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A-Z challenge: L is for Library

I always wanted to have a proper library: a whole room in the house dedicated to books and reading. All the walls would be fully shelved and there would be one of those ladder things that wheels around the shelves. It would have a chaise longue or day bed for reading in the most comfort.
There would be a roaring fireplace, probably gas because I can’t be doing with the bother of a real fire, nice as they are. And of course, I would have acres of free time which I could spend lying around in my library reading all the lovely books.
I find it soothing to be in libraries, just in the presence of books. It’s restful and serene and the rest of the world melts away. Bookshops work as well, but then you feel obliged to buy something and that’s how book mountain grows.

A-Z blogging challenge: J is for Job

Have to have a job to pay the bills, but it’s far away and I spend three hours a day commuting. J is for Job in the sense that I don’t get paid for writing and I like to have nice stuff.

But there’s also an element in which having a job meets some emotional needs that writing doesn’t. A couple of years ago I gave up my day job to focus on writing for a little while. It was amazing and fulfilling and as soon as I get the chance, I’ll do it again. However, when I went back to work I realised there had been something I’d missed. A job offers the opportunity to see the results of your labours quickly; it offers tangible results clearly linked to specific actions. The pay-off on a writing project takes a lot longer and sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of your gains.

A-Z blogging challenge: I is for Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. In the right mood I can be inspired by everything around me, yet at other times I am stuck for ideas. That suggests that inspiration isn’t something external to me, rather a state of mind in which I am able to generate ideas from the input available to me. The input may be the same at any given moment, but the ability to do something with it rests within me.
The Collins English Dictionary has the definition as ‘stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity’.
Other definitions tend to run to the circular – inspiration is the state of being inspired. Umm, ok.
Anyway, the question I want to ask is not what inspires you, but how do you become receptive to inspiration? Is there always a time or place when you can be inspired? Do you have a ritual involving particular pieces of music, or particular activities? Is it a person or people displaying certain characteristics?
Meditation can work for me, but not necessarily all the time. If I’m honest, I don’t have a great handle on what triggers a state of mind in which I can draw inspiration from the world around me. Maybe if I worked out what was happening at the times when I am inspired, then I could be inspired more often. And perhaps more importantly, I could be open to inspiration at will. I think enthusiasm and passion may play a part. Yay, a project! Would love to hear your thoughts on inspiration.

A-Z blogging challenge: H is for Help

I’ve been stuck on H for ages. When I originally made my list, I thought I might talk about health, about whether your health is good, bad or variable and what impact that has on your writing. But the more I thought about the content of the post, the more it felt like whining. So, I abandoned that idea and looked for another H word. Turned out to be a bit of a struggle. Heroes? Happiness? Hump? Hurdles? Meh.

And then, help. Help, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to blog about. I don’t know how to make what I want to say sound interesting. What do you do when you need help?

When I get stuck in my writing, I have a few places to turn to for help. The first is my extensive collection of books on how to write. Which can always be supplemented by buying more books. This is particularly useful when I know what I need to do, I just don’t know how to go about it.

Or I can turn to either of the writing groups I’m involved in. I can get lots of different perspectives on the problem, which helps open up potential solutions. Most useful when I don’t think I’ve fully got to grips with what the problem is and I need help seeing it from other angles.

And of course, there’s always the interwebs. Opinions and advice galore! It takes time to filter it and you often have to wade through a load of shit in order to get to what you need, but on the plus side, I’m quite likely to find myself going off a tangent and finding something new. I love following internet trails to find out where they go.

Where do you go for writing help?

A-Z blogging challenge: G is for Grammar

I love grammar. I’m a grammar nerd. And I believe great writing requires a deep understanding of the fashions of grammar.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling are the tools we use to convey subtle meaning to the reader. Even if the reader doesn’t know enough about grammar to truly appreciate how we’ve done it, they will respond to what we’ve done. The word grammar derives, via Old French and Latin, from the Greek grammatike tekhne meaning ‘art of letters’. It is an art – you’ll notice I said fashions of grammar rather than rules. Grammar is what the majority agree is an understandable way to structure language. It is how we order words so that we can communicate.

The ‘rules’ change, sometimes slowly and sometimes quite fast. What you were taught at school may or may not be correct and I guaruntee that, unless you did linguistics at university level, it avoided the glorious complexity of language structure. Grammar in written English is different to grammar in spoken English. Lolspeak becoming a language of its own which is incredibly exciting. The writer who gets what grammar does and how to use it in both expected and unexpected ways has the power to use her words to maximum effect.

An excellent resource for improving your grammar is the Daily Grammar Lessons blog. The other is reading a lot.

A-Z blogging challenge: F is for Fortitude

According to Dictionary.com, fortitude means:

mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously

Fortitude is something that writers need. Writing can be hard and very often it forces us to face our inner truths and demons.

Weirdly, an image search for fortitude mainly returned pictures of trainers so I made my own. First, there’s the demotivational poster, just a reminder that taking things too seriously can be counter-productive.

And then there’s the seious one.

The artist who created the second picture (which is amazing) is Gild-a-Lily on DeviantArt, but I can’t find a link.