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Posts Tagged ‘inspirations’

First, a little story. This weekend I spent part of my time looking at universities. We have two fairly local to us and I have a close relative who is hoping to start a degree next year, so I offered to take her to them. However, I didn’t want to influence her too much with my opinions so let her do the tours with a friend as I entertained myself.

Well, for me, entertainment was a student bookshop, where they sold the Penguin Little Black Classics – a collection of books that have probably been out of print for a very long time, mostly short and really cheap. In this particular example it was 80p (with a 10% discount on top of that!). To put that in context for overseas readers, last week’s read would cost £8.99 new, so it’s very cheap indeed.

Naturally, I bought a few.  I limited myself to four, which I am extremely proud of, and started reading one straight away.  2 pages in it was saying that at a certain age people shouldn’t go out in public, and I knew I was onto a winner!

Book 41 – A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees, by Kenkō; translated by Meredith McKinney. This isn’t a novel, so much as a set of thoughts about the world, so a review in the normal sense doesn’t really work here.

a-cup-of-sake

Kenkō was a Japanese monk who was born in the late 13th century.  His thoughts obviously reflect a different time and place to that in which I live and a lot of what he says is humourous only for being so unbelievable in our day and age – although it’s tinged with the understanding that some people live in environments where his views have traction.

However, for every outmoded concept there is a more timeless idea, a thought that reflects back at me through the centuries.

These thoughts cover how people should perceive life, their approach to the world, thoughts on what holds humanity back: in many respects this is a philosophical book. What makes it stand out to me is the sense that every moment in life is special and that we should stop focussing on having more, but instead focus on each moment.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a few quotes with you, which is really the best way to demonstrate some of the thinking…

It is the ephemeral nature of things that makes them wonderful.

 

All things in this phenomenal world are mere illusion.

Does mortality wait on our choosing?  Death comes upon us more swiftly than fire or flood.

… there can be no doubt that it would benefit those below if people in high positions were to cease their luxurious and wasteful ways and instead were kind and tender to the people, and encouraged agriculture.

There are many more examples but these are just a few which grabbed my attention.

Yes, there is a lot in the book that wouldn’t go down very well at an equalities convention!  Nevertheless it reminds me a lot of mindfulness books I have read because of the focus on experiencing the ‘now’, and valuing the world for what it is, not what it could be or has been; not dismissing the imperfect, because it is still of value.

In fact, now I’ve written that I think I understand its attractiveness to me: it is a very early version of a mindfulness text, and I am very glad I invested in it!

Oh and one final thought – sorry the photo is a bit blurry, I think there’s a fingerprint on the camera lens!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of a Thursday post. I got caught up in a lot of things this week and never got around to sharing anything. I thought about doing something on Friday but the moment passed and now it’s Sunday so there’s no point trying to catch it up!

Now that’s out of the way…

I was reading last week’s post about Fred needing an outing and this week he has had a little adventure. For reasons best left in the Jurassic period where Fred currently resides, he is running away from a huge fire and has just shared his plan for survival with a very patronising adult who keeps patting him on the head.

Despite the temerity of this adult Fred is nevertheless willing to help out and get everyone to safety, even if no-one realises he is playing any part in the rescue efforts…

I scrapped his trip to Stonehenge though.  He wasn’t enjoying the journey and is going to a zoo instead…

What I had also intended to do this week was to set myself some writing exercises to build on the work I have done regarding plot and structure. That hasn’t worked out as I planned and I need to set it up better. The suggestion is to set aside an hour each week for an individual task on generating plotting ideas. In a few weeks I’d look at what I’d got and dispose of the rubbish and keep anything with possibilities. I want to do it but I have not had a quiet, uninterrupted time to do it this week.

I will make one next week, even if I have to unplug the phone!

In other news – I am seriously considering another writing course, possibly focussed on editing through to (self?) publication. I have thought a lot about why my completed novel hasn’t been picked up by an agent and a big part of me thinks I need to put that idea aside and move on. However, the part of me that thinks a dream should be pursued thinks I should do what I need to do to get there.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I found a course with seemingly very good reviews which is designed to help students pull a manuscript into the best possible order – so whether the book is traditionally or self published it is as professionally edited and presented as possible.

It’s not the cheapest course but I was prepared to spend money on learning for fun so it seems silly to begrudge spending to achieve a dream.

I will do some more research and see if this is the best option for me and let you know!

Until next time,
Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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It’s the last day of my break now and I’m a little sad that I am back to work tomorrow. It’s been very restful even with going away for a few days but tomorrow it’ll all go back to normal.

I have to admit Fred hasn’t travelled much with me, and is languishing somewhere near Stonehenge but I have been reading about plot and structure as well as tackling some novels. I wasn’t going to read them but sitting down with a coffee on a squishy chair isn’t as relaxing when you’re reading a text book…

I am about to start re-reading the plot and structure book because it is filled with exercises I want to try out, but that is for next week’s post!

It’s been a useful exercise to revisit some basics though. When I write I tend to fall into certain patterns and behaviours, and the book should help with stripping out the bad behaviours and focussing on a cleaner, more precise, narrative flow.

As importantly, it gives me tools to check the narrative itself – specifically whether it is strong enough to be the foundation of a novel. That is a discipline I need to work on, now more than ever due to my restricted writing time.

The other thing I have been doing is getting back to photography. I went to a couple of Medieval religious buildings and duly paid for photography permits so I could at least attempt to record some of what I saw.

At it was Remembrance Day on the 11 November the buildings were dressed with poppies, which is always a poignant reminder of how history shapes our experience of life, especially when is buildings that have stood for so long.

The last couple of weeks have definitely been more about theory than practice, but I don’t think that is a bad thing for me. I just have to remember that Fred needs a bit of an outing too!

Happy Writing,
EJ
🙂

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I’m currently on a little break so I am keeping it short tonight and sharing something that appealed to my sense of humour!

People who like quotations love meaningless generalisations

Thank you Graham Greene, for a comment that I had to quote.  All quote lovers will understand… and hopefully have a little chuckle to themselves.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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The clocks changed this weekend and it’s thrown me out a bit. In my head it’s nearly 1am and I should be asleep, especially as I only have one day in work before taking a break for a couple of weeks!

So this post will be particularly brief…

  • Plot and structure is going well
  • I actually managed to read a novel!
  • Fred is still awaiting his next escapade
  • I haven’t booked in a writing session with my friend

So a mixed bag of a week.

My challenge now is to get Fred moving through a couple of eras by next Sunday and to finish rereading the Plot and Structure book in the same time. After that, I need to distill the most salient points into notes and study them – it’s a little like preparing for an exam although I need to remember the details for longer!!

That’s my whistlestop tour over, and now it’s time to hit the hay.

Happy Writing
EJ
🙂

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Sorry – Christmas is seeping in everywhere already and the music just popped into my head!

This is a mid-week post rather than a random thoughts post, because it’s turned into quite a good writing day. Not for actual, physical writing – don’t expect too much of a Thursday 😉 – but for engaging with my work again.

It began at my monthly writing group. I don’t always find myself coming home full of writing vim and vigour, but this time it just seemed to click for me.

Firstly, I shared my new plan to the group, explaining that I felt I had lost my way with writing at least since I got ill in June. Maybe before, but definitely then.

I explained that I was going to approach it differently, and how that looked.

I talked about my novel, about the story, the theme and the underlying message, and why I felt I needed to look at it again with clearer eyes and see what weaknesses remain – I had an offer of help with this too.

And last but not least, I chatted with someone not in the group, who was interested in talking about writing once he knew why we were there. It was the kind of conversation that fills me with positivity, because we inspired him to talk about something completely new.  He told me he wrote a journal, about his favourite book, about his interest in literature.  It was a chance conversation but it left a really warm feeling.

So today was a good writing day, even without any writing – and I wanted to celebrate it with you all in the hope it will be just what you need one day, too.

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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I said on Sunday that my reading this week would be textbooks and guides to help me get back on the writing track. It’s a little like studying, only without a set book list…

I am currently reading a book called ‘Plot and Structure‘ by James Scott Bell. I have read it before but as planning is where I need to focus my writing development it seemed a good place to start. I clearly need to take more from it this time!

There is of course no way to review it in the usual sense, and I haven’t finished revisiting it, but so far it seems very practical, which I need.

This type of reading will replace novels for a little while – but I am happy to share my views of the writing guides instead, if you are interested – just let me know in the comments.

Happy reading,
EJ
🙂

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Yesterday I said I had lots going on, and I just added something else…

My new challenge is some research and discussion about a possible community project, which is really exciting – and even if it transpires it is not possible it’s a good opportunity to meet some new people and learn about something new.

Living in a small village, you realise quite quickly that the more you get involved, the more you get out of life.

There have been a number of times when I have been particularly glad for my community, living where I do. The time we ran out of heating fuel, for example; or when we were snowed in for days. It’s far more fun to be sociable when you’re cut off from normality; it’s even better to pool food and share a few meals!

There are drawbacks to country living but it’s definitely got its benefits as far as I am concerned.

As for the new challenge, I expect I will step back once the research is done – but I still have enough going on to keep me busily engaged in life here for quite some time!

Happy Writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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This week I will not talk about my other work (other than this!).

This week, I have got my little anthropomorphised character Fred time travelling to Egypt. He is currently walking on the Giza Plateau to watch the Great Pyramid being constructed. It’s a pretty interesting spectacle for him, because not only has he never seen sand before, but he has never seen a man-made monument before. He’s trying to think it through but really has no idea what is going on.

I am enjoying writing this little tale of intrigue; although it’s a children’s story I am working to get the details right, and yet I can stop as I like so I don’t have to get into too much research detail.

It’s letting me play about with some fun ideas too, and gradually I am starting to feel more ‘writerly’, if you know what I mean.

I’ve also been spurred on by a trip I had to the theatre this weekend, to see a Harold Pinter play called No Man’s Land.  It was described as a comedy but it really wasn’t: there were many points in the script which were funny or slightly unexpected and we audience members laughed out loud, but there was a pathos in it, a sadness and a loneliness that I had not expected.  I am not sure I like the work tragicomic, but it does highlight the way the tale leapt from one emotion to another.

Works like that make me want to test my capabilities, push myself to  produce something thought-provoking.  I know my voice in writing is quite light but that doesn’t mean the content has to be, or that I am limited in genre.

I just have to believe I can do it.

Interestingly enough, this week started with the theatre too, albeit on a somewhat reduced scale – I am back rehearsing for the next am dram performance… Once again I am the principle boy – I’m not sure if it’s typecasting yet but once more and I’ll be sure!

It is clear to me that with everything I have on at the moment I need to be really strict about my daily writing again and with that in mind, I am considering an ‘all in, in October’ premise to share my wordcount.  With Fred as my star, I don’t think it’s going to impact on quality of writing, but will certainly help with the quantity.

I will think about it – if I go for it, you’ll know soon enough!

Until next time – whenever it may be!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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At any given time, if someone were able to see my thoughts in my head, they would see a lot of jumbled up, interconnected, falling over each other thoughts. I feel like I have a lot in my head and that’s why it is so joyful when I can siphon it off onto paper.

I suspect we are all like this to one degree or another, and could all do with a mental mute button every so often.

As a writer, I like to record some of these ad hoc rambling thoughts: not only because they might spark an idea in the future but because they link seemingly arbitrary concepts in a way that only happens subconsciously.

It is funny how our neurons fire up; sometimes I almost think I can feel it, like a million tiny sparks of light linking one moment to another.

I have talked before about the value of the notebook in these times and it’s definitely a useful writing tool.

Of course, some thoughts bubble up that are much more challenging for one reason or another. These situations feed my poetry but it takes a while sometimes to look back at it, and it generally produces work that I feel unwilling to share in open mike events or at readings.

For me, the most difficult to share are about loss. But even with these thoughts my neurons can prod me into an unexpected direction; I guess because the sadness is a direct result of happier times before.

The point really is to say that thoughts can get in the way of what we think we need to do.  But perhaps, if we can treat them differently, they can be a conduit to getting to an altogether unexpected destination.

And maybe that’s where our brains wanted us to go in the first place!

Happy Writing,
EJ
🙂

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