Starting to write:
The most difficult thing in the world is starting. The best feeling in the world is having written which makes you want to start again.
I began at a local college writing class. It was very important that the class had the words 'beginners welcome' in the blurb. The first lesson was to choose a letter and write lots of words that letter began with. I chose J. J, Jay, jabberjay, jabberjejay, jooo, joke, jim, this is a joke jim......... We then turned to our partner and read our words out to each other. The teacher went round and picked the best out for reading to the class.
We were then given homework. This got me stuck. Everything I wrote sounded self-conscious and ridiculous. I didn't want to reveal anything of myself. I decided to be a Chinese boy, as distant a character from the real me as I could think of. But I couldn't start. Then I looked at the books on my shelves wondering if I could copy something out. Just to get me started. The one I chose was Electricity byVictoria Glendinning.
"Sunday afternoon, waiting for the stranger. I was eighteen.
I sat on the left of the fireplace. My father sat on the right, his back to the brown door. My father's name was Alfred Mortimer, and I suppose he would then have been about forty-seven.
It was an autumn of terrible gales and high tides engulfing the coasts. That was over. The world was waiting. The day was fading, discolouring, the muslin curtains that covered the window, dimming the already dim reddish-brown velvet drapes and the leaf-patterned wallpaper."
I copied it out then changed the room to one in China, the father to the boy's grandfather and it came out like this:
"Powdery light filtered through the half-closed shutters of the small, dark parlour. Grandfather and I sat in silence waiting for the reality of his memories, memories that were my imaginings, soon to be made real. The tension of waiting was growing. Grandfather fiddled nervously with the lid of his white china tea mug. Supposing Song Huan didn't come? his clatterings were saying. He was very close to death now. His bony old body, propped up in the chair, looked as if it could topple over at any time. Outside, just a few feet away from where he sat in front of the window, the River Foloon flowed its brown stagnant way. He didn't look at it any more. He'd turned his chair round over fourteen years ago, when pollution from the factory began to kill the clear, strong water, now so thick with chemicals it meandered and crept like a lava-flow. But there was no heat, no energy here. The fish that once thrived were long gone."
I used Victoria's experience in setting up a scene and turned it into my own, and once I'd started that was it....
The teacher got me to read it out at the next class, and that was me hooked to writing. People said admiring things. I basked. I imagined the soft black beret on my head, slightly tilted to one side, honestly, I did. The ego of it all. I didn't tell them about Victoria.
The answer to the mindreading magic comes from my friend Debbie's genius brother, John, who started his reply Debbie, Debbie, Debbie, which she knew he'd do:
"Oh debbie, debbie, debbie.......Any two digit number "xy" is numerically equal to 10x + y. For example 27 = 2*10 + 7. The program tells you to subtract the sum of the two digits (x + y). 10x + y - (x + y) = 9x, where x = 1, 2, 3, .... So 9x is 9, 18, 27, 36, ..... No matter what 2 digit number you pick, you'll always end up at a multiple of 9 after you subtract the sum of the two digits. The program tricks you by changing the symbols each time, but you'll notice that for all multiples of 9, the symbol is the same.
I forgot to mention that an exception is that 90 (which is a multiple of 9) may have a different symbol, however, if you start with a two digit number (as instructed) and subtract the sum of the two digits, you cannot actually land on 90. Any number you pick from 90...99 takes you to 81."
Bye for now, thanks for visiting, come again soon.