The Answer To Everything

Hey you!  Yes, you with the sad / worried / bored face. 

Who Me

Politics getting you down? 

Rain getting you down?

Work / love life / clearing up after your incontinent dog getting you down? 

Thought so.

And let me guess, you’re still putting off that trim to avoid awkward small talk with the hairdresser? 

How could you tell

 

Just a hunch.

But all that’s about to change.  I know just the thing…

I'm all ears

 

Yes, my friend. What you need is the all new REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD.

Okay, so I lied about the new bit, but trust me, the REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD is the answer to ALL your problems. 

Simply engage the built-in reality deflector system and the real word vanishes in an instant.  No more political scrapping.  No more puddles (rain puddles I mean, but it works just as well with the incontinent pooch variety).  No more heartbreak or tedium or gloom. 

I like the sound of that

And best of all, you can take your Reality Deflecto Shield to the hairdresser’s and avoid conversation ALTOGETHER. You won’t even have to look at yourself in the mirror! 

Tell me more

Well, they come in a choice of colours.  A choice of settings.  A choice of moods.  More choice than you could ever imagine.  All you need to do is get yourself down to your nearest Reality Deflecto Shield stockist and get choosing…

Reality Deflector Shield

 

 

This One Goes Out to all the Lost Words

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Newsflash: Writers love words.

We love reading other people’s words and we love writing our own.  We love choosing them, playing with them, arranging them on the page, rearranging them on the page, agonising over their precise order, and then deleting them again.  We also love counting them. Words may give us our voice, our music, but often it’s adding them up at the end of every day / session / minute that allows us to measure our progress through the creative process:

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Nothing beats the sense of smug satisfaction you get from setting out to write 500 words and ending up with 2,000.  True, they might not be the finest 2,000 words in the literary history of mankind, but who’s counting?  (Apart from you.)  On the flipside, spending an entire week squeezing out one measly sentence is probably going to leave you feeling a little deflated.  Even if they are the finest seventeen consecutive words ever to issue forth from a biscuit eater’s writer’s brain.   And what makes it even more frustrating is the fact that you had entire scenes churning round in your head before you sat down to write.  Entire chapters…

head and words Why, you could have penned an entire trilogy in the shower this morning, if there was a way to harness the brilliance bouncing round your brain while you lathered up your shampoo. But, as we all know, something happens to the words between your head and your hand.  Between the vivid film playing in your mind and the blank screen waiting on your desk.  The words disappear.  Trickle away to nothing.  Otherwise our word counts would be through the roof every day.

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But what if there was a gadget to count up all those unwritten words too?  The ones that never quite made it onto paper /screen?  Not a Fitbit, so much as a Writbit?  How much better would those biscuit-eating word-drought days seem then?  I might still be on Chapter One, paragraph one, sentence one, but I THOUGHT of loads of words today.  Exactly.  I spy a gap in the market for an enterprising young inventor… Anyone??  In fact, if you could invent one that automatically transferred those thought words onto the page for us (especially the brilliant ones that run for cover at the merest glimpse of a biro) that would be even better.  Thanks awfully.

Number of words in this post?  405

Number of custard creams eaten? 0

#HaTakeThatBiscuitSuckers

 

Putting the ‘No’ into ‘Notebook’

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At the recent SCBWI conference David Almond treated us to a peek inside his crowded notebooks: every page a fabulous cacophony of ink; of bubbled notes and looping arrows; of doodled diagrams and scribblings out.  That, I thought, is what a proper writer’s notebook should look like.

Now, I can scribble, doodle and cross things out with the best of them. Oh yes.  And I’m a black belt in the art of arrow drawing.  But only in ratty old exercise books rescued from the back of a 1970s office stationery cupboard.  Or on a spare page from last year’s diary.  Or a bunch of old envelopes.  Show me the back of a Christmas card and I’m off, scribbling for Britain. But heaven forbid I mess up my lovely notebook collection with a scruffy bunch of still-fermenting ideas. Oh no.  I’m saving them

Which is why I must have been feeling unusually reckless when I packed my writing bag this morning.  When I threw caution to the bitter North wind and slipped in one of my favourite too-nice-to-actually-use A5 beauties…

 

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These ones even have my name on them – if that’s not permission to scrawl I don’t know what is.

 

… It was all going so well. I settled into my train seat, pulled down the fold-out table, reached into my bag for my pencil and notebook… and instead pulled out a wodge of scrap paper (one side already printed on) that I’d brought along ‘just in case’. And then I got to work.  Sorry, notebook.  Maybe next time.

Brexit Night and a Hidden Pig Bring Czech & Slovak Writing Prizes

I was lucky enough to win the annual British Czech & Slovak Association writing competition at the end of last year and was invited to the annual dinner in London to collect my prize.  Delicious food, great company and a warm welcoming atmosphere made for a truly memorable night and a perfect way to round off an exciting writing year before sinking into a sea of wrapping paper and Christmas chaos!

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A Czech student’s evocative account of a party in London on the night of the EU referendum and what it might mean for her future has won the British Czech & Slovak Association’s most recent writing competition. The first prize of £300 was awarded for Ms Bernhardt’s Brexit, by Jennifer Moore.

Jennifer is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian and Mslexia. She read English Literature at Cambridge University and is a previous winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. She lives in Devon.

The second prize, worth £100, went to The Pig, the Cupboard and the Reichsprotektor, by Jack Mullin.  It’s a comic tale, based on a true incident that took place in Bohemia in 1942, in which an clever Czech householder goes to great lengths to prevent his pig being requisitioned by the occupying Germans.

Jack has lived most of his life…

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The Twelve Writing Days of Christmas

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On the first day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

A draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the second day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the third day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the fourth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the fifth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the sixth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the seventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the eighth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the ninth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the tenth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the eleventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eleven types of typo

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the twelfth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Twelve bums a-numbing

Eleven types of typo

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a last pitch for a trilogy

 

TEN THINGS TO TRIGGER YOUR WRITERLY INSECURITIES (and how to cope with them)

A fabulous post by Non Pratt for writers everywhere

AUTHOR ALLSORTS

REJECTION

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Every writer in the world has heard about Harry Potter getting turned down. You’ve probably also read a book that received ZERO rejections, but you definitely haven’t read that unpublished book by that unpublished author who gave up after five.

What am I driving at? There is no correlation between the number of rejections you might receive and the possibility of success or failure.

One rejection is one rejection, nothing more, nothing less and with each one, you must ask yourself the same question: is this bringing me more pain than joy?

More pain? Then stop. Give yourself a break. You don’t have to keep doing this. There are better ways of making a living and you can enjoy writing without having to be published.

More joy? Then keep going. That might mean persevering with this one manuscript, or it might mean rethinking the story. It might also mean…

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Procrastination Bingo

(The Game that Puts the Pro into Procrastination)

Okay, so today’s the day you’re going to finish that chapter / start that new novel /crack on with that poem. Today is DEFINITELY the day.  Only these things can’t be rushed.  Maybe wait until you’ve got a few cups of tea inside you. 

Okay, that’s better.  Time to open up that Word document.  As soon as you’ve checked your Twitter feed, that is.  And updated your Facebook status.  And put the bins out.  Ooh, look, a new recipe for vegan Christmas pudding!

If you’d rather tweezer out your own eyelashes than buckle down to some proper writing then you’ve come to the right place.  Grab yourself a Procrastination Bingo board and get crossing off those boxes.  Heads down, everyone, markers at the ready. Any row to win or all 16 essential tasks for a Full House!

BINGO!

Pro Bingo