Hanx Writer app review

I love my iPad. I am a self-confessed Apple addict. I have the whole set – iPhone, iPad and MacBook. I love them all, but my iPad has by far been one of the best investments ever. I take it almost everywhere with me, and thanks to its connectivity with the rest of the Apple family, it synchs up beautifully to allow me to work on it and edit from elsewhere.

But it’s less than personal. The word processing program, like all word processing programs, is all white and dull and so many buttons and options. I miss the good old days of pen and ink, when there were no distractions except your own imagination.But I have just discovered the most beautiful of apps.

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Book Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Following on from my recent post about reading for fun, I completed the first book on the list some time ago but am only now getting around to writing about it. So is life! It was Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that was first on the pile and it was not my usual cup of tea.

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Where to start…

Uni has finished. I have moved house. I have started a new job. I am living with the Bearded One. I have lost two wonderful pets. All in about three week.

And it turns out that real life is much harder A.U. – after uni. Before uni (B.U.) it was get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, sit in front of the tv, go to bed, repeat. But now I have dreams and goals and aims for my life and friends I want to spend time with and a new home to explore.

I honestly never thought life would be so hard to juggle. And this is not in any way a complaint. I have loved moving away from Bristol, despite leaving my friends and family behind me. I love the fact I can share this wonderful village and countryside with them when they come and visit me, and the fact that when we see each other we will have so much to catch up on. But I miss living with some of my best friends. Granted, I am living with one of them, but the rest are a long way away when you need a girlie catch up.

One thing that has been easier than anticipated is living with the Bearded One. He is a wonderful housemate. He cooks, he cleans, he makes me write when I need to and we can snuggle up together on the sofa in the evening. After two years of long distance where the best we had was Skype it’s something we are still grateful for every night.

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But fitting everything in – that’s not going so well yet. We have had a mad weekend of socialising during the annual beer festival that takes place a few miles up the valley. It was great to get to know the Bearded One’s pals up here, and one thing I did miss about uni was having guy friends. I grew up with two big brothers so was always used to having lots of guys around. Everyone is so friendly and lovely up here and after a few ales we were getting along like a house on fire.

A note of sadness is the passing of two of my wonderful pets. First of all, the irrepressible Bean (the bunny) left us very suddenly just before I moved up country. His poor little heart was too full of love and he went during the night. I found him the next morning and the amount of affectionate comments I had from the many people who had met him genuinely touched me. He is greatly missed but I know he’s hopping around with some great company up there. He was joined not so long ago by my parents beautiful German Shepherd Belle, a sprightly puppy of 14 who was put to sleep. She was one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever know and I considered her one of mine even though I never lived with her. I know my parents were devastated by her passing but it was the worst kind of situation where it was the best thing for her. A couple of downs in my crazy valley of a month!

As for writing. The blog has been seriously neglected due to lack of an internet connection. That is somewhat fixed thanks to our lovely next door neighbours being more than generous but it does mean I have felt rather cut off from the blogosphere. The novel is still coming along though. My new goal is to have first draft finished in order to start a new project (or rather reincarnate an old one) for the July Camp Nanowrimo. I’m so close to finishing draft one that I almost want to skip the remaining chapters and go right to the end.

Overall though I’m incredibly happy and at peace right now. It’s the right kind of manic for me and I hope it doesn’t slow down – not really. I mean, life is pretty short, and you have to make the most of it while you have it. Right?

On finding the right voice

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.

Flight (a short story)

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.

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This week

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.

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On giving feedback

It’s nearing deadline time at university, and both my housemates and I are frantically writing words, swapping essays and proofreading each other’s work. We are a house that is writing a lot of words – there are six of us, four of which are writing dissertations and four of which have a 5,000 word creative writing project. I’m doing both (glutton for punishment) and am so grateful for the feedback being given to me by my friends. I thought I would share some tips and advice for any of you who do this on a regular basis for friends.

Firstly, check how much feedback they want

My first question is always ‘how harsh am I being?’ Sometimes we send first drafts to each other, in which case it’s more about clarity of argument or continuity issues. Other times it’s a pre-final draft and it’s über red pen time. It’s important to ask this question because there’s nothing more disheartening than getting a page of red pen back on things you already know will be wrong. It takes seconds to ask and will save a lot of fall outs.

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Off to Camp I go

Those who have been following this blog will remember back in November I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and managed to write 30,000 words of a novel in just a month. While this was technically a failure by their standards (you’re supposed to hit 50k) I was pretty chuffed to get that much down in such a short space of time. I haven’t looked at it since, being too occupied with uni work and the novel I’m writing for one of my modules to even think about editing.

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I am, however, desperate to finish both of these novels. I love the story for both of them and have had many people interested in the concept of both of them, saying they would love to read them when they are written. So, despite the dissertation (and the other 12,000 words of other assignments) I have signed myself up to Camp NaNoWriMo. Basically, it’s the same as November, with a few minor changes. Most importantly for me this time, you can choose your own word count. So I can choose an achievable amount of words each day and still be able to focus on my uni work… in theory!

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Finding Inspiration Where You Can

This week is my reading week at university. For most this means focusing on your upcoming assessment, maybe going home for a few days and generally taking a chance to recharge your batteries a little. But not me. Oh no. I decide to tech one show, rehearse for another, do my coursework, write blog posts and continue to write a novel. I did take the week off work though. That’s something.

Thanks to this rather hectic schedule I have been writing wherever and whenever I have had the chance. Some things are more well formed than others, some things are snippets that (I hope) will lead to bigger and greater things. When you’re as busy as I am at the moment you can’t question it when something comes to you. You have to just grab a pen and paper (or napkin, or ipad, or phone) and write it while it’s there. Sometimes it’s golden, some times it’s less so.

One little snippet came to me tonight while I was waiting for the show to begin and before the button pressing went all wrong (teching can be pretty scary when the technology decides not to do what you tell it). This is currently untitled and unfinished, but I hope you enjoy.

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