Archive for the ‘non possum’ Category

Second Thoughts

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Maybe I shouldn’t be taking pictures every day. Maybe I should be practising my writing instead. I need to get better than I am for me to be happy with my work, and sitting reading and doing other kinds of work might not be as good a way to get better at writing as writing would be.

Oh, but I do need a rest. I know what I want to write for the next one, but I don’t want to be sitting on my own and typing all the time just now.

I think I’m feeling a little worried because my friends are being very prolific all of a sudden. I’ve got word-count envy. Here’s a new magazine called Other by the novelist and blogger Socrates Adams. I think it’s going to be good. Bookmark it now.

Here’s an interview my friend Kim did with my other friend Tom about his new novel, The Leaping. It’s good too.

I’ve also been sorting through old interviews, short stories published on-line, guest blogs etc and deciding what I’m going to feature on my new website and what I’m going to let disappear. Reading through some of the stories linked to in the side-bar I am not so happy. I could do better now. I think I could have done better then if I’d have rested more and not been in such a rush to be a real writer.

The new website is going to be good. I’ve seen some ‘mock-ups’ so far and it looks very exciting. I will be blogging at the new website too, so soon people who read this blog will have to change their bookmarks or point their feed-readers somewhere else. Don’t worry. I will give ample and frequent warning.

I should be doing some magazines or new stories or the first draft of book three. I should be typing furiously. I feel racked with guilt.

On Compromise and Stilton Jars

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

This is a kind of follow-on to my last post, which was about working within boundaries – both as a creative writer, and as someone who works on creative writing projects and teaches creative writing to others.

It was about the way I feel that boundaries can either shape or stifle the work, and me feeling a bit uncomfortable about setting other people boundaries – even though I know I can be very creative inside some rules myself and I know that sometimes writers appreciate a brief, a nudge in the right direction, a set of guidelines to bump up against.

I still haven’t found an answer to that one – still haven’t decided how I feel, other than ‘it depends’.

This post is about compromise, which is related, I think. Doing creative work might seem to be full of kicks and freedom and a world away from the 9-5 drudge you do for a boss, but in actual fact it is often a series of compromises between what I would like to do, and what the funders require – what I think is best or most effective, and what ticks the right boxes. Sometimes this means working really creatively on developing and delivering a project that ticks everyone’s boxes (that idea of boundaries being inspiring again) and sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes is means he who pays the piper calls the tune.

I’ve not been doing freelance work (writer-for-hire) long enough to be able to tell how these compromises are going to feel to me before I start, although I’m learning that the amount of compromise involved is important to me. Because when the compromise is too much, I start to feel bad. I feel dishonest, or like I don’t want to be associated with the product because it’s too far away from the way I think it should have been done. I’ve been mainly lucky so far with this.

And what about my own writing? I can write what I like, and most of the time I do. When I was writing A Kind of Intimacy I hoped but did not expect to get it published, and that gave me a lot of freedom to write about things I didn’t think anyone else but me would be interested in. It just turned out that they were. It was lucky. I liked it. I hope it will happen again like that.

I can write what I want, please no-one but myself, and refuse to compromise. I can be playful, and I am allowed to write badly or oddly and I am allowed to write things that won’t ever be significant to anyone other than me. I’ve noticed the more I need to budge in my professional life, the more independent and wilful I need to be in my own writing.

But. But. But.

But if I want other people to read my writing, or I want it to be published, or I want to make a living doing it, or I want to win something, or if I want it reviewed, or if I want to go to festivals, or I want to get more work teaching (or any combination of these, some of which I do and don’t want in varying degrees of importance that change from day to day) there are also compromises to be made.

So far, these compromises have been small and have been the creative kind of boundaries that have felt inspiring. So I might write a story to a theme I hadn’t thought about before, or stick to a word count when if left to my own devices I’d give the story a bit longer, or take into account the submission deadlines of a competition when planning my work for the week… these things are basic. They are things that influence my creative decisions and I am fine with that.

But what about bigger compromises? How do I balance that? How do I balance being able to earn enough to pay the rent against being able to write something that feels okay to me, and feels like what I wanted to say? I could always get a real job, and write what I like without compromise. That is always open to me.

This is connected, again, to my half-hearted planning for novel number three. Annie says she’s a minority interest, like ‘folding paper birds or collecting stilton jars’.

I think my writing is a bit like that.


Thursday, December 10th, 2009

The ‘sensitive plant’, Mimosa pudica, also known as ‘humble plant’, or ‘touch-me-not’, is a source of fascination to adults and children alike. When you gently touch the narrow fern-like leaflets they almost instantaneously fold together and the leaf stalk droops. This sometimes sets off a chain reaction, with several leaf stalks falling on top of one another, causing the collapse of a whole section of foliage, or perhaps the whole plant. When left to its own devices, the plant gradually returns to normal, this taking up to about half an hour. This touch-induced movement of leaves is known scientifically as thigmonasty, and is thought to be a defensive mechanism against grazers.

(nicked from here)

Failed Novels + Tiny Stories

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I read this, this morning, and it got me out of a foul mood that has been simmering for about a week. I’ve also been enjoying the short short stories Emma Lannie has been writing during her September project.

I’m sick of my novel. SICK, I tell you. Oh well, back to the coal face. I don’t have a break scheduled in for another three weeks.

Brain Food

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Here is a list of the books I’ve read in the last month.

Richard Yates: Revolutionary Road
Sebastian Faulks: Engleby
Banana Yoshimoto: Lizard
Yaba Badoe: True Murder
David Ebershoff: The 19th Wife

Here is a list of things I want to find out during September:

The correct names for parts of boats
Rates of decomposition in corpses and things that affect this
Average sea temperature in Morecambe Bay
Procedure at a press conference
Procedures when casting and filming crime reconstruction videos


Monday, December 15th, 2008

I’m feeling a bit better now. I bought some new trousers and ironed them with scented ironing water.

My computer at home is unplugged. I haven’t picked up a pen outside work for over a week now.

I didn’t destroy anything. I Flirted With The Idea. That seemed to be enough.

I had some nice emails. A friend told me that Dostoevsky burned the first draft of Crime and Punishment. That made me feel better. Thank you.

My friend threw a wet towel at me as I languished in bed. He said I needed to get up and take a shower and stop moaning. I did. That made me feel better. Thank you.

I have some excellent ideas for the final editing tweaking of Cold Light.

Number three came to me a few days ago, almost fully formed. I’m excited again.

Also, BT agree that I don’t owe them any money. They owe me money. I have a credit from them. I should have new shiny tinterwebs at home before Christmas. I am going to spend the birthday of Jesus catching up on my emails.


Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Chris has got new business cards. I like them. I want some too. Mine would say:

I am just not feeling like reading or writing blogs or emails or books at the moment. I don’t feel like chatting or going out for drinks or doing the washing up. The laundry and hoovering hold no appeal for me either. I don’t like listening to the radio and I don’t feel like looking at a magazine. I am not tempted by ebay, Amazon, web forums, the Observer, my fountain pen or the bag of walnuts in my kitchen cupboard. I usually enjoy planning the death of my Landlord, driving very slowly in front of people who beep me at traffic lights, and bouncing on my bed with shoes on. I’m going to give these things a rest for a while. I am trying not to neglect the cacti family, but they are used to me and don’t need much. I am mainly indifferent to most of the people and things that I know.

I am not bored and I am not miserable. I am hibernating. My chatting and writing brains are tired. They are lying down under a brown cardigan with their feet pressed against a pillow. They are sighing and chomping and making sleeping noises. The light is hurting their eyes. The chatting and writing brains want a ‘do not disturb sign’, but they can’t be bothered to make it.

Sorry. I will be back soon.

Assignment 3: Doomed Lovers

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I am thinking that because of things like the tinternets there are probably people all over the world who are writing emails to each other and being friends. Probably there are more people ‘networking’ for ‘career’ reasons on MyArse and Facebook, but in amongst all those hands clutching at each others clothes and tugging for attention there are probably people who are just chatting but using their computers and things like Skype instead of meeting people in pubs and bars and cooking classes and public transport.

They probably talk about ordinary things, and worry about typos and homophones and bad punctuation the same way as people in person worry about accidentally spitting on their clothes when they laugh, or if their shoes are any good, or if they secretly smell but no-one has ever told them.

I am thinking this is probably where shy people come into their own. IM and emails and blogs and things are very useful for making friends if you are shy. And if you have problems with people being in the same room as you and looking at your private things, touching your stuff or staying longer than you wanted them to, the tinterwebs solve all these things.

I am thinking that there are probably lots of people meeting and being friends and being curious about what it would feel like to put the other person’s hair in her mouth or smell the clothes he has just taken off, or touch the things on her desk or see what his couch sounds like when you lie down on it.

I think this means the number of people walking around feeling a bit bad and doomed today is more than before the tinterwebs. But I could be wrong.

This was going to be The Story About Doomed Lovers that Karissa asked for. I would give it a 3/10. I am sorry Karissa. I have lost my blogging mojo. But the other writing is going good and I bought a typewriter a bit like yours to do more of it on. Karissa is doing something a little bit like The Essentials for Life Project.

Please Give Me A Reason To Li(v)e

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Right. I think because I had a holiday from blogging because of not having the internet and being on holiday for a bit I am now out of the habit of blogging. I am sick of it. It is like having a pet you can’t forget or someone will get the RSPCA onto you. Like it is a plant it would be morally wrong to knock over and hide behind a wall.

So I am lacking in ‘inspiration’ for blogging. So I will not. For a bit. Until I get more inspirations.

Although I might do a photoshoot of this jigsaw I am doing about Deep Sea Fish. And maybe a picture of a shawl I am knitting.

I read The Raw Shark Texts while I was on holiday. I wanted a book sort of about the sea to take with me. I really liked it. I especially liked the ending because I couldn’t decide if it was sad or not. But then the very end of the ending was a picture, which looked sort of happy. So I thought it must be a happy ending. I’ve been studying endings recently because they aren’t my strong point.

I’ve also been reading lots and lots of A L Kennedy’s short stories. I really like them too. I’ve had good luck with choosing books recently. Even book-choosing professionals sometimes get it wrong.

So now if you feel like doing a guest post for this blog or giving me a subject to write a blog post about I will. I quite like the idea of a guest post. You can write whatever you like. You can pretend to be me and make all kinds of confessions. I’d really like that.

Otherwise I’ll probably just be quiet for a bit. Unless I need to plug something.

My Life is Going To Be Like This #99

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I am going to persevere at my job and get the library working again. I am going to find all the missing CDs and have an error free catalogue to be proud of. I will teach everyone to do exhausted requests properly. The inter-library loans will never go missing again. I will never have my lack of ironed trousers pointed out to me during meetings, and I will not fall down and hurt my knee in front of my borrowers ever again. In My Life.

I am going to give up my job and claim lots of benefits and annoy everyone who thinks bad things about single mothers. I will write works of staggering complexity.

I am going to give up writing and take up sleeping instead. I will dream the most interesting dreams in the world and have hash browns and soft boiled eggs for breakfast every morning. In fact, I will only eat breakfast.

I am going to give up washing up and doing the laundry. I will abandon half-hearted attempts to save the planet and eat off paper plates and wear disposable clothes. I will stop making the beds and feeding the cat and hoovering up. I will throw away the radio and all my books and spend my days sitting in my brown chair with my eyes half closed, making patterns out of the woodchip.

I will give up my job and get a new one. I will make my house into a shop and sell all my things. I will sell everything that needs to be washed or fed or dusted or cooked or tidied up. I will remember to sort out the car insurance. I will sell the car.

I will go to the supermarket at lunchtime and spend lots of money on christmas decorations to make myself feel better. I will worry about where I am going to store them for the other ten months of the year. I will use all the halloween decorations on a second christmas tree. I will tell lies about Santa Claus and the Man In the Moon to extract good behaviour.

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