Something very nice happened this morning. I was doing my first check round the book sites and forums etc. and I found that “Our Father’s War” has another 5 star review on Amazon. Since it was reduced to Free it has had 2287 downloads and one of those people has been moved enough to post a review. Which shows you that reviews are hard to come by. I was very interested to read a famous author, with many books to her credit, asking on Twitter for people to review her latest release on Amazon the other day.
The part of the review that touched me the most was:
“Flight Lft. Hal Thomas was a Spitfire pilot in Great Britain and the Middle East and his daughter has published a collection of his letters, letters written to him and at least one official report from an engagement during the war. The letters really bring Lft. Thomas to life. You can feel his intensity to fight, as he learns for himself what the British have been going through, his disgust at those who have been shirking their duty, his joy at hearing from his family and his pain as his friends die or disappear. It’s very interesting that censorship seems to be much higher in the Middle East, than it was in Great Britain. The letters also show how normal soldiers were during the era. They like girls and want warm socks, just like the rest of us.”
If you’re interested and haven’t downloaded it, you’ll find it here
The other subject that is exercising me this morning is friendship. One of my friends has a birthday today. We met in 1973 when we were 13, at school, and we’re still friends nearly 40 years later. We’ve lived at opposite ends of the world for years, she lives in London and I live in New Zealand, but the friendship has survived and at times we have a code, a friendship shorthand, that no one else understands. Happy Birthday, sweetheart, I may not say it often, but I treasure your friendship.
I have two other friends whom I met in 1995, through work, one now lives in Sydney and the other in Palmerston North. Both guys, both hard cases, both have enriched my life with their humour and wisdom. I have some others I’ve met more recently, one in 1998, one in 2002, two in 2004, one in 2008, mostly through work, these are special as well. You don’t see them often (especially now I live in the ‘sticks’) but when you do it’s like you’ve never been apart. And then there are the ones I remember who’ve come and gone in my life, lovely at the time, but nothing in common apart from what or who brought us together. A couple I lost contact with and shouldn’t have and miss. What makes a friendship survive I wonder? What magical mix of experiences and understanding makes a bond that stands the test of time?
Writing tips today come from Sir David Hare, a British playwright, screenwriter and director. He’s had a long and distinguished career but the work I love the most is the screenplay he wrote for ‘The Reader’, from the novel by Bernhard Schlink. It is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen and I still think about it sometimes. See it.
1. Write only when you have something to say.
2. Never take advice from anyone with no investment in the outcome.
3. Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.
4. If nobody will put your play on, put it on yourself.
5. Jokes are like hands and feet for a painter. They may not be what you want to end up doing but you have to master them in the meanwhile.
6. Theatre primarily belongs to the young.
7. No one has ever achieved consistency as a screenwriter.
8. Never go to a TV personality festival masquerading as a literary festival.
9. Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to.
10. The two most depressing words in the English language are “literary fiction”.