Monday, July 27, 2009

Things to write about

Everyday brings dozens of ideas to write about.

  • You can write about your day. Was it colourful, drab or nasty. My day was colourful. I was in the thick of things watching two thousand people marching through the streets of Pretoria, on strike for wage increases.
  • Did you learn anything new? I learned that my computer has a cd writer. This was amazing after months of begging people to write things on cd for me.
  • Listen to old people talk. They have many a story about what happened when Steven wanted to marry Lucy but Lucy was more into Jim and then poor Jim died.
  • Listen to children.
  • Read the papers for some good ideas. I saw a poster on a lamppost this morning: Neighbour stole my toilet! The mind boggles.
  • Remember your childhood and the things you got up to. Write about the colourful characters. If they weren't colourful, make them colourful! Think again of the people and see them now through the eyes of a grown up - do you realise things about them now that you didn't realise then?
  • Bonzai, birthdays, beaches, ballrooms, billiards, bedrooms, bicycles. Free associate.
  • Draw up a chart and write something new about each character every now and then until it feels as if you know them and they actually exist.
  • Smell things.
  • Write about the future, how you think things will be like two hundred years from now.

Find your voice!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Warm bath Binchy

Reading Maeve Binchy is like soaking in a warm bath filled with foamy suds before you've considered opening a tap. Her characters are complex and grow throughout her stories, her style is warm and smooth forcing you to turn the pages even when you know you have to get up early for work. She gives a unique perspective with each character experiencing the same events from a personal point of view. Her deep love of Ireland shines through in all her writing.
Maeve Binchy is a master at work. She is an ideal author for the beginning writer to study, especially her character perspectives and expert story telling style.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Know your wallpaper and find your writing voice

Wallpaper is what forms the background to what you are actually busy with. It could be the television that's on while you're doing the dishes. This wallpaper is light green with a dark green paisley motive.

Wallpaper can be a death in the family that you are thinking about at work. This kind is in your face, you can't think of anything else. Actually, the death is not the wallpaper the work becomes the wallpaper. The work as wallpaper is a watery yellow color with no pictures.

I'm thinking of the book A day in the life of Ivan Ilych, his wallpaper was his own authentic voice that he ignored. His life was based on what others wanted of him at home and at work.

I can make a list of things that make excellent, colorful wallpaper. So real is this wallpaper you could think it's more real than death and confuse it with stuff that's real:

Soap operas
Things that distract you from your goals
Things that scream louder than your own authenticity

T.S Eliot was very good at describing wallpaper. He described it as measuring out his days in coffee spoons and cigarette buts.

My point is, find out what is your wallpaper and what is real. Of course everything is real and part of reality. As George Orwell would put it: some things are more real than others.

Don't be so blinded by the unreal that you miss out on the reality of your life.

Find your writing voice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't quit your day job

"Writing is easy, sit in front of the page until drops of blood appear on your forehead"

I can't remember who said this but it's quite true. There is only one thing that is more difficult than writing something and that is trying to sell what you wrote.

To write in South Africa, especially part-time, is about as lonely a past time as spending time in C-Max prison. Perhaps it would be easier to write there. You could force someone at knife point to read your stories or perhaps they could force you to read theirs.

Let's face it, you do not have people running after you for your articles. You probably have a trunk full of dusty manuscripts underneath your bed. Breaking into the writing industry (is it in industry?) is about as difficult as breaking out of C-max prison.

This blog serves as a platform for aspiring writers. Those who want to make some new kind of noise and find their own voices.

I want to ad some resources and some inspiration to those who hope to one day quit there day jobs to write full-time. Advice from those who read this blog on getting work into print is welcome. I am also of course doing research and hope to inspire myself into writing my story on how I escaped from C-Max.

Factors that contribute to writing a good article:

  1. You need to have a bright idea. Attack the same problems with a new idea. It must be real, relevant and riveting.

  2. You need to know something about grammar and spelling.

  3. Know your audience.

  4. Select categories that you can make your niche.

  5. Connect your categories with the audience to the right magazine or newspaper.

  6. Answer the fundamental questions: who, where, why, what and how.

  7. Read for grammar, content and research purposes.

  8. Using quotes makes a story more interesting.

  9. Contact the magazine to hear if they would be interested in your article.

  10. Sell your article.

My goal for August 2009: Deciding on a topic to write about, writing the article and sending it to a magazine for publishing.

Remember - find your voice!