Colourful Language (The Right Hue for You)

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Colour has the power to excite our emotions and yet few of us apply it to our writing.

What hues, then, should you use to maximise your mood while you work?

Denotes passion, desire and love. Give it a go when you’re writing sex scenes and romance.

Evokes harmony and peace. Not for conflict between characters or westerns and war stories. Also best avoided when writing reviews.

Suggests joy and happiness. Perfect for comedy, wisecracks and witty dialogue.

The colour of luxury, power and ambition. Best for historical sagas about kings and queens.

Stands for vulnerability and youth. Use it for that YA novel you’ve been meaning to write.

Denotes death, evil and mystery. Great for crime-writing, tragedy and horror.

Symbolises perfection. Not recommended.

My colour of choice. Calm, logical and intelligent – just like this blog.

Up to the Challenge (All Writing is Good Writing)

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Last week I took up the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge: to write five stories in five days in response to five daily word-prompts.

And while I won’t win the prize – one thousand dollars, if you don’t mind – I haven’t come away empty-handed. The exercise has taught me three valuable lessons about me, my stories and literary magazines.

Here’s what I’ve learned about myself: that I’m a craftsman and not an artist. My stories are facile and lack true depth of feeling – that’s take-away number two. And as for literary magazines, I found that their editors favour atmosphere over action.

Sobering stuff. What it means for my writing, I can’t really say.

Having taken the challenge I’ve learned what’s lacking in me and my work: artistry, emotion and atmosphere. What I’m not lacking, though, are the five stories I finished in five days.

I can write!

Against All Odds (Don’t Bet On It)

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I know I’m flying too close to the sun when I start believing I can beat the bookies.

I started betting two years ago, on tennis matches mostly. I was obsessed with odds, swept away in torrents of sums. My system had just one flaw: it didn’t work.

The odds, I discovered, are empty. Probability predicts only the past.

Which, by the way, makes me feel more hopeful about writing. For although the cards are stacked against us, they collapse like houses of cards when met head-on.

Lately I’ve tried spreading the risk by betting both ways, with much the same success as before (i.e. none). And no wonder. As the ‘gambling fool’, Randle P. McMurphy, from Ken Kesey’s novel reminds us, ‘you hit or you sit’.

So I’ve decided to sit. I don’t want to be next to fly over the cuckoo’s nest.

Falling Into Place (The Genesis of an Idea)

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First China, then Korea, Vietnam and Laos, all the way along the chain to India.

No, that’s not my travel itinerary but rather the projected march of Communism through Asia according to the Domino Theory, itself an idea based upon the domino effect.

Of course, the theory never worked in practice – it was only a theory, after all.

To see the domino effect at work you need only look at my life, and at the genesis of this very series of posts – dubbed, you’ll recall, the daily 12-dozen.

An interview on a podcast gave me an idea for a book which made me think I had to start a writer’s group but to do so I thought better I’d kickstart my blog and a competition hinted at how I might do it.

Down they go!

Ever wonder which domino will be next to fall?

Erring Authors (Writers Not Readers?)

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What’s in a word? A lot, maybe, if it’s the wrong one.

Yesterday a friend found a typo on an author’s website. Not just any author but one whose works are ‘critically acclaimed’. (That’s good, right?)

And not just any typo but one that would make a ten-year-old wince. (‘An writer’?)

Our reactions were different. Concerned, my friend sent an email to the publicist. I was merely amused – ‘schadenfreude’ is too hard to spell – so I made a joke about authors being writers not readers.

Several literary lions, though, struggled with spelling. Jane Orsten, Agatha Kristie and E. Scott Fitzgerald – none of them could spell to save themselves.

As for Earliest Hemingway, possibly the worst orthographer of all, he would remind his editors that it was their job to get his spelling right.

Which is why, I suppose, writers are ‘authors’ and not ‘orthors’.

On Making a Creative Comeback (With Carmel)

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Carmel Bird is holding a writing workshop here in Hobart next week. That’s good. Ms Bird is an Australian literary legend, something most tutors can’t claim to be.

What’s not so good, though, is my reluctance to attend.

So why won’t I be making a creative comeback with Carmel, having spent years hiding my literary lights – dim though they be – under a bushel?

Money, first of all. I’m on a ‘smash the mortgage’ kick at the moment so there ain’t much left over for luxuries, literary or otherwise.

Pride, too. I hate admitting to myself – less so to others – that I’m not king of this writing caper. Did I tell you that I’ve published three stories?

And anxiety, last of all. About writing to please others and not just myself. Therein lies the secret to my startling (lack of) success.

Carmel, here I come!

I Write Therefore I Am (Not Necessarily Read)

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Frustrated. It’s one of those rare things: a song by The Knack that isn’t ‘My Sharona’. It’s also what I’ve been feeling for months. For decades, even, if I count the rest.

I’m no different, I know, to all the other unfulfilled lucky white guys who ever lived – in Maslow we trust – and yet knowing this doesn’t make my frustration any less, er, frustrating.

Or bearable. For a day doesn’t go by without me dreaming up some half-baked solution.

What is it, then, that I so badly need to let out? Energy? Emotion? Spermatozoa? I think not. Words, most likely: those little whizzbangs that build up in people like me, people who know they’re not being noticed.

The antidote? Writing, of course. A daily twelve-dozen (d12d) words on any trope, topic or theme.

I write therefore I am. Half-baked if ever I heard it.