Quays And Reads

A frosty morning here about 30 minutes’ drive north of central London!

At least it isn’t raining! πŸ™‚

As you may know, the third anniversary of my mom’s death was Friday, so it was not a great day for me. We headed off, however, to visit for the weekend with friends near Bristol. They are the same couple who spent two weeks with us in America in August and September.

On Saturday morning, they suggested we all head to Gloucester Quays, which is about 20 minutes’ drive from their house. It is a newish – including partially indoor – outlets shopping area in Gloucester, on the riverfront. The area around it has also been rejuvenated with new stores, cafes, and restaurants, and so on…

[Photo by me, 2018.]

The weather started off fine:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

We stopped in at the Mariners’ Chapel, which is what you think it is…

[Photo by me, 2018.]

…a small church dedicated to those who work at sea. Gloucester is on the River Severn.

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Boats docked give an author like me “ideas”:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

It’s October. And it’s England. Clouds rolled in and by afternoon it was raining – but by then we were inside the Quays outlets.

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Before that, at the river’s edge, a local approached me. I suspect he thought I’d toss him some bread or something. They must be fed by passersby… and expect it.

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Around a corner, is a pub. Which is unsurprising given it’s England. The Lord High Constable of England:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

The Quays indoor outlets shopping area is just ahead under that archway. It proved perfect for what became a rainy, English day:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

A cappuccino and a croissant. Also perfect for a late morning. They are also perennially perfect to get you thinking:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

As a writer, unsurprisingly I think – a lot. Talking later with one of our friends about my books, and asked by him how things are going with the new one, of course I replied, β€œFine” – as one always does. Because it’s all too complicated even to begin to explain details; and, let’s be honest, most people – even friends – don’t really care. (Relatedly, Laura Janis Thompson has a post here from the other day on writers’ “sleepless nights.” Most writers, I suspect, can well relate. I can.)

Maybe of more interest – to him, and perhaps you – I told him as well that I feel I have a much better sense now of who I am as a writer and, most importantly, who my audience may be. Back in 2012-2013, I was writing my first book, Passports, largely in the dark. Without much idea about who might read it, I took a leap of faith: I enjoyed a type of romantic/travel/international story and assumed a few other people out there might too.

Within months after it appeared, I began to hear from some readers, and by now I have a much better idea who my readers actually are. They sure do not include my friend there. Although a good friend, he has never said he has more than glanced briefly at any of my books, and I accept that: I know they just aren’t his taste.

He reminded me once more he loves fantasy and Game of Thrones and horror, etc. As we talked I repeated that I am not interested in writing people wearing bear skins running around waving magical swords and seeking rings of supernatural power; I prefer to invent “fashionable” and “real” people, including those in 18th Century drawing rooms. He replied that he reads – as I know many others do – seeking escape from reality. I came back by saying while I understand that, I prefer life consequences that I believe make for true story suspense – because nothing is more suspenseful than irreparable consequences. Fantasy, I noted, is just that: there is always some tiny chance, for instance, a beloved dead character may somehow be revived… with a writer deciding sneakily 10 chapters later to concoct, say, an elixir of Auguranahadragrahannnnnnnn… or some such. That may be an escape from reality, but I can’t do that: when one of my characters faces a guillotine, uh, well, that’ll be that…

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Photo by me, 2018.]

Oh, and speaking of consequences, albeit not exactly irreparable, I know. Among my outlets purchases, at White Stuff, I took a male fashion plunge… and perhaps a risk. I bought a waistcoat:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Just making an attempt to be “hip.”

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. πŸ™‚

4 replies »

  1. Thank you for the pingback! As it is my first, I’m honored it was from you.

    I’m delighted to see that waistcoats are available once again. Since father went off to work every day resplendent in a three piece suit and a custom-tailored shirt with French cuffs, I find them quite appealing and a lovely addition to the male wardrobe.
    I own two of them, a bit more feminine in appearance. Women in America prefer to call them β€œvests” which, I understand, has an entirely different definition in the King’s English. πŸ™‚ Such a garment seems appropriate for either a male or a female college professor. Academic attire is something I know you are familiar with.

    The fascination with the fantasy genre is quite interesting, isn’t it? As I am pursuing additional credits as well as teaching, I find myself in workshops with dozens of fantasy writers. In fact, the love of fantasy is so great, I’m often the only writer contributing anything but fantasy. Perhaps we spent our interest on A Wrinkle in Time, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Alice in Wonderland. Who knows, but like you, I find myself completely uninvolved.

    Anyway, enough rambling here in your comments section. Thanks again and enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your blog post was very good. I do so appreciate what you wrote. Often I find I have ideas at “3am.” I hate that!

      Ah, yes, the “waistcoat”. An impulse purchase, I do admit. I also do have to admit I liked it when I tried it on. I felt all rather “formal.” πŸ™‚

      My friend had said to me, “You like Star Wars.” I said, “Star Wars was never meant to be taken all that seriously. The first films were knock offs of 30s serials and 40s fighter plane films, so on. Now,” I added, “they’re like a religion. In fact, they’ve created one!”

      I just find fantasy too easy, really. I read Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, but much fantasy now is kinda – I think – a guise for suppressed “male fantasies” they can’t write elsewhere. And it’s perhaps too easy, now, to caricature.

      So many make fun of Jane Austen? Fine. How about this…I am making up as I write it… “…Hiking the twenty decaron to the hills of the Uffuilogers, about to face the Surualah, Gamila was unsure of herself. She sought Harmor’s help, but he was with Ughanan, in the palace of Seeenantinans, off in the land of Gur…” I got a new Netflix series there for sure! LOL!!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person