Category Archives: Writing

The Great Joy of Criticism

…rock. Sometimes.

One of the hardest aspects of creating something, whether that is a novel or a blog post, is being criticised about your own creation. Because when you make it, it might seem the most perfect thing in the world to you, or something at least acceptable. Criticism, if not well-handled, acts as a swift, demotivating kick in the teeth. It’s why so many new writers, new bloggers, new artists, new <insert creative individual here> give up so quickly. They don’t yet know the secret of the successful people: criticism is the true chisel to your block of marble, not your own fanciful ideas and original ventures. That kick knocks you down, but to get anywhere, the frustration of it better make you get the hell up again.

Everyone’s been there. On WordPress, it’s the beginning of blogging and the stage where the novelty wears off, where you’re waiting for a like or comment. And one comes along, but it’s one of disagreement. Or you’ve settled on one topic for your blog, and someone comes along who says that they dislike the way you do things, that the way you write seems forced or unnatural.

And you get mad. Don’t deny it, you get mad.

Maybe you’re sure that you’re blogging about what you’re passionate about, and you think this guy’s obviously come to the wrong blog. And maybe you’re right, he has. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use his criticism. You can use it strengthen what you write, maybe to give readers notice about your blog’s focus, or to examine other opinions whilst maintaining your own. Because there is you, the blogger, and there is also your audience. Blogging is an exchange between blogger and audience, and wider opinion only means more is learnt and shared.

Many of you likely realise that I’m still working on my NaNoWrimo novel, which currently sits at around 59000 words. That may sound like a lot, but its still about 13000 words off my target goal. Recently I ventured back to an old writing support website I used to hang around, and posted a chapter excerpt to be reviewed. And I did get that kick in the teeth. And it was painful. Painful because I’ve kept the majority of my manuscript to myself, not shown it around to anyone, and somewhere in the process of writing I’d forgotten that creativity needs an audience. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’m determined to correct my mistakes and keep on working. The same thing happens in my college essays, but each time I get up again to try again. Eventually, I’ll get it. Eventually, you’ll get it. And if even one new creative mind elsewhere could get it, then that’s one more artistic and individual mind we have in our society. One more person who did not give in.

And yeah, sometimes criticism is just not constructive. Sometimes its just a load of crap, and you’re justified in ‘accidentally’ deleting that comment. While there’s a great joy to be had in criticism, the joy of improvement, sometimes it’s easier to ignore something non-constructive than to get in a mutually-degrading shouting match with what is more often that not a childish troll.

The Artist

2222101730_0f5cd08367_z

A novel excerpt, before I resume post-NaNo posting.

The young man called Aurel paints but he isn’t very good. So he writes instead. Letters and letters, some of which are never sent. Most of which are. He is thinking about why he is alive on the earth and the writer and the irritating dripping sound of his leaky tap.

He is often not working. His boss doesn’t mind. She is in her mid-forties, and she was once a model. Her beauty is still in her eyes and the single dimple in that sad smile she makes after he has escaped her bed. She doesn’t mind that he doesn’t work when he should.

Instead he sits at home. Empty takeaway cartons and unwashed everything and dust-laden floorboards. He sits in a defeated old armchair which was once red, staring at the reflection of himself in an opposing mirror. He hardly recognises the person staring back. Dishevelled black hair and bags under his eyes like a coffee-addicted boxer and a face of loose skin which is gaunt and dead. Sometimes he wishes that he was dead. Sometimes he thinks he is. Existing as a some sort-of half-corporeal being still haunting the place of his last days. Perhaps to wish to be dead is to be half-dead already.

He smokes a lot and he is smoking now as he watches himself in the mirror. He runs a hand back and forth through his ragged hair dislodging bits of wool and dandruff and making sure the smell of the smoke gets caught in his hair. One of his last remaining pleasures in life is waking up in the morning (in the chair, because it is the only place he can fall asleep now) and turning his head casually to the side and inhaling the strong musk of cigarette smoke. Not that his whole apartment doesn’t smell of it. But he likes to think that smell from that one source is strongest.

So he is smoking and he is thinking about his remaining pleasures in life and his worsening appearance and the woman he is having an affair with and how bad he is at painting. And at some point he realises that the window is wet with rain and his face is damp and the tap still drips and there is a draft in his living room.

What Inspires You To Creativity?

What inspires you to creativity? Do you use pictures or prompts to help you blog, paint or write?

If you are undertaking NaNoWrimo, I salute you. Three days in and it already feels like one of the most mentally-taxing things I’ve ever done. I haven’t had time to reply to emails or comments, and I’ve been putting off school-work due on Monday (terrible, I know.) Whatever muse I had on day one has deserted me, and I’m finding creative inspiration through music and photos (and getting by on Pepsi, seeing as my mother’s finished all the coffee.)

Continue reading

Prose #2 – The Boy

Well, this is really more like prose four or five, except the others were postscripts added to the end of other posts. Nevertheless, read on if you will. If you’ve been reading my other fragments of prose, you might recognise this as from the boy’s point of view. If not, it doesn’t matter: take this short work as an experiment in writing.

Continue reading

I Loathe Thee, NaNoWriMo

…and you haven’t even begun. I’ve gotten a little page up with a novel summary and everything, and I now have a rough idea of my planned NaNo journey. Seeing as my month-long toil will be concentrated on the novel from which all my excerpts originate, I hope it goes smoothly. Relatively. Somewhat. From this sketchy planning and a wide-reading of NaNo tips, I have already concluded:

-I need to follow more writing blogs (feel free to recommend some!)

-I don’t drink coffee, I may need to start.

-I have to finish this challenge now that I’ve let all of you guys know about it along with a few literary-minded friends from school.

-There are not enough hours in a day.

That is all. Also, Bjork is one of the strangest singers I’ve ever listened too. More about that on Friday during my rant. And I wanted to give quick shout-outs to NicoLite for starting and sticking to his own Post-A-Day challenge, and pineappleflavouredpeople for sticking to her Habites challenge for thirty-four days! More inspiration for me to stick to my NaNo one! 😉

And I leave you with an excerpt (my apologies if you are sick of these by now, but unfortunately you shall be inundated with them almost everyday of November if you follow my blog. What’s that? You arrived here through some strange internet search and are not yet following? Clicky-clicky.)

———————————–

On the days when he remembers that which he does not like to, he speaks to himself. He talks about the weather and the latest corrupt government official (there are many of them.) Sometimes he talks about conkers and spinning tops and the things he used to play with as a child. Sometimes he is a good listener. Sometimes he is not, and at these times he becomes lonely in the solitude of an English home.

Other times the boy comes to speak with him. It is the only time when he sees the boy relaxed because there is no death in his English home, and thus nothing to fear. They talk about everything and nothing but mostly about the things which they fear. Rhododendrons and people, for the boy. Honey and cypress, for the man. Death for them both. And sometimes he can see the boy’s wings, but not always. On rainy days, they have a tendency to disappear.

Spinning Top

Ah, writing day, bringing with it an attempt at poetry. Disclaimer: Not my strong suit.

—————————–

We ran away we did

to where

the angels landed

when they fell to earth and

lightning storms grew

in the nodes of green legumes.

Where we thought that

they couldn’t find us.

And on the third day

there you were

racing

around like a spinning

top, crashing

into glass roots and dead trees

displacing gods and sprites and

thunderstorms, trying

to claw your way back to heaven.