Pointless

The first two rules of writing are

1) Have a point

2) Make it

It really doesn’t matter what you are writing and the writing style can be high literary or journalistic but a reader should always leave your words knowing what you meant to say. 

A short piece such as a blog post might only have one main point or “argument “.

A longer piece of writing, an essay or a review might have several but each should be clear, complete and come together in a final paragraph or conclusion. 

You see, people need to be able to follow your train of thought in order to decide whether they agree with you or not and that requires clarity. So part of every edit should be a review of your argument. What are you trying to say? Did you say it?

Don’t let people ever decide that you are pointless.

When All is Said and Done

Why do I write?

It’s a question that I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the last few days. People write for different reasons. For some it’s catharsis. For others it’s communication. Some people have a clear audience in mind and others have no audience in mind, they simply have words which need to be said. Some writers want to explore complex ideas and emotions and some have no idea what they are going to explore when they sit down. I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way to approach a writing project with the possible proviso that finishing is always better than not.

I have come to the conclusion that I write because I love it. I write because there are stories. When all is said and done and on the page, I am finished and I move on. I don’t hunt readers because it isn’t about the readers. In a sense it’s a very selfish joy. I try to put each story on the page to the best of my ability. I consciously try to improve with each one I write. I complete it and I check it and then I let it out into the world to sink or swim on its own merits.

The joy is all in the writing, and it’s this joy that keeps me coming back time and time again to put more words on the page. Even in the difficult times, the wordless days. The moments when I have to pull my ideas kicking and screaming from my imagination or seek them out in the darkest corners of my mind.

It isn’t an easy job and it isn’t often a well paid job. It’s mostly a very heavily criticised job where everyone you meet feels qualified to give you a performance review, but it’s my job and I love it.

And Readers, before you leave feeling unappreciated, you should know that even after all this time I am still amazed, surprised and gratified by every single reader who takes the time and the trouble to read my work. It’s a gift I don’t demand and I never expect.

Thank you

 

 

Fear

Exactly what is it that holds you back from pursuing your dreams?

If it’s your moral compass then, good! 

If however like many writers you’re worried that people will hate what you do then I can make you a promise right here and now. Yes, yes they will. It doesn’t matter what you write or how you write it people will hate what you do, and you are not alone in this. Consider the company you keep:

Salmaan Rushdie – Perhaps the most extreme example 

JK Rowling – Not everyone loves a wizard

Anne Rice – Every time she writes someone tells her she can’t write

Ray Bradbury – Too colourful for some

Stephen King – Is told than he can write but shouldn’t

 Terry Pratchett – Doesn’t he know how to make chapters?

Dickens – Too descriptive

All of these writers have been told that they shouldn’t have bothered, their work is not good. All of them suffered multiple, multiple, multiple rejections.

Should they have let that stop them?

Should you?

I can promise you that every piece of work you write will be disliked by someone, but if you like it and it’s well written then out there in the world there are people who think, feel and believe the same as you who will LOVE it.

Write for yourself and write for them.

Keep putting work out there until they find you.

Wiser words than Mine

Following on from my difficult day yesterday (see previous post) I decided to take a look at what other writers say about being in the writing mood. There are some excellent quotes out there and I realise that many of them are trotted out on a regular basis,you’ve probably even got the T-shirt!

Well I have dug deepish and found a few that resonated with me and I don’t think are quite so mainstream. Bear with me while I dig them out.

Hear we are:

” Inspiration is wonderful when it happens but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time. ” – Leonard Bernstein

” Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

” Start before you are ready ” – Stephen Pressfield

” Don’t wait for moods. You’ll accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to   get down to work. ” – Pearl S Buck

Alright, we’ve all heard the Stephen King quote but then he makes so much sense. It is sometimes difficult to keep the momentum going when you are writing.It is even harder to get the momentum started. An honest truth, ask any passing physicist. The important thing is to do it and start. Start every day. Put your mind to the matter and get words on the page. No one said they had to be good words. You don’t need to produce instant genius. You just need to produce and the genius will emerge. It can’t help it. They are kind of nosy.

So I am off now to do my bit and turn up and if inspiration strikes hallelujah! If it doesn’t I will work all the same. The more words I put down the bigger a landing strip I give it. Happy writing today and enjoy the words.

In the write mood

Today has been a tricky day. Most of my days toddle along quietly and simply enough. I have my routines and I know them. I have my children’s schedule and I follow it. With a slim margin for error I get most people to most places most of the time. Today was different. Today I slept in.

Now most of my family are alarm clock enabled, some of them have several alarms on several electronic devices, and yet I was running from room to room this morning throwing bananas (read breakfast) at moving targets to the war cry

” You can finish dressing in the car! “

To cut a long story short everyone arrived and a frazzled me sat down at my laptop and stared at a screen as blank as my imagination. I really wasn’t in the mood. I could have just walked away and considered the day a non-starter, but I didn’t. Instead I wrote about my awful morning and how frustrated I was getting everyone to the right place. I wrote about my less than stellar waitressing ability and my lack of imagination. In fact I wrote to you.

And now my page is no longer blank and my imagination is no longer empty. I am going to sit and produce my daily word count with a happy heart. So Thank you!

I wonder if there are any bananas left.

 

 

Lie to me

Isn’t that the basic premise of fiction? I spend all of my days writing about people who don’t do the things I say and certainly aren’t in the places I mention. Usually they aren’t even real people. In fact I am a great big “Liar liar pants on fire” most of the time.

The funny thing is that amongst all the fibs, of which there are many, the thing I am searching for is the truth. The truth of what it means to be human. The truth and mechanics of relationships. To engage a reader in a story you have to find the spark of recognition, the place where a reader realises yes I know this, I have lived this, this man is like me.

In order to get to that place your writing has to remain true to your character.  Are you trying to make a person behave in a way they simply wouldn’t? Does it ring true? You see people really don’t step outside their normal range of behaviour unless they are placed in extreme circumstances and even then it is unusual.

So figure out what your character’s usual reactions would be and then you will know if you step outside them. If you are going there, do it with purpose and conviction. There are times when you can use this fact to advantage but it must be with a character your audience knows very well and I think possibly several books into a series just to shake up the pace. Part of the truth behind people is that we do things for certain reasons; sometimes we don’t know the reason, sometimes we have some insight. We are complicated and understanding and using complicated characters to get to the truth is just about the highest goal of literary fiction.

So Lie to me, I want to know the truth.

Column is a Funny word

image

If you are sitting in front of your computer screen and regardless of the reassuring absence of underline a word simply looks wrong then one of two things is happening to you.

1. You are finally really looking at a word you have taken horribly for granted since you were five.

2. Brain Freeze

The correct response to either of these situations is to do the dishes. This blog post may or may not be directed to my teenage offspring.

Dead White Males

I assume that you read. Writers read right?

I have found a surprising reluctance in many of my friends and colleagues to visit the pen-smiths of the past. I agree that many of the works written in the 19th century are so far removed from modern journalistic style that they seem to represent a different species rather than a different time. The 20th century brings long descriptive passages and worthiness doesn’t it? Don’t ever assume that you know a writer’s work on reputation alone. Dickens!

If you make assumptions about literature then you run the risk of missing out on those writers and passages of prose that sing with you. Sometimes you find literary joy in the strangest of places.

My personal discovery this year was Proust. I’m not a literary snob, I read everything including shampoo bottles and cereal packets but I had assumed that Proust was probably not for me.

( Assumptions, pah!)

I approached the first tome of “La recherche du temps perdu ” in trepidation.

I found literary description that you could bathe in. Proust sings with me.

Now, not everyone you read will click with you. That isn’t a deficiency in their writing or in your understanding, that is just the joy of difference. Go out into the world and find those writers who   ” Sing with you “. and you will gain more than you ever thought possible.

Oh, and the occasional Dead White Male will be a Woman.

Literary Events 2 April 2013

Chipping Norton Litfest
18-21 April
http://www.chiplitfest.com

The Brympton literary Festival
19-21 April
http://www.brymptonfestival.co.uk

Verulam writer’s circle
20 April
http://www.verulamwriterscircle.org.uk

Stratford-upon-avon literary Festival
21 April – 5 May
http://www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.UK

Hexham Book Festival
22 April – 2 May
http://www.hexambookfestival.co.uk

Literary Events April 2013

Scarborough literature festival
11-14 April
http://www.scarboroughliteraturefestival.co.uk

Cambridge Wordfest
12-14 April
http://www.cambridgewordfest.co.uk

Aye Write! Glasgow Book festival
12-20 April
http://www.ayewrite.com

London Book Fair
15-17 April
http://www.londonbookfair.co.UK