I opened a blank piece of paper, intending to draft my Sunday blog post, and a story I have been flirting with for the better part of 12 months nearly knocked me over with its opening scene. I watched in my head as the beginning of the story unfurled (fortunately my fingers had enough sense to type what I was seeing) and next thing I knew I had nearly seven hundred words on the page and almost no conscious memory of putting them there.
Inspiration does not strike often, but when it does it is a beautiful thing. I don’t put a lot of stock in inspiration, it is a bit like love after the age of 30; ephemeral and cloudy, and upon reflection you see the dark smudges you were blind to in the moment. Having said that, when it does hit, there is nothing wrong with giving in and letting it rule you for a little while.
So now I have my piece to come back to each night and try to build on. It is my tale to ponder when I’m on the bus, waiting at the check-out, or in a boring meeting – and it feels wonderful to have one of these again. I have been away from my stories for too long, I guess my brain just needed the break.
Might be time for a personal WriMoFoFo?
We are going through the change of seasons at the moment from a wet, cold winter to a (no doubt) hot, dry summer. Some days are warm with balmy evenings, others so cold as to inspire you to light the fire. This has underscored a fallacy of mine which I have secretly suspected, but have now been forced to face.
There is no such thing as writing weather.
In summer I delude myself into thinking that in the cooler season I’ll be more likely to nurse the warm laptop and tap out the opus. In winter, shivering under my blanket, I think about how much freer I’ll be to type without having to worry about opening a gap in my tepee when I write in summer. Really, it’s all just bollocks.
When summer and winter come on top of each other in two concurrent days, as they have just recently, you are forced to face the fact that the writing either happens, or it doesn’t and the weather has absolutely no bearing on that whatsoever.
So instead of planning my writing calendar by the weather report I’ll just force myself to sit down and write every day. EVERY DAY! And if things work out, I shouldn’t even know what the weather is doing.
I have always loved this quote, and have used it as inspiration for the more ‘courageous’ moves I have made over the years…
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”
– David Lloyd George
The only problem is identifying when one is indicated verses when one is just desired. And is there a difference?
I tried to slip verisimilitude into a sentence today, and as much as I do know how to use it in a sentence, and I know what it means, it just doesn’t sound right. So if I won’t use a word in my speech, should I use it in a novel (even non-speech parts of novels)?
At what point does a big word nail the meaning, perfectly portraying the feeling you were going for, compared to when it just makes you sound like you are trying to be clever by sending the rest of us off to check the dictionary? I guess this all comes back, again, to the reader.
For me, I like it when you can gather what a word means by its usage (and I will check the dictionary just to make sure I’ve understood it correctly), which also shows if the author really does know what it means. I also think that if you haven’t collected one new word from a novel, then you have been a little cheated.
So bring on the wankey words, we need to keep them alive! But please don’t let me drown in them when I’m reading your story, or else I’ll find I’ve made my way further into the Macquarie than I have into your book!
I had a long, hard look the published writers in my writers group, and published authors in general, and I think I have cracked the key to their success.
Sure, there’s the long hours spent at the keyboard, writing, editing, writing, starting again and writing more. There’s the invaluable (and sometimes painful) advice they listen to from their writers group/ editor/ agent/ next door neighbour, and we shouldn’t pooh-pooh their never give up attitude in the face of insult and indifference.
But that is not it.
For the most part they are cat owners. Yes, those slinky (or chunky) fluffy muses pad the path to publication, and bring their owners with them. And now I am lucky enough to have one of my own!
My intention was to put up a photo of her here, but she is still a little timid and not terribly fond of the strange black monster with the one glassy eye that clicks when I press a button, so most of the pictures were just blue-grey blurs. Never fear, little miss is quite the artist and she has rendered a startlingly accurate likeness to the fluffy blue one, so I will share that instead.
Naturally I expect my productivity to blossom. Watch this space and we can test out my theory.
I heard the strangest comment about a book today which was like an a-ha! moment. Someone was talking about not having the right moral code to follow a character along a storyline. It wasn’t that they didn’t agree with the character, they just couldn’t understand the thought processes the character used to make their decisions.
The interesting thing for me was that the person put the onus back on themselves for not understanding, not the writer. The book and the reader were just not a good match. It pointed out the bleedingly obvious; that the enjoyment of a book comes not just from the skill of the author, but also from the synergy between reader and writer.
We have all had that depressing experience where we have picked up a much loved book from our younger years, only to find it now trite and clichéd. The book is exactly the same, it is us, the readers, who have changed.
So with the one person capable of both loving and clashing with the one book, what hope have we of tapping into the yin of everyone’s yang with our stories? Absolutely no chance at all.
I guess that is why you so often hear that you should write first and foremost to please yourself. At least then you can know that at you have reached the beautiful balance between reader and writer –even if they are one and the same person!
Three tight-ass Tuesdays in a row I’ve had to give up on the idea of going to the movies because nothing has held the least bit of interest for me. Never before have I found the cinema so completely bereft of entertainment for those of us over the age of twelve.
Of course it doesn’t help that most cinemas today will only play the ‘blockbusters’ and anything in 3-D (conveniently exempt from cheap Tuesday ticket pricing). But it does beg the question; has Hollywood used up all their good ideas?
It is common knowledge that production houses buy many more film scripts than they will ever produce, and due to politics great movies can never see the light of day once the screenplay has been purchased (William Goldman had to buy back the rights to The Princess Bride so that it could be turned into a movie by another producer). So I’m sure there is better stuff that the drivel that is currently coming out!
Perhaps we are seeing the knock-on effect of the screenwriters guild protest, or maybe the filmmakers have gone over the top on their market testing, leading everything that comes out to be pitched at the same demographic.
Whatever it is, all I can say is thank goodness for books. There are some amazing stories out at the moment, particularly in the young adult area, and since bailing on the cinemas I have read a nice big chunk of my to read pile.
If Hollywood is as predictable as a Hollywood blockbuster, they should be picking up some of this great fiction soon and turning it into some decent movies. Though I’m sure the characters will be more beautiful and more stupid than they ever were on the page.