Friday, 4 November 2011

Progress Report on Writing - 1

Thank you everybody for commenting on the previous post about my intention to write a memoir. I'd like to say right away, that I won't stop blogging,  I am an addict. I will also try and visit my followers' blogs and anybody else who leaves an interesting or constructive comment. Perhaps it would be of general interest if I post an occasional progress report; there are a number of people in the blog world who are delving into their history and writing about it, we might learn from each other. It would also force me to continue writing as I'd find it hard to admit defeat publicly.

I am consumed with this idea of writing a memoir at the moment - no half measures for Friko, there's that 'bald-headed' streak coming through again -; I had a dream last night which was a textbook example of the subconscious dealing with daytime thoughts. My very confused and frightening dream told me how hard and strenuous the work will be and that I will have to rely entirely on my own recollections, and do some serious research.

I have already learned the difference between my own blogging and serious writing: a bit of waffling does no harm on a blog, facts don't need to be seriously researched, context doesn't matter and a blog post is best kept short, whereas a story will not come alive unless you add colour and detail and get the chronology right. I can write a blog post in twenty minutes flat, whereas the first draft detailing the events of just one day took me the best part of three days.

One chapter of Two Thousand Five Hundred Forty Seven words written  -  how many to go?


  1. Quite an undertaking, I'd say. I'm rooting for you, Friko, I know it will be well worth reading. And yes, a progress report now and then would make sense to me! :-)

  2. can't wait to read the finished work--good luck!

  3. This is a terrific exercise and I do cheer you on. there is no reason it cannot be done! I also love reading about how writers posts on progress will be welcome by me.

  4. Hello:
    Don't think about it too hard....just do it!

    We read somewhere that an average novel comprises some 80,000 words. So, by our reckoning that makes 77,453 words to go.

    Don't think about it....just do it!!

  5. You've taken the first steps on what could prove to be a fascinating journey. I wish you luck.

    I take your point, that blog posts are best kept short, and a little waffling never did any harm. Do facts need to be seriously researched? Well, perhaps it depends whether you're writing to inform or to entertain. The context could be critical in either case.

  6. Well, you'll get no advice from me. I'm not a 'writer', have never considered myself as such. Even though I do have a blog, it's meant more as a journal for my descendants (all 6 of them so far). But I am a big reader and so I will love to read what you write.

  7. It sounds like excruciating fun! I have given some thought to the idea of a memoir, but not taken it any farther than that. You are right, it's best to keep posts short, so perhaps I need to give this further consideration. I love the process of writing and look forward to reading about your thoughts around it and any measure of progress you're making.

  8. There is no need for an intelligent comment, you have lots of those; instead I will say: On Friko! On!

    Happy memoir-alising (in blogging you can also make up words to suit the occasion - and spelling)

  9. The first step is to determine who your intended audience might be. I am sure your personal history would be a nice work for a historian. You certainly lived through interesting times and a number of people have written about those times, especially refugees.

    I don't know if you were a refugee, or one of those "little" people who lived through the war. Depending on your age, you might remember many events, occasions that baffled you or that you found painful. Did you come to the UK when you were still a child, or did you come after the war.

    I have read a number of biographies and autobiographies of the time and the place (Germany, Europe, 1939-1947) and know that everyone suffered.

    I am sure your story would make compelling reading.

    Think of the project in terms of baby steps, one day or one hour at a time. That's what I tell David who is writing his memoirs about himself and his family (wiped out by Stalin). I know from him how awful the times were.

    I don't know how old you are, I assume you are near 80 (forgive me if I am wrong), David is 83, born in 1929 and his parents met in Siberia. Not exactly your everyday occurrence. Dianne

  10. that is why i dont nano actually...writing too fast to research just leads to greater headaches in the clean wishes on it...

  11. Good luck with your memoir. Rooting for you!

    My pre and post blogging experience is much the same as yours, as described in your bio!

  12. I think I said it all in my last comment, but can't resist a blank space!
    Someone close to me is writing a memoir and says that it sometimes makes her physically ill - that one is putting one's own blood into a piece - drawing it directly out of oneself. Not a pleasant image but probably quite accurate.

  13. I know I don't have anything like that in me but I so admire those who do. Keep on writing.

  14. Oh, my goodness! I've just read Pondside's comment. I do hope you aren't going to become physically ill, although I do recognise the point about having to put in vast amounts of thought and effort. I have every confidence in you to get this task completed not only successfully, but thatyou'll enjoy the process. I'm not a writer, but I'm sure the age old injunction to pace oneself applies. The best news to me is hearing you won't be giving up on your blog. I'm looking forward to reading your occasional updates on the memoir's progress.

  15. I think a memoir is a great place to put your pain, joy, & truth. Some just can't write "like that," but I am sure, after reading your blog for a time, that you can. ~Mary

  16. Dear Friko, congratulations on that first chapter.

    I've tried writing three different novels and discovered that for myself, I must think not in terms of a full-length book--be it 120,000 or 80,000 or even 20,000 words. I must not think even in terms of chapters. Instead, I think of one scene at a time.

    The other advice given to me when I set out to write a novel was to avoid polishing. That is, to give the creative side of my brain free rein. To let the words pour out helter-skelter. And then to put them aside for the day.

    The next day, and this advice truly helped me, I came back and began where I'd left off. I didn't even read what I'd written the day before. I taken those steps, now I took new steps on my journey to write a novel.I didn't do any polishing of the writing from the day before. In that way, I finally got to the end and discovered I had a book.

    Only then did I go back and find out what I'd written and begin to polish and cut and paste.

    I don't know if this will work for you, Friko. I think some writers polish as they go along and others don't. But I do trust that you will find what does work for you.

    I so look forward to your updates.


  17. I have written several screenplays and found, like Dee, that the best way is to let the story pour out of you (the fun part) and then, go back and edit, again, and again, and again (the hellish part). good luck.

  18. At least you've taken the first step which is the hardest the rest should be easy :-).

  19. What is the correlation between ANACONDAS and EFFICOG?
    And then maybe you want to clarify OSIRIS- PETWOOD- HYDRA.
    If you can tell us all before the production of
    " KANSAS KINGS", it might loosen up the story.
    See ya in Cannes!

  20. Dear Friko,

    I think that marrying writings efforts offline to those online is sensible.

    Writing offline is vital to progress on more lasting projects but now we have a taste of writing online, it too becomes vital in its own way-- in lighting the heart of the writer who has long labored in obscurity.

    As you know, I have been searching high and low for a way to reconcile both kinds of writing and I am eager to see you reap the benefits of the hard work you commit to with the 'doors closed' via the light you shed on this excellent blog.

    My heart is knit with yours.


    I would love to have your published memoir on my bookshelf, esteemed friend.

  21. I'm sure there will be periods when 20 minutes writing yields an impressive amount of work on your book, it won't all be days of slog with a paltry result.
    I would imagine writing a memoir leads to hours lost deep in thought as memories become unlocked and brought back to life. Rather like getting the old photo albums out.
    DO keep us up to date, this may provide you with an incentive - needing to have some progress to report.
    To echo the Hattatts - JUST DO IT!

  22. Oh I think that's brilliant Friko. I should love to read your memoirs - unless we write things down, when we go they die with us. I love the way you write.

  23. I understand what you are saying. A memoir is a serious thing to take on. I have a complex story and it will not be easy to relate because I find I am still resolving much of what I have lived.

    In your case, this is your blog after all, I fully and completely support your writing of a memoir. I know you have much to write about, and I don't know why I know this. I see so much life experience just in your twenty minute blog writing. I see it in your comments. I see it in your take in life.

    You are a writer. Write.

  24. It is indeed a frightening thought to have to rely on one's own recollections, isn't it? I marvel, with a good memoir, how it's managed. I don't know that I'll have much in the way of constructive comments to add (even for a blog post, it takes me FAR more than 20 minutes), but I will nonetheless look forward to reading about your project. And, selfishly, I'm glad you'll continue blogging!

  25. It sounds to me like you have guts, Friko, and something to say, so I can only wish the very best blessings for your venture and hope it gives you some happy dream time.

  26. Good for you, Friko! I already know you can write well and I suspect that you have a very interesting story to tell. Write on!

  27. Funny how there is a distinct difference between blogging and writing "seriously." I have always thought that your posts were serious, and that rather than detailing the events of a whole day, that what you write about here are the honestly-portrayed snippets of a day. A whole day would be a different challenge.

    The time you spend on this will be well-spent.

  28. Hi Fiko,like the post,you described very well.

  29. That's an impressive start, Friko. Hooray for you!

  30. Das Druckschrifft kenne ich noch und muss mich freuen denn ich kann damit die Tagesbuecher von meinem Vater lessen. ich habe sie for kurzer Zeit gefunden.

    Good luck with the research.

  31. Good Luck! Looking forward to a signed copy of the first edition ;-)

  32. I know when I wrote some of my own memories from childhood down - just in little vignettes - I sometimes found that stuff arrived on the page I hadn't even deeply considered. I was looking at what I'd written and saying, 'Yes, yes, it really was like that!' as if someone else had told it to me. Very odd feeling.

  33. When I saw the calligraphy at the beginning , I thought "if she's going to do the whole thing like that , it'll take a while".But you're sailing along .
    Writing about one's childhood is always strange . As a very small child you just accept whatever your life is as the norm . Later you can make comparisons and see that not everything is Ladybird book-like . And by the time you hit your sixties , your parents , as they were when you were six , seem so terribly young and green.
    You're being very brave !

  34. endlich, endlich hast Du Dich dazu entschieden, ein Buch zu schreiben! Ich freue mich! - Aber ich finde, Du solltest Dich selbst nicht so bedrängen... und der Traum, ist er nicht einzig ein Druck, den Du Dir selber machst?! Wenn Du schreiben willst, dann schreibe, wenn Du eine Ruhepause einlegen möchstest, dann schreibe nicht. Der Verleger wartet auf Dich...!
    Dir einen wunderschönen, warmen und sonnigen Tag, liebe Friko!

  35. ok - according to Stephen King's rather dull book on the process of writing a novella (short novel) is 50-80,000 words and a novel is generally 80-120,000

    So that's two University thesis's

    Approx 400-500 pages

    The important thing, however, is not to get too hung up on goalposts and just keep going - commenting on progress here will definately help as people will spur you on.

  36. Good luck with your project. I've just started a "long write" too. I don't do it myself, I must admit, but I was advised when setting out to write thousands and thousands of words, not to look back, but keep going. Perhaps the person who said that was a marathon runner, not a writer - but I suspect they're right nevertheless.

  37. Good for you! I'm finishing up getting a long memoir published. Just getting it out of the head and onto something concrete is an excellent beginning.

  38. Hi Friko .. good for you and I'll be so interested in catching your tips and tricks .. Your memoir will for sure be interesting .. enjoy it all - cheers for now and Good Luck in the week ahead - Hilary

  39. I'm so pleased, Friko, your blog is great and your short stories are innovative and interesting - your memoir? Well I hope you enjoy writing it and that it can get out to a wide audience. Who knows where it will lead.

  40. Good luck with the memoir. Not an easy task, but hopefully an enjoyable one. :) Do keep us updated.

  41. It always grieves me when I hear people say, with a wave of the hand, "Oh, blogs are not serious. Blogs must be short. Blog entries require no research, no sweat or tears..." Let alone blood, I suppose.

    It is hard for me to post once a week precisely because, for me, blogging is "real writing", and I will defend the right of people to choose good blogging over bad 50K word compilations every time.

    I do seriously research when research is called for. I do not waffle, if that means hiding my beliefs or slanting the facts, and I always consider the context. I never have done a blog post in 20 minutes flat... Oh, dear. I'm sounding irritated, aren't I? I don't mean to - it's only that I hate the suggestion that bloggers are inferior creatures, not up to the standard of "real writers".

    Well, we each do what we will, and I wish you well with your memoir, for sure. But there is something unique and appealing about good blogging, particularly about the interaction between writer and readers, and the history that develops among them. The trick, as always, is matching form to content, and doing it with skill.

  42. Friko ~ I got so distracted by my own thoughts about blogging and other forms of writing I forgot to tell you what I came here for in the first place.

    I've been reading your comments here and there around the blogosphere for some time, and was struck today by a pair of comments on other blogs that I thought were absolutely wonderful.

    Honest communication is both a skill and a gift, and you're obviously skilled and gifted in that regard. Your comments generally have enriched my blogging experience, and I thank you for that!

  43. Oh, I see I still have LOTS to learn! I can still only DREAM of knocking off a blog post in 20 minutes!! Look forward to your progress updates!!

  44. How nice, Friko, you are the one who can do it! I’m a cheer leader for you here in Japan. I think serious writing or writing professionally would be a lonely work, especially for me. I’ll pose like a writer, but prose won’t come up effortlessly and I’ll scratch my head. Seeing from your blog, you’ll enjoy it even when it feels hard. Best wishes for your great plan.


  45. Such an exciting new adventure!! Can't wait to hear how it all progresses. So brave and inspiring - y'know?

  46. You are making extremely good progress. Are you writing in German or English? (or both??)

    The more you write the more memories will emerge and scents and sounds and tastes will evoke further memories.

  47. just catching up from traveling ... oh my, how exciting for you and cheering you on! A remarkable undertaking and have no doubt you will do it well!

  48. It's good to do both - blogging and serious writing. Blogging can keep your (mental) joints flexible! :)

  49. Life is the best fiction of all,
    and as we dip into the mystery
    of our own memory, filtered by
    own unique perceptions, our life
    chapters take on a Michener-like

    Yes, like working on an oil painting
    that you have the courage to walk
    away from for days at a time, the
    memoir, like the painting, will wait
    patiently for your returns to it.
    Knowing you a bit from this blog
    and your other one, I think levity will
    rise to top like foam on ale, and all
    the dramatic recounting of your very
    interesting life with be laced with it.

    And remember, the process is form
    of catharsis in itself, cleansing, forgiving,
    and putting the dirty lingerie out there
    along with the beauteous gardening.

    You go, girl.

  50. Write and enjoy it. Write and get exacerbated. Write and get angry. :) I guess I'm saying let your emotions come through and be you! I bet it will be fascinating.

    I laughed at "It would also force me to continue writing as I'd find it hard to admit defeat publicly."


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.