As you saw yesterday I went to London last week for a day out.
First stop was to the Natural History Museum, the Home of World Science and the Holy Land for children everywhere (it certainly was when I was young). There is an exhibition about Captain Scott’s voyage to the South Pole which is very interesting. The exhibition room is built the same way as the Terra Nova Base Camp hut. Areas have been marked out such as kitchens and bedrooms and objects they would have used, such as food, tools and scientific equipment. To put this in context, there are photographs and film showing the explorers and scientists inside the rooms. Along with diary extracts, there are maps showing the expedition’s progress compared with that of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who beat Scott to the Pole. Although Scott’s party were visibly disappointed in the photo of them at the Pole and they died on the way back, reaching the South Pole is a great achievement, even today.
Next stop was the National Theatre to see Collaborators. I don’t know why but no matter how much time I give myself to get there, I always arrive at the theatre by the skin of my teeth! Then there’s the squeezing past people to get to my seat (a bit like that scene in Inglourious Basterds when the two assassins have to get to the middle of the row pretending to be Italian: ‘Scusi… scusi… scusi… scusi…’) Anyway, everyone was very nice and displayed much British reserve (not complaining) as I sat down so, if you’re reading this, thank you all.
Anyway, the play is set in the USSR in 1938 and a playwrite who falls foul of the NKVD is bullied into writing a play for Stalin’s sixtieth birthday. As the story unfolds the audience learns about Stalin, life in Soviet Russia just before the Great Terror and how easy it can be to fall under the sway of an absolute power. It reminded me a bit of The Last King of Scotland where the British Doctor is taken in by Idi Amin (played brilliantly by Forest Whitaker).
Anyway, if you’re in London and stuck for something to do I can strongly suggest you try these:
(But hurry up with Collaborators as it finishes next Saturday!)
If you’ve got a copy of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus then this would be a good time to put it on.
‘Why is that?’ You may be asking. Well, last week I completed the first draft of my second novel! This has not taken as long as the first one. Half as long, in fact. The Viking book (still available for representation if any agents are reading) took a year to write the draft although it’s bigger and was my first effort but another reason is how I went about writing it.
I started writing the draft for the Viking novel (which would dearly love to be available in all good bookshops) whilst I was studying for my MA and had other assignments to do in the meantime. Also I would do lots of writing then leave it for a few days before starting again. Binge writing. A bit like binge drinking as you feel drunk if you’ve been doing it for a few hours, not eaten before hand and you sometimes feel hung over afterwards. This time I have written a little amount each day. This is useful to get drafts finished quicker but you may find you don’t get as involved with the story as before as you’re in and out very quickly. The important thing in both cases is to try to keep it in mind when you’re not writing. Compose scenes in your head but don’t act them out in public, especially if there’s violence and lots of swearing.
Anyway, although the book is far from finished, a milestone has been reached. If you have got to this stage, you’ll probably have heard other writers say ‘leave the book alone!’ This is important. Give it a month and do other things. You’ll begin to forget it and this will help with the editing. This is a good time to go to conferences, do lots of reading and learn how blogging software works. It’s also time to enjoy a few well-deserved treats.
Therefore, on Thursday I treated myself to a trip to London and went to see the Scott’s Last Expedition Exhibition (try saying that out loud twenty times) and the play Collaborators but you’ll have to drop by tomorrow to find out about those. Firstly I get more posts out of it and secondly the Hallelujah Chorus isn’t really appropriate music for them.