Monday, 27 September 2010

The sin eater's story

I can't believe it's almost NaNoWriMo time again! For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to pen 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days - that's 1,667 words a day. The novel doesn't have to be complete at the end of the month, or even readable, but the idea is that you finish November with the first draft of something that you can edit and improve on, and that you'll have improved your writing by just doing it so much.

Fortunately, the Open University Creative Writing course doesn't have any assignments due in November - possibly because they expect many writers to take part in NaNo? This means that I'll be able to concentrate on my novelling for the month while using the techniques recommended on the course to hopefully improve my productivity, creativity and technique.

Of course, before I start I have to have an idea. I've been struggling for a few months trying to think of something interesting to write about for the challenge, and I think I might have finally found something. There was a story on the BBC website this week about the grave of the last sin eater in England being restored. His name was Richard Munslow and he lived in Ratlinghope, in Shropshire, fairly near to where I live. Not much is known about Richard, although he seems to have been something of an unusual example of a sin eater, so I started wondering about who he was.

As a result I think I'm going to write a fictitious version of his story based on the facts that we do know about him. I think this will be an interesting project because it will tie together local history, folklore and creative writing - all things I'm interested in.

As an aside the course starts next Monday, so I'll post up a preview of the course materiels and so on later this week.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Song Challenge Day 11

Day 11 – A song that reminds you of a certain event

Fleetwood Mac's The Chain is a classic for this. It's been used by the BBC for its Formula One coverage for years and years, and so it always reminds me of watching grands prix, especially the flyaway races where I'd have to get up really early in the morning to watch qualifying and the race live on TV.

This picture came up on the faithful Google search and it is, indeed, a chain. I've got no idea what I'll write about today. Perhaps a freewrite starting with this picture; perhaps something about a race; perhaps something based on one of my trips to a grand prix; or maybe aomething about getting up in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Newspaper blackout poetry

I really enjoy reading Austin Kleon's newspaper blackout poetry. In a nutshell, you take a newspaper article and cross out words you don't want until you're left with a poem.

These are my attempts at blackout poetry using an article from the New York Times (you can see the word 'blows' that I used in both). It's fun and challenging, and as a journalist I find it quite satisfying to know that the articles I write may have a future beyond their original purpose!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 10 & OU course

My OU course materiels arrived yesterday. Having a quick flick through the books it looks like it's going to be a very interesting course - more on that later when I've had chance to really have a read. The course starts on October 2...

On to today's song challenge - Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep

This song doesn't make me fall asleep, but it's on my playlist of songs that I play when I want some music to fall asleep to. It Looks Like Rain by Jann Arden is a beautiful bluesy type song with soft piano and relaxing vocals.

I'm not sure what I'm going to write about today, but I think I might just do a freewrite on the prompt of 'a singer in a club'. I can easily imagine this song being sung late at night in a club with dim lights and small tables. I'll see where that takes me and go from there.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 9

Day 9 – A song that makes you happy

This one's easy - I've been humming Fireflies by Owl City for the last few days and it's got such great lyrics that it always makes me smile. And who couldn't love 'Cause I get a thousand hugs / from ten thousand lightning bugs / as they try to teach me how to dance?

Today's story prompt? Getting taught to dance by a firefly seems like a fun thing to explore.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 8

Day 8 – Your favorite song

My favourite song at the moment is Shattered by Trading Yesterday. I found it while I was watching a Heroes clip on YouTube, and it was used as the soundtrack. It fitted beautifully with the video, and the lyrics create beautiful pictures, which are open to some very different interpretations depending on who is listening to them and what kind of mood they're in at the time.

Some of the lyrics I might use as a prompt are:
• 'Yesterday I died, tomorrow's bleeding. Fall into your sunlight.'
'And I've lost who I am and I can't understand why my heart is so broken, rejecting your love.'
• 'Let me go and I will run, I will not be silenced.'

Or alternately I could just indulge myself write a Heroes fanfic, perhaps based on Peter's opening lines in the video, which are some of the best lines in the whole series in my opinion...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 7

Day 7 – A song that you wish you could play

I love saxophone solos in songs, and one of my favourites is in George Michael's Careless Whisper. It's a beautiful song with a wonderful melody and touching lyrics, and then the saxophone comes in for its solo and it's just amazing. I don't play the saxophone, but if ever a song made me wish I did, it's this one, so that I could play the solo.

The lyrics talk about never dancing again, so I'm going to call the story I'm going to write from this 'Last Dance', and see where that takes me.

On a different note, my application to study the OU course in creative writing has been processed and I should get my course books at the end of next week. More on that when they arrive...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 6

Day 6 – A song that you used to love but now hate

I wouldn't say I hate this song, but The Flame by Cheap Trick used to be one of my favourites, but now I don't especially like it. There's nothing wrong with the song, but it brings back bad memories for me, so I don't like to listen to it any more... and I've lost the only tape I had it on, which doesn't help!

The writing prompt I'm going to take is from the lyrics, which mention fire, rain and lightning. I think I can come up with something along that theme without too much difficulty...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 5

Day 5 – A song that you know all the words to

Difficult one this, because I know the words to a lot of songs! In the end I've plumped for Ain't No Sunshine, as sung by Eva Cassidy.

To inspire me for the writing I did a Google search on the song title and it brought up this image from Flickr, so I'm going to do something about this girl. She looks like she could be waiting for someone...

In case anyone is wondering where the stories are... well, I'm polishing them as I write and then submitting them to Every Day Fiction. Unfortunately one of the rules of submission is that they aren't published anywhere else - including on blogs - and so I can't post them here. If they get accepted I'll post the links, if they don't I'll post the stories.