09 June, 2011

Oranges, Storytelling and Reading

So, I see that the Orange Prize for fiction was awarded last night to the youngest ever winner. Well done Tea Obreht. And of course I'm totally not jealous in any way. Obviously. I mean, I still have some months before I'm her age (25) - plenty of time to become a celebrated writer, right?

This week I have come to something of a writing standstill. I did manage to finish my first assignment and have got within a couple of exercises of the end of my shorthand workbook, so that's something at least. Actually, shorthand is having an interesting effect on me - it's making my longhand terrible! My handwriting is getting worse and I find I really resent having to write long words out in full when there is a easy Teeline outline. Work on my short story though has stalled. Partly, this is because I found out that I didn't get anywhere in the Exeter Writer's competition. This in itself wouldn't deter me - I don't get anywhere in a lot of competitions - but, I read the three winning entries. They're good. So very good. Much better than anything I think I could ever create. With that downer in mind, I don't want to rush a story to get it out to a deadline I've set myself, knowing that if I spent longer on it, it might be so much better. So no Bridport for me this year I think.

I really believe in the idea behind my current short story. It's just the storytelling that isn't working. I think I am going to have to do something drastic like completely change who the main character is and try writing it in a different POV - I think 3rd person might work best after all - and maybe even play around with tenses. Obviously, these changes won't happen overnight and as I have a fairly urgent need to get on with the final draft of my children's novel, it may be some months before this little literary baby is ready to take its first steps in the world.

On a different note, I am currently reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I am enjoying it but still feeling rather daunted about how long it is - think Lord of the Rings plus another book. After a couple of weeks I'm about 20% of the way through. I am also trying to be good and finish it before I move on to Carrie - Stephen King's first published novel, which I've wanted to read for ages. What are you reading at the moment? And what do you wish you were reading?


  1. Hi Chloe, I'm reading Je t'aime à la Folie by Michael Wright. It's about the adventures of a late thirties guy who ups sticks and moves to France so he can make something happen with his life. After this one I want to get into something with a harder edge, for a little contrast!

    I wish I were reading one of my own novels in print. Except of course, I'd be huffing and tutting at the way I'd written it!

    Do you think there is still a need for an Orange Fiction Prize - an open question to your blog readers. Discuss... :o)

  2. Hmmmm interesting Derek. My instinct would be no! I don't have a problem with having awards for specific age groups or just men or just women or whatever. In fact I think specific awards can be qutie motivational for writers. But I don't think the 'need' is there any more. There are many respected women writers out there. Perhaps if women aren't being nominated for the biggest awards, then women should write better books!

  3. Don't be put off by other people's styles ~ they're simply different, and there's room for everyone. I know how awful it is to have something you really want to write and not be able to formulate it Time to back off and do something else; the course should help, and a mother would always be willing to help. Chin up, and keep at it just as long as you enjoy it. When it's miserable drudgery, stop. Ceve

  4. I'm reading Death and the Penguin off Beth, and The Hare with Amber Eyes off Beth. But she didn't write them. And I a bit of Bluebear and sometimes Jeeves & Wooster as needed.

  5. I think the world would be a little bit darker without Jeeves and Wooster.

  6. Like you I have no big beef about 'selective' competitions because from my point of view, if it reduces the number of folk entering the same competitions as me ... so much the better!

    On reading, I've recently finished reading 'Those in Peril' by Wilbur Smith. There are those that say it's too graphic, but that is the man's style. I have all of his books and have been a fan for years.

    I have a fair selection of books I haven't read but have neatly lined up on my shelves, ranging from Lee Child, through James Patterson and Jeffrey Archer to a complete range of 'true life' tales of modern warfare. What do I fancy reading next? Treasure Island. I have to get a fix fo total escapism.

  7. I absolutely loved A Suitable Boy! I hope it doesn't disappoint you- I read it while in India and part of the reason I liked it is it helped explain phenomena I had noted. You could say he opened my eyes!

  8. My dear auralia, I am enjoying the book very much! I don't understand all the cultural references and I am still finding the length a bit daunting (just about halfway through now!), but it is so well written.

  9. Tom, I have never read Treasure Island! It is one of the 11 books I still have left to read on the BBC Top 100 list and is one of the easier reads I think (I am also left with such delights as 'Ulysses' and 'Crime and Punishment')so I might get round to it sometime this year. Perhaps it can be the one to take me up to a nice, round 90.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.