Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Writing Meme

Thanks to April Boland for tagging me with this meme.

What's the last thing you wrote?

Well, I started a poem last night asking whether being the absolute worst at something wasn't a kind of achievement in itself (I'd just watched Chris Martin bat). Before that, I was doing some work on a new novel idea.

Was it any good?

The poem will probably end up being entertaining, but nothing special. I have a good feeling about the novel.

What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Probably an essay from my undergrad days about Iron Age society in East Yorkshire. I didn't get into writing as a separate thing until a couple of years ago.

Write Poetry?


Angsty Poetry?

From time to time. The time to really watch out for me is when I'm producing only silly poems, because I'm probably bottling up my feelings.

Favourite Genre of Writing?

Fantasy. There's a Neil Gaiman short story, 'Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire' where the main character can't stop injecting moments of 'fantasy' into otherwise serious writing (of course, this being Gaiman, what's fantasy and what's real are more or less the opposite way round to usual). I'm more or less the same way. I might think I'm going to write something 'normal' or 'mainstream' but it never quite works out like that. I've been getting more done since I've just given in and started writing modern fantasy from the start.

Most Fun Character You've Ever Created?

Probably Brian Northington, a character from one of my short stories. Since he's completely obsessed with reptiles, he gave me an opportunity to finally make use of the various facts that a boy inevitably memorizes about these things when he's 12. He's a bit of an idiot, but an endearing one.

Most Annoying Character You've Ever Created?

Her name is Sophie. She's teenaged, obnoxious, and a werewolf. If I didn't suspect that there was more depth under there somewhere, I'd probably have killed her off by now.

Best Plot You've Ever Created?

I have a horrible feeling that it may be from one of the pieces that I've deleted in one of my more depressed moments. But then, that could just be a case of remembering them more fondly because they're gone.

Coolest Plot Twist You've Ever Created?

I find myself thinking of my poem Pest Control, which, though a simple piece of rhyming nonsense, is quite fun. It's more of a punch line than a plot twist, but it will do. The last stanza runs:

I've tried disbelieving in faries
And they've made my life living hell
So now, I'll try out a new tack
And believe in what eats them as well

How often do you get writer's block?

The answer to this is either all the time or never, depending on how you look at it. There are rarely days when I can't bring myself to write, and that has nothing to do with writer's block. There are, however, lots of days when I can find inspiration about one thing but not another.

Write fan fiction?

No. That is what parody is for.

Do you type or write by hand?

I make notes by hand, but rarely write out prose longhand. I just don't write quickly enough. Poetry will usually go through a hand written first draft.

Do you save everything that you write?

I have a feeling that I ought to, but I've also had very bad days when I've thought 'It's awful, it's never going to be even half way readable' and deleted a bunch of stuff. Childish, I know. Thankfully, I've found at least some of it on disc since then.

Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Yes. Mostly because the idea is taking up space in my head. I try to write something else and it's jumping up and down shouting 'write me, write me'.

What's your favourite thing you've written?

Probably my novel, Searching, though I'm often in the position of hating absolutely everything I write as soon as I'm finished writing it. Still, I think I managed to get some moving moments into it. That's not to say that the sequel won't be even better.

What's everyone else's favourite story that you've written?

Now this is awkward. Mostly, people have seen my poetry and articles so far. I've had some good feedback from the people who've seen the novel, but in terms of family and friends probably the short story that they like the most is 'Fishing for Worlds', which is a decidedly odd piece of writing.

Do you ever show people your work?

For a long time, I was quite embarrassed about the fact that I wrote. I only told my family a few months ago. I've been swapping a lot of pieces with my friend Adam recently, and obviously, I'd like to think that someone has read the published articles and poems.

Did you ever write a novel?

4 completed ones (although I'm actually still doing re-writes on one) 1 I've just started. And, sadly, probably 6 or 7 that I got part way through and then deleted.

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?


What's your favourite setting for your characters?

I end up setting a lot of things in and around the North of England, since it's the place I know best, but I have a certain fondness for Scotland too. Despite living in the south and the midlands for a few years, I don't think I can quite get the feel of them right.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Well, there's the novel, and the re-writes on the other novel, and the work on the PhD (which at 100000 words must surely count), and the poem I started last night, and an idea for a non-fiction book that I keep playing with, and the series of linked short stories I've written the first one for. That's what? six? Of which maybe two or three will get serious attention.

Do you want to write for a living?

It certainly seems better than many of the alternatives.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?


Ever written anything in script or play format?

No, but I've been thinking about it. The trouble is, if I get a good idea, I feel I should work on it in a way I know gives me decent results.

What are your four favourite words?

Looking at this, I'd say Probably is fairly high on the list. As a fencer, Sabre is quite a nice one too, but only with that spelling (the American English Saber never seems to encourage that slight roll of the r) I quite like Bokie, the old scots word for scarecrow, and I have an unhealthy poetic fascination with the word toast. (I blame a rather strange poem I was forced to memorize as a child, of which I can only remember the first Stanza. 'Colonel Fazackerly Butterworth Toast, Bought an old castle complete with a ghost, but someone or other forgot to declare, to Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there'. And to think I could have been learning Blake.)

Do you ever write based on yourself?

I certainly make use of my experience of things to add detail to them in prose, and some of my poetry is personal. Some of it, though, is written more from the point of view of characters. I can't understand this apparent insistence that poets write only about their own lives. There's so much more to the world than me.

What character have you created that is most like yourself?

In one way or another, I suspect most of them are me to a small extent, because if I'm making them seem human, I'm the human being nearest for reference. I think it's probably some of the minor characters that are closest, though.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Some of them have aspects taken from people I know. A lot of them take general character types that I know I'll need within an idea and work on them. I want them to be a little different, a little bit more human or memorable than just an archetype.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I don't really remember my dreams, but I do manage a lot of thinking just as I'm waking up or falling asleep.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff hangers

So long as the ending has some power, I'm not too bothered, though I'm a sucker for a happy ending when I read.

Have you ever written based on artwork you've seen

I've written poetry inspired by artwork, mostly stuff that' s shown up at the Beverley Art Gallery. I wrote one about the Black Mill on Beverley's Westwood, without realising that it was a mill. There was no caption to the picture and it looked more like some sort of watchtower at the time. The poem might have turned out very differently had I known.

Are you concerned about spelling and grammar as you write

If I type, then yes, but even so I'll have to change almost everything in a first draft.

Ever write anything in chatspeak? (How RU?)

No. It's too dependent on everyone pronouncing words the same.

Does music help you write?

I'll often have it on to drown out other distractions, or to remind me of the mood I'm trying to create. Of course, getting it wrong can do more harm than good. Trying to write a tender love poem while listening to Pantera probably wouldn't work, for example.

Quote Something You've Written. Whatever Pops into your Head.

Crow’s Nest

A crow perches on the building’s edge
Wings spread, balanced against the wind
He glances down to watch the students
Pass in knots and clusters
Eddies in a concrete sea
He does not care about
The learning of his perch
Or read the patterns in those passing current’s paths
To him his brick built eyrie
Is just a place to watch and rest
And fly at last.


April Boland said...

Very nice! I was interested to see what your answers would be.

stu said...

I completely exhausted my typing digits with that one. It's a long, long meme.