An Author in Progress

This is where you'll find me trying to mould myself into a respectable writer - it may take sometime...
You'll find anything from a piece of experimental creative writing, some thoughts on my novel developments, to even the occasional literature-based academic paper.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Amis, essays and a classy novella by Susan Hill

Happy Christmas, holidays, non-Christmas before I forget!

My essay on the requirements for writing for children is now complete - whoo! Now I have another one on the relationship between an author and his agent: I have decided there's so much back story on the Martin Amis and Andrew Wylie union that I can surely piece two thousand words together with some coherence.

I have collated as many interviews and news stories to file as I could find, have earmarked some great paragraphs to help shape the aspects I need to focus upon: the mutual needs/ requirements/ ambitions of both I hope are what is intended... of course if there's anyone out there who could pass on some insight I would love it.

Just have to say that I love software for writing. Saving myself so much paper. Pasting quotes with reference details is so much easier: copy... paste... reference... bliss! OCD alert in being able to hilight what quotes I've used and for what. I know - it's very sad, but it's saving me so much time.

Just managed to squeeze a classy little read in between theory and 21st century literature criticism reading. Let me introduce the world to Susan Hill's The Small Hand (published by Profile books).

There's just enough darkness to be a super ghost story, but I repeat 'classy' because it simply just is. Doesn't need jazz or guts or heartpounding pace, because it's slow, creeping... just beyond the eye - or should I say grasp.

Andrew Snow is an anitquarian bookseller/finder who stumbles upon and old neglected house which he then leaves with the gnawing presence of a hungry small hand catching at his own. I'm saying nothing more. It's the journey from there on in that's enjoyable.

Beautiful jacket over a petite little hardback, this novella needs to be enjoyed with a glass of something stylish, or be read in a country garden at dusk. What can I say apart from that I am a sucker for the refined.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Non progress.

I am officially brain dead. Reader response theory. Shiver! I am trying to keep myself down to the bare bones of what writing for children could philosophically allow. Trying to argue about why one person can (and another cannot) write for children is a contentious statement.
In the west we all got a right to a voice - is just if anyone will listen. No?

Brain: 'I ache!'

I have no time to blog.Slowly becoming assimilated into the twitterborg. I need my lit buddies. I need the endless rows of books at hand and the coffee shop. Feeling very out of it and the bug doesn't help. Being out of my university routine makes me feel like a space cadet.

Sandra: 'I'm sorry - which planet is this again?'

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Short story break-out

Seems that I am not destined to write short stories. Guess that's why I'm studying 'Writing the Novel' as part of my course.

All I've done with 'Mulled Chrsitmas' is springboard into yet another long plot! My daughter read this last night and wants more, so Im knocked out.

Have already started working the back story into some kind of order. There are several scenes, and feelings that circulate that I need to put down sometime soon. There's also a binary time strand combination beginning to form, so that's not hugely helpful when I have a novel to kind of finish for workshopping in January.

I'm definately on the road to Insanity (that place just West of Momentarily Confused). I even thought I had blogged this already and then logged on to find, nope - not here! In writing the plots for fiction I seem to be losing grasp of my own.

By the time I've graduated I will have enough ideas to keep me going for a good few years.

The magazine is finally launched. Hooray. And yes, Draven Ames, we are happy to accept an overseas submission for consideration. I'm still trying to get the notion to my team that being online in some capacity could be helpful - even if it's just podcasts audio versions for people with sight impairments. Fingers crossed. We even have someone wanting to represent us which is kind of cool. Someone just starting out, so it's something we'll have to debate as a magazine.

Monday, 6 December 2010

feedback for the short story

I'm in happy phase, after a very stressful day with logistic hell of magazine editorials.
Had great feedback from uni friends about this first fiction piece... just some very useful suggestions about tightening up the relevance of the closing para.

I'm so glad that my narrator is not loveable and that is accepted by the feedback given, so it's all looking positive.

I shall re-examine the ending and beginning to find the coherence needed to make both sections work together.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Okay I'm going to try something new: the editing process of first to final draft - short story form is definately much easier in a blog.

This is the first draft of a short story designed to fit into an anthology of stories for older children/YA. The existing collection is based loosely around Christmas, but loving how they barely leave a warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling, I thought I would also use this opportunity to have a go at a different kind of narrative to my normal style. Any feedback/ criticism/ amendment suggestions welcome...

I sometimes used to wonder about the nature of wild things, you know? When I was small, maybe five or six, I imagined that just like a puppy, everything could be tamed. I really believed that there was a good side to everything. Like the Christian and the Lion, in the bible story – I heard about that in RE this one time. How wrong can you be? It would be laughable if it wasn't so bloody heartbreaking.
If you're wondering what brought me to this particular topic of conversation you only have to go as far as the local graveyard and ask my brother. Ask him why he did those things to that cat and what good it brought him. My brother, the bad egg, born like Jesus on Christmas morning – except for we all know that Jesus was born some time in October. He'll be a kid forever, my brother. Born on Christmas morning, died the same day ten years later.
The graveyard is quite a familiar place for us these past five years. Every Christmas the day starts with breakfast, church, the graveyard – before anything else, always the graveyard. It's a bit snowy there today, so I don't imagine we'll stay as long.
It's not like when someone is old and it's their time, and their family's kind of faded away into old age themselves, so that the grave gets taken on by some local retired dude who pulls at the brambles and trims the weeds. Nicky's grave is very tidy, and there's a pot plant of poinsettia waiting on the hall table, for me to lug all the way to church and that.
I suppose I should probably hunt out some gloves or I'll get cold hands. Church always makes me cold. This year is definitely the last time they can make me go. I get the shivers. The eyes of the saints in the stained glass windows piercing me. They can see it. I know they can. I shouldn't be there – but then why am I telling you? You just want to know what I'm getting for Christmas. Lol. I keep getting told off for using that word, but who cares, so I'll use it. Laugh my ass off! LMAO.
Laugh. My. Ass. Off! An exclamation marks always adds dramatic tension, but my English teacher argues this point.
Oh and BTW, WTF but have you seen how early the Christmas ad's are coming on the TV? They almost beat Halloween. I mean, for god's sake. I get less peace every year. Less time not thinking about it. About it. About the bad egg. Rotten eggs have the worst smell ever. Last Christmas I cracked one open and it had 2 rotting chicks inside – there wasn't enough room for both of them, so they both died. Can't tell you how cheery and upbeat that made me feel. Still that was last Christmas and I should probably move on.
So anyway, good morning and Happy Christmas and all that stuff. Just got back from the grave and as you can imagine I had a whale of a time..
The grave was frosted up, there was a bit of bird crap pretty much glued on to the angel's nose which made her look like she had purple snot, but I tried to pick at it as best I could. 'Stop it,' Mum moaned. So I just shrugged and carried on staring at it the whole time we're stood there, getting cold feet from the snow-covered grave, like death creeping up and grabbing my toes. Here's a question: How far away from a grave can you stand while still looking like you are visiting one and not another? An accident, it says on his grave, but was it? Really? If he hadn't been jabbing at that cat with a stick it wouldn't have gotten out of control.
I could relay the story to you in third person but it will always be from my point of view. Omniscient. It's a truly ancient, annoyingly persistent word. I've tried breaking it down into text talk but it just won't go. What really gets to me is the present I have to leave for him every year.
'He's your brother,' Mum would wheedle, if I ever made an objection. But the worst part of it is, knowing that whatever I unwrap for him, I'll be unwrapping for myself later. She's under some crazy messed-up illusion that he bloody ascends the grave for her bit of Christmas cake. Seriously I feel like Santa. Maybe the crumbs get stuck in his throat, but he doesn't have to worry because the sherry would wash it all down. It used to be lager, before Dad couldn't take Nicky's absence.
Before he missed him too much.
I suppose you probably want to know a bit more about all of this. It's pretty much straight forward. You've probably guessed already. I feel responsible for my brother, sometimes because I have to and sometimes because I just damn well do. It's his face I see in the mirror every morning. It's his grave I look at every time I have to go to the churchyard. How is it, he could do stuff without me, but I am not allowed to do stuff without him?
Did you know that in some cultures twins are an evil portend? Such a good phrase that. Maybe we should've been exposed like the two chicks in the frying pan. But one of them would still be alive. Burning. That's totally gross I know, but here I am burning for what we were.
I still see that cat sometimes. It's a lot older now and it's ear and paw are mended. I took responsibility for both of us that day. It seems when he got all the strength I just got all the inability to listen to animals yowl. I still can't get to sleep when Mum's new little Nicholas squeals in his cot. He cries more than she'd like, but with Dad following after Nicky there is only me to share the job and I just put my earphones in and turn up the volume.
Just like Nicky used to do to me. Get louder, so he didn't have to listen. Make more noise to shut out the noise. So, I took a page out of his half of the book that day? So, I turned his own stuff against him? It was just so he'd learn. The lesson was ironically all mine. It's totally ironic that pushing him out into the road left me with it all. Irony, has it something to do with iron – blood?
I really didn't see the car coming, even if I heard it skid across the ice. I pushed him out there and the cat clawed me!
I still have three sickle shaped scars where the cat's claws were left in my palm. It's almost six, six, six. Like a dark mark. I am the anti-not-hero. I am half of the bad egg. Does that make me only half as bad or equally so?

So I'm hoping now you kind of get why church is real kick and why at Christmas rotten turkey smells like soiled nappies, and my wondering about the nature of wild things to always be wild. I look at little Nicholas sometimes and get nervous about that. But then maybe in him is both halves of the egg.