Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Editing

Now that I am back writing, I got to thinking about the whole writing process and how it impacts your life and more. When you write it is part and parcel of the process that your work is edited. This is to be expected but it seems that over the years this editing process has changed. Of course it takes many forms! You can self edit your work and if you choose to do this there are a number of  books to help you in the process (Self Editing by Renni Browne is an excellent example for the fiction writer), or you can be edited by others- which is most often the case with trade publishers. My experience of editors has been varied.

The best editors help you to write at your best while maintaining the integrity of your voice and creation.
The worst editors are so intent on their own voice and their vision that they make your writing worse than when you started. Needless to say, I prefer the former.

Editing is an art form. In fact, I look upon editing like walking on a tightrope: maintaining the correct balance is essential!



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back on track

After a rather extended hiatus from writing you will be glad to hear that I am once again up and at it again.

Of course, it is summer time and what better time to stay indoors and write?? Well, no- the heat is unbearable, the glass exacerbates it and on a sunny day, the last thing you might want to do is stay trapped behind a keyboard. However, when the muse hits you, you have to go with it.

That and a writing contract for some more educational writing forces me to do so! Yes, my summer is nicely mapped out in terms of writing a number of things, including updating old and writing new.

In addition to this, after a rather protracted absence some of my fiction work will be getting much needed attention so I may invest in a DO NOT DISTURB. WRITER AT WORK sign.  Yes, these do exist in many forms, it would seem! From the rather in your face roadwork type signs to the make your own handicraft or technologically advanced signs! Can you tell I am seriously considering getting one?

And as I am intending to write more now it is summer, I hope to update my rather neglected blog more often than I have done so recently.

So this will be me. Look at those fingers and hair go. Let's hope I set a world record in speed typing.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Awards

Today I thought I would share the news that a writer friend of mine and fellow Undiscovered Voices 2010 winner has been shortlisted for an award.

The Amazing Book Awards is an award which is supported by Sussex Coast Schools and Jane Benson McLoughlin has been shortlisted for the award for her book At Yellow Lake.

The shortlist I believe comes about as a result of student votes, and given that her book is a teen book, I think it is secondary students who vote. What a brilliant initiative which encourages young people to read and I am thrilled for Jane. Fingers crossed for her!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Never give up

With it being a new year and with us all getting a little older, I found the following talk by Diane Nyad hit a chord. She really is an inspiration - to think, at 64, she achieved her dream, one which people half her age could not have done. Amazing!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nelson Mandela: 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.'

The Autumn term is drawing to a close and the nights have grown dark, but with Christmas upon us and the holiday season on its way, there is plenty to be cheery about, I am told! 

As far as my writing goes, I am currently working on the last few details of a re-draft of Collins' set of Aiming For... books. The process for this has been quite long and drawn out, I assume for all involved. However, I imagine the hard work will eventually lead to a good outcome. Let's hope so.

I was heartened recently to meet someone with whom I worked on a separate project who commented very positively on these books and especially on some of the texts I had selected myself. The series is well reviewed on Amazon and evidently well received by teachers, so I guess we must be doing something right!

In the build up to the festive season and in the spirit of festive cheer, I decided to watch some comic video links sent to me by an Australian friend, one of which was of a comedian I hadn't come across before Aamer Rahman. Whilst I don't entirely agree with his take on everything, his 'reverse racism' joke was interesting. Google it if you like.

His comments led me to consider what exactly racism is. Is it being called names, the P or N word- an overt reference to race or religion or can it also be more subtle than this? Is it having to wait longer than others to get served at a bar or restaurant? Being unnecessarily criticised? Being graded or marked more stringently than others? Having access to an interview but having to jump through more hoops than others? Being given more work than others? Having fewer breaks and being paid less? Being reprimanded more often than others who do the same thing? Perhaps it shows itself in individuals being set up to fail or having obstacles placed in their path or in them being watched like a hawk? In essence is racism simply not being shown the same respect as others and being treated differently- through words or actions? 

Recent discussions in the news and in the social media recently about Hannah Barratt's exit from the X Factor and comments made to her on network sites have brought this topic to the fore. With terms like immigrant now taking on negative connotations, I do wonder just how inclusive a society we are and whether, 'When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.'  

While Rahman certainly covers some of the bases of racism, and hints at how it shows itself today, as with all comedy he draws on stereotypes. My experience is that racism can be far subtler than this. Racism is illegal after all, so those who choose to perpetrate it do so in ways which taken in isolation could be attributed to other reasons. It's only when looked at collectively that one might indeed find a pattern.

As a great reader and writer, I love the fact that Malorie Blackman, current children's laureate is an Afro Caribbean woman and someone who strongly advocates diversity, amongst other things, in children's writing, as seen in this interview

And in a week when we have seen the memorial for Nelson Mandela, I think it only apt to end on my third quotation from Nelson Mandela:

'No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.'  

Monday, October 28, 2013

School Explained

Over the past few months I have written quite a lot of material for a company called School Explained which aims to help parents understand school life.

It's aimed at parents of primary school children and offers useful advice and detailed information about subjects and skills covered in each year running from Nursery through to the end of Year 6.

The company website is now up and running and some of my articles are available to the public as is a cartoon image of me... which made me laugh. Not sure it resembles me all that much, but I may be wrong!

Here is a link to one of the publicly available pages with some of my written material (and the cartoon image).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness is one of only two writers to win the Carnegie Award twice. Having already read and liked The Knife of Never Letting Go, I decided to read A Monster Calls which is very different in so many ways, in subject matter, style and meaning. Its original idea came from novelist Siobhan Dowd who died in 2007 from cancer.

It tells the story of Conor whose mother is dying of cancer and of a monster who visits him. The symbolism in the book and some of the ideas resonated with me and I think would do with many who had lost people close to them. It really is a moving novel which is worth reading. I got through it in little over a day.

It was clearly written and had a fable like quality to it, with an interesting monster which I interpreted as a symbolic representation of Conor's own anger, the monster within him. Its relation to the yew tree was intriguing and I am sure that different readers will put different interpretations on what they read but for me, the story really was about the helplessness one feels in the face of mother nature, the hopelessness of grief, the irrationality of life: the fact that not all stories have a happy ending; the deserving do not always win and sometimes things do not make sense.

Anyone who has been humbled by life's adversities will appreciate this.