A life for a life – Part 1

This is a little experiment. Below is the first part of my short story (recently written). All I would like to know is whether you would like to continue to read it. A simple YES or NO will do and your contribution is much appreciated 🙂

“So you wouldn’t say that False Bay is any different to any other prison?” the Cape Town Independent reporter asked, twirling his pen in the gap where two of his bottom teeth were knocked out. “No. No different”, the warden replied. Warden Rodemeyer considered the man seated in front of him with disdain and tried to ignore the tattoo he saw hiding behind the reporter’s collar.

“But surely you can’t be serious Warden. I mean, the highest suicide rate in the country? And I don’t mean a few more than the others, we are talking large numbers here”, the reporter said, tapping his thumb against his thigh, “There have been speculations for years, you know that”. Paki “The Tooth Fairy” Lewis, as he had become known in certain secret circles, had waited months to secure this interview and now it was all going to shit. Fifteen years of journalistic experience was no match for the keeper of this prison.

“Yes. I know that. I run this prison well. I keep monsters away from Joe Public, monsters you would not want to burden yourself with my friend”, the warden replied, “and as you know, I am not guilty of anything. That has been proven”, he continued confidently.

Paki turned back as he exited the warden’s office, “Thank you for your time warden”, he said, leaving behind a smile which promised future investigation into the matter. He did not get anything out of the man. It might as well have been a press conference where, as usual, people ramble on in front of a microphone but nothing is ever really disclosed.

The warden securely unpacked his most prized possession, neatly placing it on his desk. He sat back in his fake leather chair, accustomed to the squeaking of its hinges, swallowed two painkillers with cheap whiskey and rubbed the residue from his mustache with thin, scrawny fingers. Fake leather and cheap booze didn’t bother him, as this was not a place for expensive material luxuries. This was a place for gut wrenching cries in the dark of night. For sweat and piss and a controlled level of malnutrition, he thought. After finishing his drink, he lit the first candle.

To be continued…..hopefully

Your hours, Your space, Your tools

Image: crazymags.com

An update on where I am with my novel.

So I need to complete my novel by writing 350 words every day, 5 days a week for 365 days. The novel needs to be complete as in, revised, edited and ready to approach agents with by 27 June 2014.

I am currently at 4209 words. At this stage I need to be at 5600 words (aarrgghhh). The competitive streak in me is starting to get uneasy, not to fear, I can make up those words over the weekend.

I know, time management and creativity don’t seem to fall into the same category. It would seem like torture because artists do not conform to the limitations that the clock brings. We don’t live and work in “normal people” hours and we certainly do not believe in forcing creativity. However, it is all about how we see things. If we see a time limit as a negative force then that’s exactly what it will be. We suddenly hate time, we feel pressure prowling around us and consequently we lose focus. If we see time as a tool and a friend then that is what it will become.

When I started writing I waited for an idea and as soon as it came I would start, but I found that writing in spurts like that actually halts the process. Every time I went back to my work I did not feel any momentum or involvement with my novel. It (and I) felt fragmented. We are a little too brainwashed by television and film and somehow think that a creative force has to hit you or you need to be on heroin before launching into that day’s work to produce any kind of genius result.

Writing is work, this we know, but if we have true and realistic goals we need to manage our time so that we effectively reach those goals. Do you actually want to finish this novel? Do you actually want to get an agent? Do you want something published and something you can be proud of? Or do you want your genius, hard earned work to gather dust and be filed in your brain under “stuff I never finished?”

What I am going to tell you, you might already know, then see it as a reminder. I am a beginner too and I hope this helps! The aim is to write every single day.

# 1:  Your hours

Everyone is different. Some people thrive at 4am in the morning, others turn into mass murderers. Don’t be a mass murderer, ever. It’s important to choose your writing time effectively. This obviously depends on whether you have a full time, part time or no job. I cannot tell you which time is best, but focus on a time of day where your energy levels are not low, you will not be disturbed and where you will get the most out of your writing. Then decide on how many hours you will spend writing. Try to stick to this time on a daily basis, change it if it doesn’t suit and of course mix it up to suit your schedule. This is just a basic guideline to say “I will write so many hours every day”. It is important to have a plan and stick t it.

# 2:  Your space

Right now I am sitting on a couch at the cinema (I suppose mothers sit here and wait for the young ones) writing this blog. I tried the coffee shop first, but somehow that specific coffee shop had me worried that someone might grab my laptop right off the table which meant I was constantly distracted (with fear of dodgy people). So, I didn’t plan to write here, but it’s working. From a personal point of view and being an actress I absolutely love being surrounded by anything film. It inspires me, so this works, for me. Where you write can be different every time, but I am going to assume that all of us have a regular spot, whether it be at your desk at home, on the couch or in the garden. Make sure your environment is helping your writing. You’ll know it when you feel it. Try out different spaces at first. I started in the dining room (which is also the living room and kitchen because we live in a small apartment) but realised that my bedroom works better (I think it’s the sound of the water feature outside our apartment building that has a calming effect).

#3:  Your tools

What? Yes, tools. I have my Word Menu with me at all times. For some it might be a dictionary. We don’t know it all and sometimes the internet takes a day off for maintenance. I also keep my notebook and a pen or pencil. Basic little things that really do make a difference. I keep my laptop, notebook and Word Menu in my backpack when I am writing away from home. Along with whatever I am reading at the moment in case I would like to take a break.

A couple of days ago I ordered Stephen King’s book ON WRITING and am looking forward to some tips from the man himself. I will try my best to condense it into blog form and share some of it with you when I’m done reading and wrecking my brain about how to apply all his advice (don’t we all).

Also, my next post will help you create multi-dimensional characters that readers will grow to love.

Write well and lets grow together x