John's Jottings

Jottings at 120

Posted on June 1, 2016 at 6:55 AM

Episode 120 is a milepost in John’s Jottings. The first instalment was made public ten years ago. Since then one story has appeared at the start of every month.


It all began some 15 years ago, when I wondered if I had the imagination and stamina to write a monthly column. The best way to find out was to try. Following the maxim ‘Write about what you know’, I decided to base my pieces around a fictitious model railway society, as if written as part of a letter to a friend, telling of conversations and goings-on at that club and others.


Over the next few months, I jotted down a great many incidents, comments, and choice phrases that I had seen or overheard. During the writing of several pilot episodes, a pattern evolved and all stories were re-written to that format. Over the next couple of years, I completed about a dozen episodes. At the same time, further ideas were still being added to my notepad.


I showed the initial batch to the webmaster of the Cheshire Railway Modellers (later Connected Railway Modellers, CRM). He offered to publish them monthly on the public area of the site. This increased the pressure to keep observing, listening, noting happenings, and then creating ‘stories’ based on these jottings. When the CRM website closed, the webmaster kindly set up and gave me the present blog site, and established an archive for the episodes previously hosted by CRM.


With this anniversary edition, I think I can claim to have fulfilled my self-imposed challenge. I have certainly enjoyed the writing process. But by using a nom-de-plume, there’s no way I can be sure how many people actually read my offerings, or what they think of them. In conversations at exhibitions, some people have mentioned John’s Jotting, but I can’t openly acknowledge my authorship.


Is it worth continuing? I’ve got a stock of a dozen completed stories all ready to upload. And there are others in draft form, together with pages and pages of ideas that haven’t yet crystallised into narratives.


I would like to acknowledge the inspiration unwittingly given over the years by so many modellers and others at club meetings, exhibitions and elsewhere. If you think you half recognise yourself in some aspect of a recounted incident, then you could just be right. But I may well have heard about you second or third hand, so don’t jump to conclusions about my identity. And if you are sure you know it, please keep it to yourself. I don’t want to compromise a valuable and endlessly fascinating resource for any author of fiction: people who say and do things without realising they are under scrutiny.


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