Wednesday 26 January 2011

A problem with tenses

English teachers have rules about writing prose. Don't start a sentence with And, Or, Not, But... don't use Said, use a wide array of other words you discovered under the Said section of Roget's Thesaurus. There were probably more, but I don't remember them. As soon as you start to read contemporary novels and short stories, and in my case write them, you realise that the form, the flow and the rhythm are - in my opinion - more important than trying to swim through lots of clunky verbs.

The rules, therefore, are made to be broken! Yay for that!!

However, there is one rule that probably does hold true. And that is the problem I'm having at the moment. After my recent bout of writer's block, the words are flowing once more. But I am mixing my tenses and can't work out how to solve the problem. It's not just that I'll write one day in present, then come back to it the next and start in past tense. I'm doing it within the same paragraph, in the same minute of the same day.

Each sentence is so complete and so perfect in whichever tense I've used that to change them to conform to the sentences around them would ruin the image they are conveying.

I'd love to think that writing this way would be ground-breaking and inventive and experimental... but I fear it's just one broken rule too far.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Take two aspirin and plenty of fluids

It's official - I have writer's block.

For those of you who don't know, catching writer's block is a bit like catching a cold - you wake up in the morning with a bit of a sniffle, you develop a cough, you take Vitamin C and a couple of Lemsips and hope you've done enough to ward it off. You go to bed early with a headache, but the next day, there it is, a fully developed cold.

The timing is particularly bad, as I was preparing and planning to kick off 2011 with the most astounding prose the world as ever seen - hitting the ground running and beating my three competition wins of last year. It's like waiting for the new bike you know your parents are going to buy you for your birthday, but breaking your arm the day before and not being able to ride it for six weeks.

The words are in my head, but the connection to my pen/keyboard is broken. Unfortunately there's no quick fix and I'll just have to ride it out, read plenty and try not to panic!! (The exclamation marks do not in any way denote panic!)

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Place fingers on keybaord and type until finished

I'm finding settling back down into the writing routine a bit tough. The kids are back to school, and the house is quiet except for the music I choose to play, yet....

My current short story is being written one sentence at a time - which might seem the logical way to write, but I mean, one sentence... stop, empty the bin, make a cuppa, check the news headlines... next sentence... delete sentence.... put clothes in washing machine...

Well, you get the idea. The problem is I started writing without a title, and the title always - well, normally - comes first. So now I'm wandering around the page, picking up and putting down words as I go, and staring out of the window a lot. It's very annoying because the story has all my favourite ingredients: a dead body, a shadowy unnamed main character, and a forboding sense of doom.

I hope it's not the start of writers block - I had that once and it lasted a couple of years. It was so bad I couldn't imagine ever writing again. Right now, I just can't imagine ever making sense again.

Monday 3 January 2011

Hello 2011

I realise that I've had a short break over the Christmas period, and that this is my first mention of Christmas at all. I didn't intentionally avoid it, I just didn't get back to the blog after my last post. So... I hope you all had a great Christmas, and a very happy New Year!!

I'm afraid I'm another of those people who doesn't make resolutions - though I always think there's something vaguely smug about the way I say it, like those weird people who have to mention in every sentence that they don't own a telly, or only ever listen to Classic FM. The reason I don't make resolutions is that I'm a child in an adult's body and as soon as someone - even if that someone is me - tells me not to do something, then I automatically only want to do that thing. And I'm perfectly happy with my consumption of chocolate (moderate), alcohol (a glass of wine with dinner... okay, it's most nights, but it's only the one) and cigarettes (none).

A new year is daunting - I feel immense pressure to make it better than the last one. Last year I was able to spend a lot more time writing, through changing my job, and as a result I won a competition and came 3rd in two. That's the most writing success I've ever had in one go - so if 2011 can get better than that, I'm ready for it. But I also know that'll mean a lot of hard work - you can't publish a story that hasn't been written!! So my plans for this year are to work hard, play hard and make the year as memorable as possible.

I hope you all have resolutions and plans that you can be proud of and that will make you happy, rather than deprived and miserable. Enjoy 2011 and make it memorable!