Thursday, 25 July 2019

Dangerous writing

This is a piece I wrote a while back on the merits of "wild writing". I was working on my fictional desert island story. It's about two teenagers marooned on an uninhabited tropical island. As they fall in and out of love, they slowly become aware that the island is sentient and intent on their doom.

I'll resume it once my memoir is done. There's so much to write about and not enough time.
So, here's the bit about wild writing. 

"Wild Writing"

For many years, I was plot bound, held in check by the beginning, the middle and the end - kept behind the bars of good-girl grammar and spelling. I insisted on knowing what was going to happen and frequently forced my characters to obey. They had no freedom to express themselves, to turn right instead of left, to explore the dangerous jungle trail to the unknown.
I always thought it was weakness when people said that their characters wrote the story, but now that I have two teenagers learning about love and a tropical island intent on their death, I’ve change my mind.
Even I, the god of this particular little world, can’t tell these youngsters what to do or say. I have learned to listen. I can now feel the wild heartbeat as they kiss for the first time. I hear the knock, knock as the bones of a long dead soldier roll against the coral. Fear tightens my belly as the island plans their doom.

Wild writing is not safe. It is liberating.

Do you control your characters? Or do you let them run willingly into the jaws of death and calamity?

Monday, 8 July 2019

My animal/spiritual memoir is nearly finished.

My Chronic Myofascial Pain has got lots worse.

I've been housebound since November 2017, only leaving the house to go to the dentist, the nurse and have a flu jab. There is nothing to do around here within walking distance except, on a good day, get to the edge of the nearby field and look across at the hills.
Fortunately, friends have come to the rescue, visiting me regularly. I've been able to continue my role-playing. I've also been able to continue my writing, although when it hurts to speak, it's hard to use the voice recognition. This pushes me into using my arms to type, which induces neuralgia. A rock and a hard place situation.

The good news?

I've been fostering a delightful pair of black cats. First, was Snib who came to stay for two weeks, and then Kuro, who stayed for five months while his mummy found a house in which to live. 

I've also nearly finished my animal/spiritual transformation memoir. I'm doing the book proposal now and intend to finish the last couple of chapters while I wait to hear from publishers. One of the joys of writing non-fiction is that you don't have to finish the manuscript before casting your net.

I'm learning how to market myself, which is something the authors of olden times didn't have to do. Dickens didn't do Instagram, though I think the Brontes would have loved Facebook and YouTube.

I'm doing my best, but it's a steep learning curve for an oldie like me.

And I'm hoping to learn how to use Instagram. It just shows you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Spreading Magic

Here is a link to my latest short story.  Spreading Magic

A teenage unicorn and his baby sister decide to visit the mortal realm for the first time. They know the use of magic in the human realm is forbidden. They know they must not be seen, and they know they must leave nothing magical behind.

But it's so hard to obey the rules when you're only a baby unicorn.

This story is part of an anthology written by people attending the Swanwick Writers' Summer School. All proceeds go to charity,
This year, Katy Clarke, a much loved 'Swanicker' passed away. She was a pivotal member of the summer school and attended for many years. She is very sadly missed. All the money from the anthology is going to the hospice that cared for her.

The anthology can be bought from Amazon.
The title is: Chasing Unicorns: in memory of Katy.

If you haven't been to Swanwick Writers' Summer School, I can really recommend it. You spend a week in August, in the company of fellow writers, surrounded by sumptuous gardens. And there's cake.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Floods, Grief and Arguments.

How time flies when you're having a miserable time.

The last post talked about my dear cat Dolly.

Well, Dolly and I lived in the shared house, trying not to annoy the lease holder, until I woke up one morning to find the house flooded. I had to wade through filthy water to get to the kitchen. I couldn't understand what was going on. Why? Wha...? Huh? said my brain.
I opened the back door to see the whole world under water. Bins floated off down the garden like ships heading into the mist. The main road was a river, surging past the front door.
A water main had burst sending a 30ft plume of water into the air. It took 8 hours to get it under control. It was even on the news.

Dolly became poorly not long after and was diagnosed with cancer. I was told she had a few months left and might enjoy the summer. Two weeks later, she had a stroke and had to be put to sleep. I held her in my arms and felt my world slip away with her, my heart breaking.

For a while, I was alone in a flood soaked house with no carpets and no washing machine and with a landlord who did nothing. I moved to another place, where I struggled to live without a furry being. At his place, things got worse! I was allergic to the pollution in the air (industrial smog) and my neighbours seemed to be practicing for the Jeremy Kyle show each night. They would start at about ten and go on into the early hours. I became ill with sleep deprivation.

I left that place and am now in a pretty bungalow, high up on a hill, with clean air. Interestingly, even though everything is still in boxes, I am writing again. My creative juices are flowing, and although I miss Dolly every day, I'm beginning to wonder which furry soul will be my next companion. Dog, cat, hamster, greater crested newt? Time will tell.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

It's a good job I love my cat

Just so that you can picture the scene, I'm lying in my bedroom in my new house. As it's a shared house, I have a litter tray in my room. Dolly cat has spent most of the morning out in the garden.
I'm just about to embark on a deep relaxation, listening to Youtube...

"You are about to enter," says the deep, male voice, "a state of deep relaxation. Inhale deeply…"
What's that smell?
"And exhale fully…"
My dinner can't smell that awful.
"Once again, inhale deeply…"
It smells like cat shit.
"And exhale fully…"
It is cat shit.
"Now, all you have to do is…"
Clean it up.
So much for my deep relaxation. I won't go into details, but let's just say she'd partially missed the tray and done a poop on the plastic mat put there to protect the carpet.

It's a good job I love my cat.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The joy of voice recognition software

Writing cheers me up in so many ways. I can go into another world when my own is unbearable. 
I can go to another world for the sheer fun of it. 

But the voice recognition software gives me the greatest amusement. It goes deaf at the most inopportune moments. 
I'm writing a raunchy scene right now, on a warm day, with the window open. I didn't want my neighbours to hear what I was writing about. I wanted to say the words 'hot sex'. Cliché I know, but it was to do with my character's thoughts.
 My computer thought it was fanny to get me to say these words over and over again, gradually getting louder and louder. 
I've left the deliberate mistake in the previous sentence to show just how capricious it can be. I meant fanny... fanny... now it won't do ordinary words! Funny! That's better. I had to type that word. Soon, my emails are going to be sleaze-fests.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Magical Holidays

I've just got back from a magical week at Swanwick Writers' Summer School in Derbyshire.

It's only half an hour for me, which means I can usually get there with the help of a friend. My nerve damage (result of a car crash 20 odd years ago) limits how long I can cope with the vibration of a car, train, plane, horse, elephant, go-cart.

This year I was especially blessed as my pain levels remained bearable and I managed to stay the whole week.

Here I am by the lake, enjoying an impromptu music session with the wonderful Della Galton.

I was posing, not actually playing, as my shoulders aren't really up to it.     

Swanwick is a truly magical place; a place out of normal time. Each time I arrive, I feel I've never been away and each time I return home, I feel bereft.

Swanwick is where, for one week in the year, I get to live in a writers' community and learn and play and muck about and maybe even write a few words. It's my holiday. Then I come back to my normal life. Ouch.
My mission this year is to move back into the city for a bit. I'll have lots of people to visit when I feel lonesome. And one day I'll achieve my dream of living in an intentional community. That's my true quest.

Until then, I need to let the joy of Swanwick, and the friends I have there, live in my heart, alongside all my friends nearby and further afield - then I won't feel so much like a Dickensian character shut up in her flea infested garret, scratching away with her quill.

PS No sign of the little buggers, I may be in the clear. Woohoo. Now to book a professional deep clean.