreds of challenges being completed; treks to outer Mongolian jungles, cycling from John-o-Groats to Lands End even jumping from an aeroplane, they are all personal challenges driven on by a desire to succeed. My personal choice may have been less physical, just words and not something my boys will admit to, but it was my challenge and I feel suitably smug now that I again have the choice to get up early in the morning, or leave the late night typing to another time.
There were hurdles along the way and unexpected calls on my very precious time which sometimes I may not have given quite as generously as normal. I still had a house to run, three growing children needing food and water and a husband requiring guidance and tending. I have another job that required my presence, not to mention the time I already give to the children’s rugby club.
Nothing is possible without support and I couldn’t have done this without it, keeping me going particular when the task seemed just a little too overwhelming. Some people may not have taken on board quite how daunting the task was; “yeah I always think I might write a book, it’s not that difficult you just need time” a close friend told me as she went on to tell me how her daughter was and why she was cross with her ex husband this time. One friend shrugged her shoulders and said “oh well I must introduce you to someone, she’s a real writer.” I am not quite sure what defines a real writer but I am working hard to qualify. Most people were far more complimentary about my attempts even if they thought I may have overstepped the insanity line.
Scrum Down (working title), starts on a rugby pitch with a team of under 16s players. It looks behind the obvious game and battles on the pitch at the private lives and what makes them tick. I learnt more about the scary transition young lads are making as they bumble blindly into adulthood. I think I realise the difficulties they have; to rise to the expectations of their families, their teachers and the outside world.
After all they are grownups; in some cultures they would have been welcomed into the adult world via some traditional and often weird initiation ceremony. Here, in this country they are still children and particular as my study has shown me, boys, still wanting to run and have the freedom to play around. Convention tells us they need to knuckle down and think about their futures and study subjects they just don’t get; they are still unsure of what they want, unready to take on the responsibilities of maturity. Relationships are suddenly so fragile yet so intense. Games they play have more consequences and can be more dangerous where alcohol and drugs are readily available. The once playground battles of cowboys and Indians are played out on the wider scale with rival gangs often fighting for a cause they do not know; play pistols and daggers replaced by knives and tension entrenched with a testosterone fuelled force they did not know existed.
Shakespeare first commented on this in Romeo and Juliette, exploring the feelings and unpredictability of teenagers. Tybalt, I am convinced never really meant to kill Mercutio and likewise Romeo most certainly did not mean to kill Tybalt; he had just married Juliette, Tybalt’s cousin but in a heated moment it all goes too far and too wrong.
Sondheim and Bernstein updated the theme for their version of West Side Story where the same thread runs through their musical in a 1950’s era of Jets and Sharks. You believe the union between Maria and Tony will bridge the disharmony on the streets; again it is the futile tragedy of Riff, Bernardo and Tony all dead that finally unites the Jets and Sharks.
Many other films; for example Grease and even the magical world of Harry Potter explores the tensions and rivalry as boys grow up, some with thankfully happier and more realistic endings than Romeo and Juliette.
I have tried in my novel to explore the inner workings of boys’ brains as they struggle with the conflictions and expectations they feel are expected just as hormones reach raging point and adulthood determines their expected loss of emotion and vulnerability.
It is very rough draft at the moment. I am taking an enforced break from the pressure of deadlines but will go back to the story in time. I already feel the need to change the end slightly and develop some of the characters and their families. Memories1 is still waiting for me to brave out the publishing world so I would not hold my breath about Scrum Down being in print anytime soon.
Unfortunately I have missed the latest series of the choir, despite having been in love with Gareth Malone ever since he turned the troublesome school children around. This time he picked on a group of military wives and has nurtured them into a 100 strong choir who sang at the Albert Hall for a Remembrance Day concert.
This particular project of his like the children at the school just hit a chord that I find hard to ignore. The song has been written from the letters the wives sent to their beloved husbands while they served abroad. I don’t want to ever take anything away from our brave brave soldiers fighting wars, who put their lives on the line every day for Queen and country. Gareth, has however, brought an awareness of the wonderful women they leave behind.
We only hear the bad press stories when a soldier is killed. These woman wave their men off as they leave for war torn foreign places, as I wave Sexy Sporty Dad; then live in unbearable fear they may never see their loved one again. They look after the homes and the children and carry on with their lives dreading the car coming to their door with bad news. They welcome back their husbands, partners, fathers of their children and help them adjust to life back in a country thankfully not at war, often suffering if not from physical injury but the horrendous mental images that will never leave those men.
I have got behind the movement to get “Wherever you are” to No 1 for Christmas for two reasons; firstly I don’t care how brilliant, great, entertaining the winner of the X factor will be, I feel they do not have a right to take the No 1 spot. So many artists produce great songs around this time and in recent years have not even been able to compete.
The second reason I will pre-order this record is that it is a long time since a song has moved me so much I actually want to buy a song. The words mean so much and are written right from the soul. You don’t have to wave your lover off to war to tell him “wherever you are; our hearts still beat as one.”
Please go to Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wherever-Military-Wives-Gareth-Malone/dp/B006DWW4SA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1323162722&sr=1-1) and play the video and I challenge you not to cry. I have watched it several times now and I think my tears are starting earlier each time. To quote Chris Evans “it is a song the world needs”. If you feel strongly about anyone then dip into your pocket and buy it for them for Christmas. Help Gareth and his wonderful choir to achieve their goal.
Memories1 written for NANOWRIMO last year and still being edited, waiting for me to overcome my fear and send it away.