Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back to the Wordface

I'm just emerging from a long dark tunnel brought about by a week at Arvon and moving house at the same time. I've got my computer up and running, my printer connected and my favourite books out - though not yet on shelves - and have at least a rough outline prepared for what I'm meant to be doing, work-wise, over the next few weeks.

My Arvon course was for writers of teen fiction. (I've had a teen fantasy novel on the back burner for the past year or so.) I turned up at Lumb Bank tired, preoccupied with the house move, and not really in the mood to write. On the first day, I considered myself an experienced writer who only needed help with the structure of teen fiction. By the last day, I felt I'd be better employed as a plongeuse in a backstreet café, so greatly had my sense of ability as a novelist been shaken.

But all this is good. I now have a far stronger vision of where my story is going and, importantly, why it's headed in that direction.

I have also learnt a few stylistic tricks from the two tutors, Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman, which will stay with me forever in every type of writing I attempt. For a writer, even a published novelist and poet, it seems there's always something more to learn.

Before I moved house two weeks ago, I was absolutely intent on building up a portfolio of new poems towards my third collection. That work will continue - my third collection is scheduled for publication in 2008 - but with less immediate emphasis, as I put the bulk of my efforts into finishing this teen fantasy while the inspiration and desire to write is still inside me.

Thanks to the Arvon course, I have a solid synopsis prepared, and a strong story structure in place; now all I need is to sit down at the keyboard every day for the next few months and grow me a novel!


Bo said...

The teen fantasy sounds very exciting! I can't think of a more deserving person to be the next JKR...;)

Ms Baroque said...

Wow! Well done. I can't even imagine.

By the way, Malorie Blackman's regarded as little short of a deity in this house - Mlle B and her friend just exclaimed in massive teen jealousy when I told them about your course...

Jane Holland said...

Thanks, folks. Autographs later ...

I'm full of energy to write. But seem to be lacking the organisational skills. I still feel in limbo-land at the moment, surrounded by boxes I really don't have the will to unpack. And having the step-daughter from hell in the house (imagine me having to deal with Shirley Temple aged 11) is not helping. Give me a teenage goth-chick with piercings and an attitude any day. Blonde, empty-headed and manipulative is simply NOT my thang.

Malorie Blackman is ace. Very funny, very 'with it', very relaxed. She's also a MASSIVE Joss Whedon fan, as Steve and I am (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joss_Whedon), and that common ground takes some beating.

And she was very nice and didn't mention she'd noticed that my teen novel is a covert 'homage' to JW until I brought it up in conversation.



Anonymous said...

"Give me a teenage goth-chick with piercings and an attitude any day. Blonde, empty-headed and manipulative is simply NOT my thang."

Oh, me too! That's why, at work, I gravitate towards the 'challenging' yoof and not the nice ones in grammar schools that some of my colleagues work with.

Fortunately, my own daughter started wearing all black at age 8 and never looked back..

Jane Holland said...

Did I mention that Melvin Burgess was our mid-week reader? The women were all swooning over him like lovelorn teenagers, I've never seen such a strong group reaction. Perhaps because we were mostly women on that course and he was an Alpha male suddenly appearing on the scene?

I thought he read very well and is a charming man, but couldn't quite bring myself to swoon.


Anonymous said...

Lol, don't recall swooning, just going to bed early again. Though I think he writes well.


Jane Holland said...


Now I know who Anon is! Well, this Anon anyway.

But, isn't 'going to bed early' a covert form of swooning?