Archive for the ‘Writing’ category

Good reasons to be a bad blogger

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Any sense of shame I might have had about not blogging frequently has been assuaged in recent weeks by the words of bloggers far wiser and more bloggy than I (see here, here and here). The main impediment is that when I have writing time, I prefer to use it on my cerebrescript. Call me selfish. ūüôā

Sometimes things work out

Monday, 12 April 2010

We went to the shops yesterday. We had a very specific set of items to hunt down and, despite it being the last Sunday of the school holidays, we still went to a very popular major shopping centre, arriving around lunch time. This would normally result in a frustrating and fruitless drive around the car park looking for somewhere to stow the car. Should we be blessed with a parking spot, it would be outdoors and some distance from the entrance.

Not yesterday.

Yesterday, we found a car park instantly and next to the entrance. We found the items we needed in the shop where we expected to find them. It was all too easy. Where was the aggravation, the run-around? Where, I wondered, was the catch? As we stood in the queue waiting to pay, TB joked that we’d be hit by a meteorite on the way home.

Well, I did bang my knee, but that’s all.

Now, the trials of a shopping trip aren’t exactly the hell-on-earth most humans endure on a daily basis, but I’m a city-born softy who gets cranky when an advertised special on a menu is no longer available (‘Take it off the menu if you’ve sold out! Don’t tempt me with it, then tell me it’s all gone! Gargh!’). TB’s promise of astral comeuppance didn’t flatten my good mood; I was just happy to have things go smoothly, to be reminded that it’s not always a disaster or a pain in the arse.

For one, the cerebrescript and I are together again. Like any relationship resumed after a break, it was a bit shaky at first.¬† I had a few days of empty panic, then forced myself to just read until I started liking what I saw. Having weathered the insanely busy time at my day job, I’m now able to make a few long weekends like today. Quality time for me and the c/s. It’s even shaping up to be a permanent arrangement.¬†An opportunity to¬†cut back my day job hours has come my way and, I have to say, it’s very exciting. It wasn’t something I thought would come up so soon, but¬†it has¬†and TB is, as usual, completely supportive. It’s time I’ll be devoting to my writing, precious, much sought-after time that lets me set higher but still realistic goals in words written per week.

It’s fantastic.

So, it’s true that, sometimes, things fall into place and they’re not always meteorites come to destroy civilisation as we know it.

Proust in the prose

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I’m having a Proustian moment. I ordered a cheese sandwich for lunch today – just cheese on white bread, not toasted – knowing it would arrive wrapped in thin paper and delivered in a paper bag. When it came, I smiled, thanked the man behind the counter and turned away, pressing the white paper bag to my face and inhaling the memories of early childhood.

I’m at school, just six or seven years old, and I’m standing in line at the tuckshop. The lady behind the counter gives me a brown paper bag and I hold it close to my face, breathing in the smells of paper, bread and cheese. That smell makes me smile. I’m suddenly hungry and I join my friends on a nearby bench, each of us chattering with full mouths, crumbs drifting down onto our blue uniforms. We sit in the sun because it’s a little too cool to sit in the shade of the big trees. The sunshine is as warm and welcome¬†as a soft blanket on a cold morning, an invigorating change after the darker, colder air of our classroom. I can see the faces of my friends, the Indian Myna birds chasing after our crumbs, the bitumen of the parade ground at our backs and the short, green grass of the schoolyard where we will play when our sandwiches are just a lingering taste of cheese and soft crust in our mouths.

I see my Mum’s handwriting on the paper bag, letting the tuckshop know what to give me for lunch and that a little change should be left over for me to buy a Slippery Sam – a long tube of frozen orange cordial – as a dessert. My Mum has signed her name with big, beautiful loops that I love; I wish I¬†could write that well.¬†I hear the jingle of the left-over coins in the bag and decide I will get my cold, sweet treat; the sun is just warm enough to make it perfect.

I haven’t a care in the world except how to keep orange cordial from spilling down the front of my school uniform.

It’s a nice feeling, remembering that innocent moment; Proust had his cake and tea, but a cheese sandwich wrapped in paper is all it takes for me. The memory is all the more powerful and tangible for having been triggered by smell. It sort of works in reverse too. The first book of Stephen King’s I ever read was The Dead Zone. In the opening chapter, the main character – John Smith – takes a knock to the head playing hockey on a frozen lake. As he’s recovering, he’s sat down next to a fire – two rubber tires burn[ing] sootily – and that smell will be with John for the rest of his life. The smell of melting rubber was strong and pungent, making him feel a little sick to his stomach. For some reason, that description reached out and dragged me into the book and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m a sucker for descriptions of smells, odours, scents, perfumes, fragrances, reeks and stinks; they’re just so incredibly evocative,¬†genuinely bringing a scene to life. It’s something I try to remember when I’m writing, to think beyond the visual¬†and¬†find something more, something visceral.

Something smelly.

WYAOD: Report

Sunday, 7 February 2010

I had promised that yesterday, Saturday 6th Feb 2010, would be the day I dedicated 8 hours to my writing as part of Moonrat’s ‘Write Your @ss Off Day’ challenge. Buoyed by a new comfy chair and an array of normally forbidden snack foods (like Tim Tams and chippies), I set to and had a very productive day, editing through twenty-one scenes (or about 24,000 words, of which at least 2,000 were written yesterday but countered by the 1,600 word scene I deleted as ‘no-longer-required’), but I didn’t make it to 8 hours. After about 6 hours of solid work (with a 1 hour lunch break) my back said ‘Enough!’ to the whole sitting at a computer thing and, while my tummy was full, my brain was empty. I went off and read some inspirational source material for a while (history of kung fu), then was forced to provide some hugs to kitties that felt I’d short-changed them by shutting myself away for most of the day. A thunderstorm rolled in shortly after that, so the primary writing ‘puter had to be shut down for safety reasons.

Still, I do feel I achieved a lot more than I normally do on a weekend, especially as I’ve given myself more time today as well to complete the 8 hour stretch. I’m definitely past the halfway point in the revision of¬†Fall of Bitter Rain¬†and with some momentum now to push toward the finish. There’s an unopened packet of biscuits in the kitchen that have already been designated as ‘motivational snackage’ for another WYAO event next weekend.

Many thanks to Moonrat and all the other writers around the world for providing much-needed inspiration. Cheers all!

Beneath every dedicated writer is a comfy chair

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

OK, that’s probably not true. It certainly wasn’t true for me until Sunday when TB bought me a new chair. It’s comfy. It tilts. I feel like Captain Jean-Luc Picard when I sit in it.

Did I just ‘say’ that out loud?

Point is, the new chair is an important part of the preparation for this Saturday’s mission as part of ‘Write Your @ss Off Day’. Write a book? I will ‘make it so’.

A Day to Celebrate Writing

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Over at Editorial Ass, the fabulous Moonrat¬†is calling for writers to join in ‘Write Your @ss Off Day’. It’s not just about word count; some may not write at all. Moonrat describes it as ‘a day (8 hours) devoted to your writing – that can constitute¬†a number of activities, but should be about celebrating your creation’.

Players get to choose their day of celebration from Friday 5th to Monday 8th of February. I’ve settled on Saturday the 6th and, in spite of Moonrat’s generous interpretation of how writers can mark their day, I will be taking the challenge literally. I’m going to dedicate the day to making a grand effort on my current Work-in-Progress, Fall of Bitter Rain. I will have to make a few preparations in the next week or so, lay in a few motivational snacks and ensure¬†there’s plenty of coffee in store, get a long playlist sorted out on my iPod and make my chair a bit more comfy with extra pillows. I may not finish my revision of FoBR that day, but I hope to make a big dent in the job.

Inner Fan will be so pleased. ūüôā

Don’t doubt self-belief

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Fire, has a beautiful blog over at This Is My Secret. I had intended this post to link to Kristin’s recent post about the things a writer might consider when finding someone to read their early drafts, but instead found her latest post which talks about self-doubt and self-belief. Kristin was asked¬†to explain how she keeps faith in a manuscript even when it seems to be a total mess and her reply is one worth reading. Here’s a snippet.

‘At every moment, writing is an act of self-confidence — the sheerest, most determined, most stubborn self-belief. You CAN have faith and doubt at the same time; the most insecure writer on the planet has faith that shines just as bright as her doubt, and she deserves props for that. It might be hidden deep, she might not feel it and you might not see it, but it’s in there, or she wouldn’t be able to write.’

Reading this set off a light in my head. I’ve said before that I don’t know how to quit writing, that the thought of giving up makes me cry, but I didn’t make the connection¬†Kristin describes; that every time I sit down and write, I’m reaffirming my belief in what I’m doing. I have a loud and carping Inner Critic and often wonder why I can’t get my Inner Fan to be as vocal. Now, I get it. Inner Fan doesn’t get my attention by screaming at me or jumping up and down; Inner Fan just holds out a hand to the chair at my desk, invites me to put fingertips to keyboard, then sits back quietly to watch, hands folded on belly, a contented, possibly smug smile in place.