What do you have hidden in your closet?
Pam and I have been writing together as ‘Ellie Campbell’ for so long that sometimes even we forget we ever did things differently. Recently we rediscovered some of the 140 short stories we each had published in those early years and decided – huge shock – we actually found them really entertaining. So much so that we decided to gather some of them up into a collection. Between world travels, multiple changes of first stone age-style word processors, then computers, plus my inability to hold on to copies or the actual magazines, many are probably lost for good, but we managed to come up with twenty funny, romantic, twisty or reflective short tales, soon to be released as Love, Lies And Other Deceptions. It wasn’t easy to pick a cover to reflect so many diverse themes, but our talented designer Andrew Brown came up with the following. And here it is – ta-da, drum roll, please.
For us, part of the fascination was remembering the two people and the mindset that created those stories. As mentioned in an earlier blog I started writing in my twenties, working in London publishing and living the muddled chaotic single life so hilariously described in Bridget Jones Diary. Pam was the mother of three small children when she took the creative writing class that launched her. We both had very different themes and topics, many reflecting our interests and lifestyles at the time. Looking over them was was like stepping into a time machine. Now that we are… cough, cough, cough… quite a few years older, would we – could we even? – write anything similar? Personally, I hardly know that earlier me. I can see she was cynical, moody, sometimes romantically hopeful, sometimes despairing – and inevitably attracted to every possible variety of emotionally-unavailable womanizer, but I don’t think I could totally recreate her world viewpoint from my happily married self. (I also suspect she might have been a wee bit more intelligent than I am now but that’s another story.)
Then again don’t we all have similar experiences when revisiting our early work? Sometimes you look back on things and find it hard to believe you ever wrote that story, painted that picture, or took that photograph. Sometimes it shows how far you’ve moved on. But then not only do you, the artist, change but also the way you feel about it can change with each viewing. We’re all familiar with the awful creative roller coaster – one minute loving the work in progress, the next seeing only the flaws and deciding it might be time to give up writing for good because you’re obviously hopeless. And then coming back again after some blessed time has passed and being amazed to find some merit in there after all. The successful are those who can see through the illusions and persevere anyway but I bet many of us have an unfinished manuscript in our closet somewhere that we discarded in disgust. Perhaps rightfully so, perhaps… well, who knows?
Anyway, Love, Lies and Deceptions will be available on Amazon any day now and we’re super excited. And yes, we intentionally omitted to specify which of the two sisters wrote which story. We thought it would be more fun to leave the readers guessing and maybe to answer that question we’re always asked – does writing together mean you lose your original ‘voice’? We don’t think so but perhaps in the end the stories tell the tale.