Saturday, 28 March 2015

Dream scenes

Getting the dream down on paper with a bit of 'editing'!
I have spoken several times about my dreams and how they contribute towards my creative writing. I had another instance this morning which I wanted to tell you about because I found it interesting in the way the mind works when sleeping/dreaming.

I woke around 4am to hear the birds waking up. I love listening to them but my main thought was, do I really want to get up at this hour? I was tempted to go down and make a cup of tea. In the end, I decided to try and get back to sleep and after a while, thankfully, I did. I'm sure I woke briefly a few more times but when I woke up properly straight out of a dream it was nearly 8.30am! Immediately, I ran the scene through my head again. The whole thing was very vivid and in colour. As soon as I got up I wrote what I could remember down but already I was asking questions, making notes of things to check. Why? Well, as I said this was a vivid dream and I saw potential in it, despite the fact that like in all dreams, there were some totally weird things happening.

I won't bore you with all of it, but I would say the action took place in a shop - on the second floor. How did I know that? Because one of the baddies - who was me - (this is a potential crime story) took the lift down two floors in order to escape the Police in the dream. While in the lift - and this is the interesting bit - I could feel all sorts of emotions and saw all the colours and I was saying to myself, I must remember this, how this feels, so I can write it down! The writer in me was mentally making notes as the scene unfolded.

The really stupid part of the dream came near the end when the character (me) had escaped and was hurrying across a level crossing. Coming towards me was a tiny bright red car, the size of a toy and came right out of the animated film Cars! Even more stupid the character and the car recognised one another and acknowledged each other. Then as the character got to the other side he realised (see I've even changed sex!) that the car was connected to the Police and it dawned on the character that the car would put two and two together and work it out. The character rushed off passing a shop holding a book auction (I think this is where I was tempted to go in! but the character dragged me away!). The last fragments was me, as the character, hurrying from street to street looking for somewhere to hide or go.

This was all too good to waste. It may never get used. It may form a scene in a short story or a novel. Maybe it will end up in a poem. There is stuff I can work with, exchange the silly parts for something real (in fact in my writing down of this dream I have already made some changes).

I love it when something like this happens. Dreams, while often mixed up and crazy, can offer some great nuggets and insights into the subconscious.

Sleeping so late put me right out this morning and the day is slipping away at great speed. I feel like I'm still trying to catch up but I wouldn't have wanted to miss this exciting dream. Who knows where and in what form it might appear one day!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Editing - the good times

My working space (yes, that is my YouTube music choice
and I have dusted the laptop since then!)
Editing has been going well. Things seem to be coming together. Into the last quarter of the novel, I have been cutting like no body's business. I've found several parts that I'm not happy with and ended up taking out about 400 words. I moved those deleted parts into a file just in case I decide to reinstate them in some form or other. As yet, I'm not sure how it will affect what follows and I might have to re-write other sections but I'm not worried about it as long as it improves the story.

I was thinking about the process of writing and how each story pulls me into different worlds. It's a bit like reinventing myself over and over - a bit like Madonna! I can live through different personalities of my characters. I'm not saying that I do but there is scope to do things with characters that I'd never do myself. That's exciting.

I am going through a good period of writing/editing at the moment. While attending to the novel I've found my interest in poetry has waned. I'm sure it's only temporary. Spending so much time in the world of my characters I guess its inevitable. It's been good because I've found myself mulling over the story again, seeing things I hadn't considered before, including a few more inconsistencies and ends to tie up. Silly things. like what happened to an object that was mentioned once and would have been important to my character, but I failed to mention again. That at least has been rectified. It's like I've stood back and seen some things for the first time. You'd think by a 3rd draft a lot of this would have been picked up first or at least second time round. It also begs the question - when will this novel ever be ready? Will it be like a poem that I can never leave alone?

The good thing is that I have got my second wind on the novel now. I went through a time when I had to drag myself to the laptop. Then, for a few days I didn't make it to the novel (though I made it to the laptop!) I hate feeling like that. My feelings change so quickly (I've always been like that) and no sooner had I wanted to leave it for a week, than I was back to it. Another fifty or so pages to go through. I wonder what happens then!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Reading at Croydon Library and feedback arrives

Having booked a spot at Croydon Library's Poetry Hour I went along with two poems. There were around twenty or so people and we each had the chance to read one poem to start with. A friend came along to support me but I was as nervous as the first time I read there. I was third or fourth on the list. Unfortunately, the microphone wasn't working well and it was a strain to hear sometimes so I tried to make sure I projected my voice. My first poem was an amusing one about being in space, written especially for this session (theme was universe). It seemed to go down well and certainly created some laughs and my friend loved it.

After everyone from the list had read others came up to read and then people could go up for a second time. I read a sonnet about Easter which I'd had published by Areopagus. There was a guy sitting behind me who just turned up to see what it was all about. He actually wrote throughout the hour and eventually was persuaded to go up and read, even though he said the poem wasn't finished. We all enjoyed his rap-style poem about the universe. He was very brave to perform with a quickly thrown together poem and I can see talent there. I think it likely he will be back.

All the hand written edits from the second session, now on computer and being edited again!
Last time I blogged I mentioned that I'd emailed the first two chapters of my novel to a friend. I now have her feedback and was amazed to find positive comments. Keep writing, she said. She also said she'd be happy to read more. I know the genre is perhaps not her favourite and I think she was a little confused by the second chapter but she read it blind - no synopsis or blurb to help (her choice). I was pleased that she identified with the main character and she had already formed an opinion of one other particular character in the way I'd hoped. I guess I keep going then! I've taken on board her remarks and will look at one particular scene. This is good news. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with it all. it seems there is never an ending in sight. Another friend asked me how many edits I will do. I just don't know. I never set out to aim for any particular number. There will definitely be a fourth. After that, who knows? It all depends. At present I'm not quite half way through the third edit but it is coming together. Yesterday I deleted a whole section which I put in on another edit because I I decided I didn't need it. It did not add anything to the story.

A few days ago I opened up the file containing the novel I drafted for NaNoWriMo in November. I haven't looked at it since I finished it. My first reaction was - this is better than the first novel! Probably I feel that way because it is a totally different genre, very different characters and it comes at me new, whereas I'm working on the current novel virtually daily. I couldn't resist a few tweaks and had to stop myself going on. I really should get one thing done at a time, I think. I could feel myself being drawn into that story and I have to be in the zone for the current one. I can switch between poems and stories but I think it's too confusing to switch between novels. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The stress of Mothering Sunday and online competition entries

I wonder if this is one I made earlier!
Mother's Day - supposed to be relaxing isn't it? If only! As leader of a Mothers' Union branch, church on Mothering Sunday can be full of stress and this one certainly was. Firstly, when I arrived I was asked if I'd do the first reading that morning. Having a quick look through to see there were no odd unpronounceable names I agreed - though I get so nervous. My blood pressure must have already been through the roof because we were due to dedicate a Mothers' Union Banner, or rather the vicar was. However, he seemed to have misunderstood which banner it was and I was having kittens about how to sort it out before it all became a farce when one of the church wardens went and had a word with him. But the sorting out came after I read so I had all this going through my mind while trying to keep calm, not speak too fast and make sure the microphone was at my level!

I received my little bunch Daffs at the end of the service (our MU branch makes about 100 on Friday afternoon) then realised the lady in front of me didn't have one so I gave her mine and had to chase the vicar round the church to grab one of the last remaining bunches for myself!

Having survived the morning (oh we had a bake sale as well) I went back at home and with both boys out it was just hubby and I so I sat down to lunch and watched a calming episode of Murder She Wrote - nothing too taxing!

I decided to submit my entry to Mslexia and proceeded to get stressed over numbering the pages of my short story. I had to submit a cover sheet with the story but all as one document. I had no idea how to miss off numbering the cover sheet and start numbers on the next without it wanting to start with page 2! I 'googled it' and followed the instructions but still couldn't get it right. After umpteen attempts it worked. I'm still not sure how I did it and whether I will ever do it again but my stress was not yet over.

I paid the entry fee and looked for a box to upload my file. Couldn't find one. I re-read the entry details and the FAQ. Still no luck. By this time I was coming out in a sweat. I found an email address for queries and sent it there saying I hoped it was right. I went back to FAQ and saw that they said it can take up to 24 hours for the payment to go through and if you don't hear send the story to the email address I'd just used! Why can't Mslexia have an upload button like most other competitions? Please think of the stress levels of participants. I always get anxious about submitting online (especially as my laptop crashed once in the middle of making a payment) so the more these people can do to help the better. Obviously I didn't read the FAQ thoroughly enough first time round but really all the info should be on the main competition page.

I'm now going to stick my head in bucket of something cool!

An interesting collection of Mothers' Day gifts!
Choc, candles and food boxes (I did need these
so I am strangely satisfied!)

Friday, 13 March 2015

The editing goes on....

I've just completed the second edit of my novel and added another seven thousand words to it. I had intended to have a break from it but found myself back at the opening chapter revising it. So, the third edit has begun. This one I'm doing on the computer (the second edit I did on the hard copy, pen and paper and then transferred the amendments to the laptop).

I also decided to get some feedback. Last year a friend offered to read my manuscript when it was done. Yesterday I emailed her and said it's not done but would you read the first two chapters? She agreed. I whisked them off with a set of questions. Now I am waiting nervously to hear what she thinks. All sorts of thoughts are going through my head - it's rubbish, amateurish, it's boring or maybe she even likes it? As always my confidence is scraping the floor.

I've realised it is a year since I first began writing this novel. I still like the story line and there I parts I love and still enjoy reading. What I worry about is how well written it is. How does it actually sound to others. I'm particularly worried about the beginning and feel it might need a complete re-write. But I'm so close to it that I may not be seeing things clearly which is why I decided to let someone else take a look. Now I have the agony of waiting.

I'm tempted to enter the Mslexia short story competition as I have one story that fits the length (now I've done some edits). It is ready to go but it's a £10 entry fee. All my money seems to go on competition fees these days.

I have also sent out a few more poems - no results from anything from the previous batch yet - but I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile I have booked a slot at Croydon Library for their Poetry Hour on 21st March.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Learning about historial fiction

I love online learning and feeling I needed something else in my life I have just signed up for a new course. It just so happens that it is on writing. The title of the course is Plagues, Witches and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction and it is run by Coursera. I'm hoping it will expand my horizons in what I read and help me get to grips with understanding research.

While not exactly a 'how to' writing course it does look at how authors use research to aid their novels. It sounds like a comprehensive course, though the tutor admits it can never cover everything because the subject matter is so big. I'm looking forward to starting the first module tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Writing 201:P Poetry (last day) Sonnet

Ahh! a day late with this. The last poetry prompt which I should have submitted yesterday is a sonnet on the theme of the future and with the device of  chiasmus. Mmmmm not come across that before. It is where A and B are repeated as B and A. I managed (finally) to get one in!

My sonnet could do with editing probably and the strict iambic pattern isn't true but rules are there to be broken!

I turned to a subject close to my heart. We have to believe in a future for all  mankind.

This is the end of the challenge. It has been interesting and fun. I've learned a few new devices I'd not come across before and I was pleased to see some unusual forms cropping up. However, it was nice to end with an old traditional form, one I've struggled with over the years but have got to rather like.

Making a difference

Sometimes it is hard to see a way through
With all the gloom the media paint us,
Faces sunken as they stare back at you
Bellies swollen, too weak to make a fuss
And pitted buildings, bomb sites once a home
Now broken like those who used to live there
And with what they can carry they leave to roam
Across the dusty earth where some will care
And give them hope to live and live to hope
That one day they’ll be peace but do they dare
To dream somewhere will be theirs upon this globe?
So sign petitions march or send a gift
However small will count, the tide will shift.