Sunday, 24 February 2008

Is writing just another form of addiction?

I lied. It´s impossible; I just cannot stop. I read about people saying writing is an addiction and that they feel compelled many times. But I´ve always wondered whether its just a little too...fake?

Perhaps not. My asthmas is in full force and I´ve got around 12 submissions sat fat and happy awaiting their jury but still I write... despite promising I´d have just a week off. I even got up last night to write down a dream I´d had that was a potentially excellent short story.

Oscar Wilde was addicted to the beauty of words, and was compelled to write and share his thoughts and observances. And these words are very well known and beginning to ring true:

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."
~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

So, should I put my pen down, bow down to ill heath and let my body and mind relax? Not bloody likely! I have an article to write and a few more open submissions I´m interested in which I´d like to get underway...the theme of one is beauty. How can I not succumb?

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Another busy week and a little step back...

As well as the return of the first 10,000 words of my novel, I´ve had two poetry acceptances (Word Riot in the future and Savage Manners up now) and also have another 5 poetry submissions sat in some choice places including Dogeater which are awaiting decision. The second part of my Jacob Sam-La Rose poetry critique is complete, and next up we have Pauline Hughes Plummer, Tony O´Neill and visual poet Edward Picot.

I´ve also entered a short story competition in Australia, which will be announced the day before I fly out for my first visit to Oz! The prize is anthology publication which would be fantastic. I realised there was a 5pm Oz time deadline and so got up at 6am three days in a row to write it before work, and on the final day (Australia is 10 hours ahead!) continued with it until midnight to get the submission in on time. Dedication or madness? You decide!

An odd thing though is that two friends - both of whom I trust completely - asked me whether I was overdoing it. I don´t think so, and I´m thoroughly enjoying it but I figured I´m doing around 45 to 50 hours in my day job (as Communications Manager/Web Writer) and another 20 hours writing. So I´ve decided to listen and take a little step back and have a more relaxed week.

I also made a BIG MISTAKE. Its a funny moment to share however - I entered a flash fiction competition with Six Sentences which had the title - Mixed Drinks. I didn´t win. Perhaps it was something to do with my entry being called Mixed Nuts. What was I thinking?

The first 10,000 words returns...

The first 10,000 words of my novel have returned from The Book Doctor Hannah Davies and all I can say is it is money well spent! With some advice on the look that publishers would be looking for, plus notes on silly mistakes (e.g. word repetition), chapter breaks (7 become 3 and one removed) and general dialogue and pace...I´m very pleased with the results.

With an overall appreciation of my voice and a query about what genre the novel would fit into, I feel like I now have some solid points to work with to get a first draft of my novel completed. Not bad seeing as the whole thing was written in 30 days to complete the NanoWrimo challenge. In fact, I was very happy indeed. But the redraft will have to wait until May...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Can I really start a novel with the word fuck?

Just to get an idea of general opinion, I set up a poll in my building a novel blog and suggested these four opening sentences.

  1. As a distant crash of waves broke upon the shore, Max stood at an odd angle outside his heavy oak front door.
  2. Max was blind drunk and angry.
  3. Max swayed outside the heavy oak door, in time to the sound of the waves in the distance.
  4. "Fuck this" shouted Max, loudly enough to drown out the sound of waves crashing in the distance.

The most popular was: “Fuck this” shouted Max… But is it really possible to start a book with the word fuck? Firstly – is there a publisher out there that would be prepared to back this opening line? Of course, an opening line does not a novel make, but it’s pretty damn important!

How many readers would you lose due to the usage of fuck as a first word? Yes, it’s in every film and even printed in newspaper these days, and of course there’s many a novel out there that swear throughout the pages – but is it different as an opening word? Would it be applauded or be put straight down for trying to hard? Or is just that my balls have shrunk a little out of the fear of what others think?

I don’t know whether I prefer “Max was blind drunk and angry” or the “fuck this” opener. The first has less impact, less edge – and perhaps even a lot less of my voice. It’s more telling than showing, and I prefer the romanticism of the sway of the sea and the reality of one angry drunken man screaming his head of in the street. So I guess I do know really…writing this blog is clarifying it just a little!

So what was it that made me send the first draft of my novel to be doctored, with the opening line Max was blind drunk and angry. In fact, fuck this, I’ll change the first sentence and resend, and ask for a comparison. Can’t hurt, right?

Doctor doctor!

I took a great leap mid week; I’ve sent the first 10,000 words of my novel for surgery. I found a service near where I live, with Hannah Davies; a lady whose reputation certainly precedes her.

I’ve been accidentally landing on her website periodically over the last year or so, and finally I have something that is worth taking the plunge with. What she offers is not an editing service; it’s something much more exciting…

Hannah searches for glaring mistakes, considers the overall tone, depth of character and advises on what works well and what stinks. Of course, I can’t guarantee how well she does this until I receive her critique back. But I’m excited.

And so, a more than reasonable sum of euros have been transferred, the first 10,000 words of my novel redrafted, and it’s now gone: emailed with an overview of what the novel is about and bated breath. I´ll let you know how I get on.