Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why do we doubt ourselves


photo credit V. Conrad

I was all set to write a blog about the benefits of reading our work in public (note the pic of me seriously reading Love on a Wednesday Afternoon, (you know, the one about the bouncy 4-poster bed, and the trombone lessons) from my Ad Hoc collection to an appreciative coffeehouse gathering recently.

But then this topic won’t go away:

Why do we doubt ourselves?

You made the resolution this year to just keep sending your writing out - and to keep track of what you’ve sent where and when to expect results. Many of these lit-mag-comps only tell you if you’ve been placed - so when results day arrives, you trawl the sites to read long lists, short lists, and finally the selected work. To find that you’re not there.

You swallow hard, tell yourself you can’t win them all - but you ‘tip-toe’ away from the websites thinking - ‘again - not good enough’ and it can leave you with a feeling of giving up, doing something completely different, stop banging your head against quite a high brick wall. Consider signing up for donkey rearing for beginners instead.

Because standards change. You want the standards to be high. You don’t want it, ever, to be a piece of cake. But you work so hard at the writing game and you begin to wonder if you are ‘edgy’ enough. If you should break more grammatical rules, chop your well constructed sentences into fragments, forget about well-place commas, and if you should write more about the current world problems. e.g. The annual Canada Reads CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) awards novel contenders this year needed to be books that ‘Canadians need to read now’ - in other words, novels that centre around current issues, immigration, the environment, world peace (or torment), politics, etc and so forth. A little dictatorial on the part of the CBC - in your honest opinion. http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads

None are novels that you are desperate to read - for those reasons above. You can explore those issues via other means. Can’t you? For you, isn’t a novel a means for you to lose yourself, travel to another world? It is fiction. After all. (please note the chopped unstructured sentences here.)

So, you ask, is this the reason your work does not hit the mark right now? Are you too fictitious, or do you dwell too much in another era, when dialogue was different, when street talk was polite and grammatically correct?

You have, this past week, been in correspondence with a British TV producer regarding a shocking storyline on Coronation Street (always known for its quality writing.) You received a reply telling you that the drama uses ‘real life’ situations that people can relate to. You tell them that their writers should be fired for total lack of insensitivity and that cancer is no joke. The upset this story line caused btw was all over the UK tabloids that week. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4369954/Coronation-Street-fans-slam-Sally-Webster-storyline.html

Writing is a responsibility for sure; your dilemma is this - do you want to be published and to hell with the consequences? Or do you take your responsibility seriously?

Footnote - after writing this, your sweet little greyhound story was placed 3rd in the 100-word comp run by Morgen Bailey - so maybe, just maybe, all is not lost.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In Print Yet Again





What a joy it is to hold a book, turn the pages, and find a piece of your own work.  That is how I felt last week when To Carry Her Home, the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 arrived.

Embedded deep within 144 other works of fiction is my 300-worder Tonight's the Night, and you can read about the issues concerning music lyrics and the need to 'edit them out' in my previous blog.

What amazes me the most is to read astounding work from authors of all ages from across the globe - and there sits my humble wee piece. I feel most honoured.

So thank you Bath Flash Fiction for the opportunity to sit among the big folks. And a big shout out to all other flash writers out there, for some reason you feel like family.

The links for purchasing the book can be found here: https://bathflashfictionaward.com/books/

You are in for a treat.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Forget Your Perfect Offering

YouTube link used for informative purposes only



I began this blog intending to lift the lid and take a peek at music lyrics and copyright issues in our writing. This first cropped up for me last year when I, in my innocence, used threads of lyrics from Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me in my short memoirish story, Tonight’s the Night, soon to be released (now minus the song lyrics) in an anthology by Bath Flash Fiction.

But you know me, I begin with one train of thought and then I start to wander, and wonder. So I wondered how other authors, well known authors especially, deal with the issue.

The author who comes immediately to mind is Louise Penny, successful crime writer of the Inspector Gamache novels. http://www.louisepenny.com/index.html. Her 9th novel in the Gamache series is titled: ‘How the Light Gets In.’ Such a familiar line from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem.

Knowing that a few snatches of lyrics in my 300 word story would have cost in the region $500, I scratched my head and wondered how much it cost for Ms Penny’s publisher to obtain permission to use lines from the Cohen’s lyrics as her title and more lines from the song within the novel itself. Listen. Just like I did in 2013 - just 10 rows from the stage. The thought provoking and inspiring lyrics are provided with this YouTube clip:

(link used for informative purposes only)


It turns out our late dear clever poetic Mr. Cohen used lines from a very ancient Arabic poem for these lyrics (or so I understand) and, as the original words were written centuries ago Ms Penny probably didn’t need to get permission to use them (although I suspect her publisher did anyway.)

Thanks to Cohen, Penny and an Arabic poet, because of the lines: ‘forget your perfect offering, there is, there is, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’, my blog about copyright and music lyrics has gone its own way and turned into the topic of perfection in our writing - in fact perfection in all we do and why we think we need to strive for it.

So why don’t we forget about our perfect offerings, be true to ourselves, and let the light get in - for isn’t that what we really seek through our writing?

Music and lyrics will still follow me through my life and remind me of my times and experiences through the decades. But using them in my writing now has that extra level of challenge.


These might be useful links for you:


public domain listing http://www.pdinfo.com








Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Genre Game



I’ve been thinking a lot about genres of late. And those thoughts became very concentrated when, this week, I needed to choose a genre for my 2016 NaNo novel. And further crystalized when I found that mine was not in the drop down list, a list of 19 plus that little luxury - which I dared use - ‘other’.

I suspect there are many novels that get themselves whacked into the literary fiction or mainstream genre because they have nowhere else to go. And I also wonder what wonderful books get overlooked because they’ve been categorized in such a way.

But I digress, I really wanted to talk a little about my newly discovered genre, the one I suspect has been looking for me all my writing career, and that is the novella-in-flash - the genre that tripped me up when I entered the Bath Flash Fiction comp. earlier this year.

It is a startling genre. Nothing like a traditional novella which is described as, and I quote, ‘a work of written fictional narrative prose that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel’. And startling in a way that each mini chapter is akin to a complete flash story. And you all know how I love writing flash fiction, how I have neither the patience nor staying power for a blockbuster novel, how I love to capture the essence of a story in as few words as possible, and how I am always in haste to ‘git ‘er done.’ Yes, in a flash - pardon the pun.

I have read (as recommended by Bath) a number of flash novellas now. And they have all startled me. I can think of no better word to describe them. They are unique, punchy, disorienting, curious, questioning, and oft times breathtaking in their delivery. The judge (Meg Pokrass) of the Bath Novella-in-Flash comp. describes them as ‘like stars in the sky.’ So yes, startling in its truest sense.

As NaNo approaches, I have completed the first steps of registering my novel as 3 Novellas (draft cover below), with the intention of submitting the results to the Bath Novella-in-Flash comp. - deadline end of December.

  

Whatever happens, my mouth is now watering with thoughts of where these works will take me. So NaNo - for my 10th time - I’m ready for you.

Read about Meg Pokrass here:  http://megpokrass.com


National Novel Writing Month, as always, is here:  http://nanowrimo.org

Monday, September 26, 2016

Meeting the Fans



What an absolute delight it was this weekend to meet the people who enjoy my work. The annual craft fair at The Seaside Centre in Beach Meadows turned out to be a real tonic. True, I didn't sit down all weekend. True, my cheese sandwich curled at the edges as I didn't get to that until mid afternoon. But it was worth it.

Many people were able to take home a piece of my hand formed silver and bronze from the Scintilla collection. It was good to meet you all.  It was also incredible to be able to share work from the new, and as yet, incomplete collection Garden of Eden.

Then of course there was the fun experimental work with paper bead earrings. Not the best photo, but it gives you an idea.


So, thank you to all involved in organising this, the 23rd Annual Show - from where I stood it went like clockwork. Thank you to all my clients and those who stood back to admire the work that comes from my head and hands. 

And great big thanks to the talented painter Marg Millard who encouraged me to take part at short notice.  I am feeling overflowing with thanks.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

100 Voices

Launch day Friday 23rd September. Details here


The Cover


Thursday, August 18, 2016

100 Voices Publication Date

Well the publication date for 100 Voices, an anthology, has been released by Centum Press. September 23rd is the date and you can pre-order. The anthology is available in paperback or limited edition hard cover.  My personal author's discount is 100V84 if you do decide to order, please take advantage of the discount.
I'll post a copy of the cover image as soon as I can get hold of one. Until then - it is all here:

http://bit.ly/100VoicesV1