New Fiction: Devotional

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Laurence Fox and Kevin Whately in ITV’s ‘Lewis’

After the revenge murders at St Gerards, Lewis goes off on his desperately needed holiday in Italy with Lyn.  It turns out to be less theraputic than he’d hoped:

“My James, he thinks again, and realises that a soft smile has sneaked onto his lips without his permission.

The smile isn’t the only thing that’s been sneaking about without his noticing.  Here is Lynn, weighed down with several shopping bags from what look to be expensive shops, and a knowing grin on her face.  She’s been standing in front of him for several moments, it seems, and seen everything. 

 ‘Dad,’ she wheedles, sitting down with a knowing grin.  ‘Anything you want to tell me about?’”

You can read Devotional here on AO3.

Happy Creating,

EF

Twelfth Night

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Taking down the decorations

This is the part of Christmas I hate.  The clearing up.

Today is the day for taking the decorations down.  If you leave them up any longer, its supposed to be bad luck.  And since I don’t want any more bad stuff in my life for a good while, I’m diligently stripping the tree, just to be on the safe side.

Once all the cards and baubles are gone, the place looks rather sad and naked.  Empty.  You can see where all the dust and cobwebs have built up.  (I’m leaving the hoovering and dusting till tomorrow, so I don’t use up all my strength in one day.)  It looks especially empty this year because we made such an effort to bring that Christmas magic back into the house.  The first annual holiday without a loved one (in this case, my mother-in-law) is always a tough one, and especially so for my Husband this year, because his mother was such an enthusiast for the season, such an integral part of the family’s celebrations.  We had to make a particular effort to reclaim it not only from grief, but from the difficult memories of the last few Christmases spent in the shadow of her Alzheimers disease.

I think we managed it (mostly).  At least, I’m pretty sure it could have been a lot worse.  And when I came downstairs one evening and found him lying on his back on the sofa, gazing at the twinkling lights on the tree and listening to the soft music of Vaughn Williams, relaxed for the first time in months, I decided we’d found a reasonably happy medium.

Now the Yuletide festical is over, and we have to face the stark reality of a future year, the uncertainties of Brexit and Trump, as well as clearing out and selling the home of a loved one.  However, I don’t feel as desolate as I thought I would.

I always said I was a ‘glass half full’ kind of person.  You know the old adage, the one about looking at a glass with some water in it, and choosing to be optimistic about there still being something left to drink, or being pessimistic about the fact that its half gone.  The joke I heard recently about, ‘well, there’s plenty of space for more vodka’ seems to chime with how I feel today.

The house may feel bald and empty, but now there is space to fill it with new things.  Good things.  Things we can choose together, not the baggage of caring for someone with dementia, of watching her suffering, and of our own powerlessness to help.  There is new opportunity in the space that is left, both by the decorations and the lifting of the burden of caring.  And we get to choose what we fill it with.

Which is quite exciting when you think about it.

(Think of all the writing and painting I’m going to get done!)

So don’t look at your dusty, de-Christmassed home in dismay today.  Look for the gaps in between, the space for possibility.  Don’t mourn the loss of Christmas.  Think to yourself, in your best Mary Poppins tone, ‘well, what shall I do today?’

Happy Creating,

EF

Pivot Points

Let me tell you about the Marie Antoinette watch.

Its said to be the greatest watch ever made.

One day in 1783, an admirer of the French queen arrived at the workshop of Adam-Louis Breguet, the greatest watchmaker in Paris.  He wanted the perfect watch for the perfect woman.  His commission was to be without bounds.  Breguet was to pour everything he knew into making the most complex, and most beautiful timepiece possible.  Money was no object.

The watch became Breguet’s obsession.  Even after the French monarchy fell, Marie Antoinette was executed, and the lucrative business he had built from the commissions of the aristrocracy was in ruins, Breguet continued to craft his masterpiece.  Ultimately, it took forty years to complete, and had to be finished by Breguet’s son, four years after the master himself died.

Known officially as the Breguet No. 160 Grand Complication, the watch contained every function known at that time – Breguet even invented a few new ones.  It was crafted in precious metals and gems.  Breguet used sapphire for all the mechanical pivot points in the clockwork, in order reduce friction.

And its these sapphire pivot points that fascinate me.

Because I’m at a pivot point right now.

You will have noticed in recent months that this blog has become fairly, if not completely, dormant.  Life has, as it were, taken over.  There was no space to write.  No space in my life.  No space in my head.

Then, in September, on my birthday ironically, my mother-in-law died.  Her dementia had been filling up all the space in my brain and in my life.  Since she has been gone, I’ve begun to recollect not only who I am, but also all the activities that had been shelved and forgotten in order to look after her.  So many things I wanted in my life had fallen away, out of necessity.  And so many things now seemed irrelevant.

In the last few months, I know that I have changed not only profoundly but also irrevocably.  So much more has been happening than simply looking after my ailing elderly relative – things which are someone else’s story to tell.  And yet they, too, have had a hand in my transformation.  My life has been like a pack of cards, being shuffled by the Hand of (insert your favourite deity/scientific motivator here).

The day my mother-in-law died was a beautiful day.  The sun shone.  The sky was a perfect sapphire blue.  I stood outside the hospital foyer with a soft, warm wind on my face, and knew that I had reached one of Breguet’s pivots.  Wasn’t the sky exactly the right blue, after all?  And does not sapphire reduce friction?

The friction of life with Alzheimers is gone.  The cards that were thrown up into the air have fallen back down in a new order.  The things that seemed important then are irrelevant now, and vice versa.

Now the funeral is over, now the first shock of grief has passed, I find all I want to do is write.  I want to write something profound.  I want to write because I have changed.  I want to write something real.  Something hard.  Something pivotal.  My own sapphire pivot point.  So I am writing.  By hand in my journal.  In notebooks, longhand.  Using Natalie Goldberg’s wisdom as my map, I am steadily shuffling my way towards the light.

I hope I am making my own ‘Grand Complication’, out of the precious metals and gems of my own life.  I hope you will join me on my journey.  And I hope it won’t take me the forty years it took Breguet!

Happy Creating,

EF

Friday Quick Fic: Mattress Topper

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Sometimes something silly just falls out of my head and onto the page.  Thats where this little Friday Quickfic came from.

I was thinking about silly writing prompts and, having watched the epsiode of ‘Lewis’ which involves Lewis having a bad back, forcing him to buy an orthopedic mattress, I wondered if I could get anything out of ‘orthopedic mattress’ as a prompt.

I know, I know.

Its a bit obvious, right?

Anyway, I hope it makes you laugh.  You can read it here, at AO3.

Happy Creating,

EF

New Fiction: The Groupie Situation

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Laurence Fox

One of my writing goals for this summer is to clear the decks of as many of the half-finished stories lurking in my computer files as I can.  I’ve got three or four outstanding Lewis stories hanging about, and since I have a quiet week ahead of me this week, I’m hoping to tinker with them to the point of some form of completeness.

‘The Groupie Situation’ is one I’ve been working on since Laurence Fox started touring with his latest album. I’d been thinking about a story I’d heard of Japanese fans having his lyrics tattooed on their arms, which seemed a bit extreme to me.  I wondered what he must think of that.  And thus this story was born.  And I’ve been playing with it ever since.

I have to admit when I was typing out the synopsis, I suddenly started having qualms about publishing it.  It talks about a woman having an obsessive and paranoid mental illness, after all, and I reckon some people will criticise me for making sweeping generalisations, not least about women.

There will also be those who will criticise my (potentially inaccurate) depiction of medical procedures.  That always happens.

I’m not a doctor.  I don’t want to be a doctor.  I don’t think its necessary to exhaustively research a little story’s details to the point of knowing what size needle a stitch is made with.  The point is to paint an impression for the reader.  A few details should tell them all they need to conjure up a treatment room, whether from their own experience or from TV medical dramas. But any more than that?  No.  Its just a fanfic, after all.

I’ve also decided not to publish on Fanfiction.net anymore.  I’ve had such mindless trolling there, its just not worth it.

I’m putting this fic out in spite of my fears of criticism.

Its a brave act to publish any work of art.  Especially when you are feeling vulnerable.  But I’m increasingly of the opinion that this is my Truth, and I intend to Speak it.  I believe, trust and hope that there will be others out there who will enjoy it in the spirit in which it was created.  I hope you are one of them.

You can read ‘The Groupie Situation’ here at AO3.

Happy Creating,

EF

New Fiction: Giraffe in Lipstick

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Its the usual thing.  Getting out of my own way.

I don’t have writers block.  I never have a paucity of stories whirling in my head.  Usually I have four or five.

No, the problem I have is getting out of my own way to write them down.  Lately I have taken to opening random unfinished stories in my fanfic files and finishing them off, just for the sake of releasing some creative steam.

‘Giraffe in Lipstick’ is the product of one afternoon’s wrestling with the brick wall I had built around my muse.  I wrote the start of it last year, but then it sat there, gathering digital dust, until the other day I found it, re-read it, and the second half just popped into my head.  Its silly and thin, but I think its fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

You can find it here at Ao3, and here at ff.net.

Happy creating,

EF

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New Fiction: Two Turtle Doves

Inspektor Lewis (Kevin Whately) und sein Kollege Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox) fragen sich, wie ein Mord an einem Oxforder Professor mit der Staatssicherheit der ehemaligen DDR zusammen hŠngen kšnnte. Honorarfrei - nur fŸr diese Sendung bei Nennung ZDF und Robert Day

Kevin Whately as  Lewis and Laurence Fox as Hathaway in ITV’s drame ‘Lewis’.

I’ve been ridiculously obsessed with wingfics lately, most particularly with the exceptional story, ‘Jacob and the Angel’ by ComplicatedLight.

This is a little morsel I created, inspired by that fic.

“He’d kept his secret so long.  Nursed it like a baby.  He’d come to hate having to lie to Lewis.  The man was his friend.  More than a friend.  The man who knew him better than anybody ever had, or ever would.  James was under no illusions about his feelings for his boss, even though he knew they could never be reciprocated.  He knew that time, and what had been mostly his own mistakes, had strengthened the tie between them to tempered steel.  No matter how strong it might be, though, there were some things that could not be overlooked.  He had lied to Lewis.  Even if it was by omission, it was still a lie.  And he knew that Lewis would be deeply wounded to realise that James had not shared with him this, his last, his deepest secret.”

To read ‘Two Turtle Doves’ click here for AO3, and here for FF.net.

Happy Creating,

EF