I received wonderful news last week that the new NZ literary magazine, Alluvia, has decided to publish a few of my poems. This gives me more strength in my convictions that I’m following a good path.
The famous screenwriter Charlie Brooker, creator of ‘Black Mirror’, gave me some advice recently. Well actually he didn’t, but I’m quite happy to take it as if he gave me this advice personally. He made a statement in 2010, which I read last week on the internet, and so it exists timelessly (at least until the Guardian takes it down) as advice for writers everywhere:
“To everyone who has ever emailed to ask me for advice on writing, my answer is: get a deadline. That’s all you really need. Forget about luck. Don’t fret about talent. Just pay someone larger than you to kick your knees until they fold the wrong way if you don’t hand in 800 words by five o’clock. You’ll be amazed at what comes out.”
I am quite willing to make myself meet deadlines however. To those seeking inspiration, I would urge you to find more deadlines. How many deadlines can you make for next month?
If you wish to distract yourself from deadlines, you can watch this:
Yesterday evening I joined a huge audience at the Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College to listen to Ian Rankin talk about his writing. It was well worth the ticket price.
He talked about his early writing, how he started out, and how he writes his novels. This is what I took from what he said. He didn’t present the following as advice in his talk, but this is what he does, and I think it is probably good advice anyway (from my own biased perspective anyway):
- Write what you know, and draw from the vivid memories that are in your head.
- Create your own universe.
- Don’t plan until well into the story.
- Avoid writing about topics you don’t know much about, if doing so would make you look foolish. Rankin would not write about court proceedings for this reason, because he doesn’t have a legal background.
- Start with an issue, and follow it. This seems a good idea for crime fiction, but also for writing science-fiction.
Every time I see Giacometti’s sketches it makes me feel as if everything is connected, that there are some threads that tie us all together. Chairs are connected to the floor on which they are placed, but are also in some way connected by lines and threads to the ceilings and to the walls. Maybe there are dust motes we can climb? A bad mood caused by a small incident or comment from another can cause us to view other seemingly benign incidents in a very negative way. Or the hint of a smile can brighten our whole day.
In the last week, I’ve been working on a flash fiction horror story. Don’t want to share too much right now, because it is still in the development stage, but it has a werewolf in it. Not a shiny happy Twilight werewolf though. Something more brutal and unrestrained.
I also submitted a couple of pieces of flash fiction to the NZ National Flash Fiction competition last Sunday. I need to train to compress my meaning when writing in prose, so that when I write a longer piece the language is more precise and accurate too.
Yesterday I joined the Australasian Horror Writers Association. It already seems like a very good decision. Aside from being able to participate in a few competitions without paying a fee, membership gives me a chance to get critiqued by other horror writers, get advice on writing markets for horror and dark fiction, and gives me the ability to read what seems like very high quality horror stories published in their magazine ‘Midnight Echo’. I would really recommend the AHWA to other writers serious about the horror genre (‘deadly’ serious, evil laugh) in New Zealand or Australia.
Also, while I was teaching today, C. Day Lewis’ poem ‘Rest From Loving’ came into my mind unbidden, a gift of memory. Let me share these first few lines:
Rest from loving and be living.
Fallen is fallen past retrieving
The unique flyer dawn’s dove
Arrowing down feathered with fire.
The rest can be found in various places. Such as: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00144940.1948.11481413