Saturday, 2 February 2013

Fact and fiction

I removed my last post because it was too personal and too miserable. I have to get through this bleak period somehow, so am burying myself in writing my spooky memoir and editing my first novel, Sweet Temptation, which a friend kindly scanned onto disk for me as it was written on a typewriter. Remember them? Remember carbon paper and Tip-pex? Oh, the joy when electric typewriters were invented!

What a chore writing was in those days. All the retyping when you made a mistake or wanted to change something. I used to end up with pages consisting of stuck-on strips of new typing labelled A, B, etc., with accompanying arrows in the margin.God only knows how the publisher deciphered it all. Because I was useless with carbon paper, I often had no second copy of my manuscripts, so I used to deliver them by hand as I couldn't risk them getting lost in the post. How much easier things are now, when all you have to do to make an extra copy is hit Save As, or whiz them onto a memory stick.

Yet I have a sneaking fondness for the bad old days of the manual typewriter. How I used to hammer the thing. The complaints I got from the downstairs neighbours when I was bashing away at Chapter 12 at 3 am and keeping them awake with the distant thunder of keys and the jingle of the end-of-line bell! No wonder I destroyed my finger joints. I must have written trillions of words.

Two of my novels were accepted by publishers but, for one reason or another, never published. Sadly, the manuscripts were destroyed when Mr Grumpy's workshop roof let in water and all my boxes got soaked, so they will never make it onto Kindle. But I hope that Sweet Temptation by Caroline Standish (my first and only pen-name) soon will. It was published in 1981 and actually did rather well, in that I earned quite a sizeable (for those days) royalty cheque from American sales. Oh, all right, it was about £3,500, far more than the tiddly few hundred here and there that I earn now. I hope it can sell all over again, and I shall keep that pen-name for any new romance novels I write, as my children's agent says I should keep my real name for books for the younger market.

I chose 'Standish' as my ancestors once lived at Standish Hall in Wigan. It burned down in the 1930s and the site is now a pig farm - how are the mighty fallen! But I remember Mum telling me that the Tudor part of the house was shipped to Boston in America and re-erected there because of its connection to Myles Standish, one of the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed there in the 17th Century. They could have saved themselves the expense and trouble because they later discovered that a different branch of the family had lived in Standish Hall. The legend goes that my ancestor was a gambling man who put up the Hall as a stake in a card game and lost. Why do I bother to write fiction? It's all there in reality!


Teresa Ashby said...

I have very fond memories of my old typewriters.

Good luck with Sweet Temptation. It is devastating about the lost manuscripts - I lost a huge amount of work in a computer incident a few years ago and it still bugs me even now.

That is so interesting about your Standish ancestors :-) x

hydra said...

That must have been terrible, Teresa. For future reference, Mr Grumpy does data recovery. You just have to send him your hard drive. I am aware that my main computer is on the way out so I back up everything onto one, or even two, memory sticks the moment I've finished a stint of work, then when I go upstairs to the Fridge (my old office where the north wind whistles through the cracks around the window frames), I save it all onto the laptop, too.

Teresa Ashby said...

There were tears I have to say! I shall make a mental note that Mr G does data recovery - just in case :-) x