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Day 3: Favourite writers

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Day 3: My Favourite Writer

I don’t have one and I think if I did I would feel a little unfair. Like did I have a favourite book growing up or do I favour one child over the other? I would have to say no. I like some more than others but that’s it. As for the writing mentors I’ve tried this but the 2 so far weren’t as focused so quickly we fell out of simpatico.

However I have had the opportunity to meet 3 authors I admire greatly. They are not necessarily my favourites but they rank up there as women authors who are worthy of mention

First at university I worked with Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer. I wasn’t a big fan of her works as it was of a time and space I didn’t recognise but this woman worked at her writing. Every day from 9-5 she would be in her office writing. It was the first time that I ever conceived writing as an actual job. She was disciplined, something I still struggle with today and there was an order to her that made you realise that there was a lot of strength and passion in this petite woman. I learned how to write as work.

Then I met Tsitsi Dangerembga a Zimbabwean author of Nervous Conditions the book I wrote my dissertation on. Her life as an African girl who had lived in the UK then moved back to Africa mirrored mine and I met her in London as she was promoting a film. It wasn’t the meeting of spirits I hoped for but I realised that some writers aren’t necessarily comfortable with their gushing readers. She was one of them. And yes, when inspired I can gush with the best of them. I learned that how one writes and how one is in real life aren’t always the same but people will assume.

Then most recently I met blogger turned writer Belle Du Jour at a Sunday Times event in Oxford. Yes for a woman who doesn’t leave zone 2 without a lot of bribing I managed to score a ticket to the event where India Knight was interviewing her. I love her honesty as a writer although you can see that there was so much left unsaid in those books.  I met her afterwards and realised that everyone has a story and a voice and that to write is a means of expressing a lot of emotions that many people keep repressed.

And so whilst these may not be writers that are my favourite they have inspired me to be a disciplined writer who shares her stories with others. And for that I thank them

© Chelsea Black

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Day 2: Learning to write

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Authorblogchallenge Day 2: Learning to write

What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve your craft? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

I read this then read it again.

I did a one day screen writing workshop at City Lit. Does that count? I was a creative writing tutor at university even though I hadn’t written anything at that stage. I’m guessing that that doesn’t count for much either.

Let’s face fact when it comes to writing many of us are self-taught and that’s ok. I’m not too concerned with my skill as a writer so much as I am the content of what I write. So I don’t look to learn about how to write. I respect those that invest in their skill but for me and lifestyle writing I haven’t seen the course that would teach me how. I’ve started to see blogging courses yes but I’m not sure I would do any of them as our  individual voices are still quite embryonic.

I think courses are really dependent on your interests and areas you want to learn more about. I’m content taking a degree in English literature and turning it on its head by ignoring everything I learned and doing the opposite. I drop my grammar, use slang and there is no symbolism in anything that I write. “Where is the subtext!” my tutors would cry if they read it. It has taken me over 10 years to let go of the idea of how writing should be.

I guess if you are reporting on reality which is what lifestyle writing is then it is harder to teach as it is yet to be acknowledged as a genre. It still sits either in humour, chick lit, biography or worse sociology. Few dare to venture into that section of the book shop.

I do remember at university being asked to present on a book by Doris Lessing. It was a huge book, I think The Golden Notebook, and I really didn’t have time to read it AND prepare a presentation for the class. So I sped read until one particular bit jumped out at me. She or the protagonist said something about not reading any book because you are forced to or before you are ready to. And that’s the biggest lesson I learned To write something that people will read but don’t be upset if they aren’t ready for what you write. It still needs to be out there for those that are ready.  And thus I don’t take courses in writing because it is the done thing. I’ve always feared that a qualification in writing would paralyse my writing style. Instead I blog regularly and hone my voice and how I use it.

To writing!

© Chelsea Black

 

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Bloggers. The porn of the writing industry

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Author Blog Challenge post 1

When I was younger I never thought about being a blogger. For a start it didn’t exist and also we are only allowed to want to be things that are respected. An author is one thing or a journalist but a blogger!?! Not so noble.

A lot of people see blogging as the porn of the literary industry. The barrier to entry is low both in quality of writing and cost, you self edit and some is so bad that you find yourself wincing and turning it off. And yet like so many porn stars some bloggers yearn to be taken seriously. Their dream is to write that big hit blog where people look beyond their Tits and Ass to the content beneath  Let’s be clear, if you are selling something well then selling something else is a hard sell. (excuse the pun)

My name is Chelsea Black and I guess therefore I am my a porn actress than BAFTA nominated. Reading my blog you might think an actual one. But no, I wish because they  get paid. Instead I blog for the love of writing as it doesn’t pay me a thing. I share my views on everything from dating, to Samantha Brick to a random TV programme like Sex Lies and Rinsing Guys. That was a 4 part special.

It is harder to gain respect as a blogger. People see a mediocre book that is 80,000 words as a major accomplishment but a daily blog with 80,000 page views a month isn’t anything to brag about these days as it says little about the content. Advertisers only want to hear from you when you’re getting a million page views which, given how much porn, sorry blogging, is out there makes it hard to stand out on your writing ability alone, right?

But this isn’t a rant about the unfairness of it all. I love to blog. I love writing between 250 and 1500 words of my own views without having to consider the censoring attitude of some editor. I feel they would be more concerned with the market and my ability to SELL. I wrote and self-published a book of my blogs just to be able to add the respectability of being called an author but I’m still just a blogger with aspirations of being a writer.  That’s not a bad thing. I realised that without the discipline of having to write regularly I may never ever have finished a whole body of work. I’ve learned how to perform in front of an audience and still enjoy what I do.

So as I begin to embrace my new job, because it is a job that it’s voluntary with no pay, I start to think….there are decent porn stars out there. It’s just about believing in your acting abilities no matter how you perform and knowing that maybe one day you’ll be one of the few that crosses over into mainstream. Or not.

© Chelsea Black

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