Writing opportunity: Calling all Wyrd Sisters … and Brothers

 

Now, I know many of you out there are weird*.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, because you’re like me – you’re drawn to reading and writing on subjects from the darker realms of your imagination and that’s great, right?

When you close your eyes or put pen to paper/ fingers to keyboard, you’re mind is not teeming with big-eyed Disneyfied, fluffy bunny fiction, spilling over with love and flowers and happy endings.

That’s not to say everyone your write is a sociopath with a taste for human flesh, but if your characters are good people who rescue small children and help old ladies cross the road, they are made that way so you can do horrible things to them.

Preferably with pits of magma.

And ghouls.

And horned beasts.

Given that you are a fellow twisted soul who needs a creative outlet (and let’s face it, we’d all be very afraid if you didn’t have an outlet), you might be interested in this writing opportunity at The Wyrd magazine.

So if you’re an author or artist who has

a fondness for weird and slipstream themes

Pop along here. Closing date is the end of this month and good luck, siblings.

 

*Of course, if you’re genuinely weird, you’ll spell this WYRD

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The worst writer in the world?

 

Have you ever visited that portion of Erin’s plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?

So begins Amanda McKittrick Ros’s novel, Delina DelaneyI found this quote on the Goodreads site with the tag wtf-does-this-mean. And no, I haven’t a clue either.

Now, literary fashion has changed a great deal since Ros published the book in 1898. If he were writing Bleak House (1853) today, I’m not sure even Charles Dickens would have dared begin with a discussion of the grisly London weather, wonderful though that passage is, complete with mentions of fog, mud, umbrellas and a Megalosaurus. Imagine the tattoo of red pen from a modern editor.

‘Never open a story with the weather’ is one piece of writing advice often given. As is the need to trim your prose of flabby, unnecessary words  – edit, edit, edit is our current mantra – and make your writing as clear as a mountain stream to your reader.

None of which seem to have been a priority to Ros.

The writer was famed for her circumlocutory language. When she wrote in her debut novel, Irene Iddesleigh,

When on the eve of glory, whilst brooding over the prospects of a bright and happy future, whilst meditating upon the risky right of justice, there we remain, wanderers on the cloudy surface of mental woe, disappointment and danger, inhabitants of the grim sphere of anticipated imagery, partakers of the poisonous dregs of concocted injustice. Yet such is life

it probably never occurred to her that she could have said –

Why is it we always feel most fed up when something good’s about to happen?

More was … more as far as Amanda was concerned.

She may have been a self-published teacher from County Down, but that didn’t stop her from imagining “the million and one who thirst for aught that drops from my pen” and that she would “be talked about at the end of a thousand years”. One thing she never lacked was confidence in her own work: she once discussed the Nobel Prize for Literature with her publisher, asking “What think you of this prize? Do you think I should make a ‘dart’ for it?”

Some of her best words she saved for her critics, calling them variously,

“bastard donkey-headed mites”

“clay crabs of corruption”

“auctioneering agents of Satan”

“hogwashing hooligans”

“evil-minded snapshots of spleen”

She had a gift for alliteration if nothing else.

What are we, then, to think of an author who – in her last novel, Helen Huddleson – lumbered most of her characters with a fruit-based name (Lord Raspberry, Cherry Raspberry, Sir Peter Plum, Christopher Currant, the Earl of Grape, Madame Pear)?

Well, I can’t advise any modern writer to ape her writing style and it seems famous authors would support my decision: the literary group The Inklings (which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein) held competitions where the winner was the member who could read from one of her books for longest without laughing.

But I do admire her no nonsense attitude towards critics, the absolute faith she had in her own work and the way she was prepared to defend it.

In these days when most authors are loathe to get into online arguments with readers over snippy critiques or even outright, troll-like oceans of bile, Ros reacted to a poet’s criticism of her debut novel by printing a 20 page rebuttal in her follow up novel.

No shrinking violet, our Amanda.

So if I think she was deluded in her own talents, she had more self-belief than most of us.

And that is definitely something to aspire to.


What do you think of Ros’s verbiage? Do you agree with the critics or do you long for a time when the circumlocutory phrase was en vogue? Are you tired of this demand for tough edits, long for the return of purple prose?

 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/apr/19/worst-novelist-in-history

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_McKittrick_Ros#cite_note-Words_To_Remember-6

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/01/was_amanda_mckittrick_ros_the_worst_novelist_in_history.html

Author Interview : The Writing District

 

Lingerie mannequin

Image : Pixabay

 

Earlier this year, I was delighted to win The Writing District’s August competition with my story, Waiting for Angie. (Read about the story’s long road to publication here.)

Now, the very lovely Olive O’Brien (children’s author, publisher and founder of The Writing District) recently asked if I’d like to take part in an author interview for the site. Well, who’s ego could resist that little massage?

So, if you’d like to read about what inspired me to write the story, who some of my favourite authors are, and who was better, Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, do pop along and read here.

If you’d like to read the story before the interview, here it is.

Thank you Olive, it was a pleasure.

 

 

 

 

How I’ve earned my writers’ stripes

 

No thanks

Image: Pixabay

I’ve talked about that old writers’ nemesis, rejection several times on this blog. 

Well, when I say ‘several’, what I really mean is ‘many’ (here, here, here – okay, you get the picture).

You see, the problem is, that rejection for a writer is about as easy to avoid as raindrops in a thunderstorm. You can run as fast as you like, but baby, you’re gonna get wet.

I’ve had a fair few rejections – many of the short stories I’ve submitted to competitions and magazines have been rejected. But let’s face it, you should (theoretically) only be spending a handful of hours on a short story, so yes, you work hard on it, you love it, you nurture it, but your whole personality isn’t invested in it in a big way.

You’ve not lived with it for months – years – drafting and redrafting, sculpting and resculpting, deciding it needs completely taking apart and rebuilding all over again because if its findamental flaws. And knowing that decision will take you months to achieve.

Because that’s what you do with a novel.

You get to know the characters so well that if you’ve set it in your own city, in buildings you know, you’ll find your eyes drifting there every time you go past, wondering if those people are actually inside, what they’re doing, who they’re hanging out with.

You’ve lived with them so long, there’s actually a small part of you that believes if you went inside and wandered the corridors, knocked on a few doors, you’d find them and finally be able to say hi face to face.

It’s okay, it really is a very small part of me that thinks that – well pretty small anyway.

Now, I don’t know how many of you are hoping to publish a novel the traditional route, but if you’re not a potential novelist you may not be aware that trying to get direct access to a publisher these days is tougher than getting an audience with the Pope.

Most of them don’t take unsolicited submissions and if they do, the manuscripts run the risk of sitting in the attractively named ‘slush pile’ for a year before being scanned by the intern. Just occasionally, the publishers usually closed to manuscripts will have ‘open submissions’ where unagented authors can try their hand.

I’ve sent manuscripts to three such open subs – one too, too early on in the process, a second just a few weeks ago, both resulting in rejection. Neither was pleasant, but neither was it devastating.

The third was different.

I submitted last August and waited.

And waited … and waited.

In October some people had rejections, but I dodged that bullet.

I waited.

I waited.

At Christmas I still hadn’t had a decision.

Finally, in the New Year, an update was posted saying that anyone who hadn’t yet heard had made it to ‘second reads’, the next level of the filtration process. That was pretty exciting in itself.

Two more months go by.

By this time, I was haunting a couple of forums, waiting to see if any of the members had rejections, reading their chatter, their encouragement to fallen peers.

I started to hope,

to imagine,

to daydream.

Than finally, after waiting 7 months, I had my email.

I’m sorry to say we will not be moving forward …

Was I disappointed? Hell yes.

Is there a tiny part of me wondering if I’ve wasted years of my life writing a book no one will want to publish? Err, yeah. But, weirdly, only a small part.

You see, I’ve got something now no one can take away – I’ve earned my stripes, man. I’ve ridden the rejection rollercoaster that every great (and yes, not so great) writer has ridden. I’m a passenger on the same train and I actually feel I’ve drawn a tiny bit closer to my writing heroes, shared a character shaping experience they’ve all been through.

I’m one step closer to being a published author.

And weirdly, after a serious postal delay, my Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook came today. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the UK’s bible when it comes to professional  and legal advice …

and contact lists for literary agents.

I’m ready for my next step.

 

Love Nudge Competition. Saturday: Ennui

puzzle-16118_1280

Image: Pixabay

 

Day Six of the Love Nudge Competition and what a sorry sight our lovers are. If, indeed, they are lovers anymore.

He picks his toenails in front of the news. She can’t even be bothered to tell him off about it anymore. She stopped talking three years ago, but he didn’t notice because he hasn’t listened for four.

Today’s Love Nudge word is

ENNUI.

If you can be bothered, compose something – poetry, prose, ekphrasis describing the state of this couple’s living room, whatever you fancy – and if you can muster the energy, pop it in the comments box.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.

Love Nudge Competition. Friday: Regret

comic-477451_1280

Image: Pixabay

 

Day Five of the Love Nudge Competition, and things are going slowly downhill in what was once our little love idyll. 

Maybe the kids shouldn’t have come along so soon. Maybe he should have kept his drinkiing pals. Maybe she shouldn’t work so late, so hard, with a co-worker with such great cheekbones and cornflower blue eyes …

Today’s Love Nudge word is

REGRET.

Poetry, prose, elegy, book jacket blurb, whatever you fancy- pop it in the comments box.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.

***

With apologies, from now until some time late on Sunday, I’ll be up to my eyes in roses, cellophane and shifty looking men. No, I won’t be spending a few days of illicit passion in my own love dungeon – I’ll be working in a flower shop. The rest of my competition posts are already scheduled, but please don’t be offended if I don’t comment now until next week. I will be reading every single entry, so do keep them coming.

Love Nudge Competition. Thursday: Security

ape-1000270_1920

Image: Pixabay

 

Welcome to Thurday’s Love Nudge Competition, Day Four. So, still enthusiastic about this love affair, or wishing you’d stayed single?

We’ve moved on from passion and left jealousy far behind. We’re in our comfort zone now. We’re settling down, getting mortgages, picking out shower curtains … buying ovulation kits. Who needs a social life when you have an Ikea catalogue? What could possibly go wrong?

Today’s Love Nudge word is

SECURITY.

Poetry, prose, elegy, elevator pitch, whatever you fancy- pop it in the comments box or leave a link to your post.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.