Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Cluttered Mind Equals Distracted Writing


I’m back from my holiday and things are getting back to normal. The holidays are almost over, which means I’ll be back to part time work for a couple of weeks before I move away to university. I feel like a lot is going on for me right now, with so many things to sort out and prepare before I leave. 

Basically, my mind feels cluttered right now. With so much to do I feel like I should be doing everything at once. I still have over three weeks until I leave, so there’s plenty of time to get everything sorted, but that doesn’t seem to help me feel any less overwhelmed by it all. 

I feel like this state of mind is transferring to my writing. My desk and my study are cluttered with all the things I’ve bought for university, and it all seems like such a distraction. I know a messy room isn’t much of an excuse, but I feel like it’s just another reminder of everything I have to do. 

Considering I’m writing without an outline at the moment, this type of atmosphere does not lend itself well to creativity. But I can’t step away from writing – I don’t want to step away from writing anyway! – without it becoming a never-ending break. Besides, I promised myself at the start of this year that I wouldn’t let life get in the way of writing, and I do want to keep that promise. 

Maybe all I need is a little time to think, possibly plan, and get my focus back. It’s hard to write when you’re unfocused, and I’m definitely finding it hard right now. 

What do you think? Is it harder for you to write when you have a lot going on?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Apology and Another Progress Report


Firstly I just want to say how I’m sorry I am for my erratic blog schedule in the last few weeks! Summer and being on holiday has brought up a lot of hurdles for me, and I promise after this week everything should be going straight back to normal. I’m away for the bank holiday weekend, which means it’s unlikely I’ll be able to post on Saturday; however, with everything resuming as normal next week, this means there will be the usual two posts a week on Tuesday and Saturday. 

Now onto the main part of my post! I wanted to do another progress report, simply to share how things are getting along both in my reading and writing. 

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to recently, which is annoying. I still have a lot of books I want to get through and not enough time it seems! There’s quite a few books I still have to read which are a part of my university course, and also a few I want to read purely for my own pleasure. In this next month I really want to get that list down, seeing as when I move to university I have no idea how much that will consume my ability to read outside of my course. 

In regards to writing, I’m still working on my project I shared with you all in my Lucky Number Seven post. At the moment the word count is hovering just below 20,000, and I’m starting to get to the real crux of the plot. Prior to this it has been mostly about world building and setting the basis for the main plot, so it’s exciting to be getting into the real heart of the story! I’m really liking my protagonist, Lake, and I love the world I’ve created. 

I’m not really planning this project to be honest. Most of what I write is either thought about minutes before I sit down to write or created as I’m writing. Apart from the start, there has been very little outlining in my process. I think the start was the hardest thing to get through, but now I’m past that it’s become much easier for me to simply sit down and write again, which I love. 

I’m currently reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and I hope to finish that today since it’s such a short novel. I would like to do a chapter on Erase at some point today, but I’m not sure where I’ll fit that in seeing as I’m meant to be leaving for my holiday in a couple of hours. Either way, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me, and the progress I’m making both in my reading and writing soon! 

 What are you reading and/or working on?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Good News and Calvino's Thoughts on the Boundaries Between Readers and Publishers


I have some wonderful news! Firstly, I received my exam results on Thursday, and not only were they great, but they also allowed me to get into my first choice university! I am officially off to the University of Southampton at the end of September. I’m very excited, and I can’t wait to begin my English course! 

Secondly, I finally finished If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino! After writing my earlier post about it, I wasn’t quite sure if I would finish it by the end of the summer, but my determination came through for me and I managed to finish it on Thursday. Thursday was a particularly good day for me. 

Now, I wanted to share an interesting paragraph from If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller. It really stuck out to me, and I wanted to see what you all thought. This excerpt is taken from a character called Ludmilla in Calvino’s novel who is an avid reader. Here’s her thoughts on the boundaries between readers and publishing houses:

“There’s a boundary line: on one side are those who make books, on the other those who read them. I want to remain one of those who read them, so I take care always to remain on my side of the line. Otherwise, the unsullied pleasure of reading ends, or at least is transformed into something else, which is not what I want. This boundary line is tentative, it tends to get erased: the world of those who deal with books professionally is more and more crowded and tends to become one with the world of readers. Of course, readers are also growing more numerous, but it would seem that those who use books to produce other books are increasing more than those who just like to read books and nothing else. I know that if I cross that boundary, even as an exception, by chance, I risk being mixed up in this advancing tide; that’s why I refuse to set foot inside a publishing house, even for a few minutes.”

Seeing as I am one of those people Ludmilla speaks of – I’m a reader, but I want to become involved in the publishing of books – this paragraph struck me. I think with things like blogging, writers are becoming more and more aware that there are career options out there which could fulfil their love of books; working in publishing is no longer something for only writers to aspire to. So in this respect, I think Ludmilla is right, although I certainly don’t think this is any sort of detriment to ‘just’ readers.

What do you think? Do you agree with Calvino’s statement or disagree?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Lucky Number Seven - Erase


I was tagged by the wonderful Kathryn Purdie, and it’s great timing because it gives me a chance to show you all what I’ve been working on recently. A few weeks ago I posted about an idea which struck me. Well, this WIP isn’t anything to do with that first idea at all. Ideas, being fickle little things, dried up for this first idea and instead randomly presented me with a shiny new idea. So I’ve been running with it.

The rules of the Lucky Number Seven tag are this. Basically, go to line seven of your WIP and share seven lines. You are also meant to tag seven people, but you know my reaction to tagging by now – if you want to do this yourself feel free to!

For a little bit of background, it’s YA and is set in a distant future. In this world, technology reigns supreme. Virtual wardrobes can change your entire look in an instant; holoscreens provide you with all the information you could ever need; and most importantly, every family owns an E-Raze, a small device which can get rid of any memory you choose. But should anybody have the power to erase their memories? Should they want to? 

This is taken from line seven of my WIP, Erase.

*

Lake turned to her E-Raze in the corner, a bright pink technological spectacle. The virtual wardrobe could do many things, but it couldn’t change her E-Raze from the gaudy pink she’d wanted when she was twelve.
“See,” Lake sighed, “that’s something they didn’t think about with the E-Raze; they should have made it so that when you E-Raze something, everybody else E-Razes it too.”
“Yeah, but it usually happens on both sides anyway, like with you and Lan.”
I turned to Rani in bewilderment. “If something happened with Lan you know I wouldn’t have E-Razed it, I’m practically in love with him.”
Rani looked down at the floor, and silence filled the room.

*

It seems short, and I realise the first few lines are confusing since it seems to change subject a little, but I promise it makes sense in the context of the entire conversation! Before the start of this paragraph Lake and her friend Rani are reflecting on an embarrassing moment which was shared with another person, hence why she makes that statement. Later it emerges that Lake has E-Razed something incredible about her and Lan...

I really hope you like it! As always, feel absolutely free to critique – any comments are welcome! I’m having a lot of fun with this project, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. 

Are you working on a WIP right now? If you are, what are you working on?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Stand Out Posts and Liebster Blog Award


Hello! I realise I’ve been essentially missing in action for the last week, and I apologise. I’ve been on holiday so I didn’t have a decent internet connection, and I’ve had a lot on my mind. But just because I haven’t posted doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading people’s blogs (everybody should have Google Reader on their smartphone!). So, in the spirit of Nathan Bransford’s This Week in Books, I’m going to link to five posts which I’ve loved over the last week or two. 

Ilima at ka’oa: tell a fanciful tale is asking When Is Done Really Done? She’s recently acquired an agent and is going back over her manuscript, and I imagine it’s a question we’ve all thought about at one point or another

Nathan Bransford is highlighting the disparity between male and female writers in YA with the post Why Do Women Dominate YA?

On Rachelle Gardner’s blog, guest blogger Jessica Knauss looks at the Pros and Cons of Small Presses

Justine Larbalestier highlights how even professional, long-established writers still have trouble starting a new project in Getting Started 

Natalie Whipple has an amazing post on the Publishing Pipeline – a must see for anybody with questions about time scales in publishing! Check out the comments too since there’s a lot of extra information to be found 

I hope you learn something from these posts, or if not, at least pick up a new blog or two to follow! How has your summer (or winter in Bonnee’s case!) been going? Have you been busy too?

*

Bonnee gave me the Liebster Blog Award (thank you!), so here are the rules:

1.      Post a link to your nominator’s blog with some information on her
2.      Share 11 facts about yourself
3.      Nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers (instead, since I never nominate people, feel free to have the award from me if you have under 200 followers!)

Bonnee is an absolutely lovely person from Australia. She blogs at The Blogging of an Aspiring Writer, she’s currently studying after the quake by Haruki Murakami, and she hopes to publish with her novel, Evergreen: A Fallen Star

Now, here are my facts!

1.      I get my A level results next Thursday as well as finding out whether I’m going to university, and I’m quite scared
2.      I still haven’t finished If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino
3.      I got an iPhone 4S last Monday and I’m loving it!
4.      I’ve really loved the Olympics. I thought that London would never compare to Beijing (which may sound quite traitorous since I live next to London!) but surprisingly it has
5.      I wear contacts, and although when I first got them I only wanted them for special occasions, I’ve taken to them far better than I would have expected!
6.      Today I made a massive achievement in eating my five fruit and veg a day
7.      I haven’t actually been writing recently, which has been awful of me, but I feel like once results day is out of the way I’ll be much more inclined to write again
8.      I can’t stand lasagne
9.      I’m a Starbucks person. I’ve never bought anything in Costa Coffee – as sad as it may sound I feel like I would be betraying Starbucks
10.  I love following American politics. I’m more clued up on American politics right now than I am about British politics. American politics is far more interesting and engaging
11.  I'm over 1000 page views, which is wonderful. Thank you to everybody who follows and reads my blog!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Calvino And The Author/Reader Relationship

I'm on holiday again, and I'm trying to get through a certain book which has been troubling me all summer.

I'm currently attempting to read 'If On A Winter's Night A Traveller' by Italo Calvino. It was strongly recommended to me, but I have to say I'm finding it quite a struggle.

Considering I did a post not so long ago about What Keeps You Reading, you would think if I'm struggling so much I would have given up by now. But I'm determined to finish, and I have to admit this book is like nothing I've ever come across before.

I'm only seventy seven pages through, but Calvino's style of writing is really striking. He deliberately breaks you out of the narrative but referring to you directly as 'Reader'. The novel goes between one continuing narrative and individual unrelated stories. In short, it is a novel which seeks to confuse at every turn.

Calvino challenges the author/reader relationship in a way I've never see before. His writing makes you realise how much you depend on an authors' craft while reading - how we readers are simply pawns in their hands. So when Calvino so deliberately breaks all the rules we readers have come to expect from authors, it's very, very disorientating.

You might still be asking why I'm continuing to read 'If On A Winter's Night A Traveller' if it is so bewildering a novel. Well, I think the main reason is that I don't want Calvino to get the best of me. He may be doing everything he can to challenge me as a reader, but I want to prove that I am not simply subject to an author's whim. I want to say I've finished this book which confuses me so, and I'm curious to see where he takes this interwoven plot line.

I'm determined to finish this book, even if it takes me all summer. It's certainly one of a kind, and I want to be able to say I've finished this mysterious book, if only to retain my pride as a reader.

Have you ever come across Italo Calvino's 'If On A Winter's Night A Traveller'? Or, have you ever come across a book which has confused and unsettled you as a reader?