Writing Vices That Haunt Me by Alice Gilmore – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Writing Vices That Haunt Me

It is sometimes difficult to get started in the morning, to actually apply your rear to the chair in front of the desk and write. Several famous writers have said in answer to the question, ‘What is the most difficult thing about writing/’ ‘To apply the bum to the chair daily.’ Perhaps the most important word in that sentence is ‘daily’. If you don’t do it daily nothing gets finished.

Well, in my short time as a writer on this book (my memoir), the hard thing for me has been the opposite: how to stop the words running away with me. My first discovery as I read over what I have written is that the sentences are endless, with sub-clauses and asides that leave me gasping for comprehension and looking back through the last few lines for the verb in the sentence – and often the subject and object. I have to go through everything and break it up into short – well, shorter anyway – sentences, which actually means a complete re-write. Thank God for the modern computer when you can just juggle words, delete them, cut and paste, and produce a clear, legible finish, as well as it making sense.

But it is not only the sentences that run away with me, it is the adjectives and adverbs (a dying breed). I read through my first draft and find some nouns preceded by a whole string of adjectives and every action seems that it must have its adverb. It was Ernest Hemingway, I believe, who said writing consisted of cutting out the adjectives. Ernest Hemingway and many others. I have just read through what I have written above and counted fifteen adjectives and three adverbs. I claim that if you cut any one of them you would change the meaning of that sentence. I have already deleted the superfluous ones.

Another vice that I have discovered in me is being too kind in my descriptions of certain people and effusive over their characters. I wonder if that is because I know them all personally and subliminally remove the warts because I love them? Or is it a sentimental streak in my writing or perhaps in my recall. Anyway, I have gone through the text and tried to be ruthless about everyone, except perhaps my children, who didn’t ask to be cast in my confession. After all, it was written for them, not to dissect them.

The cure for all of the above is ruthless editing. I have taken more time in going over and over this book than I did to write the first version or draft.

Few, if anyone, could have had a life like Alice Gilmore. It was almost unbelievable yet carried on under the cover of a respectable middle-class existence.

You might strongly disapprove of what she did, but Alice was determined. She overcame insurmountable obstacles to keep the love she longed for.

Her single-minded fight to live out her love makes a gripping, riveting story that one eminent literary person called ‘staggeringly readable’. It is shocking. Her methods will upset some, but are you with her or against her? Your decision.

This is no misery memoir. It’s a story told with joy, wit and fervour – the astonishing story of the overwhelming love Alice Gilmour was determined to live out.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The taxi took me to the student pub at the university. I went in and found a seat at the end of the bar where I could have my back to the wall and watch what went on without it being obvious that I was doing just that. In fact I sat side on to the wall, using the mirrors behind the bar. The place was quite quiet when I sat down but soon filled up. It was the favourite drinking haunt of most students because the beer was very cheap and they could take a good deal on board before going on to a disco or meal later. I looked like someone waiting for her date to turn up, except that I hadn’t realized just how much I stood out in that crowd of untidy garish youngsters. I looked infinitely more sophisticated and quite a bit older. If someone had come up to me and asked me what the hell I was doing in a joint like this I wouldn’t have been surprised. I soon spotted my prey, a six-foot, fair-haired athletic-looking boy in trainers, jeans and tee shirt. He was not nineteen, I knew, a first-year student. I wanted him as young as possible. David had researched him thoroughly, almost intrusively, and probably illegally: brilliant A levels, excellent entrance papers, a keen and talented sportsman, no known allergies or poor family health history, good looking and popular. I wanted the father of our child to be as perfect as possible.

About the Author:If you want to know about my life and background read this book. I can scarcely add to what I have written about myself in there. I earnestly hope that the rest of my life is too uneventful to even consider writing anything else, I am no novelist. The life I have described was full enough and rich enough for me. God knows what I would come out with if I had to invent. If you find you need a good chef I shall consider anything not too energetic – which rules out most jobs in the kitchen.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. I like the excerpt.

  3. Great post – loved the excerpt!

  4. Alice Gilmore says

    Thanks for hosting my book. Alice xx

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