Monday, 18 February 2013

Challenge: complete

Morning folks - as you can see my TFD word count has moved from 21,607 - yay! Since Saturday morning I've managed to have two writing sessions per day and I'll continue to update the word count as I go. I'm going to put a figure forward as my goal for this week, so I will be delighted if I can make it to 35,000 by next Saturday. Challenge on!

So far: Sunday - 2245 words / 23,852 total
           Monday - 4502 words / 28,354 total
           Tuesday - 3818 words / 32,172 total
           Wednesday - 4024 words / 36,196 total  (goal smashed a little early)
           Thursday - 3850 words / 40046 total
           Friday - 2033 words / 42,179 total
           Saturday - 1128 words / 43,307 total

Follow on: 23rd February

Morning folks – I join you after a small writing session of an hour that brought my total words count to 43,307 – which is a staggering 21,900 words in one week. That is a first for me, I have never managed to write so much in such a short time.

I know with the NaNoWriMo, last November, that I completed a lot each day, but I can honestly say, I have surprised myself and surpassed my expectation. My goal was to reach 35,000 – that seems a long way back from where I currently am. I have another writing session planned for later today, so fingers crossed that goes just as well. Who knows what tonight’s final word count will be!

So, what have I done during my half term holiday – simple, I’ve written. I have managed other things as well but my focus has been my work. I’ve snuck a couple of hours reading ‘Before I go to sleep’ by SJ Watson, which I’ve found absolutely riveting. I think it’s been good having a reading genre completely different to the one I’m writing. I’ve heard many authors say they can’t read when they write but I’ve found it helps to disassociate myself for a short time.

I attended a writers’ group on Wednesday, a small gathering of four, but with plenty to talk about. I didn’t take anything to read so critiqued the others’ poems and short story. There was much talk regards the books we’re each reading, I’d taken BIGTS with me, one other book produced was an autobiography by H.E. Bates (author of ‘The Darling Buds of May’)– which is apparently very, very funny. I’ve since learnt that Bates was a midlands boy, living at Northampton and much of his work includes the midlands’ countryside.

I‘ve watched a plethora of films: Ghostbusters, 27 dresses, Dream house and Batman – that’s like two months of films for me watched in one week! Honestly, I’m certainly not a film buff, preferring the written word to any film version.

And finally, my plans for this week. I return to the day job on Monday, so it’s back to the juggling act. My aim is simple - to write everyday.

I managed to Tweet my progress throughout the week – so fingers cross I can continue to do so . So, please follow me on Twitter for regular up-dates at @odwyer_author – enjoy! 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Holiday, coincidence and writing plans

Evening folks – an early update as I had spare time on a Friday afternoon. The holidays have begun and I have a plan for an entire week, laid before me. Honestly, I have. More about my plans later, but first my week.

Last Saturday me and hubby went to see ‘The Mousetrap’ – I can’t ruin it, so I’ll just say I loved it and thought the production and set design were great. I was so engrossed the performance was over before I knew it. I thoroughly recommend it. A little incident occurred in the row in front of ours so I came away with an idea for a short story as well – bonus!

Sunday saw me wading about in a university essay, which had to be put aside before completion, using the Harry Potter and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry text – I shall complete this tomorrow and send.

The rest of my week has been filled with odds and ends of writing – little snippety bits that have swum about my head for so long that they’ve clogged up the system. But, I knew that I had a free work week coming up and so needed to plan for the bigger project – which I hope will take up my time.

This week coincidence has played a vital part. In my current project TFD there is a particular sport which I’d had difficulty researching and getting hands-on experience - low and behold, out of the blue I was offered the opportunity to attend a day’s course. You guessed it I jumped at it, though I had to smile when the organiser said ‘I really didn’t think this was up your street.’ I smiled sweetly, if only you knew!

So, my plans for this week – I intend to dedicate my time to project TFD. My word widget seems to have been stuck at the 21,000 word for a few days, while I cleared the decks. I intend to polish and refine some of the writing I did last week. I have a writer’s meeting on Wednesday and plenty of university study to squeeze into the remaining space. All in all, a packed week for me – but, hey, that’s what I love.

Remember you can follow my week on Twitter @odwyer_author – I promise, I shall post morning, noon and night.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Mousetrap, musings and promises

Morning folks – boy, are the weeks flying by. I’ve had a strange writing week with has led to a lot of self reflection regards my writing.

For starters, I was asked by a class of pupils why would anyone write a poem? I had twenty five faces awaiting an answer - I literally drew from my own personal experiences. For me the reason is the same reason I take a photograph – to capture a moment or a celebration, with the added bonus of thought and emotion. Hearing myself explain felt like a resounding synchronization of my own understanding and in some way justification of why I’ve spent time crafting poetry. I then asked them why anyone would want to spend hours chasing a pixilated image across a screen without an end product to show for the time dedicated? They couldn’t answer my question, whereas I had convinced them with mine.

Like many writers I juggle a full time career along side my writing so have to seek out opportunities and time slots in my busy week for my creative work. This has been a struggle for a number of years but I feel that as each year passes I’ve become quite an expert at spotting musing moments.

  • Daily dog walks
  • Lunch and coffee breaks at work
  • Playground break duty at work
  • Any queue that I have to join
  • Car/train/bus journey where I’m a passenger
  • Cooking/cleaning/ironing tasks

Without snatching such musing moments I literally wouldn’t produced what I do when I sit down to write. I ensure that I have the ideas laid out in full in my mind before my fingers touch the keyboards. The effects of musing are seen via my word count - I regularly produce a thousand words for each hour of typing. Try it, use your wasted time slots for musing and see your word count increase at the laptop.

I am studying a children’s literature course through university which focuses upon the aims of children’s writers. One spectrum that is examined is ‘instruction v delight’ – is the story written to instruct readers or to delight the readers? Several times the other students have passed opinion on what a specific author was thinking and aiming at – I can honestly say I disagree with them, I think the writers craft a story that they wish to tell, a story that bubbles under the surface for a surmountable amount of time until it is produced. As a writer I have never planned to instruct any reader, delight yes, but to consciously instruct - no, never. Though, yet again the course has brought to my attention another beautifully written children’s book ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’ by Mildred Taylor. Taylor crafts a story about African American children living within the Mississippi of the 1930s – Puffin publication describe it as a modern classic - wow, a powerful tale. It almost reminds me of a younger person’s version of ‘Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mocking bird’.

Today, I have to begin an essay for my university course, based on the books ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone’, ‘Tom’s midnight garden’ and ‘Roll of thunder, hear my cry’ – it may take a while as I have so much to say. Tomorrow my plan is simple – to write all day.

And finally - tonight, I am going to the theatre to see Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ which is celebrating 60 years of staging and performance. I’ve looked forward to it all week, regular followers know Christie is one of my guilty pleasures; I love nothing more than curling up with one of her crime novels.

A huge hello to my overseas followers, your visits out number my British followers three fold each week – so thank you for taking the time to read my humble postings. I’ve been a little quiet on Twitter recently but promise to step up my tweets at @odwyer_author – enjoy!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The selfish giant, snobbery and research

Afternoon folks, I’ve just arrived back from a university tutorial where we discussed the importance of place in relation to Pearce’s ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’, Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’ and Ramsone’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Today, I’ve come away giggling at how snobbish and opinionated some can be regards literature. I am studying children’s literature so have had to reread many of the classics, which has been a delight, but every tutorial the same few students make fools of themselves by trying to convince the rest of us that their ‘high brow opinion’ is the only opinion to be reasonably upheld. No. I will argue for Blyton, Dahl, Pearce, Rowling and Pullman in just the same way that I will argue for Dickens, Stevenson, Aulcot, Bronte and Swift. Each author crafted the book that they wished, or were able, to create in their era – I’m sure they didn’t try to preempt your closed mind in relation to their setting, language, plot line and characters. It seem to be fashionable to be the person who disagrees with anything pleasurable to come out of children’s literature. Enjoy it for what it is, a children’s book. I personally, just take delight if a child has a book open and is reading – don’t lecture them on that too.

So, my week has been very quiet - I haven’t had any writers’ meetings. I have literally spent the week studying, mentioned above, or reading Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ - which I finished last night. I must say, I enjoyed it. I know a female colleague at work gave up on the book last week as she didn’t like any of the characters and couldn’t stand the grimness of the plot. I agreed with her, I didn’t like the characters either, but I could appreciate that maybe I wasn’t meant to like them. Yes, the subject is grim, but hey I wanted to know what happened to the community. Several times this morning my mind has flicked back through the characters and the ending – I’m satisfied. This was my Christmas read that has taken a lot longer than I had anticipated, but as I mentioned earlier I do have course/study books as well as reading books.

My next reading book is Ness’ ‘The Monster Call’ which won the Carnegie medal for children’s literature. But, my main reading book at the mo has to be… Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which celebrated 200 years of publication last Monday, 28th January. I plucked it from the bookcase on Sunday evening in preparation of Monday evening, when I curled beneath a fleece and drifted back to the Georgian era. If you haven’t read it, why not?

I re-watched the film ‘Wilde’ this week, as hubby had never sent it before. In a moment of inspiration I downloaded Wilde’s short stories and discovered that he had written two stories ‘The Happy Prince’ and ‘The selfish giant’, that I remember from my childhood. Both stories were shown in animation form on BBC2 – so I was delighted to discover a little bit of his magic had lodged in my memory.

Writing wise, I have had to spend time researching certain field sports, so have spent my free time in the library. My aim is week is to produce more chapters having had a research week.

Remember you can always follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author – enjoy!