Random Acts of Optimism

How to write when kids just fight and other stuff

School’s out in this house and my eldest son whose twelve and a half has ‘graduated’ from Irish primary school so a nice sense of achievement and moving on.  In terms of keeping my ‘Head above Water’ writing wise I’m doing my best to get up in the early hours before the kids wake to work on my next book The Exhibit of Held Breaths (which I’m really pleased with so far, hurrah! 90,000 words, 2nd draft).

Still I’m thinking of writing a book called How to Write when Kids just fight in honour of the summer holidays and writing parents. My daughter tried to give me the old writing guilt-trip ‘but you were on your computer’ even though she was quite happily playing with her brother at the time. I’ll stick to the early morning mostly though and no-one will even know I’m a writer. I’ll have nice scones baked by the time they get up in the morning and…ah forget it, let’s just see how it goes!

During the week I spotted that Adam Byatt has been doing lots of posts on creativity so do check out his blog.

And Number Eleven is a wonderful new lit mag venture (now on Issue two). They’re eager to get feedback and build up a following so do check out their latest issue and like them on Facebook. They are open to submissions. Their online publication is very stylish and if you look carefully you’ll see they published one of my stories (and the title of my short story collection on submission) Random Acts of Optimism.

See what you think of my new post on writing.ie. It’s all about how we need to write the book that is right for the time in our lives. Sometimes our ambition might be beyond what we can manage or we might change how or what we write depending on what the circumstances of our life are.

I say “Write to take yourself away from the quicksand of your own life, where you cannot see out or through or write through your life, autobiographically to find an angle, a perspective that can help you tell both the story of yourself and the story of people in situations like yours, help you find that chord that resonates.”

Read the full post here and leave a comment if the post makes sense to you. Thank you!

Tomorrow I’ll have an interview with the fabulous flash fiction evangelist and organiser of National Flash Fiction Day Calum Kerr who’s launching a new flash fiction collection called Lost Property. It’s a very interesting interview about how flash fiction has contributed to his writing life so come and see tomorrow.

Now I’m off getting kids to camps and taking the youngest to the park to teach him to ride a bike without stabilizers.

Advertisements

My useless writing genius knows no bounds

Oh this tightrope between delusion and despair, between confidence and crisis! It’s something that is familiar to every writer especially those who are endeavouring, really endeavouring to create something that they hope ultimately might be enjoyed by someone other than themselves.

I’ve written a collection of stories called Random Acts of Optimism and that’s what writing is, every time, an act of optimism that we can do something with an idea and get it any way close to what we intended. And when we complete something and submit it to a mag or book publisher, when we enter a competition, we are saying YES, I’VE DONE MY BEST, I THINK THIS IS GOOD. GOD SPEED.’

When we sit down writing, sometimes it all flows, we love it, the words are just right, or perhaps we’ve worked on something for a while and know that yes, the shape is coming out of the stone and it’s really,  quite….brilliant. Or maybe not, is it? Is it really a load of baloney, clichéd, face palmingly so. Not at all what I was trying to do and yes, of course that story wasn’t accepted for the mag or placed in the competition at any level and it’s no wonder the publisher didn’t even acknowledge receipt of my manuscript it’s, oh, it’s absolutely useless, I am absolutely useless, however did I think I was ever going to get anywhere and you know the odds are against us, even more so now with the state of publishing and I shouldn’t have sent it out at all, I should have stuck it under the bed.

But… that phrase there, it’s quite alright, actually and well, that character feels authentic, pretty funny dialogue, and that plot isn’t at all obvious and I’ve read it back several times now and the writer’s group said it was basically all there and a couple of them said send it out now. Actually it’s brilliant, a touch of genius there. And I got some great feedback on that other thing last week and well, yes, I was shortlisted in that competition, not too long ago and well yes, this IS good, I really like it. I should keep going. But I don’t know how to solve that chronological problem with the twins, this is really going nowhere, oh why do I even bother.

Stops.

Starts typing again.

Deletes whole line.

Starts typing again.

Keeps typing.

Laughs.

Stops.

Puts head in hands.

Starts typing again.

My useless writing genius knows no bounds

The shape is emerging from the stone.

I’ve nicked my finger with the chisel.

How can we maintain confidence (rather than delusion?). How can we curb despair and start again?