Saturday, December 12, 2015

Compress, diminish, decrease

For the words of the title I looked up the antonyms of expand at thesaurus dot com, which is, by the way, an excellent source of words for me as a foreigner and a translator of English.
And the reason?
Every or every other year our writers group issues a book centered around one theme. The last one was around food for example.
The theme of the next (2016) issue is finding new homes, approaching and/or welcoming strangers, or strangers in general arriving to new destinations.
I guess the idea was inspired by the waves of migration and by the thoughts wrapped around the whole package.
I do not wish to elaborate on that particular matter.
We are all entitled to have opinions and we all do/think as we see fit. But I digress.
A couple of years ago, like 3 or 4 years ago I had this idea about a novel. I imagined the central figure a young man about 20~25 who encounters a stranger. They make friends. The protagonist is a simple young countryman living in the 19 century. The stranger, our protagonist does not (yet?) know, is someone from outer space or from somewhere else I don't know yet :) The stranger has come to destroy our culture as his ancestors has been doing it little by little over the centuries. The protagonist welcomes the stranger not knowing that helping him eventually will cause some major problems.

Now, this 2016 book requires a short story.
So I guess I may compress my idea of a novel into a short version. Or I just may explore one small detail of the plot in general. I don't know. I am unsure, but at least there is a drive within me.
I may not never write that novel set in a historical time. That is too big a chunk for me, unexperienced, anyway.
My question: do you write short stories to explore a certain part of the realm of your novel, backstory, whatever?
I guess it is a good idea.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Garage sale ~ a public reading

Public readings in our writers' group are usually quite cozy. It's mostly just us, members of the group, one or two relatives and random passers by.
But not this time.
I stopped counting the number of participants at 50.
And unlike in the past, we did not just read our stuff while sitting comfortably in our chair.
This time there was a definite speaker's stand with a microphone.
The one who read had to work his/her way in to the front of everyone and read standing by the wooden stand and speak to the microphone while facing the audience.
Oh. My. Stage. Fright.
But I survived!
And managed to get some words of honest appreciation, too.
Here how it worked.
The theme this time was "Garage sale". Eleven members of the group had one item. These items were made into a list. The task was to write anything in your style and plot of preference. There was a word count limit and you had to incorporate your item plus at least 4 other items from the list.
All the items were displayed for the audience to see the whole time.
My item was a pair of rubber boots. Other items included a perfume bottle, a set of poker cards in a box; a weaving loom,  a diary, a painted Maria with Jesus and so on.
I recall a short surrealistic poem about the contents of a room; a mysterious short story about a weeping Maria in a Greek hotel; a funny short piece about a Soviet spy during WW II; and a dramatic piece that involved the recalling and erasing of memories while developing photographs in a dark room. There were 20 readings.
My piece was about an elderly couple. At the beginning the man chops wood kindlers for the stove, but the lady calls him inside and dislikes his cutting the wood in those rubber boots. She insists that chopping firewood in those boots is silly, for the small waste falls into the boots making the job uncomfortable. The argument turns into a heated one. At the end the man sets the set of poker cards flying into the air by kicking the box. Finally he returns to chopping, to his axe and keeps wearing the boots and lets the small wate fall into the boots.
With this short story I kind of looked into our future with my husband :) I wanted to write about arguing. Write an unpleasant conversation. Or something unsettling. Because this is what I usually DON'T write about. I sort of stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote about interaction between partners. I voiced their negative feelings towards each other. I also wanted to show their frustration. At the end of the day though, I don't think these two truly dislike one another.
One commenter asked me whether I spied on some elderly neighbours. She found my characters so alive that she said I must have eavesdropped some of their conversation.
Another commenter said that my piece was among the best reads this evening and she was able to imagine a complete novel around this couple.
More than one commenter said that part of the success of my story came from the way I presented it.
Well, I did rehearse it like 2 or two times, but I thought I was uneasy with the microphone, with speaking behind  a formal speaker's stand. Wow. A success :) I mean I thought the story was among my better ones, but getting praised for presentation? That surprised me :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I am stating the more than obvious when I say that I am not a writer.
For a writer writes.
Some people write for getting their names printed. I am not one of them. Well, not now. I used to be that person but since I have been publishing professional articles in monthly agriculture magazines since 2009 I am good. The need to get my name on printed paper is checked.
Some people write for getting paid. With those magazines? Check.
Some people write for handing out advice, to get their opinion heard with masses. With those magazines? At times, check, too. 
Some people strive to enter the realm of literature or at least, some part of it.
Well, I also got into two of the anthologies of our writers' group these years. I got only into two and not four because I declined the latter two opportunities for financial reasons.
But some people write because there is something buggering them and they either found the solution or are in the way to get there. Well at times, I am one of those.
There is hope :)
You know, I wonder if those magazines get all my creative juices and there is nothing left for 'other' writing.
If this is not the case then I am either 1) lazy or otherwise hindered to get my thoughts in order and set writing or 2) I have nothing to say.
If writing articles for magazines do take my juices it means that I am low on writing power then I have two options 1) accept it and write only when absolutely needed. Those do happen, mind you. But like one or two times a year. 2) raise my activities in one way or another.
So much for today and I am leaving for the moment with this photo.
Taken in 18 November 2015 in the Pilis Mountains.
Oh well, this Thursday our writers' group is to have a public reading. More on that later.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mixed emotions

(I am too lazy to browse around older posts to see whether this topic was covered or not, but either way...)
(And I feel kind of, no, kind of really stupid) to keep bragging about the very same novel I wrote in 2010. Every new post about the Copper Moon is a proof that I wrote the first draft and did nothing significant else with that particular writing ever since. It drowns me a bit. Copper Moon should have been edited and printed and sold out. Not in its present form, mind you, I know it's far from perfect...)
So one of these days I realized that it still lingers within me, although I don't think of being capable of adding another paragraph or page without the reader noticing the difference.
Five years passed and I changed.
I might not want to convey the very same message that was important for me back in 2010.
I might want to shift focus.
I might have to give up on it totally...if the non~writing/editing/polishing of it keeps drowning me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Different types of escapes

(You may want to see the official definition of escape.)
The role of writing in escaping, and writing as an escape in general: issues that have always been in the focus of writers.
Some write to create a whole new world, new sets of rules, new buddies, new tasks ~ anything new, other~wordly, or simply 'anything else' will do instead of those the writer faces in his everyday life.
Some write create a parallel universe to fantasize about their real~life problems. These writers tend to kill their demanding and unjust boss, take over the rule of the world (or at least, a small village), get their loved ones, or ditch their present ones.
At the moment I can not think of a third (or fourth) category (type), so feel free to add your ideas in the comments section. Genuinely new categories will be incorporated to the post.
Escapism must be coming from a problem unsolved.
I guess any type of escape can help the writer (or the reader) find the solution to his problem. For the first glimpse the first type looks more creative, but the second one a better way to cope with the original problem, but my judgement is biased as my escape~writing belongs to the second category.
What is your take on the usefulness of these two (or more) types?
Where do you feel your writing belongs?
(if you write for escape, that is...)

Friday, February 27, 2015

no problem, no writing

and it is the other way around as well....

I will no longer cheat myself into believing I am a writer.
I do not want to finish it off, or call it a life, whatever.
It's just that I no longer pretend that my writing is not therapeutic.
If something bothers me, I elaborate on the subject.
Be it a personal, or a second~hand experience, a feeling, a haunting memory, illness of mind, the state of being content, excited or aroused.
I let it out in writing, work my way into it, give an alternative life to it, and finish it off.
But when there is nothing to tickle me I do not write.
No problem?
No writing.
No writing?
No problem.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Reality vs. writing

I was wondering the other day and I gathered that I was not a writer.
Writers write about anything.
I do write, per se, but my writing is sporadic; and is based on direct experience.
In writing non fiction my motive is to show or find a solution, to say goodbye to a former problem, to create an alternative history, be it better, or worse, than reality...
But it is always based on personal experience.
I am yet to come to terms with this finding.
And I end this post here for I am tired of writing so many I's and my's.
In the meantime, my gastro short story is in the editing phase.
There are two parts to it. The first part is quite fine I guess. The second one is a bit tougher.
This photo (made by me in Prague, the Czech Republic on July 2014) shows the place where the final paragraph of the first part happens.

Oh, I love that first part.
It is about something that should (might) have happened, while actually it never did. It is a story of a man (a married man) and his platonic lover, who is not his wife.
The second part of the story takes place in a lovely home, in the kitchen to be more specific, between said husband and his wife.
Why is the first part the better one?
Okay, you don't have to answer that :)  :)
But you know what...
Answer I dare you :)
Hee, hee.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's history

The will to write for the history~themed fiction contest is history.
I wanted to shed some light on some of the lesser known part of our history. I thought it was a good motive. An educational purpose.
But without a good story, it's just a motivation and not a story.
The end.
With that said, I read a lot, do my duties and try to carry on.
I believe the chance will come.

Friday, January 16, 2015

writing on schedule

Charles had a good post on what effect time, tasks, unexpectedness and planning have on his writing.
Here is my take on the subject.
Fortunately I too, have regular duties. Earning money with something you feel competent to is one great feeling. I can plan my days, but as a free~lancer I sometime have translation jobs that just seem to pop up out of nowhere, and the client wants it the day before he sent it to me...
Also, since I keep chicken, and manage a large garden, I may expect the unexpected.
Other than that my days pretty much fit in a reliable schedule.
So why is the low word count?
My reasons:
I write only when there is a story stirring within me.
Therefore as Charles mentioned, some stories are written over a massively outstreched period of time. Take one of my last short stories for example. I started writing it August 2014 and finished it a day or two before Christmas. And I am not really content with the second part, so there's some editing work ahead...).
Writing has a general effect on me, on my nerves. I like writing, but it is also a kind of stress, sometimes in a good, sometimes in a bad sense.
Say, it's like a drug.
My job involves writing. Translating and editing, writing articles...all writing.
There is a point for me, a state of being, when writing is more of a hard job than a source of joy.
As long as my payjob is not done, I have to keep on writing...but when I am really tired, I don't usually seek writing again as a relief (except for states of inspiration, see point 1.)
A fine example of this was the NaNo in 2010.
I had my jobs as well, but I managed to get down 800 to 2000 words a day for the purpose of finishing the novel in time.
At the moment I have a plan to write a short story for a history~themed contest, but that is the subject of the following post.