A big hand for the peeps at Writing East Midlands. Like many writers, I have profiles on half a dozen writing websites including this one. I had a particular technical question about copyright I wanted to explore before starting off down what, for me at least, is a new route – pitching for TV. So I emailed them to ask my question. And you know what? They didn’t know the answer, but they found out. And they replied to me. I’m sure most writers will know how remarkable and how praiseworthy that kind of thing is.
So: my technical question was about registering pitches, treatments, and other TV-related stuff prior to throwing it into an environment where you basically don’t know who’s going to read it, how it will be handled, and whether at some point down the line someone might think it’s a good idea and snaffle it. How much this happens, I don’t know, but the web seems to be telling me it’s a risk and the way to deal with it is to register stuff.
I already knew about the UK Copyright Service. But WEM were able to tell me about the Writers’ Copyright Association which appears to be more flexible and (important at my stage in the game) rather cheaper. And I guess the headline news is, it’s very gratifying to deal with a writers’ website that is prepared to take the view that if they can’t answer a question straight off, they’ll actually go and find out some answers. Well done WEM.
Here’s another one. Done ages ago but rediscovered in the folder where I keep bits of trivia that might become useful at some far-off point when I write a new story (that at least is the fiction I tell myself). I think I modelled it after one of the ‘Eastern European women in search of marriage/visa’ type emails I got a lot of about a year ago. I also have some serious stuff to post about writing and publishing but it will have to wait for another day.
My dearest friend
I am sure you will recognise my name. I am Vlad Draculea, also known as Dracula, late Prince of Wallachia. Despite my reputation, power and wealth I find myself requiring of your assistance in a matter of some delicacy.
As Prince of Wallachia, a country that ceased to exist a little over a century ago, I am faced with some slight difficulties in modern society. There is an annoying yet persistent reliance on passports and other identity papers, and many of these documents rely on conventional human expectations. Even in order to access my own bank accounts, I must present myself as my own great-great-grandson. At one time, everybody knew who I was. Yet today, many of the population do not even recognise their own political representatives, while my very existence has become the stuff of myth and legend. I am too often taken to be merely, in your current terms, a perverse follower of what you call ‘cosplay’ or ‘live action roleplay’.
I therefore require a bride, a woman with all the appropriate ‘identities’ for this modern world. Marriage would legitimise my position, enabling me to obtain visas and other documents.
I have more than recovered from my brush with the tiresome so-called Professor van Helsing, and find myself with a certain notoriety thanks to that meddlesome scribbler Stoker – whose account of my death was, of course, a work of purest imagination. The popular following I have acquired now makes it important for me to step into the light (metaphorically speaking, though not literally) and resume my plan to establish a ‘night club’, for which purpose I propose to acquire the buildings and grounds of a certain disused abbey. Matters would be progressed through the offices of a firm of solicitors in Exeter. I would expect no less of my bride than that she join me in this venture, which should be both entertaining and profitable.
I will require my bride to possess the following attributes. She should be young, though of legal age to conduct business affairs. She should possess an appropriate ‘nationality’ or ‘citizenship’, as I believe it is now termed, to provide me with a right of residence in her country. She should be pretty, though not in a conventional way – the style you call ‘gothic’ is closest to the fashion of my own culture. She must be prepared to accept my unsocial hours. And she should be prepared to engage enthusiastically in sexual practices that might once have been regarded with dread and defined as perverse, though I believe these days (judging by your television programming) are considered no more than slightly unusual if not amusingly ‘quaint’.
Following a properly consummated marriage – by which I mean consummated according to my own heritage and tradition – I will be prepared to offer the greatest gift possible for any mortal. As my get, and from my own historical bloodline, my bride will receive the benefit of immortality.
Please always be assured of my most sanguine attention in this matter.
Yours in darkness,
You know the ones. Until recently (new puter, new scam settings) I got about one a day, asking me for my bank details in order to assist people who variously wanted to transfer money, get a visa, etc. But some were amusing. So in an idle moment – one of those special times when you’re supposed to be dashing for a deadlline, but need a distraction – I thought I’d have a go. Obviously not on my own behalf. I’m sure you’ll be aware of the tragic circumstances giving rise to the letter below…
My dearest friend
I am Mrs Gruoch Cineada, widow of the popular and well-known Mac Bethad mac Findlaich, until recently Head of State of the country of Alba. He was cruelly killed, in fact beheaded, in a coup staged by the rebel Malcolm Ceanmor with the support of certain foreign powers and at the suggestion, it is claimed, of occult forces.
My husband Mac Bethad was a wise and much-admired leader who made many improvements to our country’s economic well-being, for example reforming land ownership. He was generous to the poor, on occasions giving away money as if it were seed.
When he was killed it was widely thought that I had died with him, a rumour caused by the fact that one of my female servants was trying on a particularly distinctive dress I had thrown out because of some accidental stains. I now live quietly as a born-again Christian in the love of God, in exile, penniless and unable to visit my own country. My poor son Lulach lives with me.
Due to a previous marriage (my first husband Gille died along with fifty others in a tragic accident with a lighted candle) I inherited 12 million pounds which remains in a secret account in the First National Bank of Dunsinane. However, as someone who must now live away from my homeland, under an assumed name, and widely believed to be dead, I am unable to access this money myself.
I have decided to contact you and reveal this information as I seek the help of someone able to present themselves as my legal heir in a will that has been deposited safely with lawyers.
I do not wish my first husband’s hard earned money to be misused or taken from me only to be used for purposes of mischief. I hope to use part of the inheritance to establish a monastery to continue God’s mission in a land of direst cruelty, spoiled by a reckless ruler who enjoys most of his life as the guest of foreign powers.
If you would kindly contact me with your bank account details I will provide you with the documents you will need to claim this inheritance and send the money on to me, less a sum of 15% for your consideration and expenses.
I wring my hands in expectation and hope that you will be able to assist me in this deed and to make undone that which was done in the name of blood and madness.
I hope to hear from you soon. Please know that as I cannot reveal my true identity openly all communications with me should be in future under my assumed name, which is below.
Yours in Christ,
It was interesting. CK Walsh came up with some ideas that have probably been around a while but may prove useful in finishing a short story that’s been hanging fire for a while – legal transubstantiation, and cognitive liberty. Helen Burke was funny. And Howard Marks intrigued everyone with his stories of reindeer piss (seriously).
Looking out of my living room window reminded me of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and led me to speculate that if the cold snap continues, we might find ourselves wanting to find new ways of describing different kinds of snow. Which made me go back to the internet and find that the old saw about many different Eskimo words for snow (which figured prominently in linguistic sociology when I did my degree more years ago that I care to remember) is exactly that – an old saw.
For a start there’s no ‘Eskimo’ language; there’s Inuit, Aleut, and major subgroups within these two main groups. Then there’s the issue of agglunitative forms where sufflixes added to a root create inflections in meaning, in much the same way that adjectives modify nouns in English. Plus, of course, English has a range of words for snow anyway, both as white stuff falling/recently fallen, almost-snow (sleet), the weather conditions when snow happens, the resulting white/grey stuff after it’s been on the ground a few hours and melted slightly, and so on.
More? Look at http://www.derose.net/steve/guides/snowwords/index.html
There’s a list of fictional words for snow, apparently by Phil James but found on http://www.mendosa.com/snow.html. Ones I particularly liked were:
gristla deep fried snow MacTla snow burgers ertla snow used by Eskimo teenagers for exquisite erotic rituals mextla snow used to make Eskimo Margaritas mortla snow mounded on dead bodies ever-tla a spirit made from mashed fermented snow, popular among Eskimo men tlalam snow sold to American tourists tlanip snow sold to Japanese tourists huantla special snow rolled into "snow reefers" and smoked by wild Eskimo youth tla-na-na snow mixed with the sound of old rock and roll from a portable radio
As a contribution to this I can suggest that in English we should have:
insurasnow – snow that causes traffic accidents leading to insurance claims
wrongkinda – snow that falls on railway tracks
pissart – patterns made in the snow while walking back from the pub
Reposted from http://shortfuseleicester.wordpress.com/ – Short Fuse is a monthly short story/flash fiction event at the Y Theatre in Leicester.
Coming Up: RETOX Tuesday January 19th, 8pm
Roll over Burroughs and Bukowski - Short Fuse Presents a night of literary excess and intoxicating polemic
Topping the bill, we have dope-dealing legend HOWARD MARKS - AKA Mr Nice Guy – riffing on the reefer
A heady line-up in store:
CK Walsh’s thought provoking paper on ‘Drugs and the Internet’…
Nicholas Lezard’s highly original take on the 12 Steps…
Extracted from ‘Fruitcake’, Rob Gee’s darkly comic tales from the psychiatric ward, law and disorder and attendant chemical cocktails…
Jon Vagg’s short story about spaced out vampire clubbers
Helen Burke’s flash fiction about a busted party
Watch this space! Book tickets at The Y Box Office on: 0116 255 7066