Reading and Writing for Pleasure: March | Douglas Burcham

Douglas continues his writing and reading for pleasure series with some leap year thoughts for March on work in progress, reading and publishing.

“How do you plead?”



“I just need time to find the right words and then place them in the right order.”

Being locked up in jail before a big drop in the first view days of February in the new leap year was not something on my writing plan for 2016. The charge to me, the unknown — European Writer’s Work in Progress Directive came as a bolt from the grey skies of late January 2016.

A court clerk read out the charge.

“Henry Cross is accused of not making sufficient progress in completing final versions of his stories ready for publication after beginning to write in June 2010. Out of well over a million draft words at least 20% should have been completed and submitted to Joe Amazon, the head of the European Writing Agency, by 31st December 2015 with a fee of 100 Euros.

I listened to the sentence in horror while my lawyer stood beside me. She looked at how I felt; drained, grey and defeated.

Henry Cross, you will be attached to the hook of a crane and lifted at least 100 feet into the air before being dropped into the short story book pit. You will be granted special dispensation to write a post for TIPM for March.

After writing the post, I am hoisted up and I feel the clasp holding me to the jib of the crane loosen and I start to fall, and as the cheers of the gathered multitude rise to a crescendo … I wake up, shiver in fear of what might have been and pull my bedclothes over my head and curl up in a ball.


Much of my writing, including the introduction above, is based on dreams imagined and real. When I manage to write down the contents of bad dreams before they dissipate, I usually recognise what has featured in the dream to be a collection of recent and distant matters considered or experienced. The introduction above is no different, being derived from the following two posts and the “modern art” of the dropping steel columns described in my February TIPM post.

The Problem with Works in Progress

Why Every Author Needs a Lawyer

I cannot help but reflect that the hardest part of writing is the last 25% of hard repetitive effort required to convert writing a work in progress into a book ready for publishing.


Further to my travels to East Kent last month, I found a little more colour in the following post.

Places to travel with Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation on high-speed trains to Aix-en-Provence! This picturesque French village, the ancient capital of Provence, was home of the famous impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. He was passionately attached to Aix-en-Provence, and summed his love up in a single sentence: “When you’re born there, it’s hopeless, nothing else is good enough”. You can share Cézanne’s experience visiting the following locations.


I am amazed simple ideas from past publishing are currently having such success in the form of colouring books for adults, Ladybird books on many subjects, including how husbands and wives work, and Haynes of DIY motorcar maintenance manual fame, widening their topics to aircraft and showing how men and women work. I hope Haynes in the latter do better than in some of their DIY maintenance manuals where the omission of “the everybody knows the next step assumption” often halts mending progress.


February has been for me a mixed month for reading and watching.

I took Hugh Howey’s Wool out on a library loan recalling rave reviews. I encountered disappointment because I only found enough plot line for a novella instead of over 500 pages with several follow up books. I wish I had stopped after 50 or 100 pages. I will stick to J G Ballard.

I read a short piece in a weekend supplement by Joanna Cannon about her car accident and liked her writing. I purchased a good value discounted copy of her book The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and although the genre is not really my normal choice, but I like her writing. The hard cover presentation of the book is lovely.

I read about a typical weekend spent by the Irish author Colm Toibin where his life revolves around writing everyday in longhand. Like him I have made room for writing by not watching as much television, so series such as War and Peace, Downton Abbey and Last Tango in Halifax have gone unseen. Michael Portillo and Rick Stein still get my attention and I have made another exception for the Night Manager after reading the following about books being turned into films. I read John le Carre’s Constant Gardener after seeing the film and believe I enjoyed it more as I find his writing quite dense.

Rick Stein is to open bookshop in Padstow (see link).


Some other snippets of news:

Reading a book or playing bridge is as good for ones health as going to the gym. This is certainly less boring.

More rebellion on the Literary Festival Front

A successful conversion of a BT red telephone box into a free library in Cambridgeshire needs a planning change of use costing £400. It appears the EU is not responsible for this one.

Summer seaside appears far off, although I am planning a trip to the cold Lincolnshire coast in March. Maybe I should take a copy of the following unseasonal guide to the seaside with me.

With leap year upon us again, I recall writing a short story about leap year travel in 2012, which demonstrates another four years have passed by. See this current post for the story.

Good writing and reading to you in this month and the rest of 2016.


DouglasDouglas Burcham started writing on 1 June 2010 and self-published under the Allrighters’ name a book of short stories ‘Ywnwab!’ in September 2013. A million words of draft writing reached completion in January 2014 split between 900,000 words of fiction and 100,000 words of non-fiction. The latter being about writing and memories of buildings, trains, boats and planes. Since then slow progress continues to be made in the conversion of the draft words into final books ready for possible publishing under the Allrighters’ name.

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