On Writing

the writing stag

This tag is actually called ‘The Writer’s Tag’ but someone mentioned how much it looks like ‘The Writer Stag’ and this amuses me greatly. Thanks to Mirriam for tagging everybody, and so therefore tagging me.

"As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee."    As The Deer: Hymn:
// pinterest

WHAT GENRES, STYLES, AND TOPICS DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Genre: Fantasy – because you can borrow from all of history and throw in a dragon and it will be legit. I love history, but fantasy is unrestricted – if I want to mesh a Viking and Mongol culture together … I can. AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME NAY!!!

Styles: I do write some serious content, but humour always creeps through. I love funny things, and sometimes I find myself writing a line with true glee. Or struggling to get a joke that is HILARIOUS!!!! in my head onto paper. That’s less fun.

Topics: Oh – everything. I try to put themes and topics into my stories but my characters always refuse to participate. They see right through my puny attempts and go on tangents about wanting to be a medicine woman or something.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

Years. Years and years. I completed my first novel in 2014, but I have piles and piles of unfinished and finished short stories banging about from the time I thought revision was spelled with an ‘h’. (Dude. Think about it. It still makes sense.) I won first prize for gore once. I was bemused. Did no one else write realistically?

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

Because I love stories. Because that love bubbles over until I have to write something down. Sometimes the magic happens – my fingers fly over the keyboard and the characters talk and events unfold seamlessly onto the page. But that doesn’t happen often; I have to work for it – but the stories …

I write because I love them.

walkingdesk

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO WRITE?

Much to my annoyance, at night. When everything is quite and all is dark (‘… silllllleeeeennnt niiiiiggghhhhttt ….’) and my mine is emptied of stresses and there is nothing but the words and I. You have no idea how much I resent this flaw of mine; I’d much rather write easily in the morning.

PARTS OF WRITING YOU LOVE VS PARTS YOU HATE?

What I love? Finishing. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing the story is finished; you’ve told it. It’s done. The end. It’s beautiful. A moment to be savoured.

What I hate? The bringing myself to sit and write. My mind leaps like an antsy frog on coals and has this kind of conversation:

ME: Little grey cells, shall we write?

BRAIN: Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Good idea. BUT WAIT YOU HAVE TO VACUUM BEFORE YOU DO THIS.

ME: … but … what?

BRAIN: CLEAN! DUST! WASH! ORGANISE YOUR BOOKSHELF! WASH YOUR CAR! ONLY THEN CAN YOUR WORDS FLOW. ONNNLLLY THEN!!

Me: Okay. That sounds like a good plan.

(spoiler: it’s never a good plan)

mewithbook

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME WRITERS BLOCK?

Nowadays? I exhaust my procrastination muscles, and then do a surprise leap into a Word Document. Takes time, but works like a charm. Sometimes. So a faulty charm, basically.

ARE YOU WORKING ON SOMETHING AT THE MOMENT?

Yes. Insalted is on draft 2.5 and The Mediocre Title That I Need To Change is ticking along alright. I’ve really let my creativity run wild on that one – there’s a crime lord dragon and the heroine’s kidnapping a husband.

Everyday activities, really.

WRITING GOALS THIS YEAR?

  • Finish editing Sandwiches
  • Prepare Insalted for querying. But finish it first. (That’s rather important, I hear.)
  • Finish the 1st draft of The Mediocre Title That I need To Change

right. so i’d better get going to that, then

Life, On Writing

highlights of text butchery

thepunone.JPGI’ve been quietly editing Insalted for some time now. However, only recently did I bite the bullet and print the whole thing out.

There’s a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s my dramatic usage of paragraphs, the halts for Bolded Lists (I haven’t a better name for them), or if I’ve completely got the spacing wrong, but I’ve ended up with 334 pages to edit.

!!!

Usually, I just employ a liberal use of a pen, butchering this and scribbling out that. HOWEVER, with this manuscript, I have a better plan. As per usual, I butcher … but I also use highlighters and sticky notes.

I have four colours and these stand for a sub-plot, a mega-plot, background info, and THE ROMANCE THREAD.

(And yes. That deserves capitals. I’m quietly proud that this story HAS A ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!)

Image result for old romance book cover
like this cover. but with more clothing

Why Using Highlighters Is A Highlight of Editing:

  • You can look back on a butchered page and think: my gosh, this looks legit! Maybe I am a Proper Writer after all!
  • It teaches you to never underestimate the importance of the highlighter in validating your career choices.
  • You can actually keep track of each plot line – how much of this plot is in this chapter? Do I need more? Less? How much ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!! is in it?
  • If you are a visual person, you can sum up what happens per plot line at the beginning of the chapter, and strike it through with the appropriate highlighter. It looks very pretty! And is useful. That’s 100% my reason for using them.

workspaceistidyMy work space isn’t very tidy. I have several coloured labels that er, I thought were sticky notes when I bought them. (SPOLIER: they weren’t.)

Now, they hang about like I did around other earthlings, wanting to be cool and useful but never quite making it.

(HANG IN THERE, LABELS! YOU’LL FIND YOUR SPACE YET!!)

I have highlighters, sticky notes, pens, hair things, soap, books, tea, an empty purse, and a laptop for music just chilling on the desk with me.

It is clutter, but I am of the opinion that I work better with clutter than without. (I have no wish to test this theory.)

Recently, I butchered into the wee hours and  … I felt like a Proper Writer. I was haunted and hunched over with a blanket about my shoulders, eyes stinging, hand wielding pen and highlighter with fervor.

It was a wonderful feeling; I am doomed to plenty more of it.

SIDE NOTE: I’ve discovered that THE ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!!! comes more easily when I’m tired. I haven’t re-read what I corrected last night, but I’m sure that it’s all coherent.

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I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing

resolutions that we can keep

This evening, I’m feeling a little weary. I’m a people person. I love people. I like people. I find people fascinating. In small doses. Eight hours of them? Non-stop? I run out. Like a battery prone to coughing fits and accidental slips of tongue.

Image result for huh gif

But that’s not the point of this post. (There is a point). The point of this post is to belatedly discuss resolutions. I could sum up the whole post in one sentence, but, as I enjoy explaining things at length, I’m going to stretch it out into an entire post.

*maniacal laughter interrupted by coughing fit*

Last year, I wrote a post about the classic books I wanted to read that year. I read two of them: King Solomon’s Mines and The Three Musketeers. Two out of six is not successful. It is awful and no good. I’m not impressed with myself. To be frank, I’m disappointed in two things.

two disappointing disappointments:

  1. my lack of motivation
  2. my delusion that ‘heh, one month left in the year is plenty of time to read THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PAGES’

This year, to be disgustingly optimistic is not my objective. Nope. I’m going to be depressingly realistic. I know me. And I know that I am often optimistic and wildly unrealistic. Just look at my to do lists – they are as missing of ticks as my future cat will be. (That sounded better in my head.)

I think we all would do better if we set achievable goals. Now, if you’re one of those sickeningly optimistic and motivated people who set goals as high as Everest AND MEET EVERY SINGLE WHITE CHOCOLATE LOVIN’ ONE OF THEM, I am not talking to you. I’m sure I would like you if I met you (hi!) and would only envy you a teeny-weeny bit, but I’m addressing people who suffer from goalfailuretitus.

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thaaat would be me. i’m addressing me

By ‘set achievable goals’, I mean the sort of goals that you know you can do. Sure, stretch yourself a bit (AND RISK PULLING A MUSCLE WHY DON’T YOU) but don’t over do it. There is a difference between saying ‘I’m going to swim thirty lengths at the swimming pool’ and announcing ‘I’m going to swim across the English Channel. Nay. THE INDIAN OCEAN!’

Image result for raise hand gif

This year, I’m giving myself goals that I know are possible for me to achieve. Yes, some of them are a little bit of a stretch, but these are my goals, darn it, I’ve got to let a tiny pinch of optimism creep through.

my thirty lengths* at the swimming pool:

  1. Read a Dickens. Just one. Survive it.
  2. Read Lorna Doone.
  3. Finish The Library Lass (that’s a working title. honest)
  4. Publish Sandwiches
  5. Work on The Salt Pun (also a working title. a brilliant working title)

*I’m not actually going to be swimming thirty lengths. The very thought leaves me limp with exhaustion.

And so, to conclude, to sum up, to finish, to end, to wind up, to wrap up etc etc etc:

set achievable goals

(or don’t. Set wildly unrealistic ones. Aim for the moon. Try and try and you never know, with enough elbow grease and will power, you just might make it. I’ll be here, with my two classics read, cheering you on)

happy reading!

Books, I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing, Uncategorized

how to avoid distractions and write

Disclaimer: I do not promise the following to be logical. I wrote it with an empty tea-cup beside me. Its slogan is Live, Laugh, and Love but how does one do that without tea? More importantly, how does one write a coherent blog post without this elixir?


I come home from work and survey my domain with a critical eye. I decide to tidy and then write. Neither happens. I’ve decided to give up that first step. Yes, my room suffers, but I’m sure that it’s a good move. I’ve now a more peaceful mind and more time to devote to my writing. However, distractions are many and my resistance is weak.

things i class as distractions:

  1. Reading
  2. Cleaning (mostly when I need to write) (this cleaning doesn’t extend to my own bedroom)
  3. Stoopid Things On The Internet
  4. Writing this post
  5. Work (so I’m not a starving distracted writer)

By the time Christmas week arrived, I was convinced that I – and I alone – had invented long shifts that had to be worked day after day after day. To my disgust, the pity party had to be cancelled. It turns out that this is the norm of the working world.

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My pity party rudely halted, I could at least use the situation as an excuse. It was masterful and goes as follows …

my masterful reason for not writing:

Work requires time to unwind from. At least one or three hours. By the time I am unwound, I need to sleep. To go to work again. So therefore, in no way could I possibly write a single word. There isn’t time.

I, for one, could see no logical holes in my reasoning. (I’m certain you can’t either.) However, using this logic, I am forced to face three hard choices in order for my writing to flourish:

  1. I must give up work and write in blissful hunger and happiness (sans car, savings, clothing, and books)
  2. I must drastically decrease my working hours and budget (less use of car, less savings, and fewer books)
  3. I must find a happy medium between working and writing (sans unwinding time)

Right now, I’m taking option three. Writing is a part of me. Like my tailbone or unibrow. (Ha. I kid. I don’t have a unibrow. Or do I?!!!) And I am willing to make sacrifices for it.

Image result for mulan gif
cue inspirational gif.

So, my ‘unwinding’ time will cease to be and I will be an adult and write my novels and sort my bookshelves and go to work and do all sorts of responsible things.

Q: So, how DO you avoid distractions and write? (Because, honestly, the above is no answer at all. In fact, I’d say you waffled a fair bit.)

A: I’m sure that priorities and list making and Pinterest boards make up part of the answer, but – to be brief – I think the ultimate answer is thus:

Sacrifices. Must. Be. Made.

If you want to keep your unibrow writing alive and ticking, you have to make sacrifices; give up going to the cinema or haunting bookshops or reading those reviews. These things have their place. But so does your writing. So sacrifice. It will be worth it.

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side note: remember to maintain relationships with humans. those are important too.

But, what do I know? I’m just a writer writing poorly concealed non-advice advice posts to solidify good intentions. And to be a beacon of help and hope to the rest of the writing world, of course. *cough*

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happy new year, my friends!

Books, I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing, Uncategorized

this bookish thing

This is a ramble. There is no other way of putting it. And worse – it’s a rambling ramble. I’m not sure what the difference is, but you have been warned.

// the lift of the book ban, the rise of my bills //

georgetteheyeronstairsI gave up buying books for the entire month of September. My bank account thanked me, but ohhhh white chocolate it was hard.

It’s now October. And the book buying ban has been lifted. Amazon is sending me books. Can I refuse them? No. No, I can’t. It would be rude.

Thus far, three books have arrived through the post box: a biography about Georgette Heyer, Simon The Coldheart by Georgette Heyer, and a look at the Regency world found in the books of … Georgette Heyer.

I’m starting to suspect that I might be a fan of hers.

// ‘anything you can polite, I can polite betterrrrr’ //

At work recently, I served a customer. This is not an unusual thing. I serve customers all the time. However, this customer chucked me headfirst into the most excruciating battle of ‘Who Can Out Polite The Other’ I’ve ever accidentally been in.

We thanked each other for every. little. thing. I was quite exhausted by the end of it. He won. For certain. He was the most determinedly polite person I’ve ever met.

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it was this, in verbal form … but worse

// words and words and words //

Due to one thing or another, I’ve been struggling to write. But no more! This autumn, I am finishing the rewrite of The Dragons We Hunt. Bring on the murderers! Throw in the dragons! Let the adventure and blood and sweat and late nights and tears begin!

25930798// … and he used an axe. AN AXE! //

At the moment, I’m reading Joan of Arc by Helen Castor. (Let’s not talk about how many times I’ve had to renew it at the library.) And it’s really good –it’s a bit of history that I’m not too familiar with, from a perspective that I’ve never really considered. It’s quite gripping.

I mean … plot twist I wasn’t expecting what happened to John of Burgundy to happen.

My jaw dropped and I wanted to grab a nearby co-worker and rant about it but:

  1. I didn’t want to go down in modern history as ‘The Mad Woman In The Staff Canteen’
  2. The co-worker wouldn’t have appreciated being grabbed and told ‘so, there was this bridge and this Dauphin and this duke and ohmergosh THEY ACTUALLY DIDN’T HAVE PEACEFUL INTENTIONS AT ALL!’
Image result for jaw drop gif
Alas, I don’t think they would’ve shared my shock

have a great weekend!