Monday, 4 July 2016

A preview page from one of the Malinding Village books


Rachel's smiling at me. I've done something right. Or something write? This book seems to be a book about a book. How not to write a book? Do all writers agonise about what they're trying to say? Or do they just sit down in their studies, smile at the beautiful bunch of flowers their fan club sent, gaze out at their swimming pools, sip at a G & T and then write perfect prose at the rate of a thousand words an hour? What is a G & T? Must be something to drink if you sip at it. I've got this old laptop with windows 98 and a battery that lasts all of half an hour if I don't play games. Couple of hundred words a day? If I'm lucky. I once did five hundred but when I read it I was so ashamed. I shouldn't have thoughts like that. Rachel** said I should have kept them in, they were what this book is really about. But what if one of my teachers - what if Miss Ellesmere - read it? Not that it's likely that anyone will ever read it, but what if?  I wish I could keep this book in order, day-by-day, month-by-month. It keeps leaping about from year to year then back to another year. That last bit I wrote, about love and lovers. That was before I went to Uni.

I need a time line. BW and AW. Before wheels and after wheels.

Sorry, I came to a grinding halt after that last thought. Why do halts grind?  Teeth grind. Mills grind. How do halts grind? Halt! Who goes there? An old lame lady, sir. She goes haltingly. I'm rabbiting on and on. Haltingly. It's a good job I've got Rachel to talk to. I'd be talking to myself otherwise. Going quietly mad. Stark raving starkers mad - like I did at school after those prefects assaulted me. I wonder what happened to them? I could make something up about them, I'm a liar: all writers are liars, well, the fictional ones are. I'm fictional, you know. I am. So's Rachel and everybody else I know. We're all a pack of liars.

It's a bit like being a god, being a writer. What would I do to the prefects?* You want to know? O.K. How's this: on their way home, after the head teacher had sacked them, they rescued a kitten that had fallen into the canal. They took turns to give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and wrapped it up in my skirt (which they'd stolen as a souvenir). They took it to the R.S.P.C.A. and it later found a good home with an old lady who lived a long, long way from any dangerous water. Sadly, on their way home they were trampled by a Mastodon which had escaped from a secret research centre and had to be shot before it trampled the whole population of Weaverham. It took years to breed another Mastodon from DNA and stem cells. I've just re-read that last bit and realised what a nasty piece of work I am. Still, I'm not going to change it. I hope it's not true …

Rachel's vanished. Maybe the last bit of the story was too far-fetched even for her? Maybe. She's pretty far-fetched herself; maybe that's why we get on so well together. If I had a real friend I'd like her to be like Rach. I know she's not gone far because she never does. She once stayed away for nearly a whole week. She thought I was becoming too dependent on her. But she did come back. She doesn't find fault with me so much nowadays. She used to be on my case all the time, day and night, but now we're best mates. She does give me that look at times and I stop and think what I've said or what I've done that wasn't quite right. Not appropriate kind of thing. I worry a bit about my state of mind. I was unconscious for a couple of days after the accident. I wonder if a few of my brain-cells opted out and didn't grow back. I never had that many to start with.  know I'm not normal. Normal people have legs and walk and run and dance and swim. I can swim, actually. Sort of doggy-paddle a lobster might do. My instructor thought it was a variety of butterfly-stroke, so that's it then: the halting-moth crawl. It works, gets me from one end of the pool to the other.

*Three racist senior students had attacked Jodie on her first day at school.
** Rachel is Jodie's imaginary friend.

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