Writers’ Group, November

John Elliott luckily mucked up the length of his contribution so Jacqui’s reading of it was short. It was the death of a mother in hospital who under the influence of morphine does a pastiche Joycean soliloquy but unrelated to the character of the purportedly delirious character, had she any. It’s done for the writer to seem clever. Jacqui’s tipsy skittishness doesn’t get into her almost finished second novel though, given a glass or two, I think the ironic observations of her principal character might be further leavened and soar. She has holes to fill in her omniscient narration so perhaps could give less restricted vent there, like an uncapped BP well. I read out Johnny’s proof of telepathy to his mum from ‘the book’. Jan, who’d come late, had the grace to acknowledge its wit and the uniqueness of my writing. John set to invalidating it because if my writing’s valid, his and he isn’t by his way of it. I should feel flattered but have had to put up with this repetitive drip, drip, drip of negativity forever. He and Jacqui felt it wasn’t grounded, by which they mean insufficient background isn’t brought into the foreground where it wouldn’t be. But his new criticism was the character was self-centred. Do I have to point out the absurdity of objecting to the characteristic of a character? The character, forby, was a five year old boy who’s the least self-centred child in the history of children, the only one in the universe to know his mum regrets herself and with the wish to do something about it. He also does not want her to know she’s telepathic in case there’s a good reason she shouldn’t know and knowing would damage her. Does that sound self-centred to you? If it does you’re an idiot who should look up the dictionary definition. What was self-centred was John’s dilating on the proof-reading – and hyphenation! – of his soon-to-be published novel. A dictionary would keep him straight. I’m not saying his elaboration on the subject was irrelevant in the context but could conceivably be characterised as a preoccupation with his own affairs and with the personality, a mean one, whose self-importance depends on them, which the dictionary defines as self-centredness. He was probably self-projecting, a sin I take great pains to avoid.

Jan matter of factly dealt with the abnormality of spiritualism. I questioned who the third person narrator might be. We’re long past the omniscient unquestionable knowall in these relativistic days, unless you’re an Islamist speaking for god or a John Elliott, but isn’t Jan losing out here by adopting an outmoded convention? when her narrator could be a malevolent dead spirit. It is fiction, after all, whereas ‘the book’ isn’t but real people activated, their characters and characteristic speech intact, in order to compose a book in life that could be replicated as a book. No wonder John Elliott feels the need to attack what is way beyond any capability of his.

I was however affected. “I can’t destroy him!” I told Donna next day. “He’s an old man! all of three months older than me, who’s invested his life in his writing.” “Take me along,” Donna offered. “Yes,” I said, “you’re used to it,” having come fresh from the demolition of her husband. She cackled, the witch! 

I’ve decided not to remind anybody but the consistent attenders of next month’s meet though Kevin has apoloogised for not being at this month’s. 


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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