Friday, October 7, 2011

How do you solve a problem like prepositions?

AND
Can we talk about pet peeves of writing or should I say reading writing? There are many writing do and don’ts and grammar rules, of which we need to pay heed. Then there are those rules, that when broken, actually work well.



In English class, back in my youth, we were taught to never start a sentence with "And" or ''But". But,or should I say, however, there are few authors who do not breach this rule. In all my first drafts, I find the "And/But" rule broken considerably. Although, on closer inspection, I realise, they are mostly unnecessary additions to the beginning of my sentences. So I remove them.

ADVERBS
Stephen King, in his book, “On Writing”, rants about the misuse of adverbs in describing speech.  He means when an author writes something like, Peter asked fearfully, ‘Are you going to kill me?' or, Kelly said mockingly, ‘So, you think you are the boss?’ 
King suggests adverbs are for the meek writers who are uncertain of their writing, who are just not sure if the reader is getting the message.  And, King has a point—or, King has a point, as my “And” is really superfluous.  (Although, that “And” does add a tone of familiarity, which is one of the times I will allow it to stand.)
Sometimes, breaking the rules adds something to your character and pacing.  I can’t say why that is.  I doubt most writers can.  A writer simply hears a rhythm in their head and, somehow, you just know that that word needs to stay, even though all the rules tell you no.
But back to the adverbs—now I’ll let that “But” stand; it seems to work.  King says they are not all bad.  Unfortunately, though, they are like weeds, where once you let one grow in your lawn, pretty soon your entire backyard is covered in them. 
It is a good lesson and any time I go to use an adverb, whether it be for describing speech or even an action, I question its necessity.  Have I done my job well enough that the reader will know how that character will speak that sentence or move across a room or lean across the table?   And if I think I do need the adverb then I’ll go back and check on the previous paragraphs to find a way to lose it.  No weeds will take root in my garden.  No way.
PREPOSITIONS
Now that brings me to prepositions.  The misuse of these, I find hard to forgive.  Prepositions are in the adposition class of words whose most central members characteristically express spatial relations.
For example,
Jill sat upon the hill.  Bill ran to the gate.  Mary came from another planet. 

Writers drive me crazy when they place preopositions at the end of a sentence.  They shouldn't be there and I think it is just sloppy to leave them.  It is not a rule that is broken to help with rythm or pacing.  It is a rule not to be broken because the sentence always reads clumsy and cluttered.
The annoying thing is, this adposition misuse is turning up everywhere, and the more I see it, the more I notice it.  I’m reading along happily and then, bam, preposition at the end of the sentence and I’m back in reality and out of the story.
EXAMPLES
Here’s what I’m talking about.  Oh, sorry, I mean, here’s about which I am talking.  No that is a bad sentence, too.  What about, here’s what I mean.  (See, short and sweet.)
Try these examples taken from a short story in a national magazine.
Susan said, ‘They might want to fire me, if they find out.  But they aren’t going to’.   How much better would this sentence read, if the writer just wrote, ‘But they won’t.’  It’s also a passive sentence but I won’t get into that right now.

Another example to look at—I mean, another example...
‘You can get it back next Friday,’ she said patiently, raising an eyebrow, indicating she didn’t expect to be argued with.  It should read ‘she didn’t expect an argument.  And following Stephen King’s rule, the writer could lose the adverb, ‘patiently’ as well.  In fact, she doesn’t really need to tell us that the character doesn’t expect an argument.  Her behaviour in the previous paragraphs should have told us that, with just a raise of her eyebrow.  It certainly would read as a much cleaner passage with, ‘You can get it back next Friday,’ she said, raising an eyebrow.  Oh and for the record, ‘to be argued with’ is also passive writing.
EXCUSED
However, I have no problem with ending sentences with prepositions if it is a character speaking.  Nobody says, unless you are English gentry perhaps, ‘From where is that noise coming?’  Of course, we would say, ‘Where is that noise coming from?’  Above all, you need to keep speech real.  
My issue is with the lazy authors who don’t clean up their little weeds, leaving me to rearrange their sentences in my head, when I should be continuing with their story.  Then again, maybe, I shouldn’t bother grammatically correcting them but simply take their misuse as a sign that this is a story I shouldn’t continue with—with which I shouldn’t continue—which I should stop reading.



If you have enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straightaway you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I have exciting news to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz


Thursday, October 6, 2011

When is a story a story?

QUESTION

How do you come up with a good story line? 

 Now that is the million-dollar question I keep asking myself every time I think about Harry Potter.  What a brilliant idea.  Of course, it was destined for greatness—even if over a dozen editors couldn’t see it at first. The same goes for Twilight, The Hunger Games and the myriad of other incredible plots out there.  Whether you like the way the authors executed their stories or not, there is no denying they were on to something.
When I closed my business eleven years ago, to become a Mother, I started working on some writing ideas before being pulled into another business venture for another ten years.  Only one story line haunted me for the next ten years.  It was an idea to do with Déjà Vu and crossed time lines to explain the phenomena.  So many nights I would lay in bed, thinking, and thinking in an attempt to move the idea along. 
Eventually, that was the story I wrote when I began my discipline of writing a page a day.  That story grew to 420 pages before I put it down.  I was stuck and I just couldn’t work out where to go.  Somewhere further back I had made an error in the plot and I could not find a way to reconcile it.  Looking at it now I realise it was a complex story with many characters all running side by side, hopefully to come together at the end.  The root of the problem was a lack of skill and not the story. 
The book I started immediately after I stopped that one was much simpler, with only two key protagonists, one antagonist, and a single clear-cut story line.  Don’t get me wrong, it still presented some tricky moments but I managed to overcome those.
CHOOSING

Why did I choose such a difficult idea for my first attempt at book writing? 
Well I had no choice.  It was the only story idea I could find in ten years.  Can you believe it?  Why couldn’t I come up with any other stories in ten years, when over the past eighteen months, so many have crossed my path that I will never have time to write them all?
I think it has something to do with experience and that little rule I have mentioned and will re-mention always—you need to write to improve.  I believe while you are writing the initial dribble—it might be reasonably good dribble but trust me you will look back and realise it’s not your best—you are working many writing muscles subconsciously.
You are learning about character development, understanding plotting and pacing, and identifying your own writing strengths and weaknesses.  And, I think, you are opening your mind to the possibilities of ideas.   It reminds me of the experience of spotting a dozen cars of the exact brand and type of car I have just decided to buy.  If you want to write, your magnificent imagination kicks its heels together and shouts, ‘Oh, let me show you what I can really do.’  So, it begins to file everything.  It could be a sentence or a news report, a television show, something the kids say, or a moment from your past you are recounting to a listener.
PROCESS

Here’s how it works for me. 
The other day, whilst watching a show entitled ‘Born on the Wrong Day’, there was an interview with a midwife who had been delivering a baby at a hospital when a gunman took the whole ward captive.  He held a gun to her head and shot another woman dead.  The midwife said, ‘Every time I think of that day, I can feel the cold, hard metal of the gun against my head.’  Bingo, I thought.  What a great first line for a story or a book.  Instantly, the next line I would add came into my head, ‘And I think about that day a lot.’  So there was a great story premise.
What experience teaches you is how then to ask the right questions to build your story.  What circumstances surrounded the holding of the gun to her head?  Who was the gunman?  Was it her committing, or attempting to commit, suicide?  How does she survive?  Is there revenge involved?  Who else is there?  And the list goes on.  It is almost like building a dot-to-dot picture.
LIKE

When I wrote ‘Hell's Kitchen', a first prize winning story in a competition at http://www.writing-information-and-tips.com/fl1-first.html , I didn’t have an idea in my head, except I knew the first line, to fulfil the competition criteria, needed to be “Second by second, the crimson stain crept...”.   Walking passed the TV I noticed fleetingly, the end of a Master Chef episode where two contestants were awaiting the decision of who was to go home.  Both behaved as if they were facing the death sentence. 
Next moment, I am in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I suddenly thought, that’s it.  The crimson stain is wine.  They are in a cooking competition.  But the twist is it really is life and death. 
I knew it would work in the 1,000 words—another skill you learn is the ability to guesstimate the word count for a story (mind you, it’s not perfect).  It had an entry and an exit.  I knew the emotion I wanted through the middle as I’d watched it enough times on the show.  And all of this creation occurred in the two minutes it took to brush my teeth.
Had I never started writing again, there would never be the question in my mind of what comes next after “the crimson stain crept.”  And I never would have known the questions to ask.
And for all the good ideas, there are the rejects.  You can throw an idea around for a while but sometimes nothing sticks.  When they do stick, you know it.  It feels like an annoying insect flying around your head.  Sometimes, you just want to swat it away because you are too busy.  But it’s persistent.  And that’s when I know I need to either write a short story of it or make a note for something bigger later.
“Collaboration”, my novel that is in its second draft, was borne of a late night reminiscing session with my husband about the early office machines I used.  Recounting the old golfball typewrite I once used—and how astounded our children would now be that once we didn’t store things in memory before printing them—my mind took a leap.  What if a character typed on an old golf ball typewriter and instead of it printing what he typed, it typed something completely different.  And what if that something was a very frightening third person perspective of child abductions and murders. 
For a few days, the idea kept gnawing at me.  But I dismissed it.  Then the character I would need sprang to mind.  But I still didn’t want to write it.  I had another story idea in my mind.  But this character just started talking about it.  Everywhere.  In the shower, in the car, while I was hanging out the washing.  He kept telling me this story about this typewriter and how he was the only one who could save the latest abductee and why. 
So, I gave up and wrote it.  Sometimes, as a writer, you aren’t in control.

DOORWAY
And that is the beauty of it.  Open the window of your mind and be prepared for whatever flies in.  You may not see the story at first but then it will flit past the light or shape into a shadow that you will suddenly recognise as the doorway to your next adventure.


If you enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straight away you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I've got some exciting things to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are you up for a little competition?

A BOOK

Around August last year, I read a non-fiction book by Stephen King, entitled ‘On Writing’.  It was his ‘how to’ on the craft.  It’s a short book because, as he says, there is one key to success and that is to read a lot and write a lot—writing huge amounts on the how to write just won’t help that much if you don’t follow that simple premise.  There are still a few hints and tips on the ‘toolbox’ you will need to work on your writing though.  These are all spot on and I would highly recommend you purchase a copy.  The first copy I read was a library borrowing.  However, I loved it so much, my husband, bought me a copy last Christmas.  
Having just reread it, I am pleasantly surprised at the authenticity of his descriptions on the process of writing.  There were so many things, I hadn’t experienced when I first read it.  Now I am starting to feel as if I’m not a beginner anymore, and I can identify with his ideas and experiences.
COMPETITIONS

The subject I wanted to discuss today, though, is writing for competitions.  Near the end of the book, King describes the experience of a writer starting out.  This writer is a fictitious person, and is a compilation of three unpublished writers he knows.  This fictitious writer begins his road to publishing by writing short stories, which he then submits for publication and as entries in competitions.  King’s theory is that this will build a resume, along with gaining experience.  It is so much better to send a query letter for your book with a list of previous publications containing something of your work.
At a workshop on publishing, an editor confirmed to me that if you do have a resume of wins, short-listings and published short stories then it will go some way to moving you up the slush pile (the bottomless pit your work is dumped in when it gets to an agent or publisher).  She told me, if you have had some wins in competitions, it proves you can follow submission guidelines, and that somewhere someone liked what you did enough to say it was one of the best ones.
So last year, when I read this idea of building a resume in King’s book, I thought, ‘Why not?  Let’s put everything in my favour.’  I’d decided I wasn’t going to join a writers group (more about that in this post) and I thought this would be good practise.  

REJECTION
The first three entries to competitions did nothing. 
One sent me an email, saying I didn’t win or receive a highly commended but I was welcome to buy the book of the collection of winners.  Thanks, but no thanks.  From the others I received nada.   
When I received the first loss notification, I was devastated.  I really thought it was a good story (as I look back, I think I’ve written better since).  But, it was my first rejection.  I cried.  The thoughts, ‘I am a failure and I have no talent,’ ran wild through my head crushing my fragile ego.  My wonderful husband kept re-assuring me with, ‘No, you are good.  They are just unprofessional fools and wouldn’t know a good story if it bit them.’  
His words didn’t help though.  Eventually after my wounding, I got back up again.  My stories were calling.  With writing, rejection and competition losses are just part of the job.  But as Rod Stewart once sang, ‘The first cut is the deepest, baby.’  And you may as well get it over with as soon as possible.  Rejections are the blows you take to get to the wins and the publishing successes.  There is no way around it—oh except one.  You can quit or just never try.
After the first three rejections, I started to look carefully at the competitions and opportunities I was entering.  My interest and genre is speculative fiction (Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and nasty evil psychopaths).  Personally, I think there is a prejudice towards speculative fiction.  There aren’t many works in that genre considered literature.  Although, Cormac McCarthy pretty much nailed literary speculative fiction in the ‘The Road’.   I find this quite a bizarre idea when you consider some of the most popular books today fall into this genre with Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy leading the charge.  Think about it, even Alice in Wonderland is speculative fiction.
WISER

From then on, I decided, I would send my stories to competitions that were in sympathy with my genre.  It didn’t mean they were speculative fiction competitions but from previous entries, that I could read, the editors appeared to have an open mind.
And that did the trick.
One evening, after I had snuggled into bed, my husband walked in after checking the emails.  His fist was covering his mouth and there were tears in his eyes.  My heart just stopped.  Someone has died, I thought.  He led me to the computer and there were the words sitting in an innocent email sent at 11pm at night.  “Congratulations, your story Ring Ring has won third place in our competition.”  And to cap it off, my other story Gone—that had scored not even a reply from the promoters in a previous competition—was in the Highly Commended list.  Included was an offer to publish them in an anthology.  Those stories netted me $125 and certificates—still sitting in my drawer along with the frames purchased to hang them.
But they netted me a lot more than money.  They validated my work.  They validated me and I could now say I am a published author; I’m not fooling around here.  I doubt they sold many books.  It was just a little publishing house.  But it was a little ray of hope in the daily routine of writing a book, of which I was constantly uncertain as to the quality.  So, I had hit the jackpot.
I kept sending off to competitions using my criteria and Ring Ring scored an anthology-publishing offer in another competition.  This competition was why I wrote Ring Ring.  It was in a sub-genre called Steam Punk.  I know, I had never heard of it either.  My thoughts were to challenge myself, writing in genres and styles I had never before attempted.  So, in a way, I was putting myself through a writing course with set exercises. 
Each competition had a deadline and submission criteria and most were specific in the type of stories for which they were looking.  My story collection grew by about one every six weeks. 
Then one day I received an email from the editor of various anthologies in whose competition I had entered a story entitled Do Us Part.  He wrote me, that one of the three judges did not like my story—I have a very black sense of humour, so it probably offended them.  ‘Unfortunately, if one judge doesn’t like a story, it pretty much rules you out of the competition,’ he wrote.  He went on to tell me he really enjoyed my story and would like to include it in an anthology of stories, as an Editor’s pick.’
Well, well, I thought.  Now I am starting to learn how these competitions work.  So I was correct in choosing my competitions carefully.  Put the odds in your favour and attempt to avoid those judges not leaning in your genre and style direction.

SUCCESS
By now, I was starting to feel more confident.  Now three different editors liked my stories.  So, there must be some talent in me.  Let’s roll the dice and try for a six.  Another site was hosting a first line competition, where you had the choice of three lines to begin your 1,000-word story.  It was a writing site run by a woman who taught writing in an on-line course and the site was filled with very interesting ideas.  Perfect. 
The story was like an assignment with its fixed line beginning, and it was short.  Trust me, the shorter the story, the harder it is to create.  It’s difficult to build characters and tell a story with a good ending in a few pages.  You always end up over word count by 10 to 20% and then you must become ruthless with your editing, looking at every word and judging its necessity.  But I almost didn’t enter this one because the competition requested a hard copy entry.  I’d become accustomed to email entries.  So much more convenient.  But then I thought the story turned out pretty spot on—my husband even commented it was the best so far.  So, maybe it was worth the walk to the post box.
A month later, I learned the walk was truly worth it.  I won.  My first win.  Her posted comments, too, were so flattering; I was blushing and crying at the same time.  Then three weeks later, I placed second with another new story—so close to first they told me (don’t tell me that)—which went on to be included in an Anthology.
In one year, four different publishers published five stories.  One story had scored in two different competitions.  One other story didn’t place but by then, I wasn’t bothered.  Currently, I have three stories in contention.  I always have one out there somewhere. 
WINNING

The moral to this story is to give competitions a go.  Think of it as a writing exercise and be prepared to lose.  You are going to lose sometimes.  But between the losing and the winning, you are honing your editing skills—big time.  You are collecting experience.  Learning to handle rejection.  You may even gain a credit for your resume.  And you are getting down that storyline idea that has visited you—maybe one day to become a novel.  For me, the stories are sometimes like a holiday from my book.  A few days off visiting different scenery can do wonders.
But I think regardless of how much money you win or how many stories enjoy publication the greatest prize you receive is your story.  You have another baby in your collection.  You wrote something and somebody else read it.  And whether they loved it or hated it, you wrote.
PS.  A Fantastic site I have just found for submissions to magazines and tracking submissions for competitions is http://heypublisher.com/ .  I really recommend you visit.  Amazingly it’s free.


If you enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straight away you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I've got some exciting things to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz


Saturday, October 1, 2011

What they don’t teach you in Creative Writing 101



HISTORY


There are rules with writing.  I’m sure you know that.  In my early twenties, I studied creative writing part-time for eighteen months at the Institute of Fine Art in Brisbane, Queensland. 
We started out with a class of around forty enthusiastic hopefuls.  Each week there would be less and less attendees, until only six of us remained.  I think it works something like that in real life too.  Everyone who believes there is a writer in them at some point gives it a go and then as time goes by they are worn down by the mundaneness, the frustration, the whimsy of inspiration and, the biggie by far, self-doubt.
Our tutor was a stern middle-aged woman who seemed very old-fashioned to me.  She was probably the age I am now but she just seemed a million miles away from the youthful, energetic me, passionately in love with horror and Sci-fi. 
In the first class, our homework was to write about a room with a fireplace.  Creative?  No.  Boring?  Yes.  I couldn’t resist, I wrote about an old man stirring the embers of the fire and, low and behold, we realise, as a bone peaks out from the ashes, he has burnt the body of his wife in there.  I thought, she is going to love this.  How creative am I?
Instead, she comes back the following week and informs me, after checking with her doctor, that it is impossible to burn a human being in a fireplace.  It’s just not hot enough.  ‘Check your facts, first,’ she told me.  My cheeks burning red, I thought, but, what about the writing? 
No matter how hard I tried, I never did impress her.  I’d sit there, whilst she praised the other student’s work, which to me seemed to lack excitement and the twists that I loved so much.  Mostly, they were descriptive character studies where nobody died from monsters or ghoul attacks. 
LESSONS

Each week she set different homework exercises.  Each one more and more frustrating and boring.  When I asked her when we were going to do some real writing that used our imagination, she replied with words, I still treasure today.  ‘First you must learn the rules of writing, so that when you write something that doesn’t work, you will know why, and how to fix it.’ 
I didn’t like it but I am so grateful to that woman because, thanks to her, I do know most of the rules and I do know how to fix my writing.  Most importantly, I also know when it is okay to break the rules.  With writing, like most things, it comes down to walking before you can run.  Even when you are good at running, you still fall.  That’s when you need to know what type of balm needs applying to get you up and running again.
I laugh sometimes, thinking how dismissive she was of a Stephen King book she deigned to read, after I held him up as my writing heroe.  This was the early eighties, just as he was solidifying his domination of the horror market with “Christine”.  She said to me, ‘I’ve read one of your Stephen King books and it was so badly written; so many mistakes.  I don’t understand what everyone sees in him.  Atrocious.”  So, she wasn’t always right.
DOING

After learning all the rules, I thought I knew what I needed to know.  But I’ve learnt all these years later, only by doing is much learnt.  And some of it, I suspect, comes down to each writer’s modus operandi. 
It took me a 420 page non-completed novel, a 280 page completed novel and about a dozen short stories to realise, they never tell you about the magic. 
When you first start writing, you come up with a story and characters to tell that story.  Then you either plot it all out.  Or you may be like me and you just send all the characters off, like a bunch of mice to explore their world, whilst giving them nudges here and there.
If I’d known that at some point in the daunting process of writing a book, the characters take over and you don’t need to invent every move, I would have written one sooner.  But they do, and it is the most surprising, exhilarating experience.  I liken it to the feeling of flying in a dream.  They have knowledge of other characters you do not seem to possess.  Their thoughts become separate from your thinking process and their responses to plot turns will quite often surprise you. 
By the time, you’ve finished your story you know a lot more about them than when you started.  Yet, I know, most people don’t start writing until they believe they have the complete back-story and intimate details of the characters.  By then, they decide it’s all too hard and give up.
MAGIC

I’m telling you don’t wait.  Start writing and, eventually, you will start to see a glimmer of a world you did not know existed.  You will have moments where you have lost control and are just along for the ride.  It may be just a paragraph in the beginning.  It took me two months of writing a page every day before I started to experience it.  Then you are so excited, you babble away to anyone that will listen, ‘My character came alive.  He did something I did not tell him to do.’
The next day, you return to your story, excited, anticipating the great escape you will experience—and it doesn’t come.  In fact, it may not come again for a while.  Then when you are least expecting it, when you are deep in concentration, it arrives again without fanfare, without any knocking on the door.  And you are off.  This time it lasts for three pages, or even more. 
And it comes back more often.  Until almost every day, the story is writing itself and you are running side by side—sometimes panting to keep up as your fingers fly across the keyboard— whilst it unravels before you.  If you can allow yourself the freedom to trust your storytelling mind, it will deliver real characters and real twists you could never invent if you sat there and thought about it all day.
This is what they don’t teach you because it is only bestowed upon the few, who take the time to learn the boring bits—where to put your prepositions, strangle your adverbs and viciously excise all superfluous words.  
And when I hand my book or story draft to my best first reader, my husband Franco,  I’m sometimes dancing on tiptoes because I know  it’s good—really good.  But, it’s not being vain at all because I know I didn’t do it all myself.  All I did was some conjuring of magic.


If you enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straight away you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I've got some exciting things to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz




Friday, September 16, 2011

Inspiration is a Smoky Thing

BINGO

I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.  I’m not fussy.  You will find once you start writing regularly that there are stories everywhere.  Sometimes, two or three seemingly unrelated incidents can come together and, bingo, you know you have something there.

The book, ‘Collaboration’, on which I am now working through the second draft, was born from a late night laying-in-bed discussion with my husband, Franco.  Reminiscing about the old office equipment I used in the seventies and eighties, I happened upon a memory of the Electric Golf Ball typewriter.  I always seemed to be using a green one wherever I worked, although, they came in several colours.  It’s such a strange concept these days to type and have the words printed immediately on a page.  You never looked directly at the printed type—at least I didn’t—but looked at whatever transcript from which you were typing.  Sometimes, I really felt like I was in a daze and typing automatically.
Then, somehow, my mind jumped to the idea of what would happen if you typed something on a golfball typewriter but it typed something completely different.  You didn’t realise because you weren’t really looking at the words, like you do with a computer.  And then, what if—it’s always about the what if—the typewriter was connected to a child kidnapper/murderer and was typing about the murder scenes and the abductees, unbeknown to the murderer.  Then, my protagonist, realises due to his connection, he is the only one who can find the most recent missing child before the kidnapper kills her.
I really had another book plot in mind, but this story and the main character started to evolve in my head, and gather momentum.  Over a few days, I was starting to wonder how it would all end up and who these people were and why had the typewriter connected to him.  And there I was, off and racing to meet my characters and discover the truth of the matter. 
Now, that all came from a five minute, midnight discussion.
STORY

Which brings me to a short story I wrote yesterday called ‘Mitigating Circumstances’.  I was really angry with the Deputy Principal at my eight year olds school.  In my opinion—and it’s always in your opinion—she did not handle well a bullying issue involving my son and a couple of his friends.  And to top it off, I didn’t like the way she spoke to me.  Some other crappy things happened around the same time, and I was mad with the world—just normal mad, I write psychopaths but I’m not one.
I said to my husband, ‘I’m going to write a short story and she is going to die a nasty death.  And there will be blood.’   And that’s exactly what I did.  I poured all my emotion into 4,000 words that told the story of a Deputy Principal in a meeting room with a parent, who, unfortunately for the DP, has a damaged psyche thanks to abuse by her long dead Mother.  The results are not pretty but due to my dark sense of humour, the last line had me in fits for hours.  I’m chuckling now even as I think about it.
The funny thing was I ran into the DP today and she was ever so friendly and chatty.  It was surreal as I looked at her and kept thinking, ‘Didn’t I kill you yesterday?’  Due to my emotive state the writing was powerful and quick and, somehow very real.  So, I couldn’t look at her because I had this freaky feeling she may have known what I had done.
THERAPY

Well it all ended well.  I worked through my feelings and ended up with damn good story.  This brings me to the idea of inspiration.   Yesterday, the minute I said, I’m going to kill her, my writer’s mind was alerted.  Immediately, questions flooded my mind.
How would I do it?  Why?  What kind of person would just snap?  What baggage did they carry? 
And with these questions I was off and writing.
So, keep your writing mind open to inspiration.  It’s an ethereal smoky thing that can easily fly by without the realisation you have missed something grand.  But, I guarantee if you are not writing regularly, then you won’t see it.  It only alights on the most worthy who are diligently doing the miles.


If you enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straight away you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I've got some exciting things to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There is a great story in me

EVERYWHERE

This writing stuff is a tricky thing.  If we've made it through High School then there is a good chance we can string a few words together.   Every time I tell someone I am a writer, the conversation goes something like this.

"I am a writer."  I say.

"Oh, and what do you write?" 

After I tell them.  They then say,  "I've always believed I can write.  There is a great story I want to tell."

Then they will tell me all the reasons why they haven't got to the great story. 

Well, I was just like them two years ago. 

Up until age twenty-five, there was no doubt I would end up as a writer.  I'd studied creative writing for a year in 1984 at the Institute of Fine Art in Brisbane when I was in my early twenties.  Then when I moved to Perth, I undertook various workshops, even studying "Writing for Film & Television".   The tutor of that course, a director from Barron Films, even offered to mentor me after being very impressed with a synopsis I'd turned in for an assignment.

WHY?
Well, what happened, you ask?  A business opportunity.  I remember knocking on the Director's door and telling him, I had this great opportunity.  So, for now, I would sell my soul to the devil and buy it back later when I had made loads of money.  'I don't think it works like that,' he said.  You may not be able to buy it back.'

He was right and he was wrong. 

I did retrieve my soul but it took another twenty-five years.   So, at the age of fifty, with an enormous amount of trepidation I began my life as a writer.  There are many reasons why it took me so long to get back to my real love, writing.  But you don't want to hear about me, do you?  You want to know what it is like to be a writer and how you can turn your yourself into one.

If you follow this blog, you will learn a few things and you will follow my journey to publication.  Along the way, I would love to hear about you and your passion for writing. 

Until tomorrow.

If you enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straight away you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I've got some exciting things to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz