No More Pantsing!

Down With Pants!

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I’ve been a “pantser” for as long as I can remember. If you don’t know, there are two types of writers — pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write without any real plan for how their story will happen. Plotters, well, the clue’s in the name. And for the longest time, I’ve been a pantser. Or at least I was, until now.

After my last module at uni, I just didn’t want to write. I had all these story ideas spinning around in my head, but I didn’t want to write any of them. And I couldn’t work out why. I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. So why didn’t I want to write? Well, it turns out the problems were twofold. And both problems were related to my writing course.

Problem the First

The first problem was that I got a few pretty crappy scores for my assignments. The thing is, writing is a creative endeavour. Any creative endeavour is art. Art is subjective. I think you might see where I’m going with this. My tutor didn’t think some of my work was any good, and it was clear from her feedback that it was the subject matter.

Now, my daughter will tell you I’m a crazy person when it comes to writing. I just write whatever my brain thinks up. So for one of my assignments I wrote a selection of poems about characters from a video game; a video game my tutor had never heard of. She wasn’t interested, and I got a shit mark for the assignment. I’m not really a poet, so I was expecting a bad mark, but not for the subject matter. She wasn’t the target demographic, and I wasn’t writing the poems with her in mind. The poems, from a technical point of view, weren’t bad.

So with that, and the fact that every creative piece had to be presented with a reflective commentary, I lost interest in writing for a while. I still wrote down story ideas, I just never got around to writing them.

Problem the Second

*mumbles* Stupid writing course, making me plan out what I’m going to write, and create plots for stories.

Turns out I can’t write by the seat of my pants anymore. Or at least, not entirely. I still don’t write fully detailed plots. I can’t work with something like “The Snowflake Method” and never could — it’s a perfectly respectable method of writing, it’s just not for me. But I’ve found I can’t write without some sort of guide anymore.

But I Have a Plan!

NB: It’s not a plot.

I’ve started outlining stories. I know, it shocked me too, but here we are. I just write loose outlines, so I know where the story’s going. I still don’t know everything about my characters when I start to write either. To be honest, I don’t understand why people write full character bios. It’s not like you instantly know everything about someone when you first meet them. And sometimes the most fun I have when I’m writing is finding out something new about a character while I’m writing their dialogue. Because that’s how you find things out about people — by talking to them. Or talking about them, of course.

And of course having a rough outline fits with my bizarre method of writing random scenes out of order because I think of something that’s going to happen at some point.

House Flipper
Lloyd Grossman voice: “Who’d live in a house like this?”

But most importantly, it means I’m writing again. It’s been bloody hard not writing when I know that’s what I need to be doing. I’ve still written stuff, even when I wasn’t writing, it just wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to write. You know, like uni stuff. And now I’m hitting, and even surpassing, my daily word count goals. I know now that I can write what I need to before lunch, study after lunch, and play House Flipper after dinner. God, I love that game! Except adding decorations to the houses. That’s like the reflective commentary of house flipping. Art is subjective, you donuts; buy your own damn paintings!

Well, I guess I’m going to sign off now. I have houses to flip!

xx

RJ

Red Typewriter

I Want a Red Typewriter, Goddamnit!

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My daughter turns fourteen today. It doesn’t seem like that long since I was walking through ten-inch deep snow to get to my last pre-natal appointment, but there we go.

Anyway, for her birthday, she decided she wanted a typewriter. Not an electric one, not a toy one, a real one. I’m so proud! So I had a look on eBay, and found her a gorgeous 1988 model Erika 105. It’s in great condition, and cost me less than £30, which was a bonus.

I’ve wanted a typewriter myself for ages, but never really found one that speaks to me. There are a lot of typewriters for relatively cheap on eBay, but I want one that I’m not going to get bored of. And in the last two weeks, I’ve found two. The first was a Gossen Tippa from the 50s. It was utterly gorgeous, and for most of the final day it was at about £19. That was, until literally the last minute, when the bidding went stratospheric. It went for £91 in the end, and sadly not to me.

Gossen Tippa
WHSmith Red Fox

The second one that I found was a WHSmith Red Fox from the 70s, which went for the slightly less gut-wrenching price – or possibly slightly more gut-wrenching depending on how you look at it – of £26. The only reason I missed out on that one was that I left too long on the first auction and other bidders were able to get in after me, so I bid later on the Red Fox. And I lost out. Given the two typewriters I weirdly fell in love with, I guess you could say I have a type.

Thankfully, someone else is selling a Red Fox on a Buy-it-Now auction, so barring someone else getting there ahead of me, I should be able to get that later this month. I’d buy it now, but I’ve just spent a buttload of money on my daughter’s birthday, not to mention my youngest son’s costume for World Book Day. FYI, he makes an adorable Draco Malfoy. I saw loads of Harry Potters when I picked him up from school, but he was the only Draco. And he came second in his class’s best costume competition. His friend who came first was Danny (the Champion of the World), a decision which I wholly support because that’s my favourite Roald Dahl book.

buttload

(plural buttloads)

– (obsolete, Britain, West Country) A regional English measure of capacity of a heavy cart (a butt), containing 6 seams, or 48 bushels, equivalent to 384 gallons. 
– (dated, Britain, Southern US, New England) A large amount carried in a butt.
eg. “We spent all day Sunday and picked up a buttload of pecans.”
– (by extension, mildly vulgar, slang) Any large but unspecific amount.

Oh, and before I forget, I made my daughter a book related birthday cake. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity with World Book Day and her birthday being so close without making her a Harry Potter inspired cake!

Happee Birthdae Kayleigh
Baked it myself, words and all.

Unlike Hagrid, though, I know I haven’t sat on it. But my God it was annoying having to deliberately misspell the message!

xx

RJ

Site Update

Another Year, Another Reset

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Once again, I have had to reset this website due to issues with updates, errors in the database, and generally not having posted anything in a while. I suppose if I posted more often, I would realise the issues are occurring before they fuck up the site. But I don’t, because I’m an idiot.

Anyway, since I last posted anything, which obviously is no longer here, I’ve passed two more modules on my English Literature and Creative Writing course and am currently studying my fourth. Last summer I was planning to take a year off, and do nothing but write for the year, especially after the last module I did. Considering it was the first of the two creative writing modules, and that’s the whole reason for me doing the course, I felt really deflated. The module requires you to write reflective commentaries along with every piece of work you do, and it did my head in. And I don’t think it’s fair for a tutor to mark you down for a piece of writing just because they don’t understand the context. So after this module I’m seriously considering taking a break, because I’m not getting the time to write anything for me. It’s all course work, and fitting that in around home commitments is getting harder all the time.

But I’m slogging on as best I can. I’ve been trying out new software for writing, and I’ll post some reviews of what I like and what I don’t like, or whatever, when I find the time.

xx

RJ