Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Out of season writing

How do you write about something 'out of season'? Specifically I'm talking about Christmas poetry. In 2003 I had a poem published in a Christian anthology for a charity. I was rather chuffed as there was a forward by the then Archbishop of Canterbury! Since then I have occasionally received mailings from the editor inviting me to submit to other projects. This time it is an anthology for poetry and short prose celebrating Advent and Christmas.

I put the letter aside but it kept reminding me to do something. Today is that day. However, getting in the mindset of Christmas with all its festivities when the sun is shining from a clear blue sky and spring flowers colour the garden is very difficult. To get me in the mood I pulled out an Advent retreat book and tried to submerge myself in words and images. I began making notes and then started drafting some lines. Eventually something sprang to mind and I went with it.

Earlier, while thinking over this post, another idea came to me and I have just finished drafting that out. This idea was harder to pin down and I couldn't find the right words for some verses and then I got stuck at the end. But I'm happy with result now it's on the computer. I will be working on it again in a few days and as long as I am happy I will submit them both. I do have until the end of June to submit them but, as I've learnt from experience, sitting on things often means missed deadlines.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

On location

I had intended to do some research for my so-called novel last week but things didn't pan out that way so I chose yesterday to go off and take photos and suss out places I'd used so far. I had up until then been reliant on a city map and the internet. The trip certainly helped. There will have to be a few edits but nothing drastic. There was so much to see as well and I will have to make a return visit at some point to do those things I didn't have time for yesterday.

Now I wonder how many of you have been trying to work out where I have been? From what I have just said you know it's a city.  Here are some photo clues. Anyone know or want to guess? Don't be shy.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

More poems in print

More good news - Areopagus have printed the poem I submitted to them in their Easter magazine edition. I did have to email them to point out that they had attributed my poem to the wrong writer and they are going to print and apology next time!

Also one of my poems will be appearing in OU Poets 2014 Anthology to appear later this year.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

And the results are announced.....

It's been hell sitting on this one but finally I can reveal that I am the second prize winner in the single poem category of New Writer's 17th Annual Prose & Poetry Competition 2013. I was over the moon with this. My winning poem was one of those that wrote itself. I sat down with the intention of writing a long poem and it just flowed. There wasn't weeks of agonsing edits. It came fully formed and when I read it out at a poetry class my tutor said 'you are going to submit this somewhere aren't you?' Well, I did. It had previously been turned down and unlike me I did no further edit as I was please with it as it was. It just goes to show that poems have to be in the right place at the right time.  I'm now looking forward to seeing it printed in The New Writer magazine soon.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Not longlisted but......

Well, I wasn't on the Pighog Pamphlet longlist this morning when it was announced. I'd been waiting since last week when I knew a decision had been made but I didn't hold out much hope. They'd had 600 entries and about 35 were longlisted. This was only the second pamphlet competition I'd ever entered but I did work very hard on this one and felt a bit happier with the way the process had gone. The way I look at it now is that ten good poems are ready to be released for submission elsewhere. In fact I have news of one poem in that set that I cannot reveal at the moment - sworn to secrecy. All will be revealed soon.

What I should be doing now is typing out this mornings piece of my story (novel??. Instead I'm flitting between Facebook and Twitter....oh the shame of it! Anyway, the excuses are running out and I am going to type it now...yes, really. I have my music at the ready.....a trance sequence, 20014 mix lasting nearly three hours and no adverts! Trance is what I listen to when typing up my pieces because it is fast and vibrant and keeps me going. I sometimes write to music but depending on what I am doing it can be a distraction  in which case I switch it off. I write in silence with the current story but I hate typing up so music keeps the boredom levels low.  So here we go.........

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A little success and sharing the baby!

I heard last week that one of my poems is to appear in an Anthology entitled Spooky Tales, a publication from What the Dickens? It will come out as an eBook and printed copy. See here. That was a nice a piece of news and made my day. My friend Lynda Bullock will be appearing along side me. Well done Lynda!

Last time I spoke about the story I was writing. Well, it's still going strong and I even have a routine going. I write when I get up before anyone else is around. I manage around 1,000 to 1,500 words, though sometimes less. But as long as I write something I am happy. Later in the day I try to type up what I have written, although that's not always possible and then things lag a bit. Still, today I am finally up to date.

My hubby's friend who stayed with us one night last week let it slip that he had an idea for a story himself. I can't even remember how we got round to talking about writing....oh I know we were half watching Stargate! He told me his idea which I liked and he even drew a little map to explain how his idea would work. But he says he knows he will never write it because he gets bored easily. I think it's a shame because it has potential. There'd need to be a lot of research but that's part of the fun. He asked to read some of my story. Now I NEVER let anyone read my stories (few though they are) especially in rough draft form but I relented. I explained that this was a really rough draft and when I came to type it I began the process of editing but even then it's still a first draft. I already knew there were discrepancies, spelling was a bit hit and miss at times because I write as it flows. I don't correct because that stops the flow. We had a discussion over sentence structure! He wanted to write in school English and I said I write how people speak. We clashed on a few points but he was complementary about the way I expressed certain scenes. Basically we were coming from two different places but it was interesting to hear what he said. This is my baby so I am very protective of it and I told him how privileged he was to see it! He only read snatches so I had to explain some things because they were taken out of context. I said that next time I saw him I'd be asking him how his writing was going. He just said it wouldn't get done.

Anyway, I've now got just over 12,500 words under my belt. There was a lull when I wondered how to bring the next bit into play but then suddenly the opportunity presented itself like magic as I wrote. So now I'm gearing up for another good run.

I've also decided that I need a research trip! One of the places where the story is set is somewhere I have been through but never visited. There is a scene I need to back up with facts because this is a real place not fictional. Where is it you ask? Well, think Susan Hill...her crime novels. While her setting is fictional she gives an idea of places it is similar to. However, I'm not writing about either of them.  Now go off and research that one folks!

So I am aiming to take a day out next week to soak up the atmosphere. I'm really excited about it. I hope to return fully immersed and ready to write.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The muse is alive and well

I'm not sure why but I've been toying with the idea of writing a story again (even though I am supposed to be editing one I finished last year....I have started!). I think perhaps it is the need to have a longer period of writing and really letting it get under my skin that prompted me to consider this.

Some months ago I made attempt at setting out some characters and flimsy plot to a story then did a bit of research and set it aside. The urge left me.Though I considered this now one it wasn't the story I wanted to go back to. Then I remembered another story I began even longer a few years. I got into it initially then ran out of steam. I dug it out and read what I'd written and found I still liked it. My pen was on the paper and I was away again. So the last few mornings I have written two or three pages (handwritten) and spent some time typing up some of the beginning. This morning I decided that I should be delving into the characters and working out how the story was going to continue because when I began the story I just jumped in with a vague idea and no real character backgrounds etc. Now was the time before I get too far in that I'm getting dates, places and people all mixed up! Piecing it all together I ended up with a family tree.

I'm actually loving this story. I'm not even thinking about publishing aspects because I want to really submerge myself into the characters. I'd almost forgotten the sheer pleasure and obsessiveness of writing a story (dare I even consider it lengthening into a novel!). The ideas are coming and I'd quite happily lock myself away in a room and write to all the words ran out. But, I have another life and right now there's so much going on, so with difficulty I have to try and switch off. It's not easy as I find myself wandering around with my head full of characters, what I'll write next, how to develop the story and just living it. Already I've fallen in love with one of the characters, not literally - it's a woman and she's got a voice and personality which writes itself.

Now I've mentioned this I expect the muse will leave me and the story will get shelved for another few years. I realise that once the novelty has worn off I'll have to push myself, but I'm hoping to see it through. I've even thought there might be a prequel in it - now there's a thought!