Here's a cheeky round-up of my favourite reads from last year. They are from all sorts of different genres, some were published last year, some a long time before that. The only thing that ties them together is the fact they're all books I read last year. Tenuous, I grant you. Still, let me know if you've read any of them, and what you thought of them.
It was a really enjoyable day, as Susan and I discussed later over a glass of Sauvignon. But don't take our drunken word for it. Here's a lovely little review written by attendee, author and blogger B.M. Keeling who I'm happy to announce will be making a guest appearance at our next event to talk about her experiences of self-publishing. She'll be on hand throughout the day to answer any questions you might have, as will fellow Yorkshire-based author Marion Dillon. Marion has two novels published with digital publisher Carina and will be talking about her journey to getting published and answering your questions.
So if that sounds like a worthwhile way of spending a Saturday - and how could it not? - there's still time to join us by signing up here. Go on; I'll even try to convince Susan to make some of her lovely homemade biscuits for you. They're rich and good and fattening but totally adverb free.
Actually you probably did know this, unconsciously. The order is: quantity, value/opinion, size, temperature, age, shape, colour, origin, material. Try it. Four tall wooden crosses or Wooden tall four crosses? But what about It was a beautiful cold day? Could you get away with It was a cold beautiful day. Maybe. And rules are there for breaking, obviously. Just make sure you're breaking them deliberately. Perhaps the reason that sentence doesn't sound right is because it isn't.
We looked at creating image banks and colourbooks to help keep track of the words you use in your novel. I've recently discovered mindmapping for this. This free site is invaluable, for mapping all kinds of things and avoiding doing any actual writing. Check it out: www.wisemapping.com
We then had fun with hot, salty chips on the beach, and everyone tried to improve Susan's Bad Paragraph (deliberately bad, I should stress). I'm always amazed, when we do one of these "rewrite this paragraph" exercises, how many different and varied versions we get. Most people kept the hot, salty chips though, and I really can't blame them.
In the afternoon I put you all in a trance so that you could explore your characters' favourite places, immersing yourself in all 5 of the senses, and coming up with some pretty incredible descriptions of setting. Apologies to anyone who's still clucking like a chicken. I'm assured the effects will wear off soon. Probably.
So if any of this sounds like fun, why not join us for either Redrafting I or Redrafting II on Saturday 11th and 18th June respectively? Or even both? You never know... there might be chips.
Because that's what it comes down to, isn't it? I'm not married, I have no long-term partner, and I have no kids. The words that were supposed to provide me with some sense of immortality are either not being produced or I convince myself that there's no point as nobody sees them anyway. Even as I write that, I'm aware of how grandiose it sounds, but why should I apologise for wanting to be heard? Why should any of us? I worry that I might have nothing to say but if I'm honest with myself - and that's the real purpose of this blog - then the truth is that I'm just frightened to say it. Frightened that it's derivative or puerile. Frightened I might upset someone. Frightened that nobody will be listening.
Frightened of failure. There, I've said it. How's that for cliche?
It isn't that I haven't made progress with my writing. I am a much better writer now than I have ever been. I have an MA, I've won a bursary, I've had compliment after compliment about how well I write, even some from people whose opinions I respect. I've finished a novel, suffered rejections, rewritten a novel, suffered more rejections. And I will rewrite it again and no doubt suffer even more rejections. I know this isn't a new story, or in any way an original one, but I want to tell it.
I would like to say this is all for your benefit, beloved reader, and I truly do hope that it helps you too, but the truth is I'm doing this for me. Call it loneliness, call it midlife crisis, call it anxiety, fear of failure, lack of moral fibre; it doesn't really matter. This blog is my first step in changing all that. I will write something every week, without fail. At least then I will have written something. Mostly it will be about writing (or not writing), but I have other things to say as well so forgive me if I wander off topic now and again. No, forget that; apology rescinded. This is my blog, I'll write about whatever I want and if you don't like it/find it interesting all you have to do is stop reading.
This is thevoiceofruss...
...and by my voice I shall be known.
First, I'm off to get my ear pierced.