I’ve been busy, write?

Well, look at that, it’s been ages since I made a blog post. I don’t really have any excuses except for that one that everyone always has ‘I’ve been busy’. Well, I have, but I really should have updated this blog more. I guess another reason that I had no updates is because I had no writing exercises to post from my masters course as the first year has now come to an end.

I spent most of May being very busy, coming towards the end of the first year of the course. As part of Liverpool’s ‘Writing on the Wall’ literary festival, they held a ‘Pulp Idol competition’, and I was encouraged to enter by the Master’s course leader. It was a completely nerve-wracking experience. I may stand up in front of a group and talk on a daily basis, but when it comes to reading out my own work it’s completely different. No matter how much I tried to convince myself I would be okay and it wasn’t too different to lecturing, I still got nervous. In the end I think it went quite well, I got up, read well and, I believe, answered the questions from the panel of judges well, but unfortunately I didn’t make it through. In fact, no one that had entered that heat from my class got through, which is disappointing. I did continue to follow the rest of the competition, going to the next heat and final, and I was pleased when my good friend Rob Knipe came runner up in the competition. Look out for his name as he’s now in contact with some agents and with any luck there will be some well written, hilarious sci fi and fantasy books coming to your shelves soon.

The rest of may I spent frantically trying to get ready for the end of the first year of the course. As per usual we had an assignment due. I used mine as an excuse to get the first part of a novel I am writing about the Great War done. It was a great idea at first, a hugely rich period of time and I definitely feel I have a story to tell (more about that in the future. I don’t want to give too much away now do I?), but I was somewhat naive to the sheer amount of research I would need to do. Of course I was aware of the fact of research and I had already been reading about the subject before I had the idea for the novel, but when I wrote something I had to make sure it was correct. The first scene is also set in Liverpool before the war, so I had to make sure that the feel and surroundings were correct. Everything I read unearthed more questions and more lines of research, and as usual with research it grew larger and larger over time. Thankfully I was able to get a edited draft in, and it’s in a state I’m quite happy with. It’s no means perfect, and there will definitely be some factual errors that till need ironing out, but it’s a start and I feel it’s quite compelling. Hopefully it will see the light of day.

So what else have I been doing that has kept me so busy? Well, amongst all that I was learning to drive. I had taken two tests when I was 18, but the examiners in Eastbourne, where I lived at the time, were the most grumpy people I have ever met (which is saying something for Eastbourne) and I failed them both for silly little reasons. So I gave up until now. I had forgotten how much time it took up, not just physically, but also mentally. Anyone that says it’s just two hours a week is underestimating. I may have had one hour lessons the first time, I can’t exactly remember, but two hours are intense. I had to repass the theory test, so that required preparation and the closer I got to the practical test the more nervous I became, and the less I could concentrate on anything else. Thankfully, on the 5th June I passed and I now sit here with a shiny pink driving licence (now to get a car…). But I have to make a note, I couldn’t have done it without the excellent tuition of Autonomy Driving School. If you’re learning near Liverpool then I thoroughly recommend Jan.

After passing, I then spent the entirety of the week, when not at work, recording guitars for the Lazarus Syndrome album. I’m a bit behind on this as everyone else (bar the vocals) has done their part. But, I’ve been busy, right? We all could do with a few more hours in the day. If you want more info on that check us out on Facebook.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope to have more updates for you soon. I’m currently waiting on someone to get in touch with me on a very important project, but I can’t really talk about that yet. I’m off to write…

Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Writer?

I have just changed my Twitter profile to read ‘writer’ rather than ‘aspiring writer.’ You may think this is a small, trivial thing and perhaps it is. But to me its a sign of confidence. In the first class of my masters, last week, we talked about finally having the courage to call yourself a writer. Because that’s what we are. By calling yourself a writer it doesn’t have to intrinsically apply that worrying prefix ‘professional-,’ but you are a writer if you write, right? I forgot to change it last week, but I’ve done it now and strangely it feels encouraging. The next step is to add that prefix. ‘Professional-writer’. The dream. 

 

I have just, also, finished the opening for a story I am submitting for an anthology that will hopefully be published next year. It’s a long way to go, but I intend to go the whole way this time. The editor wanted to see my first one and a half pages and that’s fine, I’m happy to provide so that he can check it and so that I can get advice as I carry on the journey of that particular story. I may tell you more about it soon.

 

This weeks class was firstly about idea generating and then openings. 

Ideas aren’t something I really struggle with. In fact I have a notepad full of stories I would like to write and an hourglass lacking in adequate sand…

But this was a nice exercise and I think it was actually very helpful for creating character conflict. We had three bags containing strips of paper with the following printed on them; one containing characters, one places and the last, actions. 

The task was to pick two characters, a place and an action and then write a very brief synopsis tying them all together in a story. The other task was not to worry about some of them being terrible stories. Which was great because some of mine were truly terrible (I think I wrote the word ‘Xfactor’ for one of them, eesh!) But I did come up with a couple of potentials. 

After that we talked about openings, how to grab your reader’s attention. It’s not something that I have thought about before, so it was nice to take a look at. I think a good way is with a startling revelation, but I would say that that could end up being overused. It needs to fit the story. I usually, I believe, start with character action, or description, which I must admit, isn’t always that grabbing. Something to think about when I write my next story. 

The homework was to chose one of the stories from the exercise and think about where you would open that story. When you start, beginning, middle or end determines what scenes and actions take place in that story and also how much the reader knows. We’re expected to write the opening and hand it in next week.

For mine I chose the story where I drew ‘My father’, which I took license with to be ‘the characters father;’ ‘The rival,’ ‘a disused cinema,’ and ‘the hand that feeds.’ With this I have come up with some kind of gangster story, don’t ask me why. I have already started writing it, but I may post what I submit next week.

Thanks for reading.