Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Balance - noun

1. stability of mind or body: lose one's balance
2. a state of being in balance
3. harmony in the parts of a whole

If you're like me you're not a full time authur writing your first book, in your study in your country mansion. Instead you're more likely to be holding down two jobs while dealing with the demands of a spouse and young child.

Trying to squeeze writing into my life has always presented a problem for me. Given that I work an 8 hour day, spend the best part of 3 hours commuting and ontop of that run my own business I don't have a lot of free time and what time I get I like to use to unwind. I also work most Saturdays with my business and so means I have one free day a week, Sunday and I spend that time with my wife and daughter, Chloƫ who is 2 at then end of next month.

As you can tell I never really had the time for writing and so I've had multiple stories slushing around unwritten in my head for many years.

That all changed recently when I decided to buy my wife a laptop (well I couldn't get it for myself could I?) what this does is gives me around 2 hours a day on the train while I commute to purely focus on writing and editing my book. I think this actually works, I've written 36,000 more words in the last few months than I had in the last five years.

I also think that as a writter you have to be honest with yourself if you can not or are unable to set aside time every day to work on your book then the chances are it'll never become the work that you want it to be.

I think at the moment I've just about got the balance right in my life but it'd be nice to have a few more hours in the day. So if someone could have a word with the person who runs the atomic clock I'd be grateful.



Monday, 8 June 2009

Word – noun

1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Being the fledgling author that I am I have an obvious interest in words. After all I have used over 41,000 of them so far and have the intention of using maybe three times that amount in my final manuscript. Because of this I am concious that I use the same words a lot when writing.

This is highlighted by a comparison with arguably the world's greatest writer - Shakespeare. In his complete works, Shakespeare used 31,534 different words! (Although he did coin a lot of them himself, which I think is verging on cheating.) It is also estimated that he knew over 66,000 words*.

I've not got a bad vocabulary when compared to my peers I took this test and knew 463 of the words listed:

What this highlights in my case is not necessarily an obvious lack of a sufficient vocabulary more a lack of actually being able to use those words in a written document and that takes practice and exercise.

To this end I have instigated several different tactics:

The first is to start playing Scrabble and Lexulous on Facebook. They are pretty much the same word game with which I suspect any reader of this blog will be familiar. The great thing about them is seeing some very strange words being used, on the negative side is the fact that there is no definition and no context to those words so I still have to use a dictionary to look them up.

Secondly I've signed up to at least two 'Word of the Day' emails just because you never know what they will send you. This may turn out to be completely fruitless after all am I ever going to use tergiversation in a book? Even my Firefox dictionary doesn't recognise it.

For the record it's a noun:

The act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous.
The act of abandoning a party or cause.

The third and probably most important step I have taken is to start reading again. Even books I have read before, I am going to re-read in the hope of picking something up. I'll probably even expand my reading horizons and steer away from my usual fantasy, sci-fi and thriller leanings.

If you have any ideas that you think might be useful please let me know.