WWW Wednesday September 5th

And it’s a Wednesday!
Throughout June and July I did a WWW Wednesday post every week, but I haven’t done one for about a month, now. However, as I’m finally getting properly settled into this new little house of mine, I’ve also finally gotten into the headspace for reading again, and figured I’d get back into posting WWWs again too!

As you can see from the background of these photos, all my reading (that’s not uni course related) is happening in one place. I’ve made myself a cosy, little reading nook. It’s a small-esque chair, nestled under the stairs. It’s got a lamp and a bookshelf right next to it, and my favourite Harry Potter-blanket, the only thing I brought with me from my flat in Winchester to this new uni home. I figured I’d put in a picture of my cosy nook at the end, but before that; let’s look at some books!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join. All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):
-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading:
Flight by Vanessa Harbour

I’ve been so excited for this book for so long! It’s written by Vanessa Harbour, a writer of wonderful children’s fiction and a “master storyteller”, as the praise on the back of the book says. All three years of my Creative writing BA, I was lucky enough to have her as my lecturer and in my third year, she helped me immensely (and was awfully patient with me and my rising stress levels) as my dissertation tutor. Vanessa always stressed how writers have to ask questions, and she sometimes used her own process of working on this book to set examples for us students. This helped us a lot, both as what she talked about and taught us was very helpful, but also because it felt like she was taking us seriously, as students, as writers and as people. Flight popped down in my mailbox today, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

Blurb:
If Jakob sneezed, he could die.
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stables, where they hide the precious Lipizzaner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they just get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory.
Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

What did you just finish reading?
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

I know I was gushing about this book in my last WWW post, and I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept of women having developed magic to deal with systematic oppression, and how that magic again was mistaken for a dangerous force that needed to be quenched, when in fact it is even more powerful when used for good. I also really enjoyed the world building, the maps and the different cities, all the talk of languages and the nuances in the different languages. However, I feel like this book could have benefited from a bit more editing. Some of the sentences were awkwardly worded and a lot of the world building came through in huge info dumps and unnatural pieces of conversation. The back describes it as a feminist fairytale, and though the inclusivity is wonderful (yay LGBT characters, strong female characters, disabled characters and people of colour in heroic roles), it also sometimes felt awfully forced. This is still a good book, though, and like I said, I loved the concept enough to want to read it again at some point.

Blurb:
Mia took the knife and held it high, silver moonlight glinting off the blade. She stared at herself in the reflection. A demon in oyster silk stared back. And yet, in spite of everything – even as she stood amidst the charred cinders of her life – she felt freer than she had in ages. Powerful.
Run, little rose. Run fast and free. 

What are you planning on reading next?
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

I don’t have any clever reasoning for wanting to read this book; I used to love the Disney adaption of it when I was a child, and I saw this in Waterstones, months ago, and just fell in love with the colours on the cover. Now I’m excited to see what the original story is actually like!

Blurb:
When Merlyn the magician comes to tutor Sir Ector’s sons, Kay and the Wart, schoolwork suddenly becomes much more fun. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy being turned into a fish, a badger, or a snake?
But Wart is destined for great things, and Merlyn’s magical teachings are only the beginning of his amazing future.

Okay, that was fun! Like I said; I’ve settled in now, which means more energy for reading, which means that hopefully, it won’t be a month until the next WWW Wednesday post! If you’ve done a WWW post this week, please leave it in the comments, I’d love to check it out! What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books?

As usual, have an absolutely brilliant day,
-Andrea

The M2 Musings Writing Challenge

I like to call myself a writer. I navigate my way through the world in stories and make up characters to people crossing the street, but lately I haven’t been writing at all. A fairytale wedding, the voyage to a new flat past a different fjord, the adventure of getting to know a new home. These are all stories that have gone unwritten. That’s okay, though, not everything has to be documented to be valid or worthwhile.

However, I do miss writing, and I do miss the small snapshots of my everyday that writing used to be, back when I used to write down everything that came to mind, keeping every idea for a possible assignment or could-be-short story. These thoughts, plus the fact that I just stumbled over the expression “micro poetry” the other day, has resulted in this new “series” I want to try out here on the blog; the M2 Musings.

The M2 is the bus I get to the uni every day, a 12 minute ride twice a day. 12 minutes isn’t really enough time to get a book out or to get anything done, so I figured this could be some scheduled writing time.

So, here’s the plan:

Everyday (Monday to friday), I’m going to try and write something, anything, about something on or outside the bus on my way to uni, leave it while I’m in lectures, and then edit it on the bus journey back. There are no rules for what it needs to be; micro poetry, stream-of-consciousness, a few lines of a short story. All it is is a kickstart to make myself write. These bus journeys give me about 24 minutes to spend on any of the “texts”, which won’t really leave any room for overthinking, you kind of just have to go.

So, what do you guys think? Is this a project you could be interested in following? Of course I won’t post these musings daily, that would be a bit much, but maybe I’ll pick a few that ended up okay, about once a week?

Like I said, there’s been way too little writing lately, and perhaps this could be a nice incentive to get back into it, again!

Have a wonderful day,

-Andrea

WWW Wednesday June 20

Thank you so much to everyone for how kind you were about the Bookshelf scavenger hunt! I’m so grateful that so many of you took the time to read it, and hopefully, it made you want to read some of the books!

On the topic of books, though; Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday!

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking On A World Of Words , and anyone can join. All you need to do is answer three simple questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading
Strange the dreamer by Laini Taylor


I can’t tell you how excited I was to get my hands on this book! Just the concept of a dream choosing its dreamer seems so fascinating to me, and it’s something I feel like I need to learn more about. I also read The daughter of Smoke and Bone years ago, and really like Taylor’s writing style. Only a 130 pages in or so but already hooked!

Blurb:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way aroundand Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

I just finished
Søster by Gro Dahle

About a hundred pages of Norwegian poetry about really wanting a sister. Dedicated to the bond between sisters; related sisters, book sisters, brothers who are sisters, or sisters who aren’t sisters at all. A rollercoaster of a book that I went from really enjoying to properly disliking as it turned angrier in the middle, to being in complete awe of the beautiful simplicity Dahle masterfully handles towards the end.

Blurb
En som vet om meg
som bare en søster vet om meg.
En som er i rommet
slik bare en søster kan være i rommet.
Et søsterhode.
En søsterrygg.
En søstervegg
å lene meg mot.

(Translation)
Someone who knows me
like only a sister knows me.
Someone who’s in the room
like only a sister can be in the room.
A sister head
A sister back
A sister wall
to lean against.

Next book on the list
On Love by Charles Bukowski

More poetry! So many people say that Bukowski is a must-read if you like poetry, which (clearly) I do. I’ve never read any of his work before, and I’m excited to see what it is about his voice that draws so many people to his poetry. This book is also another one of those I bought at an airport somewhere once and said “I’ll need something to read on the plane” while at the same time lugging along 4 books in my backpack. I like to be prepared.

Blurb:
In Our Love, we see Charles Bukowski reckoning with the complications of love and desire. Alternating between the tough and the tender, the romantic and the gritty. Bukowski exposes the myriad of faces of love in the poems collected here – its selfishness and its narcissism, its randomness, its mystery and its misery, and ultimately, its true joyfulness, endurance and redemptive power

So that was another week gone, and another WWW Wednesday done.
Last week I got to read so many people’s WWW posts and it felt almost like a little community. I loved it! So please please please, if you’ve done a WWW either now or in the past, drop me a link in the comments and I’d love to read it!

As always, have a nice day x
-Andrea

Currently listening to:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1152742552/playlist/2ePd46K3QMVYo9YqXuhJuu

WWW Wednesday: 6 June

WWW Wednesday is a weekly blog “series”, created and hosted by Taking on a World of Words. I heard about it through BookBoodle’s post and thought it could be a nice little weekly posting habit to get into, both to write about books I’m currently enjoying, but also to keep track of books I’ve gone through and want to get through in the next couple of months.

WWW

Everyone can join in, you just have to answer the Three Ws you’ve gotten through or are working in this week, and the Three Ws are;

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading
Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

A clever collection of free form poetry and black out poetry, presented as Side A and Side B of a cassette tape.

Blurb
:
Doesn’t have one.

I recently finished
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

A children’s tale with a bigger story to tell; about love, loss, unanswerable questions and the importance of letting people in.

Blurb:
“Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves without warning. For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas.”

Next book on the list
London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp

Picked this up on the airport on my way home (even though I was lugging around 2×23 kilos of luggage, and a significant portion of said luggage was books…) and I’m excited to give it a chance!

Blurb:
“Jack Rose begins his apprenticeship as a rent boy with Alfred Taylor in the 1890s, and discovers a life of pleasure and excess that leads him to new friendships, most notably with the soon-to-be-infamous Oscar Wilde. A century later, David tells his own tale of unashamed decadence while waiting to be released from prison, addressing his story to the lover who betrayed him. Where their paths cross, in the politically sensitive 1950s when gay men were the target of police and politicians alike, artist Colin tentatively explores his sexuality as he draws in preparation for his most ambitious painting yet, ‘London Triptych’.”

Okay, so this has been my first attempt at a WWW Wednesday post! I’m still trying to figure out how to properly format it, but we’ll get there.
Thanks for reading, and please leave anything you’re reading, anything you’ve read, book recommendations and chit chat + your WWW Wednesdays if you’ve written one, in the comments if you’d like!

-Andrea

How to Fit Your Word Count: Cutting Edition

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about doing a CW degree, is seeing my own and others’ attitude towards word counts change. In first year, a 1500 word essay seemed almost unmanageable but now 2500 words are never enough.

I’ve talked a lot about word counts on this blog lately, and here is my list for quickly cutting words to make sure your story can fit your set word count:

1. Are there any scenes you can remove?
Cut any scenes that don’t move the plot or develop your characters!
Of course, if you’re writing a book with a 100K words, you can afford to put in a page of pure location description, or have a couple of slow scenes that set the tone more than drive the plot. However, when you only have 2500 words to establish a plot, your backstory and characters, plus create an interesting story, scenes that don’t drive the plot are a luxury you can’t treat yourself to.

2. Can you shorten the beginnings of any scenes?
A bit like with poetry, it’s easy to make the beginning a bit wordy as you often think you need to explain concepts you don’t need to explain. Instead of wordy introductions to each scene, get right in on the action! This helps your pacing and gives you more words to play with for the exciting and intriguing parts.

3. Can you remove any characters?
Removing characters might mean removing whole stretches of dialogue or entire scenes, but if what’s conveyed in said dialogue or scene can be shown in a different scene, then this might drastically shorten your word count, making you able to put more story in there.

4. Give all your characters names!
This might seem like a stupid one, but one I figured out while writing my dissertation. As I was writing a piece of children’s fiction told from the perspective of a child, I decided to have the narrator call another character’s parents “Georgie’s mum” and “Georgie’s dad”, simply based on the fact that kids rarely think about parents having names at all. However, this meant that every time I mentioned these characters I had to spend two words on them, and by giving the parents their own one-word names, I was able to cut one word per mention, which actually turned out to be quite a few words in the end.

Note: I’m not saying to not do this ever, of course. It’s a fun way of talking about people in writing, but it’s important to think through whether it’s worth using up your word count for it.

5. Remove the “that”s!
Leave the “that”s where they’re grammatically correct, but don’t overuse them. This post/article actually explains it really well! Apparently the word “that” is so overused in writing, that four different lecturers felt the need to warn us about it in first year. I never remember to heed their advice while writing, but never forget it while editing either.

6. “Kill Your Darlings”
In writing situations, your “darlings” are scenes, ideas, sentences and description that you as the writer loves, but that might not do anything for the story. These darlings have often stayed with the piece from the first draft, and often end up fitting the story a little awkwardly, as they don’t change with the piece as it develops. This can lead to parts of your story reading a bit awkwardly, like you’re taking a break from the actual story to shoehorn in this beautiful, poetic sentence, that really doesn’t do much for the plot.
Getting rid of such “darlings” might be a team effort; you might need the help of someone who aren’t as attached to these phrases as yourself to clear them out.

Most of these tips are tailored to writing fiction, but some can also be transferred into non-fiction, copywriting and any type of writing, really. I hope this could be of some use to someone, if only as a reminder of something you already know!

Have a lovely day,
-Andrea

“In the Soles of Their Shoes”

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m still working on coming to terms with the fact that I’ve finished my BA. Part of this process, I’ve figured, is going back and looking at pieces I wrote in first and second year. Most writers hate looking back at earlier pieces, and I’m definitely no exception. All the sentences you’d cut, all the careless spelling mistakes, so much showing and not enough telling. However, it is interesting to see how far you’ve come, and it feels good to know that all the errors you find in your old work are things you know how to correct now; areas in which you’ve grown as a writer.

This short story (hidden under the Continue Reading bar) was one of the first short stories I ever wrote in a lecture, in a module called Creative Voice I. The task was to find an idea by looking at pictures, then head to the library to quickly research said idea and like this, come up with a story. I got a picture of Audrey Hepburn, the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s shot, and started looking at her past and her life during the war; how she and some other girls put on secret ballet rehearsals and shows unbeknownst to the German soldiers. It got the ball rolling for a story about children helping out the resistance during the second world war, and resulted in a 700 word story. Also, today I’ve edited it slightly and submitted this story to The Master’s Review‘s Flash Fiction competition.

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On the topic of growing as a writer, though, if I were to write this story now I would show more of the surroundings to properly set the time and place more clearly, and also make the character’s intentions and feelings more clear. I would also work more with the characters, as the reader doesn’t really get a clear feeling about how old the girls are or why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also, the change in mood from the girls skipping down the street to one of them suddenly sneaking into the abandoned shop feels very sudden. Other than that, I do like it.

Click the Continue Reading Button to read the piece, or click here to see some of my other pieces!

-Andrea

“In the soles of their shoes”

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