The call of my own world part 3: not the right time

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This is the third report on my novel writing progress, and to be honest, it’s not going well. In fact, I haven’t written anything for about two months now.  However, I have decided I’m ok with that.  Maybe now isn’t the time to write long-form for me.  I have missed writing for my blog, which I haven’t done as often because I felt guilty for not working on my novel, so I barely wrote anything at all and kept feeling I ‘should’ be doing something more productive; whatever that is.

So the book has been put to one side as I get back into writing more regularly again, and begin studying for a Master’s Degree, which will take up a lot of my time and energy over the next two years. It might well be that I am not meant to write a novel, and contrary to the saying, not everyone has a book in them; or maybe my book isn’t fiction.  Either way, I have given myself permission to give up, for now.  Maybe one day I‘ll go back to it, and the time will be right.

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The call of my own world part 2: struggling to hear it

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About two months ago I posted about the beginnings of my novel writing attempt, and all went well, at first. The initial enthusiasm encouraged me to make the time necessary to write as often as I could, and ignore the temptations of reading or watching a film.  Within that first month I made good progress, writing about 5,500 words, which I was happy with as I often only found about half an hour in a day to write.  I strove to ignore my inner critic nagging me about my lack of talent, and just kept writing.  Then things went somewhat awry.

Primarily this was due to work, but also I started to lapse into distraction mode, and suddenly found I had so much more to do and couldn’t find the time to sit and write, not even for thirty minutes. The inner critic seized on this and reminded me that what I was writing was generally drivel and I really ought to stop.  I hadn’t a clue where I was going with the story; just a vague notion of where I wanted to get to, and I wasn’t at all sure if I was going about it the right way.

As a result, and sadly somewhat predictably, I haven’t worked on my novel for a month. I had thought I would try to do so this evening, but having sat at my laptop, I decided to write this instead.  I suppose a part of me is hoping it might stir some inspiration in me, but I’m not sure.  At the back of my mind is also the potential prospect of studying for a Master’s degree over the next two years, which will also probably put an end to my creative efforts for a while.  It would seem my mind has already decided I won’t have time if I’m studying, so might as well stop now.

It is frustrating because I can see what I want to write but can’t seem to express it the way I would like to. I may have given myself too big a task; I often do.  However, I do hope I can find my way back in again to that enthusiastic state at the start, and in doing so, I hope I can hear the call of my own world again.

Fellow writers, if you have any advice for getting back on track, I’d appreciate it.  Thank you.

 

The call of my own world

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I haven’t posted anything in a while for several reasons; lack of inspiration is one, but also, and more importantly, I have started to write a novel, I think … I hope.

It’s over ten years since I began writing regularly, and I’ve tried lots of methods to get me to do so on a consistent basis; writing courses and groups, ‘how to’ books, and setting whole days aside to write, yet suddenly finding a lot of other stuff to do. Reading is my worst vice and primary means of procrastination.

I managed to write about 17,000 words of a very personal story many years ago, but looking back at it now, it’s incredibly naively written and on reflection, not something I want to publish. So continuing to develop that wasn’t an option.  Over the years I have had more success with short stories, often for courses, but none of them held my attention or imagination for long; all except one.  A short piece I created during a writing course, which I had spent hours on and felt would surely be well received.  However, the very low mark it was given devastated me.  I couldn’t understand.  I had put so much into it.  How could it have been so bad?  I have recently gone back to the tutor’s comments and realised they were not wrong in their assessment of my work.  I hadn’t fulfilled the brief, which was to write a short story.  Instead, I had written the prologue to a much larger world, and that was why I had received a low score.

Reading through the story again, I began to feel inspiration returning. What if I could develop this?  So for the last few weeks I have been trying to write every evening, Monday to Friday for at least half an hour, without editing or reading back through my work.  I’m only about 2,000 words in, so have an extremely long way to go and am already fighting thoughts of giving up.  I am very good at starting projects, but also equally poor at finishing them; losing interest as another new plan enters my head.  The current piece I am trying to develop is something I have written small strands of over many years since that first one, so I am hopeful it will sustain my flirtatious mind until the end.  If I can just get the first draft out, then at least I will have something to work on and improve.  Every time I sit down to write, I have to ignore the inner critic bemoaning my lack of talent, and also the usual tactics used to avoid writing.

I have therefore decided not to read any fiction until I am finished. I don’t want to be distracted by the call of someone else’s world.  I only want to hear mine calling to me; and I am happy being there all by myself until hopefully one day, others can join me.

I have also chosen not to discuss the content of the story with anyone. Many books and articles I have read over the years have given this advice, but only now am I putting it into practice.  However well-meaning a comment from a family member or friend may be, it can derail you.  It’s better to tell them to wait until it’s finished and you can hand them a copy of the book itself.

So my posts may be a little sparse for some time. However, I’ll definitely blog if I go for any inspiring walks, or visit somewhere of interest.  I’ll try and get a few photos up too, and may up date you all on my novel writing progress.

 

 

A Tourist in Your Own Town: Writing Inspiration

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I haven’t written much for Blogging 101 this week as the tasks have been more appropriate for newcomers to blogging. However, when you’re struggling to write, taking a day trip somewhere nearby can provide inspiration and learning too; as you’ll read below.

My students currently have a challenge to promote a local area, and so yesterday we caught the bus from Bournemouth to Wimborne; hoping the weather would hold out for most of the day. My young charges were ready with ideas of what to film and where to visit as we arrived in the town square, and our first port of call was the well-known Wimborne market, which was founded in about 1855 and is one of the largest markets in the South.  It immediately inspired my international learners, who began talking to the stall owners about the locally produced food on offer, and then browsed the antiques and other products throughout the market.  It was also my first visit too, despite having been to Wimborne many times, I’d never ventured far from the centre of town.

The weather was kind for most of the morning, and I browsed the various boutiques while my students filmed around Wimborne Minster, which is a beautiful church and has been a place of worship for thirteen hundred years. Even for those who are not Christian, the architecture, stained glass windows, organ and chained library are all interesting and worth exploring.  Once you’ve done that, you can walk across the green to 9 On the Green, one of many popular cafes and restaurants in the town.  I had a lovely goat’s cheese, pesto and tomato Panini, followed by some Dorset apple cake and a good coffee.

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After lunch we made our way to Walford Mill Crafts centre, which wasn’t particularly fun in pouring rain (our luck with the weather had run out) but worth it once we got there. For creative individuals, it’s such an inspirational place full of all manner of crafts and arts, many of which are made by local artists and crafts-people.  In the summer you can sit outside the café and relax to the sounds of the river, which runs beneath the mill and can be viewed through a glass section of the floor; there’s also a video which plays footage of local otters.

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On our way back to the town centre, we passed the Town Hall, which my student had asked myself and my colleague about earlier in the day, and we hadn’t known anything about it! I have since discovered it is a grade II listed building with a Jubilee Garden, planted in the style of a 17th Century Physick Garden.  Hence the benefits of being a tourist in your own town or local area; it not only means you can answer questions from visitors, but also gives you something to write about.

For more information on the places mentioned, follow the links:

http://www.wimborneminster.net/

http://www.walfordmillcrafts.co.uk/

 

Photographs©VCUzzell2016

 

Have blog, will travel: re-assessing my goals

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This is the first post for Blogging 101, a free Word Press blogging course. The first assignment is to introduce, or in my case, re-introduce myself to the blogging world.

If someone asked me to describe myself, I would say ‘late-starter’. I have often felt that I haven’t quite got going yet, and as we move into another year and I start another blogging challenge, I’m more aware of that than ever.  However, when looking back over the last two years since I’ve been blogging, I realise I have achieved quite a lot, so maybe I’ve finally started ‘living’.

While yoga was part of my initial inspiration for my writing, and continues to be a fundamental part of my life, my focus has now shifted more towards travel and places I’ve visited (both near and far), along with local walks. I have become more interested in writing about the natural world, and my challenge when doing so is to try and describe what I have seen and experienced in such a way that my readers are able to feel they were there with me.  Yet, as regards my late start in life, I have also begun to travel further more frequently than before, overcoming considerable anxiety about the unknown in order to do so.  I still get anxious when I go somewhere new, but I’ve learnt not fight it, and tell myself it’s normal and it will pass, which it does.  So, when re-assessing my aims for my writing, travel is certainly at the top of the list, and I’m already planning day trips and holidays for this year to provide inspiration.

Following that, it is nature writing and photography, which has been my passion since I was a teenager that I wish to share on my blog. After university I lost my creative impulses and didn’t take photographs for about a decade.  That all changed in my early thirties, when the call of the camera encouraged me to start again, and now as I’ve entered middle-age (crikey!) I hear that even more, and my other goal with this blog is to be more creative more often.  I took it for granted when I was younger that I could just mess about with my camera all day; whereas now with work commitments, it’s not so easy to find the time and head space to be inspired.

In effect, my goals for my blog are quite simple; to see and do more in life. The more I see and do, the more I can photograph and write about.  Speaking, or indeed writing, as someone who feels she has done very little so far, that is really important.  I’m much more concerned with collecting experiences now than possessions, although that hasn’t stopped me buying books!

 

I sat by the ocean

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Some days the words just don’t come, or seem inadequate and unworthy of the attempt to describe this scene. Instead, I sit by the ocean and just listen and allow its rhythm to speak to me and let the calm it brings flow through me.

I could attempt to describe the sights and sounds of an early October afternoon at the beach; the family playing cricket, sisters strolling past discussing pensions, dogs investigating interesting smells, couples holding hands by the shore, two men playing guitars outside their beach hut, and the busy café supplying ice cream to remind us of the summer just gone. I could mention the light which cascades down onto the water below, and gives the distant cliffs a pink hue.

Yet none of it can really capture this moment, or do justice to the feeling of being here and listening to the ocean.

Writing ideas – catching fragments

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Tea-shells

I’m trying to write more often but struggle to find the time and inspiration. Therefore, I have decided to make the middle of the week ‘writing Wednesdays’ to ensure I have time set aside. Now I just need inspiration. Going through some old documents on my laptop this evening I found ‘beach fragments’, which I originally created a couple of years ago.

I can’t remember where I got the idea from, but one sunny afternoon in late March, I went down to the beach and sat on the edge of the prom and wrote down the snatches of conversation I heard as people walked, jogged and cycled past me.

It’s a good way to get some inspiration when you’re having trouble finding it. I frequently wish I had a pen and notepad with me when I walk through town past busy shoppers, deep in conversation; arguing, laughing, flirting and discussing all manner of topics as they hurry or amble from one purchase to the next.

I’m going to set myself the task of sitting in a café and walking around town for an hour this weekend so I can listen out for some more fragments to create something with. It won’t be a poem because I can’t write them, but a random collection of statements and questions which may read something like the one below.

Beach fragments, version 3, 30.09.15

Her answer machine says

Mum! My tooth’s come out

She ditched me

That’s just not fair

Five minutes. OK?

No throwing sand!

I was wondering how large it is

That’s lovely. That’s nice

My bra and a new pair of shoes for Archie

Bits of slobber

I’m still waking up

©VCUzzell2015

Fellow writers, have you tried this technique? I’d love to know if you have and what it led to. Or if you haven’t tried it before, have a go and let me know how you get on.