• 360

An Apology

Dear Harry, Sarah and all Jericho members,

 I wish to apologise for posting a chapter of my manuscript yesterday without paying attention to common courtesy. 

I have scrambled my thoughts for a few months, and I was desperate for contact. So, without rhyme or reason I just threw, without thought or consideration, my recent writing to the members of this fine group. No search for a detailed criticism only a selfish need to be in contact with someone. Please forgive me.

My confidence was shaken but not totally disturbed by two recent television programmes deemed to be popular and loved by the masses.

To keep myself up to date with current trends I watched these two shows. The first comedy was a meant to shock the audience, but not me. I found it difficult to find humour in the principal character allowing anal penetration to keep her late night caller happy. When you say Fuck 25 times it doesn’t shock, surely? Maybe I am really out of step. I loved many things about the show but if this is cutting edge writing then let my edges remain blunt.

Pleasing the masses may be a success, whatever that is? This show joins fifty shades of greyer than grey in telling me I am out of step.

The reviews of a novel of teenage love set in Ireland and Trinity intrigued me so I started watching the tv show.

 It threw me into confusion once again as the unbelievable plot unfolded, so I gave up.

It overjoyed me yesterday to read a review in The Guardian that agreed with my thoughts so I felt relief and started writing again. For recreation I watched Anthony Hopkins and a great cast in King Lear. Edmonds speech ends with a description of his status in life. "Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”  I had my title!

The lesson was obvious. Write what you want that makes you happy. There must be an audience for every type of writing.

                                               Best Wishes and good thoughts to all, from Les Evans



 



0 0 0 0 0 0
Replies (30)
  • Hi Les

    I read Normal People a week ago or so. I have to say, I don't get the hype at all. I understand it's supposed to be a "slice of life" and character driven. But the utter lack of any real plot, apart from popular boy meets weird girl, falls in love with her and keeps on meeting up with her over a few years, really made me struggle to care. The main female character is one of the worst I've ever read. She has almost no emotional capacity, and I have a feeling that shes the type of person a lot of book-smart, university attending, socially outcast female arts and humanities students picture themselves to be. Cool and disaffected. I can tell you from experience of dating a few of these types (one of them was an Irish girl, too), they might put on that face at first, but that mask soon slips, and it turns out they're just as emotional turbulent and neurotic as the rest of us. But back to the character, she doesn't evolve, she's boring. The male lead is slightly better, and makes a modicum of personal progress. Overall, I guess I just don't "get" it, despite being the around the same age and having some shared interests/lifestyle as the author.

    If the other thing you're on about is fleabag, I watched one episode and stopped. Again, didn't get it. Everyone raves about it, and I'm not sure why. Some of my favourite content creators are women, it's a shame the world seems to have latched onto these two as stand out examples, as I don't think it's really doing anyone any favours, and there are far more interesting works of art out there.

    0 0 0 0 0 0
    • Thanks for taking the time to repond. If you find the time can you have a glance at my piece. Stand Up for Bastards

      0 0 0 0 0 0
    • I've not seen/read either of these clearly underwhelming works, but the two descriptions here just reinforce what I have said all along about what people like: they don't have half a clue what they like. Their likes and dislikes are driven by hive mind, a need to feel that they belong to the greater social structure. To achieve that, they direct their tastes at whatever society has described as acceptable, as good, as the current in thing.

      You can see it in so many areas: musical tastes that shift almost from week to week probably being the most obvious.

      That you reject the mass infatuation with the latest trend indicates simply that you are capable of thinking for yourself. At least sometimes.

      0 0 0 0 0 0
      • Fair point. I see how it could be read that way.

        Technically, I said it was the descriptions, rather than the two works, that proved the point. Semantics, admittedly.

        Also, I was not saying that everybody who likes the socially-popular doesn't know what they like, only that much of that liking is driven by social conformity (or which word of mouth is a strong proponent). And that many couldn't really delve into it an tell you what they like about it (other than to repeat the reasons they are supposed to like it).

        0 0 0 0 0 0
        • I know what you meant, that's why I used a ;) at the end to show that I wasn't serious.

          I understand your point, I guess mine is: the same way you dislike people who follow trend and can't explain why they like something, I hate when people starts hating and being very vocal on a piece of work (novel, film, TV, music) just because it becomes a big success or people who think they are being cool for hating what the majority love. If you see what I mean (not saying that's what you're doing)

          0 0 0 0 0 0
          • My bad. I honestly didn't notice the ;) there (not that I would have known how to interpret it even if…)

            And, no, I'm not denigrating any of the works simply for being popular; I reserve that for the human need to fit into society at all costs.

            0 0 0 0 0 0
          • We can't all like the same things.

            Personally I absolutely love Normal People (also love Sally Rooney's debut Conversations with Friends). To think of it the reason I picked up Conversations with Friends in the first place was because of reviews on Amazon which said "none of the characters are very nice" (love deeply flawed characters). I love how astute and sharp the observations are about people and their inner lives, how people can be together and out of step, how confidence or aloofness can mask mental health issues and/or depression. How you can love someone and hurt them, especially during teenage years and young adulthood where you are still trying to find yourself. Normal People is a literary novel so more of a character-driven piece / character study.

            Not sure what the issue with the word Fuck is or sex - it happens in real life all the time so why not in fiction/TV if it's supposed to portray real life. I'm the opposite, especially in fiction. I'm not keen on coyness and closing the door whenever 2 characters get together. Also I find it in a lot of fiction (especially literary) sex is never about sex, like dialogue the best sex scenes are about the subtext. Again it's all down to preference. Both Fleabag and Normal People deals with a lot of real issues and also do not bother with the convention on how "women" are supposed to behave and the notion that we need to be ladylike and so forth.

            0 0 0 0 0 0
            • I think this is a great example and counter piece to my comment. You clearly did "get it" for both of these novels/shows, and that's an amazing thing, because whilst it may not have spoken to me or Les in any meaningful way, relative to our own personal experiences in life, it did to you, which I think is the point of art. You take what you want from it offers you. It's interesting to see your take on Normal People and what you enjoyed about it, and all the points you made are true. I guess my interests and my personal experiences with things like mental health, personality, and life choices aren't reflected in this piece of work, but they are in others.

              0 0 0 0 0 0
              • Pretty much, I agree that we can't "get" the same kind of stories but both Fleabag and Normal People have massive relevance to the contemporary world and especially I think to women, so they can't just be dismissed as being less than.

                0 0 0 0 0 0
                • Hi L..not so much about use of the word, only comment about frequency. Like a child trying to impress. Or as we used to say lack of vocabulary.

                  I would be interested to hear any comments you have on my piece Stand Up for Bastards. Les

                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                • Hi Les,

                  Absolutely no need to apologise for posting work for critique. It's definitely more effective if you introduce yourself and your work, but it's not a prerequisite. 

                  As for stuff that's loved by the masses, I'd say Normal People and Fleabag are quite different to what is normally given such prominence, which proves there is far more space in the public imagination, and far more variety in taste, than is often assumed. Which is great news for those of us who don't always see ourselves or our work reflected in the top slots. In fact, it's great news for everyone.

                  I've not read or watched Normal People, for a few quite silly reasons. 1) I don't like reading work without quotation marks. I just find it a lot harder to process. And 2) - an embarrassing confession - professional jealousy. I think there are quite a lot of similarities between my book Love Will Tear Us Apart and Normal People. And whereas Normal People was a huge bestseller that won prizes, mine wasn't and didn't. So as long as I don't read it, I can tell myself it's just the luck of the draw. If I read it and it's brilliant, I lose that luxury!

                  I adored Fleabag though. It was the first time I'd truly seen myself and my friends, our inner thoughts and worst selves, depicted. And it was so refreshing and moving. That first episode is all about the punchline that Fleabag thinks she is, the person she's trying to be, the lies she's telling herself. It's the beginning of the character arc, and  I found it personally hilarious. But if it's not for you, and doesn't appeal, I don't think that's a problem. 

                  As for the f word, I don't think it's meant to be shocking, just reflective of the way many of us talk. I mean, I say it all the time. Out of earshot of the kids. (Mostly.)

                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                  • Holly, things in life ebb and flow. I have mixed feelings about running. A friend who ran 5-7 miles a day years ago was told by his doc to stop running if he wanted to walk when he was 70. He’s 62 yrs old and had four knee replacements. The golfer Tiger Woods was recently asked, what advice would you give your younger self. The first thing he said, run much less. Early he ran 5 miles 3x a week and most of his later physical problems was related back to his running.
                    The US is slowly returning to normalcy. A lot of protesters since some area politicians decided to turn sequester into tyranny. That will ultimately win out in terms of the governed. Personally, I think those politicians have ruined any aspirations for public office. Every bit of my writing has been market related. I’m releasing an E book tomorrow concerning out long-term disinfectant. Exciting stuff, LOL.

                    0 0 0 0 0 0
                    • Hi Holly thanks for taking the time to reply. The word doesn't shock me. I remeber being in a play in Australia and a cast member arrested for using the word in public. Looong time ago. Just better way of using language.

                      If you get time ... interested to hear what you think of Stand Up for Bastards...Les

                      0 0 0 0 0 0
                      • Don, I'm with you there. Running has given me horrendous plantar fasciitis which has taken years to get past. But luckily running led to lots of other exercise that has proven very healthy and not so painful! So I still credit the running with changing my life, even if it did mess my poor old feet up along the way! 

                        0 0 0 0 0 0
                      • I loved fleabag up to the point where the priest clearly started to take advantage of her many insecurities and basically screwed her over. What bugged me even more was female friends of mine who would claim to be feminist, saying this was ok because the actor was so dreamy etc etc. I think that boiled my piss more than the actual programme so now I can't watch it anymore.

                        On the other hand I guess it's an interesting experiment, seeing how people react to art/literature etc, and whether it fits in with your perceptions of them.

                        Or maybe it's better not to know, she said, grumpily.

                        0 0 0 0 0 0
                        • Ugh, I know. I'm so torn about the priest because I interpreted it the same way you did, although I was suspicious it was the case rather than certain. But other people whose opinions I value argued well that it wasn't a power imbalance, that he was weak and showed his fragility. I don't know... I'm still conflicted really. (And either way I hate the arguments that if he was a baddie it was okay because he's charming...)

                          0 0 0 0 0 0
                          • I hate that argument too (it's okay because he's charming, good looking, rich, etc...) it's used so often to disguise and normalise abusive behaviour as romantic gestures... Makes me shudder.

                            0 0 0 0 0 0
                            • Absolutely! It was an interesting element to throw into the programme, a useful and valid one considering her background. IMO he had the power. He had the excuse of the priesthood as a relationship get out of jail card. She had nothing. The reaction to it was >hard Paddington stare.

                              0 0 0 0 0 0
                            • As an aside, this discussion sits very nicely next to the latest newsletter from our Sarah Juckes. It's about writing diversely, which we've kind of touched on here, and the need for a true variety of stories to be told: https://community.jerichowriters.com/page/view-post?id=130 

                              0 0 0 0 0 0
                              • I used to watch SBS a lot in my youth, a lot of foreign content.

                                0 0 0 0 0 0
                                Not logged in users can't 'Comments Post'.
                                •  · 9 friends
                                4
                                1
                                4
                                1
                                3