I didn’t write this. He who did is more used to writing technical reports but I think he’s made a great job of this wee story which might raise a smile, especially in the writers among us. I’m delighted to realize that he doesn’t always tune me out when I’m giving it laldy about people who try to lay down the law to other people as to how they should write!
I Just Write
by a Gentleman (Or so he thinks)
The 27 to Silverknowes. She checked the app on her iPhone. Next one was in 8 minutes. That would do. There and back, about two hours to clear her head.
She needed to get out, refresh her ideas, she was getting nowhere – fast.
She nipped to the loo and checked where the cat was. He was cooking his internal organs on the radiator in the bedroom. He raised his head as she looked in and smelt the air. There would be no new food now, so down went the head, back to killing mice in his sleep.
Her coat was in the hall. She checked her pockets, bus pass, change purse, keys, grabbed the notebook she was trying to work in and a pen. ‘A good writer always carries a notebook and pen,’ her teacher always said. She was downstairs and at the stop with two minutes to spare.
It was just after 8pm. The bus was not too busy here but she knew it would get busier as it crossed town. She took a seat upstairs near the back, pavement side, where it was quiet, and got out her notebook and pen. She started a new page, a new start she hoped.
She watched the new passengers getting on at each stop to see if a face could be that of her hero or the arch villain. As they rode along the street full of B&Bs she heard many languages, tourists in for a bit of Christmas shopping in the capital and maybe a show.
Could the victim be Spanish?
As they turned out of Gilmore Place at the King’s she saw that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was this year’s panto. She didn’t think she could write for pantomime.
‘Oh yes you could! Oh no, you couldn’t!’ The words immediately came into her mind.
Most of the tourists got off near the High Street but a hen party got on and thankfully stayed downstairs. They were all dressed, if that was the right word, as cows. They were all showing far too much flesh that was turning blue. They must be from way down south and hadn’t checked the Edinburgh weather for December.
The bus went down The Mound and across Princes Street, which was all dressed for Christmas.
Preparations for the Hogmanay street party were underway. Near Rose Street the girls got off as did a number of others. It became quite quiet as they crossed George Street and down through the New Town.
She was looking at the CCTV monitor above the front window to see how many people were actually on the bus but noticed that the one that should have shown her was only displaying static.
‘Great, I could be mugged up here by the local nutter and not be seen,’ she muttered as they passed the end of Heriot Row.
‘May I ask what you are writing?’ said a voice to her right.
She almost jumped out of her skin, surprised that someone was speaking to her and not least that she had not actually noted the man there before. He had to be the local nutter.
‘I’m trying to write a book,’ she replied, not really sure she wanted to admit that out loud.
‘You’re not doing very well,’ he said, ‘you have written six lines and crossed three of them out.’
‘Yes,’ she replied, sounding a little stupid. ‘You see, I’ve been doing this creative writing class, and well, the teacher says we must write at least a twenty page synopsis plotting out the whole story and then,’ she paused, ‘and then I give up and try again.’
The man laughed but tried not to. ‘Is this teacher a writer, too?’
‘Yes, he has four books published on Kindle and he is bringing in his first novel in paperback next week for us to buy. I don’t know if I can afford it though at £16, but it was high in the charts. Well, for that type of book.’
‘Have you read any of his books on eh, Kindle?’ he asked, sounding as if he wasn’t quite sure what Kindle was.
‘No, but he has loads of five star reviews, but I think some of the names are former students and relatives. He says that’s how you get up the charts and get noticed.’
‘So, you are taking advice from someone you have never read. How do you know he’s right? Five star reviews from associates by the sound of it, not book sales.’
‘Yes, I know, but I have this really great idea for a Tartan Noir.’
Again he looked a little puzzled.
‘You know,’ she said, ‘a crime novel, like Skinner or Laidlaw or more up to date, like Rebus. I know I want to write,’ she insisted. ‘I just can’t plot it all out.’
She looked at the man properly for the first time. He looked about late 40s and smartly dressed, if a little dated in his style. A velvet jacket? The light wasn’t good. His hair was showing signs of grey with a moustache and a funny little beard, a little on the wild side. His face looked lived-in. He must have seen the world.
‘Agatha Christie used to write the story and then near the end look for who was the least likely suspect and go back to drop in clues,’ he said. ‘She never wrote a synopsis or did any forward planning.’
‘What, just start at the beginning and see where it goes?’
‘Why not? That’s how I do it.’
‘You’re a writer?’ she asked, surprised. ‘Would I have read anything you’ve written?’
‘I don’t know. My first novel I gave up on, never completed it, not a good example there. My first published book was called The Sea Cook. I raised the money to publish by subscription.’
‘What, sort of crowd-funded?’
‘I don’t know about that, some good friends helped me raise the publishers’ costs.’
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
‘That one came from a treasure map I drew with my stepson, we fantasised of pirates and hidden gold. The publisher changed the title later; they’re like that.’
‘So you just write?’ she asked.
‘I just write,’ came the reply.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the driver on the Tannoy.
‘Silverknowes terminal,’ he announced.
She grabbed her notebook and pen and ran down the stairs. She pulled her travel pass out of her pocket and offered it to the driver.
‘Sorry, I was only out for the ride and want to go straight back to town, if that’s okay?
He nodded towards the pass scanner and said, ‘We leave in ten minutes, love.’
‘Thanks; I don’t know about the man I was talking to.’
The driver gave her a look and scanned the CCTV screen above his head, which was static free.
‘You’ve been up there on your own since Ferry Road, talking to yourself, it looked like, I thought I had a nutter on board.’
She returned to her seat, confused but too enthusiastic to think about it. She got out her notebook and pen again and started a fresh page.
As the bus re-crossed Heriot Row she looked up and saw the gentleman standing by a streetlight. He tapped his top hat with his cane to her and walked off.
By the time she was near home she was pages into her story, just writing. Characters came in and out and said things she did not expect. It was working.
She got off a stop early to go to the chippie.
‘Salt ‘n’ sauce on your sausage supper?’ asked the girl behind the counter.
‘Please,’ she replied.
She started into the chips as she walked the last block home but made sure there was some sausage for the cat.
The Sea Cook, she thought. ‘Never heard of it, I’ll Google it later, I’ve got a lot more to write tonight.’