Vee rewrite

I need to get Vee rewritten. It needs more scope, more development of character, and it needs to be more my voice.

So, I will rewrite it. Here is the plan. Once I am finished with this draft of Roomies, I will start.

First, I will add the first chapter of Affie and Vee in the park naming each other. That will be a prologue.

Second, I will go through the character arc of Vee and make sure there is a strong character arc.

Third, I will identify subplots and bring them out. One of those will be the telling of the story of the Boy in the Tree, the original story of Vee. Oral story telling will form a major part of the character’s entertainment.

Fourth, I will show a scene in which the characters discuss the future of the tree and what they all want, this is on the day Michael arrives, and all their stories have been told, and I will show how hard it will be to please everyone and how easy it is for someone like Leb to lie and manipulate and use everyone’s differences to gain power.

Fifth, I will go over the new characters and their stories, and tell each story from the narrator’s point of view as I think creating so many voices is beyond me.

Sixth, I will develop the characters of Michael and the Dr.

Seventh, I will edit for subtlety.

Eighth, I will get rid of Adam as a rapist and just have him as a menacing threat.

Ninth, I will work on the pace and the payoff of the plot.

Tenth, I will go through the whole book and rewrite it in the voice of an omniscient narrator.

I have a lot to do. I think I can do it while I am in Austria and then send it to people who have asked to read it.

I think I should give myself a rough deadline to complete this draft, number God Knows How Many. Let’s say March 30th 2018.


Who is Vee?

I should know Vee pretty well by now. I have known her 16 years. She was not the main character back then when I write the first draft of Vee, but she was a secondary one, a very important secondary one though. The more I rewrite the story, the more I realized the story was really about her and she has been my buddy ever since. Characterisation is not my strong point, though, and I am not sure how much I really know her. If you asked me three things about her I would say: resilient, smart, and volatile. If you asked me what she wanted to become, I would say: hopeful, at peace, and forgiving.

How does she look? When we meet her in the book, she is quite dark skinned. From mediterranean blood. She has long curly blonde hair. She has full cheeks and a round face but is slim. She has big lips and big eyes and little ears which seem too little for her face.

Vee was born in London in 1990. Vee is short for Venus and is not her real name. Her friend Natalie gave it to her. She gave Natalie a name, too, Affie, short for Aphrodite, and the prologue is a scene in which they give each other these names. She was born on a council estate in Pimlico. Her mother, Kathleen, was a housewife and her dad, Kenneth, worked on the tube. When she was seven her dad was killed in a car accident. Her mother did not cope very well and took up with a man she met at the local pub, Nigel. Nigel got her mum hooked on drugs and then began prostituting her out. While all this was going on, Kathleen’s family were trying to intervene, but Kathleen pushed them all away, manipulated by Nigel. Vee went to school where they worried about her, but she tried her best to keep learning and she confided in her friends and spent as much time out of the house as she could, staying with some friends quite frequently. Eventually, she just got used to the way things were, resigned, a little bitter and negative. She had a neighbor called Mary who helped her, providing a bed for her when she needed, making sure she did not get addicted to drugs and when she did, bringing her into her home and weening her off them. Mary had been her mum’s friend and was not going to let Vee waste her life.

Her mum overdosed when Vee was 14 and Nigel then began abusing and prostituing out Venus. He also brought a young girl Natalie, also known as Affie, to the flat who was his lover and who he also pimped out. Affie is madly in love with Nige and will not leave him which creates conflict between the two the day Vee is drawn to paradise.

I wondered about Vee. What does a girl with so much misery in her life do? I think she copes. Vee is  a great coper. But I also think Vee is more than that. She did not have too bad a start. She knew love from her parents, Mary loves her, she had an interest in books, in learning, in the world. She would go and hide in the library and read. But of course her environment ground her down. She fell in with a crowd. Took a lot of drugs, drank, sat around brooding, and really, who can blame her? She does have a rough edge to her, but she is not stupid, not at all. Nigel bans her from going to school, moves her away with Natalie, but she still goes to the library, still reads, uses the internet, finds people to have intelligent conversation with, such as Mary. Her and Natalie often read books to each other and discuss them. They have grand plans to escape. they dream of a better world, a simpler, healthy life, though just before Vee finds paradise they start to give up hope when Vee tries to get a job and cannot, when she tries to get her own housing and cannot, when she tries to escape from Nigel and cannot, when she tries to get Affie to run away with her and she will not come.

This is a central part of her conflict. She knows that what is out there in the world may not be worth escaping for, that she may just go back and try to rescue Affie but for no purpose. But does she want to be stuck with another Nige in the garden? It is at her greatest moment of conflict that Vee decides to be strong and to see what happens the next day, and that is when Mihail comes her way.

So how does Vee develop and change in the story? When she finds herself in paradise and finds that Leb is trying to abuse her like Nige did, she has had enough and she has stands up for herself and says that deserves more.  She says she is not going to be controlled by him like she has been by Nige. That goes on over a few intense days and on the last day when she stands up to him and says she deserves love, she meets Mikhail and she can see that she is worthy of love from a good man, that what she has asked for from the universe has finally come her way. She has hope of peace. She also sees this when she is given a home by Dr. Richard. She softens. She realises she cannot save Affie, but she can save her from Nigel. Understanding that she is going to die soon, she decides to forgive Nige, but she also resolves to disable him, a compromise she makes after a philosphical conversation she has with the Dr and with Michael about how she can help Affie.

We like Vee because she wants more for her life, she is kind hearted and generous despite what has happened to her, she knows love and can give it and receive it and deserves it. We want her to embrace the fleeting chance of happiness fate brings her.

What does Vee learn from all this? She finds happiness, but then is doomed to die. She already knows life is unfair. She has already learned to make the best of it in her moments of happiness with Affie. She learns that happiness is a gift, it does not come to everyone, but when it comes to you, you have to grab it and revel in it, and give happiness to others, or at least the chance for them to grab it themselves, the chance she gives to Affie.




Walking to work today, I was thinking about the title of my current project, Following Fyodor. I like the title, it is after all basically what they main character does. But Rod does more than just follow Fyodor, he moves in with him, and I remembered how the two had been roommates at the Tennis Academy and that six or seven years later they would become, in a much more roundabout way, roomies again. The title also seemed to capture a lighter tone, and I want this one to have a lighter tone to it, and a more comedic one, something else I want to inject, as well as conveying a sense that the book is not just about Rod following Fyodor, but also about their friendship and how it develops, regresses and comes to life again.

Out There

This post is more of a statement of intent than anything else.

It’s December 19 2017 and I am still writing. That’s about 16 years now of pretty consistent effort, writing three different attempts at novels and countless short stories and novellas, and all of them sitting around in boxes at my parent’s places and on USB sticks. It’s probably time to get them out of those boxes now. Get them out there to be read, or not read, but out there anyway.

I am still working on my original story idea, now titled Vee, from Autumn 2001, and after a three year break, it has been calling me again. The last draft was alright, but it did have some pretty big flaws (confusing plot, lack of character development, lack of variety in sentence length, one harsh but fair critic pointed out to me). So, I am going to work on the last draft again, turn it into a third person narrative rather than the overly ambitious first person narrative of five different characters, develop the back story and clarify the plot, try to bring the characters to life more, and hope that the few years extra experience time and practice have given me can develop it into the best possible story it can be.

I am still working on another project, too. This one is a tennis based one and it’s working title is Following Fyodor. It is now in its third draft and I have been working on it since February 2013. This one is a much simpler story than my first two attempts at a novel (I will go into the second one, Diana, a little later), but it is still a little complicated and out there. Perhaps, though, that is just what my style is. I am about two thirds of the way through this draft, and once it is done, which could be as soon as next week, I will go back to Vee. I love this story more than any of the other ones I have written and I sometimes see Vee and Diana as practice for this one.

As for Diana, I started writing that in 2008 and wrote the last draft in 2011. Like Vee, this one is also too ambitious, not like Vee is, though, and I glad they get less ambitious as I go on. Diana is my attempt at a crime novel and, lengthwise, it is probably the closest I have gotten to actually writing a novel and so I want to give it another go once I have given Vee and Following Fyodor my best shots.

And then there’s No one knew, and Kenny and Soon, and all my other Paper Kids. Some of them probably should not make it out there into the world, but they seem determined so I guess I just have to leave them to it.

So, that’s my statement of intent. Now, I need to get a move on.



My first ever published story: Whose way?

In June 2011, I got my first ever published story.

It was with an online magazine called Yes, the title could not be more apt.

When I read my story had been accepted, I had to put down my computer and take a walk. I’m a published writer. I’m a published writer. I could not get it out of my head. It was hard to believe after 10 years of scribbling I had actually found somewhere to have my story read.

I knew it was not the best story in the world. I knew, it was at best, a little bit clever and it had a great last line. That is probably enough, anyway. Stories, like people, cannot be all things to all readers, and I think as long as you satisfy two or three criteria then you have done well.

It was the first story I had written for a competition, the writer’s and artist’s yearbook one. I did not place. Nor did I place the next year, nor the next. And then, realizing that maybe short stories were not for me, or simply giving up, I stopped entering and stopped short story writing.

The last short story I wrote was last Summer for another comp. Again, it went unloved. After 9 years of short story writing, I still had not got the hang of it, or of writing the right story for the right editor.

At least I can publish the stories here. Some people might read them. Like them. Dislike them even. Anything but indifference is all I would ask for.

You can read the story on the right. And there is a link down below.