Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Importance of Being Published

This Guardian article tells us that award-winning author Kate Atikinson would rather not be a published writer. She says that if she had enough money, she would rather not face the critics, although she thinks that she couldn't give up writing.

I haven't had much experience in being published. I very, very much consider myself still learning at the moment. I will always be learning, though. So it is hard to tell when I have reached that standard I'm striving for... or ever what that standard is, and how to recognise it when I get there.

Right now, I submit short stories or poems to magazines and competitions every now and then. I find it a usful way to see where I'm 'fitting in' with all the other writers out there. I can hit the small press zines, and now I've started aiming a little higher. To make any money at all from my writing will be a huge bonus. And a very welcome one. I've made a little, probably enough to buy a few notebooks.

I have not had much experience in the working world. I've had two jobs. I worked for a year in retail during my sixth-form days, only working Saturday mornings. That was mind-numbing enough. And I worked full time two summers ago doing data entry. Again, mind-numbing. These bad experiences of 'real life jobs' have tainted me. I now very much resist getting a job. I am beginining to need the money, now that my last student loan installment is diminishing fast. But I'd rather be poor than sell my time for boredom and resentment at minimum pay. Graduate jobs? You have to be kidding me. They are hiding themselves well.

So, making money from writing would be ideal. But it's not all about the money. I haven't made much money from it over the past five years, and that hasn't stopped me. I simply enjoy writing.

But there's also the ego-boost that comes with being published. That's how so many small press magazines get away with not paying their contributors, and make money from the published contributors buying the copy their piece appears in. There are pros and cons to that. But that's another topic.

I would be proud to get published. Facing the critics might be harder. As Kate Atkinson says in the article, we writers are tender things sometimes. I would be interested to see how I would react to reviews and critics... But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself there.

If money wasn't an issue, would I still want to be published? At this moment in my carreer, I would say yes. Simply because if I have a story to tell, there's something compulsive in me that wants to share it. I'm one of those annoying people who have epic and vivid dreams, and insist on recalling them in tiny detail to whoever will listen.

So I put the question to you, readers. Would you still want to be published if money was not an issue, and why?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Frustrating BBC // Radio Play

I came across this radio play "The Complete Smiley - Call for the Dead which is a dramatisation by Robert Forrest of John le Caré's first novel. I really wanted to listen to it, but BBC's stupid iPlayer demands that I install Real Player. I HATE Real Player. Several times before I have installed it to listen to something on the BBC radio website, then uninstalled it soon after, as it messes up all my other media settings and bombards me with stupid messages. It's just a pretty poor program, really.

So today I installed it again, just to listen to this. And it still doesn't work. Urg. The BBC need to sort this out.

Anyhoo, maybe you guys will have more luck listening to it, if you fancy it. Let me know if it is any good.

It is 90min long, and there are only THREE MORE DAYS that it is avaliable to listen to online, so you better get your skates on.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Super Grammar!

I saw this on Sarah Salway's blog and thought it was worth a re-post.

Back in the day, when I was at secondary school, I used to dread lessons in grammar. They were so boring. They usually involved copying tonnes of sentences and applying the same rule until we got the hang of it. I did get a bit of a buzz knowing that I had mastered a new rule, though. I suspect I was in the minority of thirteen-year-olds in my class.

While I was at university, I was at first suprised at how many English Literature and Creative Writing students didn't know how to follow simple grammar and punctuation rules. By the end of my three years, however, I was more suprised if a short story did use speech marks correctly, or have semi-colons where they actually made sense. I sound snobbish, but it's true. That's not to say the quality of writing wasn't good. Often the best stories had the poorest grammar - and I think that's a shame.

Perhaps it all comes down to secondary (and primary) school English lessons. Our grammar lessons were boring as hell, but I'm glad I went through them. Grammar is a tool that a writer uses to enhance their work. Grammar works for you, it isn't your enemy.

And thus enter...

GRAMMAR GIRL

Grammar Girl provides 'short, friendly tips to improve your writing' via daily emails to your inbox or short podcasts. I'm also now following her on my twitter account.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Happy Towel Day



According to Twitter, it is Towel Day today. So, always know where your towel is. You never know when you might need it.

"He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which." - Douglas Adams

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Poetry Slam

Just watched 'Why Poetry Matters' presented by Griff Rhys Jones on BBC2 this evening. Some really interesting stuff. I hope it is on the iPlayer so I can watch it again as I was somewhat distracted by improving this shiny blog.

Here's a video of an impressive poetry slam. Looks like great fun.


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