People use blogs for all sorts of things. I set up my first one, NavalAirHistory.com, as a means of publicising my non-fiction writing and creating a bit of a 'presence'. I had had a few articles and a couple of books out, and was getting known in some circles as a writer who specialised in aviation history, but there tended to be long gaps between publications. Also, I thought I could use the website as a means of keeping people updated on various things I was doing and include some material that was more suited to short form than print magazine features or books.
It has worked out reasonably well, but it's probably more formal and more static than I envisioned. It's hard work keeping it fresh, certainly.
So why the second one? Well, as some of you may be aware, my first novel was accepted by a publisher last year, so I began to think a web presence for my fiction 'identity' would be useful. I chose a domain name and put a placeholder on it.
Unfortunately, things have taken a lot longer with the novel than I thought they would. (Think the stage just before Lou's Blog No.3 for the best part of a year). There seems to have been an awful lot of waiting around for people to get back to me. In the end, I thought I would go ahead and knock the blog into shape. I've started to do a bit more in the way of short fiction, so I thought I could at least have a repository for all those stories that weren't good enough to win competitions! I have kick-started matters with various pieces prepared for the Word Cloud competitions. (Don't worry, I'll put a link in).
Some writers have great blogs. J.D. Davies' 'Gentlemen and Tarpaulins', for example, is fantastic and really gives you an insight into the author. I'm not necessarily trying to emulate that... I suppose it's in the forlorn hope that if one day someone sees one of my books or stories and googles me, they might find something that tells them a bit more (after the 3-4 pages of material about the former member of Busted).
So I throw the thing open to you, my fellow Cloudies - AirAndSeaStories.com. Do let me know what you think. There isn't a lot of content as yet, but I'd like to know what people think of the look and feel, if they feel it's mindcrushingly pretentious or whether or not I am on a hiding to nothing.
Thanks in advance...
I arrived late at Horsham and a band was playing in the bandstand on Carfax where the fair was held. I soon found Daisy White’s Indie stand, and we discussed Indie publication, etc;. Daisy is a cheerful and friendly person.
It would have been possible to eat and drink from the various stands around the square.
I knew of Horsham because of Field Place, the childhood home of Shelley. The manor is nearby, but there is little point in visiting Horsham on this account, as the manor is in private hands, and is not visible from the main road. There is, however, an attractive museum, and information point, which has a small room dedicated to Shelley and his family. Horsham has a modern, attractive, library complex too.
I had downloaded a map for a local walk, as I came on my own, and had travelled by public transport. Rain threatened, but I embarked on this walk, which circled and crossed a local deer park and a local village, Warnham. I estimate the walk to be five, or even six miles. (If you include getting to the start of the walk.) This walk began on the outskirts of Horsham and involved crossing the local park and the local golf course.
I had been told, from two separate sources, that the cafe in a nearby nature reserve is the best place for a coffee and snack etc. but I did not visit thereabouts. There is an attractive conservatory, eating place, in the local park.
Horsham had shut up shop by the time I returned - about half six. I had a pint of Ruddles at Wetherspoons, and a bag of French fries from Macdonalds. I then wandered around the, deserted central streets in an attempt to imagine Regency Horsham, hidden amongst the plethora of modern shop fronts.
I walked back to the local railway station and returned to London. I had not visited Horsham previously and there is adequate entertainment for a day’s visit - for a single person, a couple, or a family. I would certainly pay return visit.
I want to use this image on the front-piece of a 'wordpress' blog. (It has posted rather small.) The blog will be a poetry anthology.
A photo of the poet, next to a picture of the rigging of the 'Cutty Sark' - and a ship's figurehead - will be the header the top of the page. This will be on the right. To the left of it will be an introduction of some sort - or text directing the reader to the next page.
As you can see, Arnold Middleton rubs shoulders with some illustrious poets - Phillip Larkin and Dylan Thomas, to name just two of them!
But the image on its own does not mean anything. Has anybody got an idea?
I thought perhaps,, if I place this image at an angle and add a rectangular box in the middle?
In this box, the poets' name and the title of his book are enlarged?
In a few weeks i will be attending a one to one session for blogging on 'worcPress' I tried to read a book on 'wordpress' but found it quite incomprehensible.
My idea may seem a bit rash, but faint heart never won fair maid!!
I've noticed that recently there's been a lot of us with rejections and disillusionment and as I'm the cheery sort, I thought I'd explore what it means and how we can change the sting into a smile.
So why does the opinion of someone we've never met as writers hurt? Why should it bother us?
Well, if you're anything like me, your book contains a piece of your soul/heart/chewing gum. You have worked at least three months to an entire lifetime on your masterpiece. You have sacrificed hours and hours, your neck aches, you've lost the feeling in your wrists and your dog thinks it's been abandoned, but you've done it... you've typed the words THE END.
So first of all, as a fellow aspiring writer, I would like to say WELL DONE.
it's even in capitals because no matter what state your
Manuscript is really in, or whether it will grace the bestseller
list. I, as a
fellow 'Unpub' in the trenches wholeheartedly cheer you and
welcome you to trench warfare 101.
Now, you've sent it out... climbing over the barbed wire of the submission requirements, having reconned the enemy via the agent hunter. You have your helmet made by your fellow Cloudies and some sound advice from the Editrix herself. We are all peering over the top, flags in hand, just hoping you'll make it across.
Then you become aware of just how much of a minefield the process truly is. In a nutshell, it's personal... the story may be incredible, the prose a work of art but if that agent... the one patrolling the gates to the promised land, doesn't like it...
You wake up in the Cloudie infirmary. So what on earth do you do now?
If you're like me, no amount of chocolate, kind words or dart throwing will make you feel better until you process the entire episode. What happened? Why? Etc. I will run this over and over until my brain is dribbling out of my ears. I'm a perfectionist... and just like everyone else, I don't like getting rejected.
But here's the thing. I think it's the single most important thing any writer can go through. I think it's important as a person for us to know what getting shot down (in a literary sense) feels like. Plus, we can use it.
The next time one of your characters experiences fear, failure, rejection, pain... you know how you dealt with it... if you wrote down how you felt (which I do) you have physical and emotional responses. And better than any book that lists feelings and symptoms, you have your own experience and that makes your story all that more real.
Everytime you get a rejection, you can learn something (if you get any comments of course!) They might mention something that gets you thinking. Normally, I judge opinions like this.
One person - Could be a matter of taste
Two people - If they're in the industry, maybe it's something that I need to think about
Three or more - People aren't getting what I'm trying to say... maybe I could try re-writing the scene that bothers them... can I make it better?
That's what Cloudies, Editors and self edit course can help you decide. You may need to look at it from a different angle.
It doesn't mean you can't try again!
When you get a rejection, you take stock. You probably feel like taking up cricket instead but use it, use it to ask yourself a massive question, one which will more than likely decide if you ever do make it...
How much do you want it? What are you prepared to do/give up to get it? Is it really your dream or is it a fantasy?
When I get a rejection, I don't want to give up... in fact I want to get back out there and get a bit further... I don't care how many times I get caught in the crosshairs or how many 'no's' I get... I will get a yes. I won't stop until I do. I want to be a writer, I want to be on the shelves in WH Smith. I want to see people reading my books on the train... and I believe in myself.
That's what I realised. Yes, the book may not be right yet. Sure, the agent may just not like my style. Yes, there could be lots of work to do... but that's ok.
So here's my five points to surviving the return to the trench.
· Pat yourself on the back. - You submitted, you got off your butt and went for it.
· Give yourself space to process it. - It stings. Many of the writers on the other side who've made it suggest rations: Chocolate, hugs, venting... I actually took a drive. I sat and looked at the sea. I watched the lambs nibbling at the grass. I remembered all that I already have and it helped.
· Leave the project alone. - This bit I find really hard. I often need to do something to improve it in order to be able to put it away. I am lucky enough to know two very experienced and wonderful people both of whom suggested this... So, I wave thanks to them giving me encouragement and do as I'm told.
· Write something completely different. - Oh yeah, do it... If you write horrors... write a slushy romance... you don't have to show it to anyone just have a go... That's what I did. I write thrillers... I ended up with a love story and it was freeing. I learned something about myself. I learned what themes are important to me when writing... and do you know what? It was fun.
· Have fun - Writing is a craft not a science. There is no formula for success - So, I think it needs to be something you enjoy.
Talking about formulas - How many books have there been on boy wizards? When I was a bit younger there was a program called Wizardora on TV... I'm pretty sure it was about a witches academy. Yet, Harry Potter changed the literary world. Something about JK Rowling, a train up to Edinburgh and the world of Hogwarts inspired a generation. It inspired me too.
Yup, she's one of those rare cases of über-success but she had to go tearing across the battlefield with her manuscript in hand too. She came from the trenches like us, she even ended up in the infirmary. Persistence, hard work and belief got her across.
So, if you're new... welcome to the trenches, take your helmet and cheer on your fellow writers. There are odds, there are weapons, there are agents patrolling but they aren't the enemy... they are actually looking to haul you over the wall.
Keep your faith in your writing, and in yourself. You can do it but prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Whether I'm in the trench beside you, out on the battlefield, in the infirmary or I've made it over the wall. I will happily offer you a smile, a pat on the back for having a go and I hope, with this blog, the inspiration to get back over the barbed wire and run for it.
I will leave you with a quote (it's from Anonymous... he writes a lot doesn't he!) This quote has got me through hell, and yeh, I've been there. I hope it will act as a call to arms (or pens) and rally any who have been wounded.
Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes, courage is the small voice at the end of the day that says,
'I will try again tomorrow.'
I recently made a lamentable attempt to enroll a ghost onto twitter, though this ghost does have a ghostly presence on the internet. Last week I found this post: ‘ On Saturday 29 Oct 1910, the Brisbane Courier announced that the Toombul District Band would be performing at the Botanic Gardens and, among the items to be played were two Safroni marches ‘ Salute the Standard’ and ‘The Night Riders’ There are other similar mentions on various web pages. ( I think the material I have collected is excellent for the popular art of the period.)
The composer had visited Brisbane some twenty years earlier,and an elder brother had settled there with his wife. (A cousin) A description of Brisbane, in one of the travel books, might well be a realistic portrait of Brisbane expanding into the surrounding scrub and desert.
However, I also pursued twitter drama, in an attempt to make the ghostly postings interesting. This isn’t really possible. You would have to make a separate enrollment for each character in the play. I soon had four characters. I placed dialogue for each character on the same twitter vioce, which already had two voices - mine and a grandfather.
The whole thing would have to be worked out beforehand. It is not very sensible to do this, as I did, while eating museli and watching breakfast TV, before going to work. Even if you made separate accounts for each character, they would not necessarily link up.
I don’t think twitter drama is possible, but I am sure Word Clouders will inform me that it has been done many times. ( A local historian told me that twitter has been used to collect data.)
Some word clouders expressed an interest in a line of poetry I pasted into a blog a week or so ago - ‘Dark is the soul when emptied of its dream’ I pasted this line in response to ‘old fat prop’s blog ‘why write’ as the sentiment echoed the feelings of other word clouders; The line also makes the point that life is somewhat diminished if the dream is abandoned. I will try and put the line in it’s context. What is a dream?
The line comes from a long allegorical poem that exists in three printed versions. The first version was published around 1930, a re-written version around 1940 and a final version was published in 1950. It is quite possible the first and last versions were edited by outside sources, while the 1940 version is uncensored. The first version is the easiest to read, but the final version is more allegorical in it’s nature, and clearly refers to the twentieth century, and not the nineteenth.
From the middle of the 1930’s, the poet continually re-wrote poetry and prose, and lines were switched from poem to poem and book to book. The suggestion is that the poet’s aim had been to try and write a successful poem. This might well have been difficult for him, as his father had considered poetry to be high art and the poet’s role a rather exulted one, but it is the voyage that is important.
I had tried to collect information about the poet, and the only image that came to my mind - when I put it all together - is that of an old man, in a room, gradually retreating into his imagination. His isolation might have been exacerbated by increasing physical illness, and possibly, mental illness,. (But, in many respects, I am as much in the dark as world clouders would be.)
The poet had been a sailor and, really, from the word go, a magic clipper ship drifts in and out of his writing,
The line ‘Dark is the soul when emptied of its dream’ is added to the second version of the poem and it is high-lighted and printed italics, so it must have meant something to the poet.
The theme of the poem is expressed in lines added to the second version, the first version of which is:
‘The man and boy, in one communion
Meeting in sorrow a the soul’s behest
This is a variation of a trinity, but I will leave this for the moment. The poem examines the relation between an old man and the boy he had been.
These three lines come from a verse that had been added to the second version, and then removed in the last version. This verse just proceeds the line ‘Dark is the soul when emptied of its dream’
“Of for a ship rigged by
Encompassed by dim seas o’erhung with stars,
A thought unfurl’d! thus I would roam creation.
I would have kept these three lines, especially the last one, However, the verse doesn’t added much and goes round in circles, but the idea of a magic ship has been removed from the poem too.
The ship must be an allegory of an artistic enterprise. the poet is unrepentant of his continued efforts “and still I sail the splendour of a dream.’
What this ship represents is revealed an another verse that has been removed from the final version. I do not know why? The poet’s rather ambiguous relationship with the crew is expressed here, but the poet seems to suggest that his rejection by, presumably, the literary establishment, has given greater scope to his writing. (Thus God gives to our dreams their fullest scope)
Thus once again I sought her on the seas.
Our ful-rigged ship, hove-to off Cape Lost Hope,
Heeled over, strangely, to the faintest breeze!
The flapping sails and tangled halliard rope
Wailed - when they flung me in an open boat
And left me on the wide seas of time remote!)
(Thus God gives to our dreams their fullest scope.)
They had, the awestruck crew and Captain-Owner,
Declared I was the ship’s unlucky Jonah!
Mine was the luck! Lo, plunging thro’ daybreak,
She came up in a flame, East of Peru,
With yesterday’s dead sunset in her wake,
And rescued me! And that ship’s wretched crew? -
They’ve been, these many years, posted “Overdue!”
“Dark is the soul when emptied of its dream.’
I’ve re-tweeted this line from twitter. It is line from a poem, and it does reflect something about which word clouders have recently ‘blogged. Why write? ‘Dream’ could, perhaps, be replaced by ‘hope’ (In the poem, dream = writing)
I had been using up my leave before the new year, and have only recently returned to work. I asked my colleagues if they tweeted, and none did. One confessed that her father-in-law tweeted, but he was a twitcher and he only tweeted when he spotted a twitterer. Tweeters then tweeted other twitchers,who then congregated where twitchers watched tweeters, who watched twitterers while tweeting. But none of my colleagues could see the point in tweeting.
Perhaps I live on a different planet? Another colleague said that her daughter tweeted, but she only tweeted to promote her magazine. (This daughter has, apparently used, or will use, some of my photographs, so good luck to her) Tweeting must be for a rather restricted circle, I asked about ‘Facebook’ and some students had ‘Facebook’ but only used it to keep in contact with friends. (Everybody is very computer savvy; it is part of the job.) Yesterday, I was asked where the nearest ‘Pizza Inn’ was? I immediately got my fingers ready for tapping, and powered up, A colleague butted in and said, “You cross the road and turn right”
I am trying to work out a back story to Agatha Prim. This is due to a recent post I put in critiques and a comment by Mark. It seems the vicious old bat might have a following. The origins of Agatha Prim are in the situation comedies of the 1970s and she is a total invention. She is, deliberately, a caricature of a librarian. It is suggested that she is a lesbian but this was only because I didn’t like the term spinster. On the surface she is all sweetness, smiles and light but.... ! I
I am not sure of her origins in the real world.? Librarians have existed for as long as books have been produced. I recall a librarian in Gissing’s ‘New Grub Street’ and public libraries began at that time. I doubt if Agatha would have been a bluestocking? I think, as a local government official, she would come from the lower middle classes but I don’t know? The unstated boredom and frustration she exhibits were the only parts added of me.
I am not sure why the caricature arose? Agatha certainly belongs to a vanished age - really to the age of someone like Margaret Rutherford. Perhaps it had something to do with they way women workers, and those given authority were perceived? Who knows?
A month or so ago, I posted a very short extract of a great aunt's memories in critiques. The memory was just a snapshot of Croydon around 1895 and I had been thinking of placing the memory in the context of local history - via footnotes .
This great aunt recalled picking hops at a cousin's farm in Kent. I had traced the farm and, some weeks ago, printed out the memory and posted it, by snail mail, to the farm (One can never be 100 % sure of the accuracy of memories)
I have received a hand written reply on cream wove paper - this is a grade 2 listed Tudor farmhouse in a conservation area - 'Wonderful reminiscences, and a lovely snapshot of times past. Her memory seems spot on.' was the reply.
This was just the view of world clouders. So the same assessment has been made by completely independent sources.
The owner goes on to explain that the farm had not changed much since the aunt's time. (Few hops though. Someone else told me that hops were rather difficult to get rid of, once established)
P.S I had been looking into one memory of the aunt - about her father -
who wrote poetry of a religious and philosophical nature. As far as I can see,
evolution, and Darwinism, had been incorporated into Christian theology by the 1880's .
The great aunt's brother had been the composer and poet. The problem with his prose is that it became increasingly infused by religion and philosophy, which makes the prose rather unreadable and has buried his personality and humour; though paradoxically, if he has not taken the path that he had taken, he would have no plots etc.. (An editorial problem would be removing, or cutting down ;the theology and the adjectives )
But, from the philosophical point of view, he has only tried to take is father's philosophy one step further. In this respect the father's poetry, seems to me, to be stronger. The son has reverted to God as a father figure, though he does argue that the only place you can find God is on your own mind.
I was listening to a radio programme about rambles around a monastery and the nun was asked what she did. She did not pray. She said she searched for God. Mind you, she took photographs as well, I recently went to an exhibition of the photographs of Ansel Adams and they would have got on well together.
My sympathies are rather with Ann Widdicome over this. The nun's search is no different to that of a philosopher and,in some respects, the scientist. The comedians targeted just one particular religion and one branch of it - and for the wrong reasons. Ann Widdicome was wrong in one respect. (An American comedian targeted a particular form of Evangelical religion which has always been a target for satire.)
There are two boxes and I have tried both. One in the top right hand corner, there is square box and ,another one called direct messages. Neither seem to do anything and I don't think the boxes work? I enter meesages and nothing happens.
Presumably, I can only follow tweets, and cannot engage with the person who tweets?
The site picked up a Dutch relation which is rather worrying,as the only way the site cold have got this name is from my e.mail account.
I tried to contact his tweet. I though I had done so, but, perhaps this is not possible?
I don't find the site at all helpful - on how to use it.
I just don't see the appeal. There must be something wrong with me.
The site picks up a few journalists but nothing is said that has not been on TV.
Boris Johnson seems to be the person picked up. I don't know why? I watched the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday but gave up on his self promotion programme.
Presumably someone like Jonathan Ross has somebody to do his tweet for him? A sort of publicity agent?
I don't have Facebook either. Perhaps this would be of more use?