Building confidence by writing rubbish – Sharing a short story about Joshua

I have 14 days to write 2,500 words. These words aren’t just any, they are the words that will prove that I have what it takes to attend University (official, brick building style University not OU anymore).

These words are split between two tasks. The first is to write a journey that can be either actual or fictional. Very little detail is given with this task which opens it up so wide I can’t even decide what kind of journey to choose. It could be a physical journey on a bus, train or in the car or even a journey of discovery, spiritual or otherwise.

The second part is a review. Fortunately, I’ve read the book in question and so I can use my 14 days to write fully instead of having to speed-read the subject matter!

As the title of this post suggests, this is more about whether I have confidence in myself as I find I’m doubting my ability to do anything right now. Particularly, doubting my ability to write.

I find that by writing gibberish, I think clearer. Ideas flow a bit easier because it really doesn’t matter what I write. Although, I very rarely use any of the gibberish as it tends to be.. well, rubbish! I thought I’d share some here today, however as its getting late in the evening and I’ve had a full on day at work, the crud is flowing nicely in my tired brain.

So, today it happened. In a world where time doesn’t happen, ever and things are solid most often. We find a protagonist named Joshua. He is a small semi-cellular being with hair and a face with all the features where they should be. I like Joshua because he likes cake but I also think he has a good attitude to life.

He has a journey to go on where he meets dragons and monsters and a big hairy antagonist named Victor. I don’t like Victor so much as he likes olives and one of his eyes is quite a bit larger than everything else on his face. We’ll talk more about Victor after we have visited Joshua’s house.

When I was a child I would have loved to have lived in a house like Joshua’s house. It has a big garden with flowers in beds and a lawn that you can walk on without shoes on. I like the colour of Joshua’s house too, its pink with a big yellow stripe in the middle of it so it looks like a present. A beautiful present for me, all wrapped up with a bow.

That’s why I stole the keys and went inside..

Here I met Victor for the first time. He was sat at the dining room table with a big bowl of olives, all different colours. Not only do I dislike the taste of olives by the smell too and so I instantly took a strong dislike to the man I had just met. I tend to accept people based on their smell mainly, if it is a good smell I will mostly likely think you are the cheese’s knees. If it is a bad smell, well, some associations just can’t be broken. So, Victor is the dirty, hairy olive man that I don’t like.

I’m going to skip to the good stuff now because I’m boring myself with all this talk of olives and faces and pink.

Joshua met a big ferocious dragon! His teeth were as big as mountains. His eyes were the colour of blood. His scaly skin was thick and as hard as concrete. He had a soft, kind heart full of candy-floss and butterflies though. Mr Big Dragon hid his heart behind the nasty scary stuff so that no ghastly girls could get at it. They might eat poor Mr Big Dragon’s heart. I licked it once. It was tasty.

Joshua used all his magical hero powers to fly up into the air and stab Mr Big Dragon in the nose. Unfortunately, Joshua is quite small compared to Mr Big Dragon so it actually felt like having a nose hair pulled out and one single tear fell from Mr Big Dragon’s eye.

That stung a little.’ he said and Joshua laughed.

I hope you have enjoyed my random act of writing. I also hope that it has given you the confidence to write, wherever, whenever, HOWEVER you see fit. Funny, serious, scary, sensual… everything. Nothing is pointless.

Novel writing and talking point – Swearing in writing

I came back to my novel today, crawled back on my knees and re-read what I’d worked so hard on before. I felt slightly guilty for leaving it so long, especially as I could hardly remember how far I’d got last time I sat down to do any writing for it.

Today, I gave it a go and wrote 700 words, introduced a new character and edited some of the previous pages. Its a start. We’ll see how it goes.

I was suppose to be studying when I decided to write for my novel. Ever the confused procrastinator, instead of working on the script for my assignment I decided to drag up past writing relationships instead.

I am finding this scriptwriting module hard to stick with though, the course materials seem basic in one sense and in another I just don’t know what I’m doing! I need to write two scenes for this assignment making use of conflict and how dialogue is effected by characters also having actions in scenes. While at the same time looking at idiom, idiolect and basic story telling.

If anyone has tried scriptwriting or uses this form often, I’d love to hear your thoughts on conflict and idiom/idiolect. As the assignment looks at conflict particularly, a part of me wants to include swearing but I’m almost too afraid to push the boundaries. What are your views on swearing in writing, is it necessary to convey emotions and personality or do you think it detracts from good writing?

Well, it has been a long time hasn’t it!

I can’t believe its been so long since I wrote on my blog page! I’m sorry for not being around and sharing in the wonderful and inspirational writing that’s been posted.

It’s all been a bit hectic and normally I’d have come on to have a good rant about it! With long days at work and stressful university study to finish its all fallen apart a bit. I have continued to write though, in the midst of the chaos and I’ve come back with a little poem to share.

Straight Poet

Perhaps if I had written a thousand verses
about moonshine and the wistful nights,
dabbled in the hypnotic, in dancing and drink
while the heat licked at my heart.

Perhaps if I had been a vivid child
who sang for jeopardy and ecstasy,
beckoned at dusk with my misbehaviour
to delight in the shadows flickering.

I could sit here with a head full of visions
pluck from the library of misperception
to tell you stories of the lizard and snake
while you sink into a pool of cushions.

I cleared my plate after every blunder
and I ran from the monkey on my back
now I have very little to offer you
but the words that those spirits lacked.

I have a collection of philosophy to share
a few holes in my soul that I’d like to bare
if by reading this you create a stitch
then patch me up and leave me enriched.

I look forward to getting back into the swing of things both reading blogs posts and writing them!

As Low As It Gets

I often try to give an explanation of the poems I put up on here. Some kind of interpretation or reason why I wrote it. I can’t today. Sometimes you have to trust that it doesn’t always come from inside – that the world is writing through you.

As low as it gets

You have become my head-throb
the rooms, the walls curving in
inches between beats.
You have become my distraction
aching for words, like parted lips
that will only settle when fed.

Nothing can explain it
to have your attention
is more than simple curiosity.
Nothing can quell it,
those sorry, guilty desires
burnt onto the back of my skull.

I’ll die here,
the crime of my deception,
what I had was worth it.
I’ll die here,
scarlet woman cut into my skin,
and bleed all of hell at your feet.

But I love you
and those words carry sanctuary,
enough to make me feel whole.
But I love you
and I hope you never know what I’ve done,
never troubled by scars on my heart.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Before I go into a more in-depth study of The Blade Itself I should start by saying a little about the book as a whole. This book is the first by Joe Abercrombie in a trilogy called The First Law. As such, it should be read with the knowledge that the story intends to continue. It is a fantasy novel with integrity, something not easily pulled off but Abercrombie does it with style. I have added the blurb in below as I think it is the best way to sum up the characters and I didn’t feel I could add much more by trying to re-write it:

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught up in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian, leaving nothing behind but some bad songs, a few dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a jar. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government… if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is fantasy with a real cutting edge.

The main characters are complicated, mostly undesirable and so their introductions to the reader need to be done slowly so that they don’t appear too detached or confusing. Abercrombie has a unique and wonderfully effective way of doing this; he introduces the psyche of his characters so that they are believable.

Abercrombie adds humour to the book in the way the characters (particularly Glokta) think and feel about their situations in both monologue and touches of dialogue. I liked the way this lightness didn’t detract from the gritty reality of the story; it was just enough to make it feel a little more like true life and not just a series of painful incidents.

So, to the painful incidents which are frequent throughout The Blade Itself. I have read a few short reviews of this first book and many have noted Abercrombie’s excellent way of describing a fight or action scene. I have to say that I have never read it done this well; you can almost hear the bones cracking and smell the smoking flesh. However, I feel again that Abercrombie has held back in just the right way so that the book remains approachable with a deep and intriguing story.

The way that the story builds is as I indicated at the beginning; only to be judged as the first of a series. It has slow beginning but it thickens quickly as the characters start on their own personal journeys. Soon they start to link, slowly and gradually they begin to meet. Half-way through we are surprised to meet yet more new additions and it almost feels like the book is a little crowded – that is until the end. I will stop, no spoilers here.

Overall, I am very much looking forward to continuing the journey. I feel that Abercrombie has a great many more twist and surprises up his sleeve.

 

Expectations

I found it hard to get up today. It was a struggle to get dressed or even finish breakfast. I sat down and tried to work on my assessment, which as I mentioned in my previous post has been eating up my hours outside of work. When I got out my pencil and paper I remembered about my new fountain pen and spent at least 10 minutes fiddling with it and performing the obligatory tests. My name is Katie and I have a new pen. Written 15 times across the page in various styles.

I gave up after this. I know, not even a useful word on the page yet and I was gone. I sat down instead and wrote some poetry for me. Yes, poetry just for the fun of it.

Expectations

The words that you want
are three little lies,
if you can hear them
above your formidable cries?
If I could interject here
and say how little you accomplish,
with you as my judge and jury
I’m accused of being selfish.

This will never be genuine
while I don’t know what I’ve done
and I can’t say I’ll change
until these old ghosts have gone.
This certainly isn’t love now
that all I feel is guilt,
an understandable reaction
to this cage that you built.

Tell me how ungrateful I am,
look at everything that you gave.
It’s your duty now to honour it,
I’m expecting you to behave.
I’ll think on it I promise,
think on all that happened after.
You should not have cast your eye
on what isn’t yours to master.

Assignments, assessments and a little assurance

The last few weeks I’ve been working on catching up with my degree study. It’s going to be a long couple of months ahead with one assignment left before my module assessment in November. I also have a new module to start which will overlap with my assessment preparation but I should be able to make it – I hope!

I recently received my tutor feedback from my latest assignment. I hadn’t really hoped for much as my work was overdue and a little rushed towards the end but it turned out to be just the ticket to get me back in the swing of things. My tutor’s commentary of my poetry does have a funny way of making me need to work.

I had been asked to re-draft 6 of my poems that had been written previously in this module. I found it very tough and full of stops and starts as I tried to grapple with my own idealism. I have never really liked re-drafting my poetry that much. I prefer to leave it as is good or bad; it makes me prouder of the poems that have turned out well but I gave it my best shot all the same.

I would now like to share a couple of my re-drafted poems with you. Ones that I feel actually benefitted from some treatment.

Daughter

From the roughest hands,
fingertips cracked and stained
with black grease and dirt,
comes the lightest touch.
A moment of reassurance
from a frightened man
in crisp white bedding.

In grief I closed my eyes,
absorbed by the warmth of his palm,
the hope that was cradled there
in vacant motions of goodbye.
I took comfort from it,
the ridged pad of his thumb
as it soaked my tears.

 

Beach in Winter

Weighted by my coat
I sludge under ashen clouds,
this thick air feels eternal.

Mist, sand and water blend,
the sky beneath my boots is quilted
by still ripples.

I crouch over shallow pools
watching for darts of life
buried in the grit and grain.

 

I have a lot more writing, drafting, re-drafting and frustration to go through but I’ll try to keep it posted.

All for the love of a book

I have been in the wars today, all for the love of a book.

I’m currently reading The blade itself by Joe Abercrombie and I can’t put it down. I was wondering around the house this morning reading it and in my daze I caught my ribs on a door handle, my head on an open cupboard and my hip on the dinning room table.

I also have the sad news to report, I sold my car today and once we had departed I walked an hour trek to the train station to go home. On the way being savaged by several overhanging branches and brambles while my head was stuck in this book.

I won’t give too much away as I hope to do a proper review soon. Although it has had a slow start with so much ground to cover with the three main characters, it has certainly taken on pace and is very engrossing. As today has proven to me; painfully.

Sorry for the silence lately…

…but I’ve been snowed under with study. However, now that I have a little more freedom I would like to introduce you to a few things on the left.

I have just signed up to GoodReads and with that I have just started (a bit late) their 2013 reading challenge. I have presented myself with the task of reading 20 books before the end of the year and to make it more of a challenge I’m not including the books I’ve already read within 2013.

So, really that is 20 books in the next six months. To start with I currently have two books on the bedside table.

1. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

2. Chasing the Sun: The epic story of the star that gives us life by Richard Cohen

I have added to my sidebar what I’m currently reading and my progress with the challenge too. I hope this will help me get to the bottom of my to be read pile!

Any recommendations for the challenge ahead? I am always looking for new books.

Novel Progress – Making Milestones

I decided the best way to share my novel writing on the blog is to create milestones for myself. It will also keep me on track and give me something to aim for that’s a bit nearer than the whole nine yards (or 90,000 words).

The milestones will be: 2,000 – 5,000 – 10,000 words then every 5,000 after that. At each milestone I would like to share the last few lines that I’ve written, let me know what you think, does it tweak your interest?

This last week I reached the 2,000 mark, my writing has started to slow down a little since this as I’ve got an assignment due next week.

Here are the last lines that I wrote, just a little snippet.

I have worked here for 5 months, my last role was on the top floor, nothing interesting or particularly restricted happens on this level. Client bids, system maintenance and basic employee data gets logged and monitored. It is the training ground for all orphans, like me, before being given our final positions below ground. The better dependency, quieter or more efficient you are, the deeper you go.

I still feel a pang, something like guilt, when I flick the switches. Today, as I leant over pod 23 I must have imagined the smell of burning flesh escaping the poly-carbon gel that surrounded her. I took a last look through the glass, at least this time it felt right to take her life.