Just a quick post today to share a bit of writerly news with anyone who may happen to be vaguely interested. In the last couple of weeks I’ve had two prose poems published in the newly launched literary magazine, Cauldron Anthology. Drawing on mythology and the ‘wild feminine’, the theme for the first issue was Sirens, which formed the basis for the inspiration behind each of the poems I submitted.
One of them is entitled Incubation, and it uses imagery of Sirens to explore gender inequality and the culture of victim blaming. The other, Protest, was inspired largely by the recent women’s marches and a growing need for unity.
Warmest thanks to anyone who checks out the poems and supports Cauldron Anthology in their early days as an emerging publication.
I was kindly tagged my Melissa Barker-Simpson to take part in this frustratingly fun writing challenge, which has us write a paragraph without using the letter ‘E’ anywhere. Having been at a loss as to what to write about, I decided to write precisely about that very predicament. So, here is my entry:
A man sits by his laptop, staring blankly at a monitor which has stood idly in his stubborn watch for far too long. It’s only an unassuming blogging task – how could it possibly birth such a bout of dumfounding block to all logic. Alas, that blinking cursor taunts with its flashing joy. But snubbing a loss, this man will hunt victory with words; small in many minds, possibly, but crucial for his own sanity.
Here are the rules:
1) Write a whole paragraph (a paragraph sounds easy right?) without any word containing the letter “e” (still easy?)
2) By reading this you are already signed up.
3) Challenge at least five bloggers to do the challenge. They must do it within 24 hours or it is considered as failure.
4) If you fail or pass, suffer in the Page of Lame.
5) If you win, wallow in the Page of Fame.
I’m making it an open tag because, yes, let’s face it, it’s the easier option 😉 but also because I found this a surprisingly worthwhile exercise and want to encourage you all to give it a go.
I was kindly tagged by Mel to take part in a freestyle writing challenge. I haven’t done any short fiction for a while and loved the idea of jumping straight into an unknown topic, so I couldn’t resist getting involved.
The scenario Mel gave us was:
The world as we know it has ceased to exist. Describe this new reality.
The world lies dormant beneath a layer of ash, still as death itself. A new silence reigns now, one born of a purge so devastating not a single lifeform could have hoped to survive. Pushed beyond her limits, Mother Earth rebelled, erupting from her very core a genocide of global proportions, expelling each and every one of her assailants in a glorious retribution. There was no mercy.
Minutes pass, or perhaps they are decades, when all at once something miraculous occurs. The faintest whisper of a breeze disturbs the stubborn blanket of blackest dust, and beyond this residue of pain rises a single shoot of freshest, vibrant green – Humanity’s revival, the birth of second chances.
(115 words – 5 minutes)
That was my interpretation of Mel’s concept and I had a lot of fun writing it! I chose to use the shortest time limit because I wanted to try some real flash fiction. I’m going to make this an open tag and invite as many of you who wish to take part to do so, even if you’ve already done one. Here are the rules:
- Open a Word Document.
- Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
- Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!
- Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.
- Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
- You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
- At the end of your post write down your word count so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
- Do not forget to copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy and paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).
Without further ado, here is your topic, should you wish to take part:
“One morning, your protagonist wakes up to find they can hear everyone else’s thoughts.”
The right ending is always crucial.
I am currently in the process of writing the final scenes of the present draft of my WIP. Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of editing, formatting, publishing and so on but it’s a very exciting time nonetheless.
Actually writing an ending sequence is an exhilarating yet oddly intimidating task for me however. Especially since I have known how the plot would wrap up since long before I wrote so much as a word, getting it down on paper seems daunting now. I often find myself feeling this way; specific, major plot points – including the ultimate climax – live in my head for so long that I find myself almost hesitant to actually form the scenes in words in spite of my own anticipation to progress. I suppose it’s down to a fear that I won’t be able to do justice to the clarity within my mind and this inkling of doubt is more than enough to spark off some rather annoying bouts of procrastination from time to time.
Still, I press on regardless, as my desire to share stories is far greater than any fears I may have lingering in the depths of my rather bewildered brain.
Do you picture your ending long before you write it? Do you ever worry that your words won’t do your story justice?
What comes first when you write, character or plot?
With pretty much everything that I have written, it was the plot that came to me first. Specific characters formed and gave the story life later down the line, only once I had let the idea stew for a while and started plotting. Recently however the image of a character appeared in my mind so vividly; it was truly bizarre, like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I don’t yet know exactly what story will end up forming around this character (and what’s interesting is that I think she will likely take on a supporting role rather than that of the protagonist) but I already see (as cheesy as it may sound) so much of her, from her Asian heritage to her confident mannerisms; from her dry humour to her fierce intelligence; from her name to her career; this is a character I just have to do something with in the future, however far off it may be.
Do you usually come up with characters or plots first? Have you ever been struck by a character or plot idea unexpectedly?
Where do we get our passion for the things we love?
Quite often, people will say that their career is not merely a means to pay the bills but a way of life; even going as far as to say that it’s in their blood. It’s also true that you will often see people following in the footsteps of their parents and older siblings. Families of Doctors; generations of bakers; a lineage of musicians; it’s almost as though it’s hereditary.
My uncle is a writer who has seen a lot of success, with many original plays and dozens of adaptations touring both on stage and via radio (no pressure, huh?). I found this alone to be interesting and thought it perhaps even added a nugget of truth to the debate that our job is often destined to us based on our bloodline. Recently however, I was chatting with my mum about writing and she ended up bringing me two old journals, full to the brim with her handwritten scribbles. There were poems, stories, musings and song lyrics; none of which I had ever known anything about until that point. She had never done anything to take the endeavour further, seeing it more as a useful pastime than a potential career but I loved finding out that she too had once had a love for writing.
Overall I imagine most people who take after their family when it comes to their career do so because passion is infectious, and growing up around someone who genuinely loves what they do can have a huge influence. I know books and stories were always a big part of my childhood and don’t doubt this has played a significant role in my desired path. But who knows, maybe there’s more to the idea of our job being in our blood than I first thought.
Do your loved ones share your passion for writing to any extent? Were reading and writing important parts of your experience growing up?
Editing – A writer’s biggest foe
Any writer will likely tell you that the editing process can be both intimidating and time consuming. So often the excitement of officially finishing a manuscript is at once diluted by the realisation that this means we must embark on the painstaking task of revising our work to try and iron out any errors and polish the quality of the content. To put it bluntly, it simply isn’t much fun; completely contrasting with the immersive delight that comes with actually writing.
With several projects I’ve worked on in the past, most notably the first book I released, The Vessel, I got into the habit of editing as I went. Of course there were still major revisions and repeated tweaks to be made once the initial draft was complete but my routine generally consisted of a solid block of writing, followed immediately – or sometimes the next day – by reading over what I had just written and fixing any glaring mistakes such as typos and repeated words. It may have only made a small dent in the overall workload but I liked the idea that I was at least lessening the burden, making it somewhat less daunting when the time came to delve fully into editing.
With my current work in progress however, I have abandoned my usual habit and opted instead to focus solely on my first draft as a means to get the story out of my head, leaving the entirety of the editing to later in the process. I must say I am enjoying the feeling of progression and continuity this has allowed but know I may doubt my decision a little when I have to start looking back over what I have produced.
Do you prefer to edit as you write, or do you leave it all until after your first draft is finished?