Out with the old? No, not just yet!
Last week, I suggested writing something new for 2016. This week, why not take a trip back in time and look through some of your previous work? Many a time I’ve done this and reworked a story, which I’d given up on, only for it to be accepted this time round.
Sometimes you might only need the odd tweak here and there. As you’re looking at it with ‘fresh eyes’, you might now see what it was missing when you first wrote it. Or even if a piece of work isn’t salvageable, could you do something with the basic idea? There are all sorts of possibilites.
When I was recently looking through my old work files, I found an article I’d written after my first commission. As you’ll see, I almost gave up before I’d started:
From Bad to Worse
I was so excited. I had my first commission! ‘The Cat’ wanted me to do an article on babies and cats. No problem.
An hour later and the article was accomplished. I sent it off and the magazine accepted it word for word. Hoorah, what joy! But my problems were only just beginning.
The editor wanted a photograph to accompany the article. Mmm. One of the cats? One of my baby daughter? No, of course not. They wanted one of the cats and baby together.
Three rolls of film later and the closest I had to a decent photo was a blur of white, which looked more like a melting snowman than a cat. And the baby? Yes, there was a blur of pink, too. Somewhere. No, the magazine said. That would not do.
So the following Monday morning I found myself opening my front door to a local photographer. Great, I thought. He’ll have it done in five minutes.
Half an hour later, he had commandeered my house. Lights, tripods, cameras, boxes, leads and flexes covered my lounge. I wondered if he were aware that it was only two cats and a baby that he was required to photograph.
I made polite conversation. “So, do you specialise in taking photos of cats?”
“No, I’ve never done either before. I usually do buildings.”
Ahh, how nice. Buildings are still objects. I knew I as doomed.
On the whole, my daughter, Charlotte was great, especially so when I resorted to bribery in the form of chocolate buttons. But Cosworth (yes, a cat not a car) is also partial to them. A fight ensued, which wasn’t so good when we wanted a lovey dovey photo.
Corruption. I had no alternative. Cat sweets were the answer. Cosworth and Clio (what else would a female car be called other than Porsche?) were delighted. So was Charlotte. She proceeded to grapple for a share and when I intervened, it was tantrum time. Charlotte decided this was a good time to act as if she had been mortally wounded. A bright red tear-streaked face does not create a happy picture. The cats weren’t too impressed with Charlotte’s impression of a banshee and fled through the cat-flap as if chased by a gigantic dog.
Perhaps we should all move outside. Charlotte loves it outside and so do the cats. Yes, that would work. However, the cats had other ideas and dived into the undergrowth. Charlotte meanwhile, was having a cracking time, smearing mud all over her face and white top. She also thought it a good idea to try and ram grass and leaves into her mouth.
The neighbours thought it was time to see what pain I was inflicting upon my poor child and cats, so heads began to appear. Perhaps writing wasn’t for me. Cleaning loos suddenly seemed a much better option.
Clio took this opportunity to jump out from the bushes. Yes, that’s it Clio, go towards Charlotte, I willed her. No, no, don’t start to lick your bottom…
Oh dear. The bottom-licking stopped, but Charlotte decided she wanted to snuggle up close to Clio and start poking her with a stick.
I was starting to get some strange looks from the photographer by this time and reassured him that all three did indeed love one another. They just weren’t used to strangers taking over the house with apparatus, which would be quite at home on the set of ‘Dr Who.’
He didn’t look convinced, but his mind was soon elsewhere when Charlotte became bored and made for his shiny camera equipment. Hoping our bank account was still in the black, I thought it was time to bring the photo session to a close. One photograph managed to sneak through and was accepted by the magazine, though I think a photography course is in order. Or maybe I’ll steer clear of doing articles on cats and babies!