Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween and the Virtue of Patience

Mince pies have been in the supermarkets for weeks, which must mean it's... nearly Halloween. Not my favourite celebration of the year - all those hooded creatures turning up at the front door wearing masks and demanding money (and I don't mean the bailiffs.)

Discussing Halloween at work, I mentioned that when I were a lass, living 'Oop North, we didn't celebrate it at all, but the day before Bonfire Night was fairly similar. The 4th of November was called Mischievous Night - similar to trick or treating, only ... well without the treating really. No dressing up or anything, just people knocking on doors and running away, throwing eggs and flour around, smearing syrup on door handles (we once fashioned a cake from the mess left outside) making rather obvious ghosty noises outside the window, frightening old people, that sort of thing. You'd (quite rightly) be given an Asbo for it today.

The thing is, NO-ONE knew what I was talking about. Is it a Northern Thing? Has anyone else heard of Mischievous Night? Did I dream it all? And if so, what a peculiar child I must have been.

Anyhoo. The editing's more or less done. My early chapters have been shown to some lovely and trusted writer friends who have offered constructive and helpful advice, and the manuscript's currently sitting there looking at me accusingly, saying "Well? Aren't you going to send me out into the world then? I'm all grown up now, you know."

Well yes, except that every day I think of something else I need to add or take away or improve on or explain better, or change, and I've realised again the importance of not submitting your work too early.

Patience, patience. Soon, my beauty, soon ...


Laila P said...

If I had ever heard of Mischievous Night when I was a kid I'd have DEFINITELY wanted to get in on the act.

This is the first time I've ever heard of it though, so it must be a Northern thing!

Honeysuckle said...

Yep, mischief night. But then, I'm oop north too. By, it's grim.

Karen said...

nic - I was far too goody-goody to get involved, naturally ... :o)

honeysuckly - Yes! Must be a Northern thing then :o) I'm sure it doesn't still happen though?

Sheila Norton said...

Nope - never heard of Mischievous Night, although we did have 'Penny for a Guy' for Bonfire night. My brother & I weren't allowed to do it as my mum & dad considered it 'begging', but we did it anyway one year - stupidly, just round the corner from where we lived, and got caught out and suitably told off! I actually hate Halloween and also hate all the Christmas things being in the shops so early - I do love Christmas, but why can't they wait till December when it's more exciting!
And talking of exciting - woohay, get the manuscript off soon!! Let us know!

Jumbly Girl said...

ooh yes - Mischief Night - best night of the year - lots of smashed eggs eggs, potatoes in car exhausts and knocking on doors and running away and omigod - tying string across the road in an attempt to knock people off their bikes (why weren't we locked up!) Still only goes to prove it was a northern thing tho as I think I grew up just up the road from you - thanks for reminding me though.

Good luck with that manuscript - I'm sure patience is the right path

Colette McCormick said...

It can be grim up North but we know how to have a good time - or at least we used to when we were kids.

DAB said...

Ahhh, "Knock-down,Ginger! those were the days. Knock, Knock, who's there? Tommox

Jen said...

Mischievous Night? Oh, no, there was none of that in Jersey. I'm kind of thinking I might take it up now though. But without the syrup and egg malarkey?

Brilliant that your novel's almost got its first walking shoes now. Bet it thinks it can run. You keep tickling it until it can take no more. Mwah ha ha haaaaa.

Pat Posner said...

I used to love Mischief Night.
Looping rope around all the door knockers in a row of terraced houses so everybody struggled to get the door open was the best.

Well done on the editing


Lorna F said...

My God, it was survival of the fittest up your way, wasn't it?! And yes, we currently have mince pies in the house, because my beloved husband can't resist a deal at the local supermarket, whether it's of the appropriate season or not. Congratulations with editing your MS. I know it's a very tricky business deciding when enough is enough and when it is time to let your baby go. It seems safer just to keep it at home! Good luck with it all, Karen. x

Queenie said...

Judging from your post and the comments, I think it must be a Northern Thing. I grew up Dahn Sarf and I've not heard of it till now. You're so right not to submit too early, but don't develop the opposite problem and carry on polishing and tweaking and hugging your MS for years. There's no such thing as the perfect book.

Jan Jones said...

As a London suburber, never heard of it. Was it followed by Let's Be Really Nice To The Neighbours Day?

Lane Mathias said...

Never heard of it either. I don't know, you 'Ooop Northians':-)

Had never even heard of Halloween either then and am not fond of it now. Grump, grump.

Big congrats on the editing!

Sherri said...

It must just be you naughty Northerners!
Last year we had someone knock on the door, say 'Penny for the Guy' and stick his hand out. He was at least 18 and I asked him where the guy was, as he had nothing with him. The response was 'What's a guy, then?'
Great news about the novel. Well done!

Dumdad said...

I remember Mischievous Night well. I lived in (Headingley) Leeds when I were a lad and the night before Bonfire Night was very exciting: bangers in letterboxes, honey smeared on doorknobs etc.

I loved the whole Guy Fawkes night routine: fireworks, huge bonfires and a guy, loads of food (remember parkin?) eaten in the freezing open air, neighbours coming round to celebrate with you. Wonderful memories....

.....I wrote a blogpost on this subject (sort of) last year:

Karen said...

olivia ryan - Oh yes, you don't see penny for the guy very often these days! Christmas puddings have been in the shops since September round here!!

jumbly girl - Well I'm glad I didn't make the whole thing up - thought perhaps I'd gone mad! Tying string across the road is definitely a recipe for disaster :oO

Being patient is Very Hard!

colette - I must admit you'd never get away with it now - though I do remember my grandparents being scared by it, and turning their lights off so people would think they were out, so maybe it's just as well!

tommo - The stupid thing is we fell for it every time, and would open the door to see who was there. D'oh!!

spiral skies - I do thing the syprup and eggs makes it sound much nicer than it is - but that's me with my cake head on.

The manuscript keeps winking at me. I might have to lock it away for another week.

pat p - I'm shocked to the core!! Actually that's rather impressive - my friends were too lazy to be that inventive :o)

lorna f - Well my husband buys Christmas puddings as soon as they come out, because he loves the taste and can't resist them. It's not right smelling them in the house at this time of year!

I think I'm almost at the point of finishing with the ms now and getting it out there :o)

queenie - That's very good advice. I worry that as soon as it plops in the postbox I'll think of something crucial that needs changing and it'll be too late, but I will take the plunge very soon :oO

jan jones - It was more like, let's hide from the neighbours day!! I've asked my mum actually, and she thinks it doesn't happen any more, not on the street where she lives anyway :o)

lane - I know, what are we like??

I'm not keen on Halloween either, even when the children were little, and even now put one of those signs out saying "Bugger off" or words to that effect!

bernadette - That's so funny (though it probably wasn't at the time!) My sons still wanted to go trick or treating round our road last year with their friends, but as they're almost 18 and very tall I thought it would look more like demanding money with menaces, so put my foot down!!

Denise said...

New one on me too. I would have liked to have seen my parents faces with all that going on though. If anyone called at our house for halloween my Dad would open the door and politely say "No thank you," and close the door in their faces! Can't believe our house wasn't pasted with eggs every year.
Well done on the editing. Just remember to let go when you get to the postbox!

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Nope, never heard of Mysterious Night.

Good luck with the editing too.

Anna Scott Graham said...

Oh a mince pie...

I'd say give that manuscript a little more time. At least until Mischievous Night has passed. You never know... :)))

Amanda said...

Oooh, is that why the mince pies are in the shops!?

And nope never heard of Mischievous Night!

Congrats on ALL that editing missy x

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I've ignored all the mince pies in the shops, but have purchased several tins of Roses ready for Christmas (and they're calling out to me already - don't think they'll last until December, somehow).

Never heard of Mischievous Night, but grew up in Wales and hadn't any idea of trick or treating at Halloween either. But we did carol sing on New Year's Day before noon (late for one Christmas or early for the next? Never worked it out.)

Well done on the novel - sounds like it won't be long before you're ready to send it out.


Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Oh yes, the patience thing is so hard, but you're right. It's so horrible when you send an ms off, then reread it and cringe at all the things which need work.

As for Mischievous Night... I'm from York, and we used to call it Mischief Night. And I know exactly what you're talking about! I'm 40 though. I wonder if they still do it?

HelenMWalters said...

Congrats on the editing. I'm sure the time will be right soon.

Karen said...

dumdad - Great post :o) I'd forgotten about being able to walk into a shop and buy fireworks as a child - definitely wouldn't happen today. My dad used to set them off in the garden on Bonfire night, and I clearly remember one shooting backwards and into the house once :oO

denise - One year, before we got mean about Halloween, my husband put on a scary mask so when callers came trick or treating he could give them a fright (and some sweets of course) Trouble is a group of small children with their parents knocked, and they were so shocked they screamed the place down and burst into tears. Ahem. Never again ...

debs - I've never heard of that either!! Sounds fun ;o)

anna - That's a good point - wouldn't want it being smeared with jam!!

amanda - I must admit I don't mind having an excuse to eat mince pies - although I hated them until a few years ago!

suzanne jones - Ooh, Roses! My favourite - I can feel a trip to Tesco's (or any other leading supermarket) coming on!! We were given a family tin by a friend of mine for Christmas last year, and I snuck them in and stashed them in my bedroom and ate them myself. I know, I know ... so sue me.

beleaguered squirrel - Patience is a virtue - I'm trying to hold on to mine for a bit longer :o)

And no, I don't think they have Mischievous night over here any more (even in York!)but apparently it's big in Canada and in the USA is called Devil's night :oO

helen - Thanks :o) I think I might need someone to prise it off me and pop it in the post!!

Jean said...

Mischief Night, oh yes, that was what we kids got up to in Bradford. Before knocking on a door and running away, we once tied a long piece of string to a letterbox and the other end to the house across the street. The idea was that each time someone opened and closed one door, the string would tap on the other house door, with neither people noticing the string in the dark. Did it work? All I remember next is getting my legs tangled up in an unravelling ball of string while being chased down the street by an irate housewife.

Susie Vereker said...

Go on, send it out!

Karen said...

jean - That sounds hilarious - and quite complex. Not mention rather dangerous! Ah, the good old days :o)

susie - I will, I will :o))