creative writing

Stephen King’s On Writing, and How I Got to Read It.

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stephen-king-on-writingA couple of years ago I took a course that required me to try my hand at writing small texts on different themes. It was fun and made me realize how much I enjoyed writing, how good I thought I was, and how horrible I really was… .This was a course that simply asked me to write small texts, not literary masterpieces, but I always felt that if I am to show someone a text I produced it has to be good. I didn’t want to “just pass” a course, I wanted to be the best, I wanted to catch the attention of the teacher, I wanted to be THAT student that tries extra much. Basically, I wanted to know that I did everything that I could do before I submitted that assignment. The problem was, I never felt like I did everything I could for my prose; I always had the sensation that I could have done more, like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. It was a dilemma, since the course itself didn’t offer any support on writing technique and I felt like I was lost at sea and my boat was leaking as hell. And so I thought that maybe I should just buy a book on writing. Upon googling around this subject, I concluded that there are two major groups: people who think that writing is just something you have or you don’t, a gift that can’t be learned; and people who think a textbook is vital to get you started, giving the young writer a solid base to build upon. I personally believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle (doesn’t it always?) I think a textbook can improve your writing a lot, giving you ideas and hints on how to find your inspiration, or answer some questions you might have regarding the craft itself.

It so happens that whenever I really like an author’s style I tend to google him/her and see if I can find an interview where they talk about their writing. This, combined with my before-mentioned dilemma, helped me find a great book- On Writing by Stephen King. Yes, I came to find the book because I am a great fan of King, but this has really nothing to do with him or his books (in essence). The book contains some really good advices for beginner writers like me. Since I finished reading this book, I got my hands on other creative writing books and I took a real course on it (I am actually doing the second part now), but every now and then I come back to this one for reference. There are small things that stayed with me, like his thought on the overuse of adverbs: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. I never really understood what he meant until I saw it in my own prose. And when I stopped doing that mistake, my peer reviewers appreciated it, the text flowed better, and my paragraphs stopped sounding like something out of a novel with a couple making out on the cover (yeah, you know which ones, you are as guilty as I am). Read the rest of this entry »

I Guess I Like Writing Horror Fiction.

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I’ve always found writing to be rather therapeutic. Writers often agree on this, and I strongly believe writing can take you in that hidden place inside your mind where all the twisted stuff is- the subconscious. Freud based his theory of psychoanalysis on this, arguing that the subconscious is a complex and vital part of us. So when we write, especially free write, things from our subconscious might come out and say hi.  This is really great news if you happen to write romance, fantasy, or comedy. But what about horror?

It took me quite some time to realize that the only thing I really enjoy writing is dark and horror fiction. It came to me, not so long ago, when I was putting together a portfolio for a creative writing class. This portfolio consisted of a short story, a personal essay, a couple of poems, and a multitude of writing exercises. I was proofreading everything for the last time when I realized the common denominator of all my work stopped being comma splices and misspells, but instead turned out to be blood and gore. What?! Read the rest of this entry »

The Art Courses and The University Budget Cuts Walk Into a Bar.

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orkanen_en
Malmö University (MAH)

…and the bartender says ´´Hey! I know where this is going!´´. And so do I. As a matter of fact, if you are studying Arts you probably do too. I was naively living in a world where the Art Department was the bread and butter of the society, the soul of the University, the heart of the Academia. Well it isn’t.  Not in the eyes of the Government people who, when it comes to saving money and cutting costs, are pointing fingers at the education budget. I am an English student who at the end of next year will have a bachelor of Arts with a major in English Studies. My teachers are wonderful people, always trying to do the best for us, teaching engaging courses, encouraging us to be creative. But there is only so much that they can do.

This semester I have been engaged (and still am) in a great course called Creative Writing. It is a distance course at Malmö University,Sweden, based on developing our skills as writers through workshops, reading, as well as giving and receiving feedback. Great stuff, you might say. Well that’s not what the University thought when it came to cutting costs. What is happening is that the Government decided the universities need to cut their budget, and  as usual the art courses went down first. SO we nagged and nagged and in the end decided to…well…do something. And we did what we do best. We wrote. Between our workshops and deadlines we wrote some mails to the Vice Chancellor. We told him how this course is unique in Scandinavia. We told him how important our English speaking community in Southern Sweden is. We told him former students are being published all over the place resulting in an income. We told him how every semester there are so many students who just can’t get a spot in the course because there is no more room. We told him how our department is cut from Literature courses all the freaking time, and how this is just another low blow. Mainly we told him how much we love our course. I don’t know how many e mails he received but at the end many asked him about this issue on his blog, as well as making Facebook pages where we discussed why the course should not be discontinued. And it worked. I honestly didn’t thought it would, but it did and boy did I let out a wild loud cheer when I heard the good news. We get to keep the course. It will not be discontinued. Yay for us. Power to the people, right? Read the rest of this entry »