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That Horrible Bit in the Middle...
Category: Writing
Tags: NaNo

This is going to be a short blog because I have NaNo words to write!

Yesterday was the half way point and Im pleased to say that I did manage to receive my congratulatory email from the NaNo team:-

You have reached the 25,000-word mark, the halfway point, the word-domination, creation application, epic celebration station

Yay! But I have to say (mainly due to an unexpected but very welcome visitor) it was touch and go for a while and Im still scrabbling to catch up and get where I want to be (and while I posted my words today I had a quick look at how my writing buddies are doing. And youre all on fire. There are some amazing numbers out there, so huge congratulations everyone!)

One of the problems I have right now is that I always seem to hit a point in the middle of a book where Im convinced its absolute garbage. Its not a new problem; Ive written enough to recognize that, however enthusiastically I start a project, there will come a point around the middle where I want to delete the whole thing, pretend it never happened and start something new (or never write again because Im just that bad) because my current story doesnt work and its never going to work...

I dont know whether you read the NaNo pep talks (and they are interesting and motivating even if youre not doing NaNo) but I came across this one by Neil Gaiman while procrastinating, and it seemed very pertinent. Heres a snippet:

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasmor even arguing with meshe simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, Oh, youre at that part of the book, are you?

I was shocked. You mean Ive done this before?

You dont remember?

Not really.

Oh yes, she said. You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients. ~ Neil Gaiman

(The whole pep talk can be found here.)

So at least it looks like Im not alone with my horrible middle syndrome.

How about you? Do you all get slumps in the middle whether its a long story or a short? Do you get that horrible feeling that this time this particular story really is the worst thing youve ever written? If so, what do you do about it? How do you keep motivated when youre stuck in that horrible bit in the middle?

This Week 9th November 2015
Category: Site News

This Week

First item, I forgot I was to write this until Jo reminded me. Apologies.

Tonight in Cardiff, I launch our anthology at a poetry reading. Interesting not only will I read my piece but a Portuguese contributor lives in Cardiff and he will be present to read his poem.

Reading out loud. Cant agree more: the subject of this weeks blog. Not only do I enjoy reading my poetry out loud but for longer pieces of narrative, mistakes are picked up on.

Muses from Doreen. Im intrigued by the letter from 1915. My great uncle died at the Battle of Loos in 1915, I wonder what happened to the telegram informing his parents of his death. A piece there for me to write.

Well I hope you are all enjoying NaNoWriMo! I tried it once, years ago and couldnt get on with it. I have a poet friend who wrote a poem a day for a month last year and has just published them.

There is plenty of room on the bragging stool, occupied this week by Dianne, but her brags fill the seat! Good one, Dianne.

Message from Jo. If you havent already done so dont forget to fill out the survey.

Have a good week.

blog 9 November 2015

A little while ago, while listening to BBC 3, I was fortunate enough to hear Jeanette Winterson being interviewed on Essential Classics. I had just finished reading Lighthousekeeping, so it was a happy coincidence.

In her interviews she emphasised the importance of reading work out loud. For rythm and sound. She compares the process of writing to that of building a dry stone wall - with the gaps as breath. Sometimes you have to dismantle your wall till you find the level of firmness and cohesion. I dont know about you, but I tend rather to read my work out loud in my head, rathert than actually out loud.

Jeanette spoke of keeping in touch with the child within, and playing with language. In making up, and in changing well known fairy stories.

She had a truly fearful youth with her adoptive mother. However, Mrs Winterson was also a great source of inspiration, thanks to her lusty singing of evangelical songs. Hence Jeanettes attachment to the importance of rythm and sound. And her (re)making of stories. Mrs Winterson even had Jane Eyre marry her minister cousin St. John Rivers, and become a missionary!

Predictably, many of Jeanettes choices were of the human voice, including Handels Verdi Prati from his opera Alcina. And several other opera arias.

For those interested in listening to her interviews and choices each is part of Essential Classics for the week 19 23 October last.


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