I don’t know how long Sarah Brentyn has been writing compelling short fiction but ever since I started blogging and found flash fiction prompts I have been aware of her skills at short fiction. She likes to dig deep, find the oddball and the offbeat and twist it some more. There’s a Tales of the Unexpected about it.
So then she asks if I’ll go right back, to the beginning of my blogging experience and re-post my first ever post. Here‘s the link back to her post in which she asks, pretty please, but would I?
I’m suspicious. Why does she want to see this? It makes me feel, sort of, twitchy. When we had exercise books at school (do they still have real paper?) and I had a new one, that thrill, of writing on the first page, was counterbalanced by the fear of making a mess. I wanted that first line to be just in the right place, just the right about of heft to give it depth without scarring, just the right amount of graphite indicating a properly sharpened pencil. That first line was a role model, a standard setter.
That’s what I wanted from my first post but what could it be? Back then I had no book(s) to promote, no short fiction to display, no idea that some people might be interested in my ramblings about walks, food, the family, travel, work. So this is what happened… This.
My first post. Ever. Well, on my own site. What is it to be? What was it that came to mind when I stared at the blank page? It was the news that Cornwall has been recognized as a new minority group within the UK, ensuring that the preservation of its language and culture is given some sort of priority. Marvellous news. I love the idea that a small area can punch above its weight by having its own language – having lived in South London for years I’d argue that that’s true around here, too, with the melting pot of linguistic influences creating, amongst the young, its own spoken dynamic. But Cornish has history and it’ll take a few decades for Brixton to be granted the same status. It set me thinking, however, about languages and their creation. My son has recently introduced me to the TV epic that is Game of Thrones. I didn’t think I’d like it – bonking with swords I’d been told – but, after a couple of episodes, and still desperately keen for Sean Bean to get a haircut/wash, I was hooked. And one thing I enjoyed was the creation of the Dothraki language. To create something coherent yet novel is to me a real skill. As it was with Tolkien and his Elvish. Or in Will Self’s Book of Dave (a bit of a struggle this but undeniably the languages were an achievement – getting used to them was a bit like the first ten minutes of Letter to Brezhnev until I sorted out the Scouse accents). I’ve not tried this new language thing in my own books yet – will I ever have the time and patience, I wonder – but it is quite something for those who get it right. What I have confronted is the use of a language other than English where some of my characters come from another country (in my case Poland); of course you would expect them to talk to each other in Polish. So how do I achieve that without confusing the reader or clumsily providing a translation? My simple method was for the first few words to be in Polish and thereafter the characters speak as if in English; I hope the readers understand and it is neither over-simple nor in any way patronising. I wonder how other achieve this? Maybe there’s a convention I’ve missed (wouldn’t be the first time). In the meantime, Meur rás, Nos dá as they say in Cornwall.
Yep, a ramble across several pistes, lacking coherence and assuming people might have a clue what I’m on about – Letter to Brezhnev? Even who Brezhnev was?
So, a foretaste of what was coming I guess. Sarah asks me to tag others, see what they did to start their own balls rolling. Well, I’m not a tagging kind but this time, okay, why not. Be warned though. I don’t know what egregious but possibly exciting experiments Sarah intends to undertake on our first posts. Given her psychologically tortured flash, it may keep you awake at nights…
If you want to join in, and of course there’s no compulsion, these are my suggestions for some
mugs victi happy little bloggers
A.n.other – that means any of you who have read this far and are intrigued.
Sarah made up some rules; I hate rules but if you are compulsive about this sort of thing, have a look at her post above. It mentions chocolate – or if it doesn’t it should have.