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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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

Creative Work: Short Story “Insomnimaniacal” by Ashley Nicholson

Creative WorksWords, Pauses, Noises is entranced, yet again, by the impalpable workings of Ashley Nicholson. Her writing carries an elusive vibe of knowing but not letting you know and ‘Insomnimaniacal’ epitomises the evasive aura of her style. As Neil Gaiman put it:  “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” Ashley’s ‘Insomnimaniacal’ found its first home with Synaesthesia Magazine’s September issue, ‘Cities’and we are fortunate to showcase it on Words, Pauses, Noises

‘Insomnimaniacal’

By Ashley Nicholson 

I love the point in the night where the world goes grey and tastes of tin. Everything goes sideways a few degrees and makes sense. Less, some times; more in others. I can see, can trace the lines forward, backward. I reach through the past, pulling handfuls of painful memories to be parsed before morning. Sometimes, these feature in dreams. Wild, unpleasant things that trap me within the confines of my own head, knowing. Always, I know it for the untruth it is, the blatant falsehood of dreams.

Why, then, does it feel on these nights like the waking times and the dreams are reversed? I feel my feet leave the top floor of an old school building at the same time as the pounding of my heart jolts me into the world of sodium light lamps and the rumble-static of traffic. I feel myself drowsing, drowning in these London nighttime noises, its shouts and sirens. London is never quiet, never. The blinds are useless, my eyes open at each headlamp’s streak. The harsh white of morning comes too early in summer. In the winter, it never comes at all.

In these tin-flavoured moments I lie with my eyes closed, always pressed together because opening them will break the endless spell of half-waking. If I don’t open my eyes, sleep will come creeping across my pillows like some wild, wary creature. Instead I evaluate my life and criticise myself in ways that, in the daylight, seem insubstantial and somehow still too harsh. I construct elaborate scenarios that chip away at insecure walls. Waiting inside the ambiguous world of twilight hours, suspended between morning and evening. That place of too late and too early, unable to decide which side of the spectrum I’m on. Compelled into movement until I’ve hopelessly twisted the bedclothes. Always writhing to get away from the unpleasant thoughts, the truths and untruths, dreams both nascent and broken, burnt beyond repair or recognition.

All I want is to sleep; perchance not to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.

Writers are always inspired by their surroundings. Here, Ashley has taken two tangible ideas: insomnia and how it interacts with her physical backdrop as a Londoner. Next time you read look out for special, geographical influences in the story or poem and get a feel for how the writer was influenced by place and time.

We hope you enjoyed ‘Insomnimaniacal’ and that it inspires you to write your own piece about the simple (or not so simple) things in life.

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.

Creative Work: Short Fiction “Foundling” by Ashley Nicholson

Creative WorksA writer’s observations of the world around them undoubtably enhance their fiction. Quintessential writerly advice is to know your characters: what they eat after a night out, what songs they hate to hear in the car on the way to work, why are they scared of the frozen food isle at the store? Here we have an author fully immersed in the world of her character: a cat. In this excerpt, Ashley Nicholson zeros-in on the subtle shoulder movements her cat-character makes during a hunt, the way the he thinks as he stalks his prey, and how his belly settles in the sun after a successful kill. 

Foundling

By Ashely Nicholson 

The grass parts with a quiet rustle as he stalks the mouse, low and quiet. The smell of it– musty, earthy, with an overlay of warm-blooded musk– is a tantalizing treat. Fat and not too bright, the mouse is far from its hole and too close to a hungry predator.  A noise from the treetop startles the creature and it freezes, whiskers trembling a moment before resuming the search for food.

Silent, he waits for the mouse to move, black-and-white fur blending into the shadows underneath the tree. He crouches down a little more, shoulders sawing back and forth, the tip of his tail twitching. Sharp claws dig into the rain-soaked earth just before he springs, front paws raking the small creature, pinning it to the ground so he can tear out the soft underbelly. Its tiny whiskers stop moving and the high-pitched squeaking comes to an abrupt end.

He rips into the mouse with delight, warm mouthfuls that satiate the rumble in his belly. After the crunch-crunch of tiny bones snapping is over, he moves into the sunshine to clean his nose and claws, tongue a pink streak as he grooms the mouse out of white fur. He stretches, belly turned to catch the warmth of the sun, rumbling as it digests. It was a good snack, he thinks.

Eyes closed, he soaks in the sunshine until the tree’s shadow covers him again. Listens as other hunters wander through the brush searching out a last meal. It’s now close enough to dark that he should head back to the house where it’s warm and the woman will put dinner on a plate for him tonight. No more cold nights or empty belly he yowls to the world, smug and happy.

Writing from the perspective of a cat, or any other animal has not only challenged Ashley’s point of view skills but also given her the opportunity to live out reincarnation fantasies. Do you know of any famous works, both classic and modern that are told from an unusual, non-human narrator? Share those with us in the comment space below and give the Words, Pauses, Noises audience some interesting reading suggestions this summer.