writing

Writing goals 2018 and a question, dear readers…

 

Welcome to 2018! I’ve found it was useful to talk about writing goals at various points in the past so this is my housekeeping/ looking forward/ looking back blog for the year. Partly for my own reference but I’ve also got a question for you guys!

Housekeeping: I was really pleased to finish #26Cantons52weeks in the allotted time. I made a snazzy (sort of) homepage for it here: https://clairevetica.wordpress.com/26cantons52weeks/

I’ve also updated my About me page and added a new pic.

Taking stock: according to my submissions document, in 2017 I had 32 rejections and 4 acceptances. They say you should aim for 100 rejections per year so I only got a third of the way there. Partly this is because I only have about 6 hours ‘writing time’ per week but mostly because I really slowed down on sending submissions for various reasons, including making a decision not to pay for any submissions/reading fees/competition entries. Three acceptances were short stories, one is a poem that’s still in the pipeline. I love my poems but I guess in general the lit journals don’t? Or maybe I’m too impatient and I just publish all the best ones here 😉

My writing plans for 2017 were as follows

  • have a reasonable first draft of the novel by mid-year to give to early readers to feed back on – Not even close, I’ve barely touched my novel, although I did have a brainwave for a new start the other day, watch this space
  • (self-?) publish a chapbook of poetry and/or publish or contribute to a book of short stories –  The more I think about this, I don’t think I’m ready yet. I need to keep writing poems and consider themes etc.  before I go there.
  • record more poems – let’s say 6. At least one every two months – I achieved this and more, yay! Check out my soundcloud
  • perform some poetry live to an audience at least once (eek!) – haven’t made much headway here 
  • make a bit of money off my creative writing (ie: non-journalism) – not so far, still hopeful! 
  • get at least five pieces published in places that are not Claire-controlled: journals etc. – I made this target, if I include my upcoming poem and this writeCon writeup I had in The Woolf 
  • And I finished the #26Cantons25Weeks project. Woo hoo! As I say in the Woolf story, it was a valuable lesson to learn from Diccon Bewes about the amount of work it would take to potentially spin a project such as this into a book. Food for thought…

Writing goals 2018

I’m at a point where I really need a paid job. Both for myself and due to family circumstances. So I’ll be focusing on that for the next couple of months, which will mean less blogging. At this stage, I’ve had to be a bit tough with myself and decide I won’t even think about novel writing, short stories or poems too much while I focus on the job-hunt. It’s make or break time.

I’m sure a few poems will pop out, and maybe some travel stuff, but I need to give myself permission not to feel bad about putting my creativity on hold (sob!) to focus on finding work. And unfortunately, due to some travel in April, I won’t be able to participate in GloPoWriMo global poetry month this year either. 😦

Otherwise from that, I guess my goals remain much as above… I will revisit it all in May.

 

A few other bits and pieces:

  • I have created a Facebook author page if you want to ‘like’ me on there. It is mostly just publicising my blog posts at this stage but hoping to share a few articles and maybe have more writer-type discussions there. https://www.facebook.com/clairedoblewriter/
  • I’ve started using Twitter a bit more and I’m @Carabosse there

 

 

AND FINALLY…

I made this poll a while back and never published it. I was going to ask you, my readers, what you would you like to see in the next, say, six to twelve months, from Clairevetica?

Since this is mostly a place for me to write whatever, I don’t promise I’ll actually follow your advice. But it would be nice to know what some of you think!

Please feel free to pm/ speak / email me with your thoughts as well

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Cheers, Claire

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#26Cantons52Weeks: Bern

 

Springtime in Wilderswil

Canton: Bern

Destination: Wilderswil

Special guests: An informal writing group on retreat

Interesting thing: In Bern you’ll find Jungfraujoch, which is the highest railway station in Europe (3,454 m above sea level)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It’s the one you’ve been waiting for! I promised to write up Bern months ago but, I’ll be honest, I was waiting for a better offer… I had hoped to take a trip here with my parents, possibly to Mürren (best place in the country, according to Swiss Family Sabbatical). Alas it never happened, although we did manage to visit Basel-Stadt, Schwyz, Obwalden and Schaffhausen so I shouldn’t complain!

I’ll also be in Bern in a few weeks for my annual ‘lonely freelancer Xmas drinks’ but time marches on and I’m going to try to honour my commitment to myself by finishing #26Cantons52Weeks in, well, 52 weeks. So… to Bern.

As a canton, Bern has a lot to offer. It kind of seems like it should qualify as two cantons: Bern the city – capital of Switzerland with a UNESCO listed old town centre – and the Bernese Oberland, which encompasses the Bernese Alps and contains more than its fair share of stunning spots such as the Oschinenesee, Reichenbach falls (of Sherlock Holmes fame), gorgeous towns such as the above-mentioned Mürren and the Big Three mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Back in April, I attended an informal writer’s retreat weekend organised by my friend and fellow blogger Tara Grioud, where I wrote poetry (for poetry month) and fiction with a can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real backdrop of the mountains out my window at the Hotel Berghof. I’m thinking a lot about writing at the moment (well, perhaps I always am) because I’m trying to work out my gameplan for next year: get back to the novel? Pitch more stuff? Try to find a job? Stubbornly attempt to finish the #26Cantons project even if I don’t make it by December 31? Er… yes.

Anyway, what more can I say that you don’t already know about Bern… the towns are pretty, the views are incred. The writing went as it did. It takes bloody ages to get here from Zurich so is worth staying overnight or longer. There are plenty of other amazing spots in the Bernese Oberland I want to visit in future. It’s a very full canton. But this post is getting too long so I’ll leave you to enjoy the slideshow.

Oh, and before you go, here’s my poem about Bern

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

Disobedient

 

Sid Vicious “I did it My Way” RIP Sid & Nancy Spungen, you disobedient delinquents. Photo: https://sonicmoremusic.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/swindle.jpg

 

I wrote every day

every day

then started to disobey

my plans and programmes

I guess

life

got in the way

distracted in the fray

of various this and thats until

well…

sometimes you need to rebel

I make the rules, I break the rules, no one tells me what to do

I always say

and no one fucking publishes rhyming poems either

I may

have discovered too late

but here we are today

you like it, hey?

keep on

disobeying

 

Written obediently in response to the WordPress daily prompt: Disobey

Empty Words

all the words have been used

I’m just making biscuit-ends

from scraps of pastry

language left behind

don’t want to waste it

can’t say or write

anything new so I

bake it lukewarm and then

gorge on

empty calories

and press up the crumbs

on wet fintertips as

thick clouds of ideas

stifle my mind but

when

they drift

from my mouth

they’re the thin smoke

of banned cigarettes

FICTION: Nice Ride by Claire Doble

Having only just discovered the re-blog – here’s another one of my stories that was published about a month ago I forgot to mention! oops… enjoy!

We weren’t supposed to end up in the bath. It was one of those intense blue afternoons where it’s almost too hot in the sunshine but disconcertingly dark and shivery when you step indoors. The kind of afternoon you get in Melbourne in early spring. But this was Sydney, autumn. I was sitting out on my balcony, eyes closed as I soaked up the brightness when he stopped by. I had other things to do. But he was far more appealing.

Joel was a taxi driver so I always half-expected him to visit anyway. He’d knock on my door to use the toilet when he was passing by and had a spare fifteen minutes. Toilet breaks are the bane of a taxi driver’s existence. I’d learnt to listen out for the engine’s wide hum as he pulled the cab onto the concrete slab in front of my block of flats.

View original post 1,635 more words

Work the numbers

 

Been trying to work the numbers

a thousand words

ten thousand hours

the rays of light blur and I snatch the curtain closed

concentrate, mother

I spend my time guzzling water

coffee, cakes

I know I’m smart but

sometimes I just sit here listening

to the whine of the drill

from the building site

gristling and

grating on my ears

and I don’t know how I’m going to write

all the things I want

both failure and its fear

hover heavily

like a blight

 

This was a poem from a writing prompt – grab the nearest book (Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake), turn to page 29 and pick ten words that resonate, then use them in a poem. I only used nine of the words as one was “pigoon” and ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Hello Wordpress

Author selfie

I’ve been on a slight hiatus this past week or so. With Spring arriving, it feels like time to pause and check in with myself. I’ve had a bit of success with my writing. But I’ve also made a few rookie mistakes and started grappling with that learning curve. Basically, I found that I really wanted to submit my work to a bunch of literary journals because I’m used to the Shoot! Cut! Print! mentality of working in media and I find it really hard not to have a “finished” product for my work. I’m trying to wean myself off this feeling as I think it means I sometimes send stuff off a bit half-baked in my desire to be done. That said, completion is no bad thing. DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT is a bigtime mantra of mine.

I wanted to talk a bit about WordPress as well. For those who don’t know – WordPress is the blogging platform I use here for Clairevetica. Around Christmas time, I took Facebook off my phone which has meant that now, instead of noodling around on the ‘book, I tend to read a bunch of blogs instead, which is nice. Although I do find the WordPress phone app does some odd stuff with its feeds. So, if I followed you but it seems like I never ‘like’ your stuff – it might be because I never see it? My feed seems to be full of the same 10 or 20 blogs even though I follow a few hundred. Oh well.

In writing news, I’m doing two things in the next few weeks. One – I’m starting an online writing course, which will be interesting and hopefully valuable. Two – I am planning to participate in GloPoWriMo again – the Global Poetry Writing Month that last April kind of kicked me into a new dimension of creativity. If all goes according to plan, both these things should help consolidate and advance my writing. Or it could all fall in a screaming heap because how tf do I have time for both these things?!

Anyway, I have at least one more story that’s being published but not until end of April so I’ll wait and tell you about that when it’s live. And I’m planning to keep submitting stuff but it takes ages – not just the actual submissions but reading the journals and trying to work out if my stuff will fit (usually, I think yes? But it’s hard to know for sure).  And then you get into this weird rabbit-hole of all the short story and poetry competitions – most of which you need to pay to enter. So it becomes a situation of do I put my money where my mouth (or pen) is? And, although the rewards could be huge (comp winners often find agents and book deals come knocking), it’s also stressful and a bit distasteful. Like – what an indication of privilege to be able to enter stuff and pay… and the other entrants will surely just be other rich first worlders so where’s the diversity in that? But, if I CAN afford to enter a few things and I really believe in my work… argh… you see the dilemma. Maybe once I’ve done this course and got some genuine feedback on if my stuff is “ready” I will be able to judge better whether it’s worth entering competitions. Anyway, hence the attempt at another author selfie. I don’t know about the sunglasses. A bit too closed off, no?*

PS: Do you guys want to read some flash fiction writing prompt stuff on here? I’m not sure if it’s really worth publishing but trying to ‘keep the hand moving’ and, as stated above, I feel the need to cut, shoot print.

 

*Sometimes my inner voice goes a bit Karl Lagerfeld

Lueg die Werkstatt

It’s now been a few weeks “full time” (which means approx 1.5 days / 12 hours per week) into my Writing Thing. I have created my own home-based Werkstatt (workshop) – a space to write. And despite the to-be-expected wobbles and mini crises of confidence, things are going pretty well.

I’ve been bashing out lots of poems and submitting them to various journals and also trying my hand at some short-story writing. I think short stories are the hardest so far for me, compared to poems and even the novel. Although it still feels like early days on the novel.

Anyway, I just had my short story “Mark’s Funeral” published at http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/fiction-marks-funeral-by-claire-doble

Yay!

Hopefully more good news to come in the following weeks and months. Watch this space / Lueg die Werkstatt!

Spoken Word collaboration

Image: Riccardo Annandale @ https://unsplash.com/@pavement_special

Pic by Riccardo Annandale @ https://unsplash.com/@pavement_special

Well this is exciting. My first spoken-word-poetry collaboration!

I came across Kate Duff’s poems through the blogosphere a while ago and they really resonated with me. I approached her about doing a reading of one of them and she was kind enough (and brave enough!) to say yes.

I enjoyed reading someone else’s work and -ahem- it may have even provoked me to try a bit harder and do a few more takes than my usual slapdashian approach!

I’m really pleased with this one. Have a listen (it runs for about 1.5 minutes). And throw some blog-love towards Kate over at https://athousandbitsofpaper.com/  Thanks Kate!

 

Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/thinking-by-kate-duff-read-by-claire-doble

Link to original poem: https://athousandbitsofpaper.com/2016/12/01/thinking/

Clairevetica: Year in Review 2016

Lake Zurich

Although it’s against popular opinion, 2016 has been a good year for me. Maybe one of my best! It’s been a great year for this blog too. In fact, a lot of my joy in 2016 has been directly tied to Clairevetica so it seems appropriate to write this post.

This is the year that I randomly decided on 30 March to participate in a month-long poetry writing challenge: NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo. I feel like that spur-of-the-moment decision has changed my life! A month later, I’d written 30 poems in 30 days, I had a bunch of new followers and was following heaps more blogs myself. It helps that it coincided with a friend/local blogger starting a Switzerland blogger group so I simultaneously followed a bunch of local blogs as well as all the poetry stuff. Clairevetica has gone from having around 50 followers to having 200. Impressive. And I really thank you all for following, liking, commenting and supporting (both on the blog and elsewhere) – hell, even just bothering to read all the words I write! Fittingly, as I was writing this post, I just got a notification from WordPress that I’d achieved 1,000 likes on this blog altogether, w00t!

However, stats aside, perhaps the most important thing about the poetry month was it meant poetry went from being a thing I occasionally dabbled in to a Thing I Am. Alongside my various other jobs and titles, I’m now “Zurich-based poet, Claire Doble” and fuck that makes me happy.

My most popular poem was The Earth / His Purpleness about Prince and Earth Day. Which seems even more appropriate since this year is ending on a media storm of all the famous people who’ve died, as well as there being ongoing worries globally when it comes to ecology and politics.

Other current affairs poems I did included The Unicorn and the Lion about Brexit, Stars and Stripes about America, Over Heard and Cincinatti about Johnny Depp’s breakup and that Gorilla grabbing a child (remember?!) and Landfill – deploring all the waste.  Other poems I wanted to mention again included Alison, which I’m humbled was read aloud at the funeral, Morning Song, which really evoked something about my life here and Rollins Rules, trying to capture the give-no-fucks spirit of the man. While I’m thanking people and noting poems, I should give a shout-out to my ever supportive husband, Himself: Respect! (and love)! 

I also wrote a few book reviews In Deep that’s stayed with me and I am a Feminist as well as a couple of film reviews from Zurich Film Festival.

I had my spoken-word debut, and went on to do a few more spoken word recordings. Possibly my favourite so far is Vanish.

And, of course, I had a good dose of soul searching and attempts to find my way – Time Out of Mind and Writing for My Life/ Fighting for my Life (which is my second-most viewed post of the year) . It’s nice for me to take a look back at these and see how things have worked out (mostly well).

I also started and finished writing my first novel – which I should mention as it’s pretty huge. Although it doesn’t have a lot to do with the blog…

In the midst of all this, we had an amazing summer of international visitors to Zurich. It was so great to introduce our adopted home-city to friends and family from near and far and to spend time exploring more of this gorgeous country with them.

As I said in my previous post of New Year’s Resolutions. I’d like to do some more travel stuff in 2017 with our 26 Swiss Cantons in 52 Weeks challenge. I’ll do more poetry of course but hope to get stuff published above and beyond Clairevetica. And you can follow my spoken word stuff on Soundcloud.

Happy New Year everyone – I’m so delighted to be writing so much and to have all these Clairevetica followers old and new. I appreciate each and every one of you. Here’s to a rockin’ writing 2017!