Are write-ins and feedback sessions valuable? Or does routinely sharing first drafts lead to writer's block?
How many drafts is too many? When do you know to let a piece of writing go?
In which I cap off a dark year by publishing a dark piece.
Hit a creative block? Switch up your writing habits to get yourself over the hump.
Can't quite pin-point the problems with your first draft? Struggling with an outline? The Beat Sheet is here to help.
Pitching a story in a single phrase not only gets you to the heart of a complicated mess, but can help brainstorm future projects.
Understanding what it is you like as reader will help you figure out what to do as a writer.
First drafts don't have to be perfect, they just have to be complete.
Black Gate's review of 'Redwing: Speculative Fiction Takes Flight,' the anthology featuring "Ticker Tape Kings."
In which I can't believe I published a poem.
In which Sad Mag kindly label me as "notable."
There is a line in a movie that I am not ashamed to admit I have seen way too many times* which goes: "Typical isn't it? You wait twenty years for a dad and then three come along at once." I feel a little like this right now. I've had several months of plugging away at a project with all the diligence of an AP English student (which is to say, very little diligence, but we fake it well), and now everything has kind of exploded in my face.
Each writer has a different approach to rules. For some, they're made to be broken, others they are mere guidelines, and even others, they are cliches to be avoided like the plague (guess which one I'm not). Anyway, advice in general is like excerpts from the bible: people cherrypick what works for them and ignore the rest. … Continue reading Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling
Momentum, like Mr. Darcy's good opinion, once lost is lost forever. Or so it seems. Something like a particularly nasty cold that lasts a week (especially when it is followed by Husband spending the whole next week sick with said cold) can wreak havoc on my momentum. Like coming back from vacation, or from an illness, or from … Continue reading The Granny Square Approach
Since about 2010, I've been keeping writing notes in Blueline notebooks. I go through two or three a year. I've just started my fifteenth. It's remarkably arbitrary when I finish a notebook; I simply run out of pages. From there, I have to plan a trip to Staples, select a notebook. Sometimes they're all out … Continue reading State of the Union
The above quote comes from the marvellous Deadwood, out of the mouth of the marvellous Calamity Jane. And I'm really feeling it right now. It's been a while since I've posted much of anything. Life is like that. Peaks and valleys. Hills and troughs. I feel like this is a lesson I've figured out before. … Continue reading “Every day takes figuring out all over again how to f***ing live.”
I am extremely thrilled and humbled to share that Quarter Castle Chronicles, Volume One, is now available in print and e-book! Quarter Castle Chronicles ~ Volume One showcases 13 short stories by 12 Canadian authors. They take place in settings across the country, both in the present and the past. From the rugged coast of … Continue reading Quarter Castle Chronicles… chronicled
I'm happy to share that one of my works has been included in the latest issue of WomenArts Quarterly Journal. Based out of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, WomenArts Quarterly Journal (WAG) is: an initiative of Women in the Arts, aspires to nurture, provide support, and challenge women of all cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and abilities … Continue reading Consider the Working Title Worked
I know I haven't posted anything in a while. I have no real excuse other than I have been writing, just not any blog posts. The body of one book is barely cold and I've already started on another. This one is a comedy, which is a nice change. It certainly makes life lighter. I am … Continue reading Obligatory July Post
This is part of a series I have been working on. The Introduction is here. I was exhausted and burnt out. For short trips, you rally. But backpacking is a marathon. I dyed my hair from blonde to brown before I left Vancouver because I knew I was going to Morocco, and I’d heard warnings—mostly … Continue reading Travel and the Art of Mental Maintenance: IV. Casablanca
This is part of a series I have been working on. The Introduction is here. the five types of travellers My first week in Paris was a crash course in backpacking. The first day, wandering from my hostel along Rue Moufftard down to Place St. Michel, took me onto the Ile de la Cite, towards … Continue reading Travel and the Art of Mental Maintenance: I. Paris, the Five Types of Travellers
There's nothing more useless than unsolicited advice. I was going to preface that with When you're young, but it's really applicable to all ages. Unsolicited advice simply comes at a much greater frequency when you're young. As I age (like a slowly ripening then rotting apple; that is the metaphor I've chosen to age by), I understand this … Continue reading The Commencement of Commencement Advice Commences
A short story of mine - a slightly awkward New Journalism-inspired piece - is up online at Crab Fat Literary Magazine. Unmasked! is an expose of the long-since retired superhero as he at long last reveals his true identity to the world. I'm quite pleased with this piece, but I've been sitting on it for … Continue reading Unmasked with Crab Fat!
Sometimes I feel like an asshole for complaining about the winter when I live in Vancouver. I see photos posted by friends who live elsewhere in Canada and they deal with Real Winter. Real Winter, to me, is snow and toques and leaving for work half-an-hour early to navigate the ice. Real Winter only really lasts a day … Continue reading The Winter Months
The first review came in for Redwing: Speculative Fiction Takes Flight. It is a glowing review from fantasy magazine Black Gate that also includes an enlightening discussion about the increasing visibility of small presses and what that means for niche readers and writers. “Ticker Tape Kings” by Ashleigh Rajala is next, a time travel story … Continue reading The Review is in!
In a fit of nostalgia-fueled panic, I dug with gusto into this blue tub I keep in the closet that houses all the old poetry and scripts and stories I wrote in my teenage years. This is not a metaphor. I hope. That blue tub contains horrors and treasures in equal measure. Like some kind … Continue reading The Rubbermaid Tub of Broken Dreams
Ah ha! The much awaited publication of Redwing is here! Redwing: Speculative Fiction Takes Flight is available as an e-book for Kindle and Kobo. With ten stories for $2.99, that's mere pennies per mind-blowing experience! Somewhere within that epic of majesty is my piece, Ticker Tape Kings... a strange meditation on time travel and the realities of the … Continue reading Presenting Redwing
It always seems the way. After months - nay, years! - of complaining that I just don't have enough time to write, that I have to struggle to make time, that I have to make hard choices like not going to that social gathering and not keeping the house clean and not, you know, having children, I find … Continue reading The Indolent Muse
Contrary to the alleged wisdom of Roget's Super Thesaurus 1995 edition (what deemed it "super" the tome never explained): "poetry" and "prose" are NOT synonyms. Thirteen-year-old me did not realize this. I trusted the almighty power of the printed word. Old notebooks now hold embarrassing hand-lettered titlepages. Of course, by "hand-lettered," I mean letters cut from … Continue reading When I was Thirteen a Thesaurus Lied to Me
In the hallowed halls of Main Street, in the aptly named Cottage Bistro, there shall be a gathering, and this gathering shall be called "The Launch! with PRISM, Event, poetry is dead, and Room Magazine." The date of this party shall be the seventeenth of April (a Thursday, methinks), in the year of 2014. And … Continue reading Hark! A Prophecy!
I have a short story in the latest issue of Room, Canada's oldest literary journal by and about women! This print journal is available at bookstores around Canada (if you're lucky enough to a.) live in Canada, and b.) frequent bookstores, and c.) be capable of reading things undeliverable via an electronic device). The piece … Continue reading A ROOM of My Own… Bad Puns
I've never much been one for resolutions but sometimes circumstances arise, flailing their fists, demanding action be taken. It's never anything so banal as the ticking of the clock from one year to the next that does it; no, for me, it's something drastic. Often, these resolutions end badly. Why? Because I suffer from the horrible conflation … Continue reading Resolutions and Pattern Recognition
The pleasure is mine to announce - imaginary megaphone in hand - that I have a piece published in the most recent issue of Sassafras Literary Magazine. In their sixth issue, Sassafras, have gathered an excellent collection of other short works of art, poetry, fiction and non-fiction that I am proud to be in the company … Continue reading Fiction and Festivities with Sassafras Literary Magazine
I'm not even going to try for the humblebrag. I straight-up won the Sad Magazine Fantasy Fiction Contest. *cheers* I've known about this for a month, where I received the news first thing in the morning whilst unshowered and annoyed in a terrible London hostel. It made my day then and it still makes my … Continue reading Plug Away, You Shameless Plug
The good people at The Round Up Writer's Zine have published a piece of mine of great intellectual snobbery... ... namely the story of time I got really drunk on Sambuca while camping. This was for The Moonshine Edition, which was seeking embarrassing drunken stories. With the piece entitled "Always the Sambuca," I have to admit that … Continue reading Which Drunken Story to Tell…?
Glib Tannenbaum Husband has at last begun his long-promised blog. Now he too can enjoy/despair at the travails of the writing life!
As other projects eroded away under the weight of my own disinterest, I've decided to cut my losses and not let a withered vine waste internet space. I've amalgamated Celluloid Heroes posts into this blog. And after a bit of bushwacking, I found my old Livejournal account from 2005. I've also brought some of those posts over. … Continue reading Forgotten Projects
Sometimes I think how you remember your childhood varies with how much time has passed since. Each year adds another coat of paint tempered with pop culture and shifting perspectives. Childhood takes on this orange hue, as if a perpetual summer. One coloured with the clichés we remember from movies: bare feet, tire swings, lakes, … Continue reading Latch Keys
After some downtime in the first half of this year (during which I moved house, settled down, watched a lot of Community, basked in the glow of a new relationship, and forgot about life for a while), I haven't really written much. It's strange how quickly six months can pass. Am I finally experiencing that horrid … Continue reading Am I really writing about space pirates again?
I think I need an intervention. This post is ridiculous. Sometimes I can't even form a coherent sentence. But badly wish to.* Following a rather messy attempt to write on my lunch-hour, I found this in my notebook. Word-for-word, without editing, this is what my (literally out to lunch) brain ranted about: Lost in mess of abstract … Continue reading Frustration towards an inability to find a suitable writing environment
More shameless self-promotion! A variation on A Hatred of Clubbing That Transcends Generations, now named A Live Studio Audience has found a home in the virtual pages of the inaugural edition of The Kudzu Review. Commence celebratory dancing in the streets now.
So I've finished another novel. It's not about Pirates in Space. In fact, it's probably the exact opposite. It's about two step-siblings who start an affair after the death of their younger brother (who narrates the story). Very strange turn to take, I know. Anyway, the first draft of the manuscript is done. I'm now … Continue reading An Explanation for the Increased Activity
[liberally adapted from reality] The house was silent save for the flickering of some distant infomercial blasting through the two am airwaves: a direct transmission of nothingness from the autocorrected perfection of the studio right into Dad's vacant, tired eyes. He heard me stagger in, heels clicking away across the linoleum. Each clacking step came … Continue reading A Hatred of Clubbing that Transcends Generations
I've recently had the chance to join an interesting project by Allison Lasorda. The Re:moved Project is "an interactive visual narrative project that features individuals’ experiences with home. by examining unique perspectives on homes that have been “lost” (whether through relocation, demolition, or (re)construction) this project aims to remove the stigma associated with nostalgia and, … Continue reading re:moved
If you, like most of humanity, find me charming, intelligent, affable and engaging as hell to listen to, then thank whichever god you think created you because I am going to be doing a reading! If you find me to be none of the above, then luckily for you there will be other readers as … Continue reading SFU Writer’s Studio Reading Series
So I've finished the first draft of the yet-to-be-titled novel about pirates in space. Now the editing begins. As difficult as the writing itself can be, editing is its own little beast. It is the shellacking together of various materials; the severing of arteries; the repackaging; the re-pasting; the smoothing over of cracks; the varnishing; the … Continue reading Editing with a Cutlass… in Space
Some progress. Very little of this is noted on The Board. My first act is kicking ass and taking names. (It is also taking numbers, so when it has sorted out its interpersonal issues, it will be making a round of apologetic phone calls.) UPDATE (MAR 31, 2011): It might seem remarkably apparent that this … Continue reading The Board: Day Three
Further progress results in colour-coding and work on "structure." All this hard effort will surely fall by the wayside once the actual writing commences.
In a well-intentioned effort to continue work on pirates in space today, I was mulling over the ideas in the back of my mind of a road movie / buddy comedy. I was able to push it to the back of my mind at first, but during a quick jaunt to the store, my brain … Continue reading The Board: Day One
I was up at five this morning. Intentionally, which is strange. I had a conversation yesterday which let me wander back down that awkward little garden path of memory to the time I came home from Europe, and, with no work for two weeks and jet lag, I was awake every morning at 5 am. … Continue reading Five AM and All is Well
Since officially relegating My Funny Valentine to the 'done' drawer of my mental filing cabinet, I've got my metaphorical "shit" together and am ready to start writing again. For the past eight months, I've done naught but scroll miscellaneous scribbles in the margins of notebooks; ideas that have stayed just that... miserably pencilled in my … Continue reading *Issues Insane Demands*
So tomorrow, I'm taking the day off work. Huzzah. It was originally intended to be a day to get through all those pesky starting-at-a-new-school things out of the way, like getting a student card, and all that, but once that was taken care of, it's degenerated into a shopping trip downtown with my sister. I'm … Continue reading Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny – effing – Kaye
This is currently how I feel at the moment. About writing. It's an uphill battle, with few chances for reward even in the event of success. Objectively speaking, there's little to recommend it. It can be therapeutic - sometimes - but other times, it can make you feel like an unproductive failure who would be … Continue reading The Nut-Busting Creative Process
There is a theory of evolution that argues that, rather than evolutionary change happening at a constant rate over a long time, changes happen quickly - remoulding the population at a relatively quick pace - then followed by a long period of stasis. Visualize the path from single-cell organism to human being as a set … Continue reading Peaks and Troughs and Tweaks and Prods
FADE INTO: EXT. RAJALA FAMILY HOME - TEN AM, SATURDAY. ASHLEIGH has woken up at her sister's place. BRIANNE having already left for work, she is sleeping off a late night spent watching random Michael Cera movies. That theme was accidental, not planned, total coincidence (but Nick and Norah is still ASHLEIGH'S favourite, even though … Continue reading Obsessive compulsive sunburns and other hazards of writing outdoors in July.
So I got a message today from Lulu, the self-publishing megaliths that currently have my book, The Savannah Stories. Normally, to put your book on Amazon.com it costs money. Either you sign your life over to Lulu, who act as your agent, and thus lose some of your property rights (which I wasn't that stoked … Continue reading Scary monsters lurk in jungles like the amazon.com
So, without even pretending to mask this blatant display of self-promotion, the second issue of Hacksaw is available! This issue is, dare I say, better than the first. This is good news, as people generally prefer the quality of something to increase. At least, this is what our rigorous marketing studies have shown. Just kidding. … Continue reading Hacksaw in all its Issue Two Glory
So by Saturday I was feeling marginally better. I was able to do something other than watch all of season four of Battlestar Galactica, and since that was all I had done the previous two days, I was also feeling undeniably creative. I don't know. The impulse to create overtook me. I wanted to write, I … Continue reading What I Did on Saturday Afternoon: the Zine
Okay, so I guess I'm narcissistic enough to fall for the latest Facebook meme, the "My Life According to [insert favourite band here]." I am convinced that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the only reason at least 75% of internet content exists (this blog included, no matter how I try to rationalize it). Needless to say, … Continue reading My life according to the latest Facebook meme.
I had to supply my bio on all voices. This is what I got: Ashleigh Rajala is a writer/filmmaker/magazine editor/miscreant who uses backslashes far too often to be healthy. She enjoys non sequitors almost as much as spelling inconsistencies and philosophical questions. What colour would "color" be if it were a tangible object? Suggestions?
this epic week, part four I also got a letter from Langara college, saying they've received my application for the Film Arts program, but that they are still waiting for my university transcripts. I called SFU to ask, "Quoi le fuck?" and was politely told that they had been mailed. With any sort of equus … Continue reading Will Blog for Food