Friday, 19 March 2010

Workshops, proofs and head-butts.

The last few days have been so busy I didn’t even notice the blog’s birthday. Never mind, I’m sure my millions of readers will have celebrated it in their own special ways in Latvia, Transylvania, and all those other places where it’s required reading to give residents insights into the crazed British psyche.

The busy-ness is threefold. First, I’ve just set aside a nice chunk of pages which are the proofs of the book I wrote last October in that hectic spell. I love getting proofs to read and correct; it’s the fact that the onscreen words have suddenly started to morph into that delicious object – a book. I’m about halfway through and, so far, the typesetters have done a great job. Despite the care I take editing and re-editing copy before I submit it, I always find things I’d like to change. But you have to resist those impulses because even minor deletions and additions mean wholesale re-setting.

So instead, I find myself saying either ‘Hey, did I write that? It’s not bad,’ or, more frequently, ‘Hey, did I write that? It’s crap’. On the whole though it’s another of the jobs that give you that warm feeling that you are, after all, a writer.

The second thread of the busy-ness is the need to get my thoughts together for a talk/workshop I’m giving next Tuesday to a keen local writers’ group. I’ve got plenty of notes on different talks I’ve given in the past but I always prefer to try to tailor material to the specific audience, so I raid the old stuff, juggle it around, and add new stuff.

And the third busy thread concerns last night’s CSI Aberdeen event. I mentioned it before – a charity evening during which groups had to solve a mystery I’d written. I briefed the actors who were playing a mother, daughter, family friend, daughter’s boy-friend and the police forensic medic. The groups interviewed the actors, did fingerprint checks, examined evidence and did tests with chemicals. At the end, they presented their results with explanations of how they’d arrived at them and details of motives etc. It was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. In fact, one of the solutions was ‘wrong’ but it was much better than mine and I’ll use it in future. I did ask permission of the guy who dreamed it up and he was just pleased I liked it.

I chatted with the actors afterwards and, apart from learning things which will make it even better next time, I heard that:
• The family friend, part of whose character was to be a flirt, had a great time coming on to the women who interviewed him. He said to one ‘Are you single?’ Her reply was, ‘Yes, and so’s my mother’.
• The daughter was played by a very attractive young woman and one of her questioners had asked his group specifically if he could interview her. They said yes and he spent almost the whole 5 minutes just looking at her.
• 2 groups suspected the police medic was the murderer.

But, best of all, in one of the groups there was an ex-CID inspector – a great guy, and he told me the true story of one of the scenes of crime he’d attended. It’s his anecdote so I can’t just steal it, but it was a hilarious tale of how he came to be the only serving police officer who’d been assaulted by a corpse – literally. The corpse head-butted him.

Now, back to the proofs. Normal service may or may not be resumed some time soon.


  1. Well, yes I celebrated in Latvia. They don't have phone boxes so I held the party in a bus shelter. The last one on the way to Riga airport if you ask.

    Anywho, well done you on a year. Good work, Who knew you had that much staying power.

  2. Happy birthday!!!! Hope YOU celebrated.

  3. Happy Birthday!

    I love the story of CSI Aberdeen. Now I'm tempted to write one which takes place at a Roman orgy.

  4. Michael. Yes, I heard about you being thrown out of Latvia. I told you they don't appreciate that thing you do with a Mars bar over there.

    Scary. I celebrate all the time, so I didn't really notice.

    Gary. Do it, do it. And send me a copy please. It's actually great fun and it taught me a lot about planting clues, misdirection and also the way in which crime fans read. Despite having lots of evidence at their disposal, the majority still went on hunches and tried to make the material fit their preconceptions. Interesting.

  5. Happy birthday Bill. And ignore Michael, he's a cheeky sod. Anyone who can get thrown out of Latvia, eh? And I heard he DID take a Mars Bar.

  6. Thanks Gillian. And you're right about Michael; he never goes anywhere without one in his pocket.

  7. in "is that a mars bar in your pocket or are you glad to see me?" ?

  8. Bill and friends: thanks for a dose of laughter today. I've been so busy lately, between 10 days of vacation and 10 days of recovering and catching up, that I've missed my blogging rounds.

  9. Michael, you've seen the size of mars bars - dream on.

    Welcome back Linda.

  10. The CSI evening sounds great fun, Bill. Have fun with the workshop on Tuesday.

  11. Happy blog anniversary, Bill. You've come a long way, baby, as we say across the pond. I'm also knee deep in galley proofs and envious of your CSI mystery group. What fun!!!

  12. Rosemary, Jean - you're both right to stress the fun of all this - even the proofreading. Once again, lucky us to be involved in such processes.

  13. Well, I'm late. Was out late last night celebrating... Happy Birthday! Someone showed up who looked a lot like Michael...but he was in Latvia, eh? Here's to another great year of educating the world, Bill.

    Sounds like you've got a new expert in the CSI guy.

  14. Thanks Marley. Actually, if you'd heard the way that inspector told his stories you'd wonder (as I did) why he hasn't thought of writing his memoirs - they'd be very funny.
    And that might well have been Michael you saw. I've heard he does like the occasional wee carouse.