Unbelievable

I am having difficulty with making situations seem realistic. To a certain extent, artistic licence is to be considered, but it gets to a point where things can be a little too contrived. This is leaving me at a dead end because good ideas are being put by the wayside for being too unrealistic. Things have to match up and I’m not understanding how to achieve that. Take the piece I’m writing now for example. The idea is that it’s a short story on the subject of heart transplant. My original plan was to write from the perspective of the mother of the deceased (a twenty-four year old male) and the perspective of the transplant recipient (a woman, also in her twenties, who feels indebted to live her life to the full from then on). My first issue arose when I did a brief research period on the subject of heart transplant which proved pretty fruitless. It seemed to me, despite what television programs would have us believe, that the majority of transplants are performed on people who are either extremely young or extremely old. Typical, I thought. I also preferably wanted the heart disease to  somehow be self-inflicted so I could incorporate a feeling of guilt into the scenario. I wanted to explore that she felt unworthy of the heart. Other than genetic factors however, I could find no realistic cases of self inflicted heart disease in a twenty- something year old. I decided, after much frustration, that I would leave this section of the story to artistic licence and made a short and undecided reference to the woman smoking cigarettes in her teen years. 

 The second issue arose with the mother. This was a different issue altogether and one I couldn’t find such an easy answer to. My hope was that the mother, outraged at having lost her son so young, would track down the recipient of his heart and vent her anger. This was to tie in with the previous idea of self-inflicted heart disease that had  gone so pear shaped. When the time came however, I could not think of a believable reason for the mother gaining access to the recipient. Realistically, the mother of a donor would never be given the name of the recipient for privacy reasons of both parties. The only way I could find around this issue was for the mother to be conveniently left alone in the corridor after the doctor had gone home and left his office door unlocked. He had also conveniently left his filing cabinets unlocked. To top off all of that, the recipient of the heart happened to be in a hospital just down the road. I feel that all these things together are just far too contrived. It saddens me, because I love the idea of the story, it’s just so difficult to find a realistic way to convey events. I would love to hear how other people cope with this problem? Until then however, I may just carry on writing and hope that artistic licence can get me to the end of the story. 

Olivia x

The Importance of Having Fun

I feel as though I have been neglecting my blogging duties as of late. It’s difficult to know how much one should blog really. This post is being brought to you from my brand new macbook, it arrived today and cost me a hefty chunk of my savings. It seemed a wasteful idea, buying a new laptop when I had a perfectly good one, but if I can’t treat myself then who will? 

Today’s post is predominantly about the importance of having fun. I have begun reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. A beautiful self help book about what creates happiness. It was with this in mind that I spent the day with my one year old cousin at a horse rescue center. It struck me that kids get to do all the best things while adults are supposed to sit about missing out. An example of this is when the time came for rabbit holding. I rushed in, more excited than my cousin, only to find that there was no place for adults. I wanted to hold the rabbit as well and why shouldn’t I! Being older does not mean that it’s no longer important to enjoy myself. The same situation arose when it came to the play park. After an hour of watching my cousin meander about and timidly play on things, I took it upon myself to get well and truly stuck in. I zoomed down the death slide! Children looked at me in disgust. There are various times in life when it has saddened me that adults seem to forget how to have fun somewhere along the line. I recall reading the book ‘Naive. Super.’ by Erlend Loe, a sweetly gentle book that outlined how important it is to play. I could not agree more. If we forget how to play, then how can we happy? Many times, I have been called childish as an insult. To me, it is crucial to remain childish, otherwise we may as well give up all hope.

Olivia x

Sunshine predicament

The appearance of the sunshine has reminded me of a common problem I have every year. I find it impossible to write outside. So many writers speak of the inspiration that comes to them when they write outside but I’m the complete opposite. There are two main reasons I can think of for this. Firstly, outside is full of the worst distractions, what with all those bees,  butterflies and noises, my mind finds it impossible to get into that creative space. Secondly, it beats me how anyone can write when the sun’s beating off of the computer screen and making it impossible to see anything! I wish I were one of those that worked best in the sunshine. I find that my avoidance of writing outside means that I get very little done when the sun is out. Who wants to sit in a dingy room at a computer screen when they could be led in the garden with a good book? I suppose it’s just another of my many excuses for not writing, but it’s a pretty valid one. I am also ashamed to say that I have a habit of needing the television on when I’m writing. It’s not a case of watching it because I’ll put on a program and find I haven’t seen any of it, it’s just a comfort thing. Silence doesn’t seem to inspire my writing strangely enough. This may be another factor as to why, outside with no television, I struggle. For whatever reason, my best writing is definately done during winter. Nevermind, off I go to enjoy the sunshine!!!

Olivia x

To the Kindle

I have been obsessed with books since I can remember. The look of their covers, the smell of their pages, the feel of them between my fingers. I love it all! It is for these reasons that I was disgraced afew years ago when the concept of the kindle and other such technologies were revealed. To read is to experience and I just couldn’t see that there would be any experience when looking at a screen. I thought the idea would never take off, surely all avid readers would stick to their books? None the less, the handheld reading machines have become major business. It saddens me to hear repeatedly that the good old bookshops I can get lost in are going rapidly downhill due to this invention. This is a world that values convenience above all else. People want things here and now. The kindle offers this.

I must say, I have refused to purchase a kindle or any such machine myself and was disgraced last year when my dad became the proud owner of one. I was however impressed when he showed me that the screen is not that of a computer etc. etc. But still, not the same! I just can’t imagine being able to concentrate on something like that. You can’t even see how many pages you have read or how many are yet to come. I picked up the kindle myself for the first time yesterday and read a few pages. I have to say, it wasn’t half as unpleasant as I had previously thought and I definately feel I am being stubborn by not investing. One thing that does still, and always will upset me is how the writing world has embraced the kindle. Every month, when my glossy selection of writing magazines arrive, the pages are bombarded with e-book competitions. I feel that as writers, we should hold onto the idea of the book as much as possible. I cannot deny that the kindle seems to have made publishing more accesable for the masses but in a way, that isn’t a good thing. It may be near impossible to get a publisher to notice us, but there’s a reason for that. If someone is willing to invest in your book then it must be good right? I know that I’m full of self-doubt about my own writing and that would be the ultimate confidence booster. I’m sure many others feel the same way. I fear that the kindle will eventually wipe out the role of the publisher as, now I may be wrong here, it seems that self-publishing is much easier and cheaper when in e-book form. This may well also lead to a lot of unworthy books floating about. These things do need to be regulated else the good books could end up lost in cyberspace!

There we go, rant over. I fear I rambled so in summary: I have come slightly round to the kindle, my thusfar arch enemy. I am still however not completly convinced!

Olivia x

 

For blog’s sake

I sat down to write today and just knew my concentration wasn’t in the right place. Having decided that anything I write will be deleted tomorrow, I have settled for a blog post! This week, the three books that came with my subscription to Writer’s Magazine arrived. Such a relief, I thought they were never going to come, impatient creature that I am! Amazing books though I must say. The one I have started with is the creative writing one which has some absoloutly amazing activites in it! Already it has given me great inspiration. One thing that has riled me however is that it has mentioned at least once in every chapter that if you intend to make money from writing, you may as well give up now. In one example, the author went as far as saying, ‘There is no money in writing.’ Now, I understand the concept of writing for love not money but writers need an income. I think it is quite harsh to say there is no money at all to be made, after all, the person writing the book is making money from writing are they not? The fact that this statement is repeated consistantly leaves me feeling quite disheartened. I am not saying I write for the money, in fact I don’t even consider the prize money from any competitions, thinking that publication would be prize enough. I do however believe that once the goal of publication has been achieved, a writer needs to make money from their writing. Of course it’s unrealistic to dream of millions such as the likes of JK Rowling, but enough money to live off of is all I would ask!I think the reason this point scares me is that I’m worried it’s true. After all, I’ve already been told three times since I started reading that I will never make any money! The idea that my dream is unattainable apart from in hobby form is absoloutly devestating. I think this point very much coincides with the idea that writers are often assumed unworthy of the payment other people would receive. Take for example the recent uproar when Woman’s Own launched a short story competition with no payment prize. As many writers who complained about this stated, ‘You wouldn’t expect your columnists to write for free, so why should we?’

All of the above however is not to discredit the book because apart from this small niggle I am thoroughly enjoying it. The tasks are excellent and really help the creative juices flowing! I look most forward to reading the next two.

Olivia x

Transplant

I came to a stand still with my post natal piece and have therefore given it a rest. I know it’ll come to me eventually! I have however begun another piece about a heart transplant, written from the points of view of the mother of the deceased and the transplant patient. I had a few difficulties with the technicalities on this one, knowing nothing about heart transplant personally! It’s a work in progress but here’s the first paragraph. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Fran looked down at her sons face. Even among the stark white surroundings, he looked painfully pale. She studied his closed eyelids for any signs of a flicker but they remained lifeless, just like the rest of him. The aching pain inside her chest was fighting to surface. She hadn’t shed a tear as she had sped to the hospital and had remained calm as the doctors had explained what had happened. A car crash had killed her son and she now had to allow his organs to be sent for donation as he had wished. Now, in the early hours of the morning, they had let her view the body. The sight of him had hit her like a train. He lay motionless, attached to tubes that were keeping his organs functioning when the rest of him was gone. She was weighed down by a grief so strong she could barely stand. Her legs gave way underneath her and she found herself gripping the side of the bed for strength. She began to wail, silently at first, then her grief escaped her in loud, racking sobs that ached throughout her body. Nurses offered their words of comfort but she was beyond hearing them. Michael had been her foundation and she could feel herself crumbling to pieces without him. Anger began flashing into her grief the longer she looked at his face. She had warned him countlessly about the dangers of fast driving, why did he have to be so ignorant! Look where it had gotten him, twenty-four and dead. Stone, cold dead. She reeled at how selfish he had been, probably barely giving her a second thought as he had driven carelessly down dark, winding roads. Anger stretched itself across her face as she began pounding the bed that had supported her only moments before. The nurses gently ushered her out of the room in attempts to calm her down. They hushed her and explained that what she was feeling was normal. Normal? There was nothing normal about any of this. There was nothing normal about the death of a twenty-four year old man.

Olivia x

The thing with technology

Christmas last year brought with it a beautiful typewriter. I have always wanted a typewriter and was so pleased with this gift. I am ashamed to say however that three months later, I have written very little on this beauty. My want for a typewriter stemmed from the fact that I found it very difficult to write on a computer. I didn’t feel any inspiration from a computer screen. When I write, I like to be involved in the process. As much as I hate to admit it however, a computer is just so much easier. I hoped that a typewriter would be quicker than writing by hand, yet not as impersonal as writing on a computer. The problem I found with my typewriter is that it’s quite painful to use! (I have weak fingers) I also found it really irritating how I couldn’t just press backspace and remove my mistakes. I am therefore ashamed to say that the computer wins this battle and my typewriter has settled to look good on my table. What a sad state of affairs.

Olivia x

Getting a bit Tense

I don’t know if anyone else has the same problem, but tense and me just do NOT get on. It seems like such a simple concept, past, present, future. What can go wrong? But there are so many things that do go wrong. I find that present tense writing generally sounds quite forced, unless being used for a particular purpose. I therefore tend towards past tense but find that present always tries to get a look in! Take this example, pointed out to me at my writing class:

‘If he couldn’t even remember, it surely can’t have mattered.’

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Or:

‘He can’t help wonder if he would still have accepted the offer if he had known how much it would cost him.’

Again, wrong! This is an ongoing problem that keeps biting me in the backside and leaving me desparing. I hope I’m not alone in this problem, although I fear I may be. When I attempted, long ago and in a land far away, to begin my ever elusive novel I had great difficulty with tense. I began a chapter in one tense and ended it on a completly different one. What a nightmare. I can only hope that I will grow into this tense issue with time! On the plus side, it’s generally just a case of the wrong word popping up every now and again. At least now I know what I’m looking for I can correct myself as I go! That’ll be all for today folks, someone please tell me they’ve had issues with this as well!

Olivia

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Getting My Head Down

As I mentioned yesterday, I am fearful of blog entires overtaking my usual writing sessions. It is for this reason that I have chosen to post a piece I’m working on. This is just the introduction of a story about a mother living with post natal depression. This is just a rough so I would be grateful for any comments anyone has or any extra information on post natal depression itself:

The baby wouldn’t stop crying. Mary didn’t care. She had led it in the cot, shut the door and turned off the monitor. Even so, the walls were thin and the crying was still audible. It sliced through her like knives. She led back against the wall and shut her eyes, trying to stop the anger that bubbled in her stomach. The baby was a month old. An alien invasion on Mary’s otherwise beautiful life. During her pregnancy, she had been as excited as any other mother would be, preparing the home and stocking up on the miniature clothes. This was her first child, so of course she had been nervous but no doubts had plagued her mind. That was before. Labour had been a gruelling race to an elusive finish. After hours of strain, the midwives introduced her to her daughter. She looked at the red faced, angry beast and felt nothing but repulsion. There had been no motherly gush. There had been no instinctive warmth. There had only been repulsion. Something wasn’t right. Her partner, Chris, had gushed hopelessly when he first held the little snuffling bundle. His eyes had welled with joy from looking into the small face and Mary had been greatly confused. She was sure there had been some mistake. Satan had fiddled about with her child to make it a demon in the womb. Yet her partner was saying that their daughter was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She took the child in her own arms to ensure that they were looking at the same thing, that nothing had changed. She studied the small face as hard as she could but still saw the same ugliness as before. The red skin of the baby was scrunched, as if it was angry at Mary. What right did this unknown invader have to look at her in such a way? Mary tried her best to play caring mother when others were around. Even if she had given birth to Satan incarnate, she would be judged if she didn’t display the correct amounts of love. As soon as her hospital room was deserted, she would put the baby in it’s crib and turn her back. They had agreed to call the girl Abbi but, in private, she refused to call her anything at all. An inhuman being did not deserve a human name.

Things had gotten worse once Mary and Abbi had returned home. In the hospital, the midwives had been bustling about and doing the things that Mary didn’t want to do. At home however, with Chris at work, Mary and Abbi were left alone.

Olivia x

A Hard Day’s Night

After a 9 hour shift at work I feel uninspired in every way. I understand how important a side job can be for a writer starting out but I find it sucks away all my creativity! There is no place for my mad musings in a work place it seems. I am ashamed to say that this week I have not written a thing. My mind seems to have fallen into a distraction that I cannot pick it out of. There are a variety of reasons for my lack of productivity. Firstly, after watching ‘The TV Book Club’ for a whole Sunday afternoon, my love for books has once again taken over. A page turns into a chapter and a chapter turns into a book and before I know it, the day has gone. Secondly, my shining new copy of Mslexia writing magazine arrived yesterday morning and I have since spent my writing hours pouring over it’s wise pages. Lastly, I have spent all the rest of my time blogging. Yes, I have done what my writing teacher informed against and let my posts get in the way of my writing! However, even writing a blog post is better than staring at a blank page. Already, I can feel the tension of the day leaving and my mind slowly turning itself on again. Yes, I do turn my brain off at work!

I would like to thank those that have been reading my posts. I have been pleasantly surprised to have some feedback. It’s very satisfying to know that other people have been where I am now and come out the other side.

Here I am, rambling away and putting off what really needs to be done! I will bid you farewell and get back to staring at a blank page.

Olivia

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