A Year of Writing: Days 211-220

Day 211 of #ayearofwriting and I have decided from now on that I have enough stories to submit one story a week to a publisher. That is to say, I am not writing a story a week, I have written around 14 stories this year and they are in danger of just sitting there. That’s 14 weeks of submissions and in that time I will have written another two short stories or maybe three – I seem to be going shorter in my word count – each story builds on ideas for my PhD and plays with styles, voice and structure.

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Day 212 of #ayearofwriting I have become the imaginings of John Brunner.
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Day 212 of #ayearofwriting and showing that reading is as important as writing I am revisiting this text, and will be doing so more from September. I think this is Brunner’s masterpiece, as if Stand on Zanzibar was a warm up to this novel, it is truly horrific as it highlights are own stupidity.
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Day 213 of #ayearofwriting and waist deep in note taking, sketch writing (as in sketching out ideas) and facing an office that looks like this. Plasterer comes tomorrow.
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Day 214 of #ayearofwriting and this photo sums up my state of mind #nooneherebutuschickens
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Day 215 of #ayearofwriting and the house bakes as the plaster goes off in my office. In the back ginnel with post it notes and paper. Time to map some ideas under the clothesline.
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I have strange addictions beyond buying books.
Day 216 of #ayearofwriting and I have managed to squeeze into a space in the bedroom to get on with my writing.The problem with writing at the moment is not my mojo but the community that sometimes surrounds it, you can feel yourself becoming a little crowded. The problem with crowds is that it can lead to psychotic episodes, triggered by our basic desire to fight of flee. This often explains the violence that erupts in city centres when people have been drinking, it is not just the lowering of our inhibitions but a release of our base desires. You find very few men in the countryside looking for a fight, by the time they find someone they would have walked miles and exhausted any chance of that. For awhile, I felt social media created this false sense of crowding, too many poets and sooner or later, plagiarism is declared and the witch hunt begins. There is something about the wider writing scene though that is sometimes tainted. More about the ego and personality than work. We create false idols, create a false sense of literary and never have the balls to say, ‘Fuck off, when it comes to some writers who have peddled the form down cul de sacs’. Be wary of the crowd, be wary of being drawn into the nonsense that surrounds the writing. Just write. Your time will come and go.
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Day 217 of #ayearofwriting and I suppose the comment yesterday was a response to a wonderful documentary on Angela Carter I saw at the weekend, you can watch it here for as long as the BBC deems Angela not to be too scary (catch it quick): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bf4whd
I recommend every writer and reader watch it. I loved the moment that Jeanette Winterson states the novel that won the 1984 Booker, Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner, is ‘insipid’. Carter’s ‘Nights at the Circus’ was snubbed and never made it onto the short list. I was forced to read Brookner at A Level and had a heated argument with my lecturer who deemed du Lac to be a great piece of literature and loathed Carter. For me, du Lac, was everything that was wrong with the novel; I am not dismissing that it is well written but for me it is forty years too late. It is everything that was wrong with the literary scene, it was elitist, dull and more importantly, grounded, like a dead bird. This is the problem with the crowd, and now the crowd crow over Carter, I suspect I know what she would have said to them, ‘Fuck off’.
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Day 218 of #ayearofwriting and I have been considering Angela Carter’s writing advice to flip things around. In my original story my character would succumb to the emotional limb loss disease but I found it more interesting that he is devoid of emotion, that he is almost like death, with great humour but unable to connect. Then I start to think who will he care for next, who was full of rage and played emotional games? Who was developed a myth around herself? There she is, Miss Havisham. A character so eaten by her own emotions that she develops a weapon to destroy the hearts of men, to emotionally cripple them. Surely, even Miss Havisham would have one day, if she survived, had a carer. Enter Ms Ms Hayashida, a lock in, one step away from floating in jars in a circus freak show. Why rewrite Miss Havisham? Mental health is important in disability, it is a hard journey to keep positive, to put one foot in front of another in a society that marginalises. The Japanese setting and culture is merely an echo of our own society, an allegory of what we have become, and the emotional stress leading to loss of limbs is simply anger on my behalf being spat back in fiction.
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Day 219 of #ayearofwriting and there is something I want to discuss about craft and practice, depending on your take. Writing is not easy. There. Let me see if you got it. WRITING IS NOT EASY. I will discuss the reasons for this in a blog post soon but let me leave you with this message:

WRITING
IS
NOT
EASY

Day 220 of #ayearofwriting and following on from yesterday, my views on Writing is Not Easy

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