Reading and it’s effect on Writing.

Going from the title, you might be fooled into thinking that I am going to regale you with a scholarly essay.

You’re in luck though…there’s a reason that I hated English A Level…

Actually, I just finished reading “Lies Sleeping” by Ben Aaronovitch.

It was one of my christmas presents and all the way through I enjoyed the experience.  I always do. Mostly because it’s like Ben Aaronovitch seems to have read all the same books as me – I’m forever catching the literary version of what film buffs like to call Easter Eggs – and we appear to have the same sense of humour.  Which probably explains all the Pratchett references…

However, this time round I finished the book and found myself thinking two things;

1) I wish I could write something that good.

2) I now see the reason that Sir Terry Pratchett and various other big authors have said “When you’re writing, you shouldn’t read in the genre you’re writing in.”

The first thought, is what I always think when I read one of my favourite authors. Doesn’t matter if it’s STP, King, Tolkien, Carriger, Howey, Eddings, Reichs, Slaughter… I always feel in awe of the story I’ve just read and the author whose imagination it came out of.

The second one requires a bit more explanation though.

Thinking about all the books I have read over the years, I’ve read a startling breadth of stories and authors. I started with Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll and CS Lewis, passed through Tolkien, Eddings, Bradbury, Clarke, Herbert, Anthony, McCaffrey,  Michener, Le Guin, Anthony… you get the idea.
I took in Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz and various other horror writers. I spent some time in Romance Land (yes, even Mills & Boon) and although I don’t remember any of the authors (other than the Grande Dame of that realm, Barbara Cartland) they all delighted me while I read them.

They’ve all had an effect on my writing, even if I don’t know it. I adore STP, but I can’t deliberately write Comedic Fantasy. I’ve been told that there’s a certain humour to my fantasy though, so something must have rubbed off on me.

The problem is, when you read exclusively in one genre, you don’t just pick up small touches of each author’s voice; you start sounding like them enough that it could be considered plagiarism.  I had a brush with that when I was at Uni –  I helped TOH with his written coursework for the course we were doing together,  and I’d changed his personal “voice” enough that it sounded like he’d copied my work!

That time, he was accused of plagiarising me… and I really don’t want to have my work sound so much like my favourite authors that I get sued for plagiarism! Hence why I thought the second thought…

So what’s the fix? I have to read in my favourite genre to keep up with my favourite authors or any trends, but I don’t want to sound like them. Any ideas?

A Rare Occurrence has happened & Other News…

… I’ve got a flash story published an an anthology!

It’s a rare occurrence because, while I cut my writing teeth  on short stories and anthologies, I have problems writing in forms any shorter than a thousand words now;  for this particular anthology the word limit was 250!

The process also created a short story that will be going into my next short story collection (which will be published when I feel I have enough words to justify a book) so it was rather useful in that respect… and it was a great deal of fun to write for – I had to really concentrate on my words and their meaning.

The links to the book the flash story is in are at the end of the post.

* * * *

I’ve  just started a creative writing course. Now you might think that would be a waste of time for a writer, but there’s always value in going back to basics and working through them methodically; you learn more about yourself and improve your process… and writing that way. I’m not sure what I’ll do with anything I might write from the course, but it’s going to be an interesting journey, which is rather the whole point of it…

I shall of course, keep you posted on my progress.

* * * * 

I’m working on a new story for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

It’s an off-shoot of “Teacups & Time Travel”, set in the world that Lady Elizabeth ran off to… and is already doing rather well on the page. If I think you may enjoy it, I shall post excerpts on here…

Here’s a few words from it…

Hi, I’m Alice. No, not THAT Alice; she was a figment of Lewis Carroll’s hallucinations. I’m a real Alice.

Wonderland? Real? Yes, but not the way he saw it. Or the way that the Cartoons and movies have imagined it or even the way that you might see it when you’re reading the books.

I know the Real Wonderland and… honestly… it’s a lot more scary, a lot less friendly and even more fun than you might think. I don’t call it Wonderland though, I call it the Curious World; to me it’s my escape place – my freedom and my relaxation.

Do you want to come with me to visit it?

There’s no following a White Rabbit or falling down a hole in the ground. My route is much, much simpler and a lot harder; you have to have the ability to step through your reality and into mine.

Do you still want to come with me?

What do you think? It feels like it has legs for me and I’m going to run with it…

* * * *

And Finally: 

Here’s those book links I was talking about!

Anthology of deliciously fun murders about those who serve us badly and those who abuse the service providers.

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Please-Hold-Murder-Important-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07DD6XB72

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Please-Hold-Murder-Important-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07DD6XB72

 

Continuing Personal Development…

A while back I was feeling pretty unsuccessful.  I don’t sell a lot of books and for some reason I equate the number of books that I do sell with my personal sense of achievement. That hasn’t changed… I have.

Since we moved to this town, I’ve been feeling very low and trying to write when my brain refuses to focus and co-operate with my muse is almost impossible. I started doing various art & craft courses – mostly to get myself out of the house and talking to adults more. I was also trying to keep my hand in with the techniques so that I could teach them if I ever went back to work (I’m a Design & Technology / Art & Design Teacher remember?)

One thing that the courses have done is give me more confidence in my own abilities. Writing is a very solitary pursuit and I had thought that doing the courses would stop me writing, but  practising my other creative skills and socialising with people face to face, other than just with Writers and Artists online,  I found it revved up my writing muse and I found that I was managing to write something on my WIP’s every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my online friends; they stop me going crazy and make me feel better about myself, but the face to face interaction makes me feel less like a hermit.

So here I am nearly at the end of may, with over 50,000 words into Teacups & Time Travel. I’ve also written a flash story and a short story for two different anthologies (although I have no idea if they’ve got in or not) and I’m working on another one. I’ve also started looking at my blogsite here and my branding etc in the hope that I can improve my chances of selling my work, using the Panoptic Foundations Website Planner.

I’m not going to be going back into teaching for a long while – and when I do, it’s almost certainly going to be Adult Education rather than Secondary Education; it’s not that I don’t like teaching kids (I do) but I need the freedom to be able to teach what I want and how I want, rather than having to stick to the Curriculum that the Dept of Ed force on us and I find the other side of Secondary education (marking, reports, politics etc) far too stressful to enjoy the Teaching side.

So I’m going to continue writing and publishing. I’m going to continue taking courses, crafting and designing… and hopefully between the two, my sense of achievement will latch onto something other than my sales figures!