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Author Topic: Hello from the South of France
Chris Ward
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Member # 10943

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I was a journalist and author (of non-fiction, mostly computer) books for 25 years until 2003, when I gave it all up to become a dishwasher and then a cook in the South of France.
I cooked for seven years until carpal tunnel problems (typing on computers for 25 years plus chopping vegetables for a further seven years = bad hands!) forced me to stop cooking and do something else.
That something else turned out to be teaching English to French people in the South of France, where I now work at the Vatel International of Hotel and Tourism Business School. I teach English and Professional Culture (the history and practise of French gastronomy) to French and International students and, frankly, it's a great job.
I wrote a book about my year at Catering School in Avignon in Provence, in the South of France called Eat Sleep Cook School! which I self-published on Amazon. I even got some good reviews!
I've been trying to write fiction since before personal computers were invented - my first attempt was when I was six and wrote a story about locking my imaginary brother Cyril in the washing machine with a bowl of fruit. I got two gold stars and public congratulations from the headmistress for that one.
I have an agent, Caroline at Rupert Crew in London who represented me for my computer books and whom I've subjected to occasional fiction scripts which she has, quite rightly, rejected; the last one I sent her came back with the note that the talking car featured in the story had more personality than any of the humans in it.
So now I'm trying to get back into writing fiction; I get up early in the morning and try to write something, anything, for an hour or more without rubbishing around Facebook and LinkedIn and my inbox. Some days it works, some days I spend my time removing the semi-colons from yesterday's writing; for some reason I've become obsessed with using semi-colons; no idea why; full stops are much better.
I'd like to write some science fiction with a humorous side to it, and am thinking about an immortals story. Browsing around I see that most immortals fiction is about heroes and family dynasties and Great Events. Mine isn't. My immortal is a dishwasher, like I was 15 years ago when I gave up writing last time around.
Let's see how it works out this time.

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Member # 8019

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From a fellow carpal tunnel injury sufferer, fellow restaurant drudge, and fellow ambitious writer, welcome to the Hatrack River writers' community. May you realize the whirlwind!

Eric Blair's iconic autobiographical novel, Down and Out in Paris and London, resembles our shared life stories. Or George Orwell. Blair's prose writing strengthened lucidity and vividness and liveliness over his career, though, topically, remained the same social democrat portrayals of behind-the scenes squalor and toxic workplace and social dysfunction, that peaked in Nineteen Eighty-four shortly before Blair passed.

Regardless, anymore, of a writer's public politics, such a cause type is a pathway to greatness, publication success anyway, albeit attended by strong story craft and language aptitudes. Like, say, everyday immortals are everyday heroes who cope with the everyday inanities and corruptions and grandiose delusions of megalomaniacal leadership is such a cause.

Prose semicolon use has artful functions though a challenge to use sensibly. Semicolons' conventional non-prose use is to signal relevant connection between otherwise independent clauses of a greater significance than separate, sequential sentences. Prose uses go further, in that semicolons imply close, otherwise unrelated, even metaphorical connections between independent clauses, at times, compound elliptical predicate clauses, and intimate stronger emphasis than separate sentences do.

Opening line from Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. William Gibson's Neuromancer opening line would be better, stronger, more artful, if a dash used instead of the comma: "The sky above the port was the color of television [--] tuned to a dead channel."

Likewise, Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities could have used semicolons instead of commas to separate parallel clause pairs, (syncrisis figure of speech: "Comparison and contrast in parallel clauses," Silva Rhetoricae, rhetoric.byu.edu, Gideon Burton). "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times[;] it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness[;] it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity[;] it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness[;] it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

Or likewise, the cite attributed to Caesar, Vini, vidi, vici: I came; I saw; I conquered: triplet parallel clauses and syntax; the Latin, a regular tricolon; the accepted translation, a loose tricolon.

A fixation on semicolon, and colon and dash, too, uses is often for punctuation mastery efforts other than standard comma, period, question mark sentence divisions that mediocre assembly-line instruction teaches. Each of those other marks, though, for prose, is best practice used judiciously and for best reader effect functions. Noah Lukeman's A Dash of Style explores prose's distinct punctuation aesthetics and effects.

[ June 13, 2018, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Member # 10927

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I can identify with your social media challenge, and I'm really looking forward to reading your work... Especially the 'ordinary immortal' story if you write it.

And thank you for the image of the imaginary brother, the fruit-bowl and the washing machine. If this was social media, I would allow myself to type, "LOL". (Ah well, force of habit.)

Welcome, Chris, from a fellow newcomer.

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Member # 8368

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Welcome to the treehouse.
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Josephine Kait
Member # 8157

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Hi France and welcome to the Hatrack River Treehouse!

If you are curious about why it is a treehouse, see “Special Hatrack Topics” all the way down at the bottom. Just be prepared to settle in and spend some time enjoying and laughing your tail off. [Smile]

You've already made me think of the rom-com movie No Reservations and the brilliant Redwall series. The world of food is unfamiliar territory for most people, and can be fascinating as such. The best writing advice is always to write what you know. It’s the nuances that lend vibrancy to any tale and research will only take you so far. Have fun “cooking” up your stories! [Wink]

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