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Blogging Books

Revelation

I was never good at keeping things in. I did it too much and ended up hiding my personality – even to myself. Even this blog has been suffering from that disease. So now, all is revealed (well, maybe not quite all) in my guest post on place and writing that the lovely Tania Hershman kindly agreed to host on her blog.

Now that it’s all out, I need to add to my About Me page. In the meantime, I will say this: even though I live where I live, I will never intentionally blog about politics. Many people do this, some exceptionally well. I have another mission.

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Blogging Books Rhymes

What I didn’t do on holiday

Touch a computer,Tiger
Become a tutor,
Lose weight,
Smash a plate,
Go to a dance,
Take a chance,
Climb the Eiger,
See a tiger,
Live in a hovel,
Write a novel,
Or even a short story, a flash or a twenty-five worder,
Or a rhyme that sticks to rhythm or order.

But I did have a great time. And I thought a bit about the novel I want to write and where I want this blog to go. More next time ….

Now I’m off to find out how everyone has managed without me.

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Blogging Books Rhymes

Holidays

Walking in Switzerland

A time to walk.
A time to talk.
A time to look.
A time to read a book.
A time to write.
A time to be bright.
A time to relax.
A time to make tracks.
A time to unwind.
A time undefined.
A time to think.
A time to drink.
A time to eat.
A time to treat
Yourself.

So, we’re off for a well-earned holiday. Well-earned by my better half, that is. I’m tagging along and looking forward to it. And while I’m away, I plan to think about what I want to write, where I want my life to go and how this blog is going to fit into that. Currently, I’m thinking of writing about things I haven’t mentioned up to now. We’ll see.

Tara for now!

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Books

Plagiarism

Plagiarism

There are two cases of plagiarism that I remember from my past. One occurred when I was doing translation work for some students. One of the students (A) was having a lot of difficulty writing his piece. So one of the others (B) lent A hers, so that he could get an idea of the type of writing that was required. When A finally handed me his piece to translate, I realised that most of it was copied word for word from B’s. This made my work of translating much easier, as I was able to copy from my previous translation. I did tell B about that.

A so-called “psychologist” advertised himself on the Internet, using text copied from another site. I happened to remember that I’d read this before and checked to make sure. I didn’t do anything about it. Perhaps I should have done.

There are those who say that all work should be freely available to everyone to do what they want with it. That’s fair up to a point. But I would be very hurt if someone won a prize for work that I’d done, or even if my blog post appeared on another blog, attributed to someone else.

That’s why I’m joining the campaign against plagiarism, which is being organised today on How Publishing Really Works.

If you want to quote from my blog, I shall feel honoured – as long as you say that it’s a quote and include a link back here.

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Categories
Books Social anxiety Uncategorized

Every Word Counts

hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story

Changing wordsI’ve just written my entries for a competition of hint fiction at http://www.robertswartwood.com/?page_id=8. I don’t expect that any of my entries will be chosen over the many others for the forthcoming anthology of hint fiction, but I’ve enjoyed the experience of composing them. I enjoyed pondering over each word, wondering whether it best suits its purpose, whether its meaning is exactly the one I want in this particular place.

When you’re allowed no more than twenty-five words, you have to use the best ones you can find. In a novel of fifty thousand words or more, you try to do the same, but there’s a limit to the amount of time you can spend getting it just right. Writing a novel is more of a balancing act.

When you talk, you have practically no time to choose your words. And that leads to embarrassment, if you’re me. It leads to wishing you’d expressed something in a different way or wishing you hadn’t said it at all. And that, in turn, leads to refraining from talking. If you’re me.

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Blogging Books

I have been proved wrong

 Baby

In my previous post, I suggested that writers’ blogs are shallow and uninteresting. By writing that, I have been introduced to some very different blogs, and especially mapelba, who poses some thought-provoking questions. The question in her latest post is: “Where do you come from? Does your answer explain your writing?” Some people come from some very dark places. I come from a place of love, protection and loneliness….

~~-~~

I come from a place so deep in suburbia that the bus came only once every half hour – if you were lucky.

I come from a world of secrets and pretence. Of feeling guilty every time I forgot.

I come from a father who I now know was a people pleaser, who needed everyone to think well of him, and who took out his frustrations on his wife. And a mother who never understood that. I come from a mother who never understood many things. I come from parents who had had enough excitement in their lives by the time I was born.

I come from a place where religion is a noose, a chore, a secret, an embarrassment, a reason for keeping quiet. But also a fine tradition, an offloading of worries and hopes, an expression of sadness and joy.

I come from a place where teachers just taught and children were free to torment as much as they wanted. Where no one explained to them that their actions could be a life sentence.

I come from a place where loneliness is the norm and thoughts have no human outlet.

I write to tell the world that whole lives can be spoilt because of where they come from, if no one notices or acts in time.

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Blogging Books

Writers’ Blogs

I write.
My friends write.
They get published.
That’s wonderful.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by writers lately. It seems every writer has a blog. That’s not surprising. Writers want to publicise themselves and their work, and writers can write. So, it seems natural that they should blog.

What do they blog about? About writing and publishing, about authors and publishers, about writing competitions and other news in the writing world. And, of course, about themselves, what they’ve written and what they’ve had published.

They write well, of course, because they’re writers. Sometimes, they’re even humorous. And yet, I’m starting to get bored with these blogs, because of the one thing they leave out: personal struggles. Yes, I know, they write about their pets, their children, the places they live in. But they don’t write anything really personal. We readers can’t tell much about their characters. We don’t know about the hurdles they’ve overcome, or the way their personal lives influenced their writing.

And I wonder how honest they are. They treat their writer friends very well, praising them for their skill and their good fortune when they win competitions or have their books accepted by publishers. But do they really mean that? Aren’t they just a tiny bit jealous of other writers’ triumphs? According to Ann Lamont in her wonderfully humorous and informative guide Bird by Bird, they certainly could be:

Jealousy is such a direct attack on whatever measure of confidence you’ve been able to muster. But if you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with it, because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know – people who are, in other words, not you.

Not that I’m jealous. I haven’t got that far, yet. And I’m not criticising anyone else. I’m just wondering how all of this relates to me. This is what I’ve decided:

Writing involves innovating, pushing boundaries, being courageous. And I’m going to continue writing what I write, because, amongst other reasons, I don’t want to turn this into just another writer’s blog.

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Books Social anxiety

Sorry, Writing Group: an open letter

Open Letter to Writing Group

Dear Writing Group,

I’m so sorry I had to put you though the ordeal of listening to me during what was otherwise a very pleasant meeting, yesterday. I’m torn between trying and often failing to convey my opinions, and keeping them to myself. Explaining eloquently isn’t an option, I’m afraid.

There was a time – many years – most of my life, in fact – when I thought I didn’t have opinions. The habit of keeping them to myself had made them not worth remembering, and caused me to be unaware of their existence.

Now, they’ve returned to my consciousness because I’m making the effort. Unfortunately, because you’re all kind and polite and patient, that means you have to listen to my struggles, and for that I apologise. But I don’t want to return to those empty years, because they were … well, empty. Sorry.

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Books

When did you know you wanted to write?

Books Are Boring

“I’ve always been fascinated by books; always loved to read; always knew I wanted to be a writer.”

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you heard this from a writer:

“Most books bored me. I understood how to put language together, but I had nothing to say.”

The latter quote was true of my childhood and young adulthood. I’m only beginning to understand why: I took a long time to grow up. I wasn’t emotionally ready for the books considered suitable for my age. When children say they’re bored by books, it’s often because they’re not ready to read those books; not yet able to understand them.

If I’d been born two weeks later, I’d have been in the year below. Probably, I would have been better at English, at comprehension in other languages and at interacting socially with my peers.

Of course I had nothing to write about. I’ve had nothing to write about for most of my life. Because I didn’t understand myself. I think you have to understand yourself before you can write about anything. Do you agree?

It was only when I had something to write, when I knew that I wanted to tell the world about social anxiety, that I began to realise how enjoyable writing is. And so my desire to publicise a specific topic has grown into a need to express myself in the way I know best, and a wish to inform and give pleasure to others.

When did you know you wanted to write? Or haven’t you discovered that yet?

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Books

Frustration

I love my writing group. I love its members, each with their personal outlook on life (and on my writing), and our mentor, David, who brings a wealth of knowledge to each meeting. I love the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the meetings. I love the structured format, which enables even me to express my opinions, fairly confident that they’ll be accepted. I love the fact that the members are not afraid to say whatever they think about my writing, even when their views are not so favourable – something that others have been afraid to do. And, of course, I love it when they praise my work.

This group has taught me so much about writing. It has given me the confidence to say, “I am a writer.” It gives me the impetus to write regularly. I look forward to our fortnightly (bi-weekly) meetings very much and enjoy them immensely.

So, when a meeting is cancelled at the last minute, as it was this week, because some of the members are less committed than I am, I feel frustrated. I know I’ll get over it – the group is not the only thing that happens in my life – but right now I am saddened by this fact. A little less so now that I’ve written it here. Commiserations will be greatfully accepted.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.