Tag Archives: Observations

All writers are great

Yes, it sounds like something that would be said by a member of the generation that were given participation awards at school, but I can assure you that I’m firmly in the Gen X category where the ribbons only went down to third place and sometimes a wooden spoon was handed out for coming last so you had a memento of your humiliation. However the statement about great writers is true. But perhaps I do need to tack a little bit on to the end of that… All writers are great to someone.

I am amazed at how often I can be glowingly recommended a book which I cannot force myself to finish, likewise a book I love is slagged by others. It is uncanny how often a writer taps into the global ‘love’ list while also squeezing themselves into the dreaded (but apparently profitable) ‘hate’ list as well (Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, anyone who has a number 1 bestseller basically).

So what am I saying? That you don’t need to try, someone will love the words you chuck together? NO! What I’m saying is that if you love your stories, then others will too, just not everyone. Rejections will come, people will slag and stories will be placed forever in the bottom drawer… But someone will love your work, someone will want to publish your work and someone will silently thank you for inventing a story that resonated on such a personal level with them. It might just take time. After all, there must be some truth to the oft’ quoted saying (attributed to so many people that I just had to pick one from a long list):

“There is a word for a writer who never gives up; published.”

                                                                        – J. A. Konrath

Finally, love her or hate her, I think J. K. Rowling wrote some great books and here is a commencement speech she gave at Harvard University in 2008. If you haven’t seen it I think it is well worth watching:

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Who broke my time-space continuum?

We all partake in a little bending of the time-space continuum now and then; where an hour at work takes three times as long to pass as an hour at home. I was well aware of this phenomenon, but until recently had no idea the extent to which it pervades our lives.  

Nearly two months ago I made the move from part time to full time work. To spice things up my day off each week usually occurred on either a Tuesday or Thursday, which meant I had a ‘mini’ weekend during the week. This addition of quality me time, which always included at least two hours of proper writing, meant my week went for twice as long. It is only now, as I watch five days of my life blur away each week that I find myself asking ‘where the hell has the first half of 2010 gone?’  

This dilemma has sent me to the only place I know to seek answers; Excel. I did some very scientific calculations (complete with graph), and discovered that over a 45 year career, given the above phenomenon, you are only likely to experience about 15 years of life (holidays, public holidays and weekends). That seems like a bit of a raw deal.

Of course shortly someone will pick up one of my novels and I will be able to spend all my time doing something I love (I’m referring to writing, NOT playing FreeCell), but for everyone else trapped in this real life matrix, is 15 years enough? I’ll leave you to ponder that as I start working on my letter to request part time hours again…

Nat

PS I did try to insert my fantastic 3-D pie chart, but even after putting it through Photoshop I couldn’t make it compatible with the blog software, so you’ll just have to imagine it!

Watching ER doesn’t make you a doctor

When in school, our teachers always told us to write what we know –meaning we should write our real life experiences. Having a natural bent towards speculative fiction, I didn’t have much one on one time with vampires, flesh eating nematodes or alternate realities. So I just dismissed this advice as not being applicable to me.

That was until yesterday.

For the first time in my life I went horse riding where I actually got to hold the reigns and tell the beast where to go. Now it is true that horse riding has not starred much in my stories, but I’ve seen enough movies to know they are placid, big, dumb creatures without a thought in their heads, only too keen to do our bidding as our knee clamps and reign pulling dictates. This rule, my friends, is false. It only applies in TV-land.

Mum, if you are reading this, skip the next two paragraphs… I got the trotting bob thing down pat, I was directing my horse like an extra from The Man from Snowy River, it was easy, just as I expected. Then we got to the beach. Turns out my horse did have a mind of its own, and in that mind waves were scary. The waves yesterday were BIG. My horse went from a walk that was barely enough to hint at movement to a full gallop. No, there was no trot and the ‘canter’ thing was completely bypassed. We went from standing still to full gallop in one quick splash of a wave. Did I mention I’ve never ridden a horse before?

Now it didn’t take me long to realise I had lost complete control of the animal and that my fingers were slipping from the death-grip they had on the saddle. And between the blessed moments of logic which told me to take my feet out of the stirrups before I fell off and when I actually went through with the plunge down to the gloriously soft sand, I had the thought that it wasn’t meant to go like this. What was that based on? The rules of TV land!

So now I am bruised, but fully functional, and also aware of three things that I will keep in mind when writing about horses; 1. You can never trust the creature to do what you tell it, 2. You must always be on the lookout for that moment of rebellion, with a plan to counteract it, and 3. When you fall off a horse you do not simply get up, brush down you jodhpurs and pop back up again ready to sword fight or run down some rogue; it hurts and it freaks you out!

So maybe those teachers (and countless ignored-till-now writing books) do have a bit of a point. When you write, if you are basing your logic or assumptions on something you have seen in fictional TV shows, no matter how heavily ensconced in the law of TV land, do some research and find out if it is true. After all, how often do you hang up the phone without saying goodbye?

Lost and Found

Isn’t it funny how you can have something taken from you, and at the time you miss it keenly, begrudge the injustice of your loss and fondly remember a time before it was stolen. But then much later, upon its return, you find you have moved on. You no longer miss it, indeed you resent having to make the room in your life to fit it back in.

Today the powers that be returned the hour they took from us at the start of daylight savings. They intentionally gave it back on a Sunday so that we could crow excitedly about the extra hour in bed that is free of guilt or consequence. But today the sun will set an hour earlier, which when I go back to work next week will herald the beginning of my vitamin D deficiency with no foreseeable cure much before October.

I just have to face it… Winter is on its way. I write much more in winter, in no small part because the computer keeps my lap warm in much the same way as a cat does in a non-rented household. But I would still like to give back my hour and come home in the daylight. I wonder if they are open to negotiations?

Nat