Saturday, 26 January 2013

Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice

Good morning, I’m up bright and early for a writing day. I plan to do nothing today other than write, spreading my time between my current novel and a short story.

If you’re following my word count widget you’ll see there has been a huge jump over the past week – yay, to snow days at school. I had the joy of spending the whole of Monday at home writing – I managed an output of 4400 in one day. That is quite an achievement for me. My personal best in one day was 8000 whilst writing ‘Her’ and then 7034 during NaNo 2012 in ‘Pooch Parade’. Anyway, today I’m aiming high.

My treat this week, was having to reread Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Tempest’ as part of my job and therefore, have reignited the delight of Shakespeare’s work. Too many focus on the age old argument whether he wrote them or not, so much so they forget to focus on the work and the delight of the English language.

I attended both of my writers’ meetings this week. The Mad Hatters was a small gathering, to which I didn’t take my work as I’d planned. We had an evening of literary chatter and critiquing. Thursday, I attended the Grace Dieu group – which was buzzing with people and work. I read chapter one of TFD – receiving positive feedback which was encouraging. We’ve recently had an influx of new members and again on Thursday, we had more – which is all good for the mix of the group.   

Monday 28th January is the bicentennial anniversary of Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ being published. I shall honour the day by rereading the book, for the umpteenth time in my life. I haven’t heard many people mention the anniversary so I shall be surprised if others at work even know about it, even though we are an English department. But hey, I shall have my own mini celebration on Pride and Prejudice day! Over the years, pupils have asked me why this is my favourite book? My answer ‘I discover something different each time I read it’ – I can’t say that about other books.  Admittedly, I have read it about ten times.

Finally, I’ve had a sort out of writing magazines that I regularly receive; ‘Writers’ News’, ‘Writers’ Magazine’ and ‘Mslexia’ which I’ve read for many, many years. I’ve browsed others but would suggest subscribing as they are a constant inspiration and writing advice.

Monday, 21 January 2013

London, Research and solid foundations

Hi folks, a late update from me. Saturday morning, I went to London for the day with family – as a birthday treat for my mum. She’d wanted to go on the London Eye for a long time now, so I booked tickets and we took her. Britain has been gripped by a layer of snow on Friday, so I was a little worried about the logistics of my plans but everything worked out well. London seemed empty due to the poor weather, so was the train and the underground – making for a nicer day all around.
Anyway, back to the writing. Over the last week, I have edited the first four chapters of TFD – by rereading and smoothing each sentence until the novel’s beginning is perfect. I love the tone and voice that is lifting from the page. With my first novel ‘Her’, I didn’t manage to achieve this for quite a while – which felt a little like building a castle on shifting sand. I didn’t polish the first chapters until I had completed a vast quantity of the novel, so throughout the writing process I kept thinking and going back to add details to the beginning chapters. Looking back that was a mistake in my process and so I vowed I wouldn’t do that again. With TFD I now feel that the foundation of the novel is well constructed and laid correctly, which frees my mind to move forward with the plot.
This week, I have spent quite some time doing research about specific sports. I find it amazing the depth of knowledge I can find with an hour on the internet – though you do have to be so careful to check and recheck details to ensure that the web source is accurate. I love doing research so have to be careful that I don’t spend too much time seeking details that aren’t relevant – though the more you know the more it shows in your writing. It really is a fine balancing act between time and knowledge.
I always add personal details into my work; names, places, memories and favourite sayings that relate to my own life but by fictionalising the details my life becomes embedded without being obvious. With TFD I have managed to add a favourite house, a favourite book and a great grandmother’s name – each adds a little bit of me into the novel.
I have finished reading ‘Treasure Island’ by R.L. Stevenson as part of my university studies. I wasn’t looking forward to reading the book, I had a negative opinion of the book because I knew it was about pirates (which was wrong of me).  But, I have to say, I have loved the adventure. I shall now return to reading JK Rowling’s book ‘The Causal Vacancy’ – which I was half way through.
Finally, I have two writers meeting this week, where I shall be reading the opening exert of TFD – this will be the first feedback that I’ll be receiving so fingers crossed the groups like what they hear.
Remember you can follow my journey on Twitter @odwyer_author  - Enjoy!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New blood, Inspiration and fairies

Morning folks, I’m hoping you’re all happy and healthy. I am the former, but not the latter given the horrific cold that I’ve picked up. But it’ll come in handy as an excuse for a day of quiet writing.

I returned to school after the holidays so it’s back to the juggling game again. Sometimes, I forget just how much energy it takes to be doing the dual existence – which is what most people have to do before they are published, and some afterwards. It’s almost as if my writing life only gets the spare end of the day energy, which is the last in the tank and the day job takes the premium  - oh, how wonderful it would be if it were the other way around. Anyway, less of my moans.

I had two writers meeting this week. Wednesday, the Mad Hatters met, Mal Dewhirst returned after a short absence due to poor health, so it was great to see him and have his contribution.  Thursday saw the return of the Grace Dieu Writers’ where we were delighted to receive three new members – always a bonus for any group as it brings fresh blood and ideas into the mix. All three had very different writing styles and their attendance perked the whole group up – which was lovely.

I’ve started the New Year with fresh eyes looking for opportunities regards my writing – I mentioned Simon Whalley’s book ‘The Positively Productive Writer’ which provides a ‘spring clean’ to my muddled brain. Anyway, I’m opting to increase my work with quarterly inventories and reflections scattered throughout the diary. It’ll give me time to focus upon my output but also reassess and reflect on where the work is being sent.

Word counter widgets – have you noticed that they are increasing each time you visit? Such a simple little tool and yet they have motivated me so much knowing that you guys are viewing them too. But how many other little motivations do I use? Quite a few when I think about it. I’ve always kept a diary since I was a teenager and each day I add in details regards the writing tasks I’ve completed. I’m a strong believer in routine/habit followed by mini rewards – it trains my brain to flip into an automatic work mode as soon as I sit at my desk. I use a lot of visual reminders too, like little notes and objects about my desk which remind me of my dream. The dream if you’re new to this blog is to have a novel published. Simple.

Last week I also had to write an essay on Barrie’s Peter Pan – for my university course. I have to admit that I have never read or seen the films of Peter Pan – I know the story but had never experienced either before now. Now, I’m a person who likes to know the background of a story, the author’s life of events and so you won’t be surprised to hear that I spent an age reading up about Barrie himself. OMG! What a sad life story. Literally from childhood their was a ‘lost boy’ an older brother whose shoes he tried to fill, then came trauma and upset in his adult life, quickly followed by the befriending and later adoption of ‘five lost boys’. It goes without saying that Peter Pan literally was an outpouring of his own fictionalized story – which is why I always hunt the life behind the writing. So, at the age of 41, I too can now answer the question ‘Do you believe in fairies?’ – Yes, but only once my essay had been completed and sent, as the little buggers didn’t turn up to help me write it.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Peter Pan, J.K.Rowling and Beginnings

Morning folks, an early update given that I’m on holiday. How have you been? Fabulous, I hope. I’ve had a great start to the New Year – I’ve managed to keep the resolutions that I’ve imposed on myself. I’ve read more, practiced my instruments more and have written everyday. Now, that in itself is a biggy for me – I rarely write everyday. I always try too but I usually fail, but for the last nine days I’ve written everyday (yes, I started that NYR before 1st Jan). I’ll try my damnedest to continue the pattern – it can only benefit my work.

As mentioned last blog, I’ve retrieved Whaley’s ‘The Positively Productive Writer’ from the bookshelf for another reading to boost the self confidence. I received a kindly tweet from the man himself after I’d mentioned it in a tweet. If you haven’t read it then I really would recommend a viewing – this year I’ve implemented his daily word count spreadsheet to see if it helps my daily writing goal (The Positively Productive Writer ISBN 978-1-84694-851-0).

As you can see my word count for my projects are increasing but I’ve had a brutal overhaul of project TFD as I suddenly felt that I’d started the story at the wrong point. This happened to me previously with ‘Her’ so, this time I had thought long and hard about the opening scene only to now disagree with myself five days in – urrggggh! Anyway, I have set about changing the first few pages, as always nothing is wasted in writing as I’ve snipped and re-knitted the written paragraphs together. Tomorrow I have an entire day in which to write so I’m looking forward to notching up a couple of thousand on the word count widget.

My Christmas read was ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by J.K. Rowling – so far I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t surprised to find her writing style so very different from the Harry Potter books – it’s a different genre so the author changes style. I have read some reviews in which she’s be slated but hey, I’m sure she isn’t worried by the negative comments. I am enjoying the detailing of a small community which I think she’s captured beautifully – maybe the critics aren’t quite aware of the diversity behind each household’s front door. I can see where her experience as a school teacher comes shining through in regards the details about school life and the pupils.

I’ve had a free week regards writing groups due to the New Year, everyone wished to start next week, so I’ll have Wednesday and Thursday groups to attend.

This week I’ve had to study the J.M. Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’ (1904) of which I knew very little about. Yesterday I spent six hours trawling through the text books and was shocked and a little saddened by the tragedy and dark side to the pantomime. Barrie’s life seems so insular and isolated in many ways and his childhood so uncaring – as always the final story evolves from the depths of the man. My next step is writing a two thousand word essay which needs to be complete by Sunday night – so I’d best get to it.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter: @odwyer-author – I’ll let you know how tomorrow’s writing day goes. Enjoy!