Recently at Chapletown Books we published Roger's Slimline Tales, a delightful collection of very short stories. Roger is also a regular contributor to the CaféLit e-zine that I edit.
|Performing poems at Laton Hall, Shropshire|
What do you write and why?
Apart from a novel (I‘m too old to start and wouldn‘t want to spend all my time on one project,) I’ll have a go at anything. I’ve written a novella (still to be re-edited,) short stories, flash fiction, poems, plays, sketches, screenplays, memoirs, letters to newspapers, reports of meetings and events. You name it, I’ll take up the challenge. Since 2006 my principal output has been short stories and during the last eighteen months, flash. So far this year, I have two film scripts to develop and am trying to concentrate on poetry.
I have always depended on a creative outlet to keep me sane. During the 35 years I worked in public health, it was photography. As my parents grew older, in order to provide support, I turned to drawing and painting. After my father died and Ma needed more of my time, it became writing.
|I still take the odd snap|
A friend took me to meet a film maker who had a small cinema in his house. After we’d watched some of his movies and enjoyed a couple of glasses of red, he told me his regular screenwriter was starting a novel and he was looking for someone else to script his ideas and come up with new ones. After another glass of Rioja I announced that it couldn’t be that difficult and I’d have a go. I did and my first screenplay was filmed during the following year.
Soon after, I joined a writers group which had been set up for carers and did a creative writing course. I was off and running and writing became a passion, maybe even an addiction.
As far as possible, mornings are reserved for chores and appointments, afternoons for writing. When we are away from home, I spend every spare moment with pen and paper. I love it, a joy to be away from the keyboard and screen. When we are in Mallorca, I have my special pomegranate tree under which I sit and write while gazing at a 500 year old olive.
A pen and notebook are always within arms length, so that while waiting for an appointment for example, if I see or hear something or an idea occurs, notes are made.
Even when driving, I can be heard reciting, though much of that is never remembered and written down.
I have a number of pieces on the go at any one time. When one sticks, I turn to another. Sometimes a story will stall and I have pieces that have been in the folder for two years or more. When a first draft is complete, I will put it to one side for a week or two. Usually when I return, it will tell me what is needed to finish. The exception is flash which tends to be done in one go. Get the idea, write it down, tidy it up and close the file. Short pieces need that freshness which can often be lost if you leave, tinker with or tweak. Fellow WG members criticise this approach, but I tell them, I write for pleasure, (certainly not for money,) I’ll do it how I want to and when.
Our third (smallest) bedroom is my office, studio, library and storage space, but I will and can write anywhere, providing there is not too much noise. I always used to draw and paint to a background of music, but that doesn’t work with writing. I’ve tried writing on bus journeys but that’s not easy. I’m not a great frequenter of cafes and bars, other than to eat, but if I find myself in a town with time to pass, I seek out the library which is a nice place to write.
I am a writer; it’s what I do and have called myself such ever since my first film script was ‘published,’ i.e. properly typed in the appropriate format and put into a ring binder to give to actors. It was soon afterwards that I had work in an anthology published by the Carers Writing Group, which I believed confirmed my status.
|Roger and Judy|
My wife, Judy was a public librarian for almost 40 years, so books are her thing. Since getting married in 1970, we have never owned a TV set, but the house is always overflowing with newspapers, books and magazines. Judy will have three novels on the go at any one time, but I can’t do that. She doesn’t read everything I write, as she has a habit of saying ‘very good.’ I study her expression and that’s what tells me what I need to know.
My mother used to tell everyone within earshot that I was a writer until; the Carers Writers Group produced an anthology featuring pieces by those who were being cared for. Mum had two pieces included and following that ‘til her death (aged 99) she became the ‘writer’ in the family.
I’ve always been a member of a writers group, at the moment it’s two and generally speaking, apart from occasional jealousies, fellow members have been supportive.
Most Proud Moments
Not in any particular order :-
The first time I saw my name on a film credit and when I found myself mentioned on IMDB.
When, after performing a poem about trees in a church, a member of the congregation asked if she could have a copy to read at her daughter’s wedding.
When I opened the package and for the first time saw a copy of Slimline Tales.
Editing and Research
I enjoy this part almost as much as getting down the first draft. I follow the advice to write the piece rather than edit as I go. Research, I do as I need it. When I first began writing I tended to do all the research at the beginning but then wanted to include everything I’d learned. You can tell when reading a book that an author has spent hours researching and they are jolly well going to put everything in the book. The only exception is when drafting a poem on a particular subject, for instance, at the moment I’m working on a poem about an element of the busting of the dams in Germany. It’s in the voice of a bomb aimer and I did a lot of research before I wrote the first line. I use the cluster approach for poems.
To live as long as I can, write as much as I can and enjoy it.
Inspired by :-
Robert Graves, William Boyd, Dylan Thomas, Gillian Clarke, Lee Child, Joanne Harris, John Irving, Alan Bennett, Robert Macfarlane, F G Lorca, Joan Miro and many more.