Angry Wild Legends

Writing, authoring, publishing, literary stuff of all kinds – plus anything else!

Another Rejection

Well, I sent off my 3 obligatory chapters to a literary agency and received yet another rejection. At least it was quieck. How fast do these guys read? The 3 chapters  covered around 80 pages (out of a 400 page manuscript), yet the whole process took just 5 days including the weekend. Yes, ok, it’s a fast turn-around – but you can’t help wondering how much time was actually spent giving due thought to the submission in the round – and ye, I did make a preliminary enquiry with the agency as to whether they would be willing to look at my work. Their response was that they would be happy to but that I should not expect a response inside 7 weeks! So either the reviewer is extremely efficient and made his deliberations fully and considerately in record time, or …..

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March 27, 2007 Posted by | Rejection | Leave a comment

How do you learn to write?

I think mostly you don’t.

At least, of course you physically learn to write – you go to school and teacher says “No, no! The letter ‘b’ has the hole on the other of the down-stroke! What you wrote was a ‘d’. Try again!” That’s the mechanics of it, and for many of us that was hard enough. Then, when the basic idea of the alphabet had been instilled, they introduced spolling, which to me is still as mysterious as algebra. (I don’t do sums!)

But that’s not what I mean. (Yes, I know, you shouldn’t begin a sentence with a preposition, but this is my blog so I can do what I like.) If you want to learn about punctuation and grammar/er, an’ stuff, go to http://www.abc123kidz.com and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Nor am I referring to the deep and mysterious conceptuality of writing. No. What I’m thinking of is the bit that goes between the two. The bit where someone sits down and says “Today I’m going to  write {something}.” There are millions of people who do just that every day; they sit at their desk with pen (or keyboard) to hand and they gaze at the sheet of blank (possibly virtual) paper and begin to write.

Trouble is, most of them begin but somehow the impetus wanes all too quickly, the hand relinquishes the pen/keyboard, and the Great Novel of our Generation fails to transpire.

Writing is hard work, regardless of your chosen genre, fact or fiction. OK, it’s not the same hard work you experience when you’re digging over the garden, or bent beneath the bonnet (that’s alliteration. See? I’m learning!) over the car engine, or when your real work is physically demanding – but it’s hard work all the same, and don’t let anybody tell you different. It’s pressure work, even if you are (like me) an unpublished writer who has no deadline to meet. There’s the pressure of getting all the ideas that are buzzing in your head down on paper before they melt into forgetfulness. There’s the pressure of figuring out solutions to the problems the characters in your prose have gotten themselves into. There’s the effort of researching your material. There’s the pressure of reads and re-reads, writes and re-writes; the taking on board of criticism; the personal acknowlegement that what you wrote was rubbish; and the awful writers block!

Anyway, what all this leads up to is to tell you about a website I found (not my website) that I would heartily recommend any writer to visit. It’s the website of Nick Daws, a well-published author of over 40 books and numerous articles, features, &c. His website – http://www.nickdaws.co.uk/ – and his bloghttp://www.mywritingblog.com – are great places to begin to learn how to actually write. Nick has written a great deal on the subject, and even offers courses exploring all the issues most new writers come across. Before anyone asks, no, I’m not getting paid to advertise this guy! But I do believe he has a lot to offer and would very much recommend, if you are serious about setting out on the tortuous path to literary fortune, that you pay him a visit.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Words | Leave a comment

Er… ologist?

There’s biology. You get a biologist.

There’s physics. You get a physicist.

There’s biography. You get a biograph…ist?

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Words | Leave a comment

Favourite/Favorit Links

These are some links to sites and blogs that I enjoy.

Let’s Get Published

http://www.letsgetpublished.com – the web portal for wrtiers, editors, literary agents, and publishers – ok, this is MY site, so you can’t say I’m being disingenuous!

http://www.abc123kidz.com – fab educational site for parents and kids aged 5 – 7

http://www.izimi.com – direct file sharing from your own PC

http://loraine.braveblog.com – my partner’s blog, alternatively on http://makemyday1.bravejournal.com

http://www.writingtoinspireyou.com/ – my good friend Sandy’s website, which does what it says in the title

http://www.mywritingblog.com/writer/ – blogsite of Nick Daws, author and publisher of many really useful books

http://nonfictionmuse.blogspot.com/ – blogsite of Susan Harris, who lives an idyllic life in Wales as a published author. Suzie is forum manager for the world’s largest writing resource site, www.fwointl.com – but despite that she seems a really nice, approachable person! You should visit her blog, and from there her websites. AND she’s a member of Let’s Get Published! What a nice lady! 🙂

March 24, 2007 Posted by | Fav Links | 1 Comment

I could Swear

When you walk down the street – past a schoolyard, near to a group of lounging teenagers, outside a pub wherever – you will not have to go far before your ears pick out certain words, key words, critical words, earthy words. Do you hear them? Even if you say “No, I close my ears as I go by” you still know they have been spoken, so even in your denial of them they find a way in.

I’m talking about swearwords. Oaths, as at some point they were called – which actually begs the question: when did ‘swear’ and ‘oath’ become so interchangeable? Anyway, that’s not the object of my rambling. What I’m curious about is what purpose swearing serves, and are there, should there be, any limits?

Swearing seems to serve several purposes.

  1. It is used in an attempt to offend. In a show of defiance against conventional society some people (particularly the young) resort to this in an attempt at self-determination. I am different, they shout, not realizing that they follow in their fathers’ footsteps! Nowadays, of course, many of the words our parents would never dream of uttering (or so we, as their offspring, would like to believe) are so commonplace they blend into the background and are almost invisible, so used have we become to hearing them.
  2. It is used as an adjunct to ignorance and prelude to (or attempt to avoid) violence. Not everyone has the glibness of tongue to be able to explain their point concisely, and often in that circumstance their primal tendencies come to the fore. Very often these tendencies lead to violence, and swearing is used in an effort to intimidate and belittle, reducing the target in stature. This can be seen on both sides of an ‘argument’, with the subject of an initial assault responding with violent words of their own in an effort to show they also have the ability to defend themselves.
  3. It is used in an attempt to shock, for example in humour. How many comedians have resorted to vulgarity in order to raise a laugh from their audience? This is normally because the comic has determined (rightly or wrongly) that the basal level of the audience is such that crudity is the quickest way to their approval. Is this not simply a defensive use of swearing, an effort to ingratiate the comedian with his public?
  4. It is used in the (extended) bedroom. Between partners there will always be those who are dominant and those who are submissive, albeit to varying degrees. The dominant will often use such words and require the submissive to accept them, and not infrequently the submissive party will expect and encourage this. Equally, the dominant may expect the submissive to use them, particularly with explicit self-reference.
  5. It is used in an attempt to declare self-important independence. This is often the case with children/youngsters in their endless efforts to stretch the boundaries imposed by their parents/guardians, to show how ‘grown up’ they are.  Don’t you find it sad that they equate adult maturity with the ability to swear? It is a variant of points 1 & 3 above, but this is of course not understood by the child perpetrator!

So when is it OK to swear? And do we see the written swear word in a different light to when it is spoken?

Personally I see nothing wrong in using any word within a verbal conversation between agreeing parties. This can apply to sexual encounters or general banter. If the audience, sexual or otherwise, is happy to be sworn at then the speaker is at liberty to use whatever words they with.

Equally the presence of a written oath is acceptable to me. It helps to explore character, or emphasise context. Such words can be viewed as merely tools of the trade.

But are there limits? Should there be constraints on when expletives are used? I believe there are, or should be limits. The purpose of swearing is generally antagonistic, or disharmonious at the very least. So where should the line be drawn?

For me there is the absolute limit of childhood. We all know that children will swear. It is very much a case of monkey-see, monkey-do, and that is where I draw my own personal line (which, I confess, I have stepped across on occasion). My argument is this: we set examples. In the fashion of Mrs. Do-as-you-would-be-done-by, each of us know how we ourselves want to be treated, and have a moral obligation (I hate the word, but it works) to follow that creed. Society’s ills are not resolvable by simple expedients such as outlawing the use of particular words or phrases, but if we can reduce the negativity our children are exposed to in daily life then we at least go some way towards that goal.

There is a counter-argument that by continued and public usage swearwords lose their vulgarity and power, becoming subsumed into conventional language, and to some extent that is true. But I believe also there is need within people to know that there is a dark place where bad things lurk, and ‘bad words’ are a little window though which we can look in relative safety. Anyway, if we just took away the swearwords we have, then new ones would simply appear in their place.

So lets keep our swearwords. Let’s keep them special and powerful by using them only infrequently, and with specific intent. But let’s also try to keep them in the adult sphere if we can. We’ll never succeed in wholly stopping their use by children, but that’s not an excuse for not caring.

March 24, 2007 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Why Write?

We write because we need to, whether that need be a requirement of our work, a necessity to communicate (perhaps to the bank concerning that little oversight viz. the overdraught last month!), or maybe because we recognise that we are not a complete person until we’ve quenched the burning desire to express ourselves to the world. OK, maybe the world will only ever be our immediate family and close friends, but it’s still the world, you know!

I think that’s why I write. I think that’s why I wrote my first novel. I think there is a creative spark within me that has been fizzling away since childhood, and it’s only now, when my life-experiences have reached such a point that I can draw on them, only now when I feel my literary talents have become sufficiently honed by all the letters to the bank-manager, only now when the ambience of my life in general is resonating placidly in the background, that I am able to pen to paper, or finger to key.

Placidly? Well, oddly yes. I started to write my first book around three years ago, when I was comfortably employed, well paid, and moving through separation to divorce. The quality of what I wrote then was not very good, I have to say. The early draughts of the first few chapters were pretty poor. I knew what I wanted to say all right, but there was so much of it that it came out in disjointed, hasty paragraphs of nonsensical verbiage (if you’ve read the final chapter versions on www.letsgetpublished.com you may well say: and this is better? Believe me, it is!)

But I queried the word ‘placidly’ above, and with good reason. A few months after beginning my writing, and when the book was about a quarter done, I was made redundant, and for 15 months I had no work to go to. That’s changed now, as it happens, and I’m now in full-time employ again, but during that enforced idle-time I found my whole world was a different place. I had no money coming in – redundancy pay? Don’t make me laugh! Six weeks doesn’t last 15 months, I can tell you. I wasn’t able to pay the agreed maintenance for my kids, and as my standard of living dropped so did theirs. Nothing I could do about it of course. I applied for job after job but nothing came up. Furthest I traveled looking for work was 200 miles, but it didn’t seem to make any difference.

Fortunately I had a new partner. Funny woman. (What woman isn’t?) But she had a great quality in that she seemed to believe I could succeed at my writing, and gave me all the encouragement in the world, spending hours and hours reading and re-reading my efforts. Spolling isn’t my strong point, and sometimes my head ran away with ideas while the keypad lagged behind, and she always managed to drag me back on target. Not that I was always grateful, mind. After all, whose damn book was it anyway? Hah!

I should point out at this stage that we are to be married next year, so don’t let criticism from loved ones throw you!

Anyway, the point is that for all the unemployment, lack of money, worry, and so on and so on, I finished the book (yes dear, I know I couldn’t have done it without you). So where was the ‘placidity’? There comes a time in life when you finally begin to realise that there is only one place in the entire world where you can be at peace, and that is in your own head. Once you get to that position where you can finally say, ok, so everything outsides pretty poor, but if I can just get back to the book and plough into it and lose myself there then what goes on outside doesn’t actually matter for the moment. Well (pause for breath) it’s true. I vouchsafe it to be so (good word, huh? Vouchsafe? Wonder what it actually means…)

So tranquility in, through, and despite adversity, y’see. For me the salvation was my future missus, but it may be something different for you. The point is, you gotta find the placid place, the spot where outside doesn’t matter too much. I promise it’s out there for you, somewhere, and when you’re old enough – you’ll find it!

March 24, 2007 Posted by | Words | Leave a comment