Writing right.

A quick post today, I’ve just finished reading Stacked’s fortnightly, always brilliant, Links of Note post and read something I knew I had to share on my own blog.

Writing is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about and doing. This post of Tips For Writers from The Belle Jar is pretty wonderful, lovely words of encouragement and support such as:

Write because you have a secret fire burning inside of you and the only way that you can fan the flames is by sharing your thoughts with someone else.

Write because you’re bored and don’t have anything better to do.

Write for yourself.

Write for other someone else, or maybe everyone else.

You’ll have to go and read the post for the rest of the brilliance, it’s worth it. And then get writing!


National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day so I thought I would share one of the poems I remember dearly from my childhood, a poem that’s wonderful to read out loud.

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth Toast by Charles Causley.

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.

On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, ‘Beware!’

Colonel Fazackerley put down his glass
And said, ‘My dear fellow, that’s really first class!
I just can’t conceive how you do it at all.
I imagine you’re going to a Fancy Dress Ball?’

At this, the dread ghost made a withering cry.
Said the Colonel (his monocle firm in his eye),
‘Now just how you do it, I wish I could think.
Do sit down and tell me, and please have a drink.’

The ghost in his phosphorous cloak gave a roar
And floated about between ceiling and floor.
He walked through a wall and returned through a pane
And backed up the chimney and came down again.

Said the Colonel, ‘With laughter I’m feeling quite weak!’
(As trickles of merriment ran down his cheek).
‘My house-warming party I hope you won’t spurn.
You MUST say you’ll come and you’ll give us a turn!’

At this, the poor spectre – quite out of his wits –
Proceeded to shake himself almost to bits.
He rattled his chains and he clattered his bones
And he filled the whole castle with mumbles and moans.

But Colonel Fazackerley, just as before,
Was simply delighted and called out, ‘Encore!’
At which the ghost vanished, his efforts in vain,
And never was seen at the castle again.

‘Oh dear, what a pity!’ said Colonel Fazak.
‘I don’t know his name, so I can’t call him back.’
And then with a smile that was hard to define,
Colonel Fazackerley went in to dine.


What’s in a name?

My biggest problem when it comes to writing is titles. It always has been, I remember being incredibly relieved when it came to my GCSE English creative writing coursework and the only thing we were given was the title “Behind The Wall”. I’ve been blogging a long long time now, and naming posts doesn’t feel any easier than it did when I started over a decade ago, if anything it feels harder.

Book blogging is a great way around this problem, the title for a post is pretty much determined by its content – posts tend to be either a review or news so little imagination is needed. Throughout my blogging life however there have been more posts than I care to remember that have never seen the light of day because I didn’t have a title for them. The maddening thing is that I know some of them were really, really good posts.

Realising that I have this problem has helped me to realise why Livejournal has worked so well for me, I’ve had a number of journals over there and the Friendslist structure makes post titles pretty unimportant, I could just write what I wanted and post it without having to worry about titling it.

So what am I going to do? I see other bloggers using brilliantly witty and clever titles and know that I can’t do that, it’s not the way my brain works. I’m not witty or good at puns, so that’s definitely out. I figure I either continue to spend so much time worrying about it and not blogging as a result, or I just accept that my titles are never going to be imaginative and focus on making sure the post itself is the very best it can be. Hopefully this month’s blogging effort will help me to make the latter my automatic stance.

Life · Music · Photography · Writing

Lovely Day.

I’ve had such a lovely day today. By many peoples’ standards it’s probably been pretty quiet but it’s been filled with so many things that have made me happy.

It started off with a double episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which I’m currently watching to help stave off my Avengers Assemble obsession (though it’s just over a week until my chance to see it for a fourth time). This episode saw my new favourite Hawkeye getting to do stuff so it was a welcome surprise.

Then there was lots and lots of writing. I have failed miserably over the last few months to do any writing, but now I’m in that quiet period after all my uni work’s done and before I head back to my parents for the summer break I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. Over the last couple of days I was starting to make headway and then today something clicked into place and I managed just under 5,500 words and passed the 10,000 overall words mark which was really pleasing.

In one of my breaks between writing spells I took my camera out into the garden to take a few photos of the beautiful clematises (clematii?) and spotted the odd insect flying around so took the chance to have a go at taking some macro pictures of things that are actually alive. This is one of them, it links to the set on my Flickr.

Whilst I was writing I tried a new singer on for size, I’ve been listening to a lot of Miranda Lambert in the last couple of weeks after falling in love with Gunpowder and Lead on American Idol. I looked to see who was doing the harmonies on her track Better In The Long Run and discovered it was her husband, fellow country star Blake Shelton. I’ve listened to a couple of his albums today and really liked what I heard, including this country take on Michael Bublé’s Home that features Lambert on harmonies.

On top of all of these things it was sunny, though nowhere near as hot as most of the UK which was pleasing, and this afternoon finished with me reading a great book in the garden with tea and bara brith. So many little things all pulling together to leave me feeling completely happy and content with the day.


NaNoWriMo – The Second Week.

After last week’s great start this second week of writing felt a lot harder. It was my reading week from uni so other than going in to work I didn’t have any time specific commitments, so it should have been fairly easy to balance everything. Right? Wrong.

For whatever reason most days I found it hard to get the words down on paper. I didn’t manage to write every day and on those that did it felt like a slog more times than it felt like things were flowing. Over the weekend there were a few times when I got tempted to give up altogether. I’m experiencing one of my bouts of insomnia which is making everything harder at the moment, and I’m pretty sure I can’t keep going like this. I can easily see how my health could start to suffer and I know that I need to act now before things get that bad.

The only one thing I could give up would be NaNoWriMo, but the idea of giving it up is one that is making me very sad. So I’m compromising and I’m taking this next week off. I have uni deadlines to meet and I’m going away for what should be a great weekend, so for now I’m letting NaNo slip. Next week once I’m home again and have got back on my feet after the weekend’s exertions I shall think about starting again. It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll hit the 50,000 mark by the end of November, but I’m starting to realise that that doesn’t matter all that much. The achievement of actually telling this story is going to be reward enough, whether I finish the first draft on 30th November or some date a little later.


NaNoWriMo – The First Week.

I think I should probably have written this after yesterday’s writing and before today’s so that it was actually after the first 7 days not 8, but I didn’t so never mind. Yes it’s been one week of writing, and what a week it’s been.

On the first day I woke up to discover that people were already finishing writing for the day with word counts in the thousands. I quickly accepted that everyone works differently, settled down to write and for the first four days averaged 2,500 words which was what I was aiming at. I figure that if I aim at 2,500 words then that would have me hit the 50K mark in 20 days, leaving me 10 days where I didn’t manage to write anything. Good job too as Saturday and Sunday saw my parents visiting and no words written at all.

Today I passed the 15K mark, so I’m fully on schedule when it comes to NaNoWriMo. However I’m way behind schedule on things like blogging, uni reading and pleasure reading! I came close to having a minor meltdown over this, but have worked out a plan of action that I think might help in the next week.

My wall is filled with post it notes (turns out the odd surface is great for them to stick to). There’s one for each of the six major characters, one with the names of all of the characters I have so far, and then a mass of them covered in the questions and research points I’m coming up with as I write. Rather than go back each day and answer these I’m numbering them all and they’ll hopefully make the basis of the next stage after I finish this first very very rough draft.

One of the major issues I’m having is that I’ve chosen a small Welsh island to set my book on, but I’ve never been to this island so don’t know a lot of the specifics. Unfortunately, thought quite understandably, it isn’t covered by Google Streetview so I’m working at the moment from basic maps. The island has a real assortment of buildings in varying states of decay on it, and quite an involved history so one thing I know for sure is that next year once the boats start sailing again next Spring I’m going to need a visit!


Time to Get Started.

It’s 1st November which means it’s time to get writing on this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I’m feeling a real mixture of emotions – excitement, terror, enthusiasm and downright panic. I’ve been spending the last few days trying to get organised and prepared, this is something I’ve never really done before – I’ve always just dived in headfirst. In the hopes that having some sort of plan will help me to get through the month I’ve managed to pull together:

  • A setting
  • One basically developed character
  • 5-6 unnamed characters
  • The basic plot for the first 8-10K
  • A handful of scenes to be included
  • Approximately 80 minutes of soundtrack

I definitely feel like I can sit down today and start working. Ideally I would have liked to get a bit more of an idea of the characters but hopefully as I start to write they’ll become better formed. I’m also hoping that as I work through the basic plot that I have I’ll be able to add more to the plan.

I really hope that it might work out this way, and that I won’t be ready to throw in the towel by Friday!