Monday, 31 August 2009

Fun and Games

A game for you to play while I am away:

Stuck for a title for your novel?
Think it will always be named 'untitled'?
Need a fab title to catch the eye of the editor?

Look no further.

Title Generator
Will create you that perfect title*!

I found this via writing blog, My Writing Life.

*Don't hold me to account if its not perfect!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Holiday Happiness

I’m off to Edinburgh today. No train or plane for us (too expensive!), no we are going to do the 6 and half hour journey in the car. We should be fine as we have a new Sat Nav (or as a farmer called it on a recent TV programme, ‘Stats Naff’). One straight line on the A1. Now I don’t have to bother being the map reader, I can watch the clouds. I wonder if I could write. I know reading makes me feel sick.

For one lovely week we will be staying in this lovely cottage – taking it easy and relaxing. Our last holiday was spent painting and moving home.

We have a few activities planned: heading to talks by Douglas Coupland and Margaret Atwood at the Edinburgh Book Festival on the Sunday, mystery restaurant for Boyfriend’s birthday (it’s a mystery as I haven’t decided where to take him) and also a guided tour through the old, underground city.

I am taking the McBook too (see even my laptop is getting into the swing of things). I am hoping to do lots of writing but as long as my daily counts are done, I will be happy.

There will be updates if I can find some WiFi but if not there will be one massive post in a week's time and I have also done a scheduled post too.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

I have written something practically every day this past week and even the first hundred words of a short story, which is good as i have been sloppy on writing shorter pieces recently. I am thinking about dedicating one day each week to short story writing as I have quite a few ideas at the moment. It could mean one less day for the novel, unless I make it a weekend day and write both.

Unsure, yet.

Over all Word count - 38,037

I am meant to be packing at this moment for Edinburgh but it can wait until Friday, can't it? Holiday reading, hmmm, at the moment it will be to finish 'The Stone Gods.' I am also going to take 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy and 'Slaughterhouse 5' by Kurt Vonnegut. I'm still in half minds about taking a 'how to write/characters/novel' sort of book. I seem to be avoiding them since writing this bigger piece. Maybe I am worried that my writing is all wrong?

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Curious Case of Re-Reading

I am currently rereading 'The Stone Gods' by Jeanette Winterson as a treat after the disappointment of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' (very tiresome after a while, and overhyped). As soon as I read 'The Stone Gods' last year (or was it the year before), I knew I would find myself rereading this great book at some point. It reminds me of 'Brave New World' with a future concerned about Pleasure. I also like the way Winterson's sentences tickle the tongue.

I used to be against rereading - why would people want to revisit a book when there are so many?

But now I am for rereading. You can go back and delve deeper into the text, you can find more layers, get more enjoyment, even understand the story more. I find it useful as a writer to look at their techniques. rereading, to me, is about slowing down and taking the time to consider each word.

Over at the Guardian website, there is an article entitled 'Why re-reading is a crime.' The author believes rereading is for people who are narrow minded, dim, makes other people feel insecure. My initial reaction was a very loud TUT. followed by a shake of the head.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Happy Birthday

I have been writing this blog for a year!
Cakes are on the table and party games start in five minutes. Please can you leave presents in the living room before coming through for the puppet show.

To celebrate this occasion - this is a scheduled post - Back to the Future style. Lets hope you're reading this on the 23rd August rather than 13th!

Last August, I thought this blog would last for a few months at the most (like my EBay blog) but I carried on, being inspired by other writers and needing a place to write about my writing to get the whirlwind of ideas out my head.
This time last year I was still trying to write my second attempt at a novel (MA project) but it was going nowhere and made me want to stop writing. How these things change in a year. Several pieces published and over 35000 words into a novel that I like writing and thinking about.

And I thought this blogging business was all a phase....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

It has been another week focusing on the novel and neglecting my short stories. I have several short story ideas but they still need some developing with regards to plot and characters.

Overall word count: 36,272.

I also joined Good Reads today. It is a site for people to record the books they are reading, the ones they have read and to-read books. I guess its an online book club or social networking for book lovers.

i am here.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Writer's Voice

Many people go on writing courses to find their writing ‘voice.’ They think the tutor will hand it out in a small, transparent bag and tell you to take the ‘voice’ pill every day and then you will be gifted with your voice. Find your voice in three years and get a degree. People have this opinion as the media gives you the impression (when slagging of said courses) that these tutors will give you your voice in exchange for your tuition fees.

My four years at university have taught me that you are the one in charge in find your voice. I have also learnt that your ‘voice’ develops and changes as you become more aware of the world and what you want your stories to say.

My Google search for ‘writers’ voice’ came back with articles pointing you in the direction of courses or books. But at the end of the day, you are the only one who can give you your ‘voice.’

Don’t be afraid to be individual. I tried many styles and mimicked other writers before finding my confidence. At university I was worried that people would start analysing your words (having done it myself for A Level English) and break me down. I felt that my stories needed to about big ideas, big occasions to reach those high marks. But then I realised, I needed to be myself. If I wanted to write about king-sized bubble wrap and office gossip, then I should because primarily, the stories were for me. Public consumption was second.

My motto – Be ME and write. Relax with your writing, Feel at ease to write about what you care about.

This has been on my mind recently as I seem to have two styles – one for short fiction (urgent, short, short sentences) and one for longer fiction (descriptions, a sustained voice that could hold someone’s attention over 90,000 words).

I think finding your writer’s voice is something that grows as you write more – like a tree.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Who Would Win in a Fight, Orwell or Huxley?

The below link is a cartoon showing Orwell versus Huxley and the ideas they were trying to say in their books, 1984 and Brave New World. I have printed this off and hung it from my pin board as a reference. I want my novel to say some of these things too. Another thing to add to the ideas list.

Thanks to the person who tweeted this on Twitter - I forgot who it was, sorry.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Another writing success this week - I will have a very short piece appearing in an anthology. More details to follow.

I had some 'writer's doubts' (thanks Teresa for that term) over the weekend - The seventh chapter was in my opinion the worse piece of writing ever (maybe I was being too strong). But I am now back on track with some replanning, scribbling notes in my notebook and thinking.

Overall word count for novel: 34,328

I am even considering changing from third person to first in the redraft - but I need to do some experimentation first with a few passages before I make such a big commitment.

The Writer's and Artists yearbook have relaunched their website and some of their recent blog posts have been really interesting:

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Forgetting the Mistakes and Carry on Writing

I think I have just written the worse chapter. Ever. In the world.
The structure of the plot in chapter 7a is hard. I could have started the story too early. Who cares about the main character's walk to work?
The dialogue is laughable - which is not good - I'm not writing comedy - It reads more like a media-speak manual.
And the character's emotions are all over the place - Yes, real life is like that if you're a woman but not from one sentence to the other.

I might be over thinking the chapter so I am not going to worry until I am editing - by that time I will now where the proceeding chapters are heading.

On with the next chapter.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

3:AM - Receding Shopping Bags

I have a short story up at 3:AM. Receding Shopping Bags was originally sent to Dogmatika but they are winding down and passed my story onto these guys.

I am really excited about having a story here. A lot of new and exciting voices have walked those pages.

Wordcount Wednesday - 100th post

I'm sure its still Wednesday somewhere in the universe.

First, lets get the bad news out of the way - I did not get through to the Writing scheme. Over 80 applied. It could have been anything, not liking the portfolio, not enjoying my statement or I could have been over qualified with my BA and MA. I won't know. But I am not going to stop writing - I need to say that as I know people who have stopped over the first rejection.

Good news - sent off two different stories for two different competitions. Fingers crossed for both. One is the story that I wrote when I was ill and has only had one edit.

Novel word count - 32, 403.

Not too much 'proper' writing this week as I have been restructing the next two chapters - I have moved one chapter two places forward and now have a new sequence of events.

I also have an idea for a new short story. Bits and bobs are written across my notebook, laptop and on work PC from writing in my lunch. Must puzzle them together at some point.

Busy weekend ahead - two wedding receptions to attend and I need a good sleep too - this week has been full of overtime, gym and yawning.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

finding Genre in a Science Fiction Magazine

In this month’s SFX magazine (issue 186) (I don’t normally buy sci-fi magazine but a front cover about Stargate is definitely going to get my attention) they have a great article called ‘Caught in the slipstream’ by Jonathan Wright.

The article looks at the difference between a literary and science fiction. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is a prime example. Niffenegger’s novel has elements of science fiction but she is filed under the ‘fiction’ section in a bookshop.

Even George Orwell’s 1984 has this problem – straddling both genres.

Sterling coined the phrase ‘Slipstream fiction.’ I have also heard it being called speculative fiction.

A good definition from Wikipedia: Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real. Read more here.

My novel in progress would probably be classed in the same manner. A bit of both. I would probably be shouted at by a lot of writers and writing books – because YOU MUST WRITE TO A SPECIFIC GENRE. I’m sorry but we live in an age where genre borders have blurred and where writing should be judged for the quality. When I was a bookseller, I wished for crime, sci-fic and the classics to all be in one ultimate fiction section. I bet customers who would not been seen dead over in the sci-fi corner would have picked up a Neil Gaiman or two.