Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Merry Christmas - now back to writing!

I left it to the last minute to get my B1 entry in to Eurofiction. Some how the two weeks allowed slipped away and I found myself finishing my story at 3am on Boxing Day! I'd had a couple of ideas during the 2 weeks allowed but they managed to become either too convoluted or too confusing so I kept putting off writing my story.

The deadline to get my story in was 7pm Boxing Day. Sounds reasonable? Yep, but I knew I was going to spend most of Boxing day travelling so I had to get my story written and sent in before I went to bed on Christmas Day. So, I sat down at my parents' computer at 11.30pm, with only the vaguest of ideas in my head and started to type. At 3am I was done and sent it in. How it will do I have absolutely no idea but I know it's probably riddled with typos. Still, I promised myself I'd get a story in for every deadline and, so far, I have. 6/10 done. 4 more to go!

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Eurofiction A5 Results

Ha! They liked it! My A5 story scored 21 points which I'm pleased with (and has pushed my ranking up to 15th out of 48). I've already edited and tightened the story and I think I'm going to sub it to a womag in the new year. I still have two womag submissions out there and no feedback so far. Unfortunately I didn't record when I sent them out but another sub I sent out at the same time came back as a rejection a month or so ago. I think I'll give them until the end of January and then sub them elsewhere. Note to self: keep sub records UP-TO-DATE!

The next Eurofiction entry has to be in by Boxing Day which is going to be tough. I don't have an idea for a story yet, but no change there (ALL the stories I've subbed so far have either been written and sent in hours before the deadline or, at most, 48 hours before).

Monday, 11 December 2006

14 Day Drought Quenched

Hoorah! Writing drought over (for now). After my miserable 'I can't be arsed' post the other day I'm glad to announce that I've actually written something! Yes, after fourteen days of writing wilderness I pulled my finger out tonight and wrote my Task A5 entry for Eurofiction. I so nearly, nearly gave this task a miss but the thought of my overall ranking falling even lower than it currently is was more than I could bear so, despite not having a single idea in my head, I sat down with the laptop this evening and told myself to 'just bloody write something'. Slowly, slowly an idea started to form and, just over 2,000 words later, I finished it.

I'm still superstitious about saying anything about it until after the scores are announced so I'm saying nothing. Well, apart from this, the judges will either love it or hate it. Either way, I know there's a market for this kind of story so, unless it comes first in this heat (ahem, yeah right) I'm going to polish it and sub it.

I will finish Eurofiction. I will I will. I'm going to complete all 10 tasks come hell or high water*.

*Apologies for the cliche-fest that is this post but I'm all worded out.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Pre-Xmas Blahs!

Not feeling very motivated at the moment. I have 14 flashes left over from CiN that need polishing and subbing. Can I be arsed to do it? Nope.

I have to submit task A5 to Eurofiction on Tuesday can I be arsed to do it? Nope.

I need to write and crit for my other writing group. Can I be arsed? Nope.

I'm not sure what's happened. Either CiN sucked me dry or the internet has sucked out all my creativity as I trawl its depth for Christmas presents (this year I've done 90% of my Christmas shopping online), but either way I'm having trouble putting my 'writing head' (ala Worzel Gummidge) back on. There seem to be so many other things to think about at this time of year that writing just isn't getting a look in (which is slightly worrying).

Oh, btw, my last Eurofiction entry did better than the previous two - it got 7 points - but didn't exactly blow the competition out of the water! I'm going to try and get an entry in for A5 but my head is a bit empty on ideas at the moment. I think it's going to have to be a case of sit down, face empty screen, search for a character and start writing.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Children in Need Results

The Children in Need results are now final. Well done to Cedric (1st), Fleur (2nd) and Vanessa (3rd). Two of my stories (one of which, Six Uses for a Hedgehog, is in the CiN anthology) made it to the final 12 which was wonderful. The Nest even got voted first by two different people which made my day, but wasn't quite enough to get me into the top 3 placings.

Still, that means the story has 'legs' so to speak so now I just need to decide if I want to write it into a longer story (it's only 665 words) or cut it into a 500 word flash. I haven't got a ton of stories available to sub to comps at the moment (most of the good ones have already been published) so it would make sense to write it into a longer story - I just need to give it time to sink into my subconsious so my brain can work out where it should go next. Ditto with another flash that scored quite well but wasn't published.

I mentioned in the last post that I finished my Eurofiction entry last night. What I forgot to mention was that I wrote another story on Saturday night for the current (closing on 30th November) Slingink Autumn Inspirations challenge. I really didn't think I could come up with a story that 'captured the essence of autumn' but an image came to mind and then I was off. Even if the story doesn't win the £15 book voucher I think it may be suitable to sub to a women's magazine. I'm a bit late to sub them autumn stories, however, so I may have to wait until summer next year before I sub it.

Autumn (winter?) nights seem to be working for me at the moment. It's so cold and dark outside that it makes sense to stay indoors where it's warm and cosy and put my writing hat on.

It feels good to be writing so regularly. I've written over 15,000 words (including the 18 CiN flashes and 3 additional stories) this month which is unheard of for me!

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Eurofiction Task A4 - done!

I finally wrote my A4 entry for Eurofiction. I was going to leave it until Monday but then realised I'm up off to London on Monday night for a facial (a much appreciated birthday gift from a friend who knows I've never had a facial. It's of the 'anti-stress' variety. I've got no idea what that involves but it sounds good to me) so decided to get it done today instead. I struggled, at first, to get any words down on the page but as I continued writing it started to get easier and easier until the story wrote itself.

Being the supersticious kind of person I am I've noticed that the last two times I've tried to predict my Eurofiction marks on this blog I've ended up with '3's each time. This time I'm saying nothing (and hoping that biting my tongue and crossing my fingers will work some magic on my score). I'll report back when I know.

Oh - and thank you to lovely Sonny from writersdock who left me a comment (my first comment - that's TWO people I know of who are reading this blog) to congratulate me on my Helen Mullin win. If the story hadn't been awarded second place in writersdock I wouldn't have had the confidence to sub it elsewhere. Go and visit www.writersdock.co.uk now people. It's free, it's a vibrant community of writers and if they're running a comp any time soon - give it a go!

Anyone else reading this please feel free to comment and say hello. You don't even have to use your real name!

Friday, 24 November 2006

Helen Mullin 1st Prize

Earlier this evening I went to the Post Office to pick up some post. One of the packages contained an anthology of stories from the Helen Mullin awards, an envelope containing a cheque for £100 and a certificate saying I'd been awarded 1st place!

Am very chuffed. The same story "Burnt-Ochre Heart" came second in a Writersdock competition earlier this year but wasn't published and didn't win any money so I thought I'd try it somewhere else. So glad I did!

The money will come in very useful with Christmas round the corner and the certificate will...eventually... be framed (I have plans to frame all my certificate and put them on the wall next to my desk - as an attempt to convince me, during periods of self doubt, that I CAN write!)

Fantastic news.

In other news I also found out today that "Six Uses for a Hedgehog" and "Words in a Black Bin" have both been published in the Children in Need Writeathon 2006 anthology (titled "Brain Dead" which just about sums up how I felt at the end of the 27 hours). I've ordered 10 copies so if anyone wants a copy send me an email or leave a comment here. They'll be about £3-£3.50 each.

Oh - and the Skrev Press anthology also arrived this morning. It's called "Pastoral Pastimes" and is a really lovely little book. Available on Amazon.co.uk soon!

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Children in Need critting DONE!

Yes! 5 out of 18 of my stories/poems have got into the 100+ score folder (2 by the skin of their teeth). This means nothing to anyone reading this but everything to me (it means they were deemed 'quite good'). The rest have ended up in the 90+ folder and a few are languishing in the 'splits' folder (which means some people think they are good, others think they're less impressive).

With about 40 stories in the 100+ folder I'm by no means assured a place in the final anthology but I'm crossing my RSI'd fingers.

Also good news is that some of the flashes can be re-written into longer stories. I did that last year with 'Under the Waves' and 'Producing Piglets' which got me, respectively, a first place and a highly commended prize in two different comps.

Current mood: hopeful

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Eurofiction A3 Result

I am depressed to admit that my Eurofiction story only scored me another 3-pointer and I have slipped down the rankings from 3rd after task 1, to 12th after task 2 to 17th now. Scoring so well after the first task had me buzzing but two crappy scores one after another have left me a bit low. That said *rallies self* there are still SEVEN more stories to write so I may yet make up for lost ground. No hope in hell of winning this thing (the leader is on 80-something and I'm on a measley 33), but I'd like to write some more stories that are actually marketable (I entered the first one into a comp. If it doesn't place I'll sub it elsewhere).

To lighten the mood a little...

My Children in Need stories are doing quite well. Most of them are scoring in the mid to late 90s (none in the 80s thank god) and a few are averaging over 100 which is nice (one is even over 105 which puts me in with a chance *holds breath* of making the anthology). That said nothing is definite. I'll just have to cross my fingers and wait and see.

More good news...

Skrev-Press got in touch yesterday to ask for my address so they could send me something. "The A-Z of Clouds" is to be published their 'Pastoral' anthology. Yeah! When I checked their website I saw that the previous anthology has an ISBN number. That means it may be a proper, proper book. Woo! Will now be stalking the postman and running downstairs everytime the front door rings (although twice recently I've done that to find no-one there. When I return to my flat I find next door's cat sitting guiltily at the top of the stairs. I'm no DIY expert and there are two bare wires from the doorbell sticking out the bottom of my door. Me thinks the cat is playing knock down ginger and pressing the wires together!)

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Children in Need - Done!!

We've finished! And I'm pooped! Great feeling of elation though. It was a real slog at times and a real buzz the rest of the time. I've written a lot of crap but some of the stories really sucked me in and I had to hurry to get them finished before the hour was up.

It looks like, as a group of about 20, we've written 330 stories and poems in just 30 hours.

I wrote 18 of them - beating last year's 15! In total I wrote 10,629 words. More than double what I normally write in a month!

Tomorrow the crits start. That'll be a tiring job in itself.

I can't publish my story titles at the moment as critting is done anonymously but this is how my last 30 hours worked out:

Thursday
6pm - 7pm: Story written - 724 words
7pm - 8pm: Story written - 445 words
8pm - 9pm: ***** 1 hour break *****
9pm - 10pm: Story written - 498 words
10pm - 11pm: Story written - 315 words
11pm - 12am: Story written - 703 words

Friday
12am - 1am: Story written - 594 words
1am - 2am: Poem written - 169 words
2am - 3am: ***** blocked, wrote nothing *****
3am - 11am: ***** BED! *****
11am - 12pm: Story written - 615 words
12pm - 1pm: Story written - 768 words
1pm - 2pm: Story written - 554 words
2pm - 3pm: Story written - 561 words
3pm - 4pm: Story written - 862 words
4pm - 5pm: ***** 1 hour break ****
5pm - 6pm: Story written - 960 words
6pm - 7pm: Poem written - 202 words
7pm - 8pm: Story written - 424 words
8pm - 9pm: Story written - 619 words
9pm - 10pm: ***** 1 hour break ****
10pm - 11pm: Story written - 968 words
11pm - 12am: Story written - 678 words

Midnight - The end!

Friday, 17 November 2006

Children in Need - in progress

Well, it's 2:53am on Friday morning and I've been writing for Children in Need since 6pm on Thursday. Okay - that's not strictly true but it is 80% true!

Since 6pm Thursday I've written to seven hourly prompts - writing six flashes and a poem. I took an hour off at 8pm to watch I'm a Celebrity (sssh!) and for the last hour 2am-3am I haven't been able to make a story stick. I started 3 different flashes but didn't get anywhere with any of them.

VERY tired now. Am going to wait for the 3am prompts to see if any of them appeal. If they do I'll write - if they don't I'll sleep. How people who are writing for 30 hours are managing I have no idea!

Last year I wrote 15 flashes. This year I'm trying to write even more. If I can squeeze out one more flash or poem before I go to bed I'll hit the half-way mark for 16 flashes. My personal aim is to try and write 18...but we'll see.

Time to log off blogger and check the 3am prompts!

Monday, 13 November 2006

Eurofiction Task 3 - Done!

Hooray - 3 stories down, 7 to go.

When I first started this competition/challenge I thought "One story every two weeks - no problem." In actual fact it's been a lot harder than I thought to write a story that often (and to a set of prompts). So far I've used the first week to think and mull over a few ideas and the second to get writing. I started this 3rd story on Friday before I went away for the weekend and finished it tonight. I'm quite pleased with it. It's in the second person, something I haven't done before. I don't think it's up there with the first story I wrote, but it's - I think - better than the second one.

This Thursday and Friday is the Children in Need writeathon. Last year I raised £200 and wrote 15 stories over 27 hours. This year I'm aiming to raise and write more. I've raised £266 so far so it's looking good - now I just have to write the stories. I'm a bit nervous because I know how tiring it is and there's that ever present fear of getting blocked. Still - I'm excited too - there's a great feeling of comraderie on the night and the buzz you get when you send in story after story is amazing.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Eurofiction Task 2 - Result

Well it seems I was spot on with thinking there was something not right with my second story for Eurofiction - it only scored 3 points! That makes me 12th out of 48 on the leaderboard right now.

I'm a bit disappointed but it just goes to show that my intuition about my stories is often right. I get a feeling when it's good and a...feeling...when it's bad. The prompts for Task 3 are out now and I'm floundering around a bit, looking for a good story idea. I've still got over a week to come up with one so I'm not getting despondent yet. I was bound to get a couple of disappointing scores during Eurofiction so better I get one sooner rather than later (I can only get better for Task 3...tho' actually I could do worse. There's the scary prospect of a null points of course!).

Anyway, onwards...

Monday, 30 October 2006

Eurofiction Task 2 - Done!

I have to admit I struggled a bit with Task 2 of Eurofiction. I wrote just over 1,000 words to one prompt and then scrapped it and started writing to another prompt. Nearly 2,500 words later and I've finished it and subbed it.

Am I happy with it?

Yes and No. Yes because I think the characters work and there's conflict, crisis and resolution in the plot. No because...well...it just didn't flow as seamlessly as I wanted. There's something missing from this story and I'm too close to it to work out what it was. It's not a bad story per se but I know it could be 100x better. This is the only second sci-fi story I've EVER written (the first being for Task 1) and I think I've got a lot to learn about the genre. As usual when I write a story I skimped on description and concentrated on dialogue (it's what I most enjoy writing) but I think it may leave the reader in a bit of void when it comes to the environment. Also, on re-reading, the opening isn't as strong as it should be.

I don't think this story will score nil points (at least I hope it doesn't) but I really don't think I'll make the top 5 stories this time. Anyway, onwards...

The details of Task 3 will be announced this evening so it's time to put this story behind me and move on to the next one.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Eurofiction Task 1 - Result

The results of the first Eurofiction Task were published yesterday. Out of 48 people I did... very well! I'm not sure if we are allowed to tell people where we placed but as some people have used their real names (I used a pen name) I imagine we are. I came third! I'm very chuffed and the 27 points (30 for first, 28 for second, 27 for third. What happened to 29?) I gained are looking very healthy on the leaderboard.

There are still nine tasks to complete (Task 2 has to be in next Tuesday) so I have to, fingers crossed, keep up this kind of standard for a while yet to stay in the running for first place (I don't think there are prizes for second and third). Anyway, last week I started writing my story for the second Task but...

a) I got bored as I was writing it
b) I wrote 1,000 words and not all that much had happened
c) I had no idea how it would end
d) I had no idea how to inject crisis into it (apart from the initial crisis)

...so I've decided to dump that idea for now. Luckily, on the train up to London last night, I came up with a new idea. It's not the same prompt as my original Task 2 story (it's another sci fi prompt - and NO I'm not turning into a geek) , but the story interests me a lot more. However, with my b'day tomorrow (day off), work on Thursday, b'day meal on Friday night and D's gig on Saturday I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to find the time to write it before next Tuesday's deadline. That said I wrote the last entry the day before the deadline so maybe I'll have to do that again.

Feeling a bit of internal pressure to make this another good one tho' and that's a bit worrying. Don't want pressure, just wanna write for fun. Anyway, let's see what happens.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Eurofiction - Task 1 complete!

Against all odds I actually managed to write a story for the Eurofiction competition - Task 1 (of 10).

There were three sets of prompts and two of them really appealled. I don't want to jeopardise my chances in the competition (or the score I'm given) by saying too much about my entry but the story I wrote was very different from the normal kind of story I write. There was something quite freeing about that. I started writing it on Monday afternoon and finally stopped typing at around 11pm. The idea wasn't totally fresh - one that's been floating around my head for a few years now but it really fitted the prompts and just had to be written. I gave it a quick proof-read today and emailed it in - a good five hours before the 7pm deadline too.

Am very chuffed. It's the first complete (and quite long) short story I've written in a while and I'm reasonably happy with it. I think the language needs some work and there may be a little too much repetition but I can work on those when/if I rewrite it (if it doesn't make it into the Eurofiction anthology). The scores for the first task will be announced in two weeks time. There are about 48 of us in the comp and the highest scoring story gets 30 points, the next 29 points, 28, 27, 26 etc down to 1 point. About eighteen stories (if we all managed to enter one for this task) will score 0 (null!) points. Cross your fingers my story scores - I'll be gutted if it doesn't!

I think the details of Task 2 are released after the deadline today so, in theory, I'll have 2 weeks to think up an idea, write the story and polish it up before submitting it. In practice I'm sure I'll just leave it till the last minute again. Ah well, it seems to work for me!

Sunday, 15 October 2006

I'm back!

I survived white water rafting, a jungle walk, leeches, an elephant ride, buses speeding perilously close to the edge of mountain roads, canoeing, crocodiles, mosquitos, bed bugs, stomach bugs and car/cow/motorbike/rickshaw crowded streets!

What an experience. So much crammed into 3 frantic weeks. It felt like we didn't stop - and we didn't. I wrote loads too - mostly about the experiences I was having but some short story ideas too. I need to look through my notebook to see if any are worth following up. I checked the internet while I was over there and got the Eurofiction prompts. I half hoped I'd write something while I was over there but only managed a couple of words of a beginning. I now have until 7pm on Tuesday to get it written. Nothing like a deadline to force me to write!

Good news and bad news when I got back. The bad news was a rejection from Woman's Weekly. They thought my story had a well worn theme but liked my writing and asked me sub other stuff. The good news was two shortlisted stories - one in the SlingInk short story comp and the other in the Helen Mullin awards and two stories accepted by Espresso Fiction (to be published in November this year and February next year). I also received an edited copy of the story I sent into the Skrev Press 'pastoral' comp saying it would be accepted into the anthology if I cut the word count by 200 and made the edits. I've done that (the only bit of 'writing' I've done since I got back at 11pm on Friday) and emailed it off. Fingers crossed the editor likes it and it goes in. It would be great to have another print hit.

Right - enough blogging. I've got a Eurofiction entry to write.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Off on my travels!

I'm off to Nepal tomorrow. I've never been 'travelling' and I've never visited Asia so I'm very excited and also a bit nervous. What will it be like? Will it be baking hot? Will it be really crowded and overwhelming? Will it be dusty? Dirty? Tiring? Beautiful? Awe-inspiring? Calming? Life changing?

I guess I'll have to get on that plane at 11am tomorrow and find out!

My friend L, who has been over the since April, has arranged our itinerary and includes 3 night and 4 days at a national park where we'll get to ride elephants, visit the breeding programme, walk through the jungle and go canoeing. We're also going trekking for 3 days, white-water rafting, going to visit temples, national monuments as well as a few shopping trips to buy silver and local goods. God, just typing it all out is making me feel even more excited!

I'm still not 100% over the virus I had recently so that's a bit worrying. I've got an on/off headache and my glands are up but I'm hoping that with paracetamol, orange juice and plenty of water I'll shake it off. The last thing I want is to be ill abroad (even tho' I do have insurance).

I haven't planned to do any short story or flash writing while I'm over there but I'm sure my notebook will be filled with sights, sounds and experiences. There are, apparently, internet cafes in Kathmandu so I'll log on to check my email when I can and visit my 2 online writing groups and see what they're up to.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Susurrus Hit!

Received an email last night telling me that my story "Jin and the Toothpaste" has been accepted by Susurrus magazine and will be published in their October edition. They paid me $5 for the story too (my first dollars earned from a published story).

Great news - just what I needed to cheer me up!

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

2 rejections = 2 new subs

I read on another writer's blog last night that she'd received a call saying she was shortlisted for the Guildford Book Festival comp. That means my two stories didn't place. I was disappointed for about a second (the five shortlisted stories on that comp are read out on the radio and then the winner is voted for by the listeners) but then thought "Okay, plan B...send them out somewhere else."

Both of the stories have a distinct 'womag' feel so I've sent them off to two women's magazines. 'Womag' stories get short shrift in a lot of writing circles but I think that's unfair. It's snobbery. Literary stories (and novels) aren't for everyone. I heard yesterday that the romance genre, for example, is massively popular and dominates the publishing market. Other people like reading horror, sci fi or thrillers. LOTS of people like reading 'womag' fiction - if they didn't why would so many of the women's magazines publish it? We can't force the world to read literary fiction just because it is deemed 'superior' by some.

Why pigeon-hole yourself to be one kind of writer? I write when inspiration takes me and what comes out, comes out whether that be a horror story, a psychological thriller, a literary piece or a 'womag' story. I'm equally proud of all them - and even more so when a judge or an editor says they like it so much they want to publish it.

I now have 3 stories 'out there' with women's magazines. Fingers crossed one of them hits (and the money would be nice too!)

Monday, 18 September 2006

Where did the words come from?

I thought this month would be a crap one, words-wise, because I'm only writing until 23rd Septemeber when I go to Nepal for a 3 week trekking/exploring/white-water-rafting/culture-filled holiday, but it's not (so far!). I've written over 5,000 words so far this month including 2 flashes and a story. I've also noted down a few story ideas in my notebook (but those don't count towards the word count). It's strange how you can be so blocked and empty and all of a sudden the words and ideas start to flow again.

Yesterday I noted down 3 story ideas that were prompted by something I'd read or watched on TV that evening. Two aren't particularly ingenious, but one definitely has some potential so I'll stew on it for a while (or rather, I need to stew on the main character because, according to AK, plotting BEFORE you write the story is a bad thing. It's the character that decides how the action in a story will progess, not the author).

My current story in primaries is getting mixed reviews (as I thought it might). That sounds bad but actually it's good because it means I can identify when I've written a duff story and when I've written and half-way decent one (those are few and far between).

I've got a lot on my plate, writing-wise, for the rest of the year. I'm signed up for Slingink's 'Eurofiction' which starts in October and continues for twenty weeks, ten stories in all. The first has to be in two days after I get back from Nepal so hopefully I'll find an internet cafe while I'm over there and pick up the prompts. In an idea world I'll write my story on the plane on the way back. In reality I'm likely to write it an hour before the deadline!

The other thing I've signed up for is AK's 'Children in Need' writeathon on 16th/17th November. I did it last year and wrote 15 stories in 27 hours (one of which made it into the anthology and two others won prizes in comps this year). This year I aim to write more than 15 stories and, ideally, raise more than the £200 I raised last year (the group total was over £14,000 including sales of the anthology).

I'm not sure if anyone is reading this blog but if you are, and if you fancy finding out more about the writeathon please leave me a message.

Only 4 more days until I leave for Nepal. I've got a couple of comp entries to do before then so I'm unlikely to get any more words down - but I might, you never know.

Oh! One more bit of news - one of my stories has been shortlisted for the Mere Literary Festival. It made the 24 (from 274) stories that were forwarded to the judge for final judging. Result!

Sunday, 10 September 2006

A slow start to September

Two rejections early on this month - no joy in the Writer's Bureau or the Writespace comps. Tweaked the WB story and it's ready to be sent on to another comp and have sent the WS story (as is) to an online flash site. Fingers crossed one of them 'hits'.

I haven't written much this month. I recently found out that a friend of mine from school died suddenly and unexpectedly. The news has completely shaken me and has left me out of sorts. Just when you think you're starting to make sense of the world, news like this scrambles everything (including my brain). It's hard to write anything and everything I have written so far this month was about my friend. Guilt, disbelief, sorrow, shock - I've tried to express myself but the words jumble and merge. They are senseless, much like her death.

I wrote a flash today - not about death or loss. It was something and nothing, but at least I wrote.

I feel like I need to write something - a story in memorandum to my friend - but the words won't come and I wish, wish, wish I was a better writer. I wish I could do justice to her memory, to her, to our relationship. I know it's too soon to write but these feelings are burning inside me and need to get out.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Soggy words

Hooray! Finally broke the block yesterday. I tried that old trick 'write as many prompts as you can into a flash' and it worked because 824 words later and I had a finished flash about 2 women swimming the English channel. It wasn't great and only scored in the mid-late nineties and (as with a lot of my stories/flashes) there were credibility issues, but I did it - I wrote something with a beginning, middle and end. It's only taken, oh about 3 weeks to get here.

Now please excuse me while I do a little happy dance.

Friday, 25 August 2006

The number of words I have written since my last post

Zero.

I'm totally blocked. I've got craft 'know how' coming out of my ears after several debates/conversations/threads recently on one of my writing sites but, when I sit down to type, nothing comes out. I've managed a few lines, I've managed a few scribbled ideas in my notebook but a complete flash or promising start to a story? Nope.

I know I need to stop thinking and type, but I can't. I think I may need to try the whole 'write drunk' thing again. Gah.

Friday, 18 August 2006

Road to Recovery

Sorry about the cliched title. I'm 80% better now but my brain is still a bit foggy. I can't believe it's the 18th August already. I haven't written for AGES and I started the month so well. *sigh*

I need to do some writing this weekend - whether I feel crap or not. I'm going to designate Sunday as "bloody do some writing day" and that's that.

In other news my story was published in "Woman's Own" on Tuesday. My photo looked goofy (would one of my 'pouty' photos really have been so bad, Mum?) and the story (edited to cut 1/4) read a bit choppy to me (I worked so HARD to get it to the word limit of 1,100 and not be choppy). I was a little disappointed - for all of 10 minutes or so until my friends (and members of one of my online writing groups) started saying nice things "it made me cry" and "very moving" etc and then I felt better (yes, I'm that fickle).

4 new rejections over the last week. 2 from Vestal Review (no surprise there!), one near miss from Cezanne's carrot (and an invite to re-write and re-sub) and a 'nearly there' from Flashquake (4 maybes and 1 yes). I'm due a hit... soon...please...

Monday, 14 August 2006

Ill

Haven't written for days and now I'm ill (some kind of viral, headache, nausea thing) so am almost catatonic.

All in all the last story got a reasonable average in the crits (put was still sub 'par') and needs a lot of work to turn it into something good/publishable. The problem? At the moment I'm kind of stumped. I know what to cut but not what to put back in its place. I think I need to put some space between me and the story for a bit and let my subconscious do some cogitating. So - into the electronic 'bottom drawer' it goes while I ruminate on another story (an idea that came to me a year ago and hasn't quite gone away).

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Sleepiness shuts down the world

Very tired today. Last night's sleep, which felt more like a micro-nap and lasted all of 5 hours has wiped me out.

The crits have started to come in for the story I subbed to my online writer's group last Saturday and the scores and comments pretty much match my expectations. I knew there was something missing from the story - the plot was a bit thin, the theme was a bit vague and the main character's 'quirk' raised too many unanswered questions. So why didn't I fix it before I subbed it? I was too tired! And I also wasn't sure how to 'fix' the story. I'm still not sure. I think this is one to file away for a bit and see if any remedies pop into my subconscious.

Today I read some of the winning stories in a UK competition. There was a depth to each one that is missing from most of my stories. I try to write depth and layers into my stories but they always come out feeling a bit thin. I definitely need to read more (stories) and read more critically. How do other writers achieve what I find so elusive?

I feel quite frustrated. I know what I SHOULD be doing but I'm not doing it yet.

Saturday, 5 August 2006

There were words

3,165 of them to be exact. Last night I decided to take AK's (the guy who runs the online writing group I'm a member of) suggestion to 'write drunk' literally. Ok, so I wasn't drunk per se but I did have a couple of glasses of wine (or three) to oil the cogs, loosen the fingers and generally help block out the internal editor that keeps stopping me from writing anything.

Result?

I finished a story. I started writing at about 10 or 11pm (I'm a bit of a night owl) and by 2am I was seriously flagging and ready for my bed, but I didn't stop writing. I was scared I'd wake up in the morning and have lost the voice, the flow and/or the will to finish the story. (I've got quite a few stories that have been abandoned after the initial burst). So, I kept writing and at 3:37am I wrote the last word. I need to re-draft but I'm going to leave it alone today. Hopefully, when I re-read it tomorrow there will be a bit of space between me and words so I can read it objectively and spot any glaring mistakes, plot holes etc.

That's over 4,300 words written in the first 4 days of August now - and that's good.

Friday, 4 August 2006

First blog post

August started well with over 1,000 words (and a complete Flash) written on the first day. Yesterday - nothing. I forced myself to write this evening. I studied the prompts, even turned off the monitor (it's called a 'screen off' exercise and sometimes helps when you're blocked), but nothing cohesive came out and the words I typed didn't develop into an idea or a voice so I gave up.

Have had a bit of a 'where have all the words gone' time recently. Not the words I type so much as the words I choose. I recently re-read some of my old stuff (by that I mean pre-2005) and the language I used was so much richer, so much more vivid in those old stories. Riddled with cliches and terrible metaphors/similies yes, but there were a few gems. In my efforts not to be 'writerly' in my stories I seem to have stripped back the language so much that it's now become 'stock'. I need to read more, absorb words and put some of the language back into my stories. I need to write stuff that I promise myself I won't put out there for critting, give myself a bit of freedom back.

On a more upbeat note my first hit of August is official. My entry into the 5photostory.com competition is going to be published by Fygleaves. The anthology will be called "39 Emergency Exits" and will include the winning stories from the comp as well as a bunch of the best. It'll be available from Amazon.co.uk apparently and I can't wait to see it. My little folder of published stories is starting to get full. Yay!

The winning story in the Woman's Own Short Story competition was published on Tuesday which means mine will be out there sometime in the next 3 weeks. Ooooh - scary/exciting!