Character: Losing the Signal

When I was a child, one of my most-prized possessions was a transistor radio. A present for my eighth or ninth birthday. Six shillings from the local hardware shop, I think. On days off-sick from school I would listen to Tony Blackburn (loved Tony Blackburn!) and the rest of the Radio One D.J.s until tea – or when the TV started. In the evening, while pretending to be going to sleep, I would try to tune into Radio Luxembourg. A signal so weak that it would come and go across the airwaves. Half the game was turning the dial to catch it.

I have reached an interesting point in the rewrite for my novel. A pivotal chapter in which the middle-aged male comedian goes to visit the elderly woman he has been teaching. She is now deep in dementia and unaware of what she has done.

Except, in the rewrite, it’s not a middle-aged man, it’s a twenty-nine year old woman. Which is a shame, because there was some great writing in the original – cough, cough. And the deal is, it has to go.

But I have found myself, as I walk the new character through a similar scene, wondering if I could just lift one or two nice sentences from the old version. Who would know?

So I do and guess what? The new character disappears. Not in a strop, and with no great fanfare, just…disappears. Holding on to the old version, I lose the signal from the new.

So, I have had to stop. Retune. Get back in her head and set off again. There have already been rewards in doing so.

If I have time and patience, creative signals are there. As long as I’m willing to give up what I want and listen in to what is able and willing to come through.


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