Listening to the writer

I am loving my creative writing course at university! I have encountered a few problems when it comes to having ideas mid-lecture. My laptop being a ten minute walk and an awkward lecture-room shuffle through the seats away. This means that the ideas must be pinned down by mental ninjas that live in my brain, their job: ‘To keep ideas inside the mind long enough that the writer can- “Oh shiny thing!” – what was the idea again?’ This can get a little infuriating at times but for the most part my writing is doing better than ever.

My absolute favourite part of the creative writing course comes every other Thursday, under the title of a plenary session. The lecturers have used it to bring in published writers, allowing them to hurl their writing at us and for us to hurl questions back at them. Such fun has never been seen.

Tonight’s lecture was graced with the presence of the wonderful Tania Hershman who wrote ‘The White Road and Other Stories’ and ‘My Mother Was An Upright Piano’. The reading she gave were from ‘My Mother Was An Upright Piano’ and were absolutely fantastic, not only for the imagery she employs but the power and misdirection conveyed in such short pieces of writing.

She was a prepared speaker, and she wasn’t about to let us sit in the audience and fall asleep due to the after five slump. (Her reference to the complete lack of energy that accompanies later lectures.)

We played word cricket.

Confused?

I was. I’m not now, but I was.

Word cricket, as it turns out, is a writing exercise where you are given the first sentence of a story.

“No one realised it till afterwards…”

And then you have to start writing for ten minutes, without stopping.

However! Here is the bit that turns it into ‘word cricket’. During the rest of those ten minutes we had a word thrown at us, and we had to catch it. So really it turned into word catch more than word cricket…

“Balloon…change…madness…teapot…flying…green…oxygen…pickled…scream…”  

So you have your starting sentence and then nine words to catch and bat into your story. Oh look, I did make it into cricket!

Her main piece of advice was to let go of making any sense, and once we started reading them out it became clear, they did make sense, they were just wonderfully weird.

We have cats eating pickled eggs, which turned into rats, we had werewolves in the pantry who tore off heads when searching for a midnight snack among the teabags! That does all make sense doesn’t it?

Anyway, the exercise was only a small part of the evening’s lecture and I’m sure the rest will have more appeal that the random ramblings of my writing class.

As a writer of short-stories we were told that she rarely knows where he longer stories will end up, she doesn’t revise how you’re ‘supposed’ to, and everyone she’s spoken to has a different technique about re-working their writing.

One of her first pieces, ‘The White Road’, was condemned by her writer’s workshop, and a tutor at an American writer’s workshop told her that no-one would read past the first paragraph. She didn’t aim to writer for any sort of length, she’s published flash fiction, for her there are no rules to writing, only what she feels is right.

She has freedom in her writing.

I came out of the lecture rather distracted. All at once my own writing seemed so much more achievable, and the problems with my collection of short stories had resolved themselves as I sat their trying to listen and ignore the character hammering against the inside of my skull.

My inspiration has dreadful manners.

Overall I was deeply impressed, and my copy of her collection, ‘My Mother Was An Upright Piano’ is now on order. The point was crystal clear, write how you believe you should write, and while listening to the advice of others bear in mind that they could be wrong. No one can really ever be an expert in writing.

Writers Block, Creative Friends, Art and Literature

Now I was supposed to do this a couple of weeks ago. But for those of you who know me, asking me do get something done that is not deadline specific is close to asking me to do a triple backflip. I may do it, the likelihood of it taking place is just very low. But when it comes to promised favours I just have a sieve like memory, it’s a struggle to keep thoughts from slipping through the cracks.

Anyway, back to the original point of the post. Those of you following will have already seen that some of my friends are somewhat creatively minded, (and completely off the wall.) Now I’ve been told that my blog is apparently drawing in a reasonable amount of traffic (this may be an overstatement) and that as a ‘friend’ it seems reasonable that I will try and introduce those who read my work, to the fantastic works of those I know.

Now I have no problem with this. I really don’t mind including such pieces as Amber Rose’s paintings.

428293_118485698280709_837989018_n

(www.horseswithmoustaches.deviantart.com)

Her artwork is utterly fantastic and I love the way she uses colours, it’s just when I come to write a post about what a great artists she is… I suddenly loose any ability that I previously had in relation to writing. It is utterly ridiculous! I have three plotlines that I am currently working on, a few others on the backburner, a script for the New Views competition and now and again I will throw out the odd poem or short story to try and extend my writing range. I should really be able to write a post about the brilliance of my friends.

It’s not as if I don’t have plenty of material to work from, it seems that the majority of my close friends are incredible when it comes to drawing or writing, the first of which I hold an extreme amount of jealousy for. If you read the website regularly you will know that Toni has created pretty much all the artwork that has been so far included, even my profile picture. Henry Granger would not be the same without her.

Henry

Miss ‘Resident Pokémon’ Jad Walters is able to create some of the most stunning cartoons that I have ever seen and it never fails to amaze me how little confidence she has in her own talents.  So! MissDemofax-El Wafflecat Izwizmus Twitchypaws the Almighty  I shall remind you once again of your epicness and show to you all that she is as brilliant as I say since I’ve having a post dedicated to my friends. (Am I not wonderful? Yes I know that is so very, very vain.)

 

Don't give a

(http://silver-serval.deviantart.com/)

Owls with attitude!

My friends are not limited just to artists who can draw. I should mention that Miss Walters is also a fantastic story teller, and almost every character she draws has some fantastical background to it and a life story that you could not believe. Trust me, I have heard the tales on many a DT lesson, what goes on within the hallowed walls of her mind is to be bother feared and envied. But as I was saying, writers also make up my immediate of wonderful friends.

For a few weeks now there has been an extra link on my website to a blog of one Kyra Leigh. In her own works, a bit of a berk and an all round procrastinator, but still a great friend and really brilliant writer and aspiring photographer.

Gundrun, daughter of Giuki, has left the world. Through the gateway of a burning pyre, she melted away all wrongs committed against her, leaving only the task to find Sigurd, husband and killer of Fafnir[1], to be done.

 

The Final Lay of Gudrun

by Kyra Leigh

Down on the road to Hel she

Trod, no longer feeling the

Embrace of forests’ worst fear[2].

Towards her first brave warrior she

Went, radiant still in the hall’s

Bleak gloom.

To him, the greatest hero, she

Sought. Not stopping, ever stepping

‘Til the head’s[3] sweet whispers she heard

Buried deep in

Odin’s wisdom wells.

And to him she cries:

“Wise head of Mimir,

Turn your face towards me and answer

This one question.

“Where is my husband, Sigurd,

Slaughtered by my brothers[4] and

Left to feed eager ravens?”

And to her he advised:

“Mourning wife and mother of heroes,

Turn your face away from me

For I shall not speak.

“Until the Doom of Gods[5]

I will keep my silence,

Though a heavy burden it may be.”

And to him she cried again:

“Wise head of Mimir,

Turn your face towards me and answer

Another question, please.

“Where else can I find knowledge

Such as yours. To find my

Husband is all.”

And to her he advised:

“Mourning wife and mother of heroes,

Turn your face away from me

For I shall not speak.

“His betrayer[6], her you must find

Amongst the troll women, cold[7].

For she loved him too.”

Down the road to Hel she

Trod. Colder and paler she became.

Towards her first brave warrior she

Went, shining still under the Ash’s

Vast shadow[8].


[1]In simple terms, a dragon.

[2] FIRE

[3] This is the head of Mimir who, after being beheaded by the Vanir (Most likely for being really irritating ¬¬ ), became an oracle of sorts to Odin.

[4] After they thought that he had been sleeping around with Brynhild, Gunnar’s wife. Gunnar (being a bit of  sap, let’s face it) got Sigurd to pretend to be him and retrieve the lady from a circle of flames. They shared a bed, but never got it on.

[5] Ragnarok! Woop!

[6] Brynhild. When she was eventually told the truth of the matter, she was naturally ticked off and told everyone that she had slept with him when she hadn’t, hence Sigurd’s murder later on. Unfair really, poor bloke.

[7] When she achieved her revenge, Brynhild also topped herself and a load of her servants.

[8] Under the great tree called Yggdrasil which, I suppose you could say, forms the back bone of the worlds. Hel is at its roots.

(kyraleigh.wordpress.com)

(http://justtsuki.deviantart.com/)

When it comes to poetry I often think that she beats me hands down.

Now I would also like to include my other best friend Alice, and my younger (but not little) sister JoJo. But I have no idea where online to find either of them, Jad, Kyra and Amber have all been pretty much electronically thrown at me over the past few months so I couldn’t fail to see them.

Anyway, I hope that you will spend the time to check out some more of their work, Amber’s work is available for purchase and commission, Kyra updates on a fairly regular basis with consistently good stuff and Jad just spits out the odd diamond of brilliance now and again but they really are diamond when she does.  There, I think I’m pretty much sorted in the friendship favours department for a few months at least, see you all soon and keep reading! I have a cup of tea to go make.