Why can’t I write!!?

G’day all. I have been suffering with a deep lack of motivation today. I meant to start working on my edits for Deputy at midday, I actually started at twenty past one. It is now three…and I have written about three paragraphs. It has not been my best day but there you go, you win some and you lose some. I am actually trying to force myself to get good work done at home as traditionally I do all my best writing in a coffee shop. The problem with that is that I am not yet a multi millionaire author and so buying three coffee shop coffees a day dents the old bank balance.

Usually when I am at home I get too easily distracted, which is exactly what has happened so far today BUT hopefully through effort I can change that. The old human mind loves homeostasis in all things and if I usually suck at writing at home, well my mind wants me to keep sucking at writing at home. The real question is who is really in control, me or my mind? Although, I probably AM my mind which makes that a silly question. Regardless, my mind is my tool, I am not its!

Even now, while writing this I just stopped to watch a Youtube video…I would say FML except I am not down with the kids enough to get away with that. So what do you guys do when you can’t actually get on and write? Any suggestions on how to force myself into the right headspace?

Ja Ne.

Explorers once (A short story)

The boat rocked gently on the passing swell of water. Not a real wave, like on the sea, just a little movement. The wind playing on the surface of the canal. Joshua pulled the thick duvet up over his shoulders and wiggled down so as much of his body was tucked beneath it as possible. With a sideways shuffle he moved himself as close to the edge of the bunk as he could. Edging toward the oil lamp and the meagre warmth it gave off.

His mother smiled down at him and the lamp light twinkled across her dark blue eyes making them look almost like glazed gems. Her eyes had a depth to them that told of the wisdom and knowledge of a life truly lived. Her face was covered in trenches that took on deep shadows in the evenings twilight. Joshua remembered asking her once why she had so many lines in her face and why he had none. She had laughed at him like it was the silliest of questions and told him that one day he would have lines just like hers. They couldn’t be given, they had to be earned she had said. “Well now why aren’t you closing your eyes to sleep young man?” His mother asked in her warm and earthy tones. “Don’t you know you have a long day tomorrow?”

Joshua shook his head and shuffled even closer to the lamp and his mother. “I can’t sleep” he said with a shrug and a slight smile beginning to tug at the corners of his mouth.

His mother sighed and crossed her arms. She shook her head as though she were exasperated by him but still smiled back, bigger than Joshua’s own had been. “You just want to hear a story don’t you? Trying to trick me into letting you stay awake a little longer.”

“Please?” he asked making his eyes as big and round as possible. Joshua loved to listen to his mother’s stories. Each one was plucked from her past and no matter how many he would listen to there always seemed to be more. He knew other children whose parents told them stories, but most of those weren’t true. Somehow he knew that these stories all were, no matter how fantastical they might seem. Every one was as real as a grazed knee or a bump to the head.

She took a deep breath and settled down into her chair beside his bunk. “Ohh alright…but just one” she said with a wink. She leant forward and twisted the valve on the lamp to lower the light as she cleared her throat to begin. As the light dimmed the interior of the little narrow boat seemed to fade away to dark, soon to be replaced by vibrant and colourful memories of far off lands and fearsome villains. “Let me tell you about the time a Troll nearly had my own two legs from beneath me,” she began, reeling him in from the very first word. “I know, I know. You are thinking ‘but how could a poor washer woman and simple mother defeat a nasty, smelly troll’. I wasn’t always as you know me now though. Me and my friends, we were explorers once…”

Douglas (A short story)

If he ignored the hole in the hull of his ship, and all that remained of his air being slurped out into space…the last few minutes of Douglas P Archibald’s life were fine. He wouldn’t have said they were great exactly, he should imagine there were much more glamorous and exciting ways to go, but for him, that just wasn’t meant to be. Flying through an asteroid belt had seemed like such a good idea a few hours ago, it would have cut his journey time nearly in half. Saved him copious credits on his fuel bill and he would have made it to the pub a whole lot sooner. He had run out of rum only a few days into this job and working while sober was not something Douglas wanted to try and get used to.

Things had started to go south pretty quickly. A few of the asteroids in the sector had a lot more magnetic material onboard than was normal. It had thrown his sensors haywire leaving the real business of piloting in his own hands. The main problem with that was that Douglas wasn’t much of a pilot when he DID have all of the driver assist systems running. When they were offline, he was about as useful as a chocolate chair on a hot day.

He swung a right here and a left there, thought he had space between two rocks. He didn’t have space between two rocks. There was a bang, there was some shaking and then there were alarms. Oh so many alarms. Hull breach one of them told him. Critical damage said another but worst of all was the one that kept on saying ‘Air supply interrupted, perform emergency landing in a safe zone or evacuate ship immediately’. He was in the middle of an asteroid belt, there was no safe planet or station to land on so that idea was shot. His only option was to take the escape pod and hope he would be picked up soon. The main problem with that option was that Douglas didn’t just like rum. He REALLY liked rum. He liked rum so much that when credits were low, he would pawn just about whatever non-essential parts of his ship that he could just to buy another bottle. Funnily enough escape pods always seem non-essential when you aren’t stranded in the ass end of space with a hole the size of a small house in the side of your ship.

When all was said and done Douglas had accepted his fate. He was going to die. There was really no way around it. He could kick and scream and cry but what good would that do? There was nobody there to see it and he would just waste his last moments of life in hysterics. Instead, he kicked off his boots, loosened his belt and lit a cigarette. Then a thought crossed his mind and a smile teased his lips. His life had never been anything special, why should his death be any different.

Soon to be a university writer

Hello all, sorry…my posts always seem to start with a sorry. Sorry that it has been a while, it usually has, and today is no exception. I feel I have a good excuse this time however, I was in hospital for a few days! I am very well now though, thank you for asking…or thinking about asking at least. Clean bill of health and back to writing.

I am currently editing two books. One, called Deputy, which I aim to self publish at the end of September. A novella designed as a part of an ongoing series as a cure for those who hate long books. Or, perhaps do not hate, but do not have the time to read them. The other, a full length novel which I intend to send to agents for a traditional publishing deal. Editing, as anyone who read my last post will know, is not my favorite form of writing. I love just writing, having to read my own words over and over again while making tiny changes and corrections…upsets me. Sometimes it upsets me because of the foolish mistakes I make (such as putting it’s when it should clearly be its). Other times because I feel reading one chapter of a book seventeen times in a row takes some of the magic away. Nervertheless, today I will edit.

I am working with a very talented cover designer for Deputy and sharing the creative process with someone else is forcing me to be accountable. At some point I need to have a completed draft because he needs the page count to create the cover…therefore I have tricked myself into having to finish the book.

Today is August the 3rd which means it is nearly September (sort of). In September I start something everyone else I know did ten years ago, an undergraduate degree. I will be studying Creative Writing because it gives me the chance to live life as a writer for three years. Surround myself with like minded people and hopefully come out the other side a much better writer than I am now. Truth be told however, it still doesn’t feel like I am going. September is so close yet it feels so far away. I am sure in three years time when I am handing in my dissertation I will be sat here writing to you all about how it flew by, but then time is funny like that.

May I ask a question of you all today? Please answer in the comments if you would be so good. I want to start gaining some traction on this blog and I have discovered that I picked a very bad name for it. A goggle search of the name brings up things like RightMove and estate agents…not this blog. What kind of a name or naming technique should I use to get closer to the top of search results for people looking for me?

P.s. I am also going to start posting short stories here alongside my usual blogs, let me know what kind of stories you like.

Ja Ne.

Editing paralysis

Hey guys, it has been a while hasn’t it? Well I would love to say it was because I have been writing just too much…but this is an honest space. Truth be told I haven’t been writing very much at all. I am suffering from what I am coining ‘editing paralysis’. If the name isn’t obvious enough, it is the state of being so afraid to edit…that you don’t.

Some time ago I wrote a first draft of a novel I quite liked. It still doesn’t have a title but the bulk of the initial work is all done. 37 chapters and around 60 thousand words. I have been through a few times and done some line editing. I had put in place holder names which needed taking out and many typos to be corrected. Though that is all good and well that is not, by any means, the whole of what editing is.

I got myself a few beta readers to go through and give me their thoughts. I read them, I cried for a few days and complained about the darlings they tried to kill…then I was ready. I was there, I was prepped, I….did nothing. Looking at the layout and deciding if all the chapters are in the right place. If all the chapters are even needed. If there is more character development needed here and there. Did I really explain how that happened? All of these things just seemed suddenly terrifying. Like if I started to change things then it might break. All my hardwork might somehow be undone.

My logical brain knows that is not the case but my writers brain wont stop telling me it is. It is telling me that I should writer for myself, not for the readers. A wise man once explained to me why that just isn’t right though. Writers are, by nature, the most narcisistic of all aritsts. We write on some level because we enjoy it. We right on MOST other levels because we want OTHER PEOPLE to read it. That is the blunt truth and if I ever want anyone to read this book…I need to consider what the reader wants.

I am hoping to use this admittance of fear to you, my lovely reader, to prompt some action. This post is my attempt at making myself acountable. I have written down that I need to edit and now I NEED to edit. Because at some point someone is going to say ‘Hey…did you edit that book yet?’ and I better be able to say yes.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the editing process. How about you folks? Have any of you experienced this fear of editing? If so please share your experiences down below.

Ja Ne.

The book launch is tonight (Yippee!)

Hello ladies and gents, it seems you have joined me on a most auspicious day. Today I shall be attending a book launch with a difference, one of my stories is in the book. Let’s talk about that.

When I was trying to think of something to write about in my blog today it didn’t take very long for this idea to pop into my head. As a writer and would be novelist, being the centre of attention isn’t normally top on my list. Getting to read a part of my story for a crowd and hopefully convince some people to buy a copy of the book. Well that is a different story.

So, how did I get here? About nine months ago a new local writing group appeared and I put my name on the list to go along and see what it was all about. Ever since I have been dropping in to the fortnightly sessions. Partly to improve my writing and partly because it is fun to socialise with like minded people. Through this group I was made aware of the opportunity to write a story in conjunction with an illustrator for inclusion in a new anthology. As you can imagine I jumped at the chance to see my work in print. Not just a magazine either but a real, honest to God, book.

After just less than two months of writing an editing my submissions was in. A few months later again and the book has been printed, I was gifted a copy, along with all of the other contributors and today is the launch. To be held at my local Waterstones tonight…well I cannot deny I am a bit psyched.

Yes this post is really just me rambling on about an achievement but there is a lesson to be had here for anyone looking for one. Never shun an opportunity to have your writing put out there, you never know who is going to see it and what it might bring.

I shall leave it short for today as there isn’t much else to say. Except for to say that I am off to have a large Scotch on the rocks to give me the courage I need to get through the reading.

Ja Ne.

The curse of WANTING to be a good writer

Good afternoon fellow writers, would be writers and just plain old readers.

Today I wanted to talk to you all about something that I feel plagues me, and that isn’t blank page syndrome…oh no. Though, coincidentally, I am supposed to be writing a short story right now and the thought was so scary I decided to do this instead. The matter at hand today is what I would call the desire to be good, always.

There are many exercises that people will suggest to help writers and one of the most popular is a variation of ‘stream of conscious’ writing. For the uninitiated this essentially means to write whatever comes into your mind without stopping to think.

In my time I have been asked to do many such exercises, some where you are given a word to write about, some an idea and others with no prompt at all. This is great for getting your creative juices flowing but I feel that I always stumble at the first hurdle, and I wonder if any of you share this problem.

The problem is, the aforementioned, desire to always be good. Stream of consciousness by its very nature should NOT be good writing. It should not be filled with pretty metaphors and fancy word play. It is an exercise in getting down the ideas from your head as quickly as possible and hoping that a train of thought emerges which takes you in a new direction.

So how does this problem manifest you may be asking? It manifests in TRYING to be a clever writer all the time. Never wanting to put something on the paper that isn’t smart, that won’t make people think, or isn’t going to raise a smirk. Stream of conscious should by its very nature be messy, but I cannot make it so.

Even when writing this blog, which is not prose at all, I strive to write in an engaging way.

I think to sum it up, the curse of wanting to be a good writer, is wanting to be a good writer, always.

What do you think? Is it a curse, or just a sign that you were born to be a wordsmith?

Answers on a postcard.

Ja Ne.