Presenting: Rhythm & Muse

InterviewsAs writers, we are constantly searching for that creative space where we let all inhibitions go and bask in a moment of artistry and talent.  We search out a certain environment where we can chat with other artists and like-minded individuals, discuss books and the intricacies of being a writer in the modern world or share the work we’ve poured ourselves into.  Well, dear friends, look no further because the monthly Rhythm & Muse events are the perfect place to lay your heads (metaphorically) and happily sip a beer while listening to musicians play their music and writers recite their poetry or short works of prose.

This week, Stephanie and Cais explore the world of performance poetry, encouraging all local writers to check out January’s upcoming Rhythm & Muse (and maybe even jump up for the open mic if they so dare).

By Stephanie Dotto and Cais Jurgens

We find ourselves in a dark, blue room, silhouettes of a city skyline running the length of the walls. People speak in quiet tones around small wooden tables, awaiting the first poet to take the stage.  It is a calm environment, reminiscent of the beat poetry clubs of an older age—the ideal space for an artist to present their work to the bibliophiles that have come to spend a night with other creative beings. The bill for the evening consists of a combination of poets, musicians, and lovers of the arts. Each person is staring eagerly at the stage as the minutes slip past, moving closer and closer to the show at hand.

And then it begins.  Continue reading


Happy Holidays From WPN!

The Words, Pauses, Noises team would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and, of course, a Happy New Year. As each year draws to a close, we reflect on our past fortunes and failures, our mistakes and marvels. With the end of 2013 we would like to thank you all for supporting our endeavor, for coming to see our works and our accomplishments.

This blog is now well into its 8th month, and with the approaching holiday we look back to our first steps and the works we’ve posted. We hope that you too will go through and read anything you’ve not read, perhaps comment and reblog for us as well. Without you, our readers, we would not be able to do such things as put up a competition, or have interviews with published authors.

As we ring in 2014 we remember the old and look to the future with all the joys and adventures it will bring. To you writers out there, may your acceptance letters be plentiful, and your rejections tactful. To our readers, we hope you have enjoyed the works here, and continue to follow us into the coming years.

We’ll return next week with more works, but for this Sunday, we wish you good tidings and plenty of cheer.

Review: Ender’s Game: Adaptation from Text to Screen, by Ashley Nicholson

InterviewsThis week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we’re taking  a look at a slightly different type of artistry. Most of what is posted on WPN centres on our own creative endeavours, but there are endless types of creative works. Adaptation for example, takes someone else’s work and translates it to another medium, such as the stage, screen, or a combination arts. This week’s piece features a review of the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s most famous novel Ender’s Game by our very own Ashley Nicholson. There is much to say about turning such a well-loved novel into a film.  The room for error is immense, the balance of pages to screen time is treacherous and the substitution of storytelling for special effects is all too tempting for a big budget filmmaker such as director Gavin Wood. To its readers, Ender’s Game is much more than all of these things.  If you count yourself amongst the legion of fans this book has accumulated, read this review to decide whether or not seeing the film will enhance your love of the story or steal a piece of it forever.

Ender’s Game: Adaptation from Text to Screen

By Ashley Nicholson

While studying in Kingston, there was a course I took that taught us about the intricacies and absurdities of adapting arts into different mediums. Perhaps the most important lesson I took away from Kevin MacNeil’s ‘The Art of Adaptation’ course was that in order to take a book and transcribe it to the screen, you have to remember first and foremost: the screen is visual. An author’s intent is to build a picture for the reader, a richly textured world with characters we can see, hear, and connect with. On the screen, the character is brought to life by facial expressions and dialogue instead of internal monologue. In the text a character frowns, deep in contemplative silence while we, the readers, follow their thoughts. The actor must convey this internal debate physically and through dialogue. So too the director must set the tone using colours, camera angles, and music.

Having said this, we all know that the movie adaptation will never be completely faithful to the story presented within the book. It just can’t happen. Inevitably there are too many subplots or extraneous characters which are all unnecessary details to a visual audience. That’s just the way it has to be in order to fit 150 pages into 120 minutes. Take for example the novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It is a story about a child becoming a soldier. It is a messianic tale with a massive political and philosophical debate raging at the heart of it, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The story revolves mainly around super-smart children— and I do mean children, Ender Wiggin is six at the time he is chosen to go to Battle School. Once chosen, these children are taken to a space station and trained to be soldiers and commanders through the use of technology, strategy, and a certain amount of ruthlessness. It’s Lord of the Flies in space, with the children then going on to fight an actual war. Continue reading

Opinion Piece: Publishing, Life After the MA Dissertation

InterviewsWords, Pauses Noises’ Amber Koski offers an Op-Ed piece today about the world of publishing and how daunting it may seem for a new writer, fresh from their dissertation hand-in.

Many of our full-time MAs are nearing the end of their brisk year of study. Those preparing to print and bind their dissertations are also considering future publication opportunities. The world of writing has been transforming for the past few years and with those transformations come numerous avenues in branding your work and your identity as an author and the publication path that lay ahead. So what do we do as 2013 writers stepping out into the market we hope to become a part of?  Continue reading

Breaking The Blockage: A Talk About Creative Clogs

InterviewsLast week we opened the topic of Writer’s Block– or, as Amber termed it, the ‘Creative Clog’. Today we continue our discussion about the Big, Bad Block and what it means to the Words, Pauses, Noises team. Amber Koski asked the rest of the WPN team to answer a few questions about how we get over our own blocks, with some advice (from us as well as some which has allowed us to break our own blockages) thrown in. Over-caffeinated and stressed out from our deadline looming ever closer, I think that I’ll let the interview do the talking for me today. Enjoy!

Ashley Nicholson, Boyana Petrovich and Jasmine answer questions from Amber Koski.

Some people believe that talking about an unfinished work can block you up. What do you tell people who ask about your work-in-progress? 

ashleyAshley: For me, talking about my current work doesn’t always lead to inspiration. When people question things I felt so very sure about ten minutes ago, I feel like my entire creative thread unravels faster than I can pull it back together. Instead, I bring up the weather or make an excuse to leave.


Jasmine: I just tell them I have written nothing and have writer’s block…



BoyanaPhotoBoyana: I feel like talking about my writing can bring new ideas and expose any plot holes. When I get to the stage where I can tell someone what I’m writing about and it doesn’t make me want to die, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I appreciate the challenge of sorting things out in my head so that they make sense to someone in the outside world.

What have writers you admire said about writer’s block that has helped you?

0Phd5zE6wPG0xxdriy_AsrF8oPVtRAm3s3s_2CnXUvQJasmine: I’m not sure who said it, but don’t consider writer’s block as something negative but as something positive. It means that you have something important to say, but your fear is holding you back. Once you break through that barrier of fear, something great will appear on the page.

ashleyAshley: To loosely paraphrase Neil Gaiman: ‘after a while we expect to be able to write something brilliant on a first draft. It really doesn’t work that way.’ We have to battle with our expectations of perfection on the first try. I think our work is better for a little suffering.

BoyanaPhotoBoyana: Hanif Kureishi said that writer’s block is good, it means that you are resisting saying something you really need to say and that is hopefully worth saying. It resonated with me.


If someone came to you with writer’s block, how would you try to inspire and coax them out of it?

BoyanaPhotoBoyana: Leave your work alone for a little bit. Go do something pleasant but pointless like playing Fruit Ninja or Spider Solitaire. If, after a while, you’d still rather be doing that than writing, perhaps it’s time to start working on a different project.


ashleyAshley: Write whatever comes to your mind, even if it’s how hungry you are or what you need to do later. Perhaps your own hunger prompts your character to enter a diner and meet a turning point.

0Phd5zE6wPG0xxdriy_AsrF8oPVtRAm3s3s_2CnXUvQJasmine: Start a new project or walk away from writing completely- do something else that you like and try and find other forums that can spark some inspiration. I also think it is important to be encouraging and maybe share some of your own battles with writer’s block.


What would you tell your agent if your manuscript was due in three months and you had 30,000 words left, and you are mid-writer’s coma?  

ashleyAshley: Absolutely nothing. I’d smile, nod, and quietly freak out. Perhaps not so quietly when far enough away…


0Phd5zE6wPG0xxdriy_AsrF8oPVtRAm3s3s_2CnXUvQJasmine: I would be honest and talk about it with my agent. You never know, they might just be able to help you or at least push you at the right direction, but I guess that depends on what kind of relationship you have with your agent.


BoyanaPhotoBoyana: Bring the deadline a month sooner. I like challenges.



Any other things about writing you want to share with the World Wide Web? 

ashleyAshley: Writing, for me, is a very introverted thing. I find it hard to be creative with too many people in my space because it’s easy to become distracted. People keep telling me that being a complete hermit isn’t healthy, though, so I go to coffee shops or my uni library to edit.

0Phd5zE6wPG0xxdriy_AsrF8oPVtRAm3s3s_2CnXUvQJasmine: I believe fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing, of failure and of success. There is only one cure for fear- love. Be nice to yourself, don’t judge yourself and try and find ways that helps you beat that fear.


BoyanaPhotoBoyana: There are so many things that come to mind, but for some reason all begin with “I wish…” Not sure the internet would want to know about those.



Well, we have come to the end of our Writer’s Block sessions, but tune in next week to see what other creative things our MA’s have gotten up to over the summer!

Writer’s Block: An Interactive Journey of the Joys (and Woes) of Writing

InterviewsToday is an interactive Sunday!

There’s an idiom every writer dreads, even if they can’t admit it: writer’s block. What Macbeth is to actors, writer’s block is to authors. We can be a superstitious lot and sometimes it seems that just uttering the words can stop your creativity before your fingers meet keys. As the Words, Pauses, Noises team work fervently on their dissertations, the urge to run away grows as the time to complete the work shrinks. To help us get a jump on any blockage, we got together to think proactively on the subject. There’s nothing like discussing writer’s block to help you realise how real, and irrational, it can be.

The Words, Pauses, Noises team: Ashley Nicholson, Amber Koski, Boyana Petrovich, and Jasmine

WPN decided that in order to help ourselves work around the issue of writer’s block, we needed to go a little further outside of the box. It was certainly a learning experience for the team, and a way for us to concentrate on something besides our dissertations. There was one point we all agreed on: when blocked, go to another project.

Click on this link to go to our interactive presentation.

As September nears the Words, Pauses, Noises team grow steadily more caffeinated and conflicted, but as you can see, we’ve given ourselves some good advice to run with. This blog is dedicated not only to showing you our creative work but to help all writers overcome those fears we face during creation itself. As with any art, it’s all subjective, it’s all about taste, it’s all about what’s inside you and… the list goes on. As with any artist, we thrive on commentary and conversation, so let us know when you like something, or if you hate it. We’d love to see hear what you think.

Click back next week for the next installment of this series, Writer’s Block: Block Busting.

Opinion Piece: ‘Are we the writers we see on the Big Screen?’ by Amber Koski

InterviewsHere at Words, Pauses, Noises we see ourselves as an open forum offering comprehensive topics for our Sunday posts. This week we have an opinion piece by Amber Koski on the writerly persona conveyed by Hollywood cinema. ‘Are we the writers we see on the Big Screen?’ is not a cinematic analysis of the films cited in the article, rather it is a compilation of stereotypes noted in the films. This article is one opinion but aims to raise awareness of the stigmas the writer may encounter from non-writers, that writers try to evaluate why they might act, respond, and feel the way they do about their career, their craft. 


Are we the writers we see on the Big Screen?

By Amber Koski

We can’t deny that movies about writers glorify things we find false about the writing life and glamorise aspects of our profession in rather inconsiderate ways (but maybe I’m being a bit sensitive). Let’s think about how these movies influence how we act/ re-act to those asking us about our art. Do we work in solitude because it benefits our writing or are we mirroring those writer-habits via cinema–portrayal? There are hundreds of movies about writers and writing – too many to watch and analyse fully. Hollywood sees writers as the ‘known unknown’ (to reuse one of Peter Vandenberg’s terms from his (2007) After Words: Lore and Discipline).

After viewing and re-viewing a small sampling of writerly movies, and perfecting my use of a Tesco Value corkscrew, I’ve managed to collect some popular Hollywood stereotypes about writers/ writer’s lives. The films I call into question vary in content and release date to give a diverse collection of writer-image perspectives presented by Hollywood (see the film list at the end of this article). I am not saying Hollywood has it wrong or that they should stop ‘telling’ these sorts of stories about writers. Quite the opposite: how do we view ourselves and our processes, and are our perspectives similar to those on the big screen?

I know that I’m guilty of responding to outsider’s questions about my writing in ways similar to Owen Wilson’s character in Midnight in Paris (2011). It makes me wonder, do we re-act by example; are we spending time workshopping in-progress writing in pubs as a way to imitate the greats who once gathered in pubs to discuss their ideas (i.e. Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Fitzgerald)? Do we often contest advice with the conviction that ‘you just don’t get it’, a theme that pervades many cinema writer personalities? ‘Art is subjective’ is a saying we all know and use when a friend or even a tutor responds to our writing in ways we don’t agree with. As I go through the perceptions of these Hollywood writers in film, consider the occasions when you’ve encountered such behaviour from writer-friends and classmates. Or, if possible, look back on yourself and try to recall a time when you may have been mirroring these Hollywood writer-characters.  Continue reading