Writing Fiction: Raising the Bar

What is interesting about this is that the ‘lanky blonde girl’ did something more men than women are inclined to do – she took a risk. But then if you look again, she had nothing to lose, which is a different thing altogether. Whatever happened, she would come out a winner. To raise the bar in whatever we do may mean risking losing all that is important to us – credibility, status, respect, resources – and it has certainly happened in the past to innovators disparaged in their lifetimes and lauded after a glimpse through the lens of history. I’d like to think I’d have the courage (and the talent) to risk failing my MA but who does that? Would you?


Forgive the irony, but sometimes you’ve got to grab a cliché with both hands.  In Brain Pickings Weekly recently, they summarised the findings of Daniel Goleman in his book The Hidden Driver of Excellence.  In short, he concludes that, contrary to received wisdom, just practising a new skills for ten thousand hours isn’t enough to become a genius.  It needs to be a deliberate attempt to improve, often concentrating on just one aspect at a time.  (And to keep that open to feedback.)  As Stanley Donen, director of Singing in the Rain has said, ‘Talent is passion in a narrow field.’

I was set to thinking about all this because of a passage in Tash Aw’s book Five Star Billionaire.  One of the female characters is watching the Olympics on the TV.  As the Chinese Athletes are winning all the medals, a ‘lanky blonde girl,’ has failed her first two…

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Readwave and Scribd: places for writers & readers

Readwave is a well-presented site for writers-looking-for-readers and readers looking for something bite-sized to read. Anyone can post a piece of flash (800 words – longer pieces have to be broken up) and your stats are clocked up next to each entry. While I’m not sure that a ‘read’ always means what it says, you do at least know someone looked and that your treasured bit of prose isn’t all on its lonesome any more. Upload is a simple copy/paste process with boxes for title and short description, and a place to put tags.

There is a limited range of images available as headers which are rather nice but for variety and relevance, you might want to source your own. Copyright-free of course, or keeping it in-house, something you chased up on Photoshop.

Scribd is an option for longer pieces which are uploaded as documents . If you want an attractive image to accompany the piece, you must incorporate this in your document and experiment with positioning so that it looks good on-screen. Again, there are stats which tell you not only about ‘reads’ but also whether or not your piece has been embedded in someone’s site. Documents can be downloaded so it’s probably important to copyright your document before posting. Scribd hosts a much wider range of documents – everything from how-to manuals through scientific reports to previews of whole books – and you can set up collections.

So – every little helps when it comes to outlets, doesn’t it? Here’s my Readwave page and this is my little Scribd niche. Pop over and say hello, I’ll have the kettle on.