Sunday, 1 June 2014

Writing - Building excitement or staving off boredom!

The England football team left this sceptred isle on their journey to Brazil via Miami. At the last competition in S Africa the team performed badly and put 'boredom' at the top of their list of excuses.

The pool at the Royal Tulip Hotel on Sao Conrado Beach

Two young men in small swimming trunks recline on sun loungers next to a pool. The sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky. Impeccably dressed hotel staff hover attentively. Women in bikinis float by.
FOOTBALLER 1: God I'm bored. Who are we playing next?
FOOTBALLER 2: Uruguay. Thursday. We've got another four days of this - training, lying about, watching DVDs. I'm not sure I can take it much longer.
FOOTBALLER 1: This is what the public don't understand about being an exorbitantly paid footballer playing for your country at a World Cup - it's so torturously dull. I bet our nurses don't have to put up with this.
FOOTBALLER 2: If only they knew that we're not really living, but merely existing in a gilded prison. How on earth will we fill the rest of our day?
FOOTBALLER 1: Another free round of golf at that exclusive course followed by dinner with the rest of the lads and a film in the hotel cinema.
FOOTBALLER 2: Damn that exclusive golf course, damn the lads, damn that hotel cinema… Anyone fancy a game of Call of Duty?
Facetious? Perhaps. Flippant? Certainly. Populist? I'll probably find out on Twitter.
But I suspect there is not much sympathy among the people of England for fabulously rich footballers acting out the dreams of millions and complaining that, actually - and you might be surprised to learn this - it is all a little bit boring.
After all, what will you be doing this June? Grafting, probably. Just like you always do. But also hoping beyond hope that Roy Hodgson's young squad can brighten up an evening or two. If only they can rise above the weariness. 

As a mad keen spectator I was affronted by the self-confessed ennui. There is no need to list the reasons why boredom is an issue but one other slightly disappointing aspect was that when the footballers listed their activities to alleviate their boredom, reading didn't figure! Roy Hodgson, the manager, is a real bibliophile and I've no doubt will be packing books. It is to be hoped that the overpaid 'children' learn more than tactics by watching Roy.

When we write our stories we have a plot in mind and we hope that we can draw readers into that situation and maintain their interest. So there is an untapped, wealthy customer group who we need to write for. Footballers! 
This really is linked with a conversation that I was party to today about the fact that children are tested in UK schools on their grammatical ability but there is a lack of success and the reason given - they don't read. Another marketing opportunity! I taught children from ages of 7 to 16 over a period of 34 years and, apart from when teaching a specific subject in high school, took every opportunity to read to my charges. An actor/author named George Layton tackled the lack of enthusiasm for reading in boys by writing a series of books some of which I have read in class.

George Layton

George Layton has written three books of fictional short stories, entitled The Fib and Other StoriesThe Swap and Other Stories and The Trick and Other Stories. The tales describe family life in the North of England in the post-World War II era. The books have been part of the National Curriculum in British schools, and film versions are in the work. Myles McDowell quotes Layton's The Balaclava Story as an example of how adults are often mostly absent from children's fiction.

I read the first one 'The Fib and other stories' in the 1990's. The stories are about life as a school boy and give boys something with which they can identify. The plots are simple and true to life but there is something there for the adult also. Perhaps the England squad should dip into the stories for a little light relief. I doubt whether Mr Layton will ever achieve a Man Booker prize but he wrote for a purpose and the fact that his work is not likely to be for the pseudo intellectual classes that cleave to such awards, it is worthy stuff.

We who write need to do so and in some ways are writing from experiences that we've had and books we've read, so do we need to target an audience? I don't believe so. I believe that we write what 'fits' us and an audience will be drawn to our work in the fullness of time.

God Bless