Tag Archives: blog

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Wow!  This blog is now officially one year old.

I shall launch balloons, eat birthday cake on its behalf and consider how utterly terrifying that thought is.  Time passes much too quickly these days.  I guess now would be a good time to reflect on what progress has been made since those early days…

LIFE LESSONS

 JUST WRITE

It may well be hard to appreciate this if you aren’t me, but it was invaluable for me to get out of a certain way of thinking and working.  I used to be obsessed with perfection and, as a result, was never able to finish anything.  I used to look over a story I’d had in mind for several years, unable to move forward because I’d planned too much and for too long.  Since then, I’ve changed my ways.  I’ve moved on to a fresh new project and write in a relaxed, carefree way, just writing scenes to have a draft of them finished rather than scrapping anything which isn’t solid gold.  This has made writing far more fun – and far more productive.

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It helps to improve your writing style.

THIS IS IT

This is the route I want to take in life.  No matter what I need to do to get by financially, I never want to stop writing and I ultimately want to be published.  Preferably a lot, and preferably in exchange for money.

I AM GOOD AT THIS

I’m not going to sit here and brag, but equally I’m not going to wring my hands and shrug off my abilities as average anymore.  I’m confident now: I know I am good at this.  Popular opinion, some of it professional, has confirmed that I have talent.  I know I have the potential to make this work and if I keep my ears and eyes open for opportunities, as well as keep my mind open to criticism, I will be published.  It’s just a matter of time, patience and commitment.

WHERE AM I NOW?

My novel is 20,000 words of first draft, which I started in December.  Most of those words actually constitute the bare bones of scenes, which won’t be too hard to fill out, and I’ve worked out most of the plot points.

I have several completed short stories, one of which won a little competition, and two other novels on the backburner.  And I’m writing for a magazine, building my article portfolio, and therefore hopefully about to have my name in print one way or another.

Basically, compared with where I was in my ambitions a year ago, an administrator without a single completed piece to her name, I’ve actually made quite a bit of progress.

SO WHAT NOW?

Looking back, the past year has involved an awful lot of stopping and starting – my switch to a different novel, for a start off.  As such, even though I’m proud of my progress, I need to pick up the pace this year.

GOALS THIS YEAR

I’d like to start entering some short story competitions, especially ones which provide feedback on entries.

Secondly, I’d like to set up a new blog with an emphasis on entertainment.  I’d like to start showcasing some of my work on the web.Third, I want to get published, both in fiction and non-fiction if possible.

Finally, I still want to finish my novel by the end of this year and start sending it off to publishers.

It’s a long slug to get where I’d like to be, but I’m up for the challenge.  Watch this space.

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Final Project: Check. Bunch of New Stuff: Your Time is Nigh.

Seven thousand words refined for my final piece.  Seven thousand words.

Seven thousand.

Okay, I’m over it.  So, yeah, my final piece challenge has ended in the formal sense and I got to perform some of my work in the last session of class.  Not enough time to read all that much of it, but reading aloud is most definitely getting easier.  Give me some animated dialogue and I’m well away performing a one-man pantomime.

Now, that’s it: last lesson over until the new year!  Still, my time reading it aloud may be up but one thing’s for sure: I’ll be continuing this piece every chance I get.  It flows so well and I think it’s got some serious potential for publication.  I know everyone says that but, really, it does!

It’s kind of sad the class is over, but in another way I’m a bit relieved.  I have plenty of other stuff going on which needs my attention right now.

For a start, I have a Christmas competition with the writing group on top of my standard five pieces of work.  It has to be something to do with carol singers so I’ll have to pull my finger out if I want to avoid it being cheesy.  Let’s face it: in the writing world, lactose intolerance is a good thing.

Plus I’ve been asked to prepare a short article on a specific topic.  It’s part of an application process for an internship with a new magazine based locally to me.  I hear I’m one of the remaining three candidates and I’m heading to an interview with them in two weeks’ time.  Got to get my research skills on, as well as a haircut.

Nervous!  (For the interview, not the haircut.)  Wish me luck!


The Mouse Speaks. At the… Mouse Conference

Alarming news, folks!  I am back in education.  Well, evening classes anyway.  That’s right, a creative writing class – as well as a monthly meet with a completely different posse.

(I apologise for, ‘posse.’)

Anyway, this has led me to practise an activity no good capitalist enjoys: sharing.

Yes, sharing.  I have to say, the idea of speaking aloud in front of a bunch of strangers is not something which has ever appealed to me.  I still get the residual palm-sweats from my schooldays, being roped into talking at a bunch of people who didn’t care what I had to say.  Plus I get the residual heartquakes from university presentations – where people did care what I had to say and would readily point out if I was wrong.

It’s also the nature of my personality to remember every unfortunate encounter with the demon of personal self-expression I have ever had.  Every screw-up and poorly fielded Q&A bounces back to me as vividly as the birth of my firstborn.

Okay, an exaggeration: I’m not that bad.  And a fabrication: I have yet to grace this planet with my spawn.

However, it is in my nature to hate expressing my feelings – at all – let alone my creativity.  I don’t even like spouting facts, let alone the dingy recesses of my part-of-the-job-description shadowy writer’s mind.  (I’m sure there is a minimum score one must achieve on a psychosis test to get into a writers’ guild.)

However, all that said, it’s actually turned out to be very rewarding!  After a few weeks I am finally beginning to improve my confidence – in my public speaking and my actual work.  Every time your comedy succeeds in making people laugh, or you manage to get a message across subtly without beating everyone over the head with it, it’s a damn good experience.

I’ve also had a chance to build my portfolio far more effectually than I was managing alone.  You see, these two groups both produce a lot of homework.  Class produces one piece per week; the meet produces five optional pieces per month.  Which, obviously, is pretty much another piece per week.  Working to short deadlines is really pushing me to complete work without dithering too much on the details, whilst still polishing it enough to feel comfortable reading it aloud.  It’s a balance I’ve struggled to establish under my own steam and I’m grateful for it.

Also, the groups help you to find inspiration in places which wouldn’t have occurred to you.  My teacher had one exercise, for example, where you pick a coin from your wallet and write something that happened to you during the year it is dated.  I had never thought of money like that before.  Makes me love it even more.

The groups also help you to gain perspective.  It’s amazing how varied other people’s work is and how differently they write and approach tasks.

It’s not just the writers, either: the two groups do things differently, too.  The class has a specific aim, topic, technique or medium in mind for each homework.  By contrast, the monthly meet involves several short improvisation exercises to get the noodle working.  Then the homework is an entirely different story.  They basically say, “Here are five themes to choose from.  Make them work in a piece of writing.”

Time to conclude.  I guess, what I’m saying is, join a group if you can.  No matter how ill-confident you are or how private you view your writing to be, it’s very important to go out and listen to other people.  It can boost your ego, help you improve and give you tons of new ideas.  Plus it gives you another life experience and lets you tap into other people’s – always a valuable tool.

Final note: the title of this post reminds me of the United Nations meeting between mice in The Rescuers.

Have a good week, guys!