I am technologically illiterate

So…

This is awkward… What’s it been, like, 6 months? You’re looking well… How’s your family?

I took a hiatus from the blog in order to buy my own URL and get it up and running as my own website. Due to extreme incompetence on my part  this took forever. I had to enlist a techie friend to help and even then I couldn’t get the url I wanted. But I’ve grown to love my hyphen. Much like the misunderstood semi-colon, this faithful punctuation mark is a constant companion in my literary woes.

Little things ended up being far more complicated than I thought they would be, then I had to gussy up my novel to submit to agents (still waiting to hear back from three of them) and then real life intervened in a spectacularly dramatic fashion and I’m only getting the writing back on track now. So I resolve that posts will be semi-reliable from here on out

Some quick updates:

I am now writing for Three Monkeys Online and have an article on Flann O’Brien and an interview with Mary Costello up with two more articles waiting in the wings.

I also did a CELTA course to teach English as a foreign language so should be spending more time up in the Big Smoke. It also means I’m a certified Grammar Nazi

Heil Spellcheck

I passed my Masters in Creative Writing and have been working on shorter fiction for the past while. The Waiting Place is wallowing because the beautiful temptress of a new novel keeps dancing in my peripheral vision. I will launch a new onslaught on it and aim to have a draft finished in May.

That’s about it. So… fancy a pint?

My Writing Playlist

I find it difficult to write without music. This could be because my first successful serious attempt at writing took place last summer while I was still living at home.

I’d always dabbled in writing but I re-read Stephen King’s On Writing and decided to take his work ethic literally and write 2,000 words a day. Whatever anyone’s opinion on Stephen King you can’t say he didn’t work hard, especially when he was starting out. I was this ambitious because I was unemployed and had no financial commitments. I also took weekends off because I was an arts graduate dammit. That’s how we roll. So I had a goal of 10,000 words per week. At the same time I was reading Randy Ingermanson’s Fiction Writing for Dummies in which he recommends penalties for not reaching weekly writing goals. So I decided to forfeit €50 (of the money that I wasn’t earning) for every week I didn’t reach my goal. You’d be amazed at how well this motivates you.

But the fact remains that I was working at home which is less than ideal. My sister was sitting exams so I’d often hear her pop music (ew) from across the hall. During her breaks I’d hear her playing basketball incredibly loudly right underneath my window. There’d be interruptions from parents, the sound of lawnmowers, the dog barking, visitors talking downstairs or the train going by my house.

So rather than be distracted by random noises I couldn’t control I decided to have constant noise that I was in control of.

I can’t listen to every type of music at each stage of writing, I find different bands work better at different stages.

  • For Brainstorming and Research: Glam Rock. You can’t beat it. That and Hair Metal. Anything cheesy and upbeat really, 80s stuff, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Bowie, Motley Crue, KISS etc. etc. It really fosters creativity for some inexplicable reason.

Who wouldn’t be inspired by this?

  • Writing; 1st 2nd and 3rd drafts: Any Heavy metal really. I love Slipknot, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Avenged Sevenfold. Anything heavy and loud enough (oh, and Pantera) to distract my inner censor or critic (and AC/DC, though they’re good for brainstorming too) from getting involved. When I write without music I keep going back, editing, second guessing everything (and Alice in Chains are awesome too) and never actually moving on. With music like this that critic’s voice is eliminated without, hopefully, deteriorating the actual quality of my writing. (And Tool) It’s fast enough to get a rhythm going too, When I listen to Metallica’s Master of Puppets album or Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind I can knock out 1,000 words an hour on good days. It has to be music I’m familiar with though. I’ve started listening to more Ozzy Osbourne recently and because I’m not as familiar with him (Korn have clawed their way back into my playlist too) I find myself stopping and listening to it, trying to hear the lyrics and just getting distracted. The same happened with Mastodon. (I can’t believe I almost forgot Stone Sour)

I’ve written some of my favourite scenes while listening to Bat Country on repeat

  • Revision, Editing and Polishing: while I occassionally like listening to Duke Special, Wallis Byrd and other folksyish acousticy stuff at this point I prefer instrumental things like Bach, the Montovani Orchestra, Yanni (don’t judge me!!), Apocalyptica, some heavy metal instrumentals like Metallica’s Orion and Cacophony’s Speed Metal Symphony. Film scores like Lord of the Rings are good and Led Zeppelin also work here for me, at any other stage they’re just distracting. These types of music allow me to concentrate without distracting from the agonisingly monolithic task of editing a novel.

I often want to scream like this when I’m editing a scene for the 17th time and it’s still not right.

So what about you guys. Do you listen to music when you write or work? If so share your playlists in the comments.

Catch up

So I was sick for most of last week, which means I didn’t write anything at all and had to forfeit €50 (That I don’t have). I’m behind on my reading now too and I was also desperately attempting to find a job, I found volunteer work instead which isn’t quite the same but it all goes on the CV anyways. (If anyone has any ideas on how to teach art to people in wheelchairs some of whom have intellectual disabilities I’d be much obliged, even just ideas for paintings or something, I’ve never taught art before)

So, In a desperate attempt to win back my €50 I’m trying to catch up on my wordcount, meaning I should have 62,000 words by Sunday evening, all things going to plan. So that means I’ll be too busy to post anything this week either, but next week I have some plans.

This blog is going to get bigger, badder, with 10% more explosions (10% of zero is zero, right?). I’m trying to register a new address, because this one is a bit obscure, and I have countless drafts of posts that I haven’t had the time to finish which will go up soon. Maybe I’ll even have time to get reading again. So keep an eye out in the coming weeks, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth just yet…

Word Count-O-Meter

I would like to direct your attention to my new word count-o-meter in the sidebar. I read Writing Fiction for Dummies recently and Ingermanson recommends setting a weekly writing goal and a suitable punishment for not reaching that goal.

Unemployed student that I am I’ve set the (perhaps overly ambitious) goal of 10,000 words a week. Once I finish the first draft I’ll abandon the weekly word count for editing. That’s 2,000 every weekday. Last week went very well, I finished in plenty of time and had lots of time off too.

this week however is a different story, only about 3,000 words done so far and a busy weekend ahead. Which brings me to the punishment end of things.

For every week that I don’t reach my goal I lose €50. I have to put it into a savings account that I’m not allowed touch until the whole novel is finished and ready to be sent off to publishers and agents. what better motivation could there be in a recession?

Creative Writing Drinking Games

As promised: Alcohol induced literary madness gleaned from the finest corners of the internet!

1. The players in this game stand in a line and each person will say a part of a story. This can be as short as one sentence per person; however, the people in line do not tell their part of the story in the order in which they are standing. Random people in the line randomly declare their thoughts. The goal is to eventually create a story that makes sense, which isn’t always as easy as it may seem. While this game is extremely funny without alcoholic beverages, drinking can be incorporated so that every time someone laughs or fails to connect the elements of the story, he or she is penalized with a drink.

2. A better version of the previous one is where people sit around with pens and paper. The first person writes the start of a story or a poem (usually one or two lines), the next person writes the next bit and folds the top down and passes it on. The paper passes around the circle, each person adding a line then folding down the paper so that no one person sees the full story when they add their bit, only the previous line or two. The stories end up hillarious as the evening moves on and more alcohol has been consumed.

3. Some fun games can be made out of recitations. Say whenever soemone’s poem mention the big themes (love birth sex and death) everyone takes a drink.

4. I’ve never played this one before because I don’t know who Roger Cohen is but I’m sure it could be applied to anyone with equally bad writing

5. This is a list of games to play when reading specific writers.

6. This one sounds pretty difficult but I include it for any hardcore drinkers who can function on this level after a few pints.

7. Finally, the incredibly sophisticated game ‘In my pants’ is good fun when drinking. Typically someone says a song title followed by the phrase ‘in my pants’ looking for the funniest combination (‘Stairway to Heaven in my pants’) but instead of song titles it can be played with book titles (‘Things Fall Apart in my pants’)

Enjoy, remember, never ever drink and write. 😉

Decisions Decisions…

So I applied for a Creative Writing MA next year. There’s not much choice in Ireland, there’s one in University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) or Queen’s university Belfast (QUB). Some people argue that there’s one in National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) but that’s really a masters in Writing; it has modules in journalism, biography, travel writing and other horrible practical stuff like that. I applied for the first year and intended to do an M.Litt in my alma mater if all else failed (no way on earth do I want to enter the real world yet)

So the applications process gradually leeches away the will to live. I applied for all of them in the midst of my regular essays, reading list and dissertation. some such as ucd required application essays, Belfast wanted obscure enough information (Why does it matter what hospital I was born in?) and just when I thought I was finished with trinity I got an email listing no less than 10 items I had to send to them immediately. Though the PAC is supposed to streamline this somewhat it fails misereably as most colleges still use their own system and all the acceptances come out at different dates, so you could pay a deposit in one college only to find out a month later that you’ve gotten a better offer elsewhere (and don’t get me started on the utter nightmare of getting Professors, who are lovely but really have their heads so far up in the clouds of their own research that they can’t function in a normal everyday level, to write a reference).

So I fought my way through all this and sat waiting (I had no idea when any of the acceptances were coming out) gradually convincing myself that I wouldn’t get in anywhere so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if that were the case.

But I needn’t have worried, over the course of a month I got offered a place in all of them, I even got a scholarship oin Belfast. So now with a hat-trick (a situation I never expected to find myself in) I had to actually pick one.

I never really wanted to go to UCD. I know Flann O’ Brien did his masters there but in Folklore not English whereas Trinity and Belfast have Oscar Wilde and Seamus Heaney. I’ve heard to many bad reports about UCD, from strained resources, to poor course content to a lack of interaction with students. The list goes on and I know a handful of people who dropped out for these very reasons. ALso it just looks horrible, like a airport that’s halfway through being blown up. Too much concrete and buidling everywhere. One of the best things about Maynooth was the gardens, the grass, all the trees etc. It really helps with writing. So UCD was out. (It had only really been a back-up anyway)

Belfast sounds awesome, really really awesome. But a lecturer of mine made the really good point that all of it’s writers in residence are poets and I really want to specialise in prose and novels. Also there’s the hastle of moving so far away from family and friends and all the writers resources that are in Dublin. Also (as my mother put it) the danger of being a Catholic/having a Southern registered car around Belfast at the minute. to be honest I don’t think the last one is really an issue but Parents worry. So there’s nothing too wrong with Belfast and I would have been happy with it but…

Trinity is in the city center + Terry pratchett is an adjunct Professor (He gave the current class several workshops) + there are a lot of Irish literature modules on the course making it much easier to get a PhD out of it + I can move in with my boyfriend, removing all the anxiety I’ve had from living with crazies in student accomodation + writing being an industry that is partially based on ‘who you know’ and Trinity still having the prestige (though I’m not really sure if it’s deserved) means I can build up contacts and if I go to UK publishers with anything in the future they’ll be pretty impressed by the letters TCD on my CV  = Trinity for the win!

I already have several friends standing by to slap me if I go rogue (Trinners for winners loike y’know) so I reckon I’m in for a pretty interesting year, YAY!

Necromancy

so this blog died a swift death…

Rest In Peace little blog, Rest In Peace.

It was probably never a good idea to make a commitment like this coming into my final year of college – unless I can get into some sort of routine with a new activity I tend to abandon it pretty swiftly, so here we are, I have a degree now and a summer of unemployment in which to bring this blog back from the dead in the form of my new Blog 2.0!

(Huzzah)

I’ll be doing a masters in creative writing next year so the writing/english rants should hopefully get prolific enough over the summer to keep me going yet another intense year of reading and writing (when will I learn)

So thank you to all my loyal fans (all none of you) for sticking with me during this minor disruption and normal services shall resume shortly…….

Survival without internet

So I’ve moved back to college and due to an ongoing battle with a certain internet provider, who shall remain nameless for the sake of my sanity, I have not had internet access in weeks. So apologies for not putting up any posts (not that anyone reads this but it’s nice to be nice), and luckily the ideas have been building up so i should have a few up in quick succession