I have finally managed to get hold of “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” (downloaded it onto my phone from Audible) and it is a breath of fresh green air. I’m only up to chapter 5 so there will be no spoiler alerts but I just have to share. I am so excited by it because in many ways it is exactly the book I have been trying to write for so long. I love the fact that there is no explanation (thus far anyway) for many of the peculiarities of Fairyland and its inhabitants. It is written in such a way as to give the reader a lot of credit for firstly, having a robust imagination and secondly, being able to find explanations when and where necessary. I say this is the kind of book I have been trying to write because it is similar to the imagined world my characters inhabit. When I had finished my session with Kate Forsyth last month I was so glad she didn’t ask certain questions like “Why this?” and “Why that?”, and as she was the one who recommended I “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” I can see why she was able to accept some of my characters just as they are. I think I have been reading so many standard story structures that I forgot a story written in this way is possible. I let Kate know from the beginning that the narrative voice was the thing I was most struggling with, but having started to read TGWCFiaSoHOM I can see why she told me to let it go. I really appreciate advice from extremely knowledgeable and experienced writers and others in the field, but sometimes I feel like these checklists are a bit like trying to write by numbers. I’m not saying they can go hang, but it is important to remember not to try to fit a round peg into a square hole.
I have just watched the trailer for the new hunger games and it pretty much reminded me of everything that annoyed me about “Mockingjay”.
The bloody blood and roses smell. If I didn’t need to know, if I accepted it as “just is” in the first book, then don’t mess it up by explaining it later. I do think there was a bit of second guessing, the old “second album” jitters and pretenciousness about Mockingjay. Anyhoo. Back to writing my own masterpiece of creative fiction.
I love this list. It’s such as lovely way to wallow
All writers love language. And we especially love fun words, don’t we? Some have funky spellings, tongue-twisting turns, a satisfying “ooh”…and some sound too hilarious to be true! So I’ve put together a list of favorite fun words that I’ll add to periodically. Have fun, lexicon lovers!
- doohickey (this is what I call a library due date card)
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— Anna Maguire (@digireado) May 17, 2012
The gist of this article is that children’s authors are able to pull rock star like crowds – which is fabulous news, not just for myself as an aspiring author. It comes back to the question of what is an author’s job. To write books, duh. But how do you manage to sustain yourself, and possibly a family, while writing said books. This is not like the old days when only a few were published. As you know many a book is self published through Amazon etc, which makes your book just one tree in the forest. Have you ever noticed that people still refer to a hugely successful author as “the next JK Rowling”. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published 17 years ago, a phenomenon like that does not come around every day. Also, I think the general public would be horrified to discover how little of the cover price goes to the actual author. You must realise that there are a lot of links in the chain that gets a book from the brain to the bookshop.
So how does an author make some cash, to be able to give up the day job and keep writing. By building a brand, for more on this, please take a look at Authors and the Marketing Conundrum
A lot of authors’ work these days consists of public appearances. Many years ago now, Mal Peet spoke at a CBCA NSW International Connections dinner in which, I’ll paraphrase and possibly exaggerate, he told us:
“I became an author because I wanted to shut the door and write in privacy. Today I have spoken to 600 students at 3 schools, and am up here speaking in front of you now. Please buy my books. The CBCA will receive 10% of books sold here tonight, and so will I.”
And with the advent of piracy in the digital age, the notion that authors can write a book and kick back, living off the royalties is even more out-dated Check out the Facebook group Authors v Pirates if you want to read a real horror story. This dilemma was discussed at the #SWF2012 #Forestforthetrees seminar. I asked the panel if they thought there was anything that could be learned from the music publishing industry, to which the answer was “We can’t live off concert ticket and t-shirt sales”. Well maybe, just maybe, we can! Can you imagine a hipster walking around with Roald Dahl’s mug on his tummy? Or William Kostakis in his gym wear? He he he! I can just picture it! Oh yay for the rock star book writer in lycra.
Mum bought me gym clothes for my birthday. She’s very proud of herself. pic.twitter.com/DHY1i2xL89
— Will Kostakis (@willkostakis) June 4, 2014
As I muse in previous post, “Stories by the Digital Fireside“, the rise of social media has not lead to the decline of good literature, in fact making authors, and other fans of said literature, more accessible has obviously had a very engaging effect on the community. I was going to use the word youngsters, but if you take a look at the crowds at a literary festival you will see a great diversity of age.
I hope that, as Tristan Banck’s article alludes, we will one day see stadiums full of crowds cheering for their favourite wordsmiths (there was a National Poetry Slam entry circa 2010 who spoke about this, but unable to find the clip I have instead included one of my other favourites below)
In my future, authors will be recognised on the street, hopefully not mobbed by paparazzi, but I think we are on our way to achieving the rock star status of the article above.
I once proposed a community service announcement to promote the CBCA/Book Week in which authors briefly described their memories of book week as a child. Very sensibly, my CBCA colleagues suggested we approach footballers, actors and other celebrities to do the talking and appear in the CSA. Authors, you see, were just not cool. Ok, we maynot be totally cool yet, with the exception of Oliver Phommavahn, but thanks to the work of people like Tristan Bancks, who recently appeared on breakfast TV as an expert giving his opinion of Disney’s Frozen, we may be on our way to being, well, not-totally-uncool.
Alas, I could not be there. Thank you for recapping this session
In this post, I recap and reflect on the Sydney Writers’ Festival session ‘Once Upon a Time: Myth & Fairytale‘, which was held on Saturday May 24 2014 at Walsh Bay.
On my way to the festival, I felt like a heroine in a fairy-story.
I forged my way through echoing tunnels
passed high castles
stopped to speak to a rose
… and wandered up and down the steps of an empty tower (wrong wharf at Walsh Bay) until I finally walked beneath some fluttering pennants and came upon a crowd of people adorned in bright colours.
If I was in a fairytale, I would probably have been the first sister in the tale – the one who is easily turned aside from her quest by selfishness – as I looked aside from my quest for the right venue, distracted by the desperate need for coffee. And then the bookshop. And taking photos of the…
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So, after many years I have finished what I consider to be the first draft of my novel “Isa Ines and the Monkey Man”, although given all the editing I would probably call this 1.1 and hopefully in the next couple of days I will have 1.2 finished. I have written about 25 000 words of this novel in about 3 weeks, not so bad for a single working mum!
I have managed to get this far with the support and encouragement of friends and under the direct orders of my very favourite author, who insisted that I allocate “sacred time” for writing. She offered no sympathy for my situation, and insisted that I could make 2 hours a day and one day a week my writing time. I have been able to manage to almost do this, and voila! here she is!
And so this brings me to the point of this post. If I am to spend 6-8 hours at the computer “writing” what counts as writing? I know trawling through Facebook doesn’t count, but does pinning count? I’m going to argue yes, it does.
I have been very good at not allowing housework to interfere with my sacred writing time, and have not been on any social media forums at all during my sacred time for writing this first draft. But the funny thing is, even after 14 years I’m not sure I completely know who these characters are.
Lets go back to ye olde Harry Potter. A brilliant work of fiction, primarily for my part in the fact that I often found myself saying “Yes, that’s exactly what Hermione would do in that situation.”
I L.O.V.E. Hermione, Ron, Mrs Weasly, Snape, etc, and that’s what drags me along for the ride. I feel such genuine happiness when the twins gloriously set off fireworks etc at Hogwarts, and it’s partly because I knew that’s the kind of thing I knew they would do.
As much as I would love to dive in and write the possibly 3-4 thousand words I think I need to in order to achieve draft 1.2 I think my time today would actually be better spent getting to know my characters. It is essential that my readers L.O.V.E at least 2 of my characters and at this point I’m not sure that they do.
How do I achieve this?
Well, confession time – I once wrote a love poem to my hot water bottle, ok, guys it was winter and I didn’t own an electric blanket back then. I think I need to spend a day falling in love with each of the characters. When I write I will have them do something because that’s what the reader knows they will do, and just by doing what they know they will do this will have to solve the problem that they are facing.
My only problem is that I only have 35-40 thousand words for the whole story, JK had 6 thick books to flesh out these characters in . . . can I do it? I’m not sure, but if I can I know the story will be better for it. No the story is already good. I know my telling of the story will be better for it.
So here are a list of activities that fall loosely under the banner of writing:
- Writing (obviously!)
- Pinning – settings, quotes, clothing, any relevant accessories, what the characters look like. Create a board for each character, setting or event.
- Drawing/scrapbooking- the old fashioned way of pinning
- Writing exercises – what’s in the bag, 24 hours in the life of, hopes and fears,
- Asking questions – what questions might a reader (or interviewer) ask about the book – Why? How? What questions would the characters ask?
- Reading – books. Today I asked myself “Who is Alex?” after some thinking, I realised Alex is Quintana, and a little bit of the dark side of Halt, and Froi. But we have to end up loving him. I really needed a break from writing recently, I was like, when you smash too much dirt in MineCraft and fall into a cave and can’t get out, and then it turns night and the bloody zombies are trying to chase you. So I read a book instead (They Came on Viking Ships, Jackie French). I also like reading blogs by wonderful authors and by other literature lovers.
- And, for special occasions like today, hanging out the washing – See advice from the hugely talented Sandy Fussell
and now I have just wasted an hour and a half of my precious sacred time trying to insert the wordle (it was so simple in the end!). Have to get back to real writing now, after I hang out the washing.