Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

And she’s off

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This morning I wrote 1000 words of a new short story. The incentive is a competition with a deadline of 13th February 2017. There is no theme and no chance of me winning. However, I am still committed to writing upto 2000 words and sending them off. Procrastination is my greatest problem, ideas float around in my head and there is always some reason, usually something inconsequential like housework, that prevents me writing. In this instance I had a vague idea on Monday, scribbled on some paper on Tuesday, and sat at my laptop this morning turning those two initial paragraphs into my character’s background. I haven’t quite worked out how sinister she is, or whether she is at all. The story hasn’t ended, there are two deaths and a visit to A&E to describe, so with only 1000 words left, I suspect the story will grow quite a bit before I do some much needed paring. But the point is, I have started and could be halfway through. More importantly, I didn’t want to stop writing, but also didn’t want to run out of words or get to a point where I couldn’t see which way to go, got bored, or didn’t like the character any more. Instead, I noted down some possible plot developments that I can pick up when I go back to it.

I am not someone who can carry too much at a time. I take on too many tasks, spread myself too thinly, and end up getting nothing done, so while there is a list of things I want to get done, I am starting small. As well as the competition story, I want to write one inspired by a friend’s print. Many moons ago a visual artist friend, Janice Hume, and I decided to collaborate on a joint project – I’d give her some stories to illustrate; she’d give me some pictures to write stories about. We both made the exchange, and I worked up a story to one of her pictures, although I wasn’t happy with it. At the moment I am working on the picture below and have two character names – Elena and Pavel – and a comment about it always raining in the UK, and that’s it, but I know it’s going somewhere. There is something about the angle of the shoulders, or the way the men are sitting, that tells me there is a story here waiting to be written. The other things on the list can wait until these two pieces are done and dusted, or at least have each reached their fourth drafts.

men-waiting

Copyright Janice Hume

Written by Sarah Ann

January 12, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Easing myself back in … badly.

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So far the resumed writing lark isn’t going terribly well.

I had thought that Tweeting some daily haiku might be a good way to get the brain back into the writing groove. Haiku are easy to remember when the creative muse strikes at bedtime. I have written reams of words in my head when unable to sleep, only to have forgotten most of them the next morning. And I can’t always be scribbling with the light on while hubby tries to sleep. However, it’s been so long, that I’ve realised I’ve forgotten the syllable breakdown. It’s not 7-5-7 but 5-7-5, and my haiku of this week weren’t.

Must try harder. Must do better.

Written by Sarah Ann

January 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm

New Year, New Me? Probably not.

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After a year of no writing or blogging, my head seems to have made room for both. I have changed jobs, from one where I looked at documents and computer screens all day long and all but gave up reading for pleasure, to one where I see families for short periods and writing is limited to an hour-long report per visit. This work is also part-time, giving me space to do some much needed decorating, practise piano, learn to crochet properly – something I promised my husband’s aunt I’d do 18-months ago – and get back to reading.

There is something else spurring me to write again. One of the women I met two years ago on a writing course has got herself an agent. True, her writing is very different from mine, more on-trend and much tighter, and she got an agent through someone who knows her husband, but I am an eternal optimist/ eternally deluded. If she can do it, so can I. And so, over the next weeks and months, I will be reading across my bookshelves to get my head back into the groove, and hope, in time, to get on with editing my own work. I re-commenced reading on New Year’s Eve with Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, a birthday present from a few years back, and was blown away by page two by her detailed and fluid descriptions. Her prose is nothing I can ever emulate and, if I weren’t so deluded, might have sent me straight back under my writing-free stone.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

January 2, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I’m useless

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Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but I’m not finding it easy to juggle full-time work with writing.

There’s not much writing going on, but quite a bit of reading about writing on the train to work, and there’s been no blogging, as you’ll have noticed.

Instead of flogging myself and worrying about not keeping up, I’ve decided to not try for a while.

Hopefully I’ll return in 2016 refreshed and with a little more time.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

December 13, 2015 at 8:16 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 13/11/15 – Graveyard Reveries

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking here.

 

I’m not confident writing or critiquing humour so am putting this up and hoping for guidance.

 

JHC5

PHOTO PROMPT – © J Hardy Carroll

 

 

Graveyard Reveries

(Genre: humour; 100-words)

It’s getting ridiculous. You give an inch and they take a mile. I’m not kidding. Once we were surrounded by nature and watched the seasons change. Now we’re crammed in liked sardines and the view’s as stimulating.

The last building’s foundations almost took my toes; Lottie lost an arm. Pity it wasn’t her head the way she goes on.

There’s not much peace and quiet in this garden of rest, for residents or visitors. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re concreted over soon in the name of progress. Or dug up. Who knows who we’ll mix with in an ossuary.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers

Written by Sarah Ann

November 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 6/11/15 – Moving On

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking here.

There is also a new subgroup for those wanting to receive constructive criticism. More info here.

_____

Returning to full-time work has not been the success I’d hoped for in improving my time management and I’ve been lax with my reading, writing and commenting. Life does seem to have calmed down and I hope to be able to participate in Friday Fictioneers more regularly than of late, but then I’ve said that before.

 

PHOTO PROMPT - © Connie Gayer (Mrs. Russell)

PHOTO PROMPT – © Connie Gayer …(Mrs. Russell)

 

Moving On

(Genre: general fiction; 100-words)

There is nothing to keep her. The diggers have turned the earth. Sandstone ridges lie where the house once stood. The sparks of argument and fires of rage can burn no more.

Death brings quiet, not peace. Her father is murdered, the culprit – a poor employee driven to his wit’s end – imprisoned. To everyone around her, it’s over.

Isabella accepts the tired smiles of neighbours, the pats of their hand on hers, but wears a façade of resolution. The abused child died with her father. The woman who will be looks for another town, different people, to shape her anew.

 

Friday Fictioneers

Written by Sarah Ann

November 6, 2015 at 6:08 pm

What to do?

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If you’ve been reading my posts over the last few weeks you’ll know I had a writing wobble over the summer. Life intervened to stop me writing and I didn’t fight against it. I went with the flow, and I didn’t miss it. By the end of the summer I was wondering, is writing really what I want to do? I find it difficult writing in a vacuum without feedback, so I started to think about courses and also attended a literary festival.

The literary festival was held mid-September at City Lit in London. It was small – it’s only in its second year – and focussed on Irish writers and writing. Poets and prose writers gave readings prior to brief question and answer sessions. I enjoyed the readings, and the poetry made so much more sense in the voice and with the inflection of its author, but the Q&As were most interesting. For me, I love to hear about process, the how and why, nuts and bolts of writing. And that’s what the Q&As gave to the audience. Once again I learnt that published, internationally recognised authors do things the same way the rest of us – some see pictures, some hear voices; setting can drive a story or develop from it. As with David Armstrong’s How Not to Write Fiction it was encouraging, even if it does raise the question, why not me?

What is it I am searching for? Feedback and how to get it. I am isolated on the writing group front – there aren’t any locally. There was one, but it’s defunct (its Facebook page hasn’t been updated for 18-months) so I thought about education – get on a course, speak to fellow students, receive feedback and constructive criticism from tutors. Again, there is nothing local, and I’d forgotten how expensive study has become. Still, at the end of September I attended Oxford University’s continuing education open-day to learn about their Master of Studies in Creative Writing. It sounded perfect, with residentials four weekends a year to fit around full-time work, to which I have just returned after a break of over ten years. But as it costs more than I’ll earn in the next two years, it is prohibitively expensive.

I need part-time, I need local. I feel distance learning won’t provide the input I desire and so I’m a little stuck on how to proceed. However, in the meantime I have undertaken to do the University of Iowa’s How Writers Write Fiction MOOC at novoed.com to see if I can fit in online study with work. The suggested reading so far has been really interesting, the writing exercises thought-provoking and taxing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up, but at least the learning resources will still be there on if I fall behind, and I am enjoying the challenge.

Written by Sarah Ann

October 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm

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