It has been a long while since I last posted, many apologies to all. Especially to those who had begun to make reading my blog a habit. I had a cold that dragged on and on, and by the time it was done, I had completely fallen out of the blogging habit. And so followed the usual pattern of good habits being hard to make, and especially hard to remake, so here I go…
But on the front of the procrastination station of non-blog writing on my writing (which by the way has been moving steadily forward, like an iceberg into the Titanic, but more on that later), my beloved BF sent me this inspiring article in Slate on how Kafka was one of the truly great procrastinators, and it has given me a spark of hope. Procrastination may not be all bad… alternatively, I could try getting the BF to tie me to my writing chair akin to Italian author Vittorio Alfieri, pictured above. I have not yet ruled that one out entirely.
This week, we spotted a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad book cover for Stephen King's The Shining over at the Guardian. It seems especially unfair for such a modern classic to be saddled with such an ugly cover, and so we were inspired to search the Internet for the worst covers to ever sully the faces of great books, whether at home or abroad.
A couple of the quotes that really struck me were Ernest Hemmingway and Susan Sontag, which surprises me because I (rather sacreligiously) am not really a fan of Hemmingway.
Hemmingway’s Advocated Routine
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
I think that it’s a mistake I often make: to write until I run out of ideas on where my current scene is going. Although this is a natural break, it does mean that when I sit down again to continue, I have no idea of where to go. It may be time for me to start on some Hemmingway pragmatism.
Susan Sontag’s Planned Routine
(From her diary in 1977)
“Starting tomorrow — if not today:
I will get up every morning no later than eight. (Can break this rule once a week.)
I will have lunch only with Roger [Straus]. (‘No, I don’t go out for lunch.’ Can break this rule once every two weeks.)
I will write in the Notebook every day. (Model: Lichtenberg’s Waste Books.)
I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone.
I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)
I will answer letters once a week. (Friday? — I have to go to the hospital anyway.)”
This diary entry really struck home, because it looks like it could be an extract from my diary (subject, of course, to revisions for things like “letters” (What are they again?)). Nonetheless, I saw my own struggles in Susan’s. Writing is a very solitary pursuit, and it’s good to feel that you’re not actually alone in it. The blog helps of course, but so do these lovely little snippets.
As I was driving on my way home from Wales last weekend, I came across a rather romantic sounding name on the map – Wolfscastle. A tiny place in Pembrokeshire, Wales that sadly doesn’t quite correspond to this photo. I looked at the map and then at this stunning view and realised that Wolfscastle is actually the name of a nearby town, not the picturesque pile of rocks that I was looking at.
I really enjoyed the blissfully short while was convinced that this amazing, hauntingly beautiful and wild rocky tor was so aptly named. It’s situated upon an isolated hilltop, surrounded by moss and lichen-covered stones, brambles and heather. Faeries live here, I’m sure of it.
Seeing it, I felt like I had stumbled across a place in Rhye in my book Four and Twenty Blackbirds. My photographic skills sadly does not do the place justice. I’m still not entirely sure what the name of this wonderful faeire spot is. In my mind it will always be Wolfscastle. Colour me inspired. I’m just itching to write.
I’ve been in and around the publishing industry for several years now and this flowchart is amusingly accurate. Although, as with any lifecycle, there are many more divergent paths that a book can take. A rather tragic path I once witnessed (many moons and jobs ago), was where the editor of a new author had left the publishing company. Although the new author’s book was about to be published, without anyone to champion it within the company, their work completely floundered – there was a token print run and very little marketing support. I’m not sure what happened to it in the end, but if it became a success, I would be surprised – every new author’s worst nightmare. I’m sure that there’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Anyhoo, on a more upbeat note, enjoy the infographic.
“writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”
The Atlantic Article where this was highlighted to me informs that “Murakami… transformed himself from nicotine-stained wastrel to marathoning meganovelist, [and] urges writers to prepare for novels like contestants gearing up for the Hunger Games.” Moshin has said that it was following Murakami’s advocation that gave him the drive and energy to move forward with his writing.
This really struck a cord with me, as I find that exercise really does help my mind to work better, so Mr Murakami really does have a point. I have linked the two activities together, but perhaps I should dualise my exercise and writing routines. This reminds me that I really need to get on the case with exercising my body as well as my mind. I only have two weeks left to train for the Where’s Wally 10km fun run, and I am way behind.
A bit of background on the five races of Rhye from the Treatise of Jupp Quegley:
The dwayvers say that when the first dragon flew out of the darkness and gave birth to the world, the web he wove around Rhye became the sky, and when he spawned his fire upon it, the web wept, and the rain fell to land as the birds and animals and the first races: the totems, the drakes and the faeries. Humanfolk came later.
Totems practice earth-magic. There are the 13 races of totemic animals, as well as the many other beings with animalistic qualities. The anthoropomorphised (personified) animals are not to be confused with their ‘dumb’ counterparts, for example, there are Totemic Wolves (not to be confused with werewolves) as well as regular c0mmon-a-garden wolves who do not have any inherent magical ability or what humans would term ‘higher reasoning’. The races of Totemic animals are rare and have extremely long life spans, some have the ability to shift into human form.
Apart from the 13 Totemic animal races (which include wolves, ravens, bears, pigs), here are some examples of Totems:
Drakes practice fire-magic. They are the least populous of the races, and comprise the four types of dragon (Stone, Metal, Water and Fire). They are reclusive and tricksy, and are frequent shape shifters, rarely appearing in their native state.
Faeries practice air and water magics, and are probably the most populous of the old races. There are many different courts, and some live much more openly than others. They are the only ones among the old races to have built cities themselves. Types of Faerie includes:
Although humans do not have any inherent magics themselves, they can harness the magics of Drakes, Totems or Faeries for a wider and more powerful array of magics. Mostly this magic is derived from the use of faerie dust, as well as the trade in faerie parts. Magic users are few in human circles, but those that rise up, can be spellweavers many times more powerful than any individual of the old races.
Dwayvers do not wield any magics themselves, but live in the mountains mining precious gems. They are secretive and do not allow outsiders into their great underground cities. They do come out occasionally to trade, and some outcasts choose to live undersky.
They say that to write a book, you need to get into the head of your character. What better way to do that than be an online persona of your character and have people interview him/her/it.
At the IAmAFiction Sub-Reddit, you can log on as your character and interact with readers who will pose questions and help you to add flesh to your ideas. A few of my favourite proposed characters I’ve come across are:
IAmA Man who recently realized he is fictional. Hello reddit.
To be honest, I’m a complete novice with Reddit, and I don’t quite gettit (*excuse the pun* – couldn’t resist. Honestly, you have my sincerest apologies, please don’t go…). The premise seems good. All you need to do is submit your character as an interview subject, and you can give your character a test run in the forum with avid readers. The Reddit peeps say:
If you are working on developing an invented character for creative writing, roleplay, or pure novelty, this is the place to expose your character to the world and subject them to questioning to help you flesh them out.
IAmA posts work just like a regular IAmA post, except the poster assumes the role of his/her character.
Please be a good IAmAfic citizen and comment on other people’s submissions as well as your own. Remember, they’re not real people — so no need to be shy!
my own character development
I may well make use of this in future – when I finally figure out Reddit.
My current state of affairs with Four and TwentyBlackbirds, and character development thereof,is a bit of a shambles. Embarking on my current plan of 4and20BB without a huge amount of novel- writing experience was a trifle ambitious. I have been aiming to write 3 separate and distinct storylines in a world of my own creation and weave the stories so that they all tie up nicely. The only problem was that although I have characters and a world and a few dramatic scenes inferring an over-arching storyline. The truth is, that I have been making it up as I went along. I have no story. It was all very well for a while, but I am now thoroughly lost, with a whole bunch of scenes, but no plot to speak of. Just a bunch of curious characters meadering through their strangely eventful lives.
I’ve been ill the last few days, and although it hasn’t been fun being stuck abed, it has given me ample opportunity to think and plan. The good news is – I now have a plot! The bad news is, for the moment at least, I need to cut the majority of what I’ve written. Ouch! Ah well, at least now I have a path, much better than the frustration of being completely lost and listless… into the woods I go!
Welcome to i.am.sophus. I am (at present) an undisciplined poet and novel writer, focusing on fantasy, horror and sci-fi, and particularly fairy tales. This blog will detail my highs and lows of writing and tips and tools that I discover along the way.