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The writing post that was titled “It’s the ‘tearing my hair’ out post.” October 18, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in MA, Try my tiger fist on for style you dirty writer's block, writing.
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Princi says, "Take that, writer's block!"

Princi says, “Take that, writer’s block!”

Earlier this week I tapped out a post whilst in the throes of writerly frustration. I never got around to posting it. I was up the wall with writer’s block, bouncing my head like a basketball off the floor. I was at the end of my rope. Here is what it said:

Why? Just why? Why did I sign up for the creative writing. Because my creativity was eaten by the cat and my writing is worse than my doctor’s. Argh!

 

Okay. Well. I won’t lie, I have (kind of) enjoyed the writing module so far. I’ve had some good critical feedback on the little exercises I’ve had to do, but the ability to spin any of the pieces out into something bigger is eluding me right now. I think I’ve got a solid start for one story, the only problem now is working out where it’s going to go. I am unbreakably chained to self-doubt and it’s strangling the words. And for another confession – I am seriously thinking of quitting. And I hate quitting. The whole situation has me stressed to the eyeballs, and when you add into the equation that I need to have something ready for peer review in two weeks, well… *cue retching and tears*

 

Why can’t I break out of this funk? My syncopation is out and my words have no rhythm. My writing is a dead beat. Hmph. Off to pen dancing classes, with some laptop tip-tapping classes for added value.

 

I decided it was time I took a step back. The two short stories that I was pinballing between were just not working – or wouldn’t work in the time frame I had available. One needs a whole truckload of planning and logistical structuring, the other one needs work on the voice (I think the lyrical tone is going to end up too cloying at the moment, but I like the idea of it. Still playing around with the option of breaking with the POV and switching to another character, but we’ll see). I ended up ditching both – for now.

 

I opened my book at a fresh blank page one night just before bed. It was probably Tuesday night. I started scribbling words that were nagging at the back of my head; words that had started to spill from one of the first writing exercises I randomly chose before the writing course began. They were like little evil Ashs – you know the ones from Army of Darkness who escape from the broken mirror – and they were jabbing me with pointy things. They were demanding to be heard. I only jotted about 150 words that night, but it was a beginning. The basic idea grew as I continued and I had no idea where I was going to end up. It was a complete seat-of-my-pants write, something that’s not ever really happened to me before. And today, I ended up with a first draft. Yay!

 

I’m not sure Princi was too chuffed because I asked her if she would read it. I needed a child’s reaction to the story. Of course, I was ‘making’ her read something. She wasn’t pleased – especially considering that one of the stories I’d ditched was something she wanted me to continue with. But she moaningly read it and said that she enjoyed it. I’m hoping she wasn’t just saying that to spare my feelings. But she did leave me with one critical positive from her reading: I asked her what age she thought the character telling the story was. She said, “Ten.” I took a deep breath and thanked the blue-haired fairy! That was the age I was aiming for with the character.

 

I am chuffed beyond belief to have a full story written (however open the ending might be!). I haven’t been able to break from my writer’s block for years – I think the last time I wrote a full story was 2009. I am hoping this trend will continue and that I can tippy-tap something longer than 3,000 words in the not to distant future. And that’s not including the fast approaching dissertation, although there’s still a year before I get going with that. So, with that happy relief, I shall get back to the studying – I still haven’t written this week’s writing exercise!

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Freewrite, not Freebird. September 10, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, MA, Mindless rambling that you could do without!, Tempus fujit stupidus, Time to recruit the word beavers, writing.
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I am trying. I swear I am. I am really trying to hoof my Muse into action. And freewrites suck. So bad.

 

At the moment, I am reluctantly engaged in working out my flow problems. You see, my writing ability is about as able as my walking ability. Which is to say, not so able. My writing appears to imitate the few jittery jolting steps I am able to take during the day. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Concentrate to place a foot/word in the right place so I don’t fall over. Make sure the hips/sentences are stable enough not to need some sort of edit to stay upright. It’s not fun. And it is all the wrong headspace, especially when all of the writing manuals keep telling me to go out for a walk. I bloody can’t go out for a walk! And going for a roll (because obviously I can’t stroll) takes so much planning and dependence on other people that it’s just not worth the hassle. The logistics of writing are against me from the get go.

 

So here I am. Computer on lap – because I don’t have a desk – static and locked up. Maybe I should use that as a starting point for a story, and maybe I will at some point, but right now I need to work through my inability to write through the inner critic. I need to impale the bugger on a lance of lexical confusion to shut it up for 15 minutes of quiet writing time. Sometimes, writing an essay with all the analytical jargon is that much easier for the WTF-is-she-going-on-about that it can create in the mind. I used to read essay stuff out to my Mum and she’d stare at me with glassy eyes and her mouth would be set somewhere between a smile and an Elvis Presley impersonation, and I knew I’d hit the technical mumbo jumbo just right. But writing fiction? It only creates chaos in my head thanks to my feelings of creative inadequacy. Hmph!

 

And now I will apologise to anyone reading this. Sorry for flumping my inner critical vomit into your eyespace and invading your brain with wah wah wah. Yes. I hear you. I’ll bugger off and just get on with it and stop moaning. Yes. I know I can’t write if I’m not actually writing. No. I can’t promise I won’t wah wah wah all over my blog about bouncing off the rubber walls of I-can’t-write again. And yes. I am off to try and break the inner critic’s camel-like back with a house made of words, with a lovely musical interlude.

 

Why is it… August 19, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in If I could sit down and just write I might get somewhere, lists, MA, Procrastinating, reading, writing.
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…that the closer the writing module gets, the less inclined I am to write?

 

I’ve been pondering tapping out a blog post for the last couple of weeks, but every time I open up the textbox I think why would anyone want to read my mind-junk? It’s the same with my stories. I think what story have I got to tell and why would anyone be in the slightest bit interested in reading it? As you can see, the evil curs known as Procrastination and the Inner Critic have dropped by for an outstayed-your-welcome-already holiday. Fabulous. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been writing a lot. I’ve jotted down some ideas, but as of yet I have not had the drive to expand upon them. Procrastination has taken me by the hand and convinced me that I need to be watching this show or playing this game, so while I have the mental inspiration, I do not have the physical expiration… I am holding my breath rather than holding a pen. It’s not so good seeing as air is not a particularly functional writing implement.

 

Despite not writing (much), I have been reading. A lot. Well, a lot for me. I’m not an incredibly fast reader, and considering that I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read over the past two summers, then I’m doing pretty well this year. In the list I put up previously, I have read through:

  • Tinder by Sally Gardner
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – 6% through on the Kindle. Beginning to suspect this is a book that needs to be read as a book and not by e-reader.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – next on the ‘to read’ list.
  • Varjak Paw and The Outlaw Varjak Paw by SF Said.
  • A whole bunch of creative writing books that will be used for the module. I have made a start, but snail’s pace about covers it.

So while I’m not through this list, I have read other stuff:

  • Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell – a lovely story about friendship and family and the rooftops of Paris.
  • The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale – another story about family, but through the opposing dichotomies of destructive vs. nurture and biological vs. adoptive.
  • Glaze by Kim Curran – an interesting near-future story about the perils of social networks.
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale – a modern take on the Ugly Duckling.
  • The Julian Chapter by R. J. Palacio – the bully’s viewpoint (a side ‘chapter’ for Wonder).
  • Marx for Beginners by Ruis – a Ronseal title. Tells you all you need to know.
  • Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell – Ronseal again. But an interesting take on writing guides.
  • The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks – Bleaky McBleakerson. No hope, no glory. Would suit a soundtrack by Leonard Cohen.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Bleaky McPretentiouspants (my opinion only). But if I was a teenager, I’d probably love it.
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – A fabulous little tale of a toy rabbit’s journey to find his original owner (but also himself).

and I am currently reading:

  • The Problems with Dostoevsky’s Poetics by Mikhail Bakhtin
  • The Intruders by Michael Marshall (not a book that should be read in the same room as a child who talks in her sleep…)
  • Radiant Girl by Andrea White
  • The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

So I’ve impressed myself by getting out of my can’t-read-for-toffee funk. And I have a whole new list of books I need to read in preparation for next month and the start of the writing module. I think my head might just fall off – which could be a result of holding my breath for too long!

Muted happiness. June 20, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Creativity, MA, Principessa's story, writing.
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The mintball train is chuffing again, but it’s not chuffing at full speed. It’s been about ten days now since the results were returned for the MA… While I’m happy that I passed with a grade good enough to merit a merit, I’m definitely kicking myself for not taking the time to read through the origins and development essay and simply write it better. I had the time so it’s all my own stupid fault, but I was so frazzled by the time I’d finished both essays that I only gave it a cursory glance over. Stupid, stupid me. Oh, the tortoise would be laughing his socks off at this stupid hare. Hmph.

 

Anyway. I passed! Yay! So I get to continue with the course. Good fun… Except I’m now crawling deep inside my impenetrable shell in anxious anticipation of the creative writing module. Argh! The evil cur known as the inner critic has already returned while the muse has definitely gone on a bender in the fantastical realms of the unreachable (therefore making them unwritable). Thankfully, I have the summer to massage the stress from my creativity – so out have come all of the creative writing books, writing prompts, and other ‘kickstart your brain into wondrous leaps of imagination’ paraphernalia. I must, I must, I must improve my… muse. One thing, though. I have company on this writing jaunt – Princi has also jumped onto the creative writing wagon and has joined her writing club at school. I am hoping that I can encourage her to continue with it once school breaks for summer. And I am also hoping she manages to retain her innate sense of irony (I will explain this to her one day), as she has already made me laugh with her most recent short story:

Once there was a small, little Veedramon. He was strong but not very special. He went on a short walk but thought “Why am I not special?” After he thought that, he went home and watched TV.

Veedramon

 

I know she won’t understand what she has done here, but it made me giggle somewhat when I read it this morning. I hope she can learn how to use this purposefully in her writing as she gets older.

 

So I’m worried about the writing. But I am looking forward to the second half of the next academic year as that’s when I’ll be studying picture books. I love, love, loved the picture book block of the OU children’s lit course, so to delve deeper here will be a joy *fingers crossed*. I can’t wait to dissect picture book codes again, to re-investigate endpapers, to draw meanings from different fonts and their associations to the images in the texts. I am planning to get completely lost in the module and try to absorb as much as I can. And I want to redeem my essay writing and rectify the embarrassment I felt when reading the feedback for these latest essays. And on that note, I’m off to give my muse a workout by doing another writing exercise.

Deep in the realm of stupidity… May 16, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in E301, ECA, OU, Stupidity, The end of E301, writing.
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*Sob*

 

At the moment, I’m not sure if that stupidity is mine or if it’s simply the subject of my essay. Yes, I’m in the throes of panic as I prepare this final essay. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going or stuck in a Limbo of my own making, but holy heck! My brain is numb. So this is a good a time as ever to share my stages of essay writing. It’s a tried and tested method, with a pretty much spectacular success rate. Let’s hope it holds true for the stupid one.

 

Stages in the process of writing an essay.

  1.  Easy peasy. Hakuna matata.
  2. Hmm, this is starting to look a bit tricksy.
  3. Okay, this may just be impossible.
  4. Nothing’s impossible, I can do this.
  5. Argh! I’m in Dante’s nine circles of hell!
  6. Holy crap! When did they add this extra circle?
  7. There’s a light (over at the Frankenstein place).
  8. Okay, maybe this is doable.
  9. They got the mustard out! Yippee ki yay motherf****r!

 

And on that note, I best get back to it. Only another 2,810 words to go…

Spam, spam, spam, spam… December 7, 2012

Posted by phoenixaeon in General rubbish, Mindless rambling that you could do without!, On Writing, Time to recruit the word beavers, Wordiness clouds, writing.
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Spam comments. Who needs ’em? Apparently, I do.

So, every now and then, I think “Let’s have a looksee, see if there’s been any spam that’s actually quality commentage.” The answer is almost always a resounding clang of NO, so I shufty off to see what else is happening in ‘netland, or crawl into the cavernous tunnels of Academia. But the other day a gleaming jewel caught my eye, and while the comment was still firmly located in Spamania it held a disheartening acorn of truth:

Hello, you used to write wonderful, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

To whoever opened such a blindingly observant can of cured wormmeat – YOU’RE NOT WRONG! I know I am on the dark side of the magical lexical moon, but I am trying to find the meaning of creativity (as has been mentioned in previous posts)! It is proving to be an elusive beast, more so than the Jabberwock or even Jar Jar Binks (much to the disapproving stares at the LEGO advent calendar he was so rudely puked out from!), but I am hoping that I am making ground on this cur to my blogging prowess.

Unlike Odin, I have yet to poke my eye out in the attempt to find wisdom, though this may happen at some point with a misplaced thinking pen, but the everyday depths of creativity are once again making themselves known to me. I plan to be free of my prison of ineptitude in the forthcoming months, so please bear with me in these dark times of inelegant expression.

I hope that for the moment this has slaked your thirst, sated your hunger, for voluminous verbosity.

Fear is the little death. September 1, 2011

Posted by phoenixaeon in Born of frustration, Damn you evil inner critic I will soon show you my mettle, If I could sit down and just write I might get somewhere, lost words, Mindless rambling that you could do without!, writing.
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Writing. I don’t do so much at the moment. I haven’t done so much in about two years. The last year or so on the blog is testament to that. Not only in the frequency of posts, but in the quality too. I have lost my lexicological botanic garden. Words no longer flourish at the tips of my cyber or mechanical fingers. To put a cliche to it, the well is dry. And the reason? The little death in the title.

“Too much fear and all you’ll get is silence.” (A L Kennedy, Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, The Guardian.)

Ain’t that the truth! I made a comment the other day about having low self confidence when it comes to putting words on paper. Now, while I think that is partially true, I also know it is because I have a fear of failure. So to stop that fear, why start? It’s like that with the blog. The longer I’ve stayed away, the harder I’ve found it to press publish – even to start a new post. At the last count, I have 29 unfinished drafts of posts I had intended to publish, but I ended up losing my nerve or simply thinking ‘Why would anyone want to read this rubbish?’ So my doubt stayed my hand. I’ve even thought about closing the blog down, as it’s become evidence of my mental self-neglect. Looking at it makes it feel like some elaborate torture device, mocking me in shades of words once known. So much for the ‘Once there were dragons’ thing at the top of the blog. Now the words are gone, too. Well, all but the academic.

 

So, what to do? I still don’t feel confident enough to start again, despite this post. My flight feathers are still in mourning, crying for the warming rays of the sun. Maybe I should just continue to test the waters by trying to post more regularly here. It might not be the writing I am aiming for, but it could be the means to an end. Or a beginning. A slow therapy to reinstate the visual voice.

 

Whatever it could be, it’s time to press publish…

Who do I write like? July 15, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in General rubbish, writing.
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This was an interesting experiment. There is a site, I write like, where you input text from whatever you are writing, it may be a novel, short story, blog, whatever, and it tells who you supposedly write like. I tried a few pieces and these were my results:

  1. David Foster Wallace (twice)
  2. Ian Fleming
  3. H. G. Wells
  4. Ursula K. Le Guin

Now, if I could only find confidence in my writing, I might be sorted!

The truth of things. June 30, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Internalised, writing.
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So, a year ago or thereabouts, the results for my creative writing course had just been released and I had received my first rejection letter. To say my delicate ego felt dented was an understatement. She of little confidence had further chips chiseled from an already imperfect diamond. I sent the rejected poems away again, this time I received the cursory ‘We have received you poems, blah blah blah,’ letter from one place and nothing from the other. A six month wait ensued, only to once again have the poems rejected by the means of no communication.

My confidence still hasn’t recovered. In fact, it hasn’t even been to rehab. I cannot find it in me to write anything that requires imagination anymore. I have only written one poem this year – and even this was just a stupid little ditty and nothing of any worth. I feel dead in my creative brain, the muse has been strangled (a rope, in the word processor, by Hope), and I feel lost. I am in a rut and I can’t get out.

But hey ho, at least it appears I am good at writing academic essays. That’s something, I suppose. I just wish I wasn’t brain dead from the muse down. Sigh.

Crawling out from the non-blogging abyss. January 13, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in A215, General rubbish, writing.
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Wow! Really? It’s been over six weeks since I last posted? Oops! Well, I hope everyone had a fab Christmas and new year then.

So, why haven’t I posted? Well, there’s been a couple of reasons. Before Christmas I was diligently working through the coursework for the kidlit course. Then I had a pre-Christmas panic searching everywhere for Coraline dolls for a pressie for Princi. Then Boxing Day arrived, complete with a yucky lurgy that knocked me out for two weeks, only to be joined by the snow and Princi’s school closing for a week. And over the last week I have been doing battle with TMA03 – and yes, I am currently in essay denial and avoidance while writing this. Saying that, I’ve only another 70 words or so to find (like Pokemon, gotta catch ’em all!) before the thing is done. I am sick of looking at it, so once it is at the magical word limit it is going. Don’t care, it’s a bunch of confused rubbish, but it’s the best I can do considering the circumstances. So, there is my last several weeks in a nutshell.

Anyhoos, my timely return is due to having watched Survivors tonight. Argh, that show does my nut in! When the first series started, I was in the throes of writing a story for TMA02 for the creative writing course. It was a disaster story based around a flu epidemic and its causes. Survivors, while it’s based on a TV show from the 70s devised by Terry Nation (him who created them there Daleks), bore a resemblance to the story line I was playing with. This was my first grrr. Then tonight, at the end of the episode, the camera shot rested upon a blue log book with ‘Nano assay’ written on the frontispiece. My second grrr! So, just for my own peace of mind, I am posting the A215 story up. Bear in mind that I need to do a little bit of editing on it, particularly the ending, just to clarify who is betraying who. But other than that, I hope that anyone reading it enjoys it. You can find the story here.

And now I’m off to finish this dastardly essay.