books

Alienated Talking Bricks (in Bubbles …?)

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Had a good week. A very good week! My Genre coursework is AT LAST completed and submitted, now I can take a nice long break from unicorns and superheroes. Unfortunately I still have work to do–meh–but the big one’s done. Done! Hooray! I was beginning to think I’d never finish it.

And I’ve finished the second song to submit for Lyrics. Well, I think I have. I’m going to wait a while and have another look at the second verse, see if it does need another tweak, but I think it’s finished or at least virtually finished, which means I’m up to my quota on lyrics to submit for marking–just the critique to go, which while trickier than I anticipated is still looking to be much easier than the Genre critique was.

I also finished another song–not one I’m submitting, as it’s based on Shadow Charge and harder to appreciate without knowledge of the story. I had planned for it to be my second song for coursework, but wasn’t sure when it was finished and showed it to a third party with no knowledge of my novel, who agreed it didn’t really stand alone. But in the context of the story, I’m happy with it, so it wasn’t a waste.

Extract from ‘Leave Me Alone’:

Leave me alone! Let me go!
I can’t take the past’s torment
If bricks couldn’t talk I would be all right
But they can and they whisper through the night
Haunted by what I never wanted
I was only trying to make things right

Posting more would spoil the novel plot, so that’s all you get!

A while ago, one afternoon over coffee dregs, I drafted a couple of Trock songs, something I’d wanted to do for ages but didn’t actually plan on trying before I’d finished all my coursework. But my brain had given up on everything else and I thought, why not? Probably because my brain had given up on everything else, only one chorus is actually more than note form. I quite like it though I wish I had more than that. Still, one day …

On the subject of geeky writing, I surprised myself by making progress on two fan fictions in the last couple of afternoons that hadn’t changed a jot in months. Both Doctor Who, well, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Still neither are at a point in which I’d feel comfortable making them public, alas, but still, progress is progress.

I know what you’re thinking, but fan fiction falls into the same category as fan songs, or anything fan-based really: only when my brain has exhausted everything else. Which is sadly why most afternoons you will find me watching the telly, too knackered to finish all the one-chapter wonders I started posting online prematurely over the last seven years (wow, has it been that long?). Which is why I’m being a lot more careful with the newer ideas, i.e. the Doctor Who ones.

I’ll stop talking geek now, not that I’m apologising for being one (never!), but just not to alienate (pun not intended) too much anyone just stumbled on this blog. I promise I don’t only write about geeky things.

I also write about … stars! I like stars. I’m still learning the constellations, I’m quite a newbie to astronomy, but loving it. And I write about other things too, can’t think of specifics off the top of my head but I do.

I’m coming close to leaving home. As in, for good as opposed to during term time. It’s a scary thought. Not in one go, I’m moving into a flat in a town near my parents, so the idea is over time I’ll gradually clear out my old bedroom so one of my brothers can have it. Might take a while, living in two places basically means having two of everything–or it does for me anyway. I’ve been lacking the energy for a real clear-out for years, but being closer to home is looking to be the time to do it.

I’m going to miss London, but I’ll still be going to Neo Writers and astronomy meets (not all of them every month). In the probably naive hope that one day I’ll be able to afford to move back there on a permanent basis. (Don’t burst my bubble, people.) And my friends had better visit or else …

A Unicorn Cover

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UI_Cover

Not my most imaginative title, I know. Apologies for the delay in posting another … er, post. It’s that time of year when I eat, sleep and dream deadlines, and a cold threatening to cripple my ability to study has not been helping. So I decided to keep this a quick and easy one with little text.

I just completed a mock cover for my short story Unseen Injustice as part of my Genre coursework (left).

Criticism welcome, as long as it’s polite and constructive criticism. I did consider a career in graphic design, though instead chose to pursue a career in writing. But I don’t think I’m too bad at it.

I’m doing this post during a short break between collecting images for my Aquila cover. I’ll put that one up here too when I’ve done it.

Write What You Read?

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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).

To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.

Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.

Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.

For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).

What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.

So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Why Do I Always Type ‘Questino’?

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Been mega-busy this morning and yesterday morning with coursework, need a break. I’ve been looking at a computer screen so much, and telly when my brain’s left the building, I’ve been looking into radio programmes–well obviously not literally looking into them, there’d be nothing to see–to listen to when my eyes are strained.

I would download all the Milton Jones series from Audible, only one series being available on CD which I already have in my posessino (yes the spelling is intentional), were it not for my trying to conserve money. Until I feel financially prepared to bring something new to my ears I will make do with the one MJ CD I have, Yes (Prime) Minister with my eyes closed, and continue to struggle to find radio stations on my television. Because one cannot lie down comfortably in my headphones. Unless I get speakers … hmm …

Was researching for a presentation today–enjoyed it much more when my internet gave out yesterday and I was forced to write lyrics instead. And afterwards I began some Twitter poetry (Twittetry?).

I seem to be developing a habit of looking to my fiction characters for inspiration, whether from my original work or even, for one song, a fan fiction plot. Still, I made the plot up and it’s not like I mention any names or anything in the lyrics. I got a good song out of a plot that could, with character replacement and plot tweaks, potentially be an original novel. I think I just find it easier to write a song for a deadline from a perspective I already know; so far I have written none (since I was twelve, anyway) from personal experience. Okay, a half-draft sitting on my hard drive. But unlike my poetry, which draws mainly from personal experience, my songs are about other personas.

My fairy-tale themed “I’m Not the Woodcutter” came, strangely, from my novel in progress Crossfire, though you wouldn’t believe it to look at them both together–one image I put in the song then took it over. “Restore My Reflection” feels more obvious, comparing with the fanfic plot, but I don’t believe it is infringing any copyright. Besides, if  Chameleon Circuit and the like can actually sell their CDs, then I’m sure a much vaguer connectino (and again) isn’t going to cause any trouble.

To explain the spelling, when I type I often seem to end up with “tino” instead of “tion”. Sometimes I just go along with it.

Dreaming of a Pre-Christmas Word Flurry

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Well, it’s nearing that time again, and I’m not talking about the apocalypse that didn’t happen (when will people learn, the end of the world cannot be calculated). I mean Christmas, and it actually feels close now, as opposed to September when decorations etc start appearing in the shops and it still feels very far away. Heavenly smells keep filling the kitchen and there’s no room to make a sandwich because of the marzipan and mince pies covering the bench.

Maybe it’s a bit late in the day to say this–although I don’t know, the number of people who leave Christmas shopping till Christmas Eve (nutters)–but, do you and others a favour this year. Shun the materialistic shallowness that’s come to be associated with this holiday. Show some love by making presents for your loved ones, or if you’re not good at that/have run out of time, do charity gifts or arrange a Secret Santa. Christmas isn’t about the highest price tag.

This morning I woke up with a view to writing something—even if just a few lines—on my novel, for only the second time since I submitted the first chapter and synopsis for class in September. Well, with all my outstanding coursework, I don’t have the opportunity often. This is sort of procrastination, and part trying to remember the rest of the rhyming line I thought up this morning while having breakfast and promptly forgotten. At present all I remember is “… all you can see …” but there was another bit, which I can’t remember if it came before or after. Hence the two ellipsis.

Right. That’s the procrastination finished with. I’m going to open up that document and write something anyway …

On the First Day

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Having a very successful 1st of December. (Pinch punch to all readers and no return!) So far I have completed my second draft of my superhero story, “Aquila”–with punctuation no less–and my first draft of my next song for class, “Woodcutter”. Praise the Lord! I even have ten days left to edit the latter before it’s due for workshopping. And although the former needs cutting down by 700 words, that’s the easy bit. My target of having that module finished by the Christmas holidays is looking more likely!

I also hit my first 100 tweets by announcing my successes. What a day!

I’m going to move back to my “Nutshell” poem now, to try and get the revision in a decent state for my tutorial. And then after that, probably play with some fanfiction. After my achievements this morning alone, I think I deserve it.

Names, Nutshells and Neologism

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Well, I’m still lacking a name for my superheroine, but on the plus side I spent yesterday morning making the plot better. Just that name, and the cleaner’s name, and that’s all I have left to decide on for the proper write-up. At the moment I have a messy, punctuation-less, rambly first draft, and a written description of the new order of events. All I’ve got to do now is edit the two together. Then I can move onto the boring critical stuff.

Hmm, let’s see, what else? Signed up for Pinterest now, I’m going to try and keep inspiring stuff in there. I expect next time I visit the Royal Observatory website the nature board will fill up with space pics. Should be a handy resource for my poetry.

I’m working on one poem for class, “A Nutshell for the Hippocampus”. At the moment anyway, I may change the title. I’ve been jotting lots of new words in my daybook recently, it started when I replaced the (cliched) phrase “kiss of Life” in a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, with one word, “Lifekiss”, making a new word from two. I’ve had several similar ideas since.

Oh, now I have to go and sort out some administrative stuff. Can’t get five minutes’ break without some unwanted email demanding a phone call. Will post again soon.