Monday, 1 May 2017

Hit for Six!

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Hit for Six! (Post 121)

Hit for Six! (1998), is one of a linked set of stories about Teena and her brother Marcus. This is the first in the set, explaining how they came to be staying with their grandparents. Marcus practises cricket with his grandfather, and then Kim from next door invites him to pay with her friends. A dog interrupts the game.

Hit for Six! also has one of the oddest back stories of any of my books. This (as far as I can remember) is how it came about.

Although I'm of normal intelligence, I have a spatial awareness problem that makes me clumsy and disorganised. I'm not sure if my other problem is part of that or not, but I have difficulty in remembering instructions. If someone gives me directions to drive somewhere, I can usually remember the first two (drive two blocks then turn right at the intersection) but if I try to remember the third one (drive three blocks) I forget the first one. I write even the simplest things down in detail which annoys some people, who cannot fathom why I should need to write down easy directions. The same problem means when I'm doing accounts (say) I have to input each piece of information singly and then refer to the statement or master sheet for the next piece. It means simple jobs can take a long time. This problem made my school days much more stressful than they need have been, because it looks like inattention whereas it's more akin to an exceedingly bad short term memory. I don't know my mobile phone number either! I can remember the last four digits but not the first six. It is probably obvious that I was never good at games that had rules, because by the time I'd heard the third rule I'd forgotten the first one. Therefore, card games and team sports were not my idea of fun. I remember my sinking feelings when friends tried to teach me card games and (horrors) the rules of basketball. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that although I have normal hearing, I can't hear or understand phone conversation if there is another noise source. I can't hear what someone says to me if I'm in a crowd. It's got me puzzled that I can function at all, but I'm not a slow learner in most areas. The problems strike only in quite narrow sets of circumstances.  

This long preamble must seem irrelevant, but there is a point to it. I pitched a story to an editor about a child who failed to hear and understand the rules of a game and suffered embarrassment and ridicule because of it. Because I've never found an explanation for my particular problem and have no idea what to call it, I pitched the explanation as being genuinely poor hearing. I was thinking of card games, I think. Anyway, the editor got back to me and said they didn't want a story about a child with poor hearing, but the backyard cricket storyline was fine. Just come up with some other conflict. Now never in my wildest dreams would I have pitched a story with a cricket match. I don't play cricket and never did. I don't want to play cricket. I don't understand the rules or the appeal. In fact, I have an antipathy for most team games. My mother used to watch cricket on television and I used to make it my business to be elsewhere. Nevertheless, somehow I had got myself contracted to write a story about a cricket match. Believe it or not, this was one of the most difficult books I have ever written. I reread it before writing this post and I have no concept of how I managed to write the thing. None.

Funny, isn't it? I can write stories with intricate world-building and perplexing time-travel... but not a story about a cricket match.

About the Blog 

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

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