Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Gentle Leg-Pull

The short story writers' group I've joined is headquartered in the UK, as I think        I mentioned. Their physical address is The Old School House, Ivinghoe Aston, Leighton Buzzard, Beds LU7 9DP. It doesn't get any more UK than that. 

We don’t have addresses like that, I don’t think, or anyway not where I grew up.     It was mostly numbers and letters there, with the exception of  “Washington” applied to The Heights, two bridges, and the high school, commemorating the Revolutionary War battles fought (against our friends the English) in the area.

Among the impressions I get from the conversations members post on the site is that it must rain a lot in Scotland. Makes me feel almost guilty here in Southern California on a November afternoon with the temperature a sunny -- but that would be unkind. Besides, weather that keeps you indoors may well inspire better writing. A lot more good stuff has come out of Scotland than out of Orange County California, although I’m working at remedying that.

The group’s purpose is mutual help for some writers who haven’t hit the big time yet, and I can use all the help I can get, transiting from fact (tech writing, business articles) to fiction. A particularly fitting analogy, I think: it’s like an auto mechanic switching from Detroit cars to one of the European models. You can identify the components alright, but your old wrenches aren’t right any more; the specs are in different units. You need a new set of tools to do the work.

There are many other members in the US besides me. I don’t know if it’s true for them, but I find myself working at accommodating to English expressions and sensibilities (like mentioning the Revolutionary War?). I’ve learned that a supermarket cart (US) is a trolley, UK, and  I was already calling walkers Zimmer Frames. Also I’ve decided not to send my Fourth of July story for the in-house contest; I don’t think it would resonate as it would for a purely US audience. Besides, it commemorates Independence Day.