Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
On Tuesday I attended a "Starting Out" workshop, hosted at the Scottish Book Trust and run by the Cultural Enterprise Office.
It was well worth the (free) entry - I'd definitely recommend it. They covered all sorts of areas of starting up a business, including registering yourself, paying taxes, long term planning, service definitions and other legalities. The workshop was full of other nice creative types, and it was a very happy afternoon.
Seems like they run lots of different workshops - a couple of people at this one had been to a marketing workshop and another for help filling out funding application forms, and they highly recommended them.
It was good for me to see that I'm using the right legal structures for myself, and the planning and definition parts of the day certainly gave me food for thought. I'm easily motivated by good workshops, so decided to put some of the ideas at the session into practice. In my old jobs I would make up lists of things to do the next day: why not do them now? It's such a simple thing, but finishing everything I wanted to achieve at work used to give me some measure of satisfaction.
Come Wednesday, I made myself a to-do list for the day. I didn't finish two of the items on it, and felt annoyed with myself. Yesterday I managed to get everything done (by writing until 10pm!) and it did feel nice ticking off all those items.
What's on the list for today, then?
- Hand in an application form
- Get some books for research at the central lending library
- Do all our recycling
- Start Chapter four
- Plan out some short story ideas for the Writers and Artists yearbook competition
- Write this blog entry!
See, one ticked off already. I think this will also be good to measure how much time I spend doing "admin" style tasks. I mentally note them down as faffing time, but they're not really, and the lady who ran the workshop tried to encourage us to record them.
Next step is to make a plan up for the short and long term goals for me as a business. More about that when I do it...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Difficult question, that. So difficult, in fact, that I started this blog post yesterday and gave up!
I was going to say 1987. I quite liked 1987. I was wee, but old enough to feel grown up at school and things (p5). My brother and I played outside lots, I read lots of books, I could still play happily with my cat, and cuddling my baby sister was the highlight of the day.
After writing a much longer paragraph on the merits of 1987, I realised that it was 22 years ago! That won't do at all. I've done so much since then (obviously) and had some amazing things happen the last few years. Some bad things have happened too, of course, but my boyfriend pointed out that the bad just makes the good stand out more, and he is a clever cookie.
It was a tough choice between the last few years, as 2006 and 2007 both included the Screenwriting MA, which I was incredibly happy doing, and while I'd still love to be studying there's something to be said for graduating and using those skills.
Therefore, I pick 2008. We went on a cold but amazing trip to New York, I quit my job to concentrate on writing, and finally wrote a complete novel. I also had a short film made - my lovely producer somehow managed to get funding and some fantastic ladies to perform my words (more about that when it's ready though!). I plunged into filmmaking and set up a production company, and went to two totally different but both incredible film festivals.
Here's hoping 2009 is just as good.
I hereby tag Andrew, Laurence, Adaddinsane, Lara and Mandy.
As an aside, my little brother looked identical to Fred Savage as a child.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Another Laura works in an art gallery shop. One of her best friends is there, so it can be fun, and she's surrounded by beautiful things, but sometimes she wishes she had bitten the bullet and left to work part time and write for a couple of months, to see if she had liked it.
Elsewhere, a Laura works full time in an office, evaluating statistics and wishing she was somewhere else. She wonders what would have happened if she had applied to the Screenwriting MA that Andrew told her about.
One Laura is still in her dressing gown, has had a headache for two weeks, has no money, and is happier than any of the other Laura's. She has somehow managed to bag an incredible, supportive boyfriend, and is writing full time for a while, just as she has always wanted to. She is going to spend the afternoon making a mood board for her book and completing chapter 3.
I'm very glad that I am this Laura.
Life's a funny old thing.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
Recognise that? That's right, fact fans, it's an extract from "To a Mouse" - one of the more well known Burns ditties (I guess Auld Lang Syne would be the most famous). The title for the wonderful "Of Mice and Men" was famously drawn from this poem. It's not my own favourite - that would be one of Tam O'Shanter, Holy Willie's Prayer or To a Louse - but given the apparent invasion of my flat recently by a four footed chap and dreams about rats last night I thought it was appropriate.
It is of course Burns night tonight, so Scots across the land are currently chasing haggis in their back gardens, polishing whisky bottles, and ironing kilts in between rounds of golf.
(Note for any of my younger readers: if you're ever visiting distant relatives and they try to persuade you that there are "haggis beasties" living in their back garden, don't go looking for them. They do not exist and they will laugh at you, the way smug adults do, when you get back inside, breathless and embarrassed.)
The Scottish Govt are using the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth to mark their "Homecoming" campaign. (They have even made an advert filled with Scots who don't live in Scotland to promote this: if you dare, watch it and wince.) They're trying to entice the 25 odd million people of Scots descent from around the world to come and visit our beautiful land. I'd rather promote our arts and science than the stereotypical image of Scots, but what the devil, if it brings people here to learn more then I can make my peace with it. I love my land, I love my hometown, and I do like a nice vegetarian haggis with a nip of single malt.
Happy Burns night.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Well, I think it's really good so I will show it. I'm really looking forward to the film - I love the book, and I think the Nightmare Before Christmas (another Henry Selick film) is fantastic. The film looks delightfully creepy - I hope the other Mother is as scary on screen as she is on the page.
Anyway, enjoy, if you will:
Friday, January 23, 2009
The book is aimed at older children and adults, so I don't want to make it too long. The ever helpful Neil Gaiman recommends about 40,000 words for books aimed at young readers. The similarly helpful book on writing for children in the Teach Yourself range recommends 30,000-40,000. Therefore I've set my bar at 40,000 words for the first draft - I can always bring the count down in a rewrite, if necessary.
Today I need to type up and submit my entry for the National Galleries competition. I wrote an entry sitting in one of the galleries a couple of weeks ago - it was a very relaxed, inspiring environment to work in and I'd recommend it. I also have some script feedback to give one of you lovely people, and a meeting with my producer. Busy busy!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
You could win:
• a cash prize of £500
• a place on an Arvon Foundation residential writing course
• publication of your story on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook website
I don't know if you've ever looked at the Arvon Foundation courses, but they look fantastic. I would love to go on one...
Closing date is the 14th February - see the website for full details.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Thanks for all your comments and messages yesterday - much appreciated. Seems lots of you are going through similar "is this the right thing" phases at the moment too - perhaps it's the season. Or maybe I had a blue Tuesday, and not a blue Monday...
Don't get me wrong, I am actually very happy that I enjoy writing everything. I just think I need to concentrate on one fiction project at the moment, to stop this feeling that my words are going nowhere, doing nothing. I need to Suck It Up.
So - a book it shall be.
I started a children's novel in December, a fantasy set in old Edinburgh. It's a faerie tale, with a girl at the head. I wrote the first chapter, and half of the second, before Christmas.
Today's plan, then: complete the second chapter.
Also, taking inspiration from Andrew, I revamped the blog a little. I dunno if I like it - what do you think? I quite like the width, but maybe the colours are a bit bland. Maybe I should make it green...
Update: I have changed the colours - to blue!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
RED WRITER (30) stalks through bracken and mud, brandishing a flaming torch in one hand and holding a pen like a dagger in the other.
She is alert, and stops when she hears RUSTLING.
Is that you?
With a SIGH, she continues her labours: slipping on leaves, avoiding fallen branches, throwing angry looks everywhere.
She stumbles into a clearing: smooth green grass surrounded by tall trees.
Her torch blows out, and she is plunged into darkness.
Please, no - I have to find it.
From the darkness comes a breeze,
Pushing Writer to her knees,
Up she looks, to trees on high,
Where twinkling lights do seem to fly.
She gasps as Faeries flit above,
Singing songs of hate and love,
Suddenly, their singing stops,
Down they look from their treetops.
A stranger in their precious land,
The Writer, with her pen in hand,
Baring teeth they charge in spite,
And fly at her with all their might.
Red Writer woke up with a groan. Her mouth tasted like bark, and every single muscle in her body ached. With a yawn, she opened her eyes and stretched, then immediately wished she hadn't.
She was up one of the tallest trees in the glade, the sky overhead and nothing but branches and leaves underneath. She tried to think, quickly, but had no idea how this had happened. The last thing she remembered was being on the forest floor. There had been a strange wind, and singing, and then... Something about teeth?
She shook her head in frustration, and tried to manoeuvre herself into a standing position. She might as well see where she was, before trying to get down. Twigs prodded her painfully as she moved, but she gritted her teeth and tried to ignore them. Finally, she was able to stand up, her arms wrapped around the tree trunk and her feet firmly on the large branch below.
She could see for miles, right across the forest Now, towards the hills of Never. She groaned to herself: it would be impossible to find IT here. The forest was just too dense.
What does this example demonstrate?
1. That I wrote this quickly and should probably have rewritten before putting online, no doubt, but that wasn't the point.
2. The real point: I have lost my path a bit, of late. What do I want to write? Short stories, screenplays, novels or poetry?
It was all so clear a year ago - screenwriting was my path. After a few mishaps with short films and enjoying myself immensely with Nanowrimo, things started to get foggy.
At the moment, I am doing a little of everything, and worry that I should actually be concentrating on one thing. I have a huge amount of guilt over this too - possibly due to my giving up work to write.
I want to get those faeries to slap me into shape, and force me to write just one thing. As they won't, I'll need to do it myself. The book, methinks, might win the day...
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged in a few weeks. Christmas was wonderfully manic and we were away for Hogmanay, so I haven't actually DONE any writing to blog about in about 3 weeks.
I do see that I have been tagged by the lovely Lucy, and shall reply asap, and that the rest of you have been doing some exciting bits and bobs. I hope to catch up with both blog reading and posting over the next few days properly.
In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the photos I took on Hogmanay and New Year's Day up at the frost encrusted north - it was so beautiful, I took hundreds of shots.
Look at the ice on the bay!
I've never seen a white beach before.
We saw some beautiful sunsets too.
Hope you all had lovely times over the festive period - isn't it sad with no decorations up though?
Sniff sniff. x