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.

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Interview: Interactive Short Stories and Tomek Dzido’s new STORGY

STORGY, at its core, is about engaging readers and writers in one thing: creation. But what founder Tomek Dzido has done to widen audience involvement is pioneering. STORGY – “Where Short Stories Surface” delivers on its motto. Readers vote on title choices, the contributors have a week to compile a story and the readers, again, select their favourite story to be transformed into a short film. 

Words, Pauses, Noises welcomes fellow MA Tomek Dzido to chat with Amber Koski about STORGY – an innovative, interactive, bridge building storytelling machine that will (and has) changed how stories are told and how readers influence and engage with them. 

STORGY Interview with Tomek Dzido

By Amber Koski

How did the idea for STORGY come about? 

I wanted to create a literary magazine which focused specifically on the short story and enabled writers to share their work with readers who equally adore the shorter form. I also wanted to develop the reader-writer relationship and encourage creative collaboration. The Short Story is an immense ingredient within literature and deserves greater recognition in the UK, as do the writers who continue to write short stories when the industry prefers longer, more marketable manuscripts.

Have you always had an interest in filmmaking? 

I got into film making through a couple of close friends who were extremely enthusiastic about film and from the moment I experienced it, I’ve never looked back. I guess it was only natural that my passion for the written word extended into film, particularly with the possibilities of developing a synergy between both. There is something special about seeing an idea grow into a fully formed piece of film and despite the many challenges involved throughout the production process, it’s extremely rewarding if a project completes successfully.

What (practical, challenging, motivating, or difficult) things have you learned when transforming text from the page to the Screen? 

The most challenging aspect is the process of adaptation from text to screen. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult in technical terms to adapt a story or a novel precisely as it is presented within the pages of its prior existence. This is also problematic because each reader imagines the content of a specific scene independent of outside influence, and hence each interpretation is very different. I always try to be true to the original material and this always poses the greatest challenge, but it’s one that continues to teach me more about the words themselves, which after all, are the most important element of any story, whether in fiction or film. 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.

0Phd5zE6wPG0xxdriy_AsrF8oPVtRAm3s3s_2CnXUvQ

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

Talking Tutors, Trends, and Tools of the Trade with Lauren Weymouth

InterviewsKingston University has a notable list of specific programmes of study for Post Grad students to choose from, many of them involving writing and creative thinking. Lauren Weymouth, a Magazine Journalism MA student, sought out a practical, focused course that would implement the writing and reading skills she had acquired during her undergrad years while also fitting her for a niche career path, one that is ever booming and shifting to fit the changing media driven world. Lauren candidly discusses her time as a Magazine Journalism student at KU with Amber Koski.

Amber Koski: During your time at KU, you had the opportunity to produce a magazine with the other Mag. Journalism students. This tangible, end product has a certain affect and sentimentality to a job well done (something the Creative Writing grads only get once their dissertation projects are printed and bound). How have community projects like Mouth aided in your understanding of the publishing workplace?

Lauren Weymouth: Mouth gave me experience that I don’t think even a year at an established consumer magazine could have done. The knowledge that I gained whilst working for the magazine was paramount to my understanding of how to be not only a successful journalist, but also an indispensable team player. Essentially, we had to build a brand. We created a magazine from scratch and worked to establish its place within the current market. Compared to other years where MA students have produced a student magazine, we produced a local food magazine for Kingston— something that has never been done before. Because of this, it was even more essential that we did as much as we could to market and network the magazine within and beyond the community. For each issue, we were allocated a different position in the team. This gave us an opportunity to sample all elements of production, i.e. design, editing, social media etc. all while continually pitching our feature ideas and writing the successful articles. The whole process was intense, and, at times, overwhelming. But, it was all of these aspects of the project that provided us – and I say us because I know that everyone will agree with me – with an understanding of the publishing workplace that was much more hands on than we could have hoped for.

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Creative Honesty and Being True to the Writer Within: A View From the Visiting Poet Michael Sarnowski

InterviewsAt Kingston, we have tried to foster a creative community not only for our students but for other authors who come to visit our University. The Kingston Writing School had the pleasure of welcoming visiting poet Michael Sarnowski to do a reading on February 28th 2013. Michael received his MFA in 2009 from Vanderbilt University. He read work from his thesis Mapping the Catacombs, introducing the KU audience to his entrancing, tactile poetry. In a brief chat with student Amber Koski following the reading, Michael expressed how important honesty is in all writing; the interview below supports his conviction to authenticity. 

Amber Koski: How was your time with the KU faculty/ staff, what did you take away from your conversations and interactions with those members? 

Michael Sarnowski: My time at KU was fantastic. The faculty and staff were warm, welcoming, and unflinching in their support. Not only was it a pleasure to re-immerse myself in a graduate writing program, but it was inspiring to see the framework that had been established for the writers. You could tell that there was a balance of support and trust with the students, a guidance that recognized each writer for their individual strengths. What has stayed with me has been the sense that as much as KU is offering a writing program, they’re offering a community for writers. Beyond the classroom there is a wealth of readings, exposure to publication opportunities, and writers enthusiastic to engage.

AK: What reactions/ commentary did the KU students have after your reading (if you can recall)? You have been a helpful and valuable mentor to me upon your return to the states, what benefits can this sort of support have for new writers? Do you have past tutors who still give you advice, perhaps from your days as an undergrad? 

MS: After the reading I was able to speak with a handful of students and faculty, and the focus shifted away from conventional questions regarding craft and towards more specific poems or concepts that intrigued them. This one-on-one interaction gave both parties the opportunity to really extract something meaningful from topics which may be less likely to appear in a workshop. For example, discussions were broached regarding the nature of honesty and vulnerability in writing, and how to approach delicate content without overstepping the bounds of sentimentality. There were also comments on individual poems that had resonated with people. Personally, the most rewarding aspect of a reading is establishing a connection with someone. Not only is creative writing an opportunity to experience the world as someone else, but it’s incredible when those ah-ha moments crest when we realize we’re not as alone in the world as we had thought.

Open lines of communication between writers and mentors are extremely important, particularly because of the inherent solitude of writing. It’s an act that tends to happen in quiet moments, in time that you have carved away from work, sleep, or whatever else fills your days. So there’s the initial gain of receiving feedback, but the collateral benefit of influence and inspiration for both the writer and mentor. If we become too isolated, it becomes a necessity to have someone around to help you “kill your darlings,” to quote Faulkner (or Quiller-Couch? Or whoever else that phrase has been attributed to).

I’ve been incredibly fortunate and forever indebted to have worked with tutors like Mark Jarman, Rick Hilles, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. They have all put in plenty of overtime in their support and cultivation of my work. If I can repay a fraction of the support they have shown to others, I’ll be on the right track.

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