Sunday, 27 July 2014

Reaching the half way point

A milestone for me....yesterday I reached the halfway point in my novel. With 40,000 or so words I stopped to congratulate myself. Then I thought where do I go now? I didn't have an ending, I wasn't sure where my main character was going next and it all began to feel like an anti-climax. I wondered how I would have enough material to finish. So I decided to do some brainstorming.

It was a lovely evening so I went to sit on my favourite bench with my note pad and pen. I plugged myself into some music (Akon's Freedom album) and began roughing out potential ideas/directions and asking myself questions. Gradually things began to come together and finally I knew how things would end. In fact I think I'd always known and it seemed so obvious once the decision was made. How to get my character to this point will still take some working out but at least I know where I am going. It was such a relief!

I also began thinking about what I had written so far and jotted down some amendments I want to make when I come to editing. There are sections to fill out, give more detail to but in the rush to get words on paper I tend to skim over them to get the essentials down.

I am finding that my characters and story are beginning to weave into my dreams - it's like I can't switch off from  them. This does happen from time to time. When I'm fired up I walk down the road and am hardly aware of what's going on around me because I am so pre-occupied with scenes playing out in my head. I'm sure I'm not much fun to be around, tapping away on my laptop with my earphones plugged in. The housework piles up and I hate having to down tools to cook. When I'm not writing I'm reading!

We have someone coming to stay later in the week so I will have to take a break and do some housework. Having breaks is good, I think, for me anyway, as long as they are not too long. It's great to do something completely different for a time and come back renewed to write. Well, that's the plan!

Friday, 25 July 2014

A....sort of win!

I am still chuckling over this one....just had an email from the editor of Areopagus to say that I had sort of won the summer competition (which was to write the first part of story and then other writers would contribute a paragraph each time). The 'sort of' won it is because mine was the only entry! I fell about laughing.  I really don't mind. The magazine is a small publication (perhaps 200 odd subscribers) but I did think a few writers would have a go at this. The piece I used was edited from a writing prompt a few years ago. Anyway, Julian has asked if he can end the piece slightly before where I left it to make the next contributions more interesting. Again, that's fine but I'll be laughing about this one for a long time.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Fiction and poetry

Sustainer of like - cake! My courgette and lemon cake.
(The other half is in the freezer)
I've just been doing that stressful thing of online submissions so I thought I'd relax by posting on my blog!

I've gone back to my novel. Having done a quick edit of what I've written so far I'm pleased to say I still like my story, which is just as well as I've spent so much time on it, My method varies between thinking out the next 1,000 words before I write them (not good when doing this in bed as it keeps me from sleeping!) and writing straight on to the laptop with only a vague idea where I'm going. Both methods seem to work but I prefer the former. Am I writing notes? Er.....well if it is something I think I will need to refer to like a make of car, or a place that I need a description for, that sort of thing. I have my profiles (and family trees) which are working well, and a map I drew of somewhere as well as local information and maps collected on a visit.

The problem with not having your own writing space is that all my books and papers are stacked on one corner of the dining table and my laptop on the other. We end up not using the table for eating at as it's such a hassle moving everything (one of my sons has a claimed another corner to keep his keys, odd receipts and rubbish! and hubby the other corner). Everything gets moved now and then for guests (unless they are used to the mess in which case they slum it like the rest of us!). Once things get moved, papers go walkabout and I have to track them down again. One day it will all be worth it.....hopefully.

You may remember I told you that I was giving an episode of my 'online soap' to a friend to read. We met recently to discuss it. She liked the writing and characters. We talked about my concerns about quick changes in scene, the amount of characters, how it would fair on the internet (followers and the like) and where I should go next with it. Nothing was resolved and my friend suggested I put the episode on my blog and get feedback. This might be worth trying, but for now I've decided to concentrate on the novel as switching between two pieces of fiction gets confusing, where as fiction and poetry switch quite happily. Likewise another story which I began editing this year has also been abandoned for now and is somewhere under the pile.

Meanwhile I've been writing a sequence of poems on one particular subject and this is nice to go back to when I want a break from fiction. However, I found myself become obsessed with my sequence poems over the weekend and had to stop. I have some poems I'm really happy with as well as several in first/second draft form. I can't even remember where the idea came from for these poems but it's been good creatively.

Well, time for lunch over an episode of Doctors!  Happy writing.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Character profiling again!

How I long for a room with a huge pin board right now. I've returned to my novel and immediately realised I'd forgotten the name of a character! Flicked through my few pages of notes on my characters to find it and wondered how I could forget such a name......it was my dad's name!

Decided some proper profiling was needed and boy have a got myself into a muddle but I'm getting there. One thing to come out of this is how certain things link together to make the story better (hopefully) and I'm finding that the characters are coming to life more and I'm beginning to understand where they are coming from. Found some good tension spots between two characters which will be useful. I've had to expand on my characters' family trees and I have been going through the first part of the story and editing a little. I need to get a feel for the story again and add more detail before I continue with it.This seems essential at this point, especially now I'm putting flesh on my characters. Of course further edits will be needed but this will be  a better draft.

Another thing that's come out of looking at the novel again is the similarities to my 'soap' style story. I realised that both are mainly set in villages (one not exclusively) and the names of the villages are similar! Not only that but two names appear in both stories. None of this was intentional and I am wondering whether I just don't have much imagination, whether it was subconscious or I like writing things based on similar ideas. Probably it's down to not profiling characters properly first! Well, Victoria Hislop writes similar things - all her books have two timelines (with back story dominating) and look how successful she is! Oh well, I think it's time for a break - my head is overloaded with dates, names and places. I'm off to wash up and then watch the footie - come on Costa Rica!

Friday, 27 June 2014

OU Poets newest Anthology published

Today I have received my copy of Openings 31, the 2014 Anthology from The Poetry Society of the Open University. Eagerly I looked inside to see which page my poem was on - it's page 26. Copies of Anthologies can be bought from their website. You can also see past copies there (but not the latest). Number 30 has a poem of mine in it should you like to go searching!

Poetry and Music at The Ram Jam Club

LiTTLe MACHiNe
Last night I went for a walk through poetry from Homer to Carol Ann Duffy care of the group LiTTLe MACHiNe at Rhythm& Muse at The Ram Jam Club in Kingston. The group, who set poetry to music, performed their show Epic in two sets.  We skipped through 3,000 years of poetry history in sixty minutes which included drama and comedy! Some highlights – an extract from Gilgamesh and Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley and the war poets (Seigfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen). They were brilliant performers, both in musicianship and personality.

The group tour around the country (do check out their website) the visual backdrop to their show includes pictures of the poets and the words to the poems.

Rachel Rose Reid
The evening was part of Kingston Connections Festival of Stories and included two poets from the floor as well as Rachel Rose Reid who is writer-in-residence at the Charles Dickens Museum in London   Rachel has performed stories and songs for Billy Bragg, Southbank Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Last night she told stories from Africa, about Woody Guthrie and about London and Charles Dickens, somehow managing to slide between the old and new worlds. She has a lovely voice and recites her poetry and stories from memory. Rachel keeps you listening (and sometimes participating) because you did not want to miss a word. The stories were funny and poignant and she is an excellent performer, knowing how to instantly engage her audience.

The evening was brilliant – a combination of poetry, stories and music that stay with you on your way home.


(The Ram Jam Club is an intimate setting behind The Grey Horse Pub in Kingston.  Comfy seating, a glass of something from the bar and there you are, up personal with the performers – just how I like it.)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Poetry at the Southbank Centre

As part of The Southbank Centre's Festival of Love which open this weekend there are free activities in the foyer for all ages. The Emma Press will be there promoting their latest anthology Mildly Erotic Poetry with readings by some of the poets featured. These will take place in the Royal Festival Hall near the Ballroom from around 12 noon to 5pm. Sounds like a good day if you are nearby and can get along.