This post is by Nancy Jardine.
Having fun out of my writer’s chair.
Sometimes, I have just got to try something new. For a little thrill. To stir the white/grey/brown sludge that’s meant to be my brain. And let’s not forget to stir and stretch my real live muscles and tendons (some of those are getting a bit creaky and resistant until pushed), and my imaginative ones as well.
I recently went to a local writer’s group for the first time ever and was a dismal failure. The person leading the day gave a few prompt words- situation / basic plot/main character/ personal attribute of secondary character. The exercise was timed to around ten minutes. I set to and scribbled, quite happy that the words were flowing. I filled a Letter/A4 sized page in the time allotted, but when it came to read out to the group I had included none of the important prompt words.
Was the coffee shop mentioned? Nope. Was the computer virus a core part of the work? Err…only sort of. Was the daughter named or even written in properly with her naivety mentioned? Nope. Her relationship to her parent, the main protagonist? Er…nope. Basically I sucked at writing flash fiction…that is, without any editing at all.
Why? Because I was so keen to get on with it I had not really listened to the criteria, and to the purpose of the set piece. But in my favour, I had not attempted anything like it for years, and the excellent work that was read out around me by my fellow participant writers was honed through regular practise (they meet every week). With redrafts, that piece of writing could have improved. The words were there and I had written a basic story, but just not what was given as criteria.
That short foray made me realise that as a writer I need to broaden my horizons, and yet focus much better. Keep to the main aims in mind – although I think I will always be a writer of novels rather than short, or extremely short stories. It also brought home the value of redrafting and editing when there is something concrete to work on.
Another experience lately was much more physical and yet, in some ways, I can see a more successful writing outcome appearing from it. The time frame of an hours’ duration was much the same though the activity was vastly different.
Back to the needing and liking to try unusual sports and activities. My birthday is in March, and my daughters and sons-in-law decided I was a fantastic candidate for trying a ‘Segway’ experience. Since we’ve all had loads of other family and social events since March, last Saturday was the first opportunity for a few of us to try out ‘Segway’.
I had first seen the machines on the harbour front at Barcelona, Spain, many years ago and thought they looked like a fun thing to try. That was on the flat, and in some cases almost intermingling with traffic, so they didn’t go very fast but looked like a great way to move from A to B. Therefore, I knew roughly what ‘Segway’ machines looked like but had no idea of how they operated.
Helmet wearing is mandatory these days so, on arrival I picked out the best fit. That done, the instructor then told us how to operate. It’s all in the balance. Lean forward and it goes forward. Lean the whole body back and it goes in reverse. Turn handle to move left and right. Easy instructions which, this time around, I listened to very carefully. I was not going to miss those quirky character details!
Easy peasy! Off I went. The thing is the machines cost an arm and a leg and we were not on a flat Barcelona harbour boulevard. We were on a field with hills and bumps and even a small wood. The instructor set the upper speed limit and off we went, a nice snaking file following the master.
The wood had some dips and dells and steep slopes…oh heck! The way to slow the speed is to lean the whole body back. Try that when pelting down a literally 85 deg incline! (Not the one by the sand dunes which was still pretty tricky) Was I glad I had paid heed to the instructions given? Oh, yes.
That’s me giving a thumbs up to the fact that I’d survived the descent.
Once down the incline, the instructor increased our upper speed (he changed each individaul machine remotely) and off we followed him on a rutted track through the relatively flat woods. Brilliant! I loved it. Whizzing past the trees. Wind whistling through the hearing aid! Just fast enough to give a thrill but not enough to make me scared that I wasn’t in control – and I quite like speed.
I later realised that a certain member of my family hadn’t the same thrill having been out with work colleagues the evening before on a celebratory event. Hangovers and ‘Segway’ apparently don’t do very well!
Me, son-in law to daughter number 1, and daughter number 2.
Now, from that experience I can easily see me writing another of my contemporary fun romance mysteries- like Take Me Now – which transpired as a result of my family taking a trip in a seaplane, flying around the Scottish islands. (We love to experience fun things and I assure you save up all of our pennies for the pleasure!)
There is no moral to this story/post – it’s merely that I know I need to pay heed to instructions given (criteria), I need to consider and reshape what I write (draft and redraft). I need to sometimes go fast and at others go slowly (pace) and I need to add that ‘thrill’ (keep up the reader attention).
The slalom, fun-contest at the end of the Segway experience equates to the twists and turns an author needs to take to find a way in the mire of already published books, in order to gain success.
The biggest thrill of my new experiences – heed well and enjoy them to the full!
What motivates you to write happily, and keep to the task you, or someone else, has set you? I’d love to read any little tips you might have!
TAKE ME NOW a fun, sensuous, flight through a corporate mystery.
Nancy Jardine can be found at these places:
Amazon UK author page http://amzn.to/N6ye0z Amazon US author page http://amzn.to/RJZzZz
http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG Twitter @nansjar http://about.me/nancyjardine
Have a fun weekend- everyone!
- Purchasing Your First Segways (greatsegway.wordpress.com)
- My First Segway Tour (turquoisecompass.wordpress.com)