Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mists and mellow fruit, and writerly inclinations

September. Season of mists and mellow fruit, and the month when we turn our minds to matters academic. For those with writerly inclinations there are many courses to aid you in the process of creating your opus; equally you could lay aside a certain amount of time each day and settle down to writing on your own. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a huge amount of literary talent out there waiting to be produced.
People ask me the whole time – how do you start? Where do you begin? What should you do first? The simple answer is that you sit down – lie down or stand up, as the humour takes you, and begin writing. It doesn’t matter where you start. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have a story.
By writing stream of consciousness – as writing whatever comes into your mind is called, I promise out of what, perhaps, seems to you as little more than incoherent ramblings, a story will emerge.
I’ve eight books under my belt, and I love experimenting with methods of writing. I’ve written what I call cameo scenes and joined them up eventually; I’ve started at the beginning and continued to the end; I’ve written bits and pieces – had to jettison some, keep others.
As for the current book I’m working on – from the outset the characters have been clear in my mind, and each day before I confront my desk I spend a little time thinking about them, wondering about their various situations and then allowing them their heads – well, within reason. Some of the ensuing consequences amaze even me.

Over the past month I’ve read a eclectic mix of books: Miriam Dunne’s Blessed Art thou A Monk Swimming written 13 years ago, although fiction, is of the misery lit genre; it’s beautifully crafted, exquisitely written – not wonder the critics of the time hailed it as a ‘dazzling first novel’.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas has received miles of coverage. It’s a brilliant novel of modern Australia peopled with a dysfunctional cast of characters. But it’s probably best to ignore the emphasis on gratuitous sex.
June Considine writing as Laura Elliot does not disappoint with Stolen Child . The novel is set in the majesty of the Burren, in the rich poetic language that is the hallmark of Considine’s writing, it tells the story of the consequences of stealing a child. A
Doctor’s War owes it’s second coming to Pete McCarthy of McCarthy’s Bar fame who was given a copy, couldn’t put it down – neither could I – and instigated re-publication.

Good luck with writing and reading

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Delicious Wickedness of August

Welcome to autumn... 'August is a Wicked Month' - so claimed Irish author Edna O'Brien in a title for one of her iconic novels. Yes, deliciously wicked in that it allows us start thinking of hibernating options.

This is the month when people's thoughts turn to filling the winter hours. What better than nestling down to writing? And now that Dublin is named UNESCO City of Literature, there's no better time for aspiring writers to start realising their dreams.

There is loads of help, including writing courses. This year I've three as part of UCD's Adult Education Programme, Wednesday mornings, Carysfort Campus - that there's a cafe with great coffee is an added bonus! Information: www.ucd.ie/adulted.
1) The Nuts & Bolts of Writing - facilitates writers to find and use their writing voice.
(2) The Plot Thickens - plots are the life blood of fiction and this course focuses on best plotting practice.
(3) Building Story People - Creating Characters - Learn the skills of populating. your stories with dynamic characters.

And there is OurWritingGroup.com, a website specifically for writers managed by Writing4all Ltd - further information: info@writing4all.ie. This website offers writing groups a Master Site and Private Site. As well as facilitating a substantial number of professional features, the benefits for writers are:
(1) Encouragement and promotion of creative writing
(2) Feedback and comments from peers
(3) Public exposure of members' creative output
(4) Facility to keep the creative process going
(5) Monetary awards to successful groups

Each year Writing4all will publish an anthology featuring the best of the month winners in fiction, poetry and non-fiction posted to the master site.

As for the books I've been reading. Well I've just finished the last of the Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, suspense on every page. I'm not surprised that his books have crossed the million sales on Kindle.