Sunday, 28 March 2010

oh dear oh dear - frustration, frustration!

Have had some further feedback and am even more confused about what I am doing at the beginning of the story. The feedback suggests I tone down the inciting incident/s - but I am really not sure. As today is designated a writing day - I will have to sit down with this dilema - I can see the point of the citicism but not sure I feel its right as it needs to be a powerful enough incident to be believable in triggering what happens to Almir and how this moves the plot forward.

Oh well - I suppose I just have to get on with it - I can always change it when I have finsihed the whole first draft. If I keep dallying over what I ve written so far too much then Ill never get it finished - and I still want to finish it, thats for sure I believe the story is a strong one and the subject matter should exposed in a novel - havent seen it anywhere else and the majority of the feedback has been extremely positive in this regard. I am so sensitive about all this - I think I need to toughen up - be more objective - its just that I feel so closely involved with the characters and the story itself - its so real inside my head - its a difficult process to wade in and chop it about - but I guess thats also a big part of what becomming a good writer is about - not just being able to paint an engaging picture with believable characters(and thats hard enough)... am I still enjoying it? I have to say its a bumpy ride at the moment but I know definately the story is calling me back to the page; I must be an addict or slave to the pen - or deluded!

The clocks have gone forward and I need to move on with this process so definately today is earmarked a writing day to edit atleast my first chapter. I have to submit this to my City Certifcate course anyway before we travel off next weekend to Italy.Would be nice to have more feed back for my lay guniea pig readers - so far only two (out of about 12) have responded with anything,people dont seem to have time and I get feedback from them weeks after I send stuff out , which leaves me frustrated as I want to get feedback I can incorporate and move on asap - W has given hers and says she was gripped and couldnt stop reading the first four chapters but whilst thats encouraging in a motivational way its not in itself helpful with editing. I think though it is important to get lay feed back along the way because I want to know how it reads to non literary professionals/serious people aswell as getting the feedback from serious prune cutters.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

progress of sorts

On Tuesday afternoon I spent about a hour at UCLSEESS with a very helpful pErson who answered all my questions about Kovoso/Albanian culture - and more...I digi-taped the interview and have already transcibed notes. One thing I have to do is change Uran/Almir's birthplace as Dragas doe not have any Albanians living there apparently - so I now have him born elsewhere - a detail but its important that its believable. All the names are right though and I now know various slang terms and cultural views on everything from Black people to gays to male masturbation! Also about the school system in the 90's for Ablanians in Kosovo (it was disrupted ans so Almir would not have graduated high school), Pristina and street sweeping in Kosovo(again in the 90's) - the fact that ther wer no supermarkets or satellite Tv back then is import detail that I will use to weave in deatil about Almirs background and current(to the story - so its 2001/2)attitudes and behaviours.Enlightening! If any one out there doubts the importance of back ground research lt me tell you its absolutely in valuable even if one doesnt use all the info gathered because for you as a writer in your head these deatils give flesh to the character/s /story and make them/it really come alive ( in ones head atleast, then hopeful on the page for the reader).

We had a bloody cold call at 245 am which woke H and me up so from no on we are dissconnectioning the phone in the bedroom before we go to bed.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Home tonight

Did another long walk this morning - we had a cooked breakfast after yoga as no food left in the house - then back to do a bit of work work - frustrated by the post office who have not set up mail forwarding for our Company office move as the say i need to sign the forms AGAIN - this despite having spent an entire morning queing and seeing two different counter staff bwho checked and re checked my forms and clearly neither seemed to have much of a clue about what they were doing! Now my computers going a bit mental too! Did manage this w/e to put together my portfolio pieces for the City course assessment. Have to pack now and get something to eat before the cab comes at 7 to take us to the train station at Saxmundham

Sunday, 21 March 2010

In Aldeburgh

Did a re write of a short scene on the very crowed train journey up here on Friday and am typing this up this morning whilst H and Co are out for a marsh walk - I'll join them for a waLk over Dunwich Heath for lunch later. The piece is for my portfolio submission to Emily at City next Wednesday. Have secured an extension for the First Chapter submission to the course so i am able to do a complte re write taking into account all the feedabck Ive had from workshops on the course and from a couple of published writers who've read it. Also I am interviewing the guy at UCL SSEES on Tuesday next week to get more Kosovo background material. I want the have this in my head before I atempt the re write.

It's a geogeous morning - doing my yoga practice before breakfast was a pleasure today with the sunshine pouring in through the front bay window and the sound of the birds singing away.


Friday, 19 March 2010

late night musing

had intended to write yesterday but it didnt happen - just got distracted, I think intentionally but seem to be comming back to my writing again with a more positive attitude. Have decided which four pieces Iwill be submitting to Emily for the Term Two assessment portfolio - one will a pice I've yet to complete but have in draft form as two short pieces - Its Roland deciding to take his leave of Almir -"the last straw" - I want to combine this with his recall of their first sex - he sees Almir laying in the bed - out of it totally, then flashbacks - briefly - to their first bedding - I think it will work but we'll see what Emily thinks!
Ive titled this blog entry late night musing - its 7.30 am now but late last night I did re read my first chapter and all the critiques and began to see things more clearly and positvely. I now what I will need to do for my edit and redraft of Chapter one now...will take it to work on over the weekend along with the for short portfolio pieces(we are off to Aldeburgh til Monday)


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring's here

All our bulbs are shooting up. Yestday I noticed the daffodils lining the tree avenue were out - they'd come to flower over night. Yesterday took my bike in to a servive and to get the handle bars adjusted ; also bought a new suitcase in prep for Italy from Bakers Arms. The shop keeper didnt have a ccard machine so I paid cash but didnt have enough so I owe him another 40 which Ill frop in when I pick up my bike today. Every time Im out locally(Leyton/Bakers Arms) and need the toilet I have to go into one of the many greasy spoons and the always have a big notice displayed as you enter"TOILETS FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY" so I have to buy a bottle of water and by the time I get home I eed to pee again!Almir must have to do the same - peeing frequently is a sign of anxiety or medication side effect - maybe I CAN INTRODUE THIS TOO Almirs charcterisation on his Beat - needing to use the toilet.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Questions- I need info in response to...

• What particular English words/sounds do Albanian Kosovars find difficult and how would they mis pronounce these(like Germans can’t pronounce F or Th or W for example)? (my character was born in 1980 and is of Muslim background – I’ve called him Uran Nicaj

• Are there any popular catch phrases within the culture (eg used for greetings or just things people often say/little philosophical statements)?

• What are the popular terms for Granma and granddad – translated into English?

• What things do Albanian Kosovars who’ve lived in the UK for a while tend to miss about Kosovo(the good and the bad) eg food/TV soap/radio/pop group/beer or cigarette brands/countryside/special cultural events and they way they are celebrated?

• Slang – what are the Albanian Kosovar English translations for slang terms for - black people, gay people, sexually predatory women, career driven young professional woman, male masturbation and what are the prevailing attitudes within the culture to all of these?

• What are the following places like: Pristina, Mitrovica and Dragas ( /landscape/weather/pollution/houses/land marks/people – do they speak with any special dialect/accent?/how were these places affected by the Kosovo conflict of the late 1990’s(just significant events that would be memorable to the people living there)?
• What is the climate like in Kosovo?
• What is the currency?

• What are/do you think would be the immediate significant impressions of a young 22 year old male Albanian Kosovar arriving in London for the first time as an immigrant circa 2002?

Cheers All!


thanks Mike!

and Guy for leaving positive and phlosophical comments - am I sensitive - YES and I damages - very likely, I am (but who isnt in some way by the time theyve reached my advanced age!).

Have not domne any writing since the weekend ... on Sunday attended a workshop with the writers Kathy Page and Vicky Grut in London on dialogue - probably good for me as I was feeling so down about writing and the whole blody thing. Being forced to "join in" was helpful and I did produce a little scene ofRoland leaving Almir which if I modify and re work I may be able to use in the novel.The scene was very well received.

My interview with the Kosovar from the Charity based in South London didnt happen because after agreeing for me to interview him he phoned back the following day to say he was too buisy and unable to help.Very odd - but - as I mentioned about the war, maybe understandabe. I am now going to talk to an academic at UCL SSEEES next Tuesday instead and have prepared a list of questions which I have just emailed to him. FINGERS CROSSED. Feeling a little better about my writing today - probably as Ive been preoccupied with my day job and stashing money in different accounts in prepeartion for the new tax regime which will hit me and evryone else deemed "high income" hard after the buget and next election in a couple of months time.

Off to tango class now in Oxford Street so another opportunity for frustration! or ectasy - dpending on how my feet and brain are functioning. Need to go now.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

a low blow...

been feeling I'll never find my voice in my writing,contradictory feedback Ive been getting - I 'm such a bloody sensitive flower - I know its there in me waiting to be let out - if only I can find the right button; am close but havent found it yet.



Friday, 12 March 2010

Light to be shed...

...soon on Albanian Kosovar language and culture AS BOTH MY CONTACTS now have agreed to help me - am meeting one next Tuesday - in the village - his will really make it all come alive I hope!(to me if no one else at this stage)

A sleepless night last night - consequently have dragged myself through the day and not gone to tango milonga in Holborn tonight as planned. Have a tutorial on my Chapter Four at City tomorrow and a full day dialogue workshop with Vicky Grut on Sunday. Have also emailed out synopsis and first four chapters to my guinea pig readres group of about 12 people( 4 from Forest writers the rest a mix of honest friends and family and assorted others who'll give me an honest opinion) - also to Vicky Grut's Novelist Club which Ive signed up for to help me with more workshopping opportunities.

H playing piano downstairs - soothing and lovely.We booked a hotel in Vienna - a smart Pension for our trip in september when we go there from Trieste and Verona.

Is any one reading this??


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Guineapig Readers...

a select group of ten have now been sent my final synopsis and first four chapters...and I am quietly sh''ing myself!

Research and Dialogue

Having had zero response from a south London based Kosovo Cahrity to my enquiry about research into Abanian Kosovar culture and language (for my back ground research for Almir) I tried UCL's SSEES an have found someone there who is willing to answer all my questions. Ive wriitten them done but before I email them accross to himI want to go over the list again. I will ask if I can chat to him on the phone also.

At the weekend, whilst walking along the deserted dark promonade at Aldeburgh after commig out of the cinema(we saw The Lovely Bones - which I enjoyed)I had two inspiration breakthouoghdson plot... but I'm keeping mum about them because if any one is reading this and the novel ever does get published it'll give the game away!


Research and Dialogue

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Colly wobbles !

... had a moment of despair over the weekend - when I looked at my first three chapters again (with the view to re editing) and thought - I'm crap! It was possibly because I have just finished reading a great novel " Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada - in this novel Fallada documents the resistance of two ordinary working class Beliners to the Hitler regime and their downfall and eventual show trial and execution. Its just my kind of read. Based on true events. Fallada gets incredibly close to his characters - I 'm so impressed by how close, that he achieves an emotional empathy second to nothing else I've read . Has any one else read it. The final few chapters are incredible in this respect - where the protagonists are awaiting their deaths/the show trial/ their execuition by gullotine.

We were at the Aldeburgh Book Festival - it's my ambition to be invited one day to take the platform in my own right there - its so seriously high brow! There was a very interesting session about the life and works of Richard Yates(Revolutionary Road) a woman who'd done her PhD on this subject.

Any one else get this Up and down feeling with their writing - especially when exposed to great works of literature? At times I think I am capable of writing something very good, at others I feel the task is so monumental I don’t see any end in site!


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A little further

I only had a little time(and energy, since didnt sleep well again last night - neither of us did!) so rather than do no writing I completed the final edit of my synopsis, to incorporate the final feed back from Emily. Tick!


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A few thoughts on exposure

It sounds as if ther’ll be more opportunities to work shop with Alison next term. Also, because I wanted to expose myself(ha,ha!)to a wider critique, I’ve set up what a call my” guinea pig readers “ - a small group of people comprised of local shop keepers(yes, really), a couple of friends – one gay ,one straight, my sister(she’s from Norfolk and they re all blunt and honest in their opinions up there), an aunt and a lady I got friendly with from a posh B and B we stayed in last year who’s part of a reading group (none of these people write but are self confessed avid readers) plus three people from my local regular writers group have agreed to read and comment on my first 4 chapters. I also am lucky to have round the corner another published writer – she’s agreed to look at it also, if I help her with her newly commissioned book with a teen gay protagonist.

Ive always found belonging to a writers group really useful. Mine can be a bit scarey – people can be are much more direct in their criticism than on our course but its useful. Also, though Ive set up my guinea pig readers specifically to test out reaction to my novel.

I am trying to find time to edit my first three Chapters in line with feedback from the City workshops. Also to send Alison my drafted Chapter Four which just neeads a little more work before sending oit. Then its synopsis and first four Chapters off to the gUinea Pig Readers !