Friday, May 30, 2008

Interesting Insights

I've had a good day, and so far, I've written absolutely nothing!

My wife and I went into town today. We went book buying and looking for a particular charm/pendant for my necklace (more on this shortly).

I got home, logged on and was presented with the Allen & Unwin eWriting Newsletter. May I suggest you subscribe and give their website the once over while you're there. Some good stuff. Anyway, in the newsletter i found this little gem of advice:

Extract from "The Writing Experiment" by Hazel Smith

'The popular belief is that writers have a special talent is innate, that good writing is something that ‘just happens’, and that most aspects of the writing process are inaccessible both to the writer and to outsiders. However, this belief is fundamentally flawed, since talent partly arises out of the learning of particular skills, and awareness about the choices available in the process of writing. The main special qualities writers must have are perseverance, motivation, the willingness to search for methods which suit them, energy to push themselves out of their own comfort zones, and avid reading habits. Failure to produce creative work is often due more to lack of stamina, or insufficient commitment to the process, than a paucity of talent. Self-awareness about the writing process is therefore crucial. Writers who develop this awareness will be able to intervene more effectively to develop their work, or change direction. It is important to try a wide range of different techniques, since a writer who achieves average results with one technique may obtain excellent results with another.'

On the way into town, I was trying to explain exactly this to my wife. I'm not a particularly creative person. I have an imagination but it is very structured. In my last story "Mobile", I wrote a very mundane first line in response to a competition. That line sat there for two days. I eventually sat sown and pulled together the bits I wanted and used a friend's wife as inspiration (may the situation in Mobile never occur to her--touch wood). It could be argued, that is creative in its own right, but I don't think so. I know what goes into making a story. I'm still learning what goes into the making of a great story. A slight difference but a big one in becoming successful.

I think Hazel Smith hits it pretty much on the head with the above paragraph. I may even go out and buy her book because of it--next month.

I can't buy it now because I've just spent this months budget for book purchases.

First up is H. P. Lovecraft's "Omnibus 1: At the Mountain of Madness"
"Books of Blood: Volumes 1-3" by Clive Barker
"Too Die For" by Kathy Braidhill
and finally two books in "The Quentaris Chronicles"
"Quentaris in flames" by Michael Pryor
"Vampires of Quentaris" by Paul Collins

The last two I brought for purposes of one of my last two assignments. Plus they're only small books at 157 pages of fairly large type, targeted at the 9-12 market. There may even be a market opportunity in there for me.

I decided against any more resource books at the moment and against any recent releases, because rather than worry about my reviews for HorrorScope or myself, I want to grow as a writer of dark fiction. Clive Barker and Mr Lovecraft will help with that more than those who ply the craft today. And the Chronicles may help me to understand the dark YA market and therefore open more opportunities for me. See what I mean about structured. Reasons for everything.

As I work my way through these, I will, of course, post reviews. I'll run it by the head honcho at HorrorScope first to see if he wants any of them posted there but they'll eventually end up on my review site as well.

Before I sign off, I promised to tell you about the charm/pendant. 20 something years ago I began playing cricket. I love the game with a passion few other things in my life come close to (my wife and family, and writing being the other things). A little over 15 years ago (I think) a friend brought me a charm for my necklace. It was a cricket bat. I've worn it ever since. Last season was my last. It's time to hang up the cricket bat or pass it on to my son. I need a new charm. I decided on a feather quill to represent my writing. I don't want a book because to me that signifies reading, and it's not my goal. My goal is to write very well. In doing so, I should be able to make a living out of it. But it should all stem from my writing. A pen is a symbol for writing as are letters, a typewriter, things of that nature. But originally it was the feather quill and maybe an ink pot. that's what I want. And, of course, nobody sells them. If you find a place where someone sells them (in gold), please leave me a comment to let me know. Much appreciated.

Well, I'm off to firstly review those feeds I've subscribed to that have new material, and then to finish reading "The Elements of Style". I want that, and its review, done tonight so I can move onto the juicier purchases of today!

Remember: writers write, but to know what's come before, and what's out there today; writers must read.

Good luck with your writing and don't forget to, occasionally, pick up a book when you have a break.


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