Showing posts with label generating the raw material. Show all posts
Showing posts with label generating the raw material. Show all posts

27 January 2012

Finding your way... via Artist's Way

Michael N over at Sustainably Creative will be working through the Artist's Way (for a 5th time!) starting in February. Members of SC -- new are welcome -- are invited to join.

I'm not a member of SC (yet) but I think it is a great blog, it's one of the few I look at regularly. Well worth checking out. And this is an excellent opportunity to work through the Artist's Way in good company. I have to confess I have never done the entire process "properly"... Although I have used the book on and off for the past ten years, I skip and jump around and, with full awareness, heartily ignore the parts I'd prefer to avoid!

13 January 2012

The Slog

Work in Progress Update: Just made a submission to my writers workshop of two more (or less) chapters in the work in progress. Still don't know what I'm doing most of the time. In case you're wondering. No one really talks much about this part of creating a novel. Maybe it's different for everyone. For me it is much much harder than I ever imagined. Every so often I cobble a few thousand words together, and it starts to feel like "something". That part feels pretty good, but in between those moments it is a real slog, and I wonder if the good part will ever return. So far it does, but it's a huge act of self-confidence, and faith in the creative process. I'm not even sure I care about how "good" it is anymore. I just want to be able to say I wrote this thing from start to finish - especially the finish. I want to get to those two magic word, THE END, with a minor amount of self-respect and satisfaction. Then, don't worry, I'll shut up about it already!

03 November 2010

Day 3 - Not quite flying, but pedaling

Words, words, words.  Today and yesterday I did about 1000 words in the morning, before leaving for the office (I work part time and don't have to be there until late morning, which definitely helps). Does it get easier? Doing the 600 words at night was not so bad. Not as bad as I thought. I never had to write into the unknown quite like this before. What's funny, that I didn't realize, is that behind the words I have in mind to write are other words, waiting for action. It's like an escalator, or conveyor belt. Words arrive, get written, and  – oh, hello! – there's more. That's pretty neat, actually.

26 May 2010

"All children are born artisits. The problem is to remain artists as we grow up."

– Pablo Picasso, quoted by Ken Robinson, in his talk below. Required viewing for anyone who cares about creativity, education, children, life.

12 February 2010


As I walked this morning I realized I just needed to be in motion. The walking is part of the process, I keep learning, over and over. I was lucky this morning to find myself with a series of destinations. My mind felt empty and hollow, as though there was nothing to be brought out of it. It is not unlike the sensation of being in between breaths. If you pay attention to breathing, you will see that sometimes it happens, that there is a pause after breathing out, before you start another breath in. Sometimes it seems quite long, even, but it is completely natural, and if you just watch your breathing, you find that the next breath does come. I've never once panicked or feared that I would stop breathing in between breaths, even when I sat there, cross-legged, wondering when it would happen. It starts up again of its own accord, or the body's, in its own time. Perhaps not an earth-shattering discovery, that. But it comforted me this morning.

01 February 2010


Ah, February 1. January, where did you go? I've been very busy with birthdays and cakes yet
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

I have been scribbling away, and am fairly happy about it. I did a difficult thing, too -- I asked the BF for a few hours of time on my own to write on the weekend. This was hard for me as we do not get much time alone, but neither do I get enough time for it, so I faced one of those horrible me-vs-him-vs-us-vs-it and felt crap about everything, until at last I was brave enough to say "I need this". And guess what. He understood, and now there is balance.

God I hope my daughters don't have these horrible self-esteem issues.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

I don't really like talking about writing. I suppose that's why I have this blog -- well, one of the reasons -- because I would never presume to go on and on about my writing life even to another writer. It's like talking about "this great dream" you had.... It unfortunately means very little to anyone else. But I need an outlet, so here I am, saying things I would never say out loud unless in a very safe environment.


Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.

And I don't keep a very firm boundary here, although that's what "they" tell you to do: blog about one thing, find your niche, etc.... Well if you've read this over any length of time you will find the writing part of me is all mixed in with everything else, and the point of the blog is to "show all" (or, at least all I can) about my own small writing life.... Which, when I think about it, is so very mushroomy: so much happening underground, in private, out of eyesight; very slowly pushing out of soil rich with last year's wet leaves.

NB Quotes are from Sylvia Plath's poem Mushrooms, which is in, I think, "The Colossus".

08 October 2009

IAQ No. 23: Can you make poems happen?

Can you make poems happen? Or any writing, for that matter? I think you can, to some extent -- you can bring yourself to the table; you can bring yourself to the page for 5, 10, 15, etc minutes; you can take a deep breath and see what happens. You can, as with the theatre, suspend your disbelief. You can stop telling yourself that you're no good, that you have no time, that you're going nowhere, that what is the point. Those old sand traps. You can decide to enjoy yourself, you can listen to your own advice, the advice you give your children: who cares what those other kids think? Those people in your life who are so full of 'shoulds' for everyone else.... Well, so what. As if. So there.

That's all for the moment.

Image: my own, the sidewalk on rue Rouge outside Park Wolvendael, the morning of 7 October.

09 July 2009

June Stats

I'm really excited about June's stats, even though I am only counting the New Project. It's the only thing I want to work on at the moment, even though I spent most of the early part of the month working on poems. It's a question of where your true north is at any given time, and for me, at the moment, it is with this prosey thing, that I am writing in bits and pieces but consistently, to the tune of 3000 words so far and these are not notes, this is story. Rough rough draft and unformed mass to be sure. But story, slowly taking shape.

26 June 2009

Whatever & The Big Idea

Vincent (yes, him again) has turned me on to a blog by writer John Scalzi called Whatever. I particularly like a feature he does called The Big Idea. In The Big Idea, authors discuss what makes their books tick, and what that meant for the writing process. Most recent post is an author named Diana Rowland, whom I had never heard of, but the story of the concept for her book is fascinating reading. Thanks, V!

19 June 2009

A little over-optimistic with the word count

Three weeks into my "game plan" and I am having to revise some expectations.

The goal I set for myelf, each week, was to do 300 words each day, Mon-Fri, for a total of 1500 per week on my novel-in-progress (oh doesn't that sound grand!). I figured whatever I didn't manage Mon-Thurs I could make up on Friday.


I have been doing between 100 and 150 Mon-Thurs. I think most of this is quality and won't be jettisoned when editing later. How do I know this? Because before, I was fooling around, making notes, asking "what if" and "what if then". It was easy to rack up the words doing that! But now I have to actually write a scene and it is hard! It is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I don't know why. It's like wading in taffy. Hence the taffy-wade word count... it is moving veeeerrrry slooooooowly.

I'm reducing expectations because otherwise, I'll be too discouraged. Already I see my weekly targets mounting, and the actuals lagging.

So now I am going for 150 words a day, Mon-Thurs. On Friday I will go for 500. That makes a new total of 1100 per week.

By the time I go on my course in November, I should have about 15,000 words (factoring in the school holidays, of course, when word count will plummet to 0).

But who knows. Maybe I'll get faster. That would be something.

02 June 2009

Good questions

Keir Hind asks the Scottish Mortgage Trust Book Awards finalists six questions about their work: Janice Galloway (non-fiction, memoir) This Is Not About Me; James Kelman (fiction) Kieron Smith, boy; Andrea McNicoll (first book) Moonshine in the Morning; Tom Pow (poetry) Dear Alice: Narratives of Madness.

One of the category winners will be awarded the title of Book of the Year at The Borders Book Festival, on June the 19th.

May Stats

Et voila, May's writing calendar, in all its statistical glory.

All in all, I have to say, it has been a pretty good month. I had a breakthrough and consequently made a submission I am very pleased with. I worked on poetry a lot, which is hard to quantify. I once went on a writing retreat at Arvon with a lot of novel writers. In fact all of them were writing novels except me. They would sit around and talk about their word counts. I'd joke with them by saying, 'Yeah, I cut 3 this morning....'

I also did some math and came up with a plan to help me write the fiction, which doesn't come as easily as the poetry. Ironically I hadn't been writing much poetry, so I thought out most of a plot for a novel, and now that it comes time to write the darn thing, back again comes the poetry! But I will not turn down the poetry muse when she visits -- that's a cardinal rule -- so she's going to share a room with a daily word count, 5 days a week. I am looking at going on an Arvon course in November, to help with the novel, and my goal is to have 25,000 words by the time I get there. I've allowed for holidays and visits from the parents and if I keep it up, it's a feasible goal.

I fully expect to cut half at least later, but for now the point is to generate, no internal editor, no internal censor.

PS TO VIEW CALENDAR: Use blue bar to move horizontally. To scroll, simply put cursor over calendar and use that scrolly-wheel thingy on your mouse.

24 February 2009

I'm just writing this thing...

In my on-going quest to draft a how-to-write manual and teach myself craft, on Sunday evening I surveyed a bunch of author interviews from my back catalogue of Mslexia magazines, where they run an interesting feature "100 Ways to Write... The [insert name of featured author] Method".

Much in line with the Anne Lamott bit I quoted last week, most authors did not write "linearly", starting from the beginning of The Book and writing straight on through to the end as it appears in published form. I italicize that for a reason: because I think there's an expectation that you do write from "start" to "finish". Indeed, you may well do with non-fiction but when you're making something up it is totally different. Often or even more likely than not, you don't know where the starting line is until you know where you finish.

I took he
art especially from Maggie O'Farrell's recent interview:

She had been writing steadily, but ‘I didn’t really know what I was doing,’ she says.


‘I just started writing this thing,’ O’Farrell continues, ‘and I didn’t really admit to myself or to anyone what I was doing. I was having a drink with [a friend] and he said, “I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you doing?” and I said, “Nothing much.” So he said, “What are you doing?” and I said, “Well, I’m writing this thing, I’m writing this story.” And he said, “How long is it?” and I said, “About 30,000 words.” “You’re writing a novel!” he said’ – she mimics his accusatory finger-pointing – ‘and I said, “No, no I’m not! I’m not!” and he said, “Yes, yes you are!” and I said’ – and you can sense her flustered reaction from more than a decade ago – ‘“No! No, I’m not! It just this thing, and it’s just got bigger and bigger!”’
(from Maggie O'Farrell interview Mslexia magazine Issue 40.)

I just love that. I
t is so much easier to think of it as "this thing".

Moving along....

The writers workshop members shamed me last night for not finishing things! I denied I did this, but they had evidence to back up their claim. Duly chagrined, I am determined to prove them wrong with the current project. I will post this Beryl Bainbridge quote above my PC:

Everything’s ready. You’re at the edge of the lake. The water’s murky and freezing. Once you’re in you must stay in until the book’s finished. That’s the rule: no matter how badly it’s going, you must finish what you’ve started.