Tuesday, 21 April 2015

  I've been meaning to write another blog post for awhile now. Having this blog was supposed to be a way to keep me writing regularly, apparently that’s not working. Like a lot of writers I have good days and bad days. Last night I managed to get 2000 words out after dinner for the book I’m writing. Which was nice, considering I did not make any progress last week. I thought I would try the same tonight. As you might have guessed, because I’m sitting here writing this, that means I’m not getting my words down for my book. I don’t know what it is, perhaps I’m simply not trying hard enough. Last night the words were coming out easily enough, tonight the  words aren't coming out. Maybe I’m focusing too much on writing the book in a linear fashion? When I have trouble with a scene I can’t keep writing the book until I continue that scene.
  This might not be the most efficient way to write a book. But like all new writers, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I remember when I started writing this book—which wasn't all that long ago—I figured by now I’d have a better idea of where the story was going, I figured I’d have a better idea of how to write it. It’s understandable that those skills can’t be gained in a matter of months.

  What I’m trying to say is writing is hard, but don’t think that means I’m about to give up. One nice thing I have to say is that I just surpassed the word count for the first Harry Potter novel. I’ve been using that for a benchmark, even though I know mine is probably going to run about a hundred thousand words at least. Whether or not I end up condensing that, or evening building upon it when I get to editing, I’ll find out.
  As long as I don’t go past 120k or lower than 80k, I’ll be happy.

  I also haven’t been keeping a journal. This is something I kind of want to do, and I might make the excuse that I don’t have enough time. When I say that what I really mean is I don’t make the time. This is a distinction I really need to understand when it comes to myself and time management. I have to be one of the worst people when it comes to time management.

  Also one thing I noticed, just as an aside, when I type quickly I really pound the keys. Like, whack, whack, whack, that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a good thing I don’t have a type writer, I’d make a mighty racket. The neighbors would complain every time the muse visited (I’m still waiting for the muse to visit).

  So I’m not sure what I’m trying to say in this post. It’s really just a semi rant about the fact that I’m not writing enough, which is something I know I can change. This might be an excuse to get my fingers taping at the keys. Maybe I can trick them into automatically writing more of the book after this is done.

  Here’s hoping.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

How I Came To Writing

I’m fairly new to writing, and when I say fairly new I mean I’ve barely been writing for five months. Which sounds a little bit ridiculous when you think about it considering I changed my entire life in pursuit of becoming an author. (I quit a stable, well paying full-time job to start university at the age of 24.) Suffice to say when I started writing back in December I didn’t realise the kind of domino effect it would have.

The reason behind why I started writing is pretty simple, and probably a bit boring. A good friend of mine showed me a story he was working on, the beginnings of a novel, and whilst reading it I had a thought. I realised something about writing that should have been obvious. I realised anyone could do it. On the following weekend I gave it a try. I sat in front of my computer, opened up google docs (I didn’t have word, I still don’t have word, I use Scrivner—check it out) and started writing. A measly five hundred words got written, and I was proud.

Afterwards I reread those words and realised they weren’t very good. That didn’t matter. I’d written something, it wasn’t much, but it was something. I wrote over three thousand words that week. Which I understand isn’t very much, but I was thrilled. I enjoyed myself every step of the way. The story I was writing, however, only lasted a week.
I started a new story, something I find a lot more interesting. That new story is the novel I’m working on. I started writing that novel and I haven’t stopped, I don’t plan to stop until it’s finished. At which point I know I will have to spend a good long while in the trenches editing the damn thing.
I try not to think about the editing phase.
Then I’ll write another one, and another one. I’ll keep writing until I have something good, then write some more.

So, yes, why do I write? Because I love it… and I really want to find out what happens at the end.

As for how I write, that hasn’t changed. I have a laptop now, but other than that the process is the same. Get out laptop, put it in front of me, write. Write until I have something—anything. I try to allot two hours to my writing sessions, but it doesn’t always work that way. University has been getting in the way more than I thought it would. It’s just something I’m going to have to learn how to juggle. One thing I’ve noticed, the more I write and the better I get at it, the harder it is to write. It may sound strange, but it’s true. When I started writing I had no idea what I was doing, I just sat back and let the words flow out. Now that I’m starting to learn what good writing is, this little editor jumped on top of my shoulder and won’t let the words flow anymore.

So what I need to learn how to do, in my writing process, is just let go and write. Fill the page and worry about making it sound pretty later. First drafts are meant to be bad. First drafts are meant to be bad. I might have to make that my mantra and recite it every time I sit down to write.


Netflix came to Australia last week. The first month is free. I got home at 10:30 this evening to find that my sister had signed us up. I’m a self confessed television show addict and a first year university student who now has access to Netflix. Instead of going to sleep I sat down and watched Safety Not Guaranteed. (A bit quirky, annoying in some parts, but overall an enjoyable movie.) If I fail out and never finish this book, I’ll know to blame Netflix.

It’s 1:42am as I finish writing this blog post, I should be asleep.

Novel word count: 64,468

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Welcome To The Monkey House

One of the readings I have encountered in a literature essay that I’ve pretty much finished, is a short story by Kurt Vonnegut called Welcome To The Monkey House. The story is set in an overpopulated dystopian future where the use of ‘ethical’ birth control numbs all feeling below the waist. The ethical birth control is mandatory, and anyone who refuses to use it is called a nothinghead. On top of the ethical birth control, another measure to handle the overpopulation situation is the suicide clinics, akin to the suicide booths seen in Futurama (no, Fry, that’s NOT a telephone booth).
Though the story was somewhat odd, I was enjoying it for the most part. At least, I was until the character it follows, Nancy—one of the suicide nurses—is kidnapped by the bad guy in the story, Billy the Poet. Despite being the bad guy, the story is written in such a way that it tries to make you sympathise with her kidnapper. Sympathising with the aforementioned kidnapper was made pretty much impossible when near the end of the story he has his group of rebel nothingheads hold Nancy down, then he proceeds to rape her whilst holding a gun to her head. Though in the story rape is never mentioned, no, it’s called deflowering. To add sting to the rape… well, how about I just quote the scene:

"The women who helped you tonight--"
"What about them?"
"You've done to them what you did to me?"
He didn't look up from his book. "That's right."
"Then why don't they kill you instead of helping you?"
"Because they understand." And then he added mildly, "They're grateful."
Nancy got out of bed, came to the table, gripped the edge of the table, leaned close to him. And she said to him tautly, "I am not grateful."
"You will be."

The rapist tells her she will be grateful. Now, I’m not quite sure what the narrator is trying to get across here. In the story, the ethical birth control has worn off on Nancy at the time, and to show her what sex is like Billy the Poet rapes her. It is intended as some sort of sexual liberation. The dystopian future is used as an excuse to frame a story where rape might be deemed an appropriate thing. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, and Vonnegut isn’t all for the rape. But it really seems like he is. People will likely tell me I’m interpreting this all wrong, but I couldn’t help but draw parallels from this to corrective rape happening in South Africa. Lesbians and transgender women in South Africa have been raped in a bid to ‘cure’ them of their respective sexual and gender orientations.1 And it’s absolutely sickening. This is exactly the same thing.
The icing on the cake was finding out that this short story was originally published in Playboy magazine. The suicide nurse, Nancy, is sexualised by her attire, and is a virgin. It’s exceedingly difficult for me to interpret this in a non sexual way. All I see is an excuse for rape to be in his story, and somehow be justified, then published for thousands of horny men in the sixties to read. I only had a measly 250 or so words in which to talk about this in the essay, as there were other readings to be analysed, but I think I managed to get my complaints across. This blog post is simply an added unstructured rant to go on top of it. It’s also a place where I can say how disappointed I am to have this be my first Kurt Vonnegut story. I enjoyed his style of writing, and I enjoyed his humour. But I know any future readings of his stories will be coloured by my feelings from having read this. The fact that I am so disappointed in Welcome To The Monkey house doesn’t fill me with any enthusiasm to discover more of his work, and that’s quite saddening.

In other, less dreary news, I’ve finished the first draft of my literature essay! Which is a nice accomplishment. It’s only Tuesday, and it’s not due until Friday. All I really have left is some proofreading, and if needed a bit of rewriting. This is a rather refreshing feeling for me considering my general non-studious ways. On top of having the essay pretty much done, I have also—finally—taken the time to write some more of the novel I’m working on. Which is awesome—getting writing done is awesome, the novel is still amateur level trash, but it’s my amateur level trash damn it! One day I may even talk about what the story is about here, if any interest is professed (this is making the assumption that anyone actually reads this blog).

I’ve also just finished a rather sarcastic short fantasy novel by Sarah Rees Brennan. Or, it’s sort of a novel, anyway, you can find out more about it—and actually read the whole thing—here.
I implore you to check her out. It’s the first thing of hers I’ve read since the Demon’s Lexicon back when I was oh, eighteen or so, and it’s quite a fun read. Despite the, ah, awkward young age of the relatively sexual protagonist.


It’s been raining for the last few days. I’ve had the washing up since the weekend, and have still yet to take it down. I don’t have enough room to hang it all up inside. In fact, it’s pouring out there as I write this blog. I’m only pretending to be an adult, really.

I’m still trying to find my feet in the blogosphere. I reckon if I stick at it long enough I’ll figure out what it is that I’m doing, and what it is that I want to say.

Novel word count: 63,461

1 You can find an article about it here, but if you don’t feel like reading it I don’t blame you.

Monday, 6 April 2015

First Blog Post - All about me and my procrastinator ways.

In December last year I started writing. Writing is something I never really delved into before, and at the time I was just copying what a friend was doing. But it didn't take me long to realise how much I enjoyed it, and that I could even get good at it--though that's a while away. After maybe a month or two of writing I decided that it was about time I went to university. I had to do an admissions test, and figured if I somehow managed to do well on it I still wouldn't make it in until the second semester.
Oh, how wrong I was. I managed to--miraculously--score an 85, then got accepted one week before school started. My life has changed completely. It's amazing, and... terrifying.

I was never what anyone would call academically minded back in high school. I graduated with horrendous grades and never looked back, that was five years ago.

This blog will be my story. It will be about jumping into a Bachelor of Writing with no idea what I'm doing. It will be about my adventures in writing, along with the major project of the year which is to write a book. I'm about 62000 words in, which is fantastic! But nothing stops productivity in writing like starting an arts degree.

It's so easy to make up excuses as to why I'm not writing more of the novel, like when I have assessment, or need to catch up on my reading and writing tasks. The reason I started this degree was to improve my writing. Whilst I'm certainly writing in a larger range of genres, I'm not actually writing as much as I was before I started school back in February.

My third lecture in intro to creative writing put forth the idea of writers keeping a journal as a very good thing. So that's what I'm going to do, start a journal, in this case, a blog.

My posts won't have a huge amount of structure--I'm somewhat of a discovery writer--and I can't promise you any of it will be worth reading. But hopefully for me it will be worth writing. It will be a place to openly sift through my thoughts, and maybe even get some advice from readers.

What are my thoughts today? Today I'm supposed to be working on a short analysis of four different readings for my lit studies class. Actually this is something I should have been doing for the last four days, but for whatever reason the Master Procrastinator has been, well, procrastinating. Which is unfortunate as I'm not one of those productive procrastinators. I don't get stuck on a hundred other little tasks while avoiding the thing that I'm supposed to be doing, I just wallow in a pit of nothingness. Wasting time watching TV shows, browsing sites like Imgur, and today, looking at old LiveJournal posts (I do not miss being a teenager). Which is probably how this blog came about.
Ok, so I'll try not to sell myself too short. I have written a fourth of the essay, and chosen all but one of the four readings for it. And considering how I've done at school in the past, I'm actually doing incredibly well. I got my first distinction on a piece of work (a distinction being between 75-84 where I go) and have not once turned in anything late. For me, that is absolutely an accomplishment. I can wish as much as I want to suddenly be a studious student, but those sort of things don't happen overnight. Good habits need to be built overtime.

So that's what I'm going to do, build good habits! And since I've written it down, put it out there, hopefully it will happen.

I'll leave this post with a short to-do list, perhaps that will spark some productivity in me:
  • Finish my critical reflections essay--due on Friday--with a day or two spare.
  • Write more of the novel. It's hard, the story is at a point where I'm not sure what's going to happen. But that's a part of the fun!
  • Get in some more exercise. I'm stagnating a bit in this department since the Easter long weekend, but exercising generally keeps the rest of my day on track. So get on it!
  • Bring back a sense of routine. Easter and this class free week be damned for killing my routine!
  • Go to the library this week. No one will be at school, which is all the better to get some work done.
Novel word count: 62,294
Hopefully this number will rise along with the blog posts.