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This hasn’t been a great week for writing.  I don’t know where the time is going, but it hasn’t been going towards my poetry.

Well, I’ve had a few ideas and rambling thoughts but they always seem to bubble up when I am halfway between places and can’t stop to record them.

One made it to paper when I got home, and I am quite excited about it, but it’s a story not a poem so although I can add notes and ideas, it shouldn’t be my focus…  Everything else was absorbed into the ether, never to take physical form.

It would be easy to waffle on at this point about the whys and wherefores, but you’re all human and you all know that some weeks are more productive than others.

My task now is to put a bit more effort in over the next couple of days. It helps that I am faced with some glorious sunshine at the moment which buoys me up no end; perhaps an hour or so sitting outside, listening to nature, will get me back on track.

And if the poetry is really off this week I still have prose, reading and studying to fill my writing needs!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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Yesterday I couldn’t write about writing.

Today, I’m going to share a conundrum with you.

Long time readers will know that my writing dream has been to find an agent, get picked up by a publisher and have my books, beautifully bound, on a bookshop shelf. Longtime readers will also know that this particular dream has not yet come true.

Enter my friend, who has offered to help me publish my novel as an e-book, via his company. I have the offer of cover art, a technologically intelligent adviser, and a way to publish through an actual company rather than by myself.

I have previously acknowledged that I prefer to write poetry to prose – I am immensely proud of my book, but I haven’t been able to successfully produce another yet and when I have the choice I choose poetry over a story. This may mean I only ever write one book, and it would be lovely for people to actually read it.

But do I accept my dream is subject to the reality of the writing world at this time, or do I hold on? Do I stick, or twist?

There are some self-published works that capture the attention of mainstream publishers, but they are the tiniest minority. If I go for it myself, I am saying that my book may never be in a bookshop, may never be picked up, its pages turned.

But if I don’t my book may stay as a document in a file forever, and there’s no point to that at all. Every day, we are shown how short life is by way of news stories and personal losses, and I wonder what I am waiting for.

This is the year of doing: I have tried new things, accepted new challenges and taken new opportunities. The question now is whether this opportunity is the right one to take.

A decision needs to be made, and I need to be brave and make a choice.  I’m not entirely sure I like that feeling.

But at least I have the chance to make a choice, and that in itself is something to celebrate.

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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Ok, so I made a plan last week. If that plan was a road map, I think I took the wrong turning somewhere.

The holiday journal is still a WIP, the whodunnit is still undone, and this week at writing group I admitted I don’t really want to write prose right now. Where that came from – frustration, boredom or an honest-to-goodness preference for poetry – I don’t know, but it’s given me some pause for thought.

If I prefer poetry, and I consider myself a better poet than prose writer, why am I giving myself all sorts of guilt over not completing other works? Why don’t I just write poetry, and be happy?

And if I don’t feel so strongly as I thought I did about writing prose, why can’t I just self publish the novel I have completed, get it out there and see what happens?

I think back, and I think of the dream: a book, on a shelf, in a bookshop. My work, bought by people and perhaps treasured by some readers, as I have treasured some of the books I bought from those shelves.

But reality is reality, and agents are the gatekeepers for traditional publishers, and agents aren’t picking up a lot of unknown writers. The future, I am constantly being told, is self publishing. The future is in hoping to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other works out there, with no marketing budget and no quality controls…

No decision now though.  I love writing, and I love that I can still focus on it even though my life has changed a lot since this blog began.  That’s the most important thing, and all the rest will become clear in time.

In other news – I said I’d catch up with the 100 novels list this week but this is going to be a quick update as there are quite a few I have missed out!  Book 84 – In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote.  Haven’t read it, and it’s not the kind of work I’d ever choose to read so I am unlikely to do so.  Book 85 – The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath.  I have read Plath’s poetry and it doesn’t connect with me; I am not sure whether her style or language would draw me into a longer narrative.  The sense of negativity and despair in her work can be overwhelming, and I don’t want to surround myself with that feeling.  Book 86 – Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth.  This sounds like the most unlikely of all books on the list to ever go onto my reading list. Book 87 – Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor.  I like the sound of this one and will add it to my list for the future.  Book 88 – Rabbit Redux, by John Updike.  I will definitely seek out the Rabbit books, but I have to read things in order so I’ll start at the beginning of the series.

Phew – book lists are exhausting!!

And finally – as this blog is getting very long I’ll just say I have signed up to do a 5 week course in something a little random, starting this Friday coming.   This is, after all, the year of doing stuff.  Will tell you more next week…

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I knew it would happen one day – I forgot completely that it was Sunday and just as Midnight came and Monday rolled in, I realised I should have written a blog post for you.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do, and I scrabbled around trying to make 400 words out of thin air.  And I give you – the week that was…

  • I did some editing of the novel (hurrah!) and some more poetry (yee ha!)
  • I went to open mike night (cool!) and got an agency rejection (boo!)
  • I missed the start of my new course (hmm!) and got some boring paperwork done (phew!)

There was lots more to it, of course – but these were the writing-related things that I can remember.

Editing was fine, although I haven’t looked at the manuscript for longer than I thought so it was a bit hard to get back into the flow.  The poetry was and will be fine – I am comfortable with the idea that it’ll change over time and that’s quite exciting to me actually, to see changes in my life blend with my older poetry to give it a different tone.

I won’t say much about the open mike as I spoke about it on Thursday – except to say it was a good night out regardless of my own readings!

The agency rejection wasn’t upsetting – I have zoned out in a way, as there’s nothing I can do to change minds.  I do need to send the book out to another couple of agents this week though.  Meanwhile, the poetry gives me my own little lifestyle and I quite enjoy that.  As it’s not something I expect to publish, I am considering self-publishing a small pamphlet to sell at any performances; I’ve seen it done before and I think it’ll be a sensible thing to do for a small expenditure.  I’ll be setting up a separate blog for that too, eventually.

The course will be a loss if I don’t do it, as it’s about writing historical fiction; it’s a way back into my first NaNo piece or my book 4 (was 3) which is set in 1950s, I think…

And the paperwork was paperwork.  There’s not a lot more to say about it than that!

So there you go – a mixed bag of a week but the next one starts here!

In other news – My travels through the 100 best novels has reached number 4 – ‘Clarissa’.  So far I have read none of the books, but I do remember seeing this on TV in my youth: it must have affected me more than I realised as so much of the story came to mind when I saw this book on the list.  To be honest, I am extremely unlikely to read this one.  Better luck next time, I hope…

As it’s so very, very late I’ll leave it there for tonight – let me know if you’ve read the book though, I’ll be interested to know if my memory of the story is as accurate as I think.  Or, indeed, if it was a good adaptation.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Well, I wasn’t sure I’d get a blog in this Thursday, but here I am 🙂

In fact, out here in the middle of fields and mountains I have more reliable mobile reception and wifi connection than at home – maybe I should arrange technology-free retreats in my garden!

Nevertheless, I’m keeping this short as I don’t want to be on-line too much; it kind of defeats the point of a retreat if you spend the entire time connected to the rest of the world.  I’ve scheduled publication of this post in advance so I really hope it works…

Today’s inspiration follows on from last week’s post, in a way.  It’s about observation, and is simple and you can do it anywhere, even just sitting in a bedroom.  It’s actually something I’ve done here; I started it in the car on the way up and have done a little bit  each day between other things.

Look at what you see, and list everything.  Try to describe it – colours, textures, shapes, smells, feel.  If you aren’t sure – say you’re describing a hill in the distance – try to fill in the blanks from memory or explore if you can.  Be as complete and accurate as possible: if a rose has blackspot, describe the shape of the spots.  If you see a butterfly flying past, note the different colours you can see as it flaps its wings.

But – and here’s the trickier bit – try to describe everything in terms of another familiar thing.  Something might be the colour of cooked spinach, or the shape of a jam roly poly (for traditional pudding lovers!) or have the texture of shaving foam, or smell like chips (french fries) cooking in the kitchen, or feel like spider webs.  You get the idea!

A couple of quick examples: For descriptions of a humid day, you might say that ‘the leaves outside had the consistency of cooked spinach’  instead of saying ‘the leaves were very wet’; it gives the idea of heat as well as water.  In a poem about a hot, humid day, the clouds could be ‘like spider webs, sticky filaments trapping the light,’ which I think is much more powerful an image than ‘wispy clouds cover the sky.’  It provides a sense of being cocooned by the heat, unable to escape it.

Can you tell it’s been a little humid as I’ve written this post?!

Have a go, see what you come up with and share an example or two in the comments.  And if it doesn’t work for you, let me know what you do instead – everyone’s techniques are a bit different and it’s good to have a writing community to share ideas with, after all!

Happy writing from a very sunny, very peaceful, very productive retreat,

EJ

🙂

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