January 9, 2009 at 11:10 pm (Reading) (, , , )

For various reasons, but mainly because I’m anal, at the beginning of 2008 I started recording every book that I read in a notebook. My final tally for the year – 60 books. Not bad, but not great. I’m not setting myself a target for 2009, but I reckon that I can manage more than 60. Maybe 75? Anywho, I’ve kicked off to a flying start (got to love a mixed metaphor, baby), with three books in a week. Two of them were decidedly slim volumes, but they were legitimate books, so they count.

* Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

* The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery

* Curious Men – Frank Buckland

I’m smugly patting my head and rubbing my stomach on account of my eclectic tastes and the fact that my husband and friend got me such great books for Christmas.

Sitting on the table, ready to have it’s spine cracked tomorrow is Twilight. I wouldn’t say that I’ve cracked, because I’ve never claimed to be actively avoiding the series, but my curiosity was piqued enough to accept the loan from my good friend Genn, so that I can see what all the fuss is about. I’m also a sucker for a feisty girl in love with a vampire.


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Liars’ League

December 10, 2008 at 6:16 pm (Doing) (, , )

I’m not sure what to say about the event I went to last night.  It was very well attended, that’s for sure (I spent the evening sitting cross-legged on the floor due to lack of available chairs).  Everyone was very enthusiastic.  There were candy canes.  Um.

The basic premise is that six short stories (800-2,000 words) are read aloud by six actors.  The stories varied from fairly bad to reasonable, which was slightly disappointing, but not a giant surprise from an amateur event (that’s not to say that the quality at amateur readings is always low, because of course it’s not – I’ve heard some amazing work).  I think that the main thing that bugged me was that the actors who read the stories were so… actory.  The silly voices and over annuciation really detracted from the writing.  Yeah, I think that’s what bugged me.  I’ll give it another go, though, because maybe I’m just judgemental.

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Stop writing in 3, 2, 1

November 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm (Writing) ()

So, I didn’t achieve 50k words this month and have therefore not won nanowrimo.  I’m not too sad about it, because I really think that I can do something good with the writing that I did do and I’ve not become so sick of my story that I hide it in a drawer tomorrow and never look at it again.  Some of my incredibly dedicated friends have hit the magic number and good on them, for sure, but I think that I’ve decided that, for me, nano is more of an enabler than a competition.  I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the community, definitely, and it’s been thrilling to watch my word count creep up, yet it’s more about quality than quantity.  Well, hopefully.

Congratulations to all you nanoers out there!

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Happy, happy

November 16, 2008 at 8:43 pm (Writing)

Something very exciting is happening this week and the only clue that I’m giving away is that it warrants new shoes.

So, this nanowrimo malarky, eh?  It’s a bit of a beast.  I, for one, am way behind, but I’m fairly pleased with what I’ve got so far and I really think that, regardless of whether I make it to 50k (and I’m coming down firmly on the side of not, with 12,746 at the halfway point), I’ve got the makings of something.  I’ve got a few friends, however – one of whom I introduced to the whole concept of nano, who is now cursing my bones – who are taking it very, VERY seriously.  Although they are well ahead of the month-so-far target, I’ve heard tell of tears, hair-tearing, and a few incomprehensible, jibbering moments from the pair of them, which leads me to wonder – is nanowrimo good for your health?  I’m enjoying the impetus that nano gives me to sit down and write, but I’m not going to exhaust myself to reach 50k.  Does this mean that I lack a competitive edge?  Probably.  Oh well.

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Sorry, trees

November 5, 2008 at 11:44 am (Doing) (, , , )

I’m feeling pretty heinous about my paper consumption lately.  As a writer and a reader, I use a lot of paper – so many books, so many printed drafts.  I try to keep my printing to a minimum, editing on screen and printing double-sided, but I feel like a baddie every time I hit that print button.  Working in publishing and seeing the amount of paper that we get through is pretty scary, too, though my company is one of the best for implementing green policies and sourcing environmentally-friendly paper.  So, as I’m hardly going to stop reading or writing, I’ve been wondering what I can do.  The first step that I’ve come up with is not to send Christmas cards this year, but to buy something from Oxfam Unwrapped instead.  It’s not a big change, I grant you, but it’s a start.  I’m still doing well with my 2008 NY resolution not to use carrier bags, so I’ll definitely be adding some more green resolutions in 2009.  What do you suggest?  What gree nsteps have you been taking lately?

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Literarily floored

October 29, 2008 at 11:36 am (Doing, Reading)

I went to a poetry reading on the Southbank on Monday night. Man, did I feel out of my depth! I used to be a literary powerhouse, up to my ears in unknown authors, literary theory, discussion groups, and events and loving it, but since I got into publishing, well, I think my brain has turned to mush. Contemporary fiction coloured mush. I want literature back!

So, here’s my plan – stop reading free books from work just because they’re there. Simple, really. I’m also going to join the Poetry Library, which is lovely. I will be literary again by 2009!

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October 25, 2008 at 5:45 pm (Doing, Reading, Writing) (, , )

It’s been too long again – this is why I always gave up on diaries as a kid.  I’d miss writing for so long and then it didn’t feel like a true reflection of my life/thoughts/feelings, so I’d bin it.  Don’t worry, though, lit fans – I’d never give up on you.

I was in Amsterdam this weekend and then enjoyed a few restful (*ahem* lazy) days at home, so I’ve been reading, knitting, internetting, watching bad daytime TV (who are these Gilmore Girls and what the hell is happening on One Tree Hill?), and making lists of Christmas presents.  I went into a toy shop in Amsterdam and bought five presents, none of which were for children…

So, what have I been reading?  I’m still blissfully immersed in Lorrie Moore’s Collected Short Stories – so many stories!  I’m nearly done, though, and I’ve got The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco lined up next.  I’ve been missing my medieval literature lately, so that might soothe me.  Also, the name Umberto reminds me of a Point Horror novel (shush, you!) I read once; the one where the guy is chopping people up and delivering them to his next victims in pot plants.

One week until nanocraziness.  My parents are visiting that weekend, so I’ll get a late start, but I won’t be out of the country like I was for a week last year, so fingers crossed for many words.  I’m lipsty if you want to buddy me.

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To the bitter end – or not

October 9, 2008 at 6:09 pm (Reading)

I’ve been giving up on a lot of books lately.  One hundred pages in, 189 pages in, fifty pages… I give it a commute or two and if I’m not feeling it, it goes back on the shelf.  It’s frustrating and dissatisfying.  So, am I making bad book choices or are my standards too high?  Each of the novels I’ve shelved has sounded amazing from the blurb and I’ve been excited to dive in, but then…  Despite the potential of the last three novels I’ve started to read, the characters don’t engage me, the writing is mundane, and the plot seems stilted.  I think it’s mainly the characters.  I expect a lot from characters; they have to be believable, thorough, intriguing.  They don’t even have to be good or eloquent, as long I believe them.

I think that I might have to lay off the super-new literature for a while and head back to some classics.  At least I’ll know what I’m getting.

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October 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm (1)

I’m feeling a wee bit bummed out, career-wise.  I really like my job and I love working in publishing, but it’s time to take the next step and I’m worried about how I’m going to make it work.  Editorial is still where I want to be, but I can’t afford to start at the bottom again and take another admin job – I’m 26, I’m married, I want to make babies soon, I want a house, security, to get out of England for a week or so every year.  I’ve definitely got a case of wanting-it-all syndrome, I know, but I’ve got to face up to the fact that the career I want is incredibly competitive and not particularly well paid.  It’s not just the money thing, either – I’m fed up of starting at the bottom; admins do an important job, but I need to start progressing.

So, not that I’m giving up on the editorial dream, but what are my other options?  I think I’ll look into bookshops, for a start.  Maybe charity (not volunteer, silly!) work that involves books or literature.  I could head back to my academic roots, either publishing or teaching based.

I’m not going to think about it until the New Year, though.  I’ve got nanowrimo and Christmas to get through first!

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September 28, 2008 at 6:14 pm (Writing) ()

Yep, it’s nearly that time again – nanowrimo approaches!  I clicked onto the site earlier today on a whim, expecting to be shooed away until nearer the time, but it’s abuzz with activity and the forums are whirring.  So, I updated my age and author info and started thinking about my 50,000 words…  I’m determined to be better prepared this year, so maybe October should be renamed nanoprepmo – by the end of it, I plan to have indepth character breakdowns, plot summaries, chapter outlines, folders full of inspiration that will help me forge ahead with my word count rather than looking at a pitiful 250 words and asking myself “What does my protagonists do next?”

Are you nanowrimoing?  If so, please pop over and buddy me – I’m lipsty.

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