Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I’ve been doing some research into great writers, and, of course, all of them had to do other occupations before they got their first book published. But what it doesn’t tell you in these biographies is when they found the time to write their masterpieces in between being court transcribers, ministers, journalists, shoe polishers and the like. But then, I guess Dickens et al didn’t have the distractions of television and computer games when they came home from work, and only had their own stories to escape into. I read an article about a fairly new contemporary novelist who is working on her second novel and has to get up at 4am to write for a couple of hours before commuting to her full-time ‘day’ job. I don’t think I could do that, I really couldn’t. I remember when I was in the sixth form, and I’d get home at 3pm and go straight upstairs and write for a couple of hours… I really need to stop reminiscing and work out a way to do that now without having to get up before the birds do.
On a separate note, I found this website that contains free e-books of pretty much everything that is no longer in copyright in the USA. So far I’ve downloaded a couple of Charles Dickens novels, Daniel Deronda by George Eliot and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. So if you want to catch up with your favourite Victorian novelists, go to:
This will most certainly be my last blog entry before the holiday, so I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I will be back soon though, full of turkey and gluten-free minced pies!
Monday, December 18, 2006
I am in good spirits right now (no, I'm not bathing in brandy), as it is almost Christmas and I have almost finished work for the holidays. I've got no plans really for the next few weeks, so I am really hoping to turn my attentions to my writing (and possibly learning my lines for Company) rather than sitting on the sofa watching endless TV.
There's a writing competition called 'Green and (un)pleasant Lands' that I am going to try hard to enter, for which I have to write a proposal of the story I want to write about English folklore for 31st December. I've been researching English myths today, and I'm trying to decide how to tackle my story - to contemporise something or to create my own myth about a place or a building. I'm still not sure, but when I start thinking about it, I start remembering Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and then start plagiarising that instead.
I keep forgetting about deadlines for competitions until the last minute. Wish I had a BlackBerry, that would be superb. I know it's still a little bit early, but one of my new year's resolutions is to be more organised and enter more stories into competitions, magazines, etc. 2007 IS going to be the year that I finish my novel too. I really need to stay motivated and keep writing. Hopefully 2007 will be a successful year.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I have decided to write a novella or short story about a stripper. I know that Seb is currently writing/has written a story about a woman who works in a strip club/is a stripper, but my story is going to be a bit different (though I thought they could possibly both work in the same club, if Seb liked the idea!).
Anyway, the plot is a little vague at the moment. I've been heavily inspired by 1920s New York and the 'Jazz Age', and I think it's not such a far stretch to imagine that we are living in the new Jazz Age - many defining features are the same, such as concern with technological advances, individualism, and hedonism. I'm going to try to take my inspiration from the writings of F. Scott and Zelda Fizgerald, and Joseph Moncure March and write a modernist account of the life of this girl in contemporary society. By modernist, I mean being more concerned about the character's 'life force' rather than a realistic representation of the world. Modernism was also a feature of the Jazz Age, so fits in nicely with the style and tone I'm aiming for.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
"Google Accounts are better protected against fraud, impersonation, and abuse. In addition, by switching your Blogger account to a Google Account, it will be easier to use other Google services like AdWords, Google Groups, Google Alerts, Froogle Shopping List, Personalized Search, your Personalized Homepage, Google Answers, and many future Google services."
What I read from this is that Blogger have come up with a load of things that normal people don't actually ever use (AdWords, Froogle shopping list anyone?) and tried to put a positive spin on it, as they don't like or don't want to disclose the real answer. Surely the simple and honest explanation would be "Google is offering us loads of money, so screw you guys, we're rich!", rather than this load of crap?
I don't want to change. If I wanted to use those services, I would. But I don't. And one thing I've noticed that I don't like about Beta is that unless your email/account address is the name of your Blog alias, there seems no way to alter it (perhaps I'm wrong?).
So I'm not changing. Serves them right for not answering the question: "What if I don't want to switch?" properly in their help section.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I had a really nice weekend. For once I wasn't working, so I spent both days relaxing and doing jobs around the house. I did everything on the list I set myself, and I feel proud of my accomplishments. Yes, I only did the washing up - it wasn't like I made some sort of scientific breakthrough or solved the Middle East crisis - but I still felt satisfied that I had done something. And it got me thinking that even doing something small and managable, like the washing up, can have an impact on your life. Would it be possible to stage a play wherein someone has a life-altering experience simply because they did the washing up? Probably not (who would go to watch it?), but I think its important to note that it doesn't have to be all car-explosions and anal rape to be 'dramatic'.
Anyway, my cleaning my house - and myself - up has pulled me out of my mean blues, at least for the short-term. I had a think about my novel over the weekend, and I think it's best to progress 'NaNoWriMo' -style until I complete the first draft, meaning that I should just plough on, and if I feel blocked or bored then just skip to the bit that I want to write a little bit further on. I'm not rehearsing this week either, so I'm going to try to give myself some writing time, perhaps at lunchtimes at work. Am going to try really hard to be productive and motivated, at least until my house gets messy again...
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I have been thinking about my NaNoWriMo novel, Inter Vivos. I know that the month is over, but I really liked the characters and story premise that I created, so I'm going to continue on with it, in the hope of completing a first draft by April. When writing prose, I always get stuck at the point when my characters need to travel from one place to another. I find it really hard to get them from point A to point B. I want my characters to go from the mental institution to one of my other characters' house, but I feel like I need to document the journey there. So they are now stuck, having just escaped from the asylum, and are standing there, tapping their feet impatiently at me (like Sonic the Hedgehog used to do if you made him stand still too long). I think that as I'm currently writing it in first person, I can skim all the boring details and have my narrator be retrospective on the trip so, "before we knew it we were there". It's annoying, because I know pretty much how the whole story is going to be mapped out, apart from the 'travelling' bits. Grr!
Have just written my Momentum homework, for which we had to take a news story and come up with a couple of scenes and some characters. I've taken a story about a man in Germany who went back to his old school, shot some kids and then killed himself. I've called the gun man Shaun (taken from Shaun of the Dead there folks!), and have given him a love affair with his former teacher, Jess. When things start to go wrong, he finds himself losing control and the only way he feels he can regain some control is to go into the school with a gun. When he accidentally kills one of the students, he then kills himself (leaving poor old Jess to deal with the mess). I'm not sure if I will try to develop this into a full-blown play (I actually see it in my head as a TV drama), but I quite liked my character Jess - she's a very strong woman, very moralistic, very sensible, but incredible lonely, and she does really connect with Shaun. So we'll see where it goes.
Monday, December 04, 2006
I really despise Desdemona and Ophelia and Juliet. They are pathetic. All of them could have taken their fates in their own hands and said 'No thank you, I think I can do better' and rode off into the sunset. Instead they die tragic deaths because, ultimately, they do what they are told. Desdemona just lies there and lets her husband strangle her (as you do), Ophelia goes insane and kills herself because Hamlet doesn't love her anymore (teen angst if ever there was some), and Juliet kills herself because she didn't have sense to run off with Romeo when he got banished. The only reason I wanted any one of those parts when I was acting at University was because those parts (thoses types of role) always go to the skinny pretty girls who don't necessarily act very well, but who look the part. So basically, being cast as 'Juliet' is like some male director going 'yeah, you're pretty', and I know a lot of girls needed that self-esteem boost (I know I did at the time).
Now, I like this article, because what it's saying is that this sort of stereotype works the other way. The only interesting strong women in theatre (or at least the main contenders for the title) are murderers. In other words, only by acting 'anti-feminine' can a female role be considered equal to a man's. I know this is an age-old feminist argument, but I think it proves the point here. You get anti-heros all the time for male actors, characters who aren't kings or soldiers but everyday Joes who go through something tragic. No one cares about Willy Loman's wife (for example), who also goes through tragedy. Sure, if she'd have killed her husband then she'd be one of the all time greatest female roles in history, but she doesn't.
I'm trying to come up with my 'point', and it's difficult because obviously being a woman, and acting on occasion, I would love to create a role (or even better several roles) for women where they weren't passive but at the same time they didn't have to pull the trigger, stab someone through the heart or poision anyone to be considered meaty roles. How to do that though seems trickier than it should be.
"Sympathy for the she-devils
From Lady Macbeth to Thérèse Raquin, the stage has always adored a brutal murderess. So what do these parts tell us about women? Not much, writes Lyn Gardner - but they speak volumes about the male writers who created them.
Wednesday November 8, 2006The Guardian
Everyone loves a bad girl, particularly in the theatre. Our stages are littered with the corpses of deadly women, from Medea to Lady Macbeth, from Vittoria in the White Devil, to Oscar Wilde's sexy Salome. These are women who pass through men's lives like a curse, leaving only death and destruction behind. Even in pantomime, Snow White's wicked stepmother looms large, another example of the age-old appeal of female villains.
A couple of thousand years before the movies got in on the act with their smoky femmes fatales, and deadly women such as Catherine Trammell in Basic Instinct, theatre regularly offered up images of women who were allowed to take centre stage because their murderous actions meant they were no longer seen to be behaving like women, but more like men.
In drama, these unnatural creatures had to be caught, tamed and punished as a lesson to other women. That is, if they did not have the decency to go mad and kill themselves, like Lady Macbeth and Thérèse Raquin, the latter now showing in a new stage version at the National. Raquin, in Emile Zola's famous 19th-century novel, succumbs to the madness of love and murder, and is then driven mad by guilt.
When Euripides flouted theatrical tradition by allowing Medea, the child-killer, to escape unpunished, the playwright Aristophanes rebuked him in verse. The idea that women who kill do not behave like ideal women, but more like men is summed up not only by Lady Macbeth's line "unsex me here", but also by Dame Edith Evans' observation on being offered the role of the Scottish murderess: "It's absolutely out of the question. I could never impersonate a woman who had such a peculiar notion of hospitality." Lady Macbeth's sins, it seems, were not confined to regicide but extended to womanly failures of housekeeping and etiquette.
Goneril and Regan in King Lear, too, often seem shocking not for how they wage war and encourage torture, but for the fact they have so little patience - very much a female virtue - with quarrelsome old people. Similarly, the wicked queen in Snow White must be punished not just for her ingenious, if frankly unwholesome, way with apples, but for failing to play her assigned role as a substitute mother to the vapid Snow White, a young woman whose tedious obsession with housework sets her up as an icon of perfect femininity.
In theatre, it sometimes seems that the only way women can escape their gender roles and the terrible burden of femininity is by plunging a knife into a male breast or taking aim with a gun and making damn sure they don't miss. There's the avenging Clytemnestra, who takes a lover and kills her husband, in the Oresteia; Alice Arden, in the 1599 play Arden of Faversham, demonstrates a determination to dispatch her husband that outstrips the ludicrous attempts of her bungling male accomplices; and the lithe Beatrice-Joanna, in the 1622 revenge tragedy The Changeling, commits adultery and murder - and pays the price not just for killing but also for having found sexual satisfaction.
Like the later Victorian stories of villainous women and today's made-for-TV movie plots, many of these early plays were based on true-life crime stories. Arden of Faversham came from a circulating story about a brutal murder that struck horror into the Elizabethan breast, with its suggestion that death can lurk at home in the shape of an apparently dutiful wife.
The Changeling, too, had its roots not just in the exotic tales of faraway crimes, but also in the high-society scandal of Lady Frances Howard. Married in 1606, at the age 13, to the Earl of Essex, she became the mistress of the Earl of Somerset, with whom she eventually stood trial for murder.
Like their late 20th and 21st century movie counterparts, these women exert an allure that has little to do with the reasons why the majority of women kill - self-defence, domestic violence, mental abuse - and a great deal to do with an erotic fascination with female violence; these killers are depicted as lithe and lethal babes.
Not for nothing does the stage musical Chicago regularly advertise itself with teasing images of pouting, sexy young women dubbed as "natural blonde killers". One of these early advertisements even bore a passing resemblance to the infamous portrait of Myra Hindley, herself the subject of numerous TV dramas and stage plays - and a slew of one-woman shows without which no Edinburgh Fringe would be complete.
What these stage depictions of women as murderers conveniently forget is that, in real life, women are more likely to be the victims, not the perpetrators, of violence. The gory Theatre du Grand Guignol, founded in Paris in 1897, was undoubtedly lurid and sensational with its decapitations, blood and eyeballs rolling all over the stage. But it may have actually portrayed a more truthful reflection of the female experience of violence than our stages sometimes offer even today. One Guignol actress, Maxa, kept a tally of her demises there: she was murdered 10,000 times in more than 60 different ways. Whether or not female violence is on the rise, the reality is that women killers are still massively outnumbered by men.
Unsurprisingly, you'll find more actors queuing up to play Medea and Lady Macbeth than their more balanced sisters; both roles represent two of the peaks in any classical actress's career. Who wouldn't prefer playing a Salome or a Goneril over all those invisible good girls - a veritable army of Ophelias and Desdemonas, who, in plays written largely by men, stalk the stage like ghosts and dissolve before the play is done? These disappearances often pass virtually without comment, because these women were barely there in the first place - walk-on players in the dramas of men's lives.
The female killer, the passive woman turned predator, is a far more dazzling dramatic spectacle. Unlike the good girls who are so easily shoved into the wings and out of theatre history, the bad girls have been allowed to take their place centre stage and revel in it. In the theatre, if you're female, crime really does pay ..."
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Company rehearsals are well underway, and I've been tap-dancing my heart out and I think I'm getting it right - we're using hats and canes and everything! All very exciting and energetic. I just need to learn the words and harmony to the song we're singing at the same time as doing the dance and then I'll be sorted! Should be a good show.
Well, it's the last day of NaNoWriMo today and I've written 12,560 words (or something to that effect). I know I could have done better, and I'm a little disappointed with myself for not pulling my finger out and for playing the Sims 2 way too much (devil game), but at the same time, I'm now 12000 words into the beginnings of what will hopefully be my first novel, so it's all positive. And it inspired me to write and motivated me, so I think I did well. I'm going to try and do it properly next year, and maybe I'll reach that 50,000 word target!
I really want to work more on my 'youths' play, so I am going to start that again next week. I think I've worked out the different storylines for all of my teens, so it should be a case of just writing it now. My friend is having a play he wrote performed by the university theatre society, and this has got me thinking - perhaps that would be the perfect place to perform in my 'youths' play too? I mean, the actors there are over the age of 18, so no one will pass out if they say f*** on stage, but they're not 'adults pretending to be children' either (a la Dawsons Creek). So it might work.
I'm still not sure what to write for Momentum. I'd ideally like to write about my Shilton posse, but not sure I'll be 'allowed'. Perhaps I'll be inspired by tonight's workshop session.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Well, my short story is up on Umbrella now: http://www.umbrellastories.com/frameset.html
To find it (it's very maze-like), click on 'Flash fiction', then in the box click on '800 words', and then in the new window, in tiny letters at the bottom right hand corner, click on 'by author', and then my name will come up in a list! This story has gone through several redrafts and titles, but it is still essentially the story I wrote when I was sixteen.
I am now twenty-six years old (it pains me to write that!). And although I didn't greet my 26th year with a newly-penned 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel (yes, I suck!), I did get to see Tim Curry in Spamalot, the Monty Python musical. Is it just me, or is there something extremely sexy about him, even though he must be over 60? Think I'm going to have to rewatch 'The Worst Witch' later.
I'm trying to get my story finished for the 'Tripod' competition, but I'm now having an anxiety attack and think it's crap. Need to post it off tomorrow if it's going to get there on time. Gulp! I'm really hoping to pull myself out of the anti-creativity crater I seem to have fallen into very soon!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I've had a pretty unproductive weekend yet again. I wasn't scheduled in to work, so had the whole two days off. On Saturday I slept til 3pm, and was still ready for bed again by half 10!
I have come to the conclusion that I'm never going to 'win' NaNoWriMo. There's little hope of me writing just under 40,000 words in two weeks. And it's all my own fault. I'm not sure whether it's just plain laziness or 'mental exhaustion', but either way, my brain would rather veg out in the evenings than create a novel (even a poorly written one). My stringent budgeting this month (£5 a week food budget - oh yes!) has meant that I still have cash at the end of the month, but it's exhausting and depressing living on the poverty line, especially when I have friends four - five years older than me who can afford houses and posh cars and brand named food products, and vegetables and things like that. I could do with a holiday, but obviously I can't afford one. I'll be working til I drop, I guess.
I've figured out how Nox (my NaNoWriMo heroine) is going to escape the mental institution, which had me stumped for a while, but actually getting down to writing it is hard. I'm going to keep writing the story after NaNo has finished, and hopefully turn it into something worthwhile. There's just not enough hours in the day. And poisoning myself wth caffeine and staying up later and later to try to get things done is making me ill (physically and mentally). Sometimes I wish I was passionate about accounting or something else practical, and then at least I'd be well off, in a secure job, with proper employment structure and progression, rather than scribbling away at a quarter past midnight each night with the vague notion that one day someone will read my scribblings and offer me some money for it. Sigh. This post is turning into a bit of a rant, and it wasn't meant to be. Think I'll go and make a cup of tea, and hopefully I'll feel better afterwards.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Anyway, it's Tuesday, and it's my night off from working/singing/rehearsing/Momentum-ing, so I'm in a pretty good mood, except that I have a property inspection tomorrow so have to give the place a once-over with a duster (and do all the washing up...). Never mind, I'm sure I'll find time to write this evening.
I have achieved something marvellous - I have broken the 10,000 barrier in my NaNoWriMo. OK, it's true that I'm behind in my targets and should be nearer to 20,000 at this point, but I still think it's a tremendous achievement for someone who is as lazy and as easily distracted as I have discovered I am.
I'm still trying to come up with an idea for Momentum this year, but can't think of anything that involves three or less people. Maybe if I talk sweetly enough they'll change the rules to 4 people this year instead (I won't hold my breath though!).
I'm also working on my Tripod submission (the story about 'Mouse' my silent Shilton chav). Does anyone know how many words they are expecting it to be?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Word on my work PC is being stupid and keeps crashing; I was going to do a bit more towards my NaNoWriMo this lunch time, but now I'm not sure that I want to in case the whole thing crashes and my words gets lost somewhere in cyberland. Tonight I'm having a dedicated writing night, as I'm hoping to get through another couple of thousand words for NaNoWriMo, and also to start my story submission for Tripod. This may be a bit over-ambitious, as I may end up doing all the washing up and playing the Sims 2 instead, but you never know! An ode to the Sims 2 - now that would be easy to write.
Monday, November 06, 2006
NaNoWriMo update: 5775 words so far. I'm below my word target by about 4000, mainly because I didn't feel very well on Sunday so spent the day not doing anything. Stupid sick body!
I received an email today from someone who runs the Umbrella Stories website to say that she liked the story I submitted, and will be putting it online shortly. The site is really cool - odd structurally at first, but I like it. It also houses Sabrina Smith's wonderful short story, so now my little piece will be there to keep her's company. I will post the link to it when it's published.
Momentum starts again tomorrow, with Amanda Whittington again this time (Emma Rosoman is living it large in London). I'm so caught up in prose right now, it's going to be interesting to see what dialogue I come out with! Well, it's all about keeping versatile, isn't it? I am looking forward to it, and to seeing who is new this year. Still haven't thought of an idea for a one-act play with only three or less people in it, though I guess there's no rush right now.
I think November is going to be a busy-crazy month, what with all the writing and rehearsals for my play. I moan, but I love it really. Just wish I had a little bit more time. I deprive my body of sleep and pump it full of crap in the bid to make each day stretch that little bit longer, but now I'm feeling rubbish. I'll get NaNoWriMo out of the way and sleep all through December I think...
Friday, November 03, 2006
God, this NaNoWriMo thing is harder than I thought it would be. I've written just over 3000 words (so I'm 1000 down on my targets) and I'm only happy with about 1500 of them. I've also switched narrative voice half way through, as I had unknowingly developed this bizarre writing habit where I'd slip into the passive voice "she would..." and I got annoyed at myself for doing it.
Anyway, no one can beat me in terms of procrastination - for that I am the queen - and so after I had written my 2000-0dd words last night, I decided to see how long my favourite novels were, just so that I know, after NaNoWriMo, how many words my first novel should be. Well, Lady Oracle is approx. 152,880 words long; The Hours is approx. 62,440; and Oranges are not the only Fruit is approx. 76,608 words. So I think I'll aim for about 80,000 words, to be on the safe side.
I also rediscovered last night that writing makes me feel Happy. I know that sounds a bit stupid, but I had forgotten how contented it makes me feel to not have to think about money and my job and other stuff like that, but just to focus on another person, another world, another time and let my imagination go crazy. It's extremely therapeutic.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
National Novel Writing Month kicked off at midnight last night/this morning, and I've written 509 words so far. 509 words of crap, mind you, but at least it's a start.
I think that once I get into it, it should flow a little easier, but right now my 'novel' reads like a Woman's Weekly article.
Good luck to fellow NaNoWriMo-ites!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I try to break free. I scream until the water around my head almost drowns me. I try to reach out, grab something or someone, but they cannot see or feel me. I wonder if they cannot see me in the same way I cannot see them. Just moving, man-shaped haziness. I have tried to call out: ‘help me, I am trapped; I do not know the way out’, but they do not hear me, and I fight against the current in my own sphere to be heard.
The paleness goes on forever. I can see only a short distance around me. The rest is obscure. I am numb for the most part. I do not feel my body. I am transparent, weightless. Sometimes I feel prickles where my arms would be, and this brings me comfort. If I focus hard enough, I can sometimes move things on the other side, small things, like a book or a glass. This also brings me comfort. Perhaps if they see that it has moved, they will rescue me from this translucent prison. I am afraid of sleep, and yet, at times I will it. I have been here for a long time.
All is still until:
I am suddenly awakened by a powerful emotion I had thought I had forgotten. It is fear, crippling fear, and it engulfs me. I am pulled forward through the partition (I am free!), and I can look down and see my body, dressed as it once was, in brown crinoline. And I am running, running down the great staircase in my home, running and trying not to look back. He is close, I can sense him. He mustn’t catch me. I am terrified by what he might do if he reaches me. I run, knocking over a table with the edge of my dress. I hear the porcelain vase smash behind me. I look back. I know I should see him, but he is not in sight. I do not slow however; it could be a trick. I can sense that he is near, perhaps just around the corner, waiting for me to stop, catch my breath, so he can have me. I see the door to the pantry, and then I am confused. I am inside, though I do not recall opening the door. I turn to check that the door is now locked and the key within sight, that he cannot get in, that I am safe. Once I lock the door, I know that I will be safe forever. It is not locked. I reach up to the lock, try to turn the tiny key, but an invisible force snatches my wrist away from the door. He has entered through the kitchen, one step ahead. He thinks I have betrayed him, but I plead and cry to him that I have not. “I am true, I am true”, I call out, not looking at his face, although I feel his eyes burning into me as his phosphorus grip burns my skin. He has a mallet in his hand, I see that, and I know, I know that if I stay there for a second longer, he will have me. I struggle to free my arm and turn, yanking at the door and then running, running down the corridor, through the hallway, the sound of broken porcelain beneath my feet. I run up the staircase and turn into the corridor and then stop suddenly. Something is different. Where is the damp, musty scent from the drapes at the window? The soft smell of burning from invalid grandmama’s fire one floor above? And then I look around and see. This is not my house. It has changed. I see unfamiliar people –a man, sometimes a little boy, a woman – all wearing strange clothing, all looking at me. I can see the details; the way the man’s moustache curls at the ends, the boy’s freckles, the woman’s fine lines around her mouth and her eyes. I see the detail, and it is overwhelming. And they can see me. And then I remember, and I start to call out: “help me, I am trapped”, but before I can finish my sentence, I am pulled backwards once more into the blue.
The fear has gone now. The red heat of panic subsides. My prison has pulled me back in, and emotion and hope is left behind in the other world. I am numb again. The water gushes back and I am still. I’ve been trapped here for a long time. A long time.
Well, NaNoWriMo kicks off tomorrow. Is there any scarier thought on Hallowe'en than that?! I'm aiming to write 2000 words a day, but I know I'm already going to fail at that because tomorrow I have a dance rehearsal from 7pm-10pm after work, so I don't imagine I'll get alot of writing done! Suppose it just means writing 4000 words on Thursday instead... Aaaargh!
I got some good news (possibly), in that my short story 'Raising Amy' is being publised by Secret Attic (http://www.secretattic.com/index.html). I think this is kind of cool, but I don't know much about the site, so it could all be a bit of a scam. They don't publish the story online, they produce it into a book which you have to purchase. I had a few poems published when I was 16 - 17 and that was a little similar in style because you'd have to buy the book to see your work. At least this time, the book is only about a fiver, rather than £20 (or however much it was back in the day). Still, a published story is a published story, and I'll take any excuse to celebrate!
Interesting article about play development schemes and the state of new writing for the theatre.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I'm being productive again! Yay! So, I think I've finished my scary story for Saturday - it's a ghost's story - and I've started writing (in my head if not on paper) the short story that I am hoping to submit to Tripod, a new magazine showcasing writing from Leicester, Derby and Nottingham. My story is going to be about Mouse, one of the teenage boys from my "Hoodie Leicestershire youths" play. I'm not sure as yet whether to write it as a first person narrative, or write it in third person. I'm leaning more towards writing it in the third person, simply because I overuse the first person, and second person is practically impossible (oh, unless I wrote it as a 'day in the life' or something: "you go outside for a fag. It starts to rain"...). Also Mouse, as his name suggests, is very quiet, so it would be unrealistic for him to write some great gushing story about his day/week/etc, when he is in fact introverted, not communicative in the slightest, and not very bright. Anyway, my story will follow Mouse on a typical day at school (or not as the case may be) and looking forward to the highlight of his day, which is to sit in the cold with his mates in Shilton rec (that's "Earl Shilton recreational ground" to most people). Why that is the highlight of his day will come apparent to those reading it as his day progresses. Poor Mouse. I'm going to take a photo of the reccy next time I go home, if the youths don't chase me off, so I can post it on here and remember what it looks like. I used to spend most evenings one summer sitting on top of the skateboard ramp with my mates (no serious skater would use it), but I think Mouse and co will take over the castle in the middle of the park. It seems more fitting somehow to have them camp out in a castle. The deadline for submissions is 1st December, so I have plenty of time to have a really good go at it (unless NaNoWriMo gets in the way). It should also feed back into the play that I'm writing and make characterisation stronger.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I am writing a scary story for Hallowe’en at the moment, and I’m finding it very tricky. Mainly, this is because of my tendency to repress any sinister thoughts I have, as I tend to have nightmares and ‘daymares’ for months afterwards if I don’t. Therefore I am finding it hard to imagine anything horrific to write about. It’s like I’m peeking through my fingers to see what’s inside my head. Stupid over-active imagination! For example, after watching a particularly scary episode of Doctor Who once, I actually ‘saw’ a creepy little boy in my hallway. Being afraid is one thing. Having your fears manifest themselves into visions is quite another. Perhaps I should seek medical help…
Friday, October 20, 2006
I have a new idea for a play, which was semi-inspired by a real-life event. My play will involve four characters (two couples) enjoying a dinner party. During the party, some information comes to light that results in the wife of the host couple killing herself. I was struggling to come up with a reason why - my problem was that all the ideas I had ended up being about the husband doing something really bad (e.g. murderer, pervert, etc). If this was the case, then surely the wife's reaction would be anger and hatred towards him rather than deciding to kill herself? So then I was toying with the idea that she discovers that he was a Nazi and had actively killed hundreds in the holocaust, and she herself was a Jew, but this was actually a true story I read in the Metro, so I didn't want to steal it. With the help of my trusty Alex, I've now come to the conclusion that he could have been some sort of paeodphile murderer many years ago, and the wife knew about this and helped protect him. At the party some sort of information comes to light from the innocent party guests, which reawakens the wife's guilt and disguist in her husband and herself and - BANG!
Monday, October 16, 2006
If something exciting doesn't happen soon in my dreary life, I think I might go insane. I have a really bad case of inertia at the moment. My flat is a sty, which usually highlights that my brain is in a similar condition. And I can't write when my flat is a mess. I just can't be arsed with anything! I think the thing that makes it worse is that I have £10 to last me until the 25th October, so I can't actually buy anything or go out anywhere either. Life pretty much sucks at the moment.
In terms of writing; as I mentioned above, I haven't written anything all weekend, but I have been having some ideas about my Nox story, for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It's mainly back-story to characters, and I've decided what narrative style I'm going to use, so I just keep writing that down so that when the 1st November comes, I can be poised, ready. Also, I keep meaning to write some more of my 'Youths' play, but again, have been putting it off. The Momentum sessions are starting up again in November, so I'm going to have to think of a play with up to three characters in it again. I have lots of ideas for plays with four or more characters in it, but that's against the rules for Momentum. Oh well, sure I'll think of something.
Well, at least I've identified my problem this time. Hopefully over the next couple of days I'll be able to shake off the feeling, and my next post will be about how prolific and brilliant I am. But for now, I wish I was asleep in bed with my furry pink pyjamas on...
Monday, October 09, 2006
After a successful run of 'Titanic the musical' and after the chaos of fresher's week, I'm almost back to my old routine, which means I'll have time to write again! I'm currently getting geared up for the 'National Novel Writing Month', which starts on November 1st. My friends and I are going to try to write a 50,000 word novel each before 30th November - sounds like fun, so I can't wait! I've decided I'm going to write about Nox (see previous post 'My own gothic princess') and have provisionally titled the story 'Inter Vivos'. It's already caused some controversy, as I've labelled it as 'science fiction' and one of my male friends either a) doesn't think it classifies as such or b) doesn't think a girl can write sci-fi. Anyway, you can follow my progress at: http://www.nanowrimo.org/userinfo.php?uid=124755 (username Grizabella).
So, what else has been happening in my week away? Well, I got a rejection email from pulp.net about a short story I had submitted, which I'm not too bothered about, as I wrote the story during my lunchbreak and it wasn't that good. I also got a rejection email from Paines Plough after I sent them my still not completed copy of 'Red and the Wolf'. I'm awaiting their feedback, but I think I've come to the decision that I'm not going to progress with 'Red'. I did enjoy writing it and think it is well written, but I also think that the subject matter is not original enough, and so no amount of editing/rewriting will change that. I may come back to it later, but I think that for now, my energies are better spent elsewhere. So I think that's about it for my update. Did you miss me?
Friday, September 22, 2006
It's enrollment week next week at the University where I work, and then after that I'm starring in 'Titanic the musical' (I play 'Caroline' for anyone familiar with the show), so not only am I not going to have time to write, but I may not even have time to shower. Enrollment means I'll be running around like a blue-arsed fly, telling students they can or can't have scholarships, and being in 'Titanic' means travelling approx. 15 miles to the theatre from work and back every day, where I have to sing many top Cs at the top of my lungs and try not to drown for a couple of hours. This may be my last blog entry for a while! Smell you later! ;-)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
So I’m writing this at the moment (well, doing some character work anyhow), along with finally making a start with the World War One story, which is a completely different genre, and finishing off a couple of plays. It’s really refreshing to be writing properly again. I do sometimes feel I’m a little spoilt for choice with what to work on next, but at least boredom/monotony is not going to be an issue (fingers crossed!!).
Friday, September 15, 2006
After struggling to write 200 words last night on a new idea, I procrastinated to the 'Writing' folder on my computer, where I store everything I've ever written since obtaining a pc for my 16th birthday. I rediscovered a half completed novel that I was working on when I had no friends and hadn't discovered boys (or they hadn't discovered me yet!). I had managed to write just over 40,000 words of it! Life was hard during those teen years, but in terms of writing, I'm now scared I was at my creative peak. It was before NTL and their one million channels, before the internet (well, for me anyway), before I stereotyped myself into some peppy cheerleader to try to become popular. I obviously had a lot more free time back then - come home from school, hang out with my brother, have tea, then write from about 6 - 11pm. Anyway, on a quick perusal of this document, I found that I had left my heroines in the middle of a field, eating oranges. Now I'm thinking perhaps I should go back and actually get them to where they were going again.
Oh, and my new idea? Well, I now have my own Gothic princess to play with... :-)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Friday saw my first visit to the Imperial War Museum in London, to research my novel set during the First World War. The museum was relatively easy to find, and the staff were extremely helpful; not only were they courteous and polite but they had also set out a pile of relevant books for me to use in preparation for my visit. I got there much later than I had anticipated (after checking out of my hotel), so didn't get nearly half as much done as I would have liked. In fact, I only managed to read and take notes from two books. Both were very useful however, but I do plan to go back at some point, whenever I am next in London. Just a note to anyone planning on going - take your own pencil and pencil sharpener, as you are forbidden to use pen in the Reading Room, and their pencil sharpeners do not work!!
So, what have I discovered? Well, the First World War was pretty much like the Second World War, in terms of price increases, air raids, rationing, Women's Land Army and Munitions work. What I have discovered is that there was a great deal of mistrust in foreigners at the time, in case they were spies, with German shopkeepers living in the UK being targetted violently by local gangs. There were lots of 'War Babies' as Victorian sensibilites went out of the window and people adopted a 'live for today' attitude. There was a great pressure on men to enlist in the army, and those that didn't were punished, not just by the government, but by the general public too. Working class women had money for the first time and spent it on cosmetics and other luxury items. Women served in the police force, as tram and bus drivers, blacksmiths and in other jobs that had traditionally been classed as 'male'.
So what now? Well, I think it's high time I started actually writing the bloody thing! I think I have enough to start with, so I need to collect my story together, based on the information I have collected here, and make a start on it. I'll keep you posted...
Monday, September 11, 2006
Wicked, Wicked, Wicked. How remarkable was this show?! I went to the first preview on Thursday, and the atmosphere was electrifying. There were 2,500 people all eagerly anticipating the start of the show. After a few minor hiccups at the beginning (“Look there’s Glinda”, followed by silence), the show went incredibly smoothly; Leicester lad Joseph Connor did the city proud as various ensemble parts. The real star of the show was Idina Menzel, as the vulnerable yet passionate wicked witch of the west. Even with the flu, she still sounded amazing and was on another level from the rest of the cast. Miriam Margoyles and Nigel Planer were also fantastic. I’m hoping to go see it again before Idina flies back to Oz…I mean, New York.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I don't want to write about the environment, the war in Iraq, the political system of Zimbabwe or Nigeria or any other country for that matter. As an avid theatre-goer, I also don't want to sit through the testimonials of an aslyum seeker or political prisoners, or sit through a thinly-disguised political satire about soldiers in Bosnia. I don't want a play that has visual or digital arts thrown in to try to make it appeal to the younger 'cooler' generation. I'm sorry if this might offend any artisitc directors out there, but frankly, if I wanted to know about the war in Iraq, I would read a newspaper. If I wanted to know about the war in Iraq from the point of view of a civilian caught in the struggle - I'd also read a newspaper (The Guardian in particular has done numerous features in this vain). I don't want to sit for two hours watching how some writer has incorporated the recorded testimonials of an elderly Iraqi lady and a British soldier into a two-hour 'play'. Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against political theatre. But I get a bit narked off when every single producing theatre in London (it seems) is putting on this kind of stuff (and all written in the same style). And it makes me wonder, maybe this is the reason there are more musicals than plays on in the West End at the minute - perhaps it's what the audiences want?
I want to be representative of my generation, sure, but I also don't want to be defined by it. I want to help create it. Yes, UK domestic and foreign policy affects everyone's lives in some way at the moment. But it is not the be-all and end-all of our daily existence. We still think, and feel, and love, and shit, and hate, and all that stuff. I think there are emotions that are synonymous with the world in which we live today - like paranoia for example - that can be taken and placed in a different context completely. It's those characteristics that will ultimately come to define the noughties, just like it defined the 50s with the witch-hunts that took place.
Where are this generation's 'Angry Young Men' or 'In-Yer-Face' crowd? Hopefully stewing in Leicester, believe it or not. Watch this space...
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Well, some of my friends came and read a few scenes from my 'Youth Hoody' play (really need to think up a title!!), and I think it's got potential. We were having a bit of a debate (or more likely, after 5 glasses of wine I was having a rant) about who would actually put my play on. I mean, it's really about a group of 13 year olds, but due to the swearing in it, I doubt whether a youth theatre would want to stage it, for fear of offending someone's parents/grandparents. And I really despise it when they have actors who are 30+ years old pretending to be kids. It's annoying, because I'm trying to reflect how 13 year olds from small Leicestershire villages actually behave (well, how they behaved in 1993 anyway!). Of course, I don't want to be responsible for introducing innocent children to the 'f' word, but at the same time, most 13 year olds know this word already. I suppose it's not my job to worry about these things, so I'll just keep on writing it and see what happens. Perhaps it can be a play cast with teenagers but marketed for adults... I mean, they make horror films like Poltergeist and The Exorcist using children, so perhaps my play won't be such a big deal. If I ever get round to completing it of course!
Friday, August 25, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Over the weekend I've written a couple of scenes for the untitled play about some teenagers hanging around outside a corner shop. So far so good. I've written what could be the opening, and also a scene where my two main characters allude to the abortion one of the kids has had recently. The characters I'm working with so far are: Naomi, the 'romantic heroine' as it were; Jase, her beloved; Mouse, a timid boy with a substance abuse problem; Sandie, Naomi's brother; Brick, Naomi's best friend; and Whitby, Brick's love interest and sort-of leader of the group. I'm also trying to figure out how I can set fire to a lynx can on stage (and turn it into a mini flame-thrower) without damaging the actors and the set and giving the stage crew heart attacks. Well, I suppose if I write it, then it's up to the director and safety marshalls to figure that out. Ha ha!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Recently, finding the time to write has become more and more difficult, and it's so frustrating! I work two jobs, have rehearsal twice a week, so when I do have a spare evening, I'm so knackered I can't really get anything constructive done. Anyway, going to post a picture to cheer myself up!
Monday, August 14, 2006
Right, back to the writing. The play which I developed as part of this year’s Momentum Young Writer’s workshops with Emma Rosoman was ‘Red and the Wolf’, which examined the relationship between Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and looked at growing up and why we may be tempted onto the wrong path (if there is such a thing). I really wanted to give Red a voice, rather than her just being this passive little girl who had to rely on granny or the woodcutter to come and save her from her own naivety. I researched the origins of the tale and found that the original story saw Red outsmarting the wolf by herself, and also, over the years, I discovered that she has lost her name ‘Biddy’ to become ‘Red Riding Hood’, so again, she has become a mere symbol rather than a rounder character. Anyway, the play itself is about 20 minutes long right now, so I’m going to try to expand the characters themselves, and add a couple of new scenes, possibly expanding on ‘the seduction’ and then one for ‘the morning after’. I’m also not 100% happy with the ending, which I wrote on the same day that I posted it to Momentum for the festival, so it’s a bit hasty.
I also had an idea to perhaps create a full length play, and write a companion piece to be the second Act of ’Red’. What I am initially thinking of at the minute is to write maybe a short monologue based on Snow White as a separate piece in the middle, between the two acts, and then write another one-act play based on a fairy tale for the conclusion, although perhaps do a contemporary version based on a tale, rather than take the characters themselves. The problem is finding another story that will tie in with the themes that I’m developing in ‘Red’ – which had the alternate title ‘Lost’ earlier in the day. Currently I’m thinking of Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltskin, but again, it would have to be a story that I could identify with. Might have to read my collection of Grimms’ stories again…
Just a short post to say that I saw the musical 'Avenue Q' on Saturday, and thought it was superb. It hit a note with me, as I'm still smarting about how the 'real world' doesn't really live up to my expectations (and how I 'wish I could go back to college'!). I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't get offended by rude language and muppet sex.
Friday, August 11, 2006
I have decided to focus the story on two sisters, Esther and Katy Fletcher (though ‘Katy’ might become ‘Emily’, I’ve not decided yet), who during the war get jobs at a munitions factory in Leeds. Esther, the elder sister, was a suffragette before the war, though not a ‘famous’ one (I’m trying to decide what social class the family are, so if she is working class, she wouldn’t really be in a position to speak at meetings or take part in and organise campaigns, like the Pankhursts), and is enjoying the freedom that has opened up to her now that most of the men are away fighting. Katy/Emily is the younger sister, who idolises her sister and follows wherever she goes, but as she grows up, she begins to find her own identity. There is a reclusive young ex-soldier, Stephen, who lives with his elderly aunt near to the Fletchers and who befriends Katy/Emily. At the moment, his story is that he was wounded in an accident during training, so never got to France, and was so embarrassed and ashamed that he has basically locked himself away.
So right now, I am researching the suffragette movement and also women’s roles at home during World War One. If anyone knows any good books/websites, please let me know!!
The picture above is a picture of women munitions workers in 1915. I got it from a website (I think it was one about the history of Leeds), so hope I’m not breaching copyright!
Right, let's get this blog on the road. My friend Sabrina is well into writing her blog, and so I thought I'd give it a go too. I'm a bit of a technophobe, so this is all a bit scary, but I'm going to take it slowly and see what happens.
Right, I'm currently working on a couple of stage plays and a novel, though I keep procrastinating and really need to focus. I'm going to hopefully use this blog to keep track of my ideas and 'chart my development', though I'm sure I'll end up just posting random rants on here too.
Sorry this first post is a bit boring. Will come back when I have something more interesting to say. Hopefully this blog will mark a 'new dawn' in terms of my writing development (sorry, know that sounds corny, but wanted to justify including this lovely picture I found on my hard drive!!)