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Posts Tagged ‘influence’

Sorry this is another late post – with the combination of a birthday shindig and a bank holiday weekend, I completely forgot yesterday was Sunday!

So I’m back from my holiday, on the beautiful island of Porto Santo. I had a lovely relaxing time, but one also filled with lots of activities.

I recognise in myself a desire to be braver, do things that I would never have tried a few years ago. That starts with flying (which I wouldn’t do for a long time) but branches out into all sorts of things.

So coming home from a holiday where I tried things I’d never have tried at home, I don’t want to lose that impetus, and have been investigating a few new opportunities… More on that very soon!

Of course, this all has to run beautifully alongside my writing life. I kept a writing journal during my break, and have been adding bits to it as I think about them since I came back. It covers all sorts – conversations, people I met, silly moments, observations, as well as being a little bit of a diary to remind me what happened each day. I want to finish working on that in the next day or two, before all my memories fade!

After that I’ll be back to the whodunnit, back to my 3000 word a week target and hopefully by my next post I can give a date for completion.

Once that’s done and I check out how the twists have worked I can go back to the novel, ideally in time for my retreat in July…

I really feel that I want to get on and do things now, so I’m going to leave this post here and, well, get on and do some stuff! I’ll look at the 100 books list next time but for now I’m going to enjoy my added bonus day off work!

Happy writing,
EJ
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I thought I’d do this post a day later than planned too, just to keep a little gap between posts 🙂

As writers, we know the importance of getting the timing right – the perfect moment for a reveal, or the point in a poem where we change or enhance the rhythm.

So when I saw this picture, I thought I’d be writing about picking that moment in work, and how I make decisions.

Timing

 

But you know what?  That isn’t what this picture makes me want to write about at all.

Instead, to me it’s a reminder that each moment is fleeting, that every crash of a wave on the sand is unique, never to be repeated.

It’s a reminder that we need to experience life if we want to record it with any authenticity.

So take a moment, or two.  Don’t think about the technicalities of writing, the form or style you want to create in your work.  Just look at the picture, and think about something you’d love to do.  It might be a hobby you’ve always fancied, or learning a new skill.  It might be getting a makeover or booking a holiday.  Whatever it is, try to seize the moment and make it a reality.

It’s amazing how a change of scenery, or meeting a new group of people, can open you eyes as a writer.  It’s pretty good for opening your eyes as a person, too.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I have no book to report this week – I am stuck firmly in the middle of one I have been reading for about 12 days and for some reason it seems that no matter how much I read, I don’t get any closer to the end…

So this week I thought I’d share something else with you: a quote not by a creative writer but a scientist.

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week

Charles Darwin wrote this in his biography.  I love the fact that the man whose scientific discoveries changed the way evolution was understood also realised the value and importance of art – and whatever its form, I hope you get to enjoy some art this week.

Happy reading,

EJ

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…or something of that nature.  Although I’ve never ridden a horse so maybe it was a bad choice of words.

Anyhow – I’m back from my jaunts and slowly trying to get back to some sort of normal. My return isn’t normal though, it’s exhausting! I barely unpacked my suitcases and was straight into preparations for Christmas, I have had to jump into panto rehearsals, I was in Belgium buying chocolates yesterday and today I have started going through the wedding paraphernalia trying to find a home for 100 candle holders and half a tree trunk…

Writing – what’s that?

Now, before it seems like I have been completely useless I will say that one of my gifts when I got married was a beautiful notebook which my parents gave me to write down my meandering thoughts when I was away. I just made a few disjointed notes at the start of the honeymoon but as the days went on it became a journal of what I had seen, felt and experienced, almost like a travel memoir. I could see the lure of writing in that environment – it was sunny, warm, beautiful and unknown.

I have subsequently been thinking about my writing, and my writing style. I think I write for the damp air and soggy grass of home, it is part of the world I explore. But what could my world be if I moved it – if my ghosts weren’t in the foggy winter of an English house, but existed in the sun-baked streets of Morocco, or the sultry Mexican coastline? What if my stories were about colour, brightness, light? How well would I be able to maintain a world that I only know for a handful of days at a time?

There’s no answer to this yet. My mind is wandering through countless possibilities and in the meantime I am thinking about poetry and imagery. Still, it’s given me a kick up the posterior to get myself back into the writing fold – and to really think about what exactly I am doing, and why.

In other news – I missed a fair few books on the 100 novels list but to keep this brief I have not read 59, 60, 61 or 62.  That’s not likely to change any time soon either, there’s too much on my to-read list as it is!  However, The Big Sleep is one I’d like to look at in the future, because for some reason I feel drawn to it.  No logic there, I know – but reading isn’t really about logic, for me 🙂

And finally – you may have already spotted this story about people generally preferring to read books written by someone of their own gender.  I thought this was interesting after my last book review when I talked about possible differences of style between male and female writers.  Maybe I had a point after all.

It does happen, you know…

Until next time,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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My wedding is rushing up, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me when I say this will be another short post barely commenting on the wider world of writing!

Time is really flying by now; I can’t even begin to imagine where the days have gone. My carefully crafted ‘to-do’ lists are about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as the saying goes. Less tasty as well 😉

Nevertheless everything is coming together, the important things are done and the table poetry is in the last stages of being crafted so it looks like I’ll have it done in time.

I also managed to grab a night off and headed to a friend’s gig, which was lovely – atmospheric and engaging. I felt the same sense of inspiration and desire to write settle on me as I always have when confronted by music that touches me emotionally.

I experienced the same sense of wonder and connection to my muse, or whatever it is that guides my writing hand, when choosing music.  I am working really hard to get that same feeling into what I share on the day.

I don’t think words will ever do it justice, but if I can at least give an echo of what I want, I’ll be satisfied.

In other news – Book 57 of the 100 novels list is Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.  I haven’t read it but whenever I hear ‘something in the woodshed’ it reminds me of The Divine Comedy, and this offering from the mid-1990’s (not quite as retro as my usual retro, I actually remember this one being played on the radio!)

The Divine Comedy – Something for the Weekend

And finally – I really do have a lot of books I want to read or re-read next year so I’ll be carrying on with the reading challenge through 2015.  It’s been really successful in getting me back into books and engaging with them as works to learn from rather than treating them as wallpaper for my mind.  I definitely want to do a course in literary criticism in the new year if for no other reason than to allow me to learn more from other writers.

I’ll add it all to my to do list…

Until next time – happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week, as is usual now, my writing time focussed on poems for the wedding.

I am happy with some much improved ones and am excited that the writing mojo seems to have come back, although still worried about the timescale.  I think about it a little like an assignment in that I can only do the best I can do, in the time available.  I cannot seek – nor will I ever find – perfection, and I have to remind myself sometimes!

But despite the practical elements, it has been really great to dig out poetry books and read (of course I do read poems on occasion, sometimes even my own but you know what I mean!).  This has been a prolonged study, sitting and identifying what works, what doesn’t work, what words cause a reaction.  What, in effect, sums up the feelings I wish to convey, in the most successful way possible.

Writing is perpetual growth, and even though my mind is scattered and my time is frenetic, I can feel my writing developing as I work.

I am more aware now of the language I choose to use for this project, of the joys and shared happiness I want to convey.  I am exploring a writing side of me that has never really been aired (I don’t write romance in any form, really) and I am getting a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from it.

That I am doing it for my partner, and our family and friends, makes it even more special.

And finally – this week it’s book 56 on the list – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  It’s been many years since I read this but I do know I really enjoyed it – not perhaps quite as much as 1984 but a lot more than many other things I have read!  This is definitely on my list of books to re-read, if for no other reason than I feel it deserves to be considered from a different time and place in my life, and not as a direct follow-on from other dystopian stories.

Weirdly I feel a little nervous that, as with 1984, there will be a little too much that’s recognisable for me when I look again.

A short post today, I know – but it’s found me full of joy in writing, and that’s always a good place to be 🙂

Happy writing,

EJ

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It’s very late, I’m very tired, so I’m just going to launch into things this week!

Book 46 – The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King.

I picked this up in a deal – 3 books for £5, a complete bargain! I was interested in reading it because is it a modern expansion on the Sherlock Holmes stories: it is crime-fighting with Sherlock, as told by his wife.

The story follows Mary Russell as she tries to help solve the mystery of a missing woman and child and their relationship to a number of deaths at ancient monuments.  The case is a personal one for Holmes, and becomes personal for Mary too, as she finds ways to use her experiences and education under Holmes to break the code in the clues.

As a crime-solving story it is fun, intricate enough to keep my attention and enjoyable enough for me to forgive the occasional red herring or unnecessary turning but I am not sure that having a 60-something Sherlock Holmes married to a woman in her 20s really worked for me. She is not clever enough to challenge him, at least in this tale (despite a few decisions she makes along the way that seem more reactive than proactive), and he isn’t the kind of character turned by a pretty face (which she herself says she has).

I wanted her to be more than she appears in this story.

That’s my major issue though, and I could get past it for most of the tale as Sherlock is not in it all the time. There is also a decided lack of romance which is good because a) it’s not Sherlock’s way and b) it would have been out of keeping with the rest of the writing.  However, although this is one of a series I don’t want to read earlier ones now, as Mary first encountered Holmes when she was 15 and I can’t now imagine going back with the knowledge of their adult relationship – it’s as though he moulded her thought patterns to make her more efficient and useful to him.

It was a good read, of a kind I generally wouldn’t pick; it was a clever way of using established characters without writing only about them (and risking poor reception) and it was fun to see a modern take on the world Holmes might have experienced.  I think Conan Doyle would have seen it rather differently – in this book sexual promiscuity and partner-swapping is accepted with little comment and no judgement but drug use is frowned upon…

Oh, the times have changed from Sherlock’s creation!

Happy reading,

EJ

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This week I haven’t got a whole lot further with the table poems – I have resigned myself to a last-minute rush.

I have, however, been investing time and money in poetry anthologies to give me some inspiration. This has been helpful, and frustrating, in equal measure.

I am very particular about the language of poetry shared in a formal setting – there are some terms and ideas I simply don’t want to parade in front of my extended family and friends. You can call it prudishness, or self-consciousness, if you like; I firmly believe that public, family occasions should be treated as such, and the language used should reflect the audience.

This is a very roundabout way of saying that lots of the love poetry I have read is very sexual, and that is not a road I am planning to travel in my writing for our big day. There are some beautiful poems, with beautiful sentiments, which are rendered unusable because of an explicit reference here, or an unambiguous metaphor there.

Of course I could cut lines out, call it an excerpt – but poems don’t generally improve with having parts of themselves ripped out. So the search continues for poems I love unreservedly or that fill me with the inspiration I seek to finish what I’ve started.

One way or another, poetry will be part of our day.

In other news – I am falling behind a little in checking the 100 novels list so I’ll simply say that I haven’t read book 54 – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett or book 55 – As I lay dying by William Faulkner and I’m not particularly likely to any time soon.  Maybe when I’m pulling together my reading list for next year I’ll revisit these, specifically As I Lay Dying as the sense of a lost way of life seeping from the pages can be very affecting.

And finally – I wanted to share this article detailing the inspiration behind the 6 shortlisted stories for the Man Booker prize.  As a writer, knowing where and how inspiration grows is important – as is understanding what struggles other writers go through to bring those ideas and concepts to life.  We are all hunting for the right word, the right phrase, the strength of a sentence to put forth the image we want to share.  Whenever you feel disheartened, that’s a great thing to remember.

Until next time – happy writing,

EJ

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After yesterday’s internet failure this blog is a little behind and I’ve forgotten some of the things I was going to discuss, so I’ll work my way backwards and hopefully cover most of it…

Yesterday I spent much of the day in London, celebrating a birthday (not mine!).  There is a definite vibe to the city that engages my senses – the juxtaposition of crowded streets and tree-lined parks, of overwhelming traffic and tame squirrels, that really reminds me how important it is to look beyond the surface of a place for the underlying stories.  I see and hear people from all over the world who are experiencing the same sights and sounds as me, but in an entirely personal and unique way.  I always knew this was the case but only since I’ve been writing have I thought about it so clearly.

I’ve also been working on the poetry for the wedding.  I have to write it all up and spend the next few weeks fixing it all because it’s very rough and ready at the moment – but I hope it’ll be a bit of fun for people at the event as they go round from table to table and see all the different verses set out!

The notebook has been a great help with this, not just because I have it with me all the time so I can quickly grab it and write down my thoughts, but also because it engenders a sense of routine about writing which I need when I have so little time to do it!  Plus if I see or hear anything that I think will spur a few ideas along the way I can refer back to it whenever I like – as long as I write it down!

And finally – We’re up to book 52 on the list – Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner.  It’s a new one to me but sounds like a book I’d enjoy reading so  I may see if I can find it somewhere!

A short one this week, but I have been, and continue to be, so busy I can hardly think straight; this is the only way to keep any semblance of focus to the post!

Happy writing,

EJ

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This weekend I have been at my university reunion, so I have really done very little in the way of writing, but an awful lot in the way of reminiscing.  I have also been confronted with the way time has passed, and how many years have disappeared behind me since my student days!

Time flies

 

This picture was taken during a particular trip down memory lane.  It’s about as I remember things 🙂

Thinking back about all the funny, stupid, childish and fabulous days has really reminded me about the joy of shared experiences and the way that life informs comedy. I said a long time ago that I’d like to write something funny, and this weekend has given me a push to write down a few ideas in a dedicated notebook so I can come back to it when life is less frenetic and overwhelming.

The other thing that I was forcefully reminded of was how long it’s been since I did any proper studying – it was a gap in my life when I was working and sadly I’ve put it to one side again as a result of everything I’ve got on, but I know that the studies inform and affect my writing so I want to get back to them as soon as I can too.

At this rate, December will be frenetic trying to make up for every missed opportunity to write or study sine July!!

In other news – this week’s book is 51: The  Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald.  I already shared my views on this one and I haven’t changed my mind over time.  The story hasn’t really stayed with me except in the sense of frustration, so I will simply say it’s not to my taste and leave it there.  It’s quite fun to know I read a book from the list as part of my challenge, before the book appeared though; it makes me feel that my choices were less random than I thought!

And finally – I saw this article about using a reverse book club to help write a book.  To my mind, that makes the others contributors but that’s my sense of justice for you!  I like the idea of chatting about things and talking through the trickier areas but I don’t see writing as a risk-minimising venture – it’s the risk you have to take with it that tests your willingness to keep on at it, I think.  I would be interested to know if others feel the same…

I am off to recover from my weekend now, so until next time,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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