I have been an editor/proof-reader for years and always considered myself reasonably good at my job. I never had any complaints, which is my benchmark for how good you really are. In fact, several Literary Agents complimented me on the quality of our submissions.
English was always my favourite subject and I read a lot of books, but never once considered being a writer. I was far too busy managing Anita’s books, back in the day when manuscripts had to be submitted to agents and publishers in a very particular fashion.
Over the years, we received stacks of very encouraging and favourable letters from both agents and publishers alike, almost leading to publication a couple of times but sadly, despite almost being good enough, Anita was never published.
This might have been why I didn’t think of being a writer, after all, I knew better than most, just how bloody hard it was. But eventually, my muse arrived. This was just after the Kindle phenomena took off. Suddenly, everyone could publish their books on Amazon, and it was supposed to be so easy, anyone could do it.
I have to say, in fairness to all the wonderful writers out there, I did find it very hard to write a full-length book. 70.000 words seemed an impossible target, and I doubted my capabilities every step of the way. That first book taught me so much about plot and dialogue, character arcs and subplots, even though it made my head spin. The day I finished Nine Lives, a sense of achievement crept over me as I realised I had become a writer!
That was in 2014, and I went on to write two more thrillers after that. Most of you will know the fun I have had finding the right covers for my books, but I didn’t worry about the content at all. After all, I checked them for spelling errors and I had my editor head on, so they had to be fine.
Or so I thought.
I had written a memoir/novella about my fight with breast cancer and published it on Amazon. It received one review that commented on how short it was, and when I took a long hard look at it, I had to agree. Not only was it far too short, it could be a lot better. That was when I knew I would have to check my other books too.
I read Nine Lives again and was shocked at the state of it. Where was all the brilliant writing, the competent editor, the jaw-dropping prose? To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly, I wanted to crawl away and die. For nearly a week, I battled with unpublishing my books and throwing them away, for the thought of rewriting them seemed an impossible task.
One thought kept me going. If I can now recognise the faults in my writing, does that mean I have improved over the years? I am pretty sure I have, for I am looking at my work with a totally different mindset. Most of what I see is amateur, almost childish. There were so many repeated and wimpy words and adjectives by the bucket load. It probably would have been easier to start afresh, but I am nothing if not stubborn, so I have tried to improve all three books, or die trying! They might be the only thing I leave this world to remember me by!
Will tomorrow be as good as yesterday?
The storyteller began his tale
On his neck hung a chain
With a bright jewel
Which held the mystery
So he said.
I ask him about it
Truly, I wanted it
I felt like Gollum.
He winked at me
It’s but a wee thing
This angered me
which felt like a small
stone growing inside me
I knew I would do anything
to have it
Watching as it changed colour
from blue to green then blue again
It flickered, as if a shifting light
lay behind it
It will be mine.
His story ended with a question
Where does magic come from?
From the jewel around your neck
The heat of the day was fading
Dark tendrils of night swept across
the dark sky
Right now, my only thought
will he sleep outside
with the rest of us
Or move on like a wandering minstrel?
I thought him sly
Neither minstrel nor storyteller
He lay his cloak on the ground
as we did
Faking sleep I’m sure.
I kept one eye on him
When time passed
I crept closer
Lay awhile listening
to his breathing
I couldn’t tell if sleep had taken him.
Sly as a fox, I slid my hand beneath his collar
Trying to undo the clasp, he woke
I slammed my fist into his face
He lay quiet.
The jewel and I took off
Not turning to see who I might have woken
I ran deep into the woods before stopping
To look at my prize
Heart beating, legs shaking,
I slumped beneath a giant oak tree
Glad of its support against my back
Opening my hand, the jewel shone
Like the eye of God
Now all I need is for the magic to start…
One day I will make it to the top
Who is there to tell me no? He
Knows where I hide
My past I do not want spoken
Secrets that may take my life
Can I run, find shelter, stay hidden?
Tell no one about my dark side
My life has been so wrong
Stories have been whispered, made up…
Already I am not enjoying 2020 much.
I don’t feel right and my brain is refusing to do anything constructive. Inspiration seems to be on holiday, and if I get any slower, I’ll be at a standstill.
The results of the mammogram I had just before Christmas hasn’t arrived yet, and until they do, I always fear the worse and this is probably affecting everything else.
Various appliances around the house are playing up and the kitchen light died last week. It’s one of those circular fluorescent tube lights and finding any replacement tubes is getting difficult. I really should replace it but can’t face doing it now.
So, the only light we have in the kitchen comes from the cooker hood, which is not ideal. You risk being poisoned in our house this week as I cannot see what I’m doing!
And can you guess how many times I have switched on the light and waited for it to come on?
The internet is being its usual annoying self, and I am getting so tired of nothing working the way it’s supposed to.
And finally, I have made an appointment at the opticians, as my eyes are tired, and the headaches are getting worse. I worry that they did something wrong when the cataract was removed last year, so best to get it checked out.
The light tube turned up and I can now see what I’m doing in the kitchen.
The results of the mammogram turned up and ‘show nothing suspicious’ so I am delighted to be another year free from cancer. Four years now, so looking good!
Had my eyes tested again and will have to have new glasses as my eyes have changed again since the cataracts were removed last year. Two new pairs cost me a bloody fortune too, but I was assured that my eyes should settle down now.
No improvement in the brain /inspiration department, but at least I am trying to find a way around it. I mean, everything else seems to be on the up…
©Jaye Marie 2020
I am still here, writing words
that bleed into the universe
Looking for greater meaning
To find a like-minded soul
To share the agony with
To fill the space between four walls
With conversation, understanding,
Two minds wired the same way
Each giving to the other
Finding ways to understand the impossible
Wandering through the universe
And back again, in time for tea…
Do you suffer as I do?
With a melody in the back of your mind
With words you cannot find
Taking the 45 bus to Brixton
A middle-aged woman in the seat behind you
Humming the tune in your head
Do you ask her, only for her to say
She has no idea why it’s in her head
Days later you’re passing a building site
Where the tune is being whistled
by a burly bricklayer.
He too cannot answer your question
A child in the playground, skipping to your tune.
You end up standing in a record shop
Humming it for the assistant
He places an EP on the record player
It’s the tune from an advert,
no longer stuck in your head
The title of which was ‘Many Rivers to Cross.’
It almost drove me crazy
I wondered if we had all crossed the same river…
I had awoken before dawn again and stood at my window, searching the velvety night sky for the first signs of dawn. That barely perceptible lightening of the blackness that seems to happen almost without warning.
I found myself staring at a star, defiant in its lingering and as I watched, it seemed to be moving. My eyes must still be clinging to sleep for it couldn’t possibly be moving.
But it was.
So very slowly, it crept across the sky. I strained to see if it could be a plane but could see no flashing lights. As I watched, mesmerised, it seemed to grow bigger, which meant it was getting closer to me. I stared at the star, desperate to see what it could possibly be.
When the flashing lights appeared, I knew it must be a plane, or maybe a helicopter. But wait a minute. I counted several flashing lights all in a row and as far as I knew, planes didn’t.
Fascinated, I kept watching. The sky was beginning to lighten, revealing the outline of the craft. It did look like a plane now, but not one I recognised and far too small for a commercial airline. It glided slowly past my window, all the lights twinkling like a Christmas tree until I couldn’t see it anymore…