About Me

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I've written stories ever since I could write, but somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the joy and natural desire to write for me. Churning out stories every other week for my degree course, and forcing non-existent brilliance out of myself has drained my natural spirit. So, I have created myself a blog in an attempt to find a way back to what made me fall in love with writing in the first place. Only you and I will discover if I fail or succeed...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

In Which I Contemplate Ebooks

We’ve all heard the debate, discussed the debate and wanted to hit the debate over the head to make it hide in the corner. The issue of e-publishing is, naturally, permeating the Publishing course I am taking. So, I thought I’d have a look at Amazon[1] and see if it’s for me.[2] This search was mainly fuelled by an article in Writer’s Forum (Jan issue 2010) about someone who worked with a woman whose desk was entirely occupied by an e-reader instead of the mountains of books towering on everyone else’s desks. I thought it could be rather useful to have an e-reader: a place to store all my books that is easily transportable...

So, online I went and prices weren’t as sky-high as I thought they may be (a mere £109, or £149 if you want Wi-Fi)[3] and the ebooks are roughly half or 70 per cent of the price of a normal book (on Amazon anyway). This could work for me, I thought. But then I had a think.[4] Why do I love books? Well, that’s obvious: the escape, the closure, the achievement, but also the feel, the soft paper, the smell. I used to think that people who smelt new books were weird, but now I’m one of them. Old, new, magazine, paper: I love them all. I am not, however, driven with desirous feelings to absorb and inhale a masterpiece by the smell of ... nothing. Technology doesn’t really smell: it’s cold, hard and unloving.

Finally, last week I figured out the problem with ebooks:

You can’t wrap them up.[5]

Christmas is the book trade’s biggest seller. All the books sold at Christmas pay for the rest of the year’s poor sales. You could give an ebook as a gift, but you can’t even put it on a gift card in a pretty envelope. You lose the element of surprise if you have to directly download it to an ereader as you buy. Or you lose the crazy wide-eyed look of delight as your recipient realises what they’ve been given. Humans are very visual creatures. Which would you rather: someone saying ‘I’ve bought you an ice cream, but you can’t have it right now because it’s at home in the freezer’, or ‘here! Look what I bought you! It’s your favourite!’? Just think on that.[6]

Until next time. Ttfn xx

[1] Dear publishers, yes I know – Amazon! Argh, grr. But it is quite cheap and I am still a student so...
[2] Or rather, will be. In the distant future. When I could actually afford it.
[3] I say ‘mere’ here, assuming that if I bought this it would indeed be ‘mere’ to my salary. I.e. I have a salary...
[4] Yes, there is a ‘but’ and a ‘then’; it’s not all cherry coated candy-fluff
[5] I suppose you could use e-wrapping paper, but that doesn’t actually exist and unwrapping something in your mind is just not the same as real life.
[6] Nb. The answer is the latter, unless you’re very very boring.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

In Which I Create a Routine ... Temporarily

So I’ve started my new course[1] and I’ve got this tutor who keeps shouting: ‘write every day and read good literature every day’. Every. Single. Time. Which makes me want to write just about squat and read the worst literature out there (chick lit has never been a lecturer’s choice). Buttt... I had to write something for my workshop and hadn’t had any inspiration. So, three weeks ago I decided I might as well just write. So I wrote. Kept a count of how many words. And had a round 1,500 words to read by the next lesson. A success, no? Not quite. Having achieved this mighty feat I may have possibly forgotten to keep the writing going for the past two weeks...[2] This week’s resolution: start something good and actually keep to it!

[1] Hence the rather short post this month.
[2] I do have an excuse for this last week, however – the alcohol doesn’t drink itself! (Plus losing one’s phone is never a motivation to do work)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

In Which I Attempt to Write a Poem

The title of this post is, I’ll admit, a little misleading. I have written a poem; it’s just not finished yet. You see, my old faithful Forward Press invited me to enter a competition for Britain’s best love poem. Inspiring, no? Of course! [1] So I added ‘write love poem’ to my hardly-ever-ticked-off To-Do list and went about my life. Yesterday morning, as I lay in bed I pondered over what I ought to (but probably wouldn’t) do that day and I decided to have a go at this poem.

When I (eventually) got out of bed, I poured my cereal and chopped my nectarine and picked up my Moleskine.[2] The pages are just the right size for the length of poems I usually write (think short) and I thought I’d be very poetical (no pun intended) and write while I ate and gazed out of the window. I thought about what I might write about and decided to list words that came into my head about love and use them in a poem (another old faithful)[3]. I tried to think of a few lines for some of the words and failed...

One of my words was the word ‘words’; words that people say about love, words to express love, the word ‘love’ etc.[4] So I started writing about words.[5] Things that I say and hear and are relevant to me, because – as I told my housemate the night before – you write so much better when you know what you’re talking about, even when you’re not telling everything you know about your content. Anyway; where was I? Oh yes, words. Well, some particular words had been spoken to me recently that stayed in my head for a while, hence my ultra creative title: ‘The word that dances endlessly around my head’.[6] My resulting poem is something I’m quite proud of (apart from some of the rhythms – evil blighters), but it’s also something more for me. I found that, in writing about my personal situation from a vague-poety i.e. outside(ish) perspective that I ended up learning a little about myself. Like those pretentious-sounding ‘journeys of discovery’ people talk about sometimes. That’s right – I learnt from myself! All cheer!

Until next time. Toodle-pip xx

[1] Being currently in love, I felt I must be the expert on all things love – plus, it’s not very cheerful to write about love when you have none.

[2] A notebook/diary, which is not made of the skin of a mole if you were wondering.

[3] Actually, I was reminded of this old faithful from recently reading book 2/3 of the Gossip Girl series - as addictive as the TV show!

[4] Sorry for all the ‘words’ – and that one.

[5] That one, too.

[6] Nb. The bit about being ‘ultra-creative’ was sarcastic, duh.

Monday, 23 August 2010

In Which I Do Sod All

Ahh, the safe confines of home. The childhood smells; laundry, mince, my brother’s feet… Yes, I am at home, but no, the sweet floating memories of my childhood have not inspired me one bit. I have written a grand total of zilch for the past two weeks. I put it down to the excessive hours waitressing at my local caf√© (28-30 hours a week) and the sudden requirement that I spend my few days off amusing my younger sister. Not that I can entirely complain – free cinema tickets and shopping money are never something to complain about. Unfortunately, while I have been quite busy, I have had some time to write. I have spent that time doing the things that all procrastinators like to practice. Here are a few examples:

  1. Hmm, should I try and write my fantabulous next novel I haven’t yet thought of? Well…I think I should check Facebook first – just in case I get into the flow and forget later.[1]
  2. Why don’t I read the paper (or a book, or TV[2]) to get some inspiration?[3]
  3. Is it noon already? Time for lunch and a ‘break’.

If you’d like to add to the list, feel free to comment. Though I’m not sure helping me procrastinate is the best idea…

Until next time.[4] Cheerio xx

[1] Let me note: this has NEVER happened – how could anyone forget to check Facebook? But then, I’m not sure if I’ve ever overcome procrastination number 1…

[2] Watch TV, of course. Have you ever tried reading one? Very boring.

[3] The paper is actually a good idea, just as long as you actually take note of the interesting stories and don’t skip straight to the lifestyle section.

[4] When I will hopefully have something actually interesting to say, or at least done something other than sit on my arse all day.

Friday, 23 July 2010

In Which I Progress… Somewhat

I’m back at last you don’t say! Firstly, let me say I haven’t been doggedly nosing through papers looking for stories.[1] I have, however, been writing. Pauses for applause… silence. Yes, okay, it’s not much of a feat considering I am a writer; this is what I do. What I am proud of is that I have been steadily for one week now been writing around 500 words a day.[2] I got myself into a nice little routine: wake-up, breakfast, attempt to read Chart Throb by Ben Elton for Master’s course in September[3], WRITE!!!, lunch, attempt not to throw Chart Throb out of window[4], etc.

And how have I miraculously come up with ideas? I hear you ask. Simple; I haven’t. I decided to work some more on a project I’ve had for quite some time.[5] I’ve been working in particular on a scene involving a netball match. I indulged in this for one day and enjoyed it so much I attempted to write a short story for the Writers’ Forum competition about netball. Result; fail. Somehow in the first 100 words I had created a whiny self-absorbed character no one could relate to and didn’t have any kind of plot. Solution; try and forget about it and write some more of the work I want to write. Three days later I still had no story, but my scene was coming on very nicely. It was full of meaty action, pensive thoughts and good enough to publish one day. But why wait? The scene was perfectly good enough to stand on its own with a few tweaks; why not see if I can get published sooner? How about within weeks?

Thus, my invigorating netball scene has become a story of 1000-3000 words in its own right. Wise writers always say that every good scene should be fully rounded; have its own mini story progression with a beginning, middle and finish. I shall continue this scene and update on how it works.[6]

What is the moral of this story? I didn’t keep to my previous plan, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t use it in the future. It’s an idea that will come in handy some day. Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that, sometimes, it can do you well to revisit old stories for either inspiration, or just to try and rescue them.

Until next time. Tarrah xx

[1] Possibly as I don’t buy newspapers and have been living alone for the past three-to-four weeks. Not that my housemates would buy newspapers, come to think of it…

[2] Except for Sunday, but Sunday doesn’t count, right?

[3] It’s a brilliant read (minus at least three glaring errors I decided to note…) but I hated the characters so much I wanted to throw the book out the window.

[4] I didn’t; it was a Library book.

[5] Read; too many years to both admit to and keep my dignity.

[6] Or how it doesn’t, though I hope it’s the former.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

In which I Ponder the News

This morning was spent sitting in front of the computer and decorating my nails, because I hadn’t a clue how to come up with a 1000-3000 word long piece of genius for the Writers’ forum contest I intend on entering.[1] I was also trawling through past writing competition entries that had failed even a reply and deciding whether any of them were worthy of a spruce up and re-entry. I fanned my nails dry with my substandard hand held J√§germeister fan.[2] Then I had a breakthrough. I’d just had a look at and dismissed a short story based on something that happened to my Nana during the war. I’d enjoyed moulding my own story from a basic tale. Also, it had been easy. I’d thought my problem was that I had expended all my creativity on my degree, but the real problem is that I’m quite rusty and can’t think of any plots right now. Serious problem? Nope: just steal some storylines from the paper, or anywhere you hear about real stuff happening.

My Special Study last semester had been a dual narrative auto/biography about my mother and my childhoods. Having lived through my own childhood, the parts about me were truthful, but also boring. The chapters about my mother, however were more ‘based on a true story’ than verbatim recollections.[3] There is no shame in using real events as inspiration for a story; established and respected writers do it, and entire careers can be based on writing biographies. Therefore, I am now on the search for a plot to steal and make my own.[4] Beware!

Until next time. Toodle pip xx

[1] I say ‘decorating’ because I wasn’t just painting my nails. I was undercoating, painting artistic patterns and even sticking rhinestones on my nails.

[2] The poor standard of this fan is most likely because it was free from the Fresher’s Fayre in September.

[3] According to my mother they were ‘very creative’, which I took to mean ‘absolutely wrong, but nice to read’.

[4] Disclosure: I say ‘steal’, but I won’t be using any real names or copying any news stories, duh.