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Author Topic: A nervous introduction
WarrenB
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Hi, writers. I'm Warren - finally committing to write for myself after many years of producing things using other people's material.

I am based in Durban on the east coast of South Africa and work as a freelance consultant - mostly with African human rights organizations and others in the development/non-profit sector. A lot of my work is about strategy and design - so it's a mix of working with groups and individuals to generate material which I then turn into written products of one kind or another (strategies, fundraising docs, branding bumph).

The work is still satisfying - and it pays the bills while (sometimes) making a real contribution. But I've always wanted to tell my own stories: my dream jobs as a student were novelist and, a distant second, therapist. The first felt incompatible with survival and the second, well... I didn't like our psych department and had too many of my own problems. So I fell into the orbit of what I do now, which is also about people, processes, change and, to a degree, story.

After turning forty (two years ago), I began to realize that if I didn't get started on the writing dream soon, I never would. So, this year I committed to it, and to taking fewer paying jobs, traveling less and making more time to write.

I have never been published (aside from a few poems, many years ago), but would like to be - that would help make this feel more like a 'legitimate' part of my career, and perhaps a next step in it. I am married with too many dogs and young adult stepdaughters, so money is not completely unimportant. And, for now, the process of doing the work, learning how to do it better, and actually FINISHING a book, feels more important than the outcome of publication.

Writers I admire most include: Atwood, Iain M Banks, Rushdie, Proulx, Byatt, Morrison (and a bunch of others).

I have three writing projects on the go: a novel (genre: 'magical-realist bildungsroman' is as close as I can get to applying a useful label); a children's book; and a non-fiction piece related to my consulting work.

It's the novel I'll be focusing on to begin with. I started planning it at the beginning of the year then put it on hold. I'm joining this workshop/forum as I get into the actual writing - which has been delayed for several months by means of clever overbooking (in spite of fairly good intentions) - so it's very early days. I hope to share my first 13 lines in a few months' time.

I'm here NOW because:
1. I've long admired Card's work and saw references to the Hatrack River community in one of his fore/afterwords years ago. But I didn't realize until yesterday that this was a space I could access. Thank you, Google, several helpful bloggers and the members of this workshop!
2. After scanning the site I saw the depth and quality of the feedback being given. I've seen nothing comparable anywhere else. It's frankly more than a bit scary - but also presents an amazing opportunity. Too good to pass up. I suspect I'll learn a lot just from the process of reading comments on others' work and perhaps offering some feedback myself.
3. I need a critical community: I am *highly* self-critical, but also lose objectivity about my own work very quickly - and I lose the boundary between evaluating the work vs evaluating myself. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and energy vacillating between thinking that my work is (a) more than good enough/better than most and (b) utter trash. Neither position is helpful. I deal better with other people's feedback! I've belonged to writers' groups in the past and found them helpful though not critical enough - but I don't think that'll be a problem here. :-)

That's it from me - apologies for being a bit long-winded (put it down to nerves/excitement). Happy to answer any questions. And, for now, mostly just happy to be here. So, back to the textI go!

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Meredith
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Welcome to the treehouse!

Check out the novel support group in Hatrack Groups. It's a good place to set goals and help hold yourself accountable.

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WarrenB
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Thanks, Meredith - will do.
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extrinsic
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Transition from information-based composition and the methods taught by assembly-line school factories to prose's poetic expression daunts many writers. Magical Realism inclinations, though, intimates that a writer vision is beyond the mere string of words onto a page common to non-prose. And professional writing also suggests a firm grasp of structure, substantive for all composition, different for prose than non-prose, and at the same time one and the same.

A notable distinction is transitional diction and syntax; prose best practice uses far less connective tissue than non-prose. For example, words and sentence structure of the effect _Furthermore,_ the _latest_ NGO and UN Refugee committee statistics represent progress toward clearer and stronger appreciation of the displaced Mulgindor migrant crisis. Underscores bracket connective words. The conjunctive adverb "Furthermore" connects the sentence to previous content. Adjective "latest" relates temporal organization.

Prose favors personal, emotional surprise, therefore, limited, if any, telegraphed connections that show a writer's presence, contrary and common to non-prose's impersonal expression intents. Exceptions notwithstood.

Magical Realism is an often misunderstood genre. Fantastic motifs do not make a narrative Magical Realism; rather, blurred distinction between metaphysical and mundane realms and metaphysical as everyday phenomena and mundane as mystical, spiritual, magical, or opposite to accepted real-world order. Though Magical Realism traditionally precludes paranormal motifs, urban fantasy's domain, anymore, paranormal fantasy motifs cross over the now blurred boundary between spiritual and paranormal. A challenge to remain internally consistent, what with the multiple crossovers and blurred boundaries, though.

Bildungsroman, use of that term implies knowledge of its conventions. A broad misinterpretation of the form, though, is that the type is exclusive to young and early adult prose, the age phases of adulthood initiation. The literal translation of the term is education novel, and means more than educational settings and milieus, as well the complications, crises, and contests educational phenomena entail. Novel to mean a prose narrative, regardless of length, and attendant drama. A figurative interpretation is maturation novel, a more apt sense that then compasses any age and any situation in which an agonist's moral education matures the agonist's sapience or otherwise declines.

And top of the wants for those genre forms, all dramatic prose, for that matter, is complication's motivational forces and conflict's stakes risked forces.

Plus -- huh, the introduction's grammar is above the general masses' average, one of the major bars to publication success well in hand.

Look forward to fragments posted for comment. Welcome to the Hatrack River writers' community. May you realize the whirlwind.

[ May 24, 2018, 02:20 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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WarrenB
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Unlearning the tendency to write in NGO-ese is going to take some effort and awareness. Feedback will be needed. But it's already useful that you've made the distinction so clear. (I'll be working on a client's strategy document tomorrow; I'm fairly sure I'll be more than usually aware of when I move into UN-speak.)

As for magical realism... We shall see. It's precisely this blurring of boundaries that I *think* I want to explore. But maybe it's really just a dash of urban fantasy in what will otherwise be a more traditional novel. I'm still figuring out several aspects of plot and structure.

As for Bildungsroman - yep: 'maturation novel' is what I have in mind more than a YA/coming-of-age story.

Thanks again for this response, for your welcome and for your insights and info - much appreciated!

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WarrenB
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Welcome, Drew!

I look forward to reading your work.

I'm obviously new to this space as well so I'm not completely up on how things work. Still, I think it might be worth starting a new topic in the 'Next, please'Introduce yourself' section. Other members might assume these posts are a response to my intro and not read them.

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Josephine Kait
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Welcome to the Hatrack River Treehouse!

If you are curious about why it is a treehouse, see “Special Hatrack Topics” all the way down at the bottom. Just be prepared to settle in and spend some time enjoying and laughing your tail off. [Wink]

And don’t be nervous, the crits will help your skin thicken as well as improve your writing. But thick skin is a necessary item for anyone even thinking of submitting a writing sample to an editor; that species has shark teeth. Hmm… skin thickener, might just need to find a place for some on my H.U.B. [Big Grin]

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WarrenB
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Thanks, Josephine!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Great addition to the Hatrack Utility Belt, Josephine. Welcome back!
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extrinsic
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An editor myself, I take no exception to the shark metaphor, though that editors' intent is best practice never deliberate writer skin thickeners, rather, intensive dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the public aspect of public-ation success.

Also best practice, is self-skin thickener activity. Ask what an editor might note falls short of best practice: grammar, craft, expression, and appeal. Be aware strengths, too, might be overlooked or unremarked, as well a skin thickener. Within both are facets for self-skin thickeners and skills growth -- tandem processes and a third space of self-maturation growth.

Little wonder why anti-intellectuals are: they shirk the effort, envy anyone who would, feel less sapient and sentient for it, and fear who does realize self-responsible expression's social functions.

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