Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Good Luck Pixie

I am awaiting a visit from the Good Luck Pixie.
I have never met her in person before but she has on occasion sprinkled a little pixie dust over my life. Not too much. No lottery wins or anything but just enough to keep me going.
If I had to imagine her I think she would be small enough to fit in my hand and would most probably be dressed in pink. With glitter. She'd have gossamer wings and silver hair and an adorable giggle.

She does unfortunately seem to spend most of her time in Hollywood chucking bucketloads of pixie dust over Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and all the other people whose lives seem positively perfect.
But sometimes she swoops down and sprinkles her dust over people I know and they tell me their tales of agent and publication success. I smile and offer my congratulations. It gives me hope that one day it might happen to me too.

Of course sometimes it seems that she accidentally drops some on the wrong people. Those who we perceive haven't worked as long and as hard as the rest of us. Those who perhaps aren't even that desperate to be writers and just did it on  a whim. Those who already have successful careers and are just being greedy Katie Price.

Maybe they paid the pixie off? Maybe she was drunk? I don't know and unfortunately there don't seem to be any rules. No fair share. Some people get more.Some get less.
In many ways I know I've been very lucky. Perhaps I'm being greedy expecting more? Perhaps I should be grateful for what I have?

I don't know, it's hard to give up on a dream. I keep on writing and I keep on hoping that one day maybe she will appear and the pixie dust will put my work in front of the right person at the right time and I will be the one wandering round smiling beatifically and regaling people with my success story.

Or perhaps she won't. Perhaps it will be nothing but hard work and a refusal to give up that get's me what I want?

Or perhaps I will never be published. It's something to consider. Will it turn me bitter and twisted? I hope not. I hope I can remember that in terms of luck I've been well blessed with family and friends. I hope I can see all the stories I've written not as a waste of time but as fragments of my imagination that I have managed to bring to life.

No promises though! ;)

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Sky is Falling..

 We all know the tale of chicken licken - hit on the head by an acorn the chicken believes the sky is falling and  wants to tell the king. It may sound simple but that's actually a pretty high stakes story. Okay, so we, as readers know the sky isn't really falling but it doesn't matter. Chicken Licken believes it's the end of the world and that's the important thing.

 As writers we are always being told about the importance of high stakes. Whatever your story is about there must be conflict, it must be convincing and we have to make the reader care about the consequences or it just doesn't work.

 Now I'm going to have to talk about the film I watched last night. Skyfall, the latest James Bond and I'm going to issue a spoiler alert. If you haven't seen the film and you don't want to know the ending do not keep reading!

 Okay then, to be clear I am not a huge Bond fan. I've watched some of the films and I generally think they're quite good for a Saturday night action fest and usually make enjoyable viewing as Bond saves the world once again. Skyfall is no different. A fast paced, action packed film in the usual Bond style. (Although Adele's theme song is stonkingly good!)

 But, I have huge issues with the low stakes in this plot. It starts off with the bad guy getting hold of a list of secret agents and threatening to reveal them. This is good. But then the plot meanders onto a new path whereby the bad guy is doing all this just to get his revenge on "M" who betrayed him many years ago.

 This is a problem for me because to be frank who really cares if M dies? Yes, I know it's Judi Dench but let's face it she's a grumpy old cow in these films and nobody likes her much. It doesn't help her case that at the beginning of the film she gives an order that leads to Bond being shot.
 So, therefore I have to wonder why large numbers of other people should  die to keep her alive? Why should James Bond risk everything (including his Aston martin for heavens sake!) just to prevent her being killed? In all previous films he's shown little regard for her and now we're expected to believe he'd do anything to save her! I'm afraid I believed nothing of the sort and if I don't believe he cares why should we as an audience give a flying fig?

Still, I was prepared to go along with it. For the most part it was enjoyable and exciting and I would probably have been quite happy if not for the ending.

 In my opinion the ending made this plot a completely pointless exercise ( much like the film "The Perfect Storm" which made me lose the will to live frankly). Yes, you've guessed it, after all the stunts and explosions, death and destruction the bad guy dies. Unfortunately so does "M".
Yes, they spend the whole film trying to save her and then she dies at the end.
She dies at the end.

If this had been written as a plot for a childrens or YA novel I'm fairly sure it would have been thrown out the door. The stakes are low, the consequences small, no one really cares one way or another and the ending sucks.

A masterclass on how not to write a plot perhaps?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Do Not Disturb

  Recently I watched The Shining. I've seen it before of course, Stanley Kubricks film is a classic and with Jack Nicholson in the central role it becomes a tour de force. However, this was the first time I've watched it         as a writer and suddenly the whole film feels different.
I can see Jack Torrance in an entirely new light. He isn't really a bad man at all is he? Okay, he got fairly angry a few times but who wouldn't? He was trying to write a book for heavens sake and his wife just kept disturbing him. Just kept walking in when he was trying to work. Asking inane questions about how he's getting on. Making glib comments about how he just needs to get back in the swing of things. Honestly, who wouldn't get annoyed?

After thinking about it for a while I realised that The Shining was based on a Stephen King novel and things started to make sense. Stephen King is a man who would know exactly how annoying it is when people disturb you when you're trying to write. He would know that sometimes the urge to resort to violence is almost overwhelming.

Of course, you can lock yourself away in another room and insist people don't disturb you unless it's an emergency. That might work. (Unless you have children of course who don't understand the concept of privacy nor what might be considered "an emergency" - who ate the last chocolate biscuit is not an emergency!)

My main problem is that sometimes I'm working when I'm not at my computer. I may just be sitting there, on the sofa but my brain could be turning over a new concept or idea, struggling with the solution to a problem. At this point it's very important I'm NOT interrupted by requests for dinner or demands for help with homework but nobody seems to realise what I'm doing. They don't seem aware of my distraction (my glazed expression and drooling should give it away I would think but never seems to.) So they interrupt me just when I'm at a crucial moment and wonder why I'm annoyed and lose my temper. 

As yet I haven't resorted to attacking anyone with an axe but I can see how it might happen. In fact I can sympathise with Jack Torrance a great deal. So what I need really is not a DO NOT DISTURB sign for the door but one for my forehead. 
In Red.
With flashing lights.

Anyone else?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

On the bright side

              Yes well, as expected the rejections have started to come in and at this point I suppose I could descend into depression and despair once more. I could weep and wail and gnash my teeth and snarl at the evil agents and publishers who have dared to reject my second masterpiece but really, what would that achieve? I might feel a tiny bit better for a short space of time by blaming everyone else but would it really help? I'm not sure.
 So, I've decided to try a bit of positivity instead...

1. My m.s has been rejected by agents.
But - none of them said " You can't write, your work is rubbish, don't ever contact me again you useless excuse for a writer." In fact, some of them were very encouraging!

2. This project may never be published.
But - maybe that's a good thing? Maybe it's really not good enough and if it was published it would fail miserably, be ridiculed on Amazon and end my career before it's even started.

3. But all the work I put into is all wasted.
No, it's not, all that work is just part of the learning process, that book may lead to me writing something infinitely better eventually.

4. But now I have to start all over again!
Hooray! Just think, the freedom to create an entirely new world, to lose myself in a new story, to enjoy that first draft high before the real work begins in the revision process.

5. But what about all the time it takes? I could be here for years trying to get published!
Yes, that's true but without a publishing contract there's no pressure on me  to edit, to tour, to visit schools, to network and publicise WHILE I'm trying to write. I can just write and let's not forget just how much I love to write!

 So, I think I'm doing pretty well at looking on the bright side and surprisingly all this positive energy is making me feel better too because now I can be hopeful, I can be optimistic and I can dream that one day it really will be my turn!
Try it for yourself and see how you get on!