Thursday, 22 March 2007

Alex Thursday 22nd March

I was up early today. My daughter Bridie needed to be in school sharp as she is on the radio early (Radio Berkshire) then she'll be interviewing David Cameron for BBC School Report. I think it goes on the BBC Web Site after 4PM today.

Posted a string of prompts in "Daily Flashes" then copied these to the AK Blog and added some picture prompts, then I had to go back to BC to tell folks!

An Average Boot Camper


I was at a loose end and thought I'd walk into town, browse the bookshops and have a long leisurely lunch in Pierre Victoire's.
In an ordinary green field, in middle England, a cow.
After he had died—suddenly and very surprisingly as it turned out...
She has told you to run to daddy and you do.
I remember you talking about the trams, the way they were always full, the way they clanged.
It is Winter, lightless morning, here in the shallow city, soundless and shipwreck-grey,
The apartment is bare, the walls a cheap cream over stains
The ticket-collector is a darkie.
At the front of the bus, well two or three seats in front of me, my first wife was sitting
Running bootsteps crash-splatter past the open pub door
Oh, Beth, my lover, try to laugh.
Behind me the mountains, in front, the sea.
You must lie, it's what you do.
Drunk one night – the bar stank of cheap weed
Sarah has set off from her cottage, slightly downhill,
He stopped for coffee, amazed he could feel so empty
I am the Bastard William
Raining. My wife comes in from work
He began by trying to be nice, but this monster was eating class time.
When I was fourteen I was flying a yellow kite.

Then it was into Flash Poetry to post more stuff.

Here was the post:

I CHALLENGE Colin Upton, TomC, Lexie, Fleur

to produce a poem today (by midnight) or face the live writing forfeit! *

1 Write a poem inspired by one of the photos here:

2 Write a poem using at least two mathematical terms or verbs

3 Write something very angry

4 (I think this is impossible) write a meaningful limerick.

I'm on a bit of a creative splurge at the moment. BC was at a low ebb in February so I decided to kick some ass and set some (voluntary) targets. Mine were to write (in March) 16 Flashes, 4 Stories and to send out 31 subs. Right now I'm on 6 Flashes, 5 stories, 26 subs and 7 poems.

The Boot Campers are up to 104 subs for the month. I wanted 200, but 150 is going to be tough enough.

Creatively, I had a funny start to the day. I managed one poem I'm REALLY pleased with, a silly limerick (why is it that limericks can't be serious? A lesson in VOICE and RHYTHM?) and there's a second poem that's OK, will be OK I think.

I like writing poems early in the morning as they mean you've created something, moved off "zero" before breakfast. Now anything else is a bonus. After I've finished this I'm off to write a story, hopefully over 2K but I'm playing BBC Radio Berkshire in case my daughter comes on, so what sort of thing I'm going to write is anyone's guess.

Very pleased with the month so far. I CHOOSE to write a lot when I'm in-flow. There are arguments that quantity prevents quality. I find, in my case at least, the opposite is true. When I'm writing a lot I get better. I've written two stories this month that I think are good enough to win comps. The other work is OK, but let's face it, one "winning" story a month would be pretty good.

Rejections today. One from London Magazine, another from Prospect. I haven't been subbing to the US biggies recently (like a year) except Glimmer Train. I have to start again. When I was subbing there regularly I got some good feedback from The New Yorker and the now defunct "Story", got to the last 25 in a huge comp run by Glimmer Train and went within a whisker at The Paris Review and Atlantic Monthly, eventually getting into Atlantic Monthly Unbound as the inaugural story.

I get depressed about stories and markets. There's a level where smooth, slightly above par stories can do well, then there's a massive desert to cross to the big magazines, and very, very little in between.

Worse, as you improve, you can get "too good" (or too serious) for smaller comps and smaller magazines. That doesn't mean there aren't smaller magazines that will take "serious" work, but there are many magazines out there that seem to be filled to the brim with "comfortable" easy-to-read stories. That means a seriously ambitious short-story writer is going to start witthout hits, then s/he will improve and do very, very well, and then paradoxically, as s/he gets noticeably better she will find it HARDER to place material.

For some writers, there's a trap here. Should I soften my writing, cut it back, remove a layer and have a good chance of winning at X or Y or placing at Z? Some writers, IMO decide to stop where it's most comfortable and "rewarding".

It's not an easy decision.

Other writers, instead of suffering, move on to write novels instead!

Anyway, I have a story to write


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