Writing is Scary.

As I child I wished I could connect something to my head and beam my imagination onto paper. Unfortunately (fortunately!), there have been no such easy inventions.

Writing is a hard task. How many times have I sat there quivering in front of that imposing, white screen? How many times have I tried to sit down with a pen, trembling, shaking with both excitement and fear. But truly the question should be this: how many times have I written a beginning and then decided it was terrible, unworthy, and then deleted it?

Looking at a screen of words is always unsatisfactory. From a photographic perspective, small, semi-uniform shapes surrounded by empty space. Still a blank look. What of that fast, vivid imagination? The moving images, the dripping colour? Writers have only black ink and white paper.

I realise I must accept that I cannot ever fully transfer the precise and exact form of my novels in my mind to reality, and I must accept that in order to allow my stories to transcend that narrow space of my mind, to journey into bookshops, discussion forums and the minds of others.

Storybird Poem #1- Survival Fades

poetry 1.jpeg

Today I started experimenting with Storybird after reading about it on another writer’s blog.

I really like it, both in concept and in use. It’s a great way to procrastinate (spent an hour on it today…) but also to be inspired and to get creative. I especially loved the fact that it  allowed me to write poetry, which may sound strange, but hear me out, I am insensitive to poems and I am rarely able to appreciate them at heart. Using Storybird gave me a feel of how to write poetry, as well as making poetry enjoyable for me to read.

I like the format because you select a picture and they give you a random set of words, from which you construct a poem. This is great because it gives you words and ideas to play with but also restricts you, which is challenging. However, sometimes the word options can be objectionable (“LOL” or just the fact “am” is not there). Other times I find it hard to find the right picture, since you never know what kind of words you’ll get.

All-in-all, Storybird is a fantastic website and you should give it a go if you enjoy writing poetry or need inspiration. It also has options for picture books, but I haven’t tried those yet.

I’m very happy today, I’ve written several poems for my main literary project. I’m excited to upload them, although some of them may reveal a lot about the plot, so I’m not so sure about putting them online. Maybe I’ll use them for publicity when I actually get closer to publishing my books (haha, treachery).

Review: The Wall Jumper

Berlin before the fall of the Wall is a city divided, yet its ordinary residents find ways to live and survive on both sides. There is Robert, teller of barroom anecdotes over beer and vodka, adjusting to a new life in the west; Pommerer, trying to outwit the system in the east; the unnamed narrator, who ‘escapes’ back-and-forth to collect stories; his beguiling, exiled lover Lena; the three boys who defect to watch Hollywood films; and the man who leaps across the Wall again and again – simply because he cannot help himself.

All are, in their different ways, wall jumpers, trying to lose themselves but still trapped wherever they go. Ultimately, the walls inside their heads prove to be more powerful than any man-made barrier … (from Amazon)

Schneider’s The Wall Jumper is ultimately a novel about Berlin, divided Berlin. He is fastidious in his examination of the Berlin Wall, German identity and the relationship between the individual and the state. He makes great points, however, the book itself contains a main ‘plot’ (if you can call it that- very little happens and happens in a disjointed manner) punctuated and interrupted by stories of German individuals who attempt to surpass the wall.

My problem is with characterisation, style and plot. Schneider often ‘tells’ instead of ‘showing and the characters are not very realistic in their characterisation or depiction and they are more like caricatures. ‘. Although I understand that Schneider is trying to make a statement on how deeply a state influences someone’s character, his writing could have definitely been more subtle. It feels very in-your-face, and there is no rest from the topic of German identity. A relentless exploration. The poor characterisation is not helped by the lack of a gripping plot. Many of my friends struggled to finish reading the book and did not enjoy it.

On one hand, the cluttered nature of the text could be itself testament to the narrator’s ambiguity over the state of German identity and feelings of disorientation. On the other hand, it definitely could have been better written, even if still scattered everywhere structurally.

In short: a superb exploration of German life in a divided Berlin, a passable piece of work. The book is not dated, merely it could have been better written. It lacks subtlety. Good for people who like explicit writing and short stories. I think there were definitely gems in this book, even if it did not glow as a whole.

Review: A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. (from Goodreads)

A Visit from the Goon Squad explores the effects of time on innocence, youth and success through its large span of characters. The novel works like a carefully threaded set of short stories, each short story relating to one of the main characters (Bennie or Sasha) and utilises new and innovative forms of literature, such as using powerpoint slides and interview texts. I enjoyed the revolving perspectives and styles, an interesting way to get a story across, these techniques allow Egan reach her goal of exploring the effects of time in a short novel.

The novel was definitely a great and gripping read, however, I really like to get my hands dirty with characters and I felt sometimes this wasn’t possible in this novel as we only get glimpses of most characters.

I would have liked a more diverse range of characters. Almost all the characters were musicians or professors, a horny boy/man, conventionally sexually appealing women/men, etc. The whole cast is pretty fucking white middle class if you ask me. Furthermore, the topics of gender and sexuality is very there when Egan portrays relationships, but never really given its own discourse. Which is a pity.

In conclusion I would say it was an enjoyable read, but not a book I’d go back to time after time. I definitely think characters could have been better developed and more diverse in terms of personality and backgrounds. The characters feel like a blur, when really after reading a book you want to hold onto them and cherish them.