Formatting as a book motivated me to work again on my ‘long’ (for me) story – shelved before last summer. That was the subject of my previous post. But it’s still not that easy.

What is slowing me down now is research, though internet makes that easier than it was in the past. I am firmly of the belief that setting a story in a location you do not know well is to invite scorn from readers who do know it well. I remember reading a much-followed blogger’s self-published novel set in Paris and it rapidly became clear to me that he had never been there or if he had only on a brief superficial visit (I have been several times but not enough to set a novel there). You might get away with it for a small anonymous town but Paris, never. Of course writers of fantasy might not have this problem but it is not a genre I enjoy so never read it.

(As an aside, if you do intend to make a visit to Paris in the near future be sure to read a post from Charlotte Hoather, a young soprano whose blog I have been following for a few years. She’s not a travel writer but it’s the best bit of travel writing I have read! I was tempted to jump on the next plane to the French capital.

1960s/70s London

Back to my story, working title ‘Miranda’. It is set in 1960s/70s London, when and where I not only lived and worked but became caught up in the several cultures rife at the time. So why do I need to research?

I’ll give two examples. Even with internet researching just these two things are taking a lot of time.

An important event in the story is when Miranda is taken to Covent Garden to see Nureyev dance with Margot Fonteyn. It was an actual, special, historic performance. I was at it (alone!) but I couldn’t remember the exact date; important for the sequence of the story to make sense.

What is more, for the occasion I wanted Miranda to wear a dress based on one designed I think maybe by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn, a dress I could ‘see’ even after about 60 years. I had to be sure that the dress appeared before the Covent Garden event. I’ve not yet nailed this one so if any fashion buffs recognise the dress let me know please. It was gold, long with a short train and had little ‘droplets’ decorating the front.

Of course I, as a former journalist, enjoy the research and it leads me to many ‘unnecessary’ (from the point of view my story) but fascinating discoveries. It’s easy to lose a day, or more. And I have.

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I’m amazed how few members of our writers’ club blog; as many (most?) of them aspire to be published writers (not self-published) I find it inexplicable. It’s even more surprising when you consider that pretty well all of them say they love writing for itself, as I do, and fiddle about on Facebook – which has it’s place but not for someone driven to write, at least not until they’ve ‘made’ it, to promote their published book.

Turned off ‘publicize’ to Facebook – not helpful

The ‘auto-promote’ – ‘publicize’ – to Facebook is not helpful in this respect and for a recent post I turned this off. When notification of a post gets out on Facebook many people just put a ‘like’ on that, based on the summary, without ever reading the actual post. Worse, they frequently ‘like’ the picture chosen by Facebook, which often is not the best pic or even that associated with the lead story if there are more than one. Same applies to comments left on the Facebook summary, which are nowhere near as useful to the blogger as comments left on the blog post itself, if only that those on the blog help to raise awareness of the writer through Google and, of course, the blog followers.

I’ve tried to say it several times with little result; is this failure to understand blogging or laziness? Easier just to push the ‘like’ button or choose an emoji rather than write something thoughtful? They are writers for heaven’s sake!

Twitter is better as it will choose the headline and the lead story picture if there are more than one in the post.

The post for which I turned off the auto promote to Facebook was the latest on the ‘alternative’ village website I do – https://menstonvillagewharfedale.com. Excited that I persuaded a talented, entertaining writer from our writers’ club (and great blogger though unfortunately not on WordPress) – Becky Bond to contribute a post now and then, about one a month, I specifically asked for some comments from club members to support her. I was concerned that what comments were made would be on my Facebook page, for which I choose to have very few followers, not on her post itself.

I dislike Facebook

If you haven’t gathered it from past posts you should have no doubt now that, as a writer, I dislike Facebook except in small closed groups, where it can be useful for communication within the group, as in ours, though one member does not use Facebook so misses out on some comms. Blogging does not seem to attract the asinine comments so often seen on Facebook, comments which the perpetrators seem to think are witty. On the other hand, I do like messenger for brief exchanges with real friends (ie not necessarily Facebook ‘friends’, who may or may not be)

True friends and surprises through blogging

I’ve never found a true friend through Facebook though several friendships have begun with a ‘like’ or comment on a post on this blog. I’ve also had tremendous support from bloggers during difficult times, like when I was quite seriously ill.

Then there are the surprises. I had one just last week from a delightful young lady, an opera singer, a soprano who I’ve been following through her blog since she began studying singing a while ago. She’s now at the Royal College of Music. No surprise there, but the only contact has been through this blog or hers and the latest I heard was that she was singing in Manchester, in opera for babies (BambinO, a project of Scottish Opera). I don’t have a baby so decided this was not the occasion to try to hear this singing blogger, Charlotte Hoather, sing live.

Then she popped up on the village blog, leaving a ‘like’ on a post I did on a gig in the village, with a very different kind of music. It was almost as big a surprise as finding myself dancing at the village event, and equally pleasing.