Tuesday, 25 February 2014

THE BLANK PAGE



I chose the word page rather than screen in the title, even though the majority of writers today use a computer, because those words ‘the blank page’ are evocative. They summon the picture of a writer, head bent, scribbling/tapping away, filling up that space in front of her/him. Words have associations, and the correct word summons images – you don’t have to describe every detail – the reader fills in the rest with their version of your story, because they already have a mind full of their own associations. I find these aspects of writing fascinating.

But back to today’s topic. 

Do you see that empty page/screen as a virginal expanse waiting to receive your creative output, or is filling this arctic vastness, a task you fear you’ll never complete? Yet even the most accomplished of writers bump up against hindrances to their work on occasion.

Such complications can be straightforward ones such as finding time and energy to write before, during or after work. William Golding wrote parts of Lord of the Flies while his pupils completed English exercises in his lessons; Tom Clancy was an insurance agent while writing his first novels; and P. D. James, author of the Adam Dalgliesh  crime novels, starting writing in her late thirties, worked till she retired, and is still writing at 93! 

I mention these, not to daunt, but to show that when someone has a story to tell, it’s an irresistible compulsion that nothing prevents. Information like this inspires me when I get lazy, because sometimes the flow isn’t going anywhere near that pristine surface waiting patiently to be covered with exquisite prose.  

Writer’s block can be a more problematic difficulty to overcome. When Janet Frame, the New Zealand writer, wrote her first novel, she started her day writing ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog', repeating and interchanging it with ‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party'. She was a guest of another writer, and felt obliged to look busy, but as time passed, her awkwardness disappeared and the automatic words turned into writing.

One notion to purge yourself of, if writer's block does occur, is the demand for perfection. The poet Louise Bogan used the phrase ‘the knife of the perfectionist’ and this attitude will kill your darlings before they’ve had a chance at life. Honing your work comes later.

Most writers develop particular routines around their writing practices, as habit is a powerful invitation for inspiration. Virginia Woolf wrote about discovering the diamonds of the dust heap, so don’t, whatever you do, sit and stare at that blank page.

My advice is free write, continue with your work in progress, start another project – maybe something different – poetry if you normally write prose or vice versa, but keep your writing muscle limber. When inspiration does come calling, you want to be ready!

Writing Update
I’m chugging (my favourite word for my progress) along with my WIP, working title: Vance, the Vamp. I wanted to write a supernatural tale and this name popped into my head  - the story followed the name. I do have a more serious title I’m considering, but leaving that decision till later. I’m up to chapter 18 out of 25, and life is suspended till I finish this draft. As I head into the climax, events are starting to heat with a tragedy or two sprinkled with a fair amount of angst and anger.

My other novel, An Unstill Life©, awaits a cover – it’s next on the list of preparation for publication - after I finish the current draft of Vance. Watch this space!  

Today’s Haiku
SPRING
river rises high
greedy waves lap at stone walls -
the bus speeds onward

Useful Links:
Read about the writing habits of successful authors:
An interesting, and informative, post on writer’s block – with techniques for overcoming it.



I’m participating in the 100 Happy Days challenge (100happydays.com/), which I find a genuine mood lifter, so please check out my happy pics on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.






Tuesday, 18 February 2014

GAINING PERSPECTIVE


The path to a polished, completed piece of writing has many steps. If you're like me, some parts fill you with joy and delight, whereas others involve a fair amount of jaw clenching and teeth grinding. How long the process takes varies with the individual, but proof reading, copy editing, rereading (many times) are part of the process. And that’s before you receive feedback from your beta readers. Each step involves either larger or smaller revisions.

Gaining distance from your creation is notoriously difficult to achieve, but a helpful exercise, if you’re at the reviewing stage, is to examine your story from the standpoint of critical analysis. If this reminds you of being back at school writing essays on Shakespeare, bear in mind, that critical analysis allows you to view your efforts with a more dispassionate eye.

You don’t have to write an essay here though, simply spend a few minutes reflecting on your work, and answer the following questions in couple of sentences:

         What is the theme, and how does your protagonist embody the 
         theme? 
         How does your main character change – and if he/she doesn’t – why not?
         What conflicts – external and internal – does your protagonist face? Outline the
         progression and resolution of those conflicts.
         How does your choice of narrator affect the story?
         What roles do your minor characters play, and what is their relationship to the main 
         character?
         How does your setting influence the characters and the narrative?

This exercise can give you a different perspective, and it's worthwhile investing a little time on it - because you can be sure discerning readers will be thinking about these aspects.

Writing Update
I’m editing chapter 15 of my supernatural tale – and facing my eternal dichotomy of enjoying the work and wanting it finished! One or two major decorative additions need to be placed throughout after this first edit, and I'm looking forward to a reread - stepping back from the print face so to speak – and getting an overview of how the story hangs together as a whole (plus giving thought to the questions posted above).
I've some vague stirrings and ideas surfacing now and then for number two of the series - and enjoying an anticipatory thrill. 

A post I read yesterday - more like a book, so I didn't finish it, but did bookmark it - has made me realize I need to actually sit down and write out a concrete marketing plan, instead of just thinking, 'Oh, I'll stick on Amazon and tweet about it.' I know...duh! But committing to self-publishing/e-publishing isn't a decision taken lightly, because apart from the time and research involved (on top of writing and current social media activities) it's business. Not my strong point.

On the other hand, my first novel, AN UNSTILL LIFE©, a two stranded tale of love, loss and obsession, is ready to go, so I'm meditating on a cover and mulling over Create Space as an option for printing. Lots of thoughts rolling round in my head.

Have made absolutely no progress on any of my social media goals, but, um, hopefully soon!

Today’s Haiku
WINTER
storm gusts growl outside
trees groan branches crack break free –
nature cleans her house

Useful Links:
If you’re looking for blogs on creative writing, you’ll find some great links on this website:
http://www.copyblogger.com/creative-writing-blogs-2011/
This is a truly comprehensive article: 
http://ow.ly/tIdkZ 

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Friday, 14 February 2014

ONE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY




THE ARRIVAL OF A LONG AWAITED LOVE LETTER



The day starts no different from any other.
Slow surfacing of awareness,
as she sprawls on her raft of a bed,
in a room, in a house, in a street,
that she can’t escape.
She slumps, unrepentant,
warming into the day,
deaf to pleas from household chores
till the postie stomps past.
She had waited endless days, but
that day her tattered heart skips
at the soft plop of a letter landing.
She fingers the crisp, slim shape with slow strokes,
tracing where he’d written her name.
Desire erupts;
shuddering fingers rupture paper seams.
Soon, soon, he wrote, they’d be together.
He was coming to stay.
He would love her forever.
Glittering bubbles of joy
make their way, like pilgrims,
to the shrine of her needs.


                                          Teagan Kearney

 




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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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