Wednesday, 21 May 2008


I have one! A title that is, for The Novel (note that I now capitalise it instead of putting it in inverted commas, a step forward I think)

I’m hopeless at titles, even for short stories. I always worry that I’m either being too obscure or giving too much away. Karen had a great post about some of her spare titles recently and I would have been tempted to pinch one of them but sadly although there are both lettuces and jellyfish in my book neither Whistling for Lettuce or Truth for the Jellyfish quite hit the spot :o)

One of my favourite books from ages ago is The Abortion: an historical romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan. It is about a public library in California where authors can bring their unpublished manuscripts, ‘the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing.’ The shelves are stacked with works such as My Trike, Leather Clothes and the History of Man, Bacon Death and my absolute favourite Growing Flowers by Candlelight in Hotel Rooms. All titles that perfectly fitted the books they were meant for.

I was hoping a title would just present itself in my writing - an obvious theme or a unforgettable line - sadly this hasn’t happened yet. So instead I had a brainstorming session with my writing buddy Mavis who has read all my completed chapters. We discussed trends in titles especially the long titles that are sort of sentences The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and the one I can never remember in the right order - A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius (?). I decided I couldn’t go down that route as I would have trouble remembering it myself, never mind anyone else. Also pondered on the need to have a title that people could pronounce so they wouldn’t be afraid to ask for in a book shop (Having stumbled myself over Sepulchre, The Algebraist and even Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow).

All other options having been struck off we were finally left with a single word title - the name of one of my central characters, and I suddenly realised that was It. It sums the book up, says what its about, has a hint of ambiguity about it AND is easy to pronounce. Unfortunately to reveal it here would be to give too much away (how paranoid am I?) but The Novel is hereafter to be called E***

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Hooked on haiku

After failing miserably at my haiku homework for my writer's group and feeling fazed and befuddled at the prospect of writing a sonnet for next time, I was suddenly seized yesterday afternoon by poetic inspiration.

Watching my daughter having her swimming lesson a haiku appeared in my head. Then and another and another. It's like Maltesers, once you start you just can't stop. I was joined by the friend who had produced several haiku the night before and he confessed that he was addicted. We found that for the rest of the day every turn in the conversation had us counting syllables on our fingers - 5-7-5 - It's a haiku! Now I know there is more to a haiku than getting the right number of syllables (and apparently some people have dispensed with the whole syllable thing and just write three lines of any length) but it helps you focus and limit your word usage. A good general writing exercise I reckon.

I was going to post up my efforts here but have discovered via Sally Q's fab competitions calender a Haiku comp that will donate half its profits to literacy projects for kids in developing countries and in the UK. It's £10 for ten haiku so I only need to write another four :0).

Meanwhile here is one I won't be entering in the comp but which I enjoyed writing:

"Does it?" she asked me
"It does" I replied sadly
"Bigger than a bus."

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Story prompts

Had an inspirational night last night at our monthly writer's group. (We are the group with no name at the moment, something that will have to be rectified when we get our new (private) blog up and running.)

Our assignment last month was to write haiku. I tried and failed miserably, as did most of the group but the three who managed it put us to shame, producing haiku that were funny, thoughtful and witty. My aim this month is to write at least one decent haiku (not necessairly one that is funny, thoughtful or witty, it just has to make sense) to put up on our new blog (and maybe to share with the wider world).

Lost as I was in thoughts of haiku I managed to miss the discussion about this month's 'homework' and returned to reality only when I heard the phrase "Ok so it's sonnets then". We have to write a bloomin' sonnet! Everyone else seemed very cheerful at the thought, and they were all supportive of my suggestion a couple of months ago of writing pieces on 'Pants and other underwear' so not wanting to be a wet blanket I had to agree. My previous attempts at poetry have been fairly lamentable - they tend to be soppy or rude - hmm a rude sonnet, there's a thought.

Spent the rest of the session doing a writing exercise that got us all scribbling furiously. Between us we came up with a list of 12 nouns, then each wrote a piece containing as many of them as possible. It's amazing what you can do after a large glass of Rioja in the company of fellow writers. My effort, 'Obadiah Plum and the Case of the Diamond in the Custard', managed to incorporate all of the following:

Diamond, Custard, Sign, Cenotaph, Plum, Cavalier,Petit Pois, Earth, Cloak, Diary, Photograph, Hedge

with minimal cheating ;o)

... Obadiah turned and looked out of the window. A poster advertising Laughing Cavalier Mouthwash mocked him from the wall opposite.
"Tell me," he said. "Who was this letter from?"
"That's the strangest thing," said Mrs Hedge-Simpson. "It was written in dark green ink and signed simply with two letters - P.P."
Damn it. He should have known. Petit Pois was back in the game

Monday, 12 May 2008

I'm Back!

Though to be honest I never actually went away. I just didn't blog, for a whole two whole weeks. Then today I realised how much I was missing it so have returned with vigour and vim and - a moan. I know it’s been said before, and to a better tune, but I Hate Mondays. No matter how hard I try to think positively and ignore the fact that it’s the first day of the week, I just never get very much done. It’s so frustrating when I'm overloaded with work, and want to get on with my writing and have seven tonnes of washing to do from camping holiday (OK so I was a way for a bit). I sat down this morning at 9.30 determined to get all of today’s work done by three so I could get on with Other Stuff. Here I am at ten to six and I have just finished the barest minimum of what I'd hoped to get through. I just know that tomorrow, being Tuesday will be better.

On a happier note, since I last blogged I have written another 5,000 words of my novel, sent off a story to the Momaya SS competition and got a very nice 'sorry you didn't win but we gave your story serious consideration' note from the Story Quarterly people. I also wrote my Story a Fortnight blog contribution - my first attempt at a womag story. I am going to spend my early morning sessions this week brushing up the latter for submission to a magazine and also working on a couple of other stories I found lurking on the computer which might also be suitable for sending off. I know from reading about the submissions and rejections of my fellow bloggers that the womag market is a tough one to get into but I'm excited at the prospect of giving it a try.