Tiny Writing No. 1

Today I am feeling pretty uninspired and kind of exhausted, so I thought the best way to try and get out of that funk would be to try some writing prompts. I then thought this could be a fun little series that I dip in and out of going forward when I have the urge to post something but can’t figure out what I want to write about. This is taken from the 642 tiny things to write about book.

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Lost and Found Tour – Q&A with Olivia Levez, author of The Island

About The Island

‘There were friends once, but they melted away. Things are different now I am a MONSTER’

Frances is alone. Cast away on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, she has to find water, food and shelter. But survival is hard. Especially when she is haunted by memories of the things that she did before, the things that made her a monster. Pushed to the limit in extreme conditions, she battles to come to terms with her past, and find a future worth fighting for.

This is a gripping and thought-provoking story about one girl’s journey to become the person she believes she can be.

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I’m afraid to write.

Please indulge me – regular service will resume shortly.

I have a fear of the blank document. Starting fresh. Turning a page. I so desperately don’t want to fuck it up. It’s so crisp, so clean and my words just vomit across the page, without notion.

I am terrified of my own possibility. Terrified that I will work tirelessly on a piece of writing, only to read it back, and feel nauseated by the lack of talent and inability to embrace the form.

I write these words and I know I won’t publish them. I’ll challenge myself to, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll even follow through.

That’s my real problem,

The inability to follow through,

Finish what was started,

That manifested in an inability to even start.

I want so desperately to be inspired and to write something that the pressure is insurmountable. The weight of all my ideas pressing against my head, trying to balance them all, until they topple around me. I desperately reach out for each of them, hoping, praying, pleading for one of them to take hold and cement in my mind.

An idea.

A thought.

A fleeting memory.

Gone.

I want to write more, so much so that I feel this ache, this need to sit and pour my thoughts out. But where to begin? What plot do I choose? What will my character look like? Do I know them well enough? Can I empathise with them? Is the world I’ve built convincing enough??

Time ticks on and my word count is stagnant.

The words are there, I’ve just forgotten how to write them.

Fear is an ugly thing.

All consuming.

Saddening.

Numb.

I want to be a writer.

But…

I’m afraid to write.

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The Author is Dead, the Reader’s a Ghost, but the Work is Alive and Well.

“Once an action is recounted, for intransitive ends, and no longer in order to act directly upon reality — that is, finally external to any function but the very exercise of the symbol — this disjunction occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters his own death, writing begins.” – Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author (1967).

One thing that’s really been bothering me recently is the phrase that I’ve entitled this blog: “The Author is Dead, the Reader’s a Ghost, but the Work is Alive and Well.”

Now, it bother’s me more so, not because I said this to myself while reading an assortment of Barthes’ essays on narrative, authorship and the materiality of work, but because to an extent I believe it. It bothers me that I believe this statement but the actuality of the matter is that I do and as I’m typing this I’m frowning because my internal consciousness is raging so hard at how much it disagrees with this statement on principle. So I should probably contextualise everything and I’m going to address each part in sequence to do so.

  1. “The Author is Dead”
This stems quite directly from The Death of the Author as the quote about states for writing to begin the author must die – not literally. When Barthes talks about death he means not the ceasing of life (if anything he means the opposite) but that in order for a work to be given the merit is deserves it must stand independent from its writer. To some extent I agree with this statement especially in a world were celebrity culture overrides good literature. People receive book deals based on the knowledge that it will sell either due its popularity of style or the fan base of the author. Literary exceptionality is thrown out of the window or put aside for a very niche audience to only be discovered later in its existence (though some would argue this is the perpetual melancholy of the dead author).
  1. “The Reader’s a Ghost”
The ever-present reader. The pinnacle one which the act of reading is uplifted and without such the industry would collapse. However, when an author writes they must give up their claim to their creation upon commencement as a fully fledged work in its own right. In this same way the reader is simultaneously dead, during the writing process, and alive, during the reading process. Even though it is the readers who will decide the merit of a book it is not necessarily who the book itself is written for. When an author writes, truly writes, it is because they either have something they wish to say or an idea they just need to interweave within words. The reader is a constant at the back of their mind, no doubt, but more a ghostly whisper than an infant crying.
  1. “The Work is Alive and Well”
Barthes’ separates the concepts of both “work” and “text”. In their simplest forms; “work” describes the physical form of a creation, while “text” is the ongoing creative process and can span an entire body of work (this is a very short and narrow description on which Barthes expands much further). So in this respect I should probably say “The Text is Alive and Well” but, when thinking through Barthes’ logic, is a self-evident and constant state of being for the Text. What I mean by saying that the work is alive, is that it is constantly expanded on. Through the mediums of critique, adaptation and fanfiction (yes adaptation and fanfiction are different), the work is in a constantly changing and collaborative state. It is self-evolving; the ricochet effect of each new piece that is added to the world of the work further molds and affects the way in which others are then created.

To conclude, I believe this probably extents further than the creation of writing and act of reading. I don’t for one second consider this a theory or a fully-fledged argument as I am aware there are flaws to some of the logic and areas I haven’t fully given thought on. However, this is what has been whirling around in my brain for a little while and – like any dead author – I thought I better write it down.

So this is very different to what I usually write. I’d like to hope it has a little more intellectual flare to it, but I could be wrong. What I’d really love is for anyone interested or in refute o my arguments to comment below and let me know your thoughts; both on the blog and if you would like me to do more in this style of writing.

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New Year’s Resolutions of 2013

Happy New Year everybody! Here are my new years resolutions:

Misc:
  • Take more pictures
  • Learn more technical information about photography

Reading:

  • Read 50 Books (5 classics, 5 debuts, 5 of a genre I wouldn’t normally read)
  • Review Every Book I Read  (Blog or Video)

Writing:

  • Write one blog a week
  • Finish my novel
  • Write 5 short stories

Misc:

  • Lose another Stone
  • Draw More
  • Learn to play the guitar

 

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NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I have only participated in National Novel Writing Month once (which was 2 years ago now) and I did
thoroughly enjoy taking the time to do so. There was a feeling of elation as I hit 50,000 words that
cannot be compared to any other achievement.

For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge set to people, who may or may not consider
themselves to be writers, to write a novel in 30 day. For the purpose of the challenge, a novel is
distinguished as 50,000 words, which works out at around 1667 words a day.

NaNoWriMo is a good way to break the barriers of writer’s block, not having time or not being
focused enough and I learnt from it that if I really focus on something that I could actually write a
novel if I wanted to. And I do want to.

On the other hand, I do find that NaNoWriMo can give people a sense of false hope, insofar as they
believe having written a novel in 30 days they are publishable. This is highly unlikely. I’ll be the first
to admit that even though NaNoWriMo was a milestone for me and I’m proud to have completed it,
I wouldn’t dare show anyone the novel that I’d written.

I chose to go over my novel a few months ago to see if it was something that I could pick back up,
because I loved the idea and did think that I could produce some good work with it, if I started from
scratch and really worked through the plot. What I didn’t realise was that I had walked into a 17
year old mind with a somewhat dubious grip of complex grammar and even the odd spelling mistake
(even though I’m an English student, I’m far from excellent and I’ll never be a grammarian). It was
quite an experience.

What I can say is that, looking back on my NaNoWriMo novel has helped me to realise how far I have
progressed as a writer in that period of time and that I now have the ability to go over my work and
edit it to a degree that makes me happy. I also wonder if 21 year old me will go back to the novel
again and wonder what on earth the present me was writing, but I’ll have to wait to find out.

I do advise that you try out NaNoWriMo, they run a ‘camp’ all year round if you can’t participate
in November. I think it is a useful for understanding yourself as a writer. It helps you find out what
makes you tick and motivates you to keep going, because having the motivation to write can be just
as important as the words themselves.

‘This post can also be read at Brit Writers

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