Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lexa Wright's Dating Sights by Rebeccah Giltrow


How did you start your writing career?

I’ve always been a writer, from making up silly bedtime stories with my dad when I was a child to studying M.A. Creative Writing at university, when I was an adult obviously!  It’s always something I’ve enjoyed, but I hadn’t thought about taking it seriously; it was just a hobby.  I think everyone (or most people) says that they want to write a book, and once I graduated from university I said that I wanted to write a book.  But I didn’t write one.  I ummed and aahed, and wrote some poetry, and some short stories, and avoided the dreaded novel.  It was like the highest mountain in the world that I would never be able to climb.  Then one day in 2012 I just sat down at my computer and started writing.  I pretty much wrote non-stop for 37 days, and at the end I had a wonderful collection of words that, after a few weeks of grueling editing and rewriting, turned into my first novel, Lexa Wright’s Dating Sights.  And now I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

I have parents!  They are the only people I can trust to be completely honest with me about my work.  They have always told me when they’ve liked or disliked something I’ve written, and I value their opinions.  They both read over my work, but Mum checks for plot flaws and continuity errors, and Dad checks grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Together they’re like a super editing team.  I have given bits of my work to members of my writing group, and they have been helpful, to a point.  But my parents will always be the first people I go to when I need proof readers.

What do you think makes a good story?

For me, it’s a sense of reality.  I like to be able to relate to characters and situations.  I tend to read fictional books about “real” people as I know that we will have shared experiences of ideas.  I’ll never be a werewolf or a vampire, so I find it difficult to get into those books.  That’s not to say that I haven’t read fantasy books, and even enjoyed some.  But I find that I veer towards the realistic.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I listen to music when I do most things.  I don’t like silence.  Normally I just put my music on shuffle and hope for the best.  I have a very eclectic taste in music, so the shuffle option means that I won’t get too relaxed into one genre, as it can jump from electro to hip hop to pop to rock to ska to drum & bass to indie to whatever else is hidden in my library.  This keeps me awake and focused on writing.  When I want to feel inspired, I listen to Buck 65, a Canadian hip hop / spoken word artiste, who has a wonderful way with words. 


What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?
Sleeping and procrastinating are at the top of the list.  I’m really good at those.  I also bake, knit, paint, take photos, make collages, swim, do Pilates, go to music festivals and gigs, and watch 80s films.  I also have a 4 year old dog, and she takes up a lot of my time, taking me for walks down the beach.


What would we find under your bed?
Ha!  What would you not find under my bed!  As a child, I was always frightened of the monster under the bed, and I thought this fear would go as I got older.  Then I watched the film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and there’s a scene at the end where one of the characters is sitting on the edge of her bed.  Suddenly someone from under the bed grabs her ankles and drags her under the bed.  (  So to prevent this from ever happening (yes, I have a very active imagination) I have packed everything I possible can under my bed so that no-one can hide there.  I have two suitcases, folders full of college and university work, some old toys, boxes of souvenirs and keepsakes, baby clothes, and anything else that can fit under there to prevent people from fitting under there!


What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

When I was little I wanted to be a ballerina.  I went to dance classes, and was a snowflake in a Christmas performance when I was about 3 or 4 years old.  I pranced around the stage in a white, frilly tutu, gracefully.  I think people would be surprised, as anyone who knows me now knows that I’m extremely ungainly, awkward, and clumsy.  Unfortunately, as I got older and as my feet grew, my second toe on each foot grew too long for me to be able to dance properly wearing pointe shoes (ballet shoes with blocks which enable dancers to dance on their tip-toes), so I had to give up that dream.  My toes did eventually even themselves out, but it was too late to take up dancing again.  Writing is a forgiving career; it doesn’t care how strange your feet are!


What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Knowing that I’ve produced something that will bring joy to someone, somewhere.  I know not everyone will enjoy everything I write, but there has to be a chance (no matter how small) that someone will read one of my books and they’ll love it.  I’ve had positive feedback on my work so far, and it’s a great feeling knowing that they’ve enjoyed it.  Without the readers, writers are pretty much redundant.

Alexana (Lexa) Wright is 30 years old, unemployed, single, and lives in her deceased, paternal grandmother’s bungalow, with her shi-tzu, Beryl.  She is a self-confessed procrastinator and that isn’t a particularly positive trait to possess, especially when she is trying to write her first novel, which she intends to be a semi-fictional account of her own life.
Unhappily single, Lexa hopes to eventually meet the man of her dreams by chance, like people do in films.  Because of this, she has ignored her best friend Louise’s suggestions to join the online dating site, MatesDates.  One day, Lexa turns on her computer to start writing her novel, but procrastination takes over and she spring cleans her e-mail inbox instead.  She opens an e-mail from Louise, inviting her to try the dating site.  Curious, Lexa joins and starts to fill in her profile.
After a bad date, Louise visits Lexa and stays the night.  Unable to sleep, Louise finishes Lexa’s MatesDates profile, unbeknownst to her friend, and sends out messages to men on her behalf.  Lexa chats to one of these men online, Gregory, and arranges to meet him for a date.  With her parents, Karen and Tom, dogsitting Beryl, Lexa meets Gregory at a local pub, with Louise and her colleague, Safa, sitting nearby for moral support.  Cutting the date short to help his sister out of trouble, Gregory arranges another date with Lexa.  The next day, Lexa collects Beryl from her parents’ house and takes her for a walk through the park on the way home.  Beryl runs off, pulling her extending lead to its full length and tangles it around a man’s legs.  Lexa offers to buy the man a coffee as an apology.  The man introduces himself as William and asks her out on a date, and Lexa accepts.
Lexa, not used to dating one man, has no idea what to do with two, but as everything seems casual, she continues to date both of them.  Unable to choose between the two, she carries on seeing them both.  She knows she has to choose one of them, but she can't make her mind up between them.

The clock on the wall in my study isn’t working.  It’s not that it’s broken; it just needs a new battery but I can’t be bothered to change it.  I’ll do it later.  According to this clock it’s nearly ten past eleven.  I watch the motionless hands as I start up my computer.  The familiar dah-dah-dah-dah tune belts out of my speakers.  I sing along.  The screen flickers and wakes up.  A drowsy eye opens to reveal a full screen desktop background of a photo montage of Beryl, my shih-tzu, at various stages throughout her three human year, twenty-one dog year, life.  The real life Beryl pads her way across the carpet and jumps onto the armchair by the window.  She pushes the cushion off with a shove of a paw and makes herself comfortable.  She knows she’s going to be there a while.  She scratches and claws at the material before pulling the hand-knitted throw from the head rest and wrapping it around her freshly coiffured body.  She stretches, yawns and falls asleep.
I turn back to my computer.  I open the document that I started yesterday, imaginatively entitled book.  It is here that I will write my masterpiece.  It’s going to be a semi-fictional account of my life.  I haven’t done many exciting things in my thirty human year, two-hundred-and-ten dog year life, but I’ve always been told to write what I know, and what do I know better than my own life?  A little bit of exaggeration here and there won’t hurt.  I mean, that’s what autobiographies are anyway, right?  I’ll just omit all the school bullying, adult heartbreak, and general death, destruction and decay, and replace it with, well, something nicer.
The page is blank.  The erect, black curser winks at me, flirtatiously.  ‘Come on, write something, make me … dirty,’ it says.  It licks its lips and winks some more.  I pull my hair back into a ponytail, flex my fingers and hover them over the keyboard. 
I can’t write anything until I’ve chosen the font.  The font is very important when writing a book.  It can’t be too silly but it also can’t be too severe.  I scroll down the list, pondering the swirly, ye olde Englishe, Shakespearian-looking font.  It’s so pretty.  I type my name.  I can’t read it.  I enlarge it.  I still can’t read it, and I know what’s written there.  I reluctantly return to the pre-set font that appears whenever you open a document.  I suppose that will do for now.
Page numbers.  A book isn’t a book without page numbers.  I click the tab to insert page numbers.  Like with the fonts, there is so much choice; too much if you ask me.  Do I want the numbers on the left, in the middle or on the right?  Do I want them as digits or as words?  Do I want them at the top or the bottom of the page?  Bold?  Bracketed?  Underlined?  Under dots?  I settle on a clear Page 1 of 1, at the bottom, in the middle of the page. 
I glance at the clock.  It’s still nearly ten past eleven.  Beryl is quietly snoring.  I open facebase and scroll through the list of banal status updates.  Jenny is bored.  Nicola wants a bacon sandwich.  Chris loves Lisa lots and lots and lots and lots and lots.  Bleurgh.  Marie is off to the dentist this afternoon.  Since when have I ever cared about these things?  Social networking for the anti-social.  I scroll down.  Max dont no wot 2 do wiv myself 2day so board.  Why do I stay friends with these people?  Bastian kommer aldrig att få sin avhandling klar.  I should really learn Swedish.  Torsten braucht einen Urlaub.  And German.  I’ll do that later.
  I check my e-mails before I start seriously writing.  I don’t want to be distracted by those later on, when I’m in the zone.  I have one-thousand-one-hundred-and-forty-two unread messages.  It’s not that I’m super popular; it’s that I never read them and I never delete them.  I scroll down the first page of e-mails and quickly scan the subject lines.  It’s your last chance to grab a bargain in various clothes shop sales.  You really should treat yourself to something from your bookshop wishlist; you know you want to.  I do want to but I could spend hours window shopping and I’d never get anything done.  Bank Holiday gig listings in your area.  Hello friend.  I know it’s going to be spam but I click on it anyway.  Considering that I’m a white, English woman, from an ancestral line of white, English people, I apparently have an extremely rich Nigerian relative who has just recently died.  I guess we must be related through marriage.  I am their last living relative and I am set to inherit one million dollars (USD $1,000,000).  That’s right, one million dollars (USD $1,000,000).  My rich Nigerian relative’s lawyer has searched the whole world and has managed to locate me and e-mail me with this tragic but also awesome news.  All I have to do in order to receive the money is send him my name, address, age, date of birth, bank details, shoe size, favourite brand of shampoo and the number of marshmallows I can fit in my mouth at once, and he will transfer the funds into my bank account immediately.  Seems legitimate.  I click the red X in the corner of the e-mail.  It disappears.  One down, one-thousand-one-hundred-and-forty-one to go.


Rebeccah is a writer by trade, with skills of varying degrees in knitting, baking, EFL teaching, performing, photography, dog-walking, sleeping, painting, and procrastinating.

Rebeccah has been a writer since she can remember, but after graduating from University of Essex in 2005 with B.A. (hons) English Language & Literature, and again in 2008 with M.A. Literature: Creative Writing, she decided to take the craft more seriously. Rebeccah honed her writing skills and became an avid follower of the Oulipo.

As well as writing, she regularly performs at the New Words, Fresh Voices open mic night at The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, where she reads her poetry and short stories.

When she's not writing, Rebeccah enjoys producing visual art, and occasionally takes photos, paints pictures, and makes collages. Her work has been shown at The Halesworth Gallery, The Ferini Gallery, and Lowestoft Arts Centre. 
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