Bilingual writing

2 05 2009

One of the things I’ve always wished I could do is learn to speak another language fluently.  I’m able to order a beer in French, German, Spanish and Czech and can say cheers in several others (including, for my sins, Klingon) but I envy people who are fluent in two or more langauges.  It opens up so much more in life, from being able to share jokes to being able to read more books as the author intended.

So I was chuffed to bits to have one of my short stories accepted by OFF_magazine.

OFF_ are a English/Polish collective based in London and the magazine aims to

bring writers together around an independent magazine/press
promote new literary talent in English and Polish translation
create a cultural bridge between Poland and the UK
publish books/anthologies under the OFF_Press banner
use multimedia tools/networks to promote literature worldwide

I feel really honoured to be involved with it.

Go check them out, and I hope you enjoy my latest short story.





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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Time is a wasting

27 10 2008

..and I’ve my first TMA due at the end of this week.

Luckily though, after a slow start, my muse has been working overtime and I’ve been blessed with a pile of stories. The trouble has been trying to decide on which one is good enough for the TMA.

For instance, we had an activity on using research as a leap-board. We were asked to choose from a selection of subjects to look up. I chose rat-catching. (Why? I don’t know…it just sounded kind of interesting.)

After trawling the Net I found a wonderful book through Project Gutenberg. If you don’t know already, Project Gutenberg is a website dedicated to making the printed word accessible via the internet. It has loads of out of print and out of copyright works available to download, or browse via the site.

Anyway. On with my rat-catching research. Detailing the 25 year career of a Victorian Ratcatcher, it was a surprisingly good read. And short too. With my attention span at the moment its 28 or so pages fitted nicely thank you.

So here’s a wee excerpt of a story I came up based upon it…

The places near the Clydeside docks had it worst. We did a lot of work in big warehouses there, catching what the local cats couldn’t keep up with, but I liked working in peoples homes best. I got to set foot into the homes of the Tobacco Lords and other grand merchants. Houses filled with more beautiful objects than I’d ever seen if my life. A less respectable man might have been tempted to pocket a candlestick here or a brooch perhaps, but not me. Mr Macintosh said he hired me because I had an honest face and because my ma had raised me a good Catholic boy and I knew stealing was a sin.

Mr Macintosh said the rats infected the houses of rich and poor alike except in the rich houses you’d often only be called in after some eejit gent had tried to poison the rats himself.

“Stupid, stupid wee man.” Mr Macintosh would whisper under his breath once the man of the house was out of earshot. “Jim”, he’d say, “What’s the first thing I taught you about catching a rat?”

At which I’d repeat,
“Never lay down poison in an enclosed space.”

Because the rats take the poison but then go off to find somewhere dry and warm to die. Mostly they end up under the floorboards or down inside the wall cavity. As a ratcatcher I worked in some unpleasant places with smells that would choke you blind; under floors, beside water-closets, in the drains. But the stench from a decomposed rat has to be one of the most stomach churning of all, as though death himself has caught the back of your throat.

The story goes on…Jimmy is somewhat naive and tries to help Mr McIntosh, but in doing so he nearly ruins the man’s business. How will he make amends?

One of the problems I had when writing it though was trying to make sure I kept up with telling the story rather than just describing the work. But the grimness of the work made for an interesting background. In my revised versions of the story I worked harder at trying to keep a balance.

Now I have to decide which story I’m going to use for the TMA.

As much as I love the rat-catcher, I think I’ll develop it for use later. I’ve a much better one up my sleeve.

Keep your fingers crossed for me when my marks come back.





Starting/finishing or not knowing ones arse from ones elbow

21 09 2008

I finish  AA310 Film and TV History in two and a half weeks. Exam is 8th October.

My next course, A363, the brand new all singing all dancing, yes you’ve all been waiting… ****Advanced Creative Writing**** starts in just over a week and I’m DESPERATE to get started.

But I daren’t. What if my muse sets off with gusto and I end up with no brain space left and then fail my AA310 exam? Can’t let that happen.

Instead, I go through the motions of revising.

And all the while the various characters and storylines congregate impatiently at the gates of my mind. Set free via my early reading of the A363 coursebook (not a wise move but how could I not?). I can hear them, coughing and spluttering and occasionally banging on the gates wanting in.

What if they won’t wait for me?  They all give up and go home?  And then I’m left with a big shiny piece of blank paper and nothing to put on it?

If I fail my exam I blame the OU…





Treasure

11 01 2008

I’ll keep you in a box
In the recess of my heart.
But occasionally,
I’ll take you out.
To dust you down and hold you to the light,
Like a much loved ball gown that I wore
Just once.
I’ll stroke off the dust and
Run my hands over the memory,
Hold you under my chin,,
And dance,
Around my dreams
Like a débutante.





The Song of the Sea

29 10 2007

Her life was undulated.
In her depths she was a mermaid-ghost,
Almost never there,
Shut off from the world.
Then the waves rose and the storm force took her
Higher, higher, higher
Twelve feet tall, invincible;
A warrior princess.

If the hunters came
It could be her final night.
She didn’t care.
Fearless; unconcerned,
No vulnerability
The waves crashed in again.
Shame washed her upon the shore
Dishevelled and wanton.

She tried to dig.
To hide under the sand,
But it would not stay fixed.
Poured away, fell from her grasp
Slid off her skin as she dried out
Defilement. The shame
Pressed down like the sweltering sun
Burning her skin; making her eyes sting.

“No more!”

She looked up and saw
The horizon and the temperate ocean.
And in she waded; stepping with new cold toes.
The water grabbed;
Resisted but she continued
Once again with the sea.
Sinking deeper
Until the weight of it held her still again.

© Jenny Love
Oct 2007

Having bit of a rough time of things the past few weeks. Don’t know if it’s just post-course blues or if I’ve been burning the candle at both ends too much but writing this really helped me make sense of what I’ve been feeling. I don’t know if that’s what poetry is meant for but anyway…it helped.