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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Out of Excuses

I plan to start posting about writing on this blog, but first, some context.

I have long been an aspiring writer of fantasy. I suppose it comes from being an avid reader from a relatively early age, from a first introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien and Larry Niven (God bless you, Dad) - and from always having had an urge to create (thank you, Mum). I had dabbled with writing, written short stories and the first novel in a trilogy. That took the best part of 15 years (on and off, of course!!) - it's now 225,000 words and not fit for publication. How do I know that? Because about 3 years ago I discovered the excellent Writing Excuses podcast.

I am a long time fan of Robert Jordan and his excellent Wheel of Time series. With the sad passing of Mr. Jordan, some bloke called Brandon Sanderson was brought in to write the last book from Mr. Jordan's notes. Well, one book became three, but it was clear straight away on reading The Gathering Storm, that this Sanderson fellow warranted further investigation. Having read his Mistborn books and started on the other Cosmere series, I am now an big fan, and it was a short step from Brandon's website to Writing Excuses (WE), the excellent and deservedly award-winning podcast for aspiring writers by Sanderson and his friends Dan Wells (horror writer); Howard Tayler (cartoonist and now published author) and Hugo Award winning ;o) Mary Robinette Kowal (author and puppeteer).

Writing Excuses is a hugely useful, entertaining and educational weekly podcast, now in its ninth season, which exposes listeners to the sage advice and wealth of experience of the casters, but also to the limitless expertise of their guests, who appear from time to time to discuss specialist subjects, as it were. I cannot began to relate how much I have learned about writing from this quite rightly lauded podcast. That learning alone is worth its weight in gold, but I have
profited even more. The sense of community centred on the WE cast is arguably its greatest quality. There is a real sense of participation, exchange of ideas and camaraderie through the casts and the posts on the WE site, so much so that it has spawned an equally productive and construction resource.

Reading Excuses (RE) is an online writing group, born from WE as a thread on Brandon's website. I find it a friendly and nurturing group of aspiring unpublished (mostly?) writers of different abilities, experience and applications, excellently moderated by Silk. Weekly submissions garner detailed and varied comments from within the group, but always (I find) keen, perceptive and helpful.

I plan to post various things here, like notices, thoughts, perhaps some of my attempts on WE's weekly writing prompts. Please do comment, or check out WE and RE if you're that way inclined, and don't forget, NaNoWriMo is coming...

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