Archive for April, 2015

Irons in the fire!

Posted: April 24, 2015 in Writing
Tags: ,

Being a writer, or at least a writer in waiting, it is very easy to overstretch.  You tend to jump on every opportunity that comes along.  That is what I have done. But I have done so whilst holding down a day job, feeding the family, and paying the bills!  I have spent the past two weeks laid up with Scarlet Fever.  Once a very serious disease that would have required isolation and hospitalisation and that was not that long ago.  However, fortunately for me, it was bed rest and anti-biotics.  The hiatus has given me a chance to reassess what I am doing and how I am doing it.  

I have been here before, I have had so many false starts and have said many times that things are back on track.  I go up and down, up and down.  This has annoyed me, frustrated me in many ways.  I want to be able to sit and write and keep writing and before no time completed manuscripts prop up the desk and are piled around me, I therefore can sit back and watch the royalties roll in, negotiate movie contracts, and sit back knowing I have done a job well done.

NO, I WON’T! IT IS NOT THAT SIMPLE

Being a writer is full of hardship, sacrifice, determination and rejection.  Writers are often rejected more times than they would care to admit.  Writers quickly learn, or they should, that to be rejected is not that they are not good enough, or there work is not worthy to stock the shelves of Waterstone’s. To be rejected is a right of passage, it develops the thick skin needed to put your work to the ultimate critical eye.  The unreasonable mass public.  Guaranteed they will not get it, they will misinterpret it. What do you think Shakespeare would make of the endless dissection of his work.  I reckon he will just turn around and say, “Hang on! Romeo and Juliet is just a love story, Twelfth Night is just a farce, and MacBeth is just a history”.  Maybe the endless dissection of literature, the search for meaning where ambiguity exists is just that.  Keep the opinion to yourself because guaranteed it is not the same as the author.  Having said that I am not attacking the public at all.  As a bookseller discussions with customers really opened my eyes, and I thank them. Some fascinating discussions.

What it also have me was another viewpoint into the world of publishing.  From being the provider, to being the distributor I have a better understanding of the process.  Now, if someone wants to give me a job in publishing or  in a literary agency I would know all aspects, but I am at least living in a little bit of reality, not much I’m a writer!  But, I think the experiences we gain, through work, love through what we read, watch and listen to add to the diversity that we can bring to the page.   

Now, I promised irons in fires.  Well, good news, I have recharged.  I have had to, the illness I have just had gave me such a kicking.  4 nights of fever an delirium followed by a outrageously sore throat, then came the rash, that itched to high heaven.  For a childhood disease it certainly stopped me in my tracks.  But I have reassessed the direction I wish to take, and I am starting over, I am going back to what I do well.  Firstly, I am going to take some courses, they will have to be distance learning as I work irregular shifts, but I think I need someone to sit me down and assess whether I have been going wrong. I am going to start reading every ‘How to?’ guide that I can get my hands on.  Relearn grammar.  But, also I will write stories, I have so many ideas, and I mean lots.  I can think of a dozen concepts a week for short, novella or full length stories.  Most will fall by the wayside as they have been done before, they fall apart after closer examination.  But the ideas still flow. And that is what I find so frustrating is that I have the ideas but am failing on the execution.

I need to put in place a plan, and that plan is:

  • Write one short story a week
  • Write one blog a week
  • Maintain a public/social media presence
  • Spend at least 1 hour a day on a full length novel
  • Do 1 major project and see it through to completion
  • Research and write a non-fiction article a week (I will explain later)

So that is where I am at.  I have faltered, I have wavered and I have doubted in my ability and my  talent. But to come through the other side and to still hunger for the success is what it is all about.  I have been tested and I have passed. 

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An experiment!

Posted: April 8, 2015 in Geek, Ghost, Writing
Tags: , ,

This week I have a new toy!  I was previously doing all my writing on a net pad.  It was a great thing served me well but now it is neither portable nor practical to use as the memory just ground to a halt and the battery won’t hold a charge so had to used only when plugged in.  So I have made a rash, perhaps ambitious purchase and got myself an iPad.  It is my intention to use the iPad to write, research and hopefully be more productive than I was with my net pad.  

The iPad a obviously comes with its challenges, and primary of those is the lack of a keyboard.  Still this is not necessarily a hindered efforts as I am, even now, typing the blog on the touchscreen keyboard.  So far, so good!  The other challenge is getting used to using it as a practical writing tool.  The laptop and netpad were excellent, multiple screens, easy to save and retrieve data, and now I a, hoping the iPad can do the same tasks, and hopefully more.  I am certainly going to need a period of adjustment. Mind you the biggest obstacle in writing on the iPad is me! And I say that as i am no spring chicken, not old either, but I am getting to the age where i am a little bit technologically challenged.  I am not down with the kids, I have no idea what snapchat is, I barely acknowledge the existence of Instagram.  But I am excited to have projects being worked on this new bit of kit.

So, what are the new projects?  I said last week that I was writing a paranormal short story, this is still in the works and I have another idea to add to the 3 I have already started.  But, another opportunity has presented itself and I am using my research to write articles of paranormal interest for a website.  I am a skeptic, let’s get that clear I know not what lies beyond this life, whether there is another life, a nirvana, or existence as a disembodied entity or even just nothing.  No that is what attracts me to the age old question.  After all so many people have seen similar spectral beings.  Possibly the most common being the ‘Grey ‘Lady’.  So I a going to write about the legends, myths and haunting’s that have been recorded in my region.  I am excited by this and look forward to sending off my first article shortly.  Details, if and when it’s published will be posted here.

But before it can be published it must be written and that means I must close off the blog for today.  Are you affected by any of the issues raised in tonight’s blog? If so than do comment for help and assistance from like minded and equally warped individuals….namely me!

I am once again hitting the competition trail. It has been a little while since I have composed short stories for anything other than myself. I will be honest I am a little rusty. Unphased I open my arms to the challenge and beat my chest and scream my war cry! If only it was that dramatic, generally that entails opening my notepad and see what comes out. I am focusing upon a paranormal short story competition for one of the writing magazines. I love writing tales to chill the spine, i love the suspense and drama of a ghost story but most of all I love the human aspect of it. So, my discussion this evening focuses on how to write a ghost story, what makes it so spine tingling entertaining, and why do we enjoy them so.

I have often written about the ethereal plain in various guises, from a fictional narrative to historical representations, it has interested me. I have done my research and analysed the great spooky storytellers and I shall discuss my findings. firstly what makes a good ghost story:

Firstly, it must be insidious in nature, it must have a rhythm to it that builds from a little event to a culminating conclusion that confounds and chills. A great example of this is Charles Dickens and his story ‘The Signalman’ a creepy tale of impending doom, and I am trying not to spoil the story by giving away the twist but it builds from such humble beginnings of a discussion between the narrator and the erstwhile signalman working alone on the railways, to his eventual and shocking demise. Dickens takes such a simple premise of a ghostly train and drip feeds clues to the conclusion. It is a perfect example of insidious tension within a story…wonderful!

Secondly, the human touch! what do I mean, one must engage with the character. A believable character that one can relate too is essential for any ghostly short story. Susan Hill is one of the best for this, in the ‘Woman in Black’ we are drawn in to the story by the humanizing and relatable character of Mr Kipps, a lone parent with a drinking problem following the death of his wife during childbirth, job in jeopardy, money worries and a family to support it is this attachment that makes the story a classic tale of terror.

Ad finally, less is more. A classic creepy tale doe not need to macabre or graphically violent. The rhythmic devices and metaphors do not need to focus on the violence of someones death or need to explain every gory details. to insinuate is often just as, if not more, scary than puddles of blood and viscera. As is told in so many ‘How to…’ books the best way is to show not tell. With a ghost story i disagree with this, should not show or tell but to allude and insinuate. the unseen is scarier than the seen, the big reveal only works if you haven’t shown your hand already. An example of this is Peter Benchley’s Jaws. A fantastic example of insinuation and humanization leading to a tale of terror that has shocked so many, and Spielberg absolutely did the book justice with the movie.

So these are my rules for writing a tale of terror. I have read so many, MR James, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King (who I think may just be the best short story writer out there) and I am really struggling to meet the expectations in my own writings. I have previously published on this blog my spooky story ‘Reflections’ nd for those that are new to the blog perhaps have a recap of that story. But I am struggling with this short story for a competition. It is not from lack of ideas mind, I have started 3 separate stories. the first I abandoned because I couldn’t get the device and style right. the second because it turned into a much larger project and would work as a novella, so not abandoned just paused, and the third I am still working on. It is all a matter of perspective really. For a 1500-1700 word short story I feel it needs to be first person, I know people would disagree but being in the first person adds the human element very quickly, it’s just how you insert the other two elements. Having said that ideas are running with the force of a poltergeist. So away I go to do battle with the spirits, in a very metaphorical and hopefully productive way.

As with all my posts on the blog I invite comments, please drop a line if you agree/disagree!