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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!

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!

Proud Mummy Alert! January 16, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Homework with Principessa, Proud Mummy, Reading with Principessa, the perfect word.
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Yes, it is a day for peacock feathers.

This afternoon after coming home from school, Princi settled herself down to do her homework. Even before she had started she was strutting around saying how easy her maths homework was. True to form, it was completed within a minute. Onto spelling…

Spelling is a different case entirely. Most words she can spell without much trouble. However, words with ‘ugh’ or ‘ea’ seem to be a problem, so when we came across ‘unclean’ and ‘unhealthy’ we had the growls of frustration while she guessed her way to getting it right. But, in the end, she did. Yay! Onto comprehension…

Image

Words are like weapons and this has certainly been in the wars!

So she read the book she had to write a synopsis for last night. We talked about the story so she could work out what she wanted to write and off she went. But then she hit one sentence where she decided she wanted to break from the norm of simple explanatory words and use something a bit more sophisticated. She wanted to find a word synonymous (yes, she even knew that it was a synonym that she wanted) with happy. So she tested out some words – liked, loved, joyful – but they didn’t seem to fit with what she wanted. Then *lightbulb*. She decided to look for her thesaurus. Unable to find hers, she dug out my old, battered pocket Collins dictionary and thesaurus and searched for the word.

contented… delighted… merry… pleased….

Still nothing. But then she saw the word propitious. So I told her that if she wanted to use that word, then she should check in the dictionary to make sure that it would fit properly in her sentence. She opened the dictionary side of the Collins, but lo and behold! The word wasn’t there! I gave her my computer and she typed the word into the search engine.

pro·pi·tious

/prəˈpiSHəs/
Adjective
  1. Giving or indicating a good chance of success; favorable.
  2. Favorably disposed toward someone.
Synonyms
favourable – favorable – auspicious – opportune

Perfect! The word fit exactly! It described exactly what she wanted to say. The sentence? ‘The snow, the frost, the north wind and the hail found this very propitious.’ And what did they find propitious, you may ask. Well, the story was about a selfish giant who lost spring, making it eternally winter in his garden. The perfect conditions for the snow, the frost, the north wind and the hail. This made Princi very happy, knowing that using propitious would be very propitious for her when her teacher reads her homework next Monday.

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.

Oh, the consciousness vomits forth… July 12, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Freewrite.
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A late night freerwrite. Maybe, just maybe, ideas may be germinating. At least there’s some creativity from a typo here. An exerpt from the freewrite from five minutes ago… And time is of the pureed and typo-ed essence!

ho hum, isn’t that the way of the world? it’s always too late. latelatelate. I’m pissed off with always being early! hmmm. perpetually early. that could bugger up a timeline, couln’t it? ooh, something to play with but no thinking now! timelimes… timelimes? that’s a new one! waht about time oranges or bananas? always on the curved path there… but it’s the path of least resistance, isn’t it? Slip slide, timewarp. ooff.. the fruits of all knowledge. the fruit shop at the end of time. but is the end, or the beginning. oh , the paradox pomegranite! stop with the fruit already! I’m turning into a plum!

Hangin’ tough. August 11, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Uncategorized.
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Last week I brushed off my disappointment of missing the distinction on the creative writing course and the receiving of my first rejection letter. I immediately sent the rejected poems to another magazine (well, I sent the sequence, anyway) and wrote off the pass grade 2 as the result of taking a risk. I felt better about it for a little while, but today I realised just how wounded I felt by both results. I am only now trying to get my head around it.

Now, while this revelation hasn’t exactly depressed me, it has made me realise that I’m going to have to toughen up and not be so harsh on myself. There are others out there who can do that for me and if I don’t want to learn from it then that is my problem. If I want to make something of my writing –  I think I do, but the backlash is making me question that – I need to get ready for some knocks and bumps along the way. I know this all sounds obvious. I thought I was ready, but I may have been expecting too much.

I am sure my writing isn’t as bad as all that. I also know that it can be improved, refined, and polished up. It’s all going to take time and practice, and the input of trusted peeps to keep me moving in the right direction. And I will move forward.

But for now… I think I will allow myself the time to lick my wounds. I am hoping the first rejection is the hardest and that I can take the next one that falls through my door/pops up in my inbox with a pinch of salt. For one thing is set in stone. I will get more rejections – in the smattering of acceptance letters I wholey intend to receive!

And to add insult to injury… August 6, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Poetry.
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I have just had my first rejection letter. Does this make me a real writer now?

I wonder… Who balanced the scales of happiness and my life sucks worse than an elephant with no trunk, because they mucked up the equilibrium.

*******EDIT 20:59*******

I had thought of giving up, feeling that my writing was a bit naff, really. But instead I have sent the rejected poems to another magazine. Let’s see what happens next. I will also get moving on sending Abyss, gazing out.

Cats and dogs on the track? April 13, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in A215, Moto GP, TMA04, TMA05.
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This weekend marked the start of the Moto GP season with the Qatar GP. The race was penned in for around 9pm yesterday, but the weather intervened. A downpour forced the organisers to call it all off. Hmph! Now I’ll have to wait until 7pm tonight to see the race. At least there’s some tennis on to keep me occupied when I’m not a climbing frame or a piece of furniture for Princi.

I so totally wasted yesterday. With Princi at the beach, I should really have done some work on TMA04. Instead, Gaz and I played Guitar Hero. It was a waste of good writing time, but hell, I rocked! Gaz? Not so much! That means that I’ll have to get the TMA fixed and sorted, then sent off today when Princi goes to the swingpark (yep, the Walker is just a little too much today. Princi knackered Grandand yesterday at the beach, so having to help me in and out of the wheelchair is pushing it a little! There’s always next weekend). I’m just sick of looking at it now. Once it’s gone, I can get started on the prep reading for the commentary for TMA05, and start planning that and the commentary for the ECA. It doesn’t help that I’m still not sure what poems I’ll use for the ECA, and that some of them are still unfinished. I suppose that’ll help in the selection process though. Silver lining, gotta look for ’em!

My brain is a very strange place. April 8, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in A215, Dreams, ECA, Life writing, Poetry, TMA04, TMA05, Writing goals.
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Yep. I had another weird dream last night, though the only part I can remember is an advert. It had a bloke in it, all happy and jolly, until all of a sudden he clutches his side and falls down. Next thing, his insides are spilling out and there is a huge writhing mass of something contorting in the open cavity. It turns out to be his liver, with the tagline – ‘If you don’t look after your body, your body wont look after you.’ Then the writhing mass devours him. I know. My subconscious is messed up!

Still, I had another patch of productivity yesterday. I fixed the problems with my TMA narrative, and completed the first draft of the commentary, then completed the first drafts of two poems that had been playing on my mind. During Princi’s distracted phases today I have tidied up the commentary, compiled the TMA so it’s ready to send, and sorted out the references. Now all I have to do is get all the relevant info for the biblio, and it’s more or less done. Yay! So now my checklist looks like this:

  1. TMA04 = Life writing. 1500 words + 500 words reflective commentary. (Apr 17)
  2. TMA05 = Publication research, themed sequence of poems (at least 3)  40 lines (max 42) + 500 words reflective commentary + reading final chapters of BRB. (May 15) *
  3. ECA = 1500 words prose (life writing) + 40-50 lines poetry**+ 700 words reflective commentary. (June 5)
  • *Revise drafts of Persephone, Cassandra, and Yggdrassil. Begin planning submissions commentary based around Iota magazine.
  • **Revise drafts of Mecha-Lexy, At the feet of Rafa Nadal, Meat, and the life writing narrative. Complete first draft of Foil and Gambling on inheritance. Choose which poems to use for ECA. Begin planning the commentary.

So that’s me for the next few weeks. And if other poems make themselves known, then I’ll scribble them too. Wow! I never thought I’d be so over-awed by writing. It’s giving me a strange adrenaline rush!

Well, time for a break. Possibly time for some phonics fun with Princi, if I can tear her away from the laptop. As for the teaching of letters writing, we’ve only managed a,b,c,d before she got bored and wanted to draw shapes. At least she can write her name.

On the conveyor belt… March 20, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in A215, Life writing, Poetry.
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Of productivity.

I hit what can only be described as a rut of productivity yesterday. 1600 words and a brand new piece for possible use for the life-writing TMA (pruned down to 1524 currently) and the Yggdrassil poem. I have no idea how it happened, or where the sudden spurt of inspiration came from. And to add to the tally – two  useable ideas for short stories. Woohoo!

In the words of Rimmer from Red Dwarf – Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!