Category Archives: Observations

Insert catchy headline here

No, the headline is not a sub editing snafu – rather one of the random ramblings I’ve been thinking about.

from freepik.com

from freepik.com

There is no doubting the importance of a catchy headline, particularly in this electronic age when an entire story can be conveyed in just 144 characters. In fact one of the most often clicked-on posts in this blog is most likely found through a Google search by Metallica fans, the post title is Ride the Lightning aka Unintended Meanings . The post content is more about how once art is in the world you have lost the ability to control how it is interpreted, however I get so many hits from what I assume are Metallica fans googling the record title.

The other day I was reading the newspaper online and one of the articles I could have clicked on in the lifestyle-type section was headlined ’10 unusual things to do with breast milk’ – sorry peeps, I’m not providing a clickable link for that one! Apart from feeding an infant I would have thought any other use would be considered unusual. However, the point is, the headline was certainly not enticing me to click through!

A second slightly related rambling – As I was sitting in the library waiting for the annoying windows updates on my netbook to happen I glanced around at my fellow bibliophiles, as you do. There was a sweet older gentleman, probably a retiree, sitting in a sunny corner, absorbed in a book. I envied him the luxury of having an afternoon with nothing more pressing to do than sit and enjoy a read in a comfy chair. He suddenly exclaimed under his breath ‘sh1t!’ and flicked forwards pages in his book, flicked back again, read some more. And immediately I thought – how fantastic to be able to elicit such a response from a reader. I tried to spy the book he was reading when he stood up suddenly and headed back into the shelves. I was able to glimpse the title as he disappeared, re-emerging from the shelves empty-handed and then he left the library. I’m not quite sure what he was expecting when he picked up Benjamin Law’s book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East – but I would have thought that title was a fair indication of what you were letting yourself in for!

And a third, somewhat sad side note – Tom Clancy died last week, I still enjoy watching and reading Clear and Present Danger and The Hunt for Red October. He still has a book to come out, Command Authority is due for release on 3 December.

Reading by example

The changing face of technology means that our kids don’t necessarily ‘see’ us read any more.

It’s National Literacy and Numeracy Week down here DownUnder, and in my real life incarnation I’ve been doing some Facebook prompting to encourage people to get involved, that literacy and numeracy exercises are not just for kids or students.

libraryAs we all well know children learn best and insidiously from example, our example. I’ve been reading quotes and studies about how fantastic it is for our kids to see us read, to realise that reading is done for enjoyment, not just news and education. And this goes for kids of any age. In particular it is great for boys to see their male role models reading for pleasure.

We read a lot in our house, however, Little Man actually probably doesn’t ‘see’ us read all that often. I mostly use my Kobo ereader, particularly as I’m into book 4 of Game of Thrones – and they are some heavy books! And BMan reads loads but has fallen in love with audio books. So it is not very often that the Little Man gets to see us with a book in hand.

So how does that go for influencing the future generations? I have no answer to be honest.

I’m not concerned for Little Man – he’s 5 so we read stories to him nightly and we have literally hundreds of books in the home and regularly visit the local library. We make it pretty clear that reading and story telling is a great past time.

However it’s something that may be telling as this techno generation get older.

Interesting.

WIP update – I’ve got my manuscript entered into Scrivener now, have categorised large slabs of it as Purgatory – in need of work prior to being released back into the manuscript proper. Now I’m embarking on reading the current manuscript, to refresh my memory, be proud of what I’ve done to date and to cringe and hide my head in shame at other points.

Oh, that’s why…

Hope you’re sitting down, well you’re on a computer so you probably are. Unless you’re on your phone, and at least then you aren’t driving. I know hearing from me is a shock. Remembering my log in details – shock 2. Anyway, moving on. And sorry for the length of the post. Inblogappropriate.

Free Rainbow Galaxy Vector Background

Ah ha moment!

I’ve come to a few realisations this week, and accompanying that a renewed enthusiasm.  I hadn’t been able to figure out why I’d lost the passion for my novel. The story’s still really great, and of course the writing, in my conservative opinion, still has flashes of brilliance. So what was the problem.

I identified about 3,000 words ago that the alternating first person voices I’ve been using need to change, one can remain pretty much as is – the other needs to change to third person. I’ve also realised that my attempt to make these two friends hasn’t worked, and is unlikely to be necessary. So there’s some fantastic drunken scenes that will have to go (bang, dead darling), they’ll need to be acquaintance maybe an early foray into friendship and then a gradual drifting.

I also had a planned ending, as I really struggle with endings, and I also realised I wrote in a scene that actually contradicts it about halfway through.

What I’m saying is that there is some serious editing required – serious editing. But I figured I was about 2/3rds through, I should persevere to the end, finish the manuscript and have something complete to fix.

But then I stopped – I assume I resented writing what would become redundant words. I’m all for writing exercises, writing apart from your manuscript, that’s great, fun, skill building. But while I procrastinated against finishing my manuscript I felt guilty about other writing. Like I was cheating on my manuscript.

So I stopped.

And I felt guilty about it.

So I avoided.

But you know what. I’ve faced it. I need to start it again. I want to start again. And you know what, I need to write again.

So here I am – step 1, revive the blog.

Cos I received a sign – funny.

Since starting my own blog I’ve been following Kate McClafferty (soon to be Glodney) – and if any of you are still there, reading, waiting ever so patiently for me to reappear, get over there, read her and enjoy, thank me later.

This is me and Little Man

This is me and Little Man

But yesterday, I was juggling my phone, turning on the blue tooth speaker to Spotify while cooking and I accidentally pocket email replied to her RSS feed. A blank email. And you know what, just a few minutes later I received an email notification that she liked one of my posts. On my blog that has been inactive forever. And on the same day I finally admitted I need to write again.

So thanks Kate – for the inadvertent sign you sent me.

And if any of you are there – welcome back, I’m happy to be here.

 

I am in love with…

Toni Jordan.

and my most recent favourite bit of advice, forget about the editing…for now.

I am currently taking part in her First Draft Post Mortem course with Writers Victoria and think it is just brilliant. It’s a four week course where we dissect our manuscripts and reassemble them (taking the postmortem metaphor way too far, we are becoming Mary Shelleys I guess, although hopefully creating something far less monstrous 🙂 )

I missed the first installment of this class when the family and I were jaunting about in New Zealand, I had considered flying back early to attend the class but the cost was just crazy. After attending the second class, I kinda wish I had.

One of the things Toni spoke about that stuck quite firmly in my mind is not to consider the editing process at all when writing your first draft. The first draft should be the draft of your heart, the one that you love/have to write. Don’t think about story arcs, about character development, about internal, interpersonal and physical conflict, about three or five acts, about the creation and resolution of tension. Just write the damn thing. If you spend your time rereading and editing and being concerned about producing the perfect saleable or publishable manuscript while you are creating it, you run the risk of removing all your freshness and creativity.

It was such a nice thing to realise, to release myself from the pressure of editing until the story is written.

the draft of your heart

The frightening thing I next realised ws how vastly different my finished manuscript will ultimately be to my first draft. It’s incredible to think I will practically rewrite this entire thing! Holy moly!

Another little snippet I found reassurring was when I highlighted the fact that as my story evolved the voices of the two narrators have become more and more similar and I suspected I would need to rewrite narrator 2 in close third person. Toni revealed that she writes first in first person and then rewrites into third person, that way she finds she understands the character better. The rewrite will be a big job, but I now feel approaching it from this perspective, that it doesn’t need to be polished just yet, it has freed me up to finish writing the draft, continue in first person but not worry about the distinctiveness of the voices quite so much.

But woah nelly is there some work ahead of me!

On the bright side it is just one week to my self designed mini writers retreat. Ok the writer isn’t mini, the retreat is, but you know what I mean 🙂

Any suggestions on how to structure my weekend? I intend to greatly increase my manuscript’s word count, but think I also need to have a few other writing exercises – maybe some flash fiction (perhaps something from the previous challenges set by the brilliant Chuck Wendig), maybe a little rewrite of the first person 2nd narrator into a third person – open to suggestions.

500!!

Yippee! 500 clicks on my little blog. Thank you all mwah!

Gratuitous plug to jesco b. ignatius who I suspect was number 500! Here’s jesco’s blog Rolling Down Rodeo.

I promise I’ll return to more stimulating posts tomorrow, or maybe the day after.

When the non writer puts the writer to shame

There are expectations when you are the writer in the family, sure the expectations may all be in your own head, but regardless, sometimes, the writing you are called on to do is tough. Tough for you anyway. Moments when you are shooting for Martin Luther King memorable, tear jerking, heart warmingly unforgettable.

At these times I have discovered my non writing brethren rise to the challenge and come up with stellar writing and I seemingly ring it in. I try, of course I do, I have the highest expectations for myself, I want to write that prose, that divine emotionally wrenching script, but it just doesn’t happen.

Example 1, my wedding vows. My darling Bman and I decided eight years ago this Easter Sunday, to write our own vows for our very low key wedding. It played on my mind for weeks prior, naturally, but it just didn’t come together for me. I can vividly remember my dyslexic wonderful husband jumping out of bed one night about a month before the wedding, flicking on the light and saying he’d just thought of his vows and had to write then down right then and there. The only person he showed before the day was his sister (who was his bestman) to make sure he hadn’t made any glaring errors, and based on the result I think he nailed it first go.

His vows were poetic, full of imagery and just terribly, tear-jerkingly romantic. Seriously, his sister, my sister and myself were in tears as I suspect were many others in the 20-odd strong crowd. My vows were decidely less memorable. In fact, I can only remember what they were in vague terms. The writer dropped the ball. But it’s ok, the marriage is fabulous success despite my mediocre vows, the ones in my heart, the ones he said, were true and heard.

I’m now faced with my next challenge, when the writer of the family really should be the one to step up to the task. On Friday my sister and I are delivering my Grandmother’s eulogy. Super Sis has already written some snippets and they are beautiful. Concise but heartfelt and just lovely. I’m afraid she’s gonna be the one that carries the day again, the writer will contribute, I’ll speak, I’ll put in my ideas and memories, help compile and arrange the memories of the other grandchildren, but I seriously think that my lovely Super Sis is going to prove the lyrical one.

I’m not fishing for reassurrance or encouragement, truly. It’s just an interesting observation about the difficulties writers can face when writing their own emotions rather than being able to filter them through their characters.

Maybe I should write a narrative eulogy? Perhaps not.

I admire memoir writers, I’m not up to that task, also my life is far too mundane and mainstream to be of much interest to others,the Bman and my lovely inlaws on the other hand, now there are some stories.

So what I want to say is, anyone can write, we just can’t all do it all of the time, even us writers.

 

Vail nanna.

Too weird for fiction, this is real life baby!

So folks I’m back on board after a crazy couple of weeks, hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉

After some recent events and also inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild that I am halfway through, I got to thinking about how a dramatic event in your life can derail you so completely that your life is suddenly and irreversibly chaged forever. Not just the changes one expects to come along, getting a new job, moving towns etc. but something that, to you, is earth shatteringly changing, enough to change your thought patterns, your natural way of interacting with your world, your very behaviour, even your own perception of yourself.

For many of us we ride this life rollercoaster, even with all its dizzying highs and plunging lows, on a fairly even keel, we absorb the impact and continue on changed, but recognisable. For others the results are far more dramatic. These are the people that we read and write about. Funny thing is, in fiction, these dramatic shifts in personality and behaviour can often ring untrue.

Cheryl Strayed was rocked to the core when her mother died, her behaviour over the next five or so years was dramatically different to life while her mother still lived. If her memoir was written as fiction you would put it down in disgust, why would this loving wife do such seemingly despicable things? So out of character? What was the author thinking, did they really think we’d buy this? please! But she did, really. And then she wrote about it, raw and honest.

The truth is truly stranger than fiction.

What about those perfect storms of coinicidental events that culminate in drama. They all happen in our lives, we know that, but when we read a book or see a movie where a seemingly ridiculous sequence of good or bad luck occurs to one person, it doesn’t ring true. But in life we know it happens.

It’s funny that we need to temper our fiction to make it believable.

When we returned from holiday last night we first pulled into our local shopping centre to restock the pantry. I rushed from the car, leaving Little Man sleeping and Bman phoning friends. As I hurried past the corner coffee shop I noted a bit of a crowd was clustered, When I drew closer I saw one of the outdoor tables was covered with a blanket and there were two people holding brightly coloured giant parakeets, just stroking their heads gently and silently. There was also a man holding a piglet wrapped in a blanket, but no one was looking at him. Bizarre! I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I’d only been gone 2 weeks, what on earth had changed in my short absence? If I wrote this scene up, which I’m tempted to do, would it ring true? There was no obvious explanation why the wildlife was there, nothing happened, I didn’t pat the bird or the piglet, but the sense of scene was so odd.

****************

On a completely different note my just turned four year old Little Man is showing signs of being a story teller. During a particularly gruelling ferry crossing, where I did not manage to maintain my dignity, my Little Man made up adventures to make me feel better (while the ever supportive Bman slept!). They were serious boy’s own adventure stuff, lava surfing, rocket boosters and speed, elaborate in their action, seriously light on plot and character development. I loved every minute of it!

We bought a litte exercise book and he dictated three stories to me. They were less dramatic than his earlier offerings as I wrote too slow for him!

One proud writing mama will treasure this holiday souvenir for a long long time!