Saturday, 5 October 2013

Did I just blink and miss September?  A combination of holidays, photographic expeditions and being accepted onto a writing course are all feeble excuses that I could roll out, but won't.  

My Twitter feed has been active, so I'm not dead, just occupied with writing.  Up to 53k now.  And it feels good when you go back over words you wrote six months ago and think 'hey, this isn't bad'.  And then the dreams start.  You know the one: you are looking at a bookshop and everyone is clamouring for a copy of your book.  The Radio 4 Arts programme wants you to guest on it to explain your inspiration and people are asking when the next one will be out...

Hmm.  Even if that does happen (and I've got to finish the book first) the washing up will still need to be done.

The front of her mind became aware of something the back had been working on for months.  It was filed under 'maybe in a parallel universe'…

Thursday, 15 August 2013

OK, so I didn't mean for a month to go past. So what has happened to make it so busy?  Well, not much really.  My head has been down, typing frantically.  And it's meant a lot of words down.

Sometimes I have a fantasy about not having to work and being a writer all day.  And then, rapidly, it passes as I think how much I would miss.  The whispered argument on the train, the look on someone's face as they read a message, the twitch of someone's foot as they wait for a train to get in...

His foot expressed his frustration.  Just yards from the station, but they had stopped again.  He could phone, but the words needed the support of fists.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I'm very much of the belief that you should know what you are good at and not be afraid to say.  The other side of this is that you should also know what you are not good at.  And, what's more, be prepared to do it.  The immediate benefits may be small and the experience rather less enjoyable than the easy run of something you can do, but this stretching can bring other positives.  Number one, learning is always good - I don't think it really matters what, just the act of stretching the brain.  Number two, you can gain a new skill.  And number three, it keeps you humble, as I found when I went to a Spanish conversation class...

She knew what she wanted to say, but finding words was impossible.  The man paused, then turned away; her Spanish had left her drinkless once again.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I have been watching a number of campaigns unfold recently and wonder at the changes in how we try to get our own way.  Because let's face it, getting our own way is more important than ever, as the Brownies replace the pledge to serve God and the Queen with one where you vow to be 'true to yourself'

Most recently, I've seen my Twitter feed explode with a woman on UK banknotes.  What struck me was the speed with which the message spread and how many people it pulled in.  Before that, there was a campaign to drop the beer-duty escalator to protect the British ale industry (successful).

So what makes a successful campaign?  Is it the quality of the cause?  When I sit on the train to get to work, almost every advert is for a charity, encouraging me to text a donation.  But how do I choose between donkeys, children, bees or the homeless?  There are too many good causes - you cannot support all of them.  

Or is it the slickness of the marketing?  If something presents an idea in a new way, will this work (until the others catch up)?  We have seen the appeals to us get ever grander and more spectacular.  No-one would give you money for a sponsored walk now - it has to be a walk along the Great Wall of China or across Spain backwards.  But this cannot keep growing and there is a sense of 'yawn, what am I being asked to support now?'

One thing is for sure though - with all of the visibility, the single fundamental element of any campaign is belief, because if you don't believe, you will be caught out.

The men looked at the woman hungrily.  It was, what she was aiming for.  Then one touched her.  She screamed, considering herself a fragile museum piece.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The last month has been a period mainly focused on photography.  I have two main creative routes - writing fiction and taking pictures.  

I enjoy photography and am trying to progress beyond just snaps to more artistic and interesting photos.  Partial success, but a long way to go.  As I have been reading extensively to improve my writing, I've been looking at a lot of exhibitions and portfolios to try to improve my photography.  Imitation - possibly, but I see it as trying to understand how things are created so that I can help my own style to develop.

Because the more that I write and the more I take pictures, I find I am developing a style.  This was something that always made me nervous - doesn't that mean you are just producing the same thing every time?  As I review the pictures and edit the text, I find myself thinking more of companies with brand guidelines and how a consistent approach can make the underlying message easier to read.  So, now that I have found my groove, I'm going to follow it.  For the first time in my life, I have style...

Hemmed in, ignored.  Warm, not required to do anything, speak to anyone, for an hour of oblivion.  The commute was his favourite time of the day

Monday, 20 May 2013

My head has been down recently for much typing and the novel has progressed accordingly.  I've been avoiding all of the flashy distractions of competitions and, er updating this blog and the word count has increased accordingly.

Funny how we all need these little motivations.  20k was a big milestone - I hit that this weekend and it prompted a celebration out of all proportion to the scale of achievement.  Because in the grand scale of things, it's not much (especially when on the same day, an interview with Ian Rankin casually revealed that he knocked out a first draft in around 6 weeks).  

From childhood, we respond to praise, long after we are considered too old for direct bribes of sweets.  As adults, we seek affirmation, retweets, 'likes' and comments.  But I hope we are also becoming more sensitive to the fact that what may be important to us is unlikely to be that important to anyone else, so yes, you may think you are very clever, but don't go shouting about it.  So, I tweeted my 20k and then got down to write some more, because that is the real danger: that in celebrating the milestones, we lose sight of the end goal.

This story is about success in one way - something that can survive almost anywhere...

They pushed aside paving stones, weakening walls by picking away at the mortar.  They loitered on the lawn, loud, brash and unmissable.  It was dandelion season.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

It's been a 'fun' couple of weeks, with deep feelings of inadequacy reinforced by regular writing rejections.  In addition, I went to the London Book Fair, where you realise that, as an unpublished author, your status is somewhere south of dung beetle, because you keep bringing them crap rather than taking it away.

But amidst all of this, something rather good has been happening.  Without the distraction of entering competitions etc, I've been getting on with the second novel.  And it has been growing, not fast, but steadily.  And other good things have occurred - I really like my character and keep thinking of other things I want to do with her.  The supporting cast are coming up with helpful suggestions themselves for what they want to do - it's great when they do that.

So maybe rejection really is character-building, just not in the obvious way.  And this story has nothing to do with anything really...

Her breezy confidence lasted until she was safely out of sight.  ‘He will turn on me’ she thought ‘I have left him nowhere else to go’.