January 24th, 2005

View from study (sunny)

Writing progress

Words today: 920
Words in Chapter 14: 1698
Words total: 63,596
Reason for stopping: Time to go and do other things.
Other: Not the best words I've written, but hey! they're words. They can be cut or polished.
  • Current Mood
    productive productive
View from study (sunny)

Pushing for the next level up

When I used to have time to play computer games, I would sometimes stick, unable to complete a particular level and end up feeling that it was impossible. If the game allowed it, I'd often try moving on to the next level up, where everything was faster and harder and even more hopeless. I'd struggle away at that for a bit, doing really badly and then drop back to the level I had previously found impossible -- and often found that it now seemed quite straightforward.

I'm feeling a bit like that with my writing at the moment. I'm just coming to the end of a 12-week on-line Open University poetry course called Start Writing Poetry. Boy was it hard! I've never written poetry before, other than the occasional comic verse and a string of haikus, so it was all new to me. I'd never even heard of a vilanelle or a sestina, and here I was writing them, along with freer non-rhyming poetry and sonnets.

But the interesting thing is, even though I haden't been working on my novel to speak of over December, I just sat down last weeked and got straight back into it and it seemed, if not exactly easy, then easier than before.

I think for me poetry was that next level up and having struggled to do something much harder, it's developed my writing muscles and made the fiction seem easier by comparison.
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful Reflective
View from study (sunny)


The other week I heard a radio interview with Darcy Bussell (ballerina with the Royal Ballet). She started ballet late, at the age of 13, and was desperate to go to ballet school even though her mother didn't want her to because she had been to ballet school and absolutely hated it. Anyway, Darcy Bussell was tall and gawky and the teacher told her that she was useless and would never make a ballerina and suggested that she give up right away. She didn't. Instead the criticism galvanised her into working much harder because she realised that she was useless back then. And so, eventually, she became internationally successful.

One of the things currently driving me is the fact that I was accepted as a tutor on a fiction writing course not because of the 3 short stories I've sold to pro magazines but despite such a feeble publishing record. I want to sell a novel because you can't dismiss a novel so easily.

Some people seem to find strong motivation in a, "I'll show the bastards!" attitude. Others of course would wither like a delicate seedling in a drought if faced with harsh criticism, even if justified.

So it's rather difficult for a writing tutor to know what to do. I tend to err on the supportive side when giving feedback and would never say that a person should give up all hope of ever being a writer. But perhaps for some people I should? (Only joking! *g*)
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful Still reflective