Tuesday, 24 August 2010

I dreamed a dream...

Recently, I’ve been dreaming about blogging.

Is this a sign? Is it guilt invading my subconscious thought?

Sunday, I did a whole big bunch of nothing. Which was great, but after a while, it put me in a really bad mood. I think it’s because I’m not writing enough. I’m too lazy and I like lying on the sofa watching TV. I need to make more time for writing, because it’s always worth it when I do. So this morning, I am writing (and blogging!) before work and I am going to write during lunch too (if I write before I go home, I can’t get distracted by making tea and doing the washing and repeats of Project Runway on Sky 3 etc).

Last night I also dreamt that Patricia Arquette gave me a bikini wax and then we went to meet my secondary school form tutor (Mrs Fay).

I don’t know what that means.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently

So, I'm over my bad mood. I've had a week of not writing, of eating lunch with friends at work instead of typing and watching Celebrity Masterchef in bed (the boyf has banished me - it - from the living room). I am now ready to pull my socks up.

We have a "quote of the day" on the intranet at work. I think I am one of the only people sad enough to read them (I read anything put in front of me, especially at work). The one above is by Henry Ford (I feel like I should know who he is, but I don't think I do) and it sums up my thoughts - sometimes life throws you a sign, even if it's in the form of a random quote (that's probably automatically generated by the marketing machine).

So now, my thoughts have strayed to, where does my story go next? It will be the fifth time it's been out. I've decided that I will continue to send it until it wins something. It will win, god damn it. The next competition on my radar is the Aesthetica Creative Works Competition...now, this story went there last year, when it was still "The Journey". It now has a different title, it's a much, much better story, so my question is, do I send it again? I get two entries for my £10 and it seems rude not to take advatage of it. I was planning on sending a different story (and story number one is mid-re-write, so that isn't an issue), but thats off in the Waterstones Perfectly Formed Competition, and the judging has been pushed back so I won't find out until next week, which makes it a bit too late to re-write. So do I send it? Is that bad form? Is it a waste of my entry fee?

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, 16 August 2010

always a bridesmaid...

I've recently started looking for competitions where I also have the option to pay for feedback. Last month (last month? possibly June...you get the picture) I entered Vanda Inman's writespace competition, theme, The Lie, guest judge Della Galton (who is all over the fiction section in the women's magazines). My story didn't place, but the feedback was heartening. She said it was a great story, gave me some good advice about some of the words I'd chosen and suggested changing the viewpoint and strengthening the end. She also said that I'd created a sympathetic character, which was skilled considering the subject matter (he was a paedophile).

I was very happy with this. Deep down, I know that sometimes my success is going to be tempered by my subject matter. Not everyone wants to read sad stories with uncomfortable characters, and ultimately, it was a good result. I've taken the feedback onboard and am re-drafting with this in mind.

Last week, I entered the Writers Forum competition and today received my feedback. Again, the feedback was good. I was Highly Commended (I'm assuming that because it said it on the feedback, it's true of the magazine too..?) and the points that they gave me were a) good b) silly. They let me know what was working, which was great. They were also quite specific about what wasn't quite as clear, which was also great - one of those points had been raised in my writing group, but you know what it's like with feedback, some bits you take on board, some bits you put to one side. Now I've been told twice, I think I'll agree to disagree and change it. The rest of it was about my grammar and layout. And this is the silly bit. Because it's all stuff that I should know.  Stuff that I do know. Stuff that I should be doing. Stuff that I should have caught on one of my many, many edits.

So I'm quite annoyed with myself. I know that Highly Commended is super awesome. I know that for the amount of stories I've sent off in the last year, to have been Strongly Considered, Highly Commended, Shortlisted and Published is fab. I should be tap-dancing. It should be champagne and party poppers time. So why aren't I smiling?

I'm so close. I keep just missing out. And yes, some of this is personal preference of the judge, and that's absolutely their call. The lady who won The Lie competition, for example, wrote a lovely story involving a grandmother and her long-lost grandson. It was really good and she deserved to win. And stories that deal with elderly sexual predators being released from prison are not everyone's cup of tea. I totally get that. Coming up with a story the judges will love is half the battle, and something that is often impossible to predict and something that I'm prepared to take my chances with. Losing out because of stupid grammatical errors, and punctuation, and layout?

I need to up my game. Or get an editor. Or something.

Monday, 2 August 2010

there's no such thing as a bad blog, just a bad blog owner...

on Saturday, I wrote a story with a happy ending. I know, I know. unprecedented. the subject was "the summer that wasn't" and after I'd been bragging to some other members of the group that I generally found writing exercises quite easy, perhaps because we'd had to do so many of them at uni and it was just ingrained, I suddenly found that I couldn't start. I wrote two lines and then thought, no, that's appalling. so I crossed them out and actually thought about what I wanted to write before I wrote anything down.

and then I had my idea. and my idea did not have a happy ending but as I was writing, I thought that my ending was not the most original use of the subject matter (in this case, a girl who has been saving for years to go round South East Asia for the summer, only to find that her Icelandic savings account that holds her money is frozen - bah bum ching - so she accepts an offer to carry a package to Bangkok for the princely sum of £10,000). now, the end of this story, with the girl getting caught, would have the required amount of misery, but would it be interesting? or would it be more fun if she got away with it, and went on to have the most awesome summer in the history of awesome summers. so I went for the latter and she got away with it. well, thats a tiny lie, the story actually ended with her knocking on the door of the apartment she needed to deliver the package to, but you know all those bits of the story that you know are true, they just don't go in the story? well, the very happy ending was one of those bits.

so now, I find myself, in the space of a week, re-writing another story to have a happy(er) ending. this is one is now in at least its sixth incarnation, its' destination...Writer's Forum, which I'm really enjoying at the moment.  I wouldn't have considered changing the end apart from the imploring note from the competition judge begging for no more misery. well, I can't offer no more misery, my friend, but what I can do is offer a fleeting glimpse of hope. my character has been building herself up to this moment throughout the re-writes and now I think she's ready to take those baby steps towards forgiveness...it's a change that feels right for her, and sometimes, like a lot of things in life, you need to be nudged in the right direction. literary rainbows, sunshine and kittens anyone? yes please...