For Less than the Price of a Cup of Coffee

For Less than the Price of a Cup of Coffee.

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For Less than the Price of a Cup of Coffee

Cup of coffee and stories

For less than the price of a cup of coffee we take you to the furthest shores. We knock on your door and take you on an amazing journey. Are you the burglar we’re looking for to help with a troublesome dragon that has stolen our treasure? We will take you on epic journeys in enchanted forests. You will meet elves, fairies, the wild hunt. We will take you to mountains and run from mountain trolls and storm giants. We will fight against tyrants and evil kings. We will be the companions of peasant boys and girls with big dreams and even greater destinies. We will fight for justice and seek blades magical and named.

We will take you with us while we walk the night with velvet paws. We shall meet pale strangers who dance with beautiful ladies until sunrise, and handsome dark men who dislike the full moon. They roam New Orleans and their pasts are mysterious and dark, studded with tragedies and lost loves. Their cousins are much more unsavoury. They hide under our bed and steal our breaths as we sleep. They creep at night and consort with ghouls and witches. Some are good and some are bad. Some dance to the beat of exotic drums, worshiping dark gods which show themselves only when the stars are right.

We take you to the furthest corners of the galaxy. To dystopian futures here on earth where humans fight for the last scrap food or fight in huge arenas for the gratification of a placid population, or the edges of the universe where colonists have forgotten about earth. Where wars are waged in places so far away the troops take decades to get there, to wars with evil arachnoids and to desert planets where water is rare and precious and exotic spices are mined.

We take you to the deepest darkest jungles to rediscover lost cities filled with secrets that would shake mankind, ocean floors with shipwrecks carrying mysterious cargoes, and locked vaults that shady organizations want to keep hidden.

 We take you to peaceful villages where grisly crimes of vengeance have taken place, and unlikely detectives uncover the suspect’s motives like the layers of a cake. Where serial killers place their unfortunate victims and clever agents never rest until they catch them.

We take you with us in our worlds and we leave you there to be lost for days or even weeks. To meet the heroes and heroines and perhaps fall a little bit in love with them. To meet the dastardly villains and cheer at their demise. To be sad at the hero’s losses and nervously await to find out their fate. Will our heroes triumph? Will they perish? Turn the pages and find out. And if we do it right you will be thinking about the characters and places you have been for days after you have finished the book. Sometimes the heroes become your friend and never quite leave you.

And all this we do for less than the price of a cup of coffee. Next time you are wondering if you want to download a book for 2.99 ask yourself: Isn’t worth it?

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Durovernum Cantiacorum part III

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Cathedral Gate

Durovernum Cantiacorum as the Romans called it is a very ancient place. If you visit, which I strongly suggest ( for people in and out of the UK) this place has an amazing energy. A vibrant lovely aura which gives you a warm feel good sensation. (This is where I get an award from the city tourist board 😉 )

Canterbury is a very old place with many different people living here through the ages.  It has been inhabited since the Neolithic times. The first century AD the Romans arrived in Britain and completely redesigned the place. The built new streets in a grid, a theatre, a temple, a forum and public baths. The Romans conquered England but when they reached Scotland they took one look and thought their Empire is big enough (might also have something to do with the fierce Pict warriors covered in blue paint). The Romans built a wall to keep the Scots out also known as Hadrian’s wall, parts of which are still there today. During the summer people walk along it to exercise, sight see or walk their dogs.

On the 4th century the Romans left England and Durovernum Cantiacorum almost faded away. Anglo-Saxons settled there and renamed it Cantwaraburh meaning Kent’s People’s stronghold.

Canterbury was the first place where Christianity arrived in Britain.

In 595 Ad Pope Gregory chooses Augustine, the prior of a monastery in Rome, to lead an expedition to Britain, to Christianize the Anglo-Saxon pagan natives. Kent was chosen because King Æthelberht had married the Christian princess Bertha. In 597 AD the kingdom of Kent converted to Christianity. St. Augustine founded an Abby in Canterbury, the ruins of which can be still seen today, and became the first Archbishop of Britain.

More about Canterbury in our next post.

Again all photos in this post belong to me. If you like them and want to use them, please mention the blog. 🙂

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Canterbury Tales – Part II

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It has occurred to me that since I have been spending time in beautiful Canterbury that I should write a little about the town and its long history. So I thought I should do a few Canterbury feature posts with little pieces of history and photos, some of interesting places and details. If the photos are a bit shabby sorry, they’re all taken by me. If you would like to use them please mention the blog you took them from.

Canterbury is best known for its Cathedral, which is the seat of the Archbishop, and Canterbury Tales written by Chaucer which refers to the pilgrimage to Canterbury (but more on that later). The cobbles have been worn by the footsteps of pilgrims heading to the shrine of Thomas Becket.

But who was Thomas Becket?

The relationship between King Henry II and the Archbishop Thomas Becket was tempestuous at best. Thomas Becket had been Henry’s friend until he was appointed by the King as Archbishop of Canterbury. King Henry thought that if he appointed his friend as Archbishop, he would break the hold of the Pope in England. The was a big clash between the King and the Church (represented in England by the Archbishop of Canterbury) who would be in charge and who would be subordinate. Would the Church be subordinate to the King or the King to the Church?

They clashed numerous times, one significant issue was who would judge clerics who broke the law. The king thought that they should be subject to his law while the archbishop was adamant that they were men of the cloth and could only be judged by ecclesiastic law. During one particularly bad conflict the king exclaimed:

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Four knights heard and took it as a command to kill Becket. They rode to Canterbury, broke down the doors and cut down Thomas Becket. The archbishop was proclaimed a martyr. The king was sorry for the death of his friend and eventually did penance at the church of St. Dunstan at Canterbury. The Pope made Becket a saint. The cult of Saint Thomas grew and soon people from all over Britain came as a pilgrimage to Canterbury, to the shrine of Becket. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales, where pilgrims on the way to Canterbury exchange tales to pass the time.

More about Canterbury in my next post.

Also have a look:

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Canterbury Tales

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Sorry I haven’t blogged more recently but I have been down in Canterbury for my graduation and spending some great family time.

Last week was my graduation ceremony for my PhD. Ceremonies are important in realizing things. So are uniforms. Apart from making you look the part and merge into the part you are playing, they also define your identity. It’s why doctors wear their white coats and nurses their uniforms. Why soldiers outside the battlefield wear uniforms and not suits. When an actor puts his or her costume on, they become the part. Mr Smith suddenly becomes Othello, Mrs Doe becomes Juliet. It’s why brides wear their wedding dress. By putting that special dress on, a dress that is only reserved for this specific occasion, she becomes the bride.

It was similar for the graduation as well. The graduate puts on the black gown, the hood with the colors of their discipline. And the hat. For those receiving a PhD this is a different one from the one the other graduates have. It’s not square, its round. As I was walking down the street a lot of people asked me why my hat was different. I felt a tingling of pride. It’s because it’s a hat for PhD people.

This graduation was made extra special by the fact that I shared this graduation with my sister who has also just finished her PhD. It was the day of the Doctors! (Incidentally, it was on the fiftieth anniversary of Dr.Who, to the day!) We were at the first graduation which started at 10:30 am so we had to have an early start. We woke up early to get ready and were greeted with driving rain. We drove into town and had to collect the admission tickets for our guests and collect our graduation gowns.

The tickets were an hour late. And to get into the venue the guests had to queue so they would enter on a first come first served basis. The only flaw in the plan was that people had to wait outdoors in the pouring rain! For three quarters of an hour!

Canterbury is a small city (it’s only really called a city because it has the cathedral), and Kent University holds its graduation ceremonies at the cathedral, one of the oldest and most famous cathedrals in Britain, (re)built in the 9th century. It is a breathtaking structure, both to look at from the outside and to experience from the inside. It is absolutely amazing to be able to graduate in it. Other universities hold their graduations in their sports halls or find large rooms on campus.

It was amazing to enter the Cathedral and know that all this, the celebrations, the music, the people, are all there for you (and your sister, and, I guess, a few hundred fellow graduates!). It is the recognition of all the effort and hard work that you have done. And having your family there is priceless. Somehow it makes all the hours of life you have exchanged for this degree, all the effort you have put in, real and worthwhile.

Of course, the only time out of the whole week that I’ve been here that it was absolutely pouring with rain was the four hours of the graduation. Just enough so that in all the photos we took for posterity we would look like we swam there. Dr Shipwrecked if you don’t mind 😉

 

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5 Point Guide On How To Critique Without Being An Ass

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It has occurred to me that people have trouble critiquing other people’s work. In the past month I have witnessed a few different incidents with different outcomes. In my writing group one lady was worried because she had to critique other people’s writing as part of a course assignment. I gave a few pointers I thought may be helpful and was amazed to see people getting notebooks out and taking notes. I was quite surprised at what I thought was common sense, but it seems that nothing should be taken for granted.

Another fellow writer/blogger was (undeserving) harshly critiqued. These people gave their opinion like the judgement of God, forgetting that it’s just their opinion. Other people might like the story.

So, without further ado, here’s a 5 point guide on how to critique without being an ass…

 1. The critique should be aimed at the story, not the person.

 When reviewing a piece of work, remember that you should be reviewing the work not the person. Don’t pass judgement on the person or his/her writing abilities. Nobody is a born writer. We all have to learn and practice. Even there greatest literary geniuses were once novices.

Don’t: “John you are stupid.”

Don’t: “You must be a very young person”

Don’t: “This must be your first story”

Don’t: “Your story was stupid” either (see point no 3)

Try: “John, I felt that certain aspects of your story maybe improved. I think the following points …”

 Fellow writer, if you are subjected to people being negative or downright mean when talking about your work, just DON’T LISTEN to them.

 2. But why didn’t you like it?

People are allowed their opinion. Someone may not like a story or a piece of the story, or a character or whatever. It’s their prerogative. But, you shouldn’t just say that “this is crap”. Explain why you didn’t like it. Why did you think it was crap? What didn’t work for you?

Instead of: “This was a stupid vampire book”

Try: “I didn’t think Vlad was scary enough.”

Try: “I felt that the relationship between the two protagonists wasn’t convincing or strong enough to make Harker go all the way to Romania to save Mina.”

 3. All writing is subjective, don’t offer your opinion like the judgement of the Gods.

 In the words of my favorite American philosopher, “opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one” (Clint Eastwood). What you are saying is your opinion. Make sure that the other person understands that.

The quickest way to get someone’s back up is to speak like on authority on the subject. Especially if you’re not one. Unless you’re the editor buying the piece or a multi million dollar selling author, don’t make statements like:

Don’t: “The section with Frodo exploring the dark forest slowed the piece down, take it out!!”

Or

Don’t: “Darcy is a boring character. Lose him!”

Or

Don’t: “There is no way anyone will believe that one rebel fighter jet will blow up the Death Star.”

 4. Give your opinion and make it clear it is only your opinion.

OK, we should avoid statements of fact. How do I give my opinion?

Try: I think, I believe, I feel, or I felt, in my opinion, it didn’t work for me, maybe you would like to try…

Instead of: “Seriously???!!! He stole the idol by putting a sandbag on the altar?”

Try: “I found it hard to believe that …”

Instead of: “Darcy’s motives are unconvincing” or “Darcy’s motives are not explained.”

Try: “I felt that I didn’t understand Darcy’s motives, maybe you would like to make them clearer, perhaps by having him write a letter to Liz?”

5. Bad news sandwich

If you think there are some things that the author might want to re-think (see what I did there?) then write a “good – comments – good ” critique.

 Write the general impression (if it’s good), then a critique of the things you believe might benefit from revision, and finish with a positive conclusion.

 E.g. “I though that your story “Little Red Riding Hood” was overall a good story. I enjoyed the characters and the way they interacted. I also like how Red spends time with her grandmother..

 However I have some things that I wasn’t sure about. The scene in the forest didn’t work well for me. I thought that it took a long time for the action to unfold and it may have slowed the pace of the story down. I also felt that a little girl wouldn’t speak to a wolf she didn’t know.

I did like the way that the woodcutter saved the day. I enjoyed this dashing character and laughed at his humorous comments. I also believe that the last paragraph worked well in the context of the story. Well done on writing this story, and keep up the good work.”

A very detailed and excellent guide to critiquing by Andrew Burt can be found at

 http://www.critters.org/c/diplomacy.ht

http://www.critters.org/c/whathow.ht

 That’s all. Simple, really. Remember. This person has worked hard to write this story. While being honest, you should respect the time and effort the person put into the story.

As other people should respect the time and effort you put into your stories. There is no reason for meanness. No reason to dissuade anyone from being a writer. There’s enough space for all of us. Keep writing!! Keep up the good work!! :):)

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Remembrance Day or why can’t we all just get along?

Remembrance day

 

Today is a very special day in Britain. It’s Remembrance Sunday.

Remembrance Day is a memorial observed in the commonwealth countries since the end of world war one to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. I, along with others, honour their sacrifice. And reflect upon the tragic loss of life.

 

The armistice which signalled the end of WW1 started on 11 November (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month).

Why not at 12:01 am I hear you ask? Possibly to give the chance to a few more unfortunate souls to be shot before this great adventure was over.

 

Being a stranger you observe things that the natives are accustomed to. While visiting various picturesque villages all over Britain I have seen the memorials dedicated to the fallen of WW1. Every village has such a stele. With long lists of names. The exceptions are a handful of “Thankful Villages”. These are the villages that didn’t have any men killed in the war and were thankful for it.

 

How come it so often happened that many men died from the same village? In the beginning of the war in 1914 joining the army was voluntary. Young men rushed to volunteer to what they thought was a great adventure that would be over by Christmas. Or they were given incentives to join by the lords they rented their land and cottages from. These men were all put in battalions manned by people coming from the same villages or areas. When ordered to go over the top of the trenches to face machine gun fire or when shelled by artillery, it was more than likely that the battalion was wiped out, and with it a whole generation of young men from the same village were lost. Whole villages lost their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.

 

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded made it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.

The horrors of WW1 did not stop at getting a letter telling you that your loved one was dead. Many men who managed to return from the war were never again the same. The physical damage was evident, men with missing limbs or blind from gas attacks. The psychological damage was hidden. Help was not available, indeed it was unheard of. Men had to keep a stiff upper lip.

Troops suffering from what we now know as battle burn out or post traumatic stress disorder were court-marshaled and shot as cowards or deserters. Women belonging to “The order of the white feather” roamed the streets giving out white feathers symbolizing cowardice to any man they encountered who they thought should be fighting at the front (They themselves, of course, didn’t go anywhere near the fighting). This last phenomenon became such a problem that special badges were given to men who were performing home front duties.

 

How did this war begin? In the beginning of the 20th century, Europe was a complex web of alliances that hung in precarious balance. The shooting of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ignited a powder keg.

 

When the dust settled, four empires had been swept away. The Austro-Hungarian empire, the Russian empire, the Ottoman and the German empire. The peace terms were so harsh on defeated Germany that it sowed the seeds for WW2.

 

It is most interesting that people sort themselves into belonging to groups. They defend and support these groups. In sports when national teams are playing, people support their national team over the “opposite” team. Apart from betting, there is no personal gain in this victory. What is it that makes us choose one group over another? Why is it that, because we were born in one country, we have to support the policies of this country? Fight the wars that the politicians who run the country decided to inflict on us?

 

Does it go back to when we were apes? When we clung together in little clans that helped us stay safe with the strength of numbers? This instinct of survival stayed strong as it seemed to work. The little clans grew larger, turned into tribes and eventually into nations.

 

People still support their nation over others without actually thinking if the things they are supporting are actually morally right and, in certain cases in the 20th centaury, even remotely sane.

 

During the first Christmas of WW1, there was the Christmas Truce. A football match was played between the two sides. Instead of killing each other, the opponents were playing a game. At the end they shook hands and returned to the trenches. One can only wonder what would have happened if after that they refused to go back to war. The soldiers decided to pack it in and go back home to their families. The generals would be furious. They would order court martials and firing squads. But what if no one arrested anybody. If they all refused to follow the insane orders of going over trenches to be immediately blown to pieces? Power only comes if people are prepared to obey. What if no one obeyed any more? The only ones who gained from this war were the “Empire makers”, the generals and the industrialists who sold the weapons. What the soldiers were fighting for was who would run colonies, and exploit the natives in far away lands. How about letting the natives run their own countries and buying their products at fair prices? Oh the shock and horror at that!

 

In the Illiad, the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, each side chose a champion to fight. Whoever won would win the war. There’s a thought the next time two nations want to go to war. Instead of sending their armies to kill each other, the two head of states fight it out in a duel. I wonder how many wars would start then.

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Do Nasty Characters Reflect a Nasty Author?

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I realized that in my earlier post I never actually talked about the interesting conversation I had with my friend from my writing group.

She had written a piece which used “strong language” in certain parts. She was concerned that people who would read this story would make a judgement on her as a person for using that language.

What I said is pretty much what I feel. That it’s the character speaking.

She replied that some people might say that although it’s a character in a story, the words reflect who you, the author, are.

There are several interesting discussion points right there. I pointed out that usually writers are told to write about things they know. Most people have loved or hated in their life, gone through heartbreak and pain, then – hopefully – healed and got over it. Others may have dealt with different issues; aging parents, health problems, battling cancer, loss of loved ones. On another level, a lawyer may write a better courtroom drama (John Grisham), an underwater archaeologist may write a more insightful archaeological thriller (David Gibbins).

However, the bookshelves are filled with books about psychotic serial killers, murderers, rapists, racists, and all sorts of bad people. I would like to think that when Thomas Harris wrote about Hannibal Lecter, he didn’t have any intimate knowledge about eating livers with fava beans and Chianti. Thousands of writers have written murder mysteries, Agatha Christie being one of the first that springs to mind. I doubt that any of those had bumped anyone off, though you never know. I’m sure that George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) is a great guy but if you went by what he’s written in his books, you wouldn’t believe a word he’d say and give him a wide berth when you saw him. And I won’t even mention Stephen “Here’s Johnny” King.

Writers rely on research and insight on human behaviour. Why was the woman so jealous of her brother that she killed him? How did she do it? Was she ever caught? Some authors might focus more on the psychological side, others on the CSI side, the criminals, the police, or the relatives’ point of view. Some authors may have better knowledge of medical examinations or pathology, police procedure or criminal physiology. But at the end of the day it’s all made up. None of them killed anybody.

It’s the characters who do all these things. Bad and good. It does not reflect on the author. She’s not evil for writing about a serial killer neither is she a saint when writing about a feel good book with nuns. Some times you hear the author’s voice in the narrative and sometimes you don’t. But the character should be the driving force. What they say, or don’t say is important. A marine that realizes he’s out of bullets during a battle would swear. He’d say “F***!”.He wouldn’t say “Oh, Sugar.” If he did then that would tell us something very important about the character. It would work only if it was intentional. But if it wasn’t that would destroy the whole scene.

Imagine it the other way round. An elderly respectable padre. If he dropped a candlestick on his toes you would expect him to say “Sugar!!” And if he swore then that says something about the character as well.

My advice to my friend was to write what she wanted in the way she felt it was right. You can right a beautiful story about fairies playing with children in a gingerbread garden and there’ll still be someone who’s offended for some reason or another. So dear fellow writer write what you think is right for the story. And if someone gets offended they get offended. It’s they’re prerogative. As it is yours to write it.

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The Importance of The 28th October

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Today is an important day in Greece. It signifies the beginning of the Second World War for Greece. It is also important for me as a writer, as the novel I am writing is set in Athens during the war; the Greco-Italian conflict and the occupation of Greece by the Germans (and Italians and Bulgarians). In fact Greece was the only country to be occupied by three forces.

 

On 28th October 1940, in the early hours of the morning, the Greek prime minister, Ioannis Metaxas, received a visit from the Italian ambassador Grazzi delivering an ultimatum and demanding the occupation of Greek territory by Italian forces. Metaxas refused, and that refusal was summed up with the word “Oxi!” (“No!”), which was an inspiration for the people and the fighting troops, and is remembered to this day.

 

I don’t want this post to become a historical essay, although I could easily write one having done a lot of research on this period for my book. Greeks know about this day and we assume that people know what happened. Friends from other nationalities know what happened in their own countries. But, as I was researching for my book, a number of surprising things came out.

 

My non-Greek friends had little or no idea what happened in Greece during WW2. People didn’t know about the Greco-Italian war, the battle of Crete, and mostly people didn’t know anything about life during the occupation. For example most non-Greek people don’t know the Greek resistance. Or about the famine, especially the Great Famine of the winter of 1941- 1942. This is one of the reasons that I wanted to write a novel covering this period, to show what the war was like for the Greek people.

 

The other thing that amazed me was that the Greeks themselves either don’t know about certain things, or are slowly forgetting. There is a reason for this.

 

While the war ended and most countries went into a phase of rebuilding, Greece entered a period of bitter civil war. The effects rippled through the decades and, even after 70 years, opinions are still very strong about issues relating to the civil war. People on the losing side (the communist party) suffered decades of persecution (including long stints of exile in remote islands) and naturally were reluctant to talk about their part in the resistance or partisans. The above is a very brief and simplified summary of the events.

 

However, only now are elderly people coming forward with stories of their participation in the resistance. In enquiring of family members and friends about their memories from the period, or for the younger folk, if they remembered anything their grandparents may have said, some incredible things came out.

 

I found out about people on both sides of my family. One great aunt had gone to the mountains and fought as a partisan. My mother’s side was full of stories about resistance. A great uncle was arrested by the Gestapo and another was sent to Auschwitz (for his part in the resistance). Fortunately, he made it back. Millions of others didn’t.

 

I asked friends about their grandparents, and tales of fighting on the Albanian front, the hard return when the front collapsed (many had to walk hundreds of miles to return home), and brushes with death and hunger in every day life came to light.

 

I visited museums and places of historic memory. When I talked with the staff more tales emerged. People in their nineties came to visit and sometimes told stories associated with the site. One of the most potent stories was when I visited the war time site of the Athens Kommandature. http://www.korai4.gr/

 

The basement was used as a holding center where unfortunate persons were held before being sent to concentration camps, work camps, or being executed at the Kesariani shooting range. The walls are covered in graffiti scratched by prisoners using keys or anything they could find. Many protested their innocence. They had been rounded up from the trolleys to be used as hostages. Others write about freedom, and about hanging on. One particularly harrowing graffiti says: “24 hours without food or water. Only the smell of jasmine.’’

 

One of the staff I talked to said that an elderly gentleman had come to visit a while ago. He came out of the site very moved. He told the staff that he’d been held there as a boy of seventeen. He had never returned until now. It turned out it was he who had written the graffiti about the smell of jasmine. The gentleman had never talked about his experiences to anyone before. Even his wife of children didn’t know. But now he agreed to give an interview with his testimonial as a piece of history.

 

If your grandparents are still alive please ask them about the period. I would be very interested to hear the story. If anyone has a story of the period, again I would very much like to hear about it.

 

It is important that we remember. Not only because our history is important, but also in remembering the suffering of the past we are able to appreciate the peace and tolerance of the time. By remembering war, we can celebrate peace. War is a terrible thing. By remembering how terrible we should do our best to never let it happen again.

 

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The Loneliness Of A Long Story Writer

I had a very interesting conversation with one of my writing group members the other day. I go to a writing group, because I think it’s like a writing gym; it keeps your writing muscles in shape. When I’m writing a story I find I tend to focus intensely on everything concerning that story. At the moment I’m writing a historic novel, so I’m researching the period, thinking about the characters, and so on. But when I go to the writing group and do writing exercises, and chat to people, it allows me to get away for a moment from what I’m writing. For me it’s like looking too long at the same puzzle, and then taking a break to go away and look at something else for a little while. When you come back to the puzzle everything seems fresher, and things you were missing now jump out at you.

The other thing that writing group exercises have been known to do for me is to acquaint me better with the characters in my story; who they really are, what they are thinking, their motives for doing things, and how they change throughout the novel. There were a couple of exercises that got me thinking. Who is this person? Not just the basic character traits, but what kind of clothes and shoes would they wear? Do they get along with their family? What would they keep in a shoebox under their bed? Which photo would be framed in their living room? What’s in their handbag or their coat pocket? What would make them laugh? Cry? What is the secret from their past that they would never tell anybody? It doesn’t have to be a big, life-changing, earth-shattering thing. It could be that they wet their bed or that when they were eight they stole an apple from the neighbour’s tree. It might sound trivial when you’re in a hurry to get your story down, but I think it’s worth it in the long run, especially if you’re writing a novel length story. For a short story maybe you can give it a miss, but it’s always good to know your characters. I feel that having insights into their actions, why they do things, why they are how they are, gives an extra layer to the story.

Writing groups have other advantages too. It helps with meeting people, having nice conversations, being sociable in general and to not go cabin fever crazy in your little office. Writing is a lonely pursuit. In other professions you interact with other people, go to the office, see colleagues and clients, have a change of scenery. But the writer is destined to work alone. Even if you are a person who writes in coffee shops or your local library, you’re still effectively alone when you’re writing. I have been known to go to coffee shops to write, but I do the bulk of my writing at home. Not only because I like my little office. I have my rituals when writing. I like to drink from my super-sized mug of tea or coffee and listen to music. It helps me go into the “zone”. I’m more like a truck than a sports car. I take a while to go up all the gears to get to writing speed but I do get there. I’m sure other people have other things they like to do. I’d love to hear about it. What do you think helps you write? Do you have any little rituals before, during, or after writing? Do you prefer writing at home or somewhere else?

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