I started the day with a bird bath. The magpie we rescued is refusing all suggestions that he might like to splash in the dog bowl full of clean, fresh water provided. It's a first for me, most birds love to bath especially if they can cover a wide area with splashes and preferably poo as well. I got a plant sprayer and started squirting him gently on the worst bits, below the tummy, where he tends to sit in poo. I'm trying to teach him to perch - which he is doing at the moment just to show off. 'I can perch if I want to,' he is saying, 'but I prefer to sit in a puddle of poo.' All corvids are bloody minded. Magpies have a reputation of being the worst of the bunch. And he hasn't got a name yet because I am still not sure he isn't on a one-way journey to the vet.
I'm gently pottering through A363 chapter 3, working towards the TMA which I hope will be a short story (there's bound to be a short story at some point! Surely!)
I started with activity 3.1, looking for a news story and came up with one on the BBC website. Two people had crashed their car, which burst into flames but two men rescued them by bashing in their sunroof. The exercise made me look at where the sources actually came from - the people concerned didn't write the article, there were only secondary sources available. But the story was written up to be as dramatic and accurate as the reporter could make it - if made exciting to read so his editor would print it.
The next section looked at research - what efforts we have to put into making a piece seem real. Sarah Water's wrote The Night Watch and the research may not make it authentically historically accurate but it feels right for the 2010 audience. In my romance writing era I had to look carefully at language etc. to make a Regency period piece seem a bit Jane Austen like but not too old fashioned. Georgette Heyer's regency novels and full of archaisms, yet have a very thirties and forties energy and post-suffragette lively characters. We're living in a post-pill, post-sexual revolution world, how can we make a Regency heroine who sits on her sprigged muslin arse and waits for Mr. Right (or Mr. Darcy, for that matter) to ask us to marry us. Even if we then exercise our little power and say no, thus committing social suicide. Heyer got it right, because she did masses of research but I don't think many historical writers do. I was completely convinced of Water's world.
We then looked at Liz Jensen's War Crimes for the Home also set in WW2. Again, the little details make it seem spot on, creating an authentic feel. I have ordered both books, both dragged me in. I chose Lindy-hop from the list of topics to research in activity 3.4 and came up with several ideas for a story, just from the research which was riveting. I can see this is a rich vein of potential ideas for original stories. Just this one idea got me into racial integration in the early 1930's, the cultural message of the GI's during WW2 (also in Jensen's book!) and a wide range of other sources.
I was surprised to find that Stef Penney when she wrote The Tenderness of Wolves had never been to Canada, but good research and a powerful imagination put her there. There's hope for the widely read but thinly travelled me, then!