Sunday, 29 March 2009

How writing has evolved

Countless times, I have read advice from professional authors, agents and publishers about sticking to one POV in one scene, about keeping a straight enough narrative that the reader doesn't get confused.
Currently, I am reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It's considered a classic. It's wonderful story, no doubt about that, but for the writing style, it jumps from one person to another in a heart beat.
Mrs. Dalloway is not alone in this. Majority of what we consider all time classics, are written in pretty haphazard manner that an agent wouldn't touch today.
Is it a sign of evolving times? Or merely a sign that we - as readers - prefer less complicated things? Is that because we can't be bothered to spend effort on following a story with care? Or because we are incapable of it, going after instant gratifications and becoming less intelligence as a race?
These questions could be debated for a long while, and we still won't come to a conclusion. But the fact remains that the publishing industry has changed a lot since the days of Virginia Woolf. Perhaps, it's just as well - we don't see many writers - even the novice ones - living in squallid, dark rooms and starving these days. There is poetic value in that image, but I prefer my comfortable sofa with electricity, Internet, and DVD player.

Research over Writing

Some of you may remember a time when to do proper research, you would have had to spend hours in a library, searching through rows of books. If they were reference books, then you wouldn't have been allowed to take them home, so you would have to sit there, gathering as much information as possible, to make use of it later. As pleasurable as libraries are, it was pretty hard work.
Now, with the Internet, it's quite opposite. There is so much information available at our fingertips, that you look for "how to create characters" and you find thousands of sites, offering articles, exercises and god knows what else.
I sometimes start with an intention of doing a quick research. Just to look something up. More often than not, the site I am looking at, would have links taking me to other sites, and from there, I would end up on yet different sites. All of them offer such fascinating, interesting information, that I end up thinking, "Oh, I will just read this. It may come in useful."
And guess what? It may be useful, but definitely not very useful because while I stuff my head with all these information, I am not writing. Writing is the only way a writer's skill is honed. I am a keen seeker of knowledge, so I find it extremely hard to stop attaining new information. But then no one said road to becoming a published author was easy to travel.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Contributing Writer for Suite101

My first freelance work started in quite an unexpected manner. I didn't even know about writing for content sites a month ago, and now I am a Contributing Writer on Suite101 website.
It was a case of - found it, liked it, went for it, got accepted, and now getting comfortable.
It is an interesting process, writing for a website that I have personally used for years. I don't have fixed niche yet, and probably I never will. I enjoy the freedom to be able to write on whatever topic I want.
Just getting started - only 4 articles so far
Goal for 2009 - 51 articles at least

Friday, 27 March 2009

Writers Bureau

I believe in intuition. I believe in the power of instinct. I believe in signs.
Flipping through a year old magazine, during one of my irregular recycling sprees, I found an ad for Writers Bureau creative writing course. It looked appealing so I cut it out and place it...somewhere. The following day, while reading a newspaper online, I came across the same ad. That was the sign. Twice in two days, and instinct dictated I look into it.
So I looked up the details, searched through mazes of forums to find reviews. It's not a cheap course, so I wasn't willing to fork out the money without checking things out properly. I found mix reviews, but one thing was certain - most of the people who complained about the course, complained so because they lacked the discipline for self study. Those who kept at it, had mostly positive experiences.
My mind was made up. I signed up. I didn't expect to learn anything miraculously new from the material, because I believe most of the things they include in the modules could also be found on the Internet. But the value of the money lies in a tutor support. It is invaluable to have someone mark 20 assignments over time, correcting errors and pointing out weaknesses.
Also for someone like me, who prefers more structured approach, modules are handy. Even though information is not new, just the fact that they are structured in a particular order, gives me something particular to focus on, rather than reading things all over the place, jumping from one topic to another, which is almost easy to do in the jungle of Internet.
I received my materials on February 19th. So far I have completed first three assignments and had them marked and returned. Already working on assignment fourth. This is a home study course without deadlines or expiry dates, so I have read about people working on it for over seven years. There are others of course who finish it within a year or two. My goal is 10 months or less. I want to complete it before end of 2009.
Since I work full time and also have other writing interests, 10 months is going to be challenge but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be much fun.
So thus continues a writer's journey...