Stuck in a rut

November is not the month to get stuck. It is NaNoWriMo for those foolhardy enough to sign up. Up goes my hand. I knew I’d try again having had a shot last year with a YA book. This year I contemplated a sequel but I’m still working on that first one and I need more time to polish what I want to do. Instead, and a month ago this wasn’t the plan, I’ve begun a sequel to my first published book (the link to which is to the right of this post – 5* reviews too. Wow!)

So this month it is

The Last Will of Sven Andersen

And the continuing story of Hapless Harry Spittle.

The first time we meet Harry he is 19, it is 1976 and he is home from uni for the holidays in the New Forest working at a local hotel. That was me. The time and the setting and the age of the hero were all taken from real life. I assure anyone who has read it (or any part of it) that the rest is fiction (well, not the bit with Rascal, the cat, his sharp claws and, for those of a sensitive disposition (if so why are you here?) what you might call the low hanging fruit).

The sequel follows a similar format. Harry is 24, it is 1981 and he is doing his articled clerkship – his legal training – after which he qualifies as a solicitor. He is working in a small firm in London near Oxford Street. I’ve slipped the timing a little; I finished my training  by the time this takes place but not by much. Again that is where we depart reality.

I had thought about this for a while, on and off, but I’m not a dazzling planner so I wasn’t sure how I’d go when I started yesterday. I do however write quickly when I’m in the mood and boy was I in the mood yesterday. I wrote a lot. It will be sh*te but that’s ok because tinkering with it is one of the joys.

Now this post is to honour the effervescent and energetic Charli Mills who is also ‘doing’ NaNo. The link to her first NaNo ‘coffee’ post is here. Check out her extract from her planned book, Rock Creek. Sooo good. I have wondered about posting extracts from my new WIP. What do people think?

As regular readers know, Charli sets us flash challenges, this week’s to write about about a rut.

October 29, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rut. The rut can be a habit, a circuit or a furrow in a road. It can be what causes the crisis, tension or the need to change. And if your writing feels stuck in a rut, use the flash fiction to do something radical. Who knows what is lurking behind the doors of your imagination!

And those dedicated followers know I’m continuing Mary’s story in my responses. Here’s the link to keep you up to date. Mary’s story. I will just say this is a bit rushed (no excuse, just the reason) so I fear it doesn’t achieve what all good flash should which is to stand alone. Angela is Rupert’s mother and Rupert is Mary’s half brother, her father Peter having had an affair with Angela. Mary discovered she was adopted a while back so today’s revelation about her father, Peter is a new one. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Walking the Dog

 The rutted path made Mary stumble; she didn’t mind. Cursing the dog was like cursing her father; good for her lungs and it let her think.

She had seen Rupert. He said Peter was her real father which meant he had an affair before the one with Angela, Rupert’s mother. Oddly it didn’t shock Mary; any more than that the woman she called ‘mother’ had accepted Mary as her own.

Mary imagined her mother’s reaction: calm, practical, no emotion; nothing to upset her ordered existence. Mary was different. She kicked the tyre tracks. She would find her real mother.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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20 Responses to Stuck in a rut

  1. lucciagray says:

    Wow! A lot going on in that family in just 99 words! It’ll take Mary a while longer to find her mum….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Charli Mills says:

    Love the flash! In some ways we see that Mary is controlled but she’s deep and there’s turbulent waters below. Funny that she’s cursing the poor dog-once-dad!

    I’ve probably said this enough times you’ll just think I’m buttering you up–but I love Harry Spittle! My rule of thumb is that I read a mixture of books in November. Partly to relax and partly to keep good writing in front of me. So I have a similar genre read, a non-fiction read about the imagination of novelists, and Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. So glad you are writing the sequel!

    Here’s my thoughts on posting a WIP. It can help to gain early feedback from readers. What resonates, what falls short. However, it can also be “too much” in that if someone reads your WIP they may get the juicy parts and not read the subsequent book. Last year I posted everything because I knew it would be radically different in the re-writes. This year, I’m being selective. I actually uncovered historical theories not considered so I’m a bit protective of ideas that are unique. So weigh it out–getting people excited against revealing too much. My 2 cents!

    Best of luck to you! See you on the pages!


  3. Norah says:

    Hi Geoff, I’m also enjoying Dead Flies though am making slow reading progress. I’m very interested to hear there may be a sequel and the direction in which it may lead. As a reader with limited time I would probably prefer you didn’t post the full content of your writing every day as I just wouldn’t have time to read it, and I would feel bad about that. I would rather hear how you are going with it. However others may hanker to read every word. Really, whether you publish your progress or not must be up to you. Publish when you feel a need to, or a need for input or feedback.
    Your continuing flash story of Mary continues to intrigue and delight. I’m pleased you are continuing to develop it. 🙂


    • TanGental says:

      Charli made a valid point about not spoiling the whole book, like movie trailers giving all the best bits away. I’ll maybe post some small extracts. I’ll try today and see.
      Thanks re the flash. I always had it in mind to take her on another journey and I know at least one more twist, subject to the right prompt!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Annecdotist says:

    Clever you, sending Mary off on a new journey of discovery. I guess you will find lots of opportunities for twist and turns along the way.
    I think I said on another post there are think it’s a great idea to do a follow-up to Harry Spittle – he has so much to offer as a character. I wonder what it will be like to keep both him and Mary in mind over the coming month. Will their stories blend into each other?
    All the best with your quest to write 50,000 words, though I wouldn’t be surprised if you manage any more.


    • TanGental says:

      Ah my writing diarrhoea! Yes, I suspect you are right. I can say the words have been flowing ok over the first two days though I was up until 2 last night, so rutted to the keyboard was I. Happily so was Linda on the show she curates on York in January. She’s writing the accompanying materials and storyboards and has to chisel the words down. Much trickier.
      Now When Harry met Mary flash. There’s an idea. Could be a bit gooey, mind


  5. Hope you have a productive November’s writing. I too would probably prefer not to have parts of the story each day only because I would like it fresh when I read the published item. Like Norah I am in the process of reading (but I have so much reading I have to do I’m afraid I am taking a little longer than I would otherwise). I am saddened that Amanda was not part of your youth…or was she?
    Am enjoying Mary’s journey now off in another direction. Where will Charli take you?


  6. I skipped to the flash tonight because I haven’t started Dead Flies yet and don’t want to spoil anything.

    Love the flash. This family… I don’t know how you have managed to get here from when we first met Peter. Such twists and always in keeping with the prompt. Fantastic.


    • TanGental says:

      Interesting about the snippets. Maybe I need to rethink this. I don’t want them to be spoilers. Thank you for your kind words about the flash. It is fun.


  7. Sherri says:

    I am a slow reader I’m realising! Having finally, at long last, got my Kindle for my birthday I’m slowly making my way through all those books I’ve promised everyone I’ll read and I will read yours, you can bet on it and I really am looking forward to it. But it will be a while, especially as I step on the gas to get my memoir draft finished. I decided not to go with Bill for NaNo as I know I would get too distracted and finding the time as it is to write and blog is tight enough. Wonderful that you are writing a sequel, but I don’t want to know too much as I haven’t read your first yet, so might skip those parts for now. Enjoying the ongoing flash – and I’m darn glad for Charli’s prompt this week, helps me out of rut with Bill one heck of a lot! I think you found a great way to go forward with the flash. Feeling Mary’s pent up anxiety, anger and sense of betrayal, running deep but not deep enough to stop her getting angry at the dog…and yes, I’ve twisted my ankle many a time on those rutted paths 😉


    • TanGental says:

      Sherri you’ve decided me. No more Nano extracts from the sequel. First Sarah, then Amber and now you. All fear spoilers! So I’ll go another way with my nano time posts. Like you I read slowly so I struggle to keep up. How Anne does it I have no clue. Great to keep going with the memoire and Bill won’t go away. That pesky part of your brain won’t let him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Oh I hope I gave you the right feedback but glad to have helped…hopefully… But yes, you don’t want to give too much away if others are saying the same thing so makes sense. I don’t know either how others do it either, I really don’t. I’m in awe! I’m wondering myself whether to continue with Bill on the flash or take him away after this week and work on him for a novella or something, to have in the pipeline for when my book is finally finished…will it happen, really? Ha! But you are right, he won’t let me go. I’ve got to get him out of a rut today somehow. All the best with nano though Geoff, so great to know that the words are flowing and I meant to say I love the way you explain the background on Harry. Really looking forward to reading…and just to say 1976 is a year I remember very well…the year I took my O levels and left Stowmarket High School 😉 See you over at the Ranch…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Grooving in the Ruts « Carrot Ranch Communications

  9. willowdot21 says:

    Another very interesting post. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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