Wednesday, 30 March 2011

You Are The Next Big Thing

You have become obsessed with refreshing your email, so much that you have RSI in your mouse-clicking finger. Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Zero new emails. Click Refresh. Then you remember that you only have one short story submission out in the ether at the moment. You checked on Duotrope Digest’s website and the minimum time of response is thirty days plus and you only sent the story the other night. Have a think. Make mental note to only check emails twenty times in the next hour. Click. Refresh. Zero new emails. Lips are sore. Refreshment is needed. Can’t believe stupid body needs watering. Off to kitchen. Pour out a glass of water from the jug. Run back up the stairs as the Macbook doesn’t like being left alone with the HP laptop because of previous ‘bullying issues.’ Click. Refresh. One new email. Internet slowing. Whack the side of the screen, hoping it will speed things along. A slight hesitation – the email is in your spam box. See the subject line – Next Big Thing. Open immediately. ‘I am writing to you because you are the next big thing. You really are going to be huge.’ Stop reading the email. Take a breath. Give self a tap on the back. You have finally made it. Someone has recognised your talents. You don’t recognise the name of the person who sent it. The name is definitely not on your ‘Literary Agents to stalk and then send 100,000 novel on the human condition’ list in your moleskine. Maybe it’s an Editor bypassing the whole publishing structure. Re-read the sentence ‘You are the next best thing.’ Let out a cheer. The cat stirs. 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore,' you say to the cat. The cat isn't called Toto and you don't even live in the USA. Scroll further down the email that keeps boasting about how grand your will be and how all the hotties will flock to you. Then you stop. Take a step back from the Macbook. They are selling you Viagra.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Newspaper Clippings

A while back (actually quite a while back) I went through a phase of cutting out interesting newspaper headlines/clippings that either inspired me, sounded intriguing or insightful. Most of them were writing focused. I remember having them up on my wall at University. A few helped with story ideas.
I came across them at the weekend while I was unpacking and came across these two.

I like the quote 'The novel did not grow organically. It was force-fed and boosted with steroids.' Editing sometimes feels it like you're giving your novel a steroid boost just to get it to the next level and maybe finally reach that stage where you can say, yes, it's finished. Injecting new descriptions, an extra dose of dialogue, a smaller dose of 'tell the reader everything at the beginning' pill. But you wouldn't want a first draft to be pumped with drugs though - you want it be natural, raw and flow because it will be the foundation.

Sorry about the poor quality photographs - I only have my Blackberry camera to hand.

Monday, 21 March 2011

At Least The Books Are Unpacked

I have been moving hosue and unpacking for the past week. If the Mister didn't have so many car parts and I didn't have so many books then we would have a ship-shape house. At the moment the car parts are balanced in the spare room, my desk is still in its box and the microwave has disappeared. But we're getting there.

I nearly had a breakdown over a flat pack bedside table and swore at every screw for the bookcase. We have three now - yipee. One was already built, another one took me thirty minutes to build and the last one took me over two hours. I have the blisters to prove it. Anyway, I won and now the books are in their new home.

I have found the time in between ironing curtains and break our new hoover to send out a flash fiction piece to an online magazine and also enter a short story in a competition. The redrafting of chapter three is also in progress - slowly but I will get there.

I'm currently reading Toast by Nigel Slater. I have had the book for years but the television adaptation that was on over the Christmas holidays finally inspired me to pluck the book off the shelf. Bilmey, what great descriptions about food - makes me hungry. I can also see why fans of the book were annoyed with the adaptation - the film has left out a lot of detail.

I haven't quite finished the book yet but it has inspired me to finally sit down and write a fodo article I have had in my head for months. Just need to find some time.

Also, don't you think these look good  (click here) - mini books that fit in the pocket. A bit like Polly Pocket but for booklovers.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Women Writers Who Have Inspired Me

International Women's Day was yesterday so this blog post is a little bit late but I have a genuine excuse - I got my keys to my new house yesterday! 

Tuesday was the 100th International Women's day and is a day for people to debate, educate and celebrate women. one hundred years and the world still isn't equal. Things do need to be more balanced because we make up half of the planet. Some people celebrate International Women's day with public holidays, dancing, debating to get their voice heard or educating others about inequality. This post is a celebration of the women writers who have inspired me and my writing. 

Judy Blume - I can't remember my first Blune. My favourite is Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret I just remember the agony of waiting for one of her books to be returned to the school library because someone else was reading the one I hadn't read, yet. I could really relate to the characters and the subject themes. She taught me that writing believable characters is essential to writing. 

Jeanette Winterson - My first Winterson was Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit I think it was during the second year at university and it was on my bookshelf. The previous tenant had left it behind and the title grabbed me. I had heard of Winterson and read some of her articles in the past. Confident writing style, great themes. 

Margaret Atwood - My first Atwood was Cat's Eye  It was recommendation from my A-Level tutor and at the time I had exams to prep for. But as soon as I was out of the exam room, I headed to the library and borrowed the book. Incredible descriptions, incredible characters, incredible writing style, always a range of themes. I think the fact that Atwood doesn't stick to one genre. 

Ali Smith - My first Smith was Hotel World I believe it was half price when I bought a newspaper. I remember that I was at university, in the second year and reading the book in the launderette. I went straight home and wrote a story with the middle at the beginning, the beginning in the middle and the ending dotting through out the narrative. I loved the structure, the voice and the viewpoints - It stamped all over the rules from writing books. Reading Ali Smith taught me that breaking the rules is fun. 

Charlotte Bronte - Originally she had to use a male name to get herself published but she paved the way for other women to become published. My first Bronte was Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) Complex characters, intrigue, early feminism. 

Daphne Du Maurier - Great opening sentence in Rebecca. A first sentence always needs to pull the reader into the story and make the reader want to read more. 

Tricia Sullivan - A woman writing science fiction - yipee. Strong female leads, great writing style. 

Natalie Goldberg - Writing Down the Bones is a one of the best writing books. I always head to this book when I am struggling with my writing. A real comfort blanket.