Thursday, 31 March 2011

What A Very Special Person Made Me For My Birthday

Someone who likes you will buy you a diamond pendant... girls like those, right?

Someone who loves you will customize you a typewriter.

(Obviously, I have removed my nameplate from the image and replaced it.)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

To Pushing Forwards...

It was more than three years ago now that I set down my first words on this blog.

"I have been told that the beginning of a piece of writing is the most important...that some editors and critics will stop reading your work simply based on how boring they find your work. But beginnings are hard... sometimes i even like to write beginnings at the end of a story.

Here i have no chance. Here i begin my journey to publication. I intend to be published before i turn twenty. The definition of published here extends to magazines and journals but not to the school magazine, although that would be fine too. I have three more birthdays until that day. If you have opened this blog because you are genuinely interested by my progress, I thank you. If this is a pure fluke, please feel free to check up on me. Any kind words of encouragement would be much appreciated."

I can see myself back then in my minds' eye... a little less self assured, a little less book-snobbish, a little less grammatically correct.

Yesterday was my twentieth birthday, which was the deadline that I set myself for becoming a published writer. The parameters that I set myself were clear. There is no way I can use clever rhetoric to get around it. So did I achieve my goal?

I think I will leave that up to you. I have logged all my publications under the tab of that same name.

In my head, when I wrote that, I remember that I wanted to say purely that I would have a novel in print by my twentieth birthday. While I have worked very hard at that goal in particular, I am now a lot more informed on the process that is involved and the trials and tribulations of the young writer. I've had countless rejections for my short work alone. I've also had some success, but not as much as I would have liked. I don't want to be famous. I just want some kid or some adult to pick up my work and feel something. I just want to tell stories, in the words of a very wise young man who was kind enough to have coffee with me this January.

I need a new goal. I want to be bold here and say a novel in print by 25. But I also don't want to set myself a goal that I cannot achieve. Suggestions?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Emily of the Bronte Persuasion

Sometimes I don't like my name. I think to myself... it's not very literary. It's the name of a song by Bowling for Soup about cheating on your girlfriend. It's the name of an accident prone little girl in a book I used to love as a child, (Oh Emily, that book was called). I can't think of any really inspiring characters in books I have loved who share my name either. There's a prostitute in Dangerous Liaisons who gets used as a writing desk? (Emilie)

And then I remember that one my favourite authors shares my first name. That would, of course, be Emily Bronte who wrote Wuthering Heights.

I've actually just read Jane Eyre, followed by Wuthering Heights, and I feel as though maybe I should now attempt to read some Anne Bronte, just to be fair. None of her works are on the uni reading list but Agnes Gray is short and I am about two weeks ahead. Dilemma...

The thing about reading Wuthering Heights again is that it seems like an incredibly fast paced book now. When I first read it, in year 10, I didn't get it at all. There were too many Cathy's. I enjoyed it more the second time. This time around (the third time) I actually understood everything. That's a pretty awesome feeling. And, to make things even cooler, there's a new movie in the works. Or maybe it's soon to be out, I don't know. I found this cool article. What great timing, considering I have a powerpoint presentation due in a few weeks time. Huzzah! (Revenge and Passion in Wuthering Heights, how does that sound for a title?? Pretty good, I'd warrant.)

Here's the article.

Three quick things I love about Wuthering Heights:
* The characters are thoroughly wild.
* The strange, northern English accents, i.e. that of Joseph (although my edition was printed cheaply and sometimes they typo his name to Jospeh. hehe)
* Heathcliff. Enough said.

On the not so good side is the polyphonic nature of the book. I don't understand why the tale is told from so many points of view... or rather, I do understand that it is a commitment to realism that makes it so, but I don't like it. It can be rather a cacophany at times. And Mr Lockwood is annoying. I wish he wasn't in it at all. But that is the power of the story; it outweighs the faults of its mode.

Okay, I'm going to go hunt for my copy of Agnes Gray before work. Have a good day!

What are you all reading?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Honey, that's Fantasy, not Realism

You've all heard of Mary Sue's, right? I'm sure you've read stories where they've appeared before. Hell, I'm sure you've met one. They exist in real life, I assure you. Mary Sue's tend to write stories which contain Mary Sue's, and the cycle goes on and on and on.

And it's this kind of writer I want to have a little whinge about today. The Mary-Sue type.

I believe that (well in the case I am referring to anyway) the cause stems from two reasons.

* Number One: The writer does not believe that anything that has actually happened to them is worth writing about. They do not believe THEY are worth writing about, or that any facet of their personality is worth writing about, and so on and so forth. (And yet, strangely, they seem to like the sounds of their own voices, and using these voices to go on and on and on about how they are not worth writing about, all the while laughing in a faux-self-conscious manner that makes the average class member want to commit Hara Kiri with a plastic ruler.)

* Number Two: The writer has a certain idea of what writer's SHOULD be like that has come from God Knows Where (that magical place lots of bullshit comes from) and they either try in earnest to become this person, or they fake it.

[As a segue, one of the things I personally believe about writing is that you definitely should fake it til you make it. I think it's pointless to say "I wish I could write like X writer but sadly I never will be able to." That is a complete turd of a thought and shame on you for giving up so easily. I was thinking to myself today of an example of near perfect writing that I came across in Creative Writing class last year, and I have decided to hold that piece up as the be all and end all of what I aspire to. And until I realise I have actually become the type of writer that the author of that work was, I am going to PRETEND to be that kind of writer. But I am going to do it badly, most likely. And when people give me criticism, I am not going to defend the drivel by making a santimonious speech about my INTENTIONS.]

So in other words, they lie about what sort of writer they are and they lie about what sort of person they are. And as someone who has recently come to value honesty as above all the most beautiful quality in some prose (honest writing is raw emotion without raw writing, as I have heard a wise, wonderful person say) I can't stand people who write absolute verbal vomit and then hand it to me expecting a cookie.

The result of this is a new genre in student writing. It's a hybrid of Realism and Fantasy, but really it's just Fantasy. I'm going to call it Frantasy though because I have to give it a cool name.

Let me give you an example of Frantasy.

Joan stepped off the plane. She smelled bad, and she knew it. Plane rides did not agree with her. Getting through customs made her head pound. She wondered what people were doing back at the firm. She wondered whether anyone would remember that tomorrow was her twenty fourth birthday, or if any of them would care. In truth, she would much rather have been at the firm, arguing with the partners than back home in Hicksville explaining to her mother why she still wasn't married.

Okay so I could have done better there. But I hope you get the point. Straight away we have been given a strangely overachieving twenty four year old lawyer with stereotypical mother issues. Snore.

Everyone has a narrative constructed of where they want to go. Without this, we lose focus. But writers need to be realistic. And to truly grow through your writing, you need to be honest with yourself. If you're not, don't expect anyone else to be. Or, expect them to be brutally so. Expect ME to be brutally so, if you ask for my advice.

Believe in your experiences. Believe that there is some story in you worth telling. Believe that honesty is the best policy.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


"You ought to be able to discover something from your stories. If you don't, probably no one else will."

- Flannery O' Connor

"I recognise that I have made a whole career out of making my anxieties get up and walk around, not only in my own mind, but in the minds of readers."

-Peter Carey

"To write is to sit in judgement of yourself."

- Henrik Ibsen

Just some thoughts for the day. What are your favourite writing quotes? Can writing be taught? What kind of a writer are you, are you neurotic like Peter Carey (and like me)?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A pointless blog post to work through my writers block. (Or is it writer's?)

Sometimes I sit down to write something and it just flows. It's just right. Now is not one of those times.

I recently looked at an old story, one I wrote about something that happened to me which was a big deal at the time. And I turned it into some sort of revenge thing, I think.

I'm not entirely sure that's healthy.

But I mean, I write for a lot of reasons and today I am wondering if writing for the wrong reason is what's causing this story to stagnate? Or is it a combination of the things?

Is it that when my boyfriend asked me how I imagined my male protagonist to look physically, all I could say was forty?

Is it that I really want him to be the bad guy, but he's GOT to be the good guy, and as much as I love my female character, she's got to be the bitch?

I think this calls for a strong dose of re-writing. And re-structuring. And re-planning. Because there is a story to be told. And there is a deadline to be met. And there is a personal standard which will NOT be disappointed.

I'll keep you all posted... (unless I don't.)