A teacher's ramblings on writing, music and the wider world.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Recent Wrap

My, how time flies.  I’m sticking to my theory that time goes faster the longer you live, because each day/month/year is a smaller percentage of your life, therefore it slides away quicker than ever before.  More than two months have slid by since my last post.  I must say, I’m not surprised.  I have located the proverbial horse, remounted, and prepared myself for semi-regular blogging again.

Since last time, NaNoWriMo has come and gone, and I was swept up by the phenomenon for the majority of the month.  I would occasionally read a snippet to one my classes which provided an external motivator for my writing.  I was pleasantly surprised with my 22k words in the month.  As Samuel Snoek-Brown at http://snoekbrown.wordpress.com phrased it, “The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to push beyond that particularly nasty block, to write no matter what, to write so fast and so freely that we stop caring if it’s any good.”

Strangely, I find myself at the unusual crossroads of not knowing which project to work on now.  I feel as though the momentum of the NaNo project has waned, while I have found myself reading fantasy again, which was the genre for my original novel (vastly different from the very mainstream NaNovel).  

I need to channel the energy from November and focus on something for a little while.  Is anyone else suffering post-NaNo confusion?

Oh, and it’s nice to be back in the blogosphere.

Back soon,

Thursday, 29 September 2011


After utterly failing my self-imposed task for September, charting the 'little things' I appreciate in the world around me after three days, the idea of attempting the mountain that is the writing task in the month of November is utterly ridiculous.  Nevertheless, a couple of weeks ago I did a bit of an outline for the novel that I am hoping to write during November (pff, yeah right).  It is based on the experience of a good friend of mine.  He developed a rare hereditary blindness; it was a shocking thing.  Anyway, I'd rather not give too much away, or talk it up too much.  We've seen what happens when I do that!

What a miserable day outside.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Little Things

Great balls of cinders!  Has it really been that long since I last posted?  I knew this point would come.  Anyway, I was waiting for my coffee to cool earlier today, just enjoying watching the steam wisp and dance its way into nothingness.  I spent a good five minutes just watching the steam rise, the lack of a pattern in its movement; its complete and utter disregard for straight lines. 

It is one of those 'little things' that you do not ordinarily stop to notice, but when I did, it swept me up completely - I was totally enthralled!  I have a friend whose aim for 2011 was to record one 'little miracle' every day of the year.  He was going really well for a start, but then fell down (as many of us have a tendency to do).  I thought, "I'm going to try that, but just for one month: September".  So in a couple of days my journal of 'Little Things' will commence.  It need not be long, perhaps only a sentence or two.  We live in a very special place, on a completely incredible planet, and take a lot for granted.  Hopefully September will help me open my eyes a little more.

Please feel free to join in with your own 'Little Things' during September.  I will be posting up my little things every few days.

Oh, and I was reading about NaNoWriMo - god, it's only a couple of months away, and I'm going to have a shot at it!

Must be crazy,

Monday, 15 August 2011

When life mirrors the homily

Sunday morning was beautiful and vibrant; a welcome change from all the rain we have been getting.  It was the twentieth Ordinary Sunday, and I sat in my church with my wife and my parents who were visiting for the weekend.  The day's homily (sermon/message etc) focused on the way we react to and treat beggars in the street.  There they are, crying out for aid for reasons unbeknown to us; stirring up a range of emotions and thoughts in us, the 'fortunate', the very instant they initiate contact.  As they who beg are poor in material belongings, we who refuse assistance are poor in compassion and love.  I thought about that point, deciding that yes, they may be there through their own doing, whether that be drugs, gambling or some other destructive pastime, or it may have been just a most unlucky series of events that brought them to the life they were now marooned in.

I went away questioning myself and wondering how I might react next time I was in that situation.

What happened later that day was most unexpected.  I was presented with the very opportunity I had been left in thought with, although with a slight twist.

I was dabbling on the guitar after lunch and we heard a knock at the back door.  Our neighbour stood holding a little bundle of joy - the cutest black and white kitten!  She was wondering if we had misplaced her.  She had been looking after her for a short while, but her son was having an allergic reaction.

Presto!  To offer compassion and love, or not to offer to compassion and love?  That was the question!  Well, my wife and I are suckers for cute things.  We took her in and gave her a bit of tucker which she gorged down in seconds.

Three days later, she is still with us.  My wife was feeling a touch of guilt that she had stolen someone's new kitty, so we are going to put an ad in the local rag, as well as mailbox drop in the nearby streets.  Little Chloe is very affectionate, healthy, and seems quite happy staying with us for now.  I'll get around to posting up a photo of her shortly.

I'm going along to church next weekend with the hope that the homily is about the man that found a pile of gold...

With optimism,

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Hacking and Slashing

What a liberating feeling!  A few days ago I was dreading the task of decimating my WIP; now backspace has become my favourite button on the keyboard.  I am one of those people who stringently checks the word count, satisfied with each new milestone - every hundred when I'm really dragging, and every thousand most other times.  As I type this, I strangely have in my head the picture of someone who is dieting stepping onto the scales numerous times every day, with hope of catching a moment when their weight is less than it was before.  This is what my writing life has come to.

While now somewhat deflated by the much-reduced word count, I feel as though a great evil has been purged and I am ready to press on forth!  Well, not quite - the cutting is still in full swing (pun intended) although the end is nigh.

On a semi-related note, the short story that blossomed into a novel idea has been plaguing my thoughts so heavily that I had to write the second chapter.  Am I committing a naughty?  Or is it wise to write what is foremost in the mind?  Either way, I am in desperate need of discipline.  I'm off to read some other bloggers' thoughts on such things.

Sharpening blades (not real ones...) and giving grades,

Monday, 1 August 2011


Ugh, today I became simultaneously depressed and enlightened about the novel I am writing.  I had a light-bulb moment whilst sipping my coffee - "You know what?" said my brain, "This plot is cliche, boring, and completely waffly!"  The funny thing was, I couldn't help but agree with the sudden realisation, and at the same time hate myself for not realising sooner!  But I have since been considering some serious revisions to begin hacking my current 25k words to shreds, slashing plain characters (found three already), really building the world in which the novel is set, and actually writing something decent!  Well, that last part is wishful thinking, but all the rest is well and truly achievable.

I had the awkward moment's thought where I considered trudging forward through the tripe, since that is what much of the advice seems to suggest, however it seems positively fruitless when all I'll be doing eventually is making changes I could have made now.  No point waiting until the pile of poop blocks out the light; best clean it while there is still some sunshine.

On a lighter note, the short story I wrote and my wife perused the other day, somehow morphed into an idea for a novel; seventeen chapters just planned themselves today.  Such fun.

All this talk of tripe and fruit has me pining for some supper.

Bonne nuit,

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A harsh critic

Last night I found the motivation to write a short story from the July flash fiction section of Absolute Write.  The prompt had to do with hearing a voice from the past within a crowd.  Anyway, I wrote my flash fiction story, just shy of a thousand words.  I was pretty happy with it.  It's the first piece of writing that I have 'finished' in god knows how long, so I thought, "I have to show this off!"  I implored my wife to take a look at tell me what she thought.  Now, I should preface this with the fact that she is a secondary school English teacher much like I am, and had just finished a bout of essay correction.  At first, she was relieved to read something that she could sink her teeth into, but still had her critic's hat on.  She pointed out a few little holes in the story, which I banged together in just under an hour.  I realised that I need to do this a LOT more often; get more used to constructive criticism - something I give all day at school, but am not that used to getting

So readers (if you are out there), who is someone you go to to get some critical feedback, even if you know it's not exactly what you want to hear?  Who is someone nearby and trustworthy that tells you, "Uh, that part kinda sucks, but this part over here... nice!"

Back to it,