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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Nifty Fifty Blogfest

Anstice is hosting the Nifty-Fifty Blogfest at Impossible Dreams. I like numerically-themed writing prompts, but never considered any integer larger than 10.

(Apologies if I took the theme too literally.)

Pity the reputation of the number '50'.
It is a middle child, used to indicate the halfway, the median, and the demi. As every student and teacher knows, 50 is poised in this middling yet crucial position between success and failure. As every employee knows, 50 is not quite retirement age, and every senior citizen knows it is not yet the signpost to the land of the second childhood. 50 cents is only half a dollar or a mediocre rapper.
50 has a smaller sibling called 5, who has more esoteric and biological associations. There are 5 elements, 5 points to a star, and amphibians, reptiles and primates (including us) possess 5 fingers and toes.

But 50 refuses to be upstaged- it manifests in geography- (50 states in the USA), and two 50s in the same sentence, 'fifty-fifty' denotes equality.
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Wednesday, 23 February 2011


It is award season again (Grannys. Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscars...) and we look upon them with interest. Some of us may love the pomp, spectacle and glamour while dreaming of our time when we're recognised.

I've been shortlisted for a major national writing award. I went through the stages of surprise, excitement, bewilderment and disbelief (not in that order). Yes, I received my consolation prize, had photos taken and did interviews. Does it sound too self-effacing to say that its no big deal?

Because it really isn't. The best feeling I had out of the entire experience was submitting the story, knowing that it was a job well done.

Work for the sake of the work. Your time will come, along with those awards. But they aren't the be-all and end-all of your creative existence.
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Monday, 7 February 2011

Writing In Your Head

Sometimes we don't have pen and paper, or access to a computer and during those times we panic, as if our bright ideas are like pet goldfish brought back from a fair - w e have to put those ideas in their proper place or we fear losing them.

But consider Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He had no access to pen and paper for six years while interred in a Siberian prison camp and he was granted no priveliges.To have attempted to scrawl anything in secret would have resulted in more beatings and torture. Grim conditions for any human being, yet alone a writer.

What did he do? Dostoyevsky wrote in his head. He composed and memorised novels and essays. In 1857 he was allowed to publish some of his work while still serving his sentence and after his release he churned out novel after novel. You may know some of them: Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot....

There is no need for the prison camp treatment, but we are all in our individual wall-less prisons. Confined by day jobs, family and social obligations. No time for writing. You don't have to compose your magnum opus while on the bus every morning, but writing-in-the-head works very well for smaller tasks, such as opening lines, short stories and character sketches. Don't be scared of forgetting anything. I promise you that when an idea grabs you during one of these head-writing sessions, it will be all-consuming.
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