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Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Recently I decided to share more positive things on social media, so for today I decided to expand that idea to here.

So here’s a quote from the Dalai Lama, which I particularly like.

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

Isn’t that great? No judgement, no expectation; just an observation that we can have an impact over and above what we expect. ¬†That’s positivity to me: no preaching, just explanation.

Happy writing,

EJ

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I recently had a contact lens appointment, and was offered some new ‘HD’ lenses to try, which left me slightly bemused. ¬†Do I not already see life in high definition? ¬†Well, maybe not – but since then, the idea of clarity has been on my mind.

I write this blog informally; it’s like an e-notebook, where I plonk my thoughts about writing in the hope that one day it’ll all make beautiful sense. ¬†To someone, somewhere… ¬†When I am writing a poem or a story I need to make sure every point is clear – so you are absorbed into that moment. ¬†In basic terms this is part of the show v tell discussion: to talk of a lawn is not always sufficient, nor is an angry face or a burnt cake. ¬†If something is important to the flow of the piece, much more specific language is required to bring the scene to life. ¬†This is where writing poetry, even if it’s not your greatest love, can help a prose writer. ¬†I have used scenes in my prose that I have also written poetry about, and that can make you see the scene in more depth. ¬†Photographers and painters out there will also be able to call on their skills in identifying the photographic/visual elements of a scene.

Alongside that is the journey from beginning to end: the pace, tone, depth of characterisation/description. ¬†Sometimes so many ideas pop into my head that I lose track of the story I am trying to tell – and although I may go with the flow for a while to see where I end up, inevitably I know when a section is just words and filler, rather than plot development. ¬†I have to cut sections at each read-through I do, and I have to be ruthless about it: even though I’ve now got someone else reading it through, I am still thinking of the sections I know are not working as I would like, and thinking about how they can be improved or if they are necessary at all…

Of course, for any piece you want to feel a physical reaction – tears, laughter, smiles, grimaces; a sense of peace, or stillness. ¬†If I had to describe how a good book makes me feel – I’d say it’s like curling up in comfy clothes, sitting on a windowseat with loads of cushions, and peering out into the world that’s unfolding. ¬†With a good book, I’m a character.

So, clarity.  Show me what you want me to see,  in the highest definition you can muster.

The second thing I want to talk about is my plan for the month ahead.  Following much scribbling of notes, I have decided to focus on the following work:

1. Complete Codename Wedding Belles – a poem I am writing for my cousin and her partner, to be read when they tie the knot in January. ¬†The content will remain a closely guarded secret as they don’t want to hear the piece before the day (they are very brave) so all I will be able to share is the progress. ¬†And possibly a title, if it doesn’t give too much away!

2. ‘NaNoWriMo’ plan – I don’t intend to try to complete a new story but this year I want to use November to work on the draft of my second novel, which you may remember took a back seat last year when I decided to focus on the family tree one. During October I will draft up a plan of action for this so I don’t lose sight of where the work is going; I’ll base it on a minimum of 25,000 additional words completed during November

3. ‘NaNoWriMo’ review – I will pull out and dust off (so to speak) last year’s piece and try to plan to the end of the story in line with my vision. I suspect completing it will take longer than a month but my aim is to progress by around 30-40,000 words. We shall see…

4. Poetry – I will revisit my space poems and draft up a couple more, plus choose five poems to share on Smashwords in a little e-pamphlet which I will then sell for some less-than-princely sum!

5. Short Stories – I will completely edit and send off 4 short stories.

6. Learning something new – I want to have something outside writing to enjoy, so will dig out my learn Chinese kit and have a go at starting that. Even if I can say ‘hello my name is EJ’ at the end of the month, I’ll be happy!

7. Torch Tale – the story surrounding the route of the Olympic flame will be completed in draft format: there will be six separate stories linked by their proximity to the flame – possibly more, as based on locations I know and people I’ve spoken to I could do around twenty at the moment!

8. Blog – I will write every day – my normal 2 posts will follow the usual format (with a quick line of update on progress) and the extra posts will say what I’ve got through that day. Hopefully this will spur me on…

This seems a lot, when I look at it on screen – and if things happen during the month to change my plans I’ll let you know but I really want to push myself and see how far I can get. ¬†I am, as I’m sure you’ve realised, a great procrastinator and work much better with a list of targets than with too much freedom!

I hope some of you out there are inspired to take on some challenges or complete projects on your list this month – let me know if you decide on a project, and how you’re getting on, I do love to get comments and chat with people about life, the universe and everything :-).

Until tomorrow then – happy writing,

EJ

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Because I am still spending most of my time on the novel, this week’s post is really just a few links and ideas as to places to go for inspiration…

I’ll start with a sporting theme – the Paralympics. ¬†As you know from my previous posts, the Olympic spirit has really lifted me this summer, and I am hoping that this buzz continues through the Paralympics too – I am lucky enough to have tickets to an event so am really looking forward to that! ¬†I love the advert for this (which hopefully you can watch here even if not in the UK) – and every time it comes on I dance a little…

If you get a chance, find out about the journey some of these athletes have been through – they really are inspirational, in the truest sense of the word. ¬†There’s a link to Team GB here, as a starting point.

The second is a writing theme, as there had to be one! ¬†In particular, I wanted to point out Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise‘ (you can check out other poems on poemhunter too). ¬†This is a poem I am drawn back to time and time again: every time I read it I feel the power of it. ¬†It makes me feel like I can do anything – and surely that’s what inspiration is all about!

Again, if you don’t know much about Maya Angelou, a quick internet search will tell you about her life, which will give you some context for the poem – but I hope the power of the poem reaches you regardless!

The third is the British Museum РI used this site a lot when I was studying Prehistoric Rituals and when I studied Old English (random mix but excellent courses!), and I fell in love with seeing the artefacts.  Sometimes in a museum you skirt past a display for all sorts of reasons Рtime, crowds, lethargy! Рbut this allows you to really look at a piece.

This is also great if you don’t know what to write about – just pick an image and see where it takes you – freewrite, or make notes, or whatever works for you!

The fourth, and one of the sites I go back to time after time, is HubbleSite. ¬†I love space, have written poems about space, and secretly want Star Trek to be real… ¬†Ok, maybe not the last, but I find the gallery of images here awe-inspiring.

There’s something for everyone here I hope – look at the gallery and see what you think!

I’ll add more in the future but this is a good start! ¬†Sorry this post is a bit short but if I want to get back on track and finish this read-through by the end of tomorrow, I have to get on with it!

Please feel free to post links to any sites you find inspirational, hopefully between us all we’ll find a way to beat any creative block…

Happy writing,

EJ

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This week’s inspiration is courtesy of other bloggers! ¬†Recently Mandy Eve Barnett nominated me for an Inspiring Blog Award, just after The Living Notebook nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. ¬†As I’m sure you can image, I was very pleased by these. ¬†I’m still fascinated by the general sense of warmth and support on these blogs, and this is another example of how people come together in a really positive way! ¬†One of the things I love about the blogs I follow is that, whether I agree with a viewpoint, or have the same religious, political or social beliefs as the writer, there’s always something I ¬†can take away – a passion for something, a desire to make things better, a willingness to share even the most painful experiences. ¬†Or for those of a more artistic nature – a beautiful image, or wonderful colours, or a moving poem that brings out an emotional response.

As always, there are rules to these awards… ¬†For each, I have to a) thank the person who nominated me (as above!) and b) share seven facts about myself (as a little cheat I’m doing 7 in total as this post will already be really long!). ¬†I also have to nominate others – for the ‘Inspiring Blog Award’ I have to nominate 15 blogs, and for the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ I have to nominate 7. ¬†Wow, that’s a lot of nominations, it’s taken a few days to get these lists together!

 

So Рthanks guys for the nominations!  Here are my facts to share:

1. I love the seaside when clouds form over the water but not on land – it makes me feel the power and uncontrolled beauty of nature.

2. My favourite flowers are any red flowers in cobalt blue pots Рthey make me think of a Mediterranean summer.

3. I find smells very important and evocative – I should exploit this more for writing!

4. I recently discovered the¬†TV¬†show ‘The Big Bang Theory’, and it has inspired me to learn the element in the Periodic table – Einsteinium, anyone?!

5. I have a lot of reference books, about all sorts of subjects, and especially like ones old second or third hand ones – they are sometimes factually out of date, with new research having overtaken the old, but I don’t mind that because I love the texture of the paper and the dated language. ¬†It helps me lose myself in the pages.

6. A woodpecker likes to visit my garden, I watch him find food in an old wooden post that is used to hang bird feeders from – it seems right for him to eat at the same table as the others!

7. I used to make beaded jewellery and have boxes full of it – I eventually plan to deconstruct a lot of it and make more useful things!…

So there you go: a few facts as required.  I have tried to keep in the inspiration mode and maybe something there will spark your own imagination Рas I was writing a story idea occurred to me so it can work!

So now onto my 22 – yes, 22 –¬†blog nominees… ¬†Deciding which award went with which site was oddly difficult but I hope you can see why I’ve done it the way I have! ¬†I have to put my hand up here and say I look at other blogs in a very ad hoc way, sometimes looking at a page three or four times in a week, sometimes not looking for weeks. ¬†These awards have given me permission to spend some time looking around and generally being nosy, which has been lovely! ¬†I’ve also discovered a couple of new ones so that’s been fab!

For the ‘Inspiring Blog Award’ I have nominated 15 sites which give me specific inspiration. ¬†Most of these are not writing-related:

Urban Wall Art & Murals

This World Thru My Eyes

Julia Christine Glass

Dianne Grey

Conor Cullen

Water is the Spice

Lee  A Jackson

Emma’s Fabric Studio

Leaf and Twig

PhotoBotos

Leanne Cole Photography

Texana’s Kitchen

The Martha in Me

Kitty Kats Krafts

Zebrabajz

For the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ –¬†I have nominated 7 writers who have shared their own work, who make me laugh, ¬†who are willing to share their personal experiences and beliefs in an open and honest way, or who write about something new to me.

A Writer’s Writings

The Forced Mind

Brad Stanton

Thoughts on Theatre

Edilio Ciclostile

Ashley Jillian

Cancer Killing Recipe

So there you have it Р22 other writers are the inspiration this week!  If you want to share your own inspirational blog, website or image, please put a link in the comments (and please put a warning if content is in any way adult or potentially offensive!).

Happy writing

EJ

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I am currently trying to hold onto the positive vibe from the Olympics, and the gorgeous weather that accompanied most of it; from the sparkling sunshine on the water at Eton Dorney to the men’s marathon on the last day, when the streets of London were bathed in light. ¬†I know it wasn’t all like that, but it really did feel that something quite unexpected happened in the UK for those sport-filled days, and the weather behaved about as well as we could possibly have asked considering the summer we’ve had!

So this week I’m sharing a photograph which my partner took (and very kindly let me use for this blog), and cheers me up no end. ¬†I don’t know why but it makes me smile whenever I see it, and makes me want to write about summer days, birds singing and flowers blooming.

So that is my subject for this week. ¬†It’s a bit of a cheat really, as I’ve written a poem about ruins on a summer’s day before as part of my coursework – so the key here is to find a new way of exploring the subject. ¬†With this in mind, I am using it as the setting for a short story. ¬†I haven’t completed the piece yet, as I have been tied up with other work (for submissions!) this week, but hopefully will get it done over this weekend – if I do, I’ll share some in Sunday’s post…

What I can say at this point is that I am hoping to try something completely new and write a tale incorporating magic. ¬†I can’t remember writing any supernaturally-inclined short stories and it may be a bit rubbish, but it’ll be a challenge anyway. ¬†Luckily for me, I’m spending much of the weekend in places with gorgeous views which can only enhance my inspirational pleasure!

Keep your fingers crossed that it works out, otherwise Sunday’s post might be a bit short!

Happy writing,

EJ

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This post is a little late as I spent the last three days helping out at a fundraiser Рit was hard work but it was good fun to spend some time working on a team.  Camaraderie is very good for me!

This has got me thinking about how writing could become a less isolated activity. ¬†I’ve spoken before about how I like to do various creative activities, and some of these do give me a chance to spend time with others, but I’ve never really done it with writing. ¬†When I studied it was as part of a group, but we didn’t have any joint pieces of work, nothing that we could present as an outcome except very short class activities on the rare occasions we met (my creative writing has all been distance learning). ¬†I haven’t even found a writer’s group – on-line or face to face – yet; I am definitely going to have to set up my own!

I cannot imagine collaborating on poetry – to me this is, and will probably always remain, totally personal and about my experiences of the world – but I think to collaborate on a fiction story would be quite liberating. ¬†Scriptwriters do it, so it’s clearly possible, but what is it like to collaborate?

Well, I can only pass on the words of others here. ¬†I found this interview with Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and from about 5 minutes in until about 11 minutes in there’s a fair discussion of how they have collaborated and how ideas get subsumed and allocated. ¬†I think from this it’s clear that you cannot be too precious about what idea came from where…

It also seems there are some vital elements – trust, friendship, belief in the other’s ability. ¬†Interestingly, this interview suggests that writing remains a solitary activity, and it is the planning and the revising of the work that requires interaction. ¬†That would be ok; I can happily lose myself in writing but ¬†I strongly feel the revision/editing process would benefit from some diversions!

In other news – the second full review of the novel continues, and although I haven’t got as far as I’d like it is quite steady. ¬†I want to get the first few chapters edited first, as they remain largely unchanged; the first new chapter will be after chapter three or four (it covers the same time period as the current chapter four so I will place it where I think it flows better from one viewpoint to the next) – at the moment I favour it being after chapter 4 but I remain flexible until it’s completely drafted. ¬†In reading through and making changes I am generally approaching the story in chronological order, but I have cut a large chunk from a later chapter already. ¬†I kept thinking it seemed to add little to the story, so it’s gone: if I doubt its relevance so will a reader!

Also – the Olympics are still a distraction a week in: what amazing feats some people are capable of achieving. ¬†For us here in the UK, it’s been very successful but for all the athletes I hope it’s been a brilliant experience. ¬†I really do feel inspired by the mood that seems to surround all the athletes, and the pride people have in their achievements. ¬†It reminds me that nothing comes without effort and that’s a useful point to remember whenever writing is harder than I’d like.

And finally for this week – I have been nominated for another award, which was a lovely surprise. ¬†Thanks to The Living Notebook¬†for that: I’ll cover it in more detail next week, when I can give it the attention it deserves.

Happy writing

EJ

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This week saw the start of the Olympics here in the UK – and what a fab job Danny Boyle did (according to the BBC, he even got the rain to stop :-)). ¬†I’m so glad it was all a surprise; I think something would have been lost if I’d known what to expect.

Here are a few of my highlights:

The ‘forging’ of the Olympic rings; James Bond and the Queen; the celebration of the National Health Service; the focus on arts – literature, music, television and film; celebration of Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the www; the dove-bikes; plus of course the athletes and the thousands of volunteers. ¬†I also loved the lighting of the cauldron, and what a beautiful design, and such a touching moment to see Olympians of the past pass the glory to the Olympians of the future.

Let me know what you enjoyed, if you were able to watch.

Now of course, it falls to me to relate it to writing, so this week I am keeping with the theme of openings! ¬†By this, I don’t necessarily mean the first sentence or two – normally I think of the opening as the first few pages. ¬†Here is a brief overview of what I think is important. ¬†Feel free to disagree!

I believe an opening has two distinct roles – to keep the reader reading, and to give an idea about the nature of the story to follow. ¬†That doesn’t mean the opening has to be a very short exposition – in my own novel the current form of the opening is intended to subvert thinking – but the language and style of the novel should follow naturally from the first line to the last.

Apparently, one of the most famous openings in literature is from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: it is sparky and witty and a great introduction to the voice of Elizabeth Bennett. ¬†It works for its genre and, as Pride & Prejudice still ranks amongst the most popular books, certainly in UK polls, it must draw people into the book!

An opening also has to allow the reader to enter a world that exists before and after the story being told.  I think this is one of the reasons Harry Potter is so successful: J K Rowling has created a world that is so well drawn you can easily suspend your disbelief about magic in the modern world.

But most stories Рexcluding fantasy and some sci-fi Рonly focus on the local world of the characters.  There are lots of ways of doing this: techniques I have used include a wedding that happened the day before the story starts; a divorced woman reflecting on the things her husband left behind; joining characters as they travel somewhere.

This suggests that the beginning of a story has to feel like the point something changes in the nature of that world – in the book examples above we have a rich man renting a house in the area and a young boy surviving an attempt on his life and somehow ending the reign of terror of a dark wizard…

The Living Notebook has written a piece about the use of dialogue as an opening that I thought was very interesting and fits in nicely with this idea of joining something partway through a change.

Finally, I think it is important that the opening sets the tone for the book. ¬†If it’s a comedic book, there should be something funny; a romance, some reflection on an element of relationships. ¬†It shouldn’t be heavy-handed but should allow the reader to understand how they will be spending the next day/week/however long they take to read something!

In other news – ‘Sunny Sunday’ is still in progress but as it stands, it covers the following themes: light and dark; life; the passing of time; the power of words; permanence vs impermanence. ¬†I am sitting looking at an index card of possibilities and I have to make sure I don’t lose control of it! ¬†I have drafted up a starting point which has a number of sound techniques¬†– I already know I don’t want to keep them all as it’s too much, but intend to introduce new stanzas with either assonance or consonance (depending on the subject of the stanza rather than choosing only one).

Also Рas posts are getting longer, I am going to start doing 2 posts a week Р1 about writing and one about inspiration.  I have already picked my first image and first exercise so I hope that works for you all; it gives me more scope to introduce pieces of writing and talk about other artists that fill me with creative excitement!

Let me know what you think about splitting the posts like this…

Until next time – happy writing!

EJ

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