Thursday, 26 February 2015

Contracting and Expanding

I take it back. I’d rather snip a story than inflate it. I know I was upset about brutalising and cutting up my previous one but better that than to puff it out. So of course new story, new submission, new word count… And I got it wrong initially; thought it was 2,000, was even chopping down already (I’m becoming an accomplished lumberjack of wordlands and forests). Oh dear; it’s actually meant to be 2,500. I suppose it's a good learning exercise; I’ve got to do forwards what I’ve always done backwards before. 

It does help that the most forceful critique so far on this one has been about expanding my characters. Plus after seeing the inspiringly raw poet Karen McCarthy Woolf last week I wanted to add in more emotional intensity. Then, in a thought-provoking workshop with Marcus Sedgewick on Tuesday the final point he made was about making words count and not neglecting them.

So tonight I’ve been using the word exercises Marcus gave us to pump up my people; containing myself to certain length sentences, exploring the senses, getting cross with acrostics, stealing Ted Hughes’ vocabulary and attempting to A-Void with Perec’s evil no “e” rule. It’s given me some depth, some nuance, some fractaling away from my slightly terse style. I’ve been enjoying the wordness of words.

Therefore I won’t be wadding it up with hot air; I have new substance, I have some new story, I have something to sculpt with. Tomorrow though. My brain now is only useful for reading and I’ve got a new book winking at me from the bedside table; C'laire Fuller's ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’, signed by the author, bought at her book launch earlier this evening.

On more personal edits, I’ve done the full Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred. My muscles are expanding and my stomach is contracting, not quite to the six pack she has, but I can fit back into my skirts. Yay!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

You don’t even know it’s Valentine’s Day

You don’t give a crap about all the tat in the shops. You care more about what you’ve just found on the ground. You motivate me out of the house every day, even when I want to lie and be lazy. We explore nature together. We see and smell a lot of beauty; little egrets with their yellow high heels, cuddly water voles and redshanks. Pre-dawn rainbows, kaleidoscopic frosts; that elusive smell in the air. 

You are always pleased to see me. You’ll always join in when I dance. You tolerate being squeezed and hugged. You are a wonderful listener and give me space to chatter out my dreams, depressions and desires.

I like listening to your snore. I like watching you dream. I like the smell of your head. 

But you are going at a different pace to me. Eleven should still be about beginning but for you it is about slowing down. You are getting very grey and we can’t walk as far and sometimes in the evenings I wonder if you have a bit of dementia. 

It is incredibly easy to love you. My hear melts with warmness for you. Thank you for being my friend.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

To Wit, to Woo

For the purposes of professionalising I am attempting a tweet a day. As well as the word-count war it is also a challenge to think of something suitable, sharable. I don’t know whether to try and be witty, wise or wonderful. I’m not sure if any of those are doable in 140 characters unless you’re Basho, Hemingway or cheating by linking to those itty-bitty URLs.
I can’t master hashtags. What are they for? I remember #s from my saxophone days when they made notes sharp. Maybe that’s what they are doing here too; cutting through the chaos.

How can one stand out in all this noise? Maybe that’s not the point, maybe it’s not about standing out, maybe it’s about joining in; I have a feeling that’s where the hashtag thing comes in. The posts I’ve enjoyed the most have been the photos, a bit of reflection in all that chatter. And that little blue bird does like to blather.

I’m also not yet aware of etiquette. Is it rude to unfollow a friend? How about replies, retweets, following followers – oh my! After all, it’s all about wooing you, lovely, brilliant person that I am incredibly grateful to for reading my words. Too needy? Too desperate to be read? It’s tricky to pitch the wooing at the right level when the recipient is invisible.

Oh, the terror and turmoil of a professional online profile! To help me conquer my technophobia I have enrolled on a free social media workshop. I’m not promising anything but possibly you will see improvements. Maybe I’ll get into it. Maybe I’ll tweet so much everyone will be sick of me and ignore me and I’ll just be talking to myself. Maybe I already am!