Is writing like sex?

3 03 2009

After yesterday’s question…today I found an answer.

Writing for a living: a joy or a chore?: nine authors give their views | Books | The Guardian

“The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you’re in the mood or not. I wouldn’t be the first writer to point out that doing something so deeply personal does become less jolly when you have to keep on at it, day after cash-generating day. To use a not ridiculous analogy: Sex = nice thing. Sex For Cash = probably less fun, perhaps morally uncomfy and psychologically unwise.”

So says AL Kennedy anyway.

For me I can see the analogy.  I lot of what I write is done furtively in my bedroom.  In secret.  When everyone else is out of the house.  I avoid talking to friends about it.  Unless they are writers too I worry they won’t understand.

My contact with publishers is often done through the internet.  I send them seedy examples of my work.  Some ask for a short bio.  Some even want a picture first.

Given that I’m not writing for money.  Not yet.  Not really.  I suppose I don’t have to worry.   That I’m like a prostitute learning her craft? Practicing on the boys at school?  For free?

I’d like to think the publications that are accepting my work so far are a little more upmarket than that.

To be honest..right now I’d be grateful if someone paid me.

I do have a paid piece in the pipeline.  A story has been accepted for publication in a notable and paying literary magazine.  Not many of them about.  And no I can’t say which it is yet.  I’m scared I might jinx it.

But when it does come out… I promise I’ll kiss and tell.

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Writing Sestinas and Pantoums (and other mathmatical challenges)

22 02 2009

Part of me really enjoys the pressure of a deadline.  It’s too easy sometimes, as writer to find other things to do with your writing time.  I love writing but sometimes when it’s not coming out the way I hope I find myself fixating on “research” or playing online scrabble.

Having assigments to hand in by a certain date keps me on my toes.

For the next one, due 13th March, I have the option of submitting either a 2500 word piece of fiction/biography or 80-100 lines of poety.

I planned on writing prose but after diving into the section on poetry I’m becoming fascinated by some of the forms used.

For example, the Sestina is a highly structured piece of poetry.  For the best explanation see here.

The way it interconnects and seems to repeat itself is clever, and it’s clever because actually, the secret in writing a good one seems to be to find ways to use the identical ending words in new ways.

There are a load of Sestinas on this page

Some are great, some, not so great.

Myfavourite though has to be

How to Build a
Sestina Template
in Microsoft Excel.


from McSweeney’

Have a look, it does exactly what it says on the tin!

Given that I’ve already enjoyed trying out the Pantoum (another of our optional taught forms) I’m thinking I may have a go at submitting poetry.

But it’s a big 20 % part of our overall mark

And the tutor is a poet.  I don’t know if this means she’s more likely to “get” what I write or more likely to see my lack of experience.

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Exam bleugh!!!!

8 10 2007

So, last week I felt all shiny as I finally reached the end of A215, The Open University Creative Writing course.

It has definitely been one of the most enjoyable OU courses I have ever had the pleasure of studying. Really didn’t feel like work a lot of the time.

Our final mark is made up of our ongoing coursework and an end of term Portfolio, each making up 50%. Your grade therefore is determined by your final mark for both.

I’ve managed to get a good grade for the ongoing coursework and so was keen to get something half decent for my Portfolio.

I think in the end I did okay.

I (tentatively) reckon I will have passed though what grade of pass I’m not so sure. The trouble with artistic pursuits is it’s still relying on the subjectivity of the marker.

We get our results on December 14th so watch this space.

As many of you know I’ve also been studying A207 From Enlightenment to Romanticism

My exam is this coming Thursday.

Mr Puddlejumper says I’ve been like a bear with a sore head all week.

I’ve been wondering about this. I mean I was stressed out a little getting my Portfolio finished and sent out and was starting to think perhaps it’s just the strain of studying two courses at once, especially as they both have quite a heavy workload towards the end. It’s made me question my plan to take on two courses next year.

But as I sat yesterday with my books sprawled all over my bed frantically writing last minute notes it dawned on me. I just haven’t found A207 as enjoyable as the Creative Writing Course.

It’s very “bitty”.

By that I mean it touched on so many disciplines, people and events but never really got stuck into any of them enough for me to properly engage.

As with the Creative Writiing course I’ve had good enough marks in my continuous assessment to get a good pass depending on how I do in the exam.

And you know how it is. An exam has such emotional weight that it’s difficult to think of much else when it’s staring you in the face. My life as I know it has really felt like it has been on hold this past month. I can’t see any further just now. I feel like I’m in limbo.

You know, social plans; housework; figuring out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life!!!!

As for doing any sort of Creative Writing – forget it! I don’t have the brain-space at the moment.

All I know is whether I do well or fail miserably I will be so happy come Thursday night just to have it behind me.

Not blocked just busy

16 07 2007

This is just a quick note to anyone who may still be dropping by and who might wonder where I have been.

Our current topic in A215 is Autobiography. And it’s not as though I’m not writing, quite the opposite in fact. But I find it more emotionally unnerving posting creative writing where I am (quite openenly) the central character.

A bit mad that, given that I’m a blogger but there you go.

I’ve been writing my life as a series of poems, I’ve been re-exploring my childhood in reams of prose, I’ve been collating lots of raw material but…

One of the things I’m finding hardest is the parts of my life that I think would make the most interesting reading are those parts that I was either to drunk or drug addled to remember fully

(and thus would run the risk of sounding like a bad Hunter S Thompson rip-off)

or they’ve invloved me doing things which are immoral or illegal or (in some parts of the world) both!

The other problem is I have so much material (yeah I know, it’s nice to have that sort of problem at least) that I’m unsure yet what I might use for my assignment and I’m not allowed to post it up here until it’s been done and marked.

However, I shall return. I have a short story on the go just now involving a pair of boxing gloves, a man, a woman and the gods of all things. But my inner -and outer- editor is getting more and more uppity and thinks of herself as a professional and so she won’t let me post just any old guff now. Not like at the start of this journey. It may be some time but once it’s polished a bit I’ll stick it up.

That being said, I will in all fairness still post guff, just guff that my inner editor has missed!


Breaking the Line

28 05 2007

So there she goes
Again, reckless
Suicidal hedonism,
“What does that button do?”
She asks, but presses on regardless.
Too impatient for a reply.

Cocaine headlights hidden, she drives onwards up the coast road.
Crosses over into
The oncoming carriageway.
Another car
To come round the corner.

Her life was always like this.
Sometimes it took her,
But sometimes it took her
To places, people, experiences she could
Never have lived without.

Then one night he came screeching
Around the bend…

The vehicles did not collide.
But lightly kissed in passing.
(for at that moment he had been doing exactly the same thing)
She not only survived.
She felt,
She lived.

It’s poetry month

28 05 2007

I’m at the stage on my Creative Writing course where we have started to look at poetry.

I’ve got to admit I’ve struggled with this part. Not because, I don’t enjoy reading or writing poetry. I do.

It’s just the methods taught in the Big Red Book strike me as a little mechanical. Poetry to me had always been more organic than that. And my enjoyment from writing has probably come from the fact that I’ve never felt I was writing poetry for anyone other than myself. And so “who cares” if it was good, or held meaning for others?

Poetry for me was a tool I’d use to figure out my own feelings or express something I couldn’t in any other way.

However, for the sake of continuity and in attempt to try and measure my progress, I will try to post some of my attempts over these next few weeks.

In a lifetime the average person cries 121 pints of tears.

25 04 2007

‘I saw him yesterday. We left the refuge early in the morning. I wanted to get to the post office early like, before the queues started. Myra was bawling in her buggy. She wanted to walk but it was lashing and I didnae want her to end up soaked. There’s little enough chance to get your washing done in that place.

I’d cashed my book for my child benefit and we were just on our way round to the Co-op to get some odds and ends. Anyway. Just as we passed Petrrucci’s I saw him.’

‘And how did that make you feel?’ said the counsellor.

‘Scared. Ye’ ken? My legs felt like they’d turned into pipe cleaners or something. I thought I might just topple right over.’

‘Uh-huh. And did he see you?’

‘Naw. I don’t think so. We ducked into the cafe. With Myra in the buggy and everything. I just scooped her up and asked the guy if we could use the toilets and he said aye so I ran through to the ladies with her and we just hid. Must’ve been in there for twenty minutes like. I don’t know what the guy must’ve thought. Probably thought I was a junkie shooting up or something, we were in there so long.’

The counsellor nodded. ‘And now Helen. What about now?’

Helen looked at her feet for a moment. The sides of her left boot was starting to split from the sole and she wriggled her foot, watching the hole open and close before she said. ‘Angry. I felt angry. Why should he still be able to swan around like he owns the place?

And I’m pissed off at myself too. I wanted to go over there. So much I wanted to say. Not straight away like. My mind went blank. But then we came out and he was gone and I thought shit. I’ve blown it. There was my chance to really tell him. To say -look. Look at this wee girl here. This is what your missing out on…’

The tears came now. She pulled her hands up trying to cover her face. Trying to wipe them away but there were too many of them. ‘I’m sorry’ she kept saying over and over, in between tears and the heaving sobs she wouldn’t quite give into.

The counsellor passed her a tissue. Said nothing. Let her cry.

(400 words)