My Ramblings

Any closet novelists, short story writers, script-writers or prose poets out there?
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Harbal
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My Ramblings

Post by Harbal » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:50 pm

Prompted by the feeling that I needed to get out more, last summer I joined a walking group. My first outing with them was on a Wednesday evening; the walk was a stroll round the town where I live, as it happens. Their main outings are on Sundays; the Wednesday evening ones only take place during the summer. I continued to go on walks regularly for several months, right up to the end of the autumn; my enthusiasm waned as the weather got colder.

I didn’t consciously think about it, but I suppose I imagined a bunch of like-minded people just turning up at a prearranged location and setting forth on their ramble. It never occurred to me that such a seemingly straight-forward and simple activity would require as much effort to organise as it does. And all by a handful of people doing it out of pure altruism, gaining no reward other than the simple satisfaction of knowing that their efforts are enriching the lives of others.

The group has a monthly meeting where, presumably, they discus important issues and make weighty decisions. They have a Chair Person, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Walks Programme Co-ordinator, Footpaths Officer and several other officials with vaguer, but, undoubtedly, no less necessary roles. So clearly this is not a Mickey Mouse outfit, it is a serious and properly organised enterprise.

While I expected to derive a modest health benefit from taking part in the activities of the group, I was quite surprised to find that joining them also made me feel younger, and at sixty four years old that is not a benefit to be sniffed at. This was no doubt due in part to the exercise, but, more than that, I think it was because a good many of them are retired and older than I am. The principle of relativity in action.

Every walk has a walk leader, a job that entails much more than arriving first and striding off in front, assertively. The walk leader has to conceive the adventure; he or she must assemble in their mind a journey of discovery, or at least an excursion that isn’t likely to bore the pants off everyone. Next, the precise route must be planned; necessitating a “recky”, which is where the walk leader goes out, quite often with another group member, and does a boots on the ground dummy run. Thus are any potential problems and hazards identified and avoided in the final plan. How often, I wonder, have we carefree ramblers turned up on the day with nothing to think of but a pleasant day’s meander through the English countryside, completely oblivious of the extra large muddy puddles and steep embankments our leader has beforehand suffered so that we don’t have to.

While the walk leader is out in front, blazing the trail, at the very back is the man... at the very back. He has probably got a title but I don’t know what it is, possibly the tail man. His job is mainly to ensure that the stragglers don’t take a wrong turn and get lost; his secondary role being to mop up any casualties. It is surprising how many people, particularly the older ones, slip head over heels on the mud, or trip up over a tree root or discarded soft drink can. Although any serious injury is usually confined to the dignity of the person involved. I have never actually witnessed such an occurrence myself, but that is probably my own fault for not hanging far enough back; perhaps I should volunteer to be the “tail man”.

We have our own web site. With a few mouse clicks I know where the next walk will take place, how long the walk will be, and whether or not it is dog friendly. We also have a self appointed group photographer who covers twice the distance of everyone else through repeatedly running up and down the line of walkers taking shots. I am amazed by his energy, I don’t know how old he is but I believe he’s been retired for ten years. The results of his vigourous enthusiasm appear on the web site a few days later, he’s quite artistic, actually.

I could go on forever singing the praises of these self sacrificing people who go to so much trouble just so I can have a pleasant day out. I certainly wouldn’t go to that much trouble for them.
Last edited by Harbal on Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Leaf

Re: My Ramblings

Post by Leaf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:32 pm

Hi Harbal,

Great title :)

This is familiar territory for me because my parents have been involved in their town's walking festival. I think my dad was in charge of pretty much everything one year; I certainly heard about the ins and outs of it all. He and my mum accompanied a few walks too, which on one occasion involved having to rush through a field containing a very skittish horse :shock: :lol:

What sort of feedback are you interested in receiving? I ask because I've just finished an intense copyediting project, and I'm feeling a bit SPAG-ged out, so to speak. But to start things off (maybe!), I do think what you have here is good groundwork for a piece of fiction; it just depends on where your mind wants to go... :arrow:

Best wishes,
Leaf

Harbal
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by Harbal » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:46 pm

Leaf wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:32 pm
What sort of feedback are you interested in receiving?
Anything you think worthy of mentioning, Leaf, although any tips on punctuation would be greatly appreciated; I get very anxious over my commas and semicolons.
I do think what you have here is good groundwork for a piece of fiction
That would be an interesting project but I'm not sure I would know where to start, or what to aim for. It's worth thinking about, though. :)

Leaf

Re: My Ramblings

Post by Leaf » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:09 pm

Well, let's start with punctuation, then; I like to ease anxieties where I can :)

As it happens, there aren't many suggestions for changes I'd make here. Paragraph 1 is fine. In paragraph 2, you could consider 'like-minded' (addition of hyphen) to bring out the sense, 'straightforward' in place of 'straight forward' (ditto), and a comma rather than a semi-colon after 'altruism' (although I understand why you've used a semi-colon). Just let me know if this is useful; if it isn't, I'll refrain :lol:

Fiction holds a lot of possibilities. With this particular groundwork, you could go for adventure, crime, horror, mystery, romance, or sci-fi, just off the top of my head.

Best wishes,
Leaf

Harbal
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by Harbal » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:28 pm

Leaf wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:09 pm

Fiction holds a lot of possibilities. With this particular groundwork, you could go for adventure, crime, horror, mystery, romance, or sci-fi, just off the top of my head.
I've implemented your suggestions for improved punctuation, Leaf, and am very grateful.

Perhaps I should attend a monthly committee meeting, to get an insight into the power structure behind the organisation. I have a feeling it would be a rich source of material for the project. I am envisaging something along the lines of a Midsommer Murders episode.

Leaf

Re: My Ramblings

Post by Leaf » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:21 pm

You're very welcome, Harbal :-)

I haven't watched Midsomer Murders for years, but I remember enjoying it with my brothers while we were all still living with 'The Olds' (our parents), perhaps during the late '90s or so. I think writing a MM-style story would be so much fun! And that's a great idea, attending a committee meeting to get some insights (and perhaps some inspiration) :D

Best wishes,
Leaf

bjondon
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by bjondon » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:47 pm

I love this Harbal. So understated and full of humour.
Actually as soon as I started I was noticing the commas and semi-colons (that's what a year on PG does to you!) …and appreciating their subtlety and use, not so much as grammatical conformities but little signposts to indicate the flows of thought. Yes, this whole thing is like a well planned gentle walk! - all the mechanics discretely sorted out in advance by our 'boots on the ground N, so we hardly notice how ably our path has been smoothed.
I was just browsing an old copy of Tate magazine with some amazing collective photos of water towers and gas holders by Bernd and Hilla Becher - they've been doing this project for thirty years, deny any aesthetic, simply see their function as paying tribute to and documenting the wonderful steadily evolving engineering and variety of these phenomena (a bit like Victorian taxonomists' glorious engravings of sea shells or pollen grains). So this is a bit like that - you are quite simply and elegantly laying out the mechanics of this social phenomenon (including your own role). All the pleasure comes from the restraint, the 'fictionalisation' residing then in the lively use of language - colloquial, military, pop cultural - these little insights to the N's and the group's character become delicious little morsels.
I like that kick at the end ("I certainly wouldn't go to all that trouble for them!") - it feels like a taste of the self-deprecatory, low key humour that runs through the banter and chat of the group . . . and of course the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to immortalize this bunch :)
It does work as a self-contained piece, but the mention of venturing into those monthly meetings has whetted my appetite! If we can send our correspondent in there the despatches may well merit a sequel.
Fictionalisation would be a mistake (or at least something completely different), but your conversation with Leaf, and the whole idea of this N speculating on 'possible fictionalisations' could open a whole side avenue which could be quite amusing. Maybe the writing of this piece, its discrete publication on the board and subsequent interactions are all part of the story :)

Regards,
Jules

Harbal
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by Harbal » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:15 pm

Thank you, Jules, I'm a bit bowled over by your comments. Now I'm wondering how all the qualities you mention got in there without me noticing. When I posted it I was a bit worried that it might not be up to standard for this site, so it is quite a relief to know you liked it.

The next committee meeting is in the middle of August and I am very tempted to attend. We'll see. :D

NotQuiteSure
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by NotQuiteSure » Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:43 pm

.
Hi Harbal,
nicely told, and at an appropriately leisurely pace.

I'd be tempted to trim a little here and there, for instance
I joined a walking group. My first outing with them was on a Wednesday evening; the walk was a stroll round the town where I live, as it happens.
Having 'joined' you don't need 'with them' after 'outing', it's strongly implied. Likewise, you could cut 'the walk was' and still keep the sense. You could also cut 'where I live' as N is unlikely to join a walking group in a different town (or just refer to them as 'my/the local walking group').
Last summer, [for reasons that don't need exploring here,] I joined a walking group. [Our] first outing was on a Wednesday evening; [just] a [gentle] stroll round the town,[nothing to frighten the horses]. The main [Walks, the ones that demand ???] are on Sundays, [the midweek ones are strictly a summer bonus, less punishment more promenade] ...

P1: 'Prompted by a feeling' not a convincing reason for the behaviour, nor a compelling reason to keep reading :) You could cut it and start with 'Last summer I joined ...' or make it something
more interesting/entertaining.
'I continued to go on walks regularly for several months ...' this suggests that at some point N either becomes an irregular attendee or abandons the group, yet the piece ends with lavish praise. What changed? Why does N persist with the Sunday walks (in winter, assuming they happen)?

P3: suddenly it's all in the passive voice. You might change 'presumably' to 'I presume'.
(Comma So, clearly)

P5: I think the correct spelling is 'recce'


Regards, Not.


.

Harbal
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Re: My Ramblings

Post by Harbal » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:18 pm

NotQuiteSure wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:43 pm
I'd be tempted to trim a little here and there
I agree, NQS, much of what I write would benefit from trimming.

P3: suddenly it's all in the passive voice. You might change 'presumably' to 'I presume'.
Yes, I must pay more attention to detail, although I'm not sure I would have picked up on that detail even had I been paying attention.
P5: I think the correct spelling is 'recce'
That's handy to know, in the unlikely event of me ever wanting to use the word again.

Thanks, NQS. :)

Leaf

Re: My Ramblings

Post by Leaf » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:36 pm

Hi Harbal,

Apologies for forgetting to return to this thread. Now I'm just stopping by to say I hope you enjoy the meeting, if you decide to attend. I still like your Midsomer Murders idea, but I'll be happy to read anything you come up with, really :)

Best wishes,
Leaf

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