Have been very tardy in blogging about this event, but I gadded off to another book-related social happening just a few days after York and have only now – a week later – recovered from the resultant hangover.
I changed the title of my novel at last. It’s now called The Sky is Not Blue.
Or perhaps she just craves pain. Some people do.
She said she was rested, we could carry on. She said the view further along was breathtaking. She sounded like an advertisement. She looks across that void and only counts colours, shapes, the lack of concrete. She doesn’t hear the ancient screams lingering in the wind, doesn’t feel the water’s icy shock, the vile suck as Life is dragged down into darkness. The water is not blue. The sky is not blue. I’m not even sure the hills are green.
|From Thoughts from the Shed|
I made another film. I’m not sure which is most fun, the actual filming (there’s something sublime about An Uninterrupted Opportunity To Talk) or the editing process.
|From Thoughts from the Shed|
Short story writing is a lot of fun!
I’ve spent the past week working on a couple for an anthology being prepared by several Authonomites under the capable leadership of Mayor Biggie (Michael Wells). It’s been an interesting and enjoyable deviation from my normal writing and has left me wondering why I haven’t played around with this kind of thing more before now.
The main short – State of Undressed – was written as first draft over four days and I’m pretty pleased with it so far. The shorter short – The Night We Never Danced – was written as first draft in under two hours… one of those glorious frenzied Fully In The Zone sessions that make writing such a drug. I’d slept badly… well, not at all… and finally fell into deep sleep around dawn. This story was my dream – give or take a little artistic licence when writing it up – and so I fairly hammered it out before it was lost.
Before starting the short stories, I’d been suffering a mild case of writer’s block in relation to La Folie. I’m finding mood is vital when trying to write comedy and unless I maintain a high which borders on alarming at times, it’s very difficult to get into ‘farce mode’. Taking a break to work on the shorts was a Good Idea and has left me enthused enough to get back on with the two bigger works.
But… The Tipping Point is still with Osiander and I’m not at all sure when I’ll hear back from him. In the meantime I’ve signed up for York Writers’ Festival in April and have booked two one-to-one sessions with agents at that event. This means I have to submit synopsis and opening chapters in advance – by mid March – and I don’t yet have a synopsis.
They’re awful things to write.
Far more difficult and time-consuming than anyone who’s never tried could possibly imagine. So I guess for the next few weeks I’m going to be grumping around pulling a synopsis together, whilst also editing the stories for the anthology… and the poor old farce may have to take a back seat for a little while.
Unless, of course, I suddenly develop a manic Good Mood high – in which case all else will be abandoned and La Folie will get my full attention… whilst it lasts!
Free, that is, from the constraints of literary fiction. The farce is proving a real pleasure to work on due, I think, partly to the fact that it’s plot-driven – which is a *lot* of fun – and partly because the characters must be unexplored and so the usual resultant angst from over-analysing the human condition is just not applicable here. It’s a veritable literary romp!
My new baby has been conceived (after several late nights groping for ideas… and lots of laughter) and it’s a farce.
Having spent the last two years immersed in a dark, dark literary place with The Tipping Point I was ready for something a little lighter and came up with the (perhaps crazy) notion of writing a farce in novel form. Can this work? Farces are best suited to stage/film – sustaining the necessary pace and humour over the length of a novel..?
I’m not at all sure, but the outline is taking shape and I haven’t laughed this much in a long time… it has to be worth pursuing.
Working title is La Folie and I’m having a lot of fun with muddled identities, mocking the world of online relationships and generally creating a cast of hapless idiots to feed my burgeoning Humour Addiction.
Watch this space…
Well… I eventually finished the first draft a couple of weeks ago but am still awaiting the warm glow of satisfaction. That said I went through two pregnancies waiting for the Great State of Blooming to occur and it never did, so possibly I am just not the sort of person who relaxes.
Possibly I am just a miserable git.
Possibly I am a Realist at heart (and if those of you who know me could, at this point, suppress any audible amusement it would be appreciated) and recognise there is still a long way to go with this book.
The manuscript is currently with the Great Osiander and I await his verdict with some anxiety. Firstly he’ll be the only person to have read the entire novel other than me. That in itself is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Exciting because an Objective Professional is going to see the whole and tell me whether it works. Nerve-wracking because an Objective Professional is going to see the whole and tell me whether it works. It’s bound to end in tears… this is clearly a friendship doomed, but hopefully a Better Novel will rise from its ashes.
On a completely different note, I saw my favourite female singer/songwriter recently – Thea Gilmore (http://www.theagilmore.net/). She was brilliant, as expected. Thea’s lyrics and music have been massively inspirational over the years – she’s incredibly dark at times, which is always going to work for me, and lyric writers are so wonderfully succinct. I have a strong belief that *all* writers can learn from this brevity.
And on yet another musical note… I’m listening, as I write this, to Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO9dbmJ_2zU) which is, I think, one of the most powerful songs ever written. The original by Nine Inch Nails (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjwgYvzQWS4&feature=fvw) is also sublime. I often listen to both back to back – and this, again, provides a valuable lesson for writers in how a shift in voice, style and emphasis can have a powerful impact on any text.
We are glorious manipulators! It’s probably my favourite aspect of writing – the tweaking of structure, pace, words & punctuation for deliberate effect…
… which is why I should now be happier about having a first draft to edit… and I am…
Sex scenes, that is. I cannot be the only writer who finds them torturous.
Please tell me I’m not.
I’ve just finished – bar the tweaking – the one and only sex scene in my book. It was a difficult process. I cannot describe body parts. I cannot move, on the page, through the bumps and grinds of the physical act itself. I just cannot write these things.
Fortunately I’m well-acquainted with the glorious twins Obtuseness and Metaphor, whose help I have called upon (in spades!) over the last 36 hours. Thank you, girls, you’ve saved my blushes.
I can’t work out whether the reluctance to write sex scenes is solely down to a fear of the reader’s perception and judgement (she must do it like this!) or whether it’s a general dislike of sexual acts written out as processes – or, perhaps, the combination of both.
But there’s no guarantee Obtuseness and Metaphor get it right either. In fact I think I may have been irrevocably damaged by Ian McEwan’s fantasy-killing Sex in the Library scene in Atonement, wherein he extended a mountaineering metaphor well beyond its natural boundaries and made me cringe and shake my head at the very point I probably should have been hyperventilating.
It. Was. Not. Good.
There is no easy route. And yet we persist. What exactly are we trying to capture? What exactly are we trying to conjure in our readers’ minds? These are the questions I asked myself and, in answering them, my scene revealed itself as one (thankfully) requiring those Glorious Twins – and not a biology lesson or an attempt at textual wank-fodder.
I recently saw a Facebook writer friend post the distinction between erotica and porn. It went something like tickle with a feather, it’s erotica – use the whole chicken, it’s porn (though I have to say much of the erotica I’ve read on Authonomy does seem to cluck).
I reckon we need another definition, for a sex scene in reluctant hands – wherein we allude to the feather and its usage, esp. the areas it may touch, with the help of those Glorious Twins.
I’m not going to do it… I’ve worked Obtuseness and Metaphor enough today. But the best suggestion posted below will win a (virtual) prize… go on, you know you want it.