Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Risks and Writing

I have a lot of respect for writers that take risks with regards to pursuing their dreams. Being a writer means that you have to have a certain amount of free time in which to write, to day dream, to plot and plan. Quitting the day job is a big step, especially if that means living on the bread line, working from commission to commission, and only making your next mortgage payment based on your popularity with, say, white, female, middle-class 20-somethings going on package holidays to Alicante. It's risky business indeed. Not many authors ever get to live comfortably from their writing alone. I like to day dream about quitting my job and supporting myself with my writing, but there are too many variables that rely on chance for me to consider this as a viable option at present. I don't think I'd be brave enough to leap off the cliff into full-time writerdom without a parachute of some kind (a five-book deal? A big fat royalty cheque? A Nobel prize?). So I have a lot of respect for people who do leave the rat race, even part time, to pursue their dreams. Does playing it safe though mean that I'm a worse writer? Or that I'm any less serious than someone who has made more of a sacrifice, who has taken those risks? I don't think so, and I hope not. I think of it as being "sensible" rather than anything else, though there is a little bit of insecurity and fear mixed in there too.

I really enjoyed The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, and after taking a short break to read The Boy With The Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (good), I have now started reading the first book of Canavan's second trilogy The Age of the Five. I'm only on page 5 at the moment, but will tell you how it goes. Enjoyable so far, though her prose style is a little abstained - still, it is early days and I'm sure I will get into the story in a couple of pages time.

Still in the planning stages of what I *think* is going to be my next novel (don't want to jinx it!). Will give you more details next time. It's all very exciting at the moment, as I can see the potential in the story stretch out for me for miles. But whether I'm able to do it justice, well, we'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I am currently working on a short story about two sisters who hate each other and have magical powers. I don't know if it is any good, or if I will continue the story into a novel. At the moment, I quite like my two characters, so I'll see where it goes.
This is what I've been trying to do for the past few months - just play around with characters and settings, trying to find a voice, a story, a protagonist that interests me. So far I've come up with several short pieces, none of which are completed, and I am longing to write a novel again. It's like when you break up with a long term boyfriend - soon after the break-up, you don't want to go on dates again and get to know someone from scratch. You want that shared intimacy, the secrets, the safe comfort that comes with prolonged knowledge. At the minute I want to jump ahead to the novel part, in spite of not having a story, a plot, an idea even about what to write. Which is why I'm trying to write short pieces. Even though it's frustrating the crap out of me. Can't run before you can walk, as the adage goes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jive Bunny

I've taken the plunge and have got myself cast in Return to the Forbidden Planet, which for those of you who don't know, is a jukebox musical based loosely on The Tempest and The Forbidden Planet. It'll be on in February at the Concordia Theatre, Hinckley, Leics. I am in the chorus, and I am trying very hard to silence that inner voice inside my head that is ambitious and attention-seeking and wants me to audition for a lead role. I don't have time to be a lead (assuming I'd be cast of course). Monday was the first dance workshop, where we learned to jive. It's been years since I've been to rock n'roll nights, and so I was a bit rusty, but it was really good fun. Good exercise too!

Our TV digibox has been broken since Sunday, and it's sad to say I'm feeling a bit lonely without it. The technician is coming Friday, so all will be well, but if any one has any suggestions about what I can do to fill up my TV-less evenings, they would be most appreciated. I don't really watch telly, but it's nice to have it there in the background.

I have been reading more, possibly as a consequence but maybe not - the books I'm reading are very mind-absorbing. I'm reading Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician Trilogy, and have read the second book and half of the last book in 2 days. It's a really good book, in my opinion. For those who scoff, I think it's important to read popular fiction, even if your goal is to write high-brow literary fiction, just to see what techniques are employed to hook a reader. Even if you are looking to write literary fiction, surely the aim of the game is to sell a few copies as well as winning hundreds of awards? So, this series is action packed, but also has central characters that you care about.

I'm rubbish at plotting. Anyone have any advice about how I can improve? I'm still working my way through Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots, which is very interesting and insightful, but not particularly practical. I guess the answer is the same as the answer to how anyone gets good at anything - with practise!

Elsewhere: Damien takes on the Paranormal Romance fandom not quite single-handedly here:http://damiengwalter.com/2010/06/30/who-reads-urban-fantasy/

A plug for my friends' new Edinburgh show, Stitched Up!: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/stitched-up

My current favourite twitterer (is that the right phrase?), my old school pal Marc Burrows (now a stand-up comedian and musician): http://twitter.com/20thcenturymarc

And the web-strip that I follow on a semi-regular basis, Hark, A Vagrant - check it out! http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php