the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

The Worm: why use THAT title?

This is the second of three posts sharing information about the title of my novel The String Games and includes information about the three different parts contained within. If you missed the earlier post, you can read it here.

The middle part of The String Games shows the protagonist, Nim, as an only child. She mistakenly shoulders a sense of guilt over the death of her younger brother, Josh, and this makes her vulnerable to manipulation by those she thinks of as friends. Thus, use of the string figure ‘the worm’ came to represent the second part of the novel (which deals with the teenage years). The worm is symbolic of the peer pressure Nim experiences which gnaws away at her sense of self.


This illustration of The Worm by Fiona Zechmeister appears in part two of The String Games

According to Anne Akers Johnson’s String Games from Around the World (1995), this figure is known in Germany as a train and elsewhere as a mouse, but in the fishing villages of Ghana it is called the worm. The figure is created by one player who loops string around the fingers of one hand. When the loose string is pulled the worm disappears. The idea of a worm gobbled as bait used in fishing represents aspects of Nim’s teenage years. It signifies Nim’s recognition that she was manipulated by her friends and order to maintain a sense of self, she changes her name to Imogen which facilitates a move into adulthood.

I’m delighted The String Games is now available for pre-order from Waterstones and Foyles. Why not do as bestselling author, Jacquelyn Mitchard suggests? Treat yourself and read this one. 

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#FridayFlash: Effort

Anna opens the kitchen blinds and expects to see the bamboo bushes flapping in the wind. Instead she puzzles at the puce concoction splattered against the Georgian bars. Putting on her coat, a birthday gift from Simon, she ties the belt and goes outside. There are pink drips marking the wall, fallen from her son’s window and an empty bottle of gin, landed on the lawn.

Only the previous evening, while Patrick played pool in his bedroom, Simon and Anna discussed his future.

‘We’ve just got to keep him focussed for the next six months. Get his GCSEs out of the way. Set him on the path to university,’ said Simon.

‘Of course.’ Anna squirmed, knowing that Simon hadn’t read Patrick’s school report before she’d squirreled it away. Heat flushed her cheeks as she remembered the comments about Patrick falling asleep in physics and playing the class joker in mathematics. ‘So long as he does enough revision, he’ll be fine.’

‘That’s my boy,’ said Simon. ‘Invest the effort when it’s most required.’

With her knuckles poised to rap on Patrick’s door, Anna hesitates. Making a scene will alert Simon to their son’s habit of taking bottles from the drinks cabinet. And vomit dribbled down the pebbledash isn’t going to score Patrick any points with his father. Anna considers an alternative and collects a brush and bucket from the utility to begin cleaning up. Effort when it’s most required, she remembers.

If you’d like another story about teenage trials, please read Hoping on the 1000 words website, 6 May 2012.

I’ve also heard from Ether Books that they’ve accepted my piece of flash fiction titled, Beginners’ Guide. You can get a free download of the story from the Ether app. See the Ether author portraits here and find out more about the stories here.

Now, all I have to do is get to grips with the technology.