30 day writing challenge – Day 4 Create a character off the top of your head and write a short history about him/her.

Day 4 of http://writewithfey.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/chrys-feys-30-day-writing-challenge.html –  Create a character off the top of your head and write a short history about him/her. Looking at this, it is more like the opening scene including the character rather than a biography but here it is anyway.

Matt Murphy was assessing himself in the mirror. He was in a suit which was becoming less unusual but still seemed a little strange. He tugged briefly at his tie. it was his first proper day at Hilltop High  – yesterday had been teachers only – and he was trying to decide exactly which thing it was that the kids would find the most hilarious. He was tall – 6ft 1 – and extremely skinny so it could be that. Or his unruly hair. Or his tendency towards camp exaggeration. Or his broad scouse accent in the middle of South Yorkshire. Or…

He made himself stop. Probably it would be some, as yet, unrealised fault. He thought of the text that had just come and which had prompted the self-assessment. It was from Steph, a teacher already for some ten years. She had tried to talk him out of it. Do something better, she had said. He hadn’t listened. The text had said Good Luck in the lion’s den. Very fucking funny. 

He was thirty three years old. Too old to be starting a career. Not even a new career. The first one. Unless working in a pub counted as a career which he doubted. Maybe that would work in his favour. The fact that he looked older, was starting to go a little grey.

It had been a long road to here. If he failed at this, there was little chance of starting all over again. He wasn’t going to fail though, was he? He realised it would be difficult at first but he imagined that by the end of the term he’d be winning. If he could imagine it, it could happen. That was how it went, wasn’t it?

He didn’t particularly want to remember his own teenage years. He had left home before he was sixteen due to issues with his stepfather. School hadn’t been the easiest of places either. He had just stopped going. GCSEs seemed a minor thing to sacrifice when you were fighting for your life every day. The rest of that year had been spent on whichever floor would have him. He’d got a job at a bar and worked every shift he could. Eventually he had saved enough to get a flat. Then it had been night-school: GCSEs, A-Levels. Working every single second. He hadn’t imagined being a teacher. Just that he wouldn’t always be working in a bar, pulling pints for idiots. No way. 

That was when he had come to Sheffield. University had to be part-time so he could also work. English Literature. Not useful but enjoyable.Then an MA. Then teacher training. All the way up to this present moment.

He wanted it to be over. The first moment. It was like being at the bottom of a steep hill. he couldn’t see what the summit was like from this angle. He needed to be starting to climb. He picked up his briefcase and made for the door. He promptly fell over the corner of the bed. Silently he cursed his clumsiness. That was another possible source of amusement. 

“You look fine. You’ll be fine.” Matt turned towards the bed, towards the voice. He smiled. Mikey had never suffered a moment of nerves in his life. Matt supposed if he looked like that, he wouldn’t be nervous either. He was full of confidence on Matt’s behalf. He had no doubt that Matt would be fine. 

“I didn’t mean to wake you.” In fact, it had been his intention to sneak out quietly. He didn’t want to give Mikey the chance to make a fuss. He was nervous enough already. He didn’t think he could take any of Mikey’s pep-talks at this time in the morning. “I have to go.” He added, hurriedly giving Mikey a kiss on the cheek and then darting out of the door. Miraculously he didn’t collide with any more of the furniture.  

New Challenge Needed

Well, the 30 day book challenge is finally over. A sigh of relief then, definitely. But also the certain knowledge that I would like to keep up the blogging pace and I would now have to think of my own subject matter. No fun, this having to think lark.

So I would like to say two things in this blog. The first is a great big thanks to all of you who have liked my posts and those who have started to follow me during this last month. It is incredibly flattering and always a surprise when people like my posts and I never really expect it. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to see the inside of my head on the page. Sometimes I don’t even like it in there all that much. So, thank you all.

The second thing is I am looking for a new blogging challenge. Something similar to the 30 day book challenge which was good because it wasn’t reliant on my finishing a book under a time scale. If you know of anything like this, please let me know and I will consider doing it.

DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

First of all, I would just like to say that I’m not sure that not being able to put a book down is necessarily a mark of quality. I read The Da Vinci Code really quickly because I wanted to find out what happened but afterwards it felt a little unsatisfying – like snacking rather than having a proper meal. Sometimes books that are a little more difficult to deal with or slower to start are often ultimately more satisfying.

I find when I read detective fiction, they are always quite difficult to put down as there is always a mystery to be solved. Most recently, I read Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon and read it really quickly. There was real depth to this book and I will certainly be reading more by that author. Currently I am reading The Moonstone and that is quite hard to put down and I am certainly curious about what will happen.

DAY 29. – A book you hated.

I’m not really into hating books. Some books I don’t like obviously. But hate seems dreadfully harsh. Reserved, in fact only for books that offend in some way. Books that are blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic would be deserving of my hatred. Thankfully, I have not read many books that are.

There is only one book that I can think of that i have read recently that I have found offensive in this way. In my mind, Fifty Shades of Grey is anti-feminist. I know a lot of people claim that the ending of the first book is a feminist ending because she leaves him but the next two books obviously put a damper on this.

There are many annoying things about this book, not least that it really should be called Christian Grey and his ever-ready erection. I’m sure this is one of the things that women like about this book. Christian is always ready, no matter how recently he has already had an orgasm. That and the fact  that Ana has amazing wonderful orgasms right from the first. Every time. Then there is all the talk of Christians ‘considerable length.’ Actually that’s not offensive, it’s laughable. I’d have been happier if she had said Christian has an enormous cock. I find euphemisms much more cringe worthy for some reason. All the talk of inner goddesses had me cringing in much the same way. So far, so annoying but not quite enough to warrant hatred.

So here are two things that I really hated about this book. (I could choose more but these are the two that stand out.) Ana gives Christian a blow job in the bath. In fact, she deep throats him then he praises her lack of gag reflex. Really! Because they’re the words every woman is just waiting to hear. If a man had written this scene I am sure that women would have been appalled. Well, the fact that a woman wrote it doesn’t make it any less dubious as far as I am concerned.

The other thing that Christian says that should have women screaming in outrage is “You’ve had six orgasms so far and all of them belong to me.” So Ana is not even allowed to own the pleasure of her own body. Was this book really written in these last few years? To me, it seems hard to believe because the sexual politics in this book are so ridiculously old fashioned. It would be amusing if so many women didn’t love this book.

I’m not even going to comment on the whole s/m thing. Enough words have been shed over this book already. I am told that I should read the other books because they explain Christian’s background but to be honest I do not need to know because there is no excuse for the way he makes Ana act and the things that he does to her. That is as true in fiction as it is in real life.

 

DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.

One of my favourite quotes is from The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. “I’m telling you stories. Trust me” is a wonderful oxymoron. Telling stories implies lying, implies make believe and that is the very opposite of trust. However, this sums up perfectly the relationship between the reader and the writer. We put our trust in them even though we know that they are telling stories, possibly even playing games with us. If they are very good at their job of telling stories, the more we trust them. We allow them to take us through their make believe world.

Day 27 the book that has been on your to read list the longest.

As I mentioned earlier in this challenge, I have been trying to knock off some of the longer residents on my bookshelves. Earlier this year, I read The Story of the Eye by Gearge Bataille. I bought this when I was at university. Only twenty years ago. Pretty appalling really, especially as it is classic erotica. Forget 50 Shades of Grey, this book was genuinely shocking.

Books that are still on my shelf from this time are:

  1. Death comes for theArchbishop – Willa Catha
  2. Dead Souls – Nikolai Gogol
  3. The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall.

It makes me feel a little guilty. As if I was somehow hurting their feelings. I will have to read at least one of them this year.

DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.

This was a difficult one. I don’t read a lot in the way of funny books. An obvious choice would have been Terry Pratchett or perhaps Douglas Adams as both their series of books have made me laugh out loud. However, choosing a single book by either of these authors was impossible. In the end, I decided on Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson which is on of the best travel guides to Britain you could hope to read.

I have read a few of Bryson’s travel books and they are all immensely photo (6)amusing but what is particularly good about this one is that I knew the truth of Bryson’s observations. Whenever I climb a hill in the Lake District, I think of Bryson puffing and panting his way up Haystacks and try and convince myself that it will be worth it when I get to the top. As Bryson knows, it always is but he describes the way you wonder what on earth you are doing when you are about halfway up perfectly.

Bryson has an easy going style which makes it feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend. I recently read A Short History of Nearly Everything and felt, at least for a short while after reading, that I understood some of the science involved, largely due to Bryson’s humorous and open style. His description of some of the early eccentrics of science and geology were truly wondrous to behold. It seems that there is no subject that Bryson could not make entertaining and funny.