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Archive for April, 2010

Rejection!

This is something we are going to have to get used to, I suppose.

I had a letter today from UEA, rejecting my application to their Creative Writing MA. My application was always a predominantly speculative one, as it is the best course in the country and I am very much a beginner writer.

A friend of mine mentioned that she had applied for the same course a couple of years ago and hadn’t been invited to interview either. She’s a very good and experienced writer, so I know my rejection isn’t necessarily directly related to a lack of anything in my work…

Even so, this has highlighted to me that I seem to have omitted a Plan B from my imaginings of how the next year will pan out.

I applied for three MA courses, and have yet to hear back from two of them. I’m not sure what I will do if I don’t get a place at the remaining two… I didn’t really make a Plan B. Ah well, let’s see what happens!

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He’s back, only this time he’s female. I have a recurring character, and quite frankly, he is beginning to get on my goat.

Since I read this article, I’ve been constantly aware of a recurring character in most of my stories. His age changes in each story, but he’s basically the same:

At first, he’s always called Sam or Pete. Then I think of a more interesting name and change it about 500 words into the first draft. He’s miserable: he doesn’t enjoy his job and his relationship is probably bitter and riddled with problems. Either that or his girlfriend has recently left him. He is melancholy, directionless, and feeling sorry for himself. He wants to get down onto his knees into the flowerbeds and bury his face in the dirt. This is because he lives in a smoggy city and he needs to feel the countryside. He wants to stand on top of a hill and scream into the wind.

Sometimes, he’s not even a character at all. He can be a general feeling of pervasive melancholy or a whimsical sentence… but he’s always there. Sam/Pete is indulgent, repetitive, boring and irritating and he won’t go away.

In the story I began tonight (draft 1 of TMA05), the main character is a girl of my age. She is also Sam/Pete. So is the story.

On the plus side, I think the Sam/Pete Effect tends to dissipate between Draft 1 and Draft 2. Perhaps it’s just something I need to get out of my system. I’ll keep you updated.

Does anyone else have a Sam/Pete?

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Precocious

Walking through tube stations this Sunday afternoon, I came upon a family making their way home from the London Marathon. The two young girls must have been four or five or six years old (probably about waist height, for those who can tell these things), both wearing pink cowboy hats fringed with white feathers.

“Mum!”

“MUM!”

“Muuuuuuummm!”

“Yes?” the tired mother (still with Marathon running number attached to her t-shirt) turned, holding the handles of the pram she lugged up the stairs.

“I’ve just seen a celebrity!”

My best friend turned to me and whispered, “And that’s what’s wrong with London.”

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Hello

Oh dear. Procrastination stations!

I’ve gone back to Twitter. Not only that, but I’ve linked my twitter account to this blog, and linked my Facebook to the new account. Therefore this blog is a little more public than previously.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been thinking that it’s a shame I don’t have a public blog. I have a private and anonymous one which has been going for about three years, but there’s a lot of stuff on there which I don’t want real life people to know about.

The fact is, I like social networking (this is a little embarrassing to admit), and I like blogging so much that I am vaguely involved with at least five of them: Birmingham Conservation Trust, once there was, this one, my private one, and a couple for work. But none of them enabled me to share inanities with friends, so that is now what this one has become.

It’s still going to be mainly about writing, because that is what I think about and talk about (shame I never actually sit down for ten minutes and actually do it). But it’ll also have some life-related stuff as well, I hope.

All excellent news, and all excellent procrastination tools, no? 🙂

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Anecdote Monkey

I found that Life Writing turned me into something of a windbag. Did anyone else feel like this?

Not only was I scuttling off to write down any exciting anecdotes people told me, but also it seemed to open up a wealth of interesting little tales and quirky events from my past, which I just had to share with someone. Immediately.

Every time I opened my mouth to talk, years of ‘back story’ and ‘scene setting’ tumbled out before I got to the actual point. And I thought it was fascinating. All of it!

Poor buggers who had to listen!

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I went to school in America for a couple of years, from age 8 (second grade) to age 10 (fourth grade). The school I attended for fourth grade was an elementary school in Texas, and from what I remember, it wasn’t particularly academically high-flying.

Our history lessons began in 1620 with the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, and ended at the Texan war of independence in 1836. A music lesson was interrupted by a radio broadcast of the OJ Simpson verdict.

One aspect of this time of my education which has particularly resonated over the past year or so is English. I remember writing a lot of stories at school, which is excellent, and I enjoyed it even then.

But I also remember a handout sheet of paper, with a symbol at the top: the word ‘said’, with a giant red cross through it. Underneath, a list of words which one could use instead of ‘said’:

shouted, yelled, whispered, muttered, called, mumbled, shrieked, expostulated…. you get the picture.

Now that I have started reading blogs and books about writing, I’ve learnt that this is wrong. Here is an example from one of my favourite writing websites, the Blood Red Pencil:

If you do use taglines, it’s better to stick with the word “said”, rather than trying to come up with substitutes such as cry, interject, interrupt, mused, state, counter, conclude, mumble, intone, roar, exclaim, fume, explode. These are “telling” words. Let the words in the dialogue show the emotion. And you can NEVER smile words, or squint them, or laugh them.

So, it just goes to show, not all of what you are taught at school is correct.

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Editing Time!

I’m excited about the current topic on A215.

This is what I have been waiting for: how to edit your work.

I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts. Hopefully.

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