Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A few days ago, I wrote about feeling adrift because I got stuck at one of my story. Afterwards, I realized that it was only half the truth. I did get stuck because I was figuring out a plot turn. But the real reason was … I dreaded to write the end of the story and I still am.
To approach the ending means to tie up all the loose ends. And there are things in the story that I don’t quite know how to resolve (yet). But then I also know that I could spend eons researching for the best solutions to both writing mechanics and the sixty millions ways to bury a man alive!
No matter how imperfect or absurd it is, I need to finish the story. Then put it aside, start a new project, come back to this one in a few weeks’ time and start rewriting & editing.
O.K. Am I ready to write the ending now? Noooooooooo!!!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
It stemmed from several things: a 4-page email I wrote to an overseas friend the other day, my fetish about writers’ writing process and particularly, the advice I got from Girija Tropp’s article (November 2007 Victorian Writer) about her short story writing.
From my reading of various writers’ talk on their processes, it was pretty much “anything goes”. Whereas Tropp emphasizes on “find(ing) out what brings out the best in you and your writing and do it.” That brings back to the email I wrote to my friend.
I was telling my friend that I’m still testing / experiencing what blogging is all about. But I’ve observed that I’ve been working on my stories more regularly and the word count kept rising. I felt like I got some kind of creative kick or energy from blogging which I used it for my creative work. And it might also be the case that since I’ve been talking so often about writing in my blog that I need to make sure I walk my talk. I’m not complaining but this is not what I expected.
Anyhow, if this is the way to keep me working, I’ll keep blogging.
Friday, March 27, 2009
A few days ago, I read this from Writers’ News (UK). It helped me to understand what was going on and I’ve been feeling a lot better.
‘There is a tendency in the middle of the writing of a novel for the writer to feel adrift, lost floating aimlessly in a rough uncharted ocean of words. You are too far from the beginning to feel the enthusiasm that set you on your way all those words ago and too far from the end to see the land of your completed tale where you may rest finally.
There are so many obstacles between you and your completed manuscript. Do not let this sense of aimlessness stop you from finishing. From my own limited experience, and of many writers to whom I have spoken, I am convinced that this feeling is normal.’ Australian writer Elliot Pearlman
Fellow creatives, what do you do when you're adrift? What / Who is your life saver?
(Can you hear the theme song of Star Wars playing somewhere?)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Andre Jordan's Beautiful Revolution is full of his whimsical scribbles couple with philosophical and (sometimes) wicked writings. I'm enjoying it ... ;)
I'm surfing the forever expanding web for more time waster and found this one which could tell about your personality. Apparently I'm a Doer!!???
ESTP - The Doers
The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
What is your personality then, fellow bloggers?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Lisa holds her own lovely blog as well as organzing The Scribble Project and The Scribble Project Club. Within the project, you could find lots of amazing work from various scribblers / artist.
(Though I could hardly draw, I love scribbles, so I joined her club as well. Now look out for the most awful scribbles in blogshpere soon .... )
A few things I thought about workshop ...
- Writing is such a lonely endeavour that a writer needs some company to share the passion as well as the angst of writing.
- A writer could get so close and deep into h/her own creation that h/she is unable to see the flaws. There comes a time when you need second opinion.
- To provide critique is a skill: I once sent off a 500 words flash fiction to a writing friend for critique. I thought she would be coming back with a few lines of comments. To my greatest surprise, she wrote me a whole page of comments. It included comments on overall narrative, structure, pacing, characterisation and dialogue etc. For those areas which I was sloppy or not up to it, she provided a few “fixer”.
- But on the same token, the friend who critiqued my work was also an unpublished writer. Though obviously, from her comments, she was a far more competent writer than I was. And I did improve my writing skill and the story to a large extent from her critique. There was no doubt about it. However, the critique could only get me so far, beyond that …
- A Big fish in a small pond and a tiny fish in a Big pond: Back to my uni days, we had a very talented classmate who blew us away every time with her writing. But I observed that she was very frustrated with our critique as we (the mediocre) were unable to offer her any insight which could help her to improve her writing.
When I was doing the year long course at Victorian Writers’ Centre, I was fortunate (unfortunate) to join a group which most of the members had already written at least a full manuscript of their first novel. Not only I haven’t got a manuscript, I was still struggling with the narrative. When came time to critique each other’s work, I was so out of depth that I had nothing to contribute to the group.
- Too soon to have a piece of writing for critique will kill the piece as well as the writer!
- Workshop becomes the crutch of the writer. The writer keeps sending the story for critique and never finished it.
So what am I saying?
The comradeship and support a writer could get from the workshop group is invaluable to the creative journey. Workshop is an important tool for writers to gauge their skill and growth. But a writer should always be aware of the pitfalls of workshop. Also from my personal experience, the right workshop group could make or break a writer.
What do you think?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I'd say Laughing Wolf is one hell of a prolific blogger - new posts almost everyday!
Also Laughing Wolf and other bloggers host the Contemplation which you could post your work. A good place to showcase your creative projects. New post every Tuesday and up for a week. Bloggers all leave note to the creator(s). (Pls check rules before submitting your work.)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
It encourages children (big or small) to be creative and playful. There is also a very subtle undertone through out the book about being insistence of your own idea.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I had my first writing workshop when I was studying creative writing at uni. It was a traumatic experience to me. Not only because it was my first formal workshop, it’s also because I had an inexperience young tutor whose first love was English language, not creative writing. I ended up having English grammar lesson instead of workshop. My confidence in my own writing was totally shattered at the end of the semester.
During the 2nd and 3rd year at uni, I had a wonderful tutor who was encouraging and supportive. As I knew some of the workshop group members from 1st year at uni, we had built up trust to each other. It made us feel safe and free to offer comments as well as accepting critique. My writing confidence soared and as a result of that, my writing improved. It also made the writing process a lot more fun.
The latest workshop I had was through a year long course I did at Victorian Writer’s Centre. I didn’t enjoy it for a very simple reason. I was at the wrong group. Majority of participants were writing literary fiction, including the tutor. There were only three others (including myself) who were working on (loosely speaking) genre type writing. You could tell the interest level the group had on my strange tales from the frown on the tutor’s and some of the participants' foreheads. While the group would spend hours on discussion about the literary fiction genre, there was no mention of other genre.
However, one good thing did come out from this year long course. I made friend with one of the participants after the course finished. Every now and then, we critique each other’s stories. I had learnt how to do proper critique from her. This had greatly improved my writing skill. But due to each other’s schedule and our varied writing interests, we did not continued.
Since then, I’m working on my own.
Overall, my workshop expereince was of average. But it doesn’t mean that I’m against workshop or writing group.
Writing is a solitary activity and writers require a lot of alone time to create. But too much alone writing time can lead to an imbalance view of one’s work. Workshop at its core could provide an objective view of a participant’s work. And at its best, it could help to improve the participant’s skill and the work. Overall, I believe it is more about the kind of workshop and workshop group which one picks. In the coming weeks, I’ll be following up with more posts on workshop and writing group.
Alright, so far is my limited view on workshop. What do you think?
(The post is inspired and served as my respond to Sophie's post on "Workshopping" .)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This gets better ...
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
1) Free Writing * and Visual Images
I do daily free writing to keep the creative mind limber. I write for 10 mins without thinking and stopping. The purpose is to empty my mind for whatever is troubling me. The beginning of the free free writing could be a shopping list, a to-do-list or any personal issues that I have. After a while, the active mind will become settled and I'll begin to "see" images appear in my mind. I follow the images and write them down for whatever time is left out of that 10 mins. Someday, it works and someday I just keep on writing of my to-do-list :)
After the session is finished, I'll transfer the image part to OneNote (a Microsoft note-taking programme). Every couple of weeks, I'll re-read them to see which one pops out to me. That jumping one will become my writing project.
2) Aimless Walking
I enjoy wandering around my suburb. This is similar to free writing, but I'm using the walking motion to settle the active mind and loosen the creative one. Also like free writing, the ideas come to me as visual images. I carry a notebook to jot them down.
Every now and then I ask questions to generate story ideas. They are:
I reckon I'm that kind of intuitive / instinctive writer-in-practice, who relies on the un/subconscious to do the wool gathering. Free writing is my essential creative tool which acts as a doorway I keep opened diligently to ensure material surface.
How about fellow writers and creatives. Where do you get your ideas for your project?
(This post is inspired by Sophie's comments to my other post.)
(* My free writing is an adaptation / modification of Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Practice". For details, plesae refer to her books titled: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within & Wild Mind: Living a Writer's Life)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
You're wonderful, Kate! And thank you for following this little blog.
Will work harder to keep you all here! (I think this has become my blogging mantra now!)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
What does an unsettled writer-in-practice do? See below ...
Yesterday is nothing but a dream
Tomorrow is for the imagination only
What is real is NOW
And right now, I'm skipping over puddles of water across the car park to catch the runaway story ...
But hang on, if I'm writing this then how could I be over there chasing stories?
Oh my god - there's another me running around town??!!! Who is she? She's me! I'm she!
Aaaaahhhhh, help! Somebody help me!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
We're at a little shop which sells little handmade tote bags somewhere in Melbourne.
Shop Lady: Oh, you really have goods eyes for picking up beautiful stuff! You must be an artist.
Me: Hmmm ... thank you. I'm not an artist but I'm a writer-in-practice.
Shop Lady: Sorry, a what?
Me (instant regret of my stupidity and wish I had told her what I did in my part-time job instead): Writer-in-practice as in I practice writing stories.
Shop Lady: Ah, I got you. So what do you write about?
Me (suddenly have the great urge to go to the lady's room): Strange tales like ghost stories, a bit of fantasy and horror. Hmmm, how much is this bag? I can't seem to find the price tag.
Shop Lady: Like Stephen King ... good on you! So can I get your book at Borders?
Me (I knew it!): I'm still writing one! I don't think I need another bag anyway you have a good day!
I walk out of the shop and begin to compose below in my head.
It is interesting to notice that whenever I tell people I write strange tales, people look at me as if I'm speaking Latin. O.K., maybe it's my fault to come up with such bizarre name for my writings. But it is how I see it. I don't want to pigeonhole myself as a fantasy, horror or any genre writer. Now, don't get me wrong here. I have nothing against genre writing but huge respect to them all. In fact, when I first started out writing, I had this vision of myself writing one of those big, fat literary fiction say like War and Peace. I tried but it didn't work out for all sorts of reason. Then as usual, life took over, I got detoured and only came back to writing a few years ago. Odd things happened - every story I wrote since then had something dark and / or gory in it. What do you do with it? I'd say you follow it. It's no point to resist your natural impulse. If I have a bend to the dark side, I bend even further. (IMPORTANT: The dark bend only applies to storytelling. I'm a good person. No, more than that, I'm a beautiful, fantastic and magnificent person!)
Now the other thing about my strange tales as shown in above conversation is the Stephen King analogy. Just because my story has a bit of blood and gut and I'm a writer of horror. If you ever read Mr. King's book, his writings cover lots of genre like horror, suspense, mystery, thriller, fantasy, SF and even non-ficitions. That's why I describe my stories as strange tales. It is all because of the strange things within the stories. Also I'm still learning my craft and developing my writing. Who knows what I'll become? ..... Back to Mr. King - I don't particular like or dislike his writings. I see him as a master storyteller and I'm reading his books mainly for learning purposes.
Writing to me is always about The Story. No matter what happens, the story should always come first. When I sit down to begin a new story, I always say this to myself:
"I'm not here to impress. I'm here to tell the story as truthfully as I could."
(I guess this turns out into a rant ... sorry!)
(BTW, I have decided that I don't want to become anyone or anything. I'm perfectly happy the way I am!)
Monday, March 2, 2009
You're the best, Sophie .......
You should all see me now. Dancing like a drunken monkey in the office. Someone is calling the police and my boss is looking for some ropes ....
Sunday, March 1, 2009