DAY 18 – Book you most embarrassed to say you like

There is this long-standing debate amongst writers: can creativity be taught? Can you really study to become a good writer?

Many writers go for creative writing courses and the most famous authors in the world have at least a Bachelors Degree in English, so maybe there’s some significance in this fact? Then again, Stephanie Meyer has an English Degree and she can’t write for doggie poo. (Oh come on, I’m not being mean, we all know it’s true, even Stephen King said so.)

I, being the stubborn mule that I am, refuse to take any creative writing courses. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to syntax and grammar, you can never learn too much. Relevant courses relating to these will be beneficial to anyone wanting to improve their use of language. I’m talking here about actual creativity and the concept and development of ideas in the writing of that book.
My pride (or is it ego?) tells me I know what I’m doing and because I always believe I know what’s best for me, this same pride has me refusing to get any help. Or has it? And this is where I shot myself in the foot without even realizing it.
Just because you don’t physically attend a seminar on how to write a novel that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other educational sources/tools that can teach you to.

And this is where my cheeks go crimson, as I reveal hesitantly, the two books that are currently helping me on my journey.

Writing A Novel by Nigel Watts in the Teach yourself series is a bit more sophisticated than the “For Dummies” range.

I really, really like this book. I bought it when I first dabbled with the idea of writing a book but didn’t take it too seriously. But years later it has found its place on my bedside table. Even though my current work in progress is a collection of short stories, I do have a novel I started (well sort of), and after the Collection is complete I plan to get cracking with it. And when that happens I can see this book being like a Bible to me.
Despite its title, certain tips are quite general and can apply to any piece of writing and he always makes references and comparisons to short stories which really helps me in particular. There are exercises designed to get those creative juices flowing but also to aid in the writing of your book with regards to characterization, plot developments and dialogue etc.

So as much as it kills me to say I have this book in my possession, never mind actually liking it, it is a great source of comfort to me. NB. My ego is currently munching on a big fat slice of humble pie as you read this.

Another similar book I like is Write That Book Already! by Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark.

The title however is a bit misleading. Reading the cover, you assume it is a motivational piece to get you writing and overcoming dreaded writers’ block. But most of the book is actually dedicated to the aftermath of the completion of your work. Information on submitting manuscripts, dealing with agents, the marketing world and book tours are all dealt with here (Btw this is the book that gave me the idea to start a blog, and hoorah! Here we are!).
I must admit that Write That Book Already! also gave me a reality shock. If you have a fairytale view of what it takes to get published, this book will shatter all those idealistic impressions. It is humorous but brutally honest at the same time. If after reading it, you are still not deterred, then you know you are on the right path!

So now you know what arrogant, know-it-all Nisha is using to help her on her journey. Just don’t tell anyone, will you…?

NM 🙂

Updates And The Number 13

I thought I’d give a brief overall update of where I stand at the moment.
As you know from my last post, I started a new story a couple of weeks ago. Haven’t given it a name yet-we’ll just call it “that vampire story” for now. But the end is nearly nigh, which will bring my tally of short stories to 9.
It should have been ten but I just can’t seem to finish one story I entitled The Little Man. In case you were wondering, it involves a tokoloshe. For non-South Africans, the best way I can describe a tokoloshe is that, it’s a bit like an Africanized version of the English sprite or to fans of popular culture, a gremlin. I think I might even dedicate a post to this legend soon. Watch this space!
I’m still very determined to finish The Little Man however, even though it seems to be taking forever.
I’ve made up my mind that I want thirteen stories for my collection. Nice number I think, for a collection of supernatural tales. Probably a bit clichéd too but I’m happy with that number as a reasonable target. So that’s my aim.
Afterwards, it’s that scary mission of finding a publisher. I feel nervous just thinking about it. Give me a minute while I crawl back into my rabbit hole…

Updates and revivals

I’m back from the dead, again. Although this time my absence was due to a little vacation on the gorgeous Dolphin Coast. I did get some writing done but since my internet refused to work while I was there, my work was hampered by my inability to do any research. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
But I can proudly say that Old Mason’s Close is complete and has now gone in for editing (which is just a fancy way of saying its being typed out).
Two new stories are now being worked on: one I am calling “The Little Man” and the other I unceremoniously refer to as “that island story” as I have no idea what to call it as yet. I started these two stories almost a year ago but they both ended up in the backburner. It took me a couple of days to re-orientate myself with them because I had completely forgotten what was going on(!) and as my research notes left a lot to be desired, I had also forgotten where the plot was heading! Yes, laughs all around.
So like Donny and Marie, a double revival was in order. And hopefully, unlike Britney Spears’ revived career, it will actually be a success.