Don’t be a slowcoach.

Last week, I mentioned I was working to submit an essay about John Milton’s Paradise Lost before Friday.

I’m pleased to report I managed to submit it via the university’s online system on Wednesday and – as Dundee hasn’t gone fully electronic yet – in person at the office on Thursday. There will be more to come next semester, but that’s it for the moment.

Unlike Douglas Adams, I try my utmost to respect deadlines. Yes, other priorities are going to stand in the way from time to time, but not on every occasion. The last thing I want is to gain a reputation as someone who says they’ll do a piece of work then doesn’t deliver in time. Even with the essay business, I made sure there was an entry here every Monday.

Ladybank railway station Original description:...
Ladybank railway station Original description: Ladybank Railway Station Looking down the track, straight on for Perth, bear right for Dundee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday evening, I was booked to read poetry at Off the Rails at Ladybank railway station in Fife; it was at one point the stationmaster’s house. About 50 people are packed into a single room, while poets and musicians perform in front of an open fire. The building seems to be well soundproofed, so it’s rare to hear a train; the loudest noise was the wind howling outside the window.

Unfortunately, two of the four poets had to cancel, and only one replacement could be found at short notice. This gave me a deadline of less than half an hour to expand my set accordingly. I’d brought seven poems with me, which would push me just over my 10 allocated minutes.

Fortunately, the rest of my work is backed up to Dropbox and I was able to read a long piece from my phone to make up the time. It ended up being an excellent night, and I’m happy to do it again in the future.

Advertisements

The End of Days.

I know you can’t see me, but I’m blowing a whistle as we speak, indicating the final dying minutes of National Novel Writing Month. I breached the 50,000-word target by only 29 words; that’s 13 less than my very first novel in 2010.

Last year’s total was 60,000 and I’d barely scratched the surface, but this time around, I don’t have the material to go much higher, so I’m happy with my haul. Many congratulations if you’ve also hit the benchmark.

My aim is for this to be the last time I bore you with this subject for the next eleven months.

I’ve been to a number of literary events this week, including a fiction writing and a life writing class, and I’m pleased to say I’m enrolled in the continuation class for the latter.

On Thursday, I attended a literary salon where I heard current English students read out their best pieces. Then on Friday, a poetry and cabaret event. A number of pieces were in the Dundee dialect, which must have confused the last act, a songwriter from New Orleans.

I’ve lived in the city most of my life and understand most of the vernacular, yet I’ve never naturally spoken it. It inspired me to write a poem exploring the theme, and I completed it before the event ended. I’m not known as a poet, and I’m not at the stage where I would describe myself as one, but I have been dabbling in the form.

I’ve also been working on another piece, but I need to give you a bit of background. If you didn’t know, I’ve only been a writer since October 2010. To put that in context, I was 27 when I wrote a fictional story for the first time since high school. The piece was that first NaNo novel.

However, when I was at school, I fancied myself as a singer-songwriter, not to mention an actor. I’d tried to write song lyrics, and I recently rediscovered a four-line fragment with two internal rhymes. Moreover, I can still remember the tune, and the words still resonate as much now as they did then.

At the time, I tried to expand it by writing extra verses, but nothing seemed to work until I turned to Google+ earlier this week. With the help of a community, I preserved the rhyme scheme but expanded the number of syllables, and I’ve now squeezed nearly four verses out of it. If I keep making progress, I finally hope to perform it on December 9th after all these years.

After a conversation with my former NaNo Municipal Liaison a couple of weeks ago, I raked out my school qualifications. I’d correctly remembered I’d earned only a C for English, although I have criticisms about the way it was taught. Perhaps that’s why I never pursued it, or perhaps I was too fixated on music to realise my strength was in words, not instruments.

I’ve got to make up for the time I wasted setting up blogs writing factual events without realising that I was able to write fiction. I kick myself every day about my late start, although I take some comfort from the careers of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Richard Adams. Their first books weren’t published until they were over 40 and over 50 respectively.

But I need to work fast if I want to reach a state of parity. I want to reach the point where I’ve produced as much work as if I’d started as a teenager. I have around 200 pieces in total, but that could have been 1,000 if I’d begun at age 15.

I won’t rest until I’m satisfied I’ve made up for every minute of wasted time.