I have a problem. It’s one I’ve faced before and I’m sure I’ll face it again. But I’ve never experienced it in such a debilitating way before. It may not seem like a problem to you, dear reader, but for me it is a cause of great concern.
I am feeling good. I have nearly – and by nearly I mean there are less than 10,000 words left – nearly finished the first draft of my first full length novel. It is a project I have been working on since January and I love it very much but boy will I be relieved when I can print out the whole darn thing. Yes, I then have the very long and painful processing of rewriting and editing but that seems like a real breeze compared to getting the words out in the first place. So what am I doing? Not writing, no. Planning my next few projects.
More specifically, about train drivers. I work on a heritage steam railway in Cumbria and have buckets of fun every day, mainly because it’s a beautiful place and the people are lovely. Bank holiday weekend was particularly enjoyable thanks to a doube-header train each day. For those of you not up to scratch on your train lingo, that’s a train pulled by two engines. Like this:
So it’s been three months since I moved up north (blimey doesn’t time fly) and today, finally, the big day has arrived. The day I have waited for since seeing the house and realising it would be my home for the foreseeable future.
My office has furniture in!
I am literally afraid of my own words. For eight months now I have been writing a novel which I already love, which I believe in and which, every time I explain the premise, is met with expressions of ‘cool’ and ‘that sounds awesome’. I have already written over 40,000 words of said book. But now I am afraid.
University already feels like a distant memory but it was less than two months ago that I handed in my final piece of coursework. Since then I feel like a thousand things have happened to me and compared to the three manic years of studying I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. And I think I’ve figured out why.
If you’re a follower of this blog (you lovely thing, you) you may notice there are a few changes to the blog. You like them?
I fancied a change, something that said ‘I am a graduate now, and a serious writer and blogger’. So I thought I would revamp the blog a little to reflect this. As you can see it’s very fancy and professional now. Isn’t it? Do you think it’s fancy and professional?
Anyway, just thought I would mention this. It’s the same wonderful prose (if I may say so myself) just in a shiny new packaging. Have a look around and see what you think.
All writers have a style they prefer to write in. In particular I am talking about voice and point of view. Many times it is unconscious. For me it has been for a very long time. I almost always write in third person from the point of a view of a heterosexual female around 18-25 years old. That’s not me being homophobic or ageist (is that a word?) but it is simply the point of view I have seen the world from my whole life.
However, sometimes that isn’t the right voice for your narrator. Sometimes you need to be in their heads, see through their eyes and feel everything as they feel it. It can be difficult because you’re not used to but, but at the same time it can be a whole lot easier.
I only recently discovered this. I am a huge fan of the Ideas Tap website (if you’re a creative and you’re not on there then I suggest you go and sign up now). It is a fantastic site with resources, competitions and job listings for all the creative industries. In particular every three months they have the Editor’s Brief competition. You get one word to work from and can produce anything – photography, fiction, poetry, audio/video. The only rule is it must relate to the theme.
This time it was one of those wonderful moments where the idea came to me in a flash, fully formed and ready to go. So I went. Short story, third person, two females characters. Didn’t work. Fine, switch to stage play – two female characters, one room, simple set. Still didn’t work. But I loved my idea and I knew it would work.
Then last night I thought ‘if the idea is good and the characters are good, there must be something wrong with the form’. So I changed everything around. I wrote from the first person point of view for the first time in a very long time. And, lo and behold, it worked. It worked perfectly. I had her voice in my head. It was like my protagonist was telling me the story, like she was sat in the room with me and I was merely putting her words to paper. Which is how it’s supposed to be.
It just hadn’t occurred to me that sometimes the story demands something you wouldn’t normally do. I’m glad I had so much time to work on this piece otherwise I think it would have ended up at the bottom of my rubbish bin. I have learnt, in a long winded and pretty hard way, that your characters know what they want. You just have to listen to them.
Continuing on with my self-indulgent week I’ve decided to share a short story/excerpt that I was once very self-conscious of. I submitted it to one magazine whose editor asked for change after change after change. By the time I had done what he had asked the story was not the one I had originally submitted, and he decided he didn’t actually like it. The joys of trying to sell your work! That was the moment I decided I would fix things for editors, but massive changes like the ones he asked for were out of the question.
What I like about this piece (and what he didn’t) is the ambiguity, though I’m not sure that’s there any more. He wanted back story, purpose. I like subtext, imagination. Anyway, it’s here for you to decide for yourself. Feedback for this piece would be really appreciated.
Wow. It’s been a hectic week. There have been shows to tech, deadlines to meet, essays to plan and Easter to arrange (escape to the North – hurrah). Therefore I come to Sunday and I have ideas for posts but no actual energy or inspiration to write them. So I shall save them for another week and this week instead I shall indulge myself and share some of my creative writing with you. I’ve been tidying and organising my computer recently trying to get everything in the same place and have managed to bring all of my writings together. Some of it I would go so far as to say it is good, other stuff…needs work, shall we say. But I’ve chosen a few pieces to share with you over the next seven days.
The one I’m going to start with is the thing I have been working so hard on for the last three months. Once Upon A Fairy-Tale (working title) is a novel I have been writing for my Creative Writing module at uni. It’s a new genre which I have titled an Anti-Fairy Tale, kind along the lines of Gregory Maguire’s Oz works. The thing to remember with it is every creature you come across is the opposite of what you would expect.