A mini-rant and some quotes

I feel I need to apologise about my lack of presence on the blogosphere recently. I have been somewhat neglectful of all your posts and tardy with my comments, let alone updating my own.

Without meaning to sound like I’m making excuses, I am blaming it once again on my Internet connection. Yes my Cyberspace woes continue. For weeks I’ve been struggling with a slow connection and webpages taking forever to load. Many a times I’ve felt the urge to hurl my laptop out the window due to my impatience. Of course, I would never do that to Dellboy. (That’s what I named him. Guess what make he is? 🙂 )

I am aware that quite a few people have been experiencing problems recently, not just me. But it’s still frustrating nevertheless. But I will try to catch up on all your blogposts pretty soon. Promise!

In the meantime, I found a few writing quotes for you guys, some funny, some inspirational. Hope you enjoy them!

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac, American novelist and poet.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

“There is no money in poetry. But then there’s no poetry in money either.” – Robert Graves, Irish poet

“There’s no such thing as writers’ block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” – Terry Pratchett (Major LOL! Ha ha – NM)

“It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing. But I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” Robert Benchley, American writer and actor.

“I write what amuses me. It’s totally for myself. I never in my wildest dreams expected this popularity. There’s no formula.” – JK Rowling

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
― Thomas Mann, German writer and Nobel Prize Laureate.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no-one knows what they are.” – W.Somerset Maugham, English playwright and novelist.

“So what? All writers are lunatics!” – Cornelia Funke, German fiction writer.

NM 🙂

Staring at the finish line…from behind a mountain of manuscripts.

Usually I like to give bad news first and then the good news, because it softens the blow, so to speak. In this case it won’t make any sense, so here goes:

GOOD NEWS: I’ve finally finished my collection of short stories! Huzzah! Bring out the champagne!
The BAD NEWS? The official editing process begins! *Groans* Bring out some more champagne, a few bottles of red wine and some painkillers won’t you? It’s going to be a long ride…

Yes I’m not really a fan of editing even though it’s an inevitable part of the writing process. Even the most exciting jobs have their downsides, I suppose.

I tried to fathom out why I hate it so much. I do remember commenting on someone’s blog about this not too long ago. I recall saying that with editing, I don’t experience that same buzz like the feeling when an idea pops into my head and I feel the need to write it down quick and thereafter develop a story to work that idea in. That initial act of putting pen to paper is akin to being on a high. Once that first draft is completed,you feel mighty proud of it.

And then another reason struck me as to why I dread editing. After that initial buzz, returning to that first draft is like a cold, hard reality-slap in the face. Mistakes are EVERYWHERE: in the grammar, in the spelling, holes in the plot and in some instances, a certain passage will make no sense whatsoever and you waste half-an-hour trying to figure out why you wrote it in the first place.(And don’t even talk about when that one particular scene just won’t be good enough and you end up in this vicious, twisted cycle of editing and re-editing and then adding some more changes with no end in sight. This will happen at some point, I can guarantee it.)

You then come to the realization that you are not the perfect, super-awesome writer you thought you were, with that special, God-came-down-and-blessed-you-with-his-right-hand-saying-you-are-going-to-be-great sort of talent. You’re a normal human being just like everybody else who has some serious work to do.

Each of these folders contains at least two manuscripts. Who wants to help me edit? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so...

Yeah, reality certainly can bite.

But no pain, no gain right?
So off I go, to experience the joys of hell editing.
The Good news is I’ve already edited two stories. The bad news? I’ve got 12 more to go. *groan*

I’ve given myself one whole month to complete this task. Wish me luck.

NM 🙂

Writers’ block on the Writers Bloq

There is a reason why this blog is called NM’s Writers Bloq (yes, that’s a q at the end, not a g!).

The dreaded disease had spread its big, black bat-like wings around me once again.

I have 3 stories patiently waiting to be completed. I usually like to work on more than one story at a time because if I hit a slump with one, then I can just switch to another without wasting any time. This being my supposed cure for writers’ block.  Sadly I recently hit a slump with all three at the same time. Talk about hard luck!

I’m very proud of my reaction to this however, as usually I get very depressed and start questioning myself and doubting my abilities (okay, this did happen too, but it only lasted like, a day!).

This time, instead of putting the focus on myself, I focused on the stories themselves. I decided to write, in journal-form, my thoughts and feelings about each story.  
I tapped into my subconscious and wrote, without any reservations, what I hated and what I liked about each story. And I got some surprising results.

For one story I realized that it was my attitude that was holding me back. I was so worried about what others might think that it prevented me from progressing with this story.
The second one was proving a chore and only after writing my feelings down, did I realize that it was only because I hadn’t done the necessary research I was suppose to initially, that I was lacking confidence with certain themes in the tale. I’m such a big fan of research. I’m always harping on about its importance yet for this story I seemed to put very little effort into it due to my laziness.
My third story was actually a result of a nightmare I had. The dream gave me the idea for the story but because the dream made no sense realistically, I wondered whether my reader would feel the same way about what I was writing. I also wondered whether my writing would do justice to what I thought was very, very scary.  Would the reader also find it scary or would they think it’s just stupid?

Who would have thought that writing down my thoughts and feelings would reveal so much? And without thinking too hard it also provided me with the answers as well. It was like Tom Riddle’s diary-Harry Potter writes a question on the page and an answer appears to him on the very same page. Except in my case the answers were benevolent, positive and very helpful. It helped me provide the solution to the unique problems I was having.

For the first story, I thought of famous authors who had written about the same themes or issues in their novels. I realized that they didn’t seem too bothered about what others might think, so why should I?  I’m happy to say that I’m almost finished with this story. 🙂
For the second tale, of course, it was obvious. Research, research, research. The more knowledge you have at your disposable, the more effortless and enjoyable your writing will be. Simple.
In number 3, I convinced myself, that if I found this story scary, then others might too. Hell, the fact that I refuse to work on this piece at night, has got to mean something!

All this took less than half an hour to do, yet it proved most invaluable. Self-help books always advocate writing down your general thoughts and feelings in a stream of consciousness. This form of stream of consciousness-writing works for any problem, trust me. My humble advice is: do this for your stories, your novel or any WIP that is lying stagnant.  You will be surprised at what is revealed to you.

As writers you would think that the most obvious thing to do if you have a problem is to write it down. Sometimes the most obvious things are the most elusive.

NM 🙂

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 🙂