Welcome to my blog!
I am a lefty. I write vertically, cannot use can-openers and was recently foiled by a right handed ladle (I will have my vengeance...) but more than this, I generally seem to approach life from a different angle. I appreciate that this may have nothing to do with being a lefty and may just be my own dysfunctionallity, but after earning the nickname 'Lefty-Flip' after a frustrating game of Guitar Hero, it seemed an appropriate title for this blog.
Friday, 27 July 2012
‘It is called a Pensieve’ said Dumbledore, ‘I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.’
‘Er.’ Said Harry, who couldn’t truthfully say that he had ever felt anything of the sort.
I’m with Dumbledore on this one. Far too many thoughts…
For some months now I have been ignoring an increasing large problem in my writing. I was ignoring it for several reasons. Firstly, I had a hard choice to make, and secondly whichever way I chose would result in the need for a drastic re-write… boo L
What started out as a novel for 9-11 year olds was now twice the length it should be for a book in that range, and far heavier too (theme wise, not weight wise! Although actually…) So clearly the book was heading into YA territory. Which would have been fine except that my main character was all of twelve years old and acting every year of it. Which just doesn’t work (no matter how much you stick your head in the sand and pretend it will all be okay!)
After something of a stern telling off, and some subsequent words of advice over at my favourite writers' stomping ground, I was faced with this choice: age up or simplify down.
I could either cut down the story and simplify it for the intended 9-11 year old age group, or go with the flow and bump up the age of my main characters.
So how to decide? Did I embark on a reading spree and study more books of the same genre? Share my writing and ask for advice? Borrow Dumbledore’s Pensieve? Ah, I wish.
I did the next best thing – spent my bus money on some Rowntrees Randoms and walked home. Which was a good three miles. Which meant a good 50 minutes thinking time. Luckily it’s not a very busy route so I don’t think more than three people witnessed me arguing with myself.
By the time I got home I’d figured out where the story was really heading, and it wasn’t a place for 9 year old readers. Or 12 year old characters. No matter how much I love them.
I think I finally understand the pain of killing your darlings. It sucks.
I am dreading re-writing the first four chapters, mostly because that was the one section I thought was pretty much complete! Now they’re lining the cat’s litter tray.
Oh well. You live and learn.
So back to Dumbledore and his Pensieve and how to tackle the re-write. I may not be able to pour my thoughts out into a bowl, but I do have the next best thing.
Yep, you guesses it.
Post it notes!!!
A few months back I had the slight mishap of losing a character, so I mapped out my plot in multi-coloured post-its on the wall.
As you do.
It turned out to be quite handy, so there they have stayed. As I started rewriting, things have started changing. Turns out my 15 year old is far more impatient than she was at 13, so things are moving at a quicker pace, and occasionally in a different order. God bless re-adhesive sticky notes.
Well that's all from me this week, as I now have a couple of newly unruly teenagers to tend to!
Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts everyone!
bye for now,
Friday, 13 July 2012
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
It’s not often I get political, mostly ‘cause I’m a wuss and fear the backlash, but this one has really got my back up.
Writers on Twitter will no doubt have seen the kafuffle that kicked off after GP Taylor announced on
BBC Breakfast yesterday, that he thought some kind of book censorship should be introduced for children’s’ and teen books.
Okay first of all, this is a completely dead argument. You might want to do some research before you say such silly things on tv. How would anyone enforce this certification? Who would decide what is suitable for what age range? I can’t even be bothered to list the problems with this, as they are both boring and obvious.
Not only is the argument dead, it has been dead a long time. When I was seventeen I had this debate in my Media Studies class, with regards to age certification of music and books. This was when I was seventeen. That’s a whopping fourteen years ago*. Certification is not the way forward Mr Taylor, it is a huge step back.
*Edit - ahem - make that thirteen years ago. Apparently ranting has aged me a year in a day...
Jus to infuriate me even more, another argument that never fails to make my toes curl was made…
‘Back when I was a kid, books were about having adventures and drinking ginger beer…’
Okay, now I’m sure back in her day, when the world was all sunshine and lollipops Enid Blyton’s writing was much more relatable to her target audience, but here’s my point:
Enid Blyton wrote the majority of her work from 1940 – 1960… Now I’m going to make a really crazy assumption here, try and stay with me… what if, just what if ...the world has changed since then? I know, I know, clearly I’ve had too much sugar this afternoon to be making such wild assumptions…
I digress – this wasn’t supposed to turn into an Enid bashing, I actually enjoyed her stories a lot when I was a kid, but please lets stop using her as the benchmark of suitability against which all children’s fiction should be judged. It makes me want to punch things.
One of the reasons I am so annoyed by this is that I actually really like GP Taylor’s books, he’s a great children’s writer and I can’t help but feel let down that he has come out with this claptrap. But that’s my personal issue, I will try and get passed it.
As for judging the suitability of books for kids, how’s this for an idea…
If your kids are still young enough that you are choosing their books for them, take the time to do a little research. Look online. Read reviews. Read the books themselves. Visit the library, or you know, just ask in the books shops themselves.
If you’re 9 year old son is scared of his own shadow, then maybe don’t buy him anything by Darren Shan. On the other hand if he’s spending the weekend playing Grand Theft Auto and whatever shoot-em-up game is currently doing the rounds, then a little bit of teen horror might be more appropriate.
And if you’re kids are old enough to pick their own books, well I just said it. They are old enough to choose for themselves.
Patrick Ness put it perfectly yesterday:
‘Children are great self-censors: they know what they can read and they know what they want to read’
Yes. Yes they do.
He also said a whole lot of other lovely sensible things which you can read here.
The whole thing winds me up no end, because quite frankly all that is needed for this entire problem to go away is an ounce of common sense.
Thank you, I’m here all week!
Friday, 6 July 2012
Busy week this week – On Wednesday morning I walked all the way from Cirencester to
Swindon on a sponsored walk. For those of you who don’t know the area it’s a good 16 miles!
We started at Ciren at (otherwise known as ridiculous o’clock). The first 6 miles were pretty easy, if rather muddy, going. We arrived in Cricklade looking like we’d spent the weekend at
, but I was quite surprised that after only 4 hours sleep, and 2 and a half hours walking, I wasn’t tired at all. Glastonbury
The second leg was not so easy. Though it was easier going underfoot (we were blessed with actual paths now) our brief stop was enough for my body to remember that it would really rather be sleeping. By the time we got to Shaw my legs were no longer my friends and quite frankly I could have slept quite happily in the dirt.
I did save a drowning butterfly along the way though, so, you know, not a wasted trip.
We got to work at , and after a rather extended lunch break, some of us even managed to do some work in the afternoon (or at least pretend quite convincingly).
This was all to raise money for a local charity ABC (Affected By Cancer). So far we’ve raised a good £1000 and counting.
Job well done, team.
Start at Reading next year?
PS I haven't been slacking off on the writing, oh no, quite the opposite! Update to follow next week...