The Curse of Writer’s Block

Hello everyone and welcome to a much delayed post! I do apologise for my absence. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues and I hope they’re all resolved. AT ANY RATE, said issues have been giving me a horrible case of writer’s block and it is with this post that I tell you what I did to fix it! Also share some fun things.

ORDER THE FIRST: http://tabletopaudio.com/

So. Reasons why this is great. One, it’s designed for D&D games. Two, it also works for PoT, which is what I’ve been trying to get my head around with the writer’s block.

ORDER THE SECOND: https://mynoise.net/

This site has been my go-to for quite some time now. It’s particularly good for doing scenes situated in craggy mountain passes, or like… monasteries and things.

ORDER THE THIRD: Self Care.

I had a friend point out to me how important it is to keep yourself in good check, even when you think you might be okay. I’ve been working a heck of a lot lately and my boss was most wonderful and thought I could do with five days off. I’ve been spending the time gaming and not doing very much, but I’d also forgotten that sometimes you just have to go outside for some fresh air, eat healthy, go do something wholesome. AND DRINK YOUR WATER. Tea is good and all but you can’t survive on it. Stress relief is also very important, particularly if your ordinary home environment isn’t as supportive as it could be. I like to try and meditate or go visit different parts of the city sometimes for this, and it really does help.

ORDER THE FOURTH: Expand Your Horizons!

So here you are, a writer, sitting with your laptop or your Alphasmart or your notepad, and you think to yourself that your writing might be getting a bit stale. ADVENTURE, MY FRIENDS! Go out, explore the world. It’s there for you to enjoy, so go do it. Lean something new. Pick up a book, visit a museum or go see a play. Sometimes your work can seem stale because you’ve been staring at it for too long, or because your surroundings are also stale and a bit crabby because when was the last time you vacuumed? Made that bed? Sorted that kitchen cupboard that’s been bugging you for weeks? Do the thing. Make the progress. Clear the cobwebs. WRITE.

So yeah. That’s my little spiel for the time being. I’ve also been tearing my way through a few books, which I might review as time goes on.

Do stay tuned, and good luck with your projects both great and small! Or like, anything in between. Do your thing.

-P

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Another day, another chapter..

Hello all!

Thought I’d give you an update on what’s happening since it’s been a while. I’ve been darting between a bunch of different books lately, including the Dune chronicles by Frank Herbert, The Road to Dune, Angus Konstam’s Blackbeard biography, a novelisation of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and other various books from the local library which have all been aiding me in writing Pirates of Time. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind in that regard, not to mention the nine secondhand books I picked up from the Lifeline Bookfest this past weekend. The teetering tower beside my bedside table has returned, except its now capped by my DnD figurines and my flower press. I’ve also been playing way too much Skyrim, but have had to give that a break due to a lack of health potions and a need of a new strategy.

Now that I’m well and truly back on the writing wagon, I find that my creative drive has changed somewhat. I’ve had to switch over writing programs from Microsoft Word to a handy little fullscreen program called Q10, which is great for writing without distractions and aiding with the short creative bursts I seem to favour these days. On top of that, inspiration has struck me square in the face once more and Pirates of Time is getting a sequel. Now, I know what you’re saying. I haven’t finished the first book. And I know, but I’m getting ever closer with each chapter and now that I can see the horizon it’s easy for me to finish my pantsing and really get into the nitty gritty of my planning. I’m one of those people who start out with a general plan, which is slowly built up over time and then cemented as I get closer to the end of the piece. It isn’t the most efficient way, but who said writing had to be efficient if it was meant to be creative?

The sequel is slowly in development. It still has no title. I do, however, know what I want it to be about. I’ve talked about it a little on my Facebook page, but no more details until then! Speaking of my page, I’ve recently decided to take up a nom-de-plum for the sake of my slightly hard to pronounce surname. I’ll see how that goes.

What are your thoughts on nom-de-plums and novel planning, everyone? Fill up that comments box, I love getting to read about your thoughts. Hopefully I’ll get up another book review soon it’s been too long.

Until next time and never stop reading!

AdmiralCarter.

Why do people write?

Hello there readers.

As I was working through some general knowledge information for my upcoming classical piano exam and scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post in one of my writing groups asking why people write, and for us to offer up our reasons. This is a curious question that I suppose everyone has asked at some point, whether or not said person is a writer. After thinking about the question for a few moments, I wrote down “to go where I can’t” and ended it there.

But, after the thread got more comments all ranging in their answers from the sarcastic to the profoundly deep, it really got me thinking. Why do people write? What’s the point in it? I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Before I could hold a pencil, I used to weave stories with my voice and my dreams. So for me, it’s always just been there. It’s only now that I’m actually working on something that I realise that part of it, for me at least, is driven by the need to explore. To let my imagination take flight and take me to places I literally cannot go. Whenever I work on Pirates of Time or any of my other pieces, I’m always struck by the need of my characters to move. To never be able to stay in one place for too long. Not only that, but the works are always set in some world that is not my own. Or, at least, one in the distant past.

For me, knowing this now is a very tangible thing. I’m a Type 1 diabetic, and as such my travel options are limited by regulations and international laws. The other piece to this puzzle is my younger self and her desire to one day become an astronaut and go to space, or become an archaeologist and explore the bowels of the planet. Of course I can’t do either of those things now, so I guess the answer to why I write is a yearning to travel. A yearning to see something new, to explore, and to possibly go somewhere nobody has gone before.

Practically speaking, people write for lots of reasons. To record their thoughts, keep track of money, make promises to one another, provide people with lists. Some of the earliest forms of writing – cuneiform – date back to 3000 BCE on clay tablets. Creative writing has a whole other background and purpose. Some people think they’re born to be writers. For others, its a career. Or an emotional outlet, a way to process their feelings and give them form and substance. George Orwell thinks its down to egotism and a desire to be talked about (http://thewritepractice.com/why-we-write/), more commonly known as fame. Others, like JK Rowling, wrote because she had an idea and she needed a way to both get money and to deal with emotional and financial pressure.

There are many reasons why people write then, I suppose. As writers then, we have to find our own purpose and stick to that. Use it to drive us through our darkest hours and to help us when our characters start revolting because we haven’t paid them enough attention *cough cough*.

But, more than that, we have to hold onto our dreams and pursue them until we have achieved, or we can pursue no more. We have to believe in ourselves, believe that we can do it, and keep going.

Don’t stop reading, or writing, dear readers. I’ll be back soon.

AdmiralCarter

Update: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Women as Writers Series

Hello everyone!

My apologies for being gone for so long. I’ve been caught up in some volunteering work recently and making progress on Pirates of Time, so my reading has had to take a back seat as a result. But never fear! I do have an update on my progress for you.

Pride and Prejudice took a little getting used to. It’s the first Austen book I’ve read, and reading her style was something of a surprise. The edition I have is part of a compendium with an introduction by Karen Joy Fowler, who makes a few interesting points about the enduring nature of Austen’s novels:

1. Her books are about women who are usually more interesting than her men

2. All of her books are structured around a plot of marriage

3. She tends to focus on the domestic lives of her characters; thus the magic of her work lies in the description and observation rather than its page-turning quality

4. Her presentation is genteel, her subject matter decorous, her prose lacks muscularity, and her plots move as deliberately as her sentences

5. She’s read by women.

Fowler also asserts that Austen’s work falls into the crossroads which many author strive to achieve: that of being respected in both popular culture and in academic culture. Her appeal as a female writer, who wrote for women, and about everyday life, comes not just from the unique, realistic approach she took to literature in the early 19th century, but also for the melodramatic undertones that most of her works contain. There are some examples of this in Pride and Prejudice itself, but I won’t give you any spoilers. Many critics, it seems, underestimated her over the years and assumed that her work was not fit for reading by a public who wanted morals and a solid, puritanical story for their young girls to read and take examples from. In later years, the opinion changed and Austen is now lauded amongst the likes of Shakespeare for her honest portrayal of life, where her focus is not on the woman in peril or the woman preparing for engagement, but on her friends, sisters, and lovers. It helps to provide a rounded perspective where other authors give little consideration, and aims to provide a sense of character development through the eyes of others. It reveals one of Austen’s central tenets, repeated throughout most of her work: that it’s not the person who changes, but the perceptions of those around them.

As for Pride and Prejudice, I’m currently about halfway to two-thirds of the way through it and there are a few things which have surprised me so far. First of all, the text in my edition has been taken from a much earlier edition. No original date is given, but a note at the beginning of the compendium states that the text has been ‘reset’ from the individual Penguin Classics volumes, which are edits from the first editions (Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, Emma in 1815, and two posthumous in 1817 (Northanger Abbey and  Persuasion)). I find that this is a unique element which allows the reader to immerse themselves into the work as if they were reading it a few years after it was initially written. Austen’s understandings of grammar, spelling, and punctuation have all been retained, and make for an interesting reading experience considering her style is so different from the accepted standard of 2015.

A second point I find particularly interesting is Austen’s use of chapter separation. She has not left the chapters to their own devices; instead she has split Pride and Prejudice up into three distinct ‘books’, which serve as different ‘acts’ in the plot per se. Though it’s not a commonly used device these days, it works. It lets the reader follow the work and not get confused with the various twists and turns within.

Here’s the part where I start talking about the bits that were mildly annoying. And, really, there isn’t much to say. The only thing I would put in this section, without second-guessing, is the fact that when I started reading Pride and Prejudice I was under the impression it was going to be a romance novel, of the likes of Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights. I was wrong on this point, and after an introduction to the world of Pride and Prejudice thanks to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube I found the book much easier to read.

Anywho. Time I sign off. I’ll finish reading the book soon, and give you my full opinions then.

In the meantime, don’t stop reading!

AdmiralCarter.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter; and Seymour, an Introduction. By JD Salinger.

It’s been quite some time since I picked up my last Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, but even so his work is still as enthralling and unique as it always was. Raise High the Roof Beam and  Seymour are two separate works which in some ways append each other. Raise High the Roof Beam is a tale of Seymour’s wedding, and Seymour is an elaboration on the man himself, told dutifully by his brother who is Salinger but goes by the name of Buddy Glass.

The two works themselves tell us not only a lot about Seymour, but also tell us about Salinger himself both as a child and as a forty-year old and self-professedly paunchy adult. It’s an interesting glimpse into his world, and although there’s not much to learn it does have a lot to say about the day-to-day struggles of life and handling a messy family. It speaks of reality, its ups and downs, and of fond memories recalled in middle age.

Its writing style is largely in the form of a recount. In my past reading of these kinds of novels, I’ve found the format to be clunky and sometimes hard to follow. As a reader, I was never drawn into the world of the book and I never had a chance to fully relate to the characters. It seems as if you’re watching another life through a telescope lens or perhaps a life lived inside of a snowglobe. You can never really picture it fully, you’re only given small parts. For me it’s not an ideal reading format, but that said its worth experiencing it once every so often just to keep your perspective on things.

One of the most interesting things I did gain from reading this was as exploration of Salinger’s time as a writer, and what he did to enhance his writing experience. This was garnered mostly from reading Seymour, and through interpreting what he wrote in a chronological order. As an autobiographical piece, Seymour does talk about the life of Salinger’s brother but in doing so he reveals some of his own habits. He writes as if writing a letter to the reader, in fits and spurts and when it pleases him most to do so. You see him avoid topics until he finally brings himself to put pen to paper, and then see the flash of words when he finally does. These periods often end in exhaustion, only to be carried on again the next day or in a few days’ time.

For me, as a writer, this was something I could relate to. Often when I do sit down and hash out a few pages or so it happens sporadically, there is no constant flow. But when the words flow, they flow, and I can only stop when I get to where I want to be. When I get it all out.

This book duo was a mixed bag for me. Though the content was good and had a distinctive American vibe to it much like Catcher in the Rye, I couldn’t relate to its content. That said, it’s an interesting foray into the mind of a writer and a good piece to read if you’re ever curious about Salinger’s personal life or his writing habits.

I know this one was short (the book was very short too), but never fear! I’ll be back soon with more reviews of Utopia by Thomas More, The Edge of the World by Kevin J Anderson, and two more Kindle reads. I’m currently reading my way through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the behest of a friend who basically said ‘GO READ IT NOW’, so I’ll keep you updated on that.

Also, for those of you who have been following my progress on Pirates of Time on any of my social media sites (links are on the new page I put up under ‘Connect With Me’), things are progressing well if a little haphazardly thanks to a nasty case of writer’s block over the Christmas period.

That’s all for now, and never stop reading!

AdmiralCarter

More social media links with tsu!

Hello again my wonderful readers!

I recently heard about this really fantastic social media platform called Tsu, which lets you post content and automatically monetise it. Not only does it allow you to increase your reach and build your readership/fan base, but you can also get money out of it! So I’ve gone ahead and created an account, which I will update regularly along with my other social media platforms on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and here. You can find me at https://www.tsu.co/AdmiralCarter, and I look forward to seeing you there! Spread the word, tell your friends, and I hope you all enjoy the journey as much as I will.

Never stop reading!

AdmiralCarter.

Novel!!

So I may have achieved the 50k for NaNo, but the show must go on! Head over to Facebook and give Pirates of Time’s page a like, have a browse around, and I’ll keep you up to date with everything you need to know! Love you all!

https://www.facebook.com/AdmiralCarter

Never stop reading!

AdmiralCarter.