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Posts Tagged ‘notes’

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 week I’ve been using my lunchbreaks to make a lot of notes for poems. I grab myself a soup, sit down, watch the clouds float past and write.

It feels really positive because the poems I am working on are for a special event, and are coming together really well.  I am jumping so swiftly from one to another that it feels like I’m on some sort of perpetual motion generator.  A poetry train (of thought) if you like!

It’s good that the notebook is working for me because with such long days and so many other things to get done, writing really did feel neglected.  In fact, my whole creative life was put on hold once I went back to full-time work.  But a few weeks in I’m getting a little balance back.  Writing during my lunches; I actually finished a whole book already this week and started a second; I am making the most of the long weekend here to get out and see some live music for the first time in ages.

I don’t want to work full-time for long, but if I can keep some sort of equilibrium for now, at least it won’t set me back completely.  My worst case scenario has always been going back to work and not writing any more, and finally I am managing to do both, which gives me a lot of faith in myself.

In other news – This week we’ve reached book 48 on the novels list – A Passage to India by EM Forster.  This is a book I want to read, so I haven’t read the comments yet!  I have seen the film, or at least parts of the film, but I don’t remember much of it except white suits and hats, and a carriage.   And maybe a mountain?  It’s been a loooooonnnnnnng time 🙂

And finally – I saw this article about the way we absorb a story being different on physical format to paper format.  As someone who loves the physicality of a book, and has only come to screen reading since being gifted an e-reader at Christmas, I am not sure I could ever be objective or dispassionate enough to debate the relative merits of each: the smell and feel of books is part of the reading experience for me.  I have read a lot of books on the e-reader now and appreciate its practicality but I think that’s part of its downfall for me.  I don’ want a practical reading experience, I want an immersive one – and I still think I get that best with a hard copy book.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved reading that to change it – or my relationship with the words – impacts on the subconscious experience.  Maybe the love of reading is as much about feeling the weight of a world in my hands as it is exploring it – and on an e-reader every world weighs the same…

On that rather philosophical point, I’m going to bow out for today!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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This week I’ve tried to recapture some of my lost creative flow, and it’s worked, to a point…

The notebook has come out again and although I haven’t noted something every day, I have it with me for whenever an idea or image seems noteworthy! I have to go and fill in a few bits once this blog is done, so if nothing else I’m getting back into the writing habit.

The other thing I did this week was to buy myself a couple of books from a charity shop. I have a pile of things I’ve borrowed from people but I don’t like to read those in bed, or in the bath, or stuff them in my handbag and take them to work in case they get damaged. My own books, I am less nervous.

So I am hoping this will give me the impetus to get back into reading every day as well.

I am a lot busier than I have been – but that’s no reason for everything to fall down. I’m about to start week 4 in my current placement and am getting used to the long days and early (for me!) starts. Now I have acclimatised a little I should be able to work through more things and start achieving more!

I’m glad I’ve gone back to the notebook, actually; using one effectively is a skill you develop over time and I was worried that I’d lost the knack!

In other news – we’re on to book 47 of the 100 novels list – Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. I have never come across this one before, and think I might add it to the list if for no other reason than to give me an American novel of the 1920s that I can compare to The Great Gatsby (you may remember I was a little underwhelmed by that one!).  I want to see if there was still a divide in style between UK and US literature at that point, but I need more evidence to make a decision!

Also – you may have noticed I haven’t written a peace post for a while; the monthly challenges are on hold at the moment and to be truthful that has suited me as everything is so hectic at the moment.  However, I am still being mindful and trying to devote some of my time to peacefulness – I will share a post that I’ve been working on sooner or later!

And finally – a reminder, that I’m looking for possible guest blog posts for when I am away during November; the subject is your own but I need to pre-plan publication so let me know if you’re interested through the ‘contact me’ tab.

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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After another week of short lunchbreaks and long days, my writing plan is not really shaping up too well, so I’m going back to basics: the novel is on hold and the notebooks are being revived.

It’s been a while since I’ve regularly written in them but with such a limited time to get anything done it seems sensible to record things as I can, and make use of what I record when I can give writing the time it needs.

And life now may be busy, but there’s lots to inspire me.

The benefit of temping is that I get to meet many people and work in different business environments, learning about new industries and so on.  This is all useful because it gives me worlds to play with in my own stories.

My evening work – which I fit in where I can – is completely different; the training gets me meeting other people who share my interests but the events themselves are just like girl’s nights in, with jokes and chats, and a chance to have a gossip!

Alongside that, the charity I’m involved with has been busy with a funding bid and practical plans for future activities.

Plus with writing group, reading group, wedding planning, social life and family events this is a time I could really add to my stock of ideas and reference points for the future.  If I don’t make the most of it, I’ll regret it.

So that’s the revision of the plan, for now.  I hope it works out better than the last one…

In other news – I missed the book from the 100 novels list last week – The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton.  I read it a few years ago (not long after the film came out) and remember enjoying it but not a lot else but recently downloaded it to re-read.  I don’t want to be reminded of the story as it’ll put me off revisiting it, so didn’t read the write-up!

This week’s book is Ulysses by James Joyce.  I have only ever read one of the meandering train of thought segments, which seemed to go on for many frustrating pages, so this is not one I’m drawn to looking at again; it also seems to be a bit marmite for people who have tried to read it.  I’d love to know what you think of it if you’ve had a go yourselves…

And finally – Tonight we have a ‘supermoon’ in the sky above us; I found an amazing image to show you, but my partner has been out and got one of his own; I’ll share that on Thursday because I have an idea for a related post.  In the meantime, I hope you get a chance to see the beauty of the sky tonight.

Until next time,

happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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I read a great quote that I haven’t been able o find again unfortunately, but I thought I’d share the concept anyway.

It was something along the lines of ‘if you don’t write when you’re busy, you won’t write when you’re not’.

It jolted me out of the haze that has surrounded me since I went back to work, and I sat down and moved my story on a little. From tomorrow, I’ll be using lunch breaks to make notes on the work I’ve done so far, and use any space I find in the evenings to write new sections of the novel.  I’ve even decided to change phones so I have one I can work on whenever I get a chance – sitting at the dentist, or in the car waiting for someone, or as my partner drives me to an event.

These sound like little things, and they are. But putting all my little things together will help me balance work, life, and writing – which is what I really want to do.

In other news – This week we’re on book 44 – Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham which is another I haven’t read. I am interested in books that are heavily autobiographical but I don’t think I have time to fit another book into the list, so it’ll stay as a possible for the future, I think

And finally – it occurred to me today that this blog will go very quiet through November when I get married and go away for my honeymoon.  I will pre-write a few posts before I go but I’d love to fill in some of the blanks with guest posts so if you’re interested in writing a post about anything relating to writing or reading, let me know!

Until next week – happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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Do you ever feel like you’re facing this?

The Brick Wall

Sometimes writing feels like this when agents don’t respond, or a story doesn’t behave, or we drop a line from a poem and can’t get the right one to replace it.  I remember many days in the office before I took time off to write where I had the same sense that I was really hitting a brick wall.

It’s exhausting, and frustrating.  You can lose confidence in yourself and your ideas or worse – you can think it’s a sign that you’re on the wrong path.   As a writer, it’s particularly upsetting when you realise work you have nurtured for months is stuck.

But if you really think about it, a brick wall is nothing.

You can climb it, tunnel underneath it, put a ladder against it, bash a hole in it, vault over it.  If you’re a wolf, you can blow on it and it will fall down…  If you’re a wizard you can tap the right bricks and a whole new world will open up!

There are loads of ways to get to the other side of that wall, if you only give yourself the time to work out a route from one side to the other.  You have to trust yourself that any obstacle is a chance to clarify your thoughts, to resolve any discrepancies.  You have to believe you have the tools to get across.

Even when something hits a really big wall – like my book number 2 – you must have faith that there’s a way to get beyond it. That’s why saving work in progress, notes and ideas is so important.

After all, you really don’t know when a gate might open up and let you through.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week, I started writing the new book, ‘The Ridge House’. I have an opening page or so – not masses, but neatly tied in with the planning work I have done. I haven’t made a final decision on the writing software, but all the notes and character profiling I’ve done is just as good (for my purposes) right now.

If you were to look on my computer, or in my notebooks, you would see sections on characters (including background and personality traits; I based my notes on the Epiguide.com character chart with a few tweaks); on the house; on the health issues covered in the story; on the plot and structure and key plot point and milestones within the story.  I’ve also got all archived notes, segments of writing I might want to use, ideas that are repeated throughout, and more.

I really feel that there is a proper path in this story from start to finish – and from chapter to chapter.  I also feel there’s enough in it for a good 80,000 word story so there’s no risk of having to fill in gaps; this was identified and resolved when I was working through the plot on retreat and I found a logical way to resolve it that was in keeping with the storyline.

Seeing how in-depth the planning and organising is for this book, compared to what I did for the Woods one, I know how that went so wrong.  I still love the characters and still see the merits of the tale but it’s clear that in its current format I don’t have the tools I need to bring it back in line with the intention.  There is no path marked, so you can’t see where it started heading down the wrong one!

Once I’ve drafted up the first version of The Ridge House I’m going back to basics on the other – archiving the whole of the writing as a resource if needed but starting once again with the plot planning.

I said when I started this blog that I would share lessons I learnt along the way and I think that’s one of the biggest really – a great idea can’t become a great book just based on hope.  It’s a bit like building a house – you must have solid foundations or it can’t stand on its own.

Anyway, over the next week I hope to get most of the first chapter of  The Ridge House done and then we get to the spookier parts – which I’m really looking forward to writing 🙂

In other news – we’re on book 33 of the 100 novels list: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser.  I have a copy of this so hope to read it soon, mainly because I read that it should be devoured quickly and I’m falling behind on my reading targets!

And finally – I’d like to say hi to all my new (and continuing) followers; it’s so exciting to see that little plus sign pop up, and I really appreciate the support I get from people who e-mail, follow, comment or just pop into the blog to have a look around.  Over time this blog has really changed and I hope you enjoy what I post – if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see just let me know, I’m always up for a challenge!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Back now 😦

But I’ve got loads done 🙂

Planning in progress

This week’s retreat was a great one for me: I wanted to get the plan for the next novel completed during the break, and I just about managed it (I skipped my evening walk on the last night to finish).

So now I can tell you it’s tentatively called ‘The Ridge House’; the house is at the centre of the story and to all intents and purposes is a character in its own right.

I started with a basic plot outline based on all the research I’d done before I went.  I revised the character plans a little, as the male character had taken a turn for the worse, personality-wise, and I needed him to be more sympathetic.  Once I’d done that, I wrote a more detailed overview and finally a synopsis of each chapter, showing links between the elements introduced in other sections and the development of the interwoven characters and their experiences.

Of course I still have a long way to go, but I’m happy that it is in a good state and I can start writing fully from now on.  My time sheet is coming back out, having hibernated over the last few months, and I’ll be aiming to write content for at least 15 hours a week until it’s completed.

I feel positive that this one will stay on track, and then I can get back to fixing the woods novel!

In other news – We’ve reached book 32 in the novels list – The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  I haven’t read this one and it’s never really appealed to me – so if you’ve read it let me know what you think, I’m reading a few from the list as I go through the year!

And finally – Alongside the novel, I got a fair amount of new poetry and some haikus drafted during my break so I’ll be looking into setting up a new performance soon!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Here I am, back in glorious Wales – and the writing has gone pretty well, with a first plan written, and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis to start tonight.  I’ve used some of the scenery here to spur my descriptive imagination too.

It’s not quite as sunny as last time but we’ve mostly avoided rain and if you look closely you can see lambs, which are a lovely sight when you get up in the morning.  I took this picture just before a hail shower, hence the clouds, but it only lasted a little while and now everything is fresh again.

Repeating my retreating

 

We actually left the farm today and went out for a drive around the mountains; the scenery is stunning and every turn in the road gives you a new viewpoint.  You can see why Wales is filled with myths and magical tales; the mountains look as though they were clawed into shape by giants, and the forests covering so much of the landscape are perfect hiding places for dragons.

I even got to see a dragon today, briefly – I’m going to visit it tomorrow for a cup of coffee…!

I really think it’s worth taking these few days to escape normality and focus on writing, sketching and reading.  I know writing should be the focus of my day but sometimes I get involved in too many things so it goes down the list of priorities: retreats are all about giving myself time to get on with work.

Besides, my partner gets to do some sketching which he never has time to do at home, so he gets to focus on his inner artist too.

I feel so relaxed, and so happy here, I could do it for months!

Have a good few days and I’ll be back home on Sunday with an update on how far I get.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Today is day one of my break and the first of two days I get to spend with my sister and her family so I’m not working and I pre-prepared this post before I left. I’m at the retreat the rest of the time so there’s plenty of working time set aside!

This week I had a productive, and enjoyable writing group; the segment of the Woods novel I shared was well received which has given me a real boost, and the exercise we did to loosen up our writing was very successful.

I talked through the issue I had with the woods novel but the group were already commenting on the sinister elements in the atmosphere and the odd environment I’d created, so I was really happy.

Also the charity event I was involved with took place, which was exhausting but satisfying – we even got photographed for the paper! I may have to hunt down all the copies and burn them (cameras hate me!) but it was a good feeling to get the day underway.

So this week has been a positive one for both writing and general life and although I still didn’t catch up with everything I was due to do I at least feel that my time has been well spent.

On that note, a song to see you through to Tuesday!

Oh, and finally – we’re onto book 31 in the 100 novels list – Dracula by Bram Stoker.  I think I posted my opinion of it some while ago – it took me a long time (for me) to read, and is full of weather reports.  It’s not a book I’ll re-read, probably; I first read it as a teenager when I think I did enjoy it but I suppose that just proves our taste changes over time!

Until next week,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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