Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Outsider And June's GDR

I started reading The Outsider by Albert Camus last night. Totally addictive. The first line is such a killer, you really want to get inside this characters head and find out what he's all about. "Mother died today. Or was it yesterday. I can't remember." Simple, but effective; the way he describes the key elements, that are so small yet have such an important influence on the way your mind is bent and contorted while reading. I really didn't want to put it down. But I had to.

Last night I trained for the first time in a long time. I used the elliptical trainer and boy, did I feel the pain. Laura was coaching me, using a balloon pump to blow cool air into my face as I worked away, shouting things like "No pain, no gain!" and "You'll be a slim man in no time!" She also said by the end of it I looked like I had been dragged through a river by the amount of sweat pouring down my face.

Today was scorching hot all day. A quick check on Yahoo Weather confirmed a peak of 74f in Edinburgh! Good for preparing for a trip abroad, but no so good if you are crammed into a small dark office watching the summer pass you by outside.

The hot weather is not good either when you are pumping away on the training machine, sweating buckets and pushing through the pain barrier. I did half an hour on it tonight after a warm-up. My legs and arms were aching afterwards and I slumped in a heap on the back lawn, pouring glasses of cold water over my head.

I seem to have hit a small garden wall in the writing of the extra chapter for Hunting Jack. I can't seem to get my leg over it and it's proving to be annoying. All the research is done and the lead-up is good, but for some reason I can't write what comes next. This suggests something is subconsciously amiss, perhaps a forgotten arc, a misplaced fact or simply that it doesn't fit right somewhere along the line. I'll need to fight through it, get it wrong if I have to and hope it reveals itself so I can fix it once complete.

I read another few chapters of The Outsider before I slept. I'm about half way through it now. What a fantastic book. There are passages where you can tell the translation from French has proved difficult, but there are other sections where the imagery and power of the words is simply remarkable. When I think about the book later, I remember everything that has happened to the protagonist, Meursault, in fine detail, as if I were recalling a personal memory.

The story is unfolding at a wonderful pace. Meursault has just been through the trauma of his mother dying. Except that he has suffered no trauma, which feels strange but not when you get to know the character and understand his thinking. He went through the process of the funeral somewhat reluctantly, watching everyone else mourn but not quite knowing why or what the point was. Then he returned to his bachelor life with ease, carrying on with work and his life. He's a laid back kind of guy, no pretensions and probably easy to get on with, though his habit of folding to what others want is quite annoying.

He visits the beach with Raymond, a dodgy character from his building, and his girl, Marie, and as I left it for the night, he has just committed a random act of murder by shooting an Arab on the beach who is at conflict with his dodgy mate Raymond. And that brings part one to a close. Can't wait to find out what happens and how Meursault's attitude to life is challenged after this.

The title is well chosen. Meursault is certainly an outsider, but only because he doesn't seem to conform to everyone else's ideals, not in any sinister kind of way, he just wants to live his life the way he sees fit. I think that's the message I am getting from this book so far - fitting in to society and the structures we have to live under and the conflicts this presents.

June's GDR Plan

* Complete final draft of Hunting Jack (Edited upto and including Chapter 30 - 72,750 words)
* Complete new chapter of Hunting Jack - WIP
* Write a new short story
* Keep on top of submissions list
* Begin query process for Hunting Jack (list agents, prepare letters, send out)
* Contact Yello management and publishers to gauge possible Stella publication
* Begin writing A Friend To Die For where left off
* Give A Friend To Die For a better title

* Complete poem for reading at my sister's wedding in July - WIP (Love Is)
* Write any poems that come to mind

* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for July column - WIP
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology

Marketing and Promotion
* Step up marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic for this years Fringe
* New round of press releases for Fringe Fantastic with this years Fringe in mind
* Keep website up to date
* Follow up on PR received still to be actioned

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild
* Complete crit of friends novel
* Re-read A Friend to Die For
* Read The Outsider by Albert Camus
* Read True Tales of American Life by Paul Auster
* Select books to read on holiday

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
* Gather submissions and work on ARS Anthology
Colin 12:08 pm


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