Happy Independence Day! For me, it’s Not-So-Happy-Wish-I-Were-British Day. Or at least Wish-I-Were-In-London Day.
Photograph: Elizabeth West
You might wonder why I’m so attached to England. When I was a kid, my auntie married an Englishman and moved to London (they’re divorced now, though she is still there). This fascinated me–growing up in a small Missouri cow town, I had no concept of foreign places. Getting Christmas presents from her thrilled.
I corresponded with my step-cousin in high school. Pen pals were a big thing back then and since we had no internet, we wrote letters. We sent each other teen magazines and painted nail varnish colo(u)rs on our missives.
When I turned eighteen, my parents’ graduation gift to me was a two-and-a-half week trip to London to visit Auntie, then-Uncle, and cousins.
I fell madly, passionately in love with it.
I wanted to go back, wanted it crazy bad, but it just didn’t happen. So I tried my best to put it out of my mind. It didn’t exactly go. It lurked silently in my system until last year, when unrelated conversations with both European and American friends brought it roaring back to life. A bit like how the chicken pox virus hangs out in your spine, only to cause shingles later.
I’ve changed a lot since that first visit, in various ways:
- I’m not as picky. Seriously, my auntie thought I would starve to death; I barely tried any foods. The last two times, I ate everything that didn’t eat me first. Including haggis and black pudding.
Photograph: Elizabeth West
- I’m more experienced. At eighteen, I could not have planned an independent trip to Scotland or Wales. Also, it’s lucky London is such an easy city to get around in. I was the most clueless, small-town idiot ever and I’m surprised I didn’t get mugged or fall into the Thames.
Photograph by random English person using my camera
- Technology has caught up. In the 1980s, no one had a smartphone. Everyone had a London A-Z. They still sell this marvelous map of the city, because not everyone has a phone (or wants one), but let’s face it; you look like a tourist standing around flipping through it. And besides, the print has shrunk–oh, sorry, it’s my ancient eyes. Well, bollocks.
Now everyone has their faces in their phone screens. You pause somewhere to check the directions and it looks like you’re texting or reading email (be careful to watch for phone snatchers, however). So thank you, Google maps, for helping me blend in and still get around. An updated A-Z made a great souvenir instead.
I’ve no idea when I will return. Right now, I feel very much like I did after that first trip, wondering when or if it will happen again, and thinking it’s out of reach. But I’ve learned one more thing since that time: anything can happen. Anything at all.
Let’s hope anything does.
- Secret Book is becalmed. I’ve slowly realized that it’s a much larger and more involved project than I thought. The amount of research I still have to do to write convincingly about subjects of which I know nothing staggers me. I’m still working on it, never fear. The main priority is still to actually finish the book, but it will be the sketchiest first draft I’ve ever written. I think that’s part of the problem; I’m headiting too much instead of just writing Blah blah blah check this later like I usually do.
- Brian Keene says he is finished critiquing Rose’s Hostage. I hope I get it back now. I’m still trying to work out a subplot for a sequel. The book did get a minor rewrite already; I replaced an interrogation scene with a MUCH better version. It added to the word count, but fuck it.
- A friend is beta-reading Tunerville. She’s my consumer test person; her job is to see if it’s readable. I’m nervous because I want her to like it. (She did like Rose’s Hostage.)
- I have three queries out on Tunerville at the moment. No word from anyone, but there’s always hope.
That’s all I have today. Later this week, look for a vocabulary post, and by next weekend, I will post a review of the sequel to Knight of Light for you.
Everybody have a safe and happy Fourth!
What a lovely blog. Goodness knows how I’ve found you but it’s been fun to read. Always nice to hear nice things about ones home town (London). It’s interesting how most visitors describe us as “The British” yet we rarely do. I am very definitely English :-)
Hi Philip! Thank you for stopping by. :)
I think most people in the US just use British as a catch-all term. Of course when I’m talking about Welsh or Scottish or Irish folks, I’m not going to say English!
All of the people in the bits of the UK I’ve been to so far are quite nice. :) I hope I can go back soon.
On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 6:35 PM, Graphomaniac – Elizabeth West wrote: