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This 78 message thread spans 6 pages:  < <   1   2   3  4  5   6  > >  
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Dee at 06:26 on 10 June 2006
    I find writing difficult because I want to make it the best I possibly can.

    I think youíll find most people on this site will echo that. One of the reasons we join is for support and peer advice while we strive to improve. So, in that sense, we are all one big gang.

    I suspect Susan Hill at Long Barn, and Emma Barnes at Snowbooks (if you read their websites) are talking about the people who think that because they have a computer they can be a writer. (I once had a friend who moved into a house with a stable, so she bought a horse Ė never having sat on one in her life Ė and had to be rescued because she didnít know where its brakes were. It hadnít occurred to her that she would have to learn to ride, she saw others doing it and it looked easyÖ)

    The point I'm making is that anyone can string words together, but that doesnít mean they can write unless they learn and practice and seek feedback from readers and other writers. And, as most of us on here know, that takes hard work, determination and guts.

    And I suspect itís the I-have-a-stable-therefore-I-can-ride brigade who SH and EB were referring to, the ones who form the bulk of the slushpiles accumulating on the desks of every agent and publisher in the country. I donít believe they are suggesting that these people should stop writing, more that they should stop trying to get published.

    Dee
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 06:39 on 10 June 2006
    Well said Dee. I agree with you one hundred percent. My own writing has improved out of all recognition since I joined this site and most of that is due to the rough and tumble of Flash. With just a week's turn-around on a Challenge you don't have time to starve in a garret you are too busy writing and commenting. If you can write it soon shows, if you just have a stable that soon shows too. Amazingly we just seem to get good writers who get better and better.

    Best

    John
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Cornelia at 10:49 on 10 June 2006
    In my humble opinion,you are too hard on yourself and asking for too quick a fix.You may have put your finger on the problem - you expect to produce more than what will inevitably be a very rough first draft in the time allowed.

    I takes longer than a year to produce a novel - for first-timers, anyway. For me it has been a much longer stretch, and I haven't finished it yet.

    It has been a long apprenticeship, as they say. For 20 years before starting a novel I wrote only diaries and letters, along with some academic essays for courses or literary guide-lines for my students. I read lots of novels for pleasure, and my life had lots of incident, but fiction writers, I imagined, had either private incomes or exceptional talent and no domestic commitments.

    Writing a film book, describing the films themselves and researching the background was much easier than trying to construct a plot and characters.

    I started my novel in 1987 and I'm still working on it. Good thing I'm not on your course, eh?

    I can only wish you luck with our gargantuan task and 'bon courage'.As for whether you have the stamina, etc, you'll only know after you've put the years in.

    Sheila


  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by pestcontrol at 19:25 on 10 June 2006
    Thanks everyone.

    Len, thank you for your email, but I'd really rather you'd commented on the thread- no need to take it "offline". After all, I think people would find your comments useful.

    In response to your suggestion that I was appealing for attention- of course I was- as does everyone I know who writes. It's the inevitable result of such a solitary activity. Unless, of course, all the writers I know are oddballs ;-)

  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Elbowsnitch at 20:36 on 10 June 2006
    Would that more people would 'appeal for attention', throwing their writing problems open for general discussion - it's a generous thing to do.

    Frances
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 02:33 on 11 June 2006
    Amen to that Frances. And as for odd balls that is between me, the lady wife and my physician.

    Prosp
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by old friend at 07:28 on 11 June 2006
    Pest,
    I am sure we all look forward to reading some of your work. That is the way to receive the help and assistance you refer to and also the encouragement to remove or confirm any self-doubts that you may have.

    I agree that we all call attention to ourselves in different ways; I happen to feel that the best way is to produce the best work possible, open it to members and go from there.

    Len



    <Added>

    Dee's last paragraph hits the nail on the head.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Cornelia at 21:33 on 11 June 2006
    How topical to this thread is the press release I just received. It's about Alison Baverstock's book, 'Is There a Book in You?' to be published June 30th. There was a whole list of other WW members who contributed, but I didn't realise I'd be rubbing shoulders with all those top name authors. Especially useful, according to Peter Carey,(I think it was him) is the chapter called 'Is There Not a Book in You?' Maybe it will settle the quesion for those in doubt about whether to give up!


    Sheila

    <Added>

    No, it was John Carey.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Account Closed at 06:23 on 12 June 2006
    Great to hear you're in it too, Sheila! It's obviously a WriteWords production of sorts!

    )

    A
    xxx
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by EmmaD at 06:25 on 12 June 2006
    I'm looking forward to seeing the book. It's premise slightly reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's answer, when asked if University CW courses put students off. She said, 'Not nearly enough'.

    Emma

    <Added>

    its not it's. Oh, the shame!
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Cornelia at 07:14 on 12 June 2006
    Well, there'll be enough WW sales just to members alone, I should think. Who knows, I might even buy it myself, instead of hanging around in Ottakars until I've read it. Anne, I just looked at your website and it looks great - decorative and orderly at the same time.

    Emma, do you think part of this general opposition to creative writing courses comes from authors who are worried about the competition? It's true it must be an extremely crowded profession, and even new books are treated like so much dross. I was quite shocked to see that Zadie Smith's 'On Beauty' was selling for £9 in Charing Cross Road. I know I'm guilty myself of not paying for books, buying from second-hand shops or (mainly) from libraries. At least authors get a lending fee, so the second is not so bad.


    Sheila
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 07:33 on 12 June 2006
    Don't worry Emma, it happens to the best of us

    Prosp
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by EmmaD at 08:05 on 12 June 2006
    I don't know about general opposition to CW. F O'C's comment must have been made years ago, before CW was born or thought of as a subject over there.

    I think published authors are always worried about competition, wherever it comes from, but not specifically off CW courses. Personally (and I'm a CW graduate myself) I think my competitors will arrive however they arrive. There's a certain number of publishers' slots for them, as it were, and I don't think a CW course will make more of those slots. In a sense, it's aspiring writers who should worry about the competition to be noticed.

    If you take F O'C to have meant that CW courses are full of weak writers who don't get told clearly enough that they haven't a hope, and should be told, to leave the rest of us real writers the space, it's pretty snarky, but honest. I'm sure that your average piddling US liberal arts college in the 50s had pretty feeble courses for pretty feeble students, taught by numbers, so that if your story ticks enough boxes it gets a good grade and means you're a proper writer.

    I think F O'C's right if you take her to have meant that CW courses don't manage to convey just how hard it is to get anywhere as a writer: don't put them off in the way Alison Baverstock's hoping to put some off. In some ways it's inevitable. CW courses ought to be education-for-the-mind, not training-for-a-job. I think if you take a CW course purely in order to get published, you're a fool, and if colleges and universities sell their courses on that basis than they're little better than charlatans. If you take a CW course in order to become a better writer in the hope of getting published, then that's the right way round, and universities ought to be honest about it. Becoming a better writer is something worth doing, just as developing any human creativity is, whether or not a commercial publisher ultimately decides they can make money out of your creativity.

    Maybe we should lobby for City Lit and Morley to run one-day courses on, 'Are you really sure you want to be a writer?'. There'd be a presentation by someone in recovery from trying to be a writer, full of tales of their wrecked marriage, autistic dog and shattered self-esteem. Then a bleary-eyed publisher's assistant tells of the 3Ĺ seconds she's allowed to look at each submission, fingers bleeding from papercuts and on crutches after breaking her leg falling over the slushpile. Finally a 'successful' author trails in, pulling off her dark glasses to reveal eyes haunted by the 'not as good as her first' reviews, and tells of her day job in the canning factory which means she has to wear gloves to all the expenses-only visits she pays to reading groups in parish halls. She is tossing back Valium as she speaks, because she overheard the Sales Director describing her as a 'midlist' author to her editor, and knows she won't be offered a contract for her next book. But she doesn't dare confess that to even this sympathetic audience, because if she ever allows in the whiff of failure, she's doomed.

    And don't laugh at the latter, because it'll probably be me.

    Emma

    <Added>

    Tsk! 'over here.

    <Added>

    Thinking again about why writers scorn CW (if they do - I don't suppose Ishiguro does, being a UEA graduate himself). We do all know that there are some things about writing that are near-impossible to teach. It's irritating to those who've done the struggling-in-the-attic-for-years when non-writers (and course-providers) talk as if all it takes is the right course and you'll have a career.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Cornelia at 09:14 on 12 June 2006
    That reminds me, I'm expecing a call this very morning from a chap in Morley to tell me about a summer school writing course. (I know I really should stay indoors and get on with some actual writing!) Maybe I'll pitch your idea, as it sounds much more entertaining.

    I agree, a writers life has its miseries and you can't win, successful or not. I must remember to collect that John Osborne autobigraphy I ordered from the library - now that'll be real consolation for mouldering in obscurity.

    Sheila



    <Added>

    Didn't I once read that if you've done a CW MA at least the publisher knows there's been some kind of filtering process before the work gets to her. Maybe it was Alison who wrote that.
  • Re: Oh-oh...big mistake
    by Prospero at 09:19 on 12 June 2006
    Hi Emma

    One of the best things about WriteWords is how it gives wannabees like me a very good idea of how things are in the real world.

    Just writing and posting in Flash makes you review and re-think your motivation and ability.

    You post your latest masterpiece and everybody disses it. You either crawl away and die or you put another choccy in your mouth and another floppy in the computer and have another go.

    In the year or so I have been Flashing, I have seen so many people improve so much. We are as competitive as hell, but we all put everything we have into helping each other across the line. Kicking and scratching all the way of course.

    I don't think I have ever encountered anything quite like it. But it is a great training ground.

    Best

    John
  • This 78 message thread spans 6 pages:  < <   1   2   3  4  5   6  > >