Wednesday 25 May 2022

Draft 2 Helga’s Story


Computer, Laptop, Notebook, Pen, Table

I’m still trying to work out a good title for this story. I’m considering something like Belonging to the Land because that concept is important in both parts of the story and is perhaps even what draws the two story threads together.

I’ve settled on two first person narratives:

  • Present tense for Jamie in 2001-2003
  • Past tense for Helga, 1925 -1947

A major part of this new edit has been changing from third person to first and past to present. As I’ve now started on another edit I’m noticing places where I haven’t made that transition.

I’ve also had to put transition into some chapters- the end of the “Jamie” ones, showing her grandmother about to remember her back story.

One of the middle-strength characters has a disability. This is quite significant to the plot.  I‘ve had to emphasize that a little more.

One chapter needed some expansion about a character’s enjoyment of being out of doors I needed to use the senses more here, and especially those other than sight. We often deal with the visual but forget the other senses.

Another middle-strength character needed some expansion. I’ve made him a little contradictory and I realise this is because I hadn’t quite worked out who he was before I started writing.

Helga has to learn English and Welsh. I deal with this in one chapter but rather repeat myself. I’ve had to restructure that chapter. I have some characters speaking in Welsh occasionally.  I haven’t translated this but the meaning is conveyed by the way other characters answer in English or by their reaction which is shown through inner monologue.

Even though an edit at this stage is all about structure, I also noticed some inconsistencies in the spelling of names and also of Ma/ Mam - I favour Mam. “Find and replace” dealt with that quite nicely. Throughout I referred to a “patisserie”. That is a French word. I’ve now changed this to the German Konditorei. All of the Schellberg books have a sprinkling of German words.

And so now, onwards with Draft 3.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Wartime Farm by Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman and Alex Langlands

 I picked up this fascinating book at the Book Nest in the Millgate Shopping Centre in Bury, the town in which I live. The Book Nest is a delightful installation; there are a couple of chairs on which you are invited to sit and engage in conversation with anyone else who drops by or where you can simply sit and read.  There are two bookshelves where you can drop off books you’ve finished with and where you can pick others you’ve not yet read. You may donate a few coins or a note for the privilege if you so wish.

I was dropping off a few books the other week and this one jumped out at me.

It is hefty volume and retails at £20.00.  It’s the book of the TV series, which provided 36 hours of viewing.

Although it couldn’t be called a scholarly work, it’s much more than a coffee table book.  It is attractive enough to grace any coffee table or book shelf. It is full of interesting and useful information and both it and the TV programme are based on the three writers / presenters working on a facsimile World War II farm. It was particularly interesting for me because the farm they used is opposite where I used to live in Hampshire.

There is information in here about farming, mobilising people, how people adapted their homes and gardens, wartime food, livestock, home defences, making do and mending and morale.

We are currently living in extraordinary times but still the austerity of that time is astounding. Clothing coupons only generally allowed for one new outfit per person per year. 70% of food was imported before the war so adjustments had to be made very quickly. Though we look back on this time with nostalgia, we might do well to remember that civilians lived in constant fear. Certainly towns were more likely to be bombed, but the countryside was likely to be invaded.

Modern methods were rapidly brought into farming. Livestock was reduced to allow for more arable land as this was a more efficient way of feeding people. Householders began to keep pigs and poultry as a way of supplementing the farms that could no longer produce so much meat. And recycling was very common.  Why did we stop doing it?

Sadly we’ve dropped many of the good habits we took up during World War II. We may have to take them up again now.      

Friday 6 May 2022

Hidden Wars


Despair, War, Helplessness, Unhappy, Desperate, Cry

War isn’t just about young men and women doing the dirty work of national leaders and high-ranking military officers. Certainly it’s bad enough that these younger people are forced to target each other with destructive weapons. Even worse that civilians get caught in the crossfire and that civilians have to fight other battles.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is terrible. It’s having ghastly repercussions for ordinary Russian people as well as Ukrainian civilians.  We might cry out, well they voted for Putin so they are as guilty as he is. Why did they vote for him? Presumably not in order to do evil. Motives could range from self-preservation to a genuine belief that he offers the best regime.

The sanctions the world has imposed on Russia will make life very uncomfortable for civilians. And there will be repercussion for the rest of the world in a reduction in resources and the threat of other sorts of hostilities such as cyber-attacks.

In war time shortages of food, clothing, energy and medical supplies arise. Then there is the shift in moral and the fear of death or injury. Of course there is also actual death and injury. Life become hard whether one is involved in the actual fighting or not.  

World War II was in effect an extension of World War 1. Germany was left in a very weak position. The Nazi party was able to appeal to the low morale of the ordinary person.       

What a shame we can’t take note of the fact that we all live on the same planet and working together could be quite effective Weaponised war might seem so terrible that we could wonder why we ever get involved in it. Does it happen when hidden wars and cooperation have failed?