Scared of Reading?

As a writer I believe it is important that the words are clear and the meaning, vision of what I am saying is easy for the reader to picture. I’m not saying I would like to spoon feed plot because it is also important that ye old brain-cogs get a work out sometimes as well, and if you have to work and remember and think about the story, then you do get more from it.

But in terms of making the writing clear, for me I’m likely to turn away if the writing is too much like hard work and I think the same applies to a storyline that starts to seriously disappoint or concern me. I have to admit that I’ve become a terrible reader and so scared about the emotional impact of what I’m reading that I really have to take a mental run up to books. Luckily in all of this I have discovered Robin Hobb, and she is amazing.

What am I afraid of reading? Well, as an aspiring writer I’m terrified of finding my book already published. The story I’ve been slaving over, written by someone else (better) and in the bookshops. This has turned into something of a recurring nightmare.

Secondly, I worry too much about the characters. There has to be a happy ending for me to enjoy reading the book. I have to feel confident that the author will provide me with a sense of resolution. The first book I really put down half-way through the Juliet Marriliers Blade of Fortriu. I was so invested in the narrative that when it reached a mid-way point, and it would not be possible for resolution to be complete, I had to put it down. It took me over a year to re-gather my courage and return to the story and I couldn’t start at the beginning in case it was too much! (Such a reading wimp!)

But although this sense of ‘happy ever after’ is I demand from a story I’m not convinced if I would necessarily agree from a theoretical stand point. Shouldn’t ‘Happy ever after’ also be complicated, realistic, aspirational? Should I be a more emotionally mature and complex person and encourage that in my reader? I’m not promising anything.

Thirdly, a sure way to put me off a story is to falsely advertise.

I LOVED Trudi Canavans The Black Magicians Trilogy. I bought all three books because they were on offer and devoured them in two days back in 2005. I was therefore delighted when the first of the Age of Five was published and acquired it as a pre-order hardback. For the first chapter I was enchanted, enthralled and delighted that I would get to read the story of this amazing girl growing up to be a member of the white and the trials and challenges that would entail. Then the second chapter happened. Did anyone else feel utterly cheated? She was grown up. This was not the story of the girl growing into a woman. It may be petty by I felt so frustrated by the 360 of expected narrative that after struggling through the first third of the text, I put it down and haven’t picked it up again. I do plan to revisit it and hopefully connect with a series that I appreciate is loved by so many, but it’s at the bottom of my ‘to-read’ pile. I don’t forgive betrayal easily. Sorry book.

Finally, I tend not to read spooky stories, horror, crime or ‘true-life’ I know this narrows my field of literature and good writing but I realised a few years ago that my imagination doesn’t need help coming up with dream or nightmare material. I am usually very invested in what I’m reading and if I read for too long, I emerge a bit google-eyed and hazy on what is real and what is still the narrative replaying. When I read it is not so much imagining characters, it is experiencing their stories in 3d. It is amazing to go on so many adventures, but I certainly don’t want to provide my imagination with concrete horror to explore in my sleep! *shudder*

What would put you off a story? Should it have a happy ever after?

I can’t stay mad at you – Occupational Hazard!!

My cousin Alex is doing ten amazing challenges in ten months to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire-Fighters trust to mark ten years since his sister passed away due to this destructive disease. In the past four months he must have walked, cycled, horse ridden and kayaked more than 300 miles! Not to mention the miles put down by everyone joining in with the cause. So, to help him I decided to pull together a collection of poems, short stories, flash fiction and art work from friends, family and fellow creative people and create a book that we will be able to sell; all profits donated to charity.
I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the submissions I’ve received and they’re still coming in! The theme is You Mean the World to Me. Now, this post is supposed to be forgiveness based and I’ve named it Occupation Hazard. I’ve come a long way around, but I’m finding it hard to read the submissions. They’re so beautiful and so many of them are raw. I’ll be honest; the first reading of each submission is tending to leave me in tears.
I’m not usually an emotional person. It takes a lot to choke me up and I’m certainly not one to wear my hearty on my sleeve – well, that’s what I like to think anyway! But I keep choking on the words that other people have sent to me, in honour of this amazing cause. Don’t get me wrong by any means. I am LOVING pulling everything together and working on something physical which will both help the charity’s and act as a kind of record for what my cousin Alex is undertaking. I didn’t expect to need a box of tissues when reading through though.
Luckily, after the initial waterfall-inducing whammy of the pieces, I’m able to step back a little bit. Or at least, I know enough of what they each are to put them into a cohesive order for the book. Make me cry once, shame on me, make it happen twice – well…well done your creative geniuses for creating such moving pieces.
I forgive you all though.
Thank you.
Fibi xx

I have a challenge for you, should you chose to accept it…

Apologies to those that have already seen this on Alex’s Adventures in duplicate 🙂

You’ve all seen my discussions, posts and encouragement of my cousin Alex who is undertaking Ten Adventures to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire Fighters Trust. Alex has completed 3 out of the 10 adventures in memory of his sister Melissa who passed away 10 years ago.

He’s going up all mountains, kayaking, riding, cycling etc and as I have all of the athletic skill and agility as a two-legged epileptic donkey. I’ve been doing my best to support my little cousin (okay, he does somewhat tower over me these days…) but despite wracking my brains for about six months now, I’ve been struggling to think of what I can ‘do’ to really really help out.

But then, I ordered a gift for my Mum for Mother’s Day. A small, self-published collection of short stories, poetry, flash fiction and musings in a cute little hardback and paperback format. They’ve just arrived and I’m so pleased with the quality of the printing and aaah it just looks lush!

It’s like a genius moment.

I’ve realised what I can do.

I can’t climb a mountain. (I can barely walk in a straight line without injuring myself!)

I can however, pull together a collection of poems, short stories, pictures and art. Publish it with the same company I used for my mums gift and pass on any profits to Alex’s chosen charities.

This is a very good idea!

The title of the collection will be ‘You mean the world to me…’ and all of the collected works will reflect this theme in some way.

It could be a story about a loved one, or a poem someone who has passed away, someone that you just couldn’t be without, a friend or family member. It could also be about your favourite teddy bear or a goldfish. It can be as happy or as sad as you like and any length so long as it’s under 2000 words.

So long as it fits the theme, I’d love to see it!

If you’d be interested in submitting a piece then please e-mail me at inkycygnet@googlemail.com

Fibi

Daily Prompt: Back to School / I don’t got no gramma’

Daily Prompt: Back to SchoolIf you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

Now here is an interesting question! If I could go back to school, what would I want to master? Well, ideally I’d love to learn all the ‘stuff’ about grammar and punctuation – I’d particularly like to learn how to spell (auto-correct, you are a fiendish friend!) I don’t know where I was, when everyone else was learning all the ‘rules’ of grammar, but I’m certain I wasn’t in the class!

When it comes to the rules, I always feel deficient. Why does i go before e except after c? When should I use a semi-colon, and the possessive apostrophe ends up everywhere, even when there are no s’sssss to be found! I’m aware these days, that with the wonder of googliness, I can read up on all these rules and re-learn them. However, I feel cheated. These aren’t things I should be learning, (I can’t relearn something that I’ve never learnt) these are things that I should know.

The deficit is a hole within me. When I’m pulling out the story and the flow and the words and throwing them onto the page like an artist with paint; I can’t help but feel I’ve been robbed of a valuable tool – the paint brush perhaps. Yes, I can throw a variety of colours onto the page, and I might even be more imaginative, painting without a brush, but when I’m trying to be a serious artist, the lack of definition shows.

Please could I learn some grammar?

Thanks!

Warning: This Blog May Contain Cats!

Warning: This Blog May Contain Cats!

I felt that this was probably an appropriate time to introduce two current stars of my short fiction and poetry. Please meet Lewis and Rosie, and be warned that if you have an adverse reaction to cute and fluffy creatures, this may not be the blog for you to follow.
My cats certainly provide a great deal of comfort and entertainment, but they’re both very different. Lewis is a possibly part Bengal, tabby with white feet and a superbly fluffy belly. His emotional range swings from desperately needy and affectionate to storming off in a huff and sitting alone in the bath. (Literally the bath, he’s very strange.) Rosie, who is black and white and a quarter Siamese, remains consistent in her affection.
I will refer to Lewis affectionately from time to time as a fluffy moron – as he is frequently ridiculous. He loves boxes! Put any box, or bag on the floor and he’ll climb straight in. (Very useful for taking him to the vets!) However Rob and I had an ice lolly each the other night, so imagine a standard size box for three ice lolly’s… This was left on the table. We heard a thump as we sat watching the TV. We looked around to the door and all we saw was this box skidding across the hallway floor, Lewis desperately trying to get in it! He’d managed to just about get his nose and half of his face inside and such was his determination, that he ran the box into the wall; KADUNK! Box and cat rebounded. He bounced away, shook himself and stalked away glaring at us both. As you can imagine we both dissolved into hysterical laughter.
Fortunately Rosie is much more intelligent.
I will do my best not to blog about the cats too often, but thought that everyone should have fair warning!