29 Feb 2012

Poetry from Jesmond Arbour, world-class drunkard

Never let it be said that our Storyslingers writing prompts don't inspire moments of creative madness. This is a result of last Tuesday's meeting. The prompt was 'Scarecrow.'

The Scarecrow
by Jesmond Arbour

Bloody thing-
Stop looking at me!
I've only stopped for a second pee.
The third I shall save for Auntie Doris'
And maybe some more for the car park at Morrisons.
What's that man doing mummy? - a shrill voice cries
Oh god, how simple life would be
As a Scarecrow - like this one in front of me.
So in I climb, into the clothes that were, once tied with string around the frame now bare.
The hat with straw sits atop my bonce while the allotment owner shouts:
What the jolly fuck do you think you're doing, sir?

You can also watch the author himself reading this poem:

Mr Arbour (the author) wanted to add "Where did you get that?  I didn't write that.  You must be mad sir, this is the work of a deranged drunkard!"

Many thanks to Cobedy for providing the laughs! For more hilarious sketches, check out Cobedy's video channel here.

18 Feb 2012

Author Interview at Paperblanks Blog

It’s no secret I’m slightly obsessed with Paperblanks notebooks, as I’ve Tweeted and blogged about them before. I recently picked up two new notebooks, their stunning “Midnight Gold” and “Indigo Sky Mares,” and after mentioning my purchases on Twitter I got into a micro-conversation with the good people at Paperblanks, which lead to an opportunity to take part in their bi-monthly “Featured Artist” segment.

Before I link to the interview, I should point you to their various ranges of notebooks (both lined and blank), guest books, day planners, and address books of all shapes, sizes and designs. It’s so hard picking a favourite design, and I talk more in the interview about the ones I tend to favour, but there are a couple I’ve got my eye on for my next Paperblanks spree—their Japanese Lacquer Boxes collection and the Mucha collection. They’re both so elegant and beautiful!

You can read the interview, in which I ramble about notebooks, creativity, and inspiration here. (There is also a pic of me looking all thoughtful and authorish.)

And the rest of their Featured Artist interviews can be found here.

13 Feb 2012

Outlining Backwards

It's a totally different experience writing a novel compared to writing a short story. You have to get a special novel-head on to cope with the sheer magnitude of words and scenes, and to tie a longer plot together. Things are looser, in terms of how much you write, but sometimes that can work against you and you end up veering off your plot.

I was just thinking about how I'm writing my novel—or, more accurately, how I'm plotting my novel. Rather than work out a detailed outline before I began writing, like I did with the test-run novel I wrote in 2011, I let this one fly, with only the major plot points (my key milestones) in mind. Everything connecting those milestones unfolded as the story progressed. It's like carrying a torch along a night-road that has twists and turns: you can only see a restricted portion of the road ahead of you, and you can only reveal more of it by moving forwards. I've never written in this way before and it's been eye-opening and mind-boggling and an adrenaline rush of discovery so far.

My path is almost fully illuminated now, as I'm nearing the climax of the story and I know what needs to happen right at the end to round it off. And it's not until this point that I'm starting to write down my outline. Seems a bit of a backwards way to 'plan' a novel—planning it after the fact—but this method seems to be more about looking back at a map of the road recently walked, taking note of what I've uncovered along the way, and then considering which parts need to be shuffled around and which need to be discarded so it's the tightest, clearest, and most interesting route for readers.

I'm not entirely sure if this rumination has a definitive point to make, but I wanted to highlight it because it's one way of doing things. Like with most methods, it depends on the type of story you're telling, but don't ever worry about starting out without a clear outline in mind. Sometimes, a story will unfold on its own, and all you can do is write and have fun with it, and trust it to lead you to your goal.

And while we're all about writing processes, here are some links to other authors' blog posts on the subject:

Elizabeth Sogard – Outlining After You Write A Novel.

Paperback Writer – Novel Outlining 101.

Randy Ingermanson - The Snowflake Method.

2 Feb 2012

Short Story Published - "Death Car Alley"

One of my short stories has been published in Issue 27 of Jersey Devil Press, and you can read it online for free here: "Death Car Alley."

It's a dark, urban fantasy with hints of post-apocalypse and a dash of tongue-in-cheek. There's also a .pdf version of the entire issue available here, which I highly recommend checking out because then you'll be able to read all the stories from Issue 27.

I hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out our Stories page for other published works by Storyslingers members.