The End of a Hard One


It’s been hard, so bloody hard… and long. But at the end of the long hard week things are steadily getting back into a normal routine. On a lighter note I have a new chair. Would you like to see a picture of my new chair?

Behold! My writing chair. Always wanted one of these. Its a treat for your ass.

Damn odd week this one. On the one hand things have been going swimmingly well with the publication of my first short story (and payment!) and its feedback. Yet, on the other hand I have been astoundingly busy to the point that this is the first chance I’ve had for some ‘me time’. Some people get pissed up, go out and see friends or just chill out when they get the time. I write. I write because I enjoy it immensely and it’s my way of chilling out.

Although busy, this week has been great for ideas. Perhaps having a break is good for the mind? For example, last night I hosted a BBQ for some friends who have been helping out down at the farm. Whilst getting steadily beer’d up the conversation swung widely between topics and herein was a virtual quarry of awesome. I must have looked a little disinterested as I tapped away like a mad man on my phone but no, my mind and ears were both feverishly mining ideas. Honestly, at times I felt as though I’d walked into a plot mine crammed full of brilliant material. Okay admittedly I was as drunk as a skunk by the end of the night but on re-reading some of the ideas I jotted down I can honestly say I’m pleased. I’m literally burning to start planning one of them. No, no sharing just yet I’m afraid.

Project Time appears to be on hold at the moment. Not sure why. I have two stories in with that mob and to be honest I would have thought we’d be close to publication by now. Maybe we are but no one is offering any news yet so I guess I’ll just have to be patient.

In movie news I watched Cloud Atlas this week and loved it. I’m a sucker for atmospheric sound tracks and this film has that in spades. Obviously I downloaded the album shortly afterward and added a few choice songs to my writing playlist. Speaking of which, that playlist now has some thirty songs on it which just repeat in one big loop. You’d think I’d be sick of some of them by now but nope. Every single one still inspires me now. Music, the writers best friend and partner in crime with that other great acquaintance – wine. Wine crime? Can I get a lol? Oh come on. That was pretty good.

Right, I’m off to commit some wine crime right now by finishing a bottle I started last night.

Later.

M J

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Bleeding Fingers


Today I have mostly been writing and editing old stories. It’s been a bloody long day but come the end I will have submitted three stories to various markets making my total now doing the rounds, six!

I know at least one of them has already been accepted. I suppose I should put a little sampler up on here at some point but I’ll check with the editor first. A paragraph can’t hurt surely?

My novel is also grumbling along. That’s a beast of a project. I’ve never attempted one before though so maybe it will get easier with time? Who knows? I have the first half roughly planned out and also a good idea of what happens in the end but as I said, it’s a beast. Just finishing the damn thing will be a hell of an achievement.

Today has been a good day. I cannot deny that simple fact. I worked a night shift last night in police custody and was out all bloody night. I did a little over 180 miles in total scooting between the various custody suites but hey, that’s a story for another day. I’m just pleased I’ve got so much done on no sleep.

Come to think of it, I really should check and see what exactly I have submitted and to who. In my sleep addled state I could have made some blinding errors of judgment. Sod it, too late now anyway.

Right, this was just a quick update so, off with you. Get back to your own desk and write something yourself.

M J

Time is ticking…


I used to hate that saying. Time after all certainly does tick and I find it irritating when people feel the need to remind of such. It’s doubly irritating if it’s my own mind that reminds me.

The short story I am currently engaged in battle with is finally coming along quite nicely. I’ve reached the halfway point as far as word count goes and foresee no reason why I won’t hit the deadline for the first draft. Whatever the result sending this thing out turns out to be, I can honestly say it’s been worth it just for the experience of working to a deadline. Of course, I may change my mind depending upon the reviews I receive. The last time my mystical editors cobbled together an anthology it was quite well received and so I really hope my efforts don’t let the side down.

It’s been a battle. There is no doubt about that. The story-that-is-now-progressing-well was not so long ago in its fourth reincarnation until I finally got a handle on it. There are a few reasons I struggled with it and the top three are as follows…

  1. Time travel is an enormously tricky subject that only really lets on just how tricky it is when you sit down and try to work out your plot. I’ve found the way around this particular hurdle was to just make shit up.
  2. The POV (Point Of View) was all wrong in the first four versions I attempted. Seriously, that’s nearly forty thousand words that went nowhere. In the end I experimented with a combination of two which I think works rather well.
  3. Before I found a POV that worked, I just had no love for the theme of the story, probably becasue of the two reasons listed above and seriously considered pulling out more than once. In truth, had I had other projects to be getting on with than I probably would have. It’s good now though.

Hmmm, I must digress a second. There are bits floating in my tea. It tastes funny too.

Right, well, bollocks to the tea. I think I have some Gin around here somewhere.

M.

Mind Punch


Yesterday was a good day. I put down 3500 words and went to bed feeling pretty awesome. Woke up feeling pretty awesome too.

Then I listened to a Black Library audio drama called “The Stromark Massacre“. In particular, it was Andy Smillie’s “From The Blood” which is Disc 1, and by the time I finished it I was a seething mess of frustration.

That story was beyond awesome. Even as I write this I can feel my frustration bubbling just under the skin. I’ve never met Mr Smillie but right now I feel if I were ever to meet him, I can’t be sure if I would greet him a handshake or a punch. Perhaps, I should explain.

Or a handshake?

Normally, if another author makes me want to eat glass and nut a brick wall it’s because I discover they’ve already had my idea, already committed it to paper, and done it a lot better than I would have done. Not so with Mr Smillie. I think I’m passed that kind of reaction now. Too be honest, I hadn’t considered writing a Flesh Tearer story. I hadn’t even considered a black rage/red thirst spin on a Blood Angel story. In fact, I had no ongoing project that even remotely resembled this story. So why am I so downhearted? It’s because, in my opinion, Mr Smillie is in another authorial league; he makes my paltry efforts look like my niece’s first attempt to write her name with a crayon. Worse even. I feel mine would more closely resemble a potato print.

My latest submission… surely they’ll want this one? Look, I’ve mastered the colour ‘blue’ this time.

I have felt like this before, namely when I first started getting serious about my writing. I’m sure everyone does. You know the ones…

‘I’ll never be able to write like that.’

‘This author is a God.’

‘I’m a tosser.’

‘Is my grammar any good? Is that how you spell grammar? Fuck, where do I put the full stop? A semi-what?’

‘I could never think up shit like this.’

Sure, we’ve all been there. It’s a difficult hurdle to get over. I guess I never expected to feel like that again. I thought I was passed all that. So, should I ever meet Mr Smillie, do I shake is hand on a job well done? Or, do I punch him for forcing me to raise my game?

Come to think of it, I’ve heard he’s secretly a ninja so I might have to give him a mind punch instead. Only fair, considering he’s just given me one.

Later,

M.

 

Relentless


Another story finished today. Hit the word count at about 8am this morning and damn but that felt good. This is the second story I have completed in a short space of time and I have to say, nay, I have to repeat… It feels bloody good.

 

This story is another Warhammer fantasy story, focussing on the Black Guard. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out but for now it’s going away in a drawer for a week or two. Its time to forget it even exists and get on with something else. When I do finally unearth it again it’ll be do read it with fresh eyes and begin the editing process.

 

A lot of people hate editing but I love it. Other than finishing a first draft I don’t believe there is any better feeling for a writer than re-reading a crappy sentence and then re-writing it as an awesome sentence. Yes, I’ll be trimming the fat and sharpening those key scenes so that when I come to read it again, it’ll be even better.

 

One thing I never do, and which I have been giving much thought to is letting others read my work. I still feel like something of a fledgling author (I call myself an author now, because I’ve actually finished shit. Okay it’s not published but, hey, it feels good) and I don’t want to be crushed yet. I don’t ever want to be crushed, of course I don’t but you know what I’m saying.

 

On the flip side of that, I value criticism so long as it’s constructive. I’d feel awful if some bloke read my work and his only feedback was ‘This is bollocks mate.’

 

Malcolm read his latest story review on WarSeer.

I was recently asked to read another chaps work and being something of a bumbling bumpkin I think I shot him down in flames. I really didn’t mean to. It was only afterwards when my subconscious was running over the conversation again that I suddenly sat bolt upright in my chair and said ‘Oh shit!’ I thought long and hard about that and how I meant to say that the story really was good, but I could see where it could be improved. I think what came across was ‘Meh, I don’t get it.’

 

Should I ever bump into that chap again I’ll buy him a pint or two – a kind of sorry for being such a thoughtless prick.

 

So, that was kind of cathartic. I feel like I’ve confessed in the worldwide confession booth of the Internet.

 

Right, time to be going. I have a story to bury at the bottom of a drawer and garage to paint.

 

Later,

 

M.

I failed


Last night I attempted to stay up all night and write an entire short story from start to finish. Inspired by Jonathan Green, a Black Library author, I took this challenge upon myself for the following reasons:

1)   Obviously, to see if I could do it.

2)   To see if I had the discipline to sit down and hammer out the words to meet the word count whilst avoiding distractions.

3)   To see if I really am serious about pursuing a career as a writer.

Where Jonathan Green did all of his planning and outlining weeks before, I included the outlining as part of the challenge. My hope was that not only would I succeed in completing the story, but I‘d also have done all the planning too, in just 12 hours. I didn’t have an idea for a story either, so that had to come from somewhere too. Clearly, had I succeeded I would have trumped Mr Green’s effort. I can’t imagine how chuffed and amazed I would have been had I succeeded. I would certainly have used it as a benchmark for future stories though. I mean, if I could turn out a complete story in just 12 hours, how many could I bash out in a month?

Well, the answer is irrelevant I suppose, because I failed.

I did get the outline and synopsis done. I also put down about 2500 words. Today I’ve hammered out another 1000 on it so in theory I should finish by the end of the week. I’d love to finish it sooner though. Last night, I think around 1am maybe, I really started to flag. If only I had taken Jonathan’s advice and bought a shitload of Red bull. Alas, I didn’t and instead I started writing at the speed of spastic tortoise, my brain unable to process more than one word at a time.

Anyway, if nothing else, I’ve put a lot of words down over the past day which is really good practice and promotes discipline to the craft. It would be fair to say that learning has taken place.  Not a whole lot mind because as soon as my wife works her next night shift I’ll be parking my fat arse in front of a keyboard for the night. I certainly won’t be spending my time abusing myself watching T&A flix either. Not this time.

Right, it’s about time I sod off for the night.

Later,

M.

On Writing – Plot (Or how to work bloody hard and get absolutely no where)


Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Plot! Does anyone else find plotting bloody irritating? Its not like I’m trying to overthrow a government here. I can understand that that would be hard. No, I’m just trying to plot my own damn story.

Normally I’ll try and wing a story. I’ll have a vague idea and I’ll try and just bash it out in one go. Then I’ll discover that my cool ‘story’ idea is actually just a cool ‘scene’ and that once I’ve written this scene I hit a brick wall.

Not today though. Today I wrote an outline. I had hoped the outline would keep me on track, that I would somehow start and finish and that the result would make sense. Nope. Didn’t happen. The finished product had no resemblance to my outline at all. In my outline, I’d set the scene in some old women’s bedroom. Shut up. It’s not that kind of story. So, My character is supposed to be in this bedroom but instead the scene opens in a street in London. My protagonist female is now a male, and instead of regaling us with a rip roaring tale of a past life he is now charging up a London backstreet where he gets his head kicked in.

What the hell is that all about? What happened to my plot that I had written so carefully in my outline?

Can you imagine if that had been a paid job?

Editor: ‘Er… Mark, what the hell is this shit? I asked you to write a story about a roman hero and his rise to glory. He is supposed to heap piles of skulls at the feet of his own Emperor before casting him down and taking the empire for himself. He’s supposed to do all of this armed only with a stave. And what is this you’ve given me? Some weak shit about a mad giraffe who pebble dashes his way across the Serengeti before being unveiled as the reincarnation of Shaka the Zulu. Your fired!’

Oh dear. Does anyone else struggle with plot? I find it hard enough just coming up with a bloody idea, and should I actually come up with an idea/cool scene, it never seems to appear on the screen as I type. It’s almost as if my fingers are working against me. Yes! That must be it. My brain says,
‘Fingers! You will write this crazy cool scene.’
‘Oh okay sure, no worries. Leave it with us.’
*Cue cute finger sniggering*

Oh god it’s happening even now. I wanted so much to write something insightful about plot but… but… It’s the fingers I tell you! They’re holding me back!

*manic laughter*

I don’t need fingers! Who needs fingers??

*Sharpens knife*

Arghhh!!!

P.S I am not drunk.

P.P.S I am now drunk.

P.Ps. I an oh fuck it.

On Plot


I have been giving a lot of thought to this infuriating concept they call plot.

It seems to me that aspiring writers the world over are sitting in bars and cafes mulling over a million ideas, discarding most and running with others. They get excited when a new idea seems to be panning out well – they blast off maybe a thousand words with barely a moments respite. They construct an entire outline within a few minutes interwoven with various sub plots and interweaving arcs and laugh to themselves at the thought that this is the one – this one will be a novel.

Then reality rears its irritating face and spits in your creative broth.

Your idea has been done before.

Not only that but as you research a little more you discover that not only has it been done before, its been done better.

Or has it?

Maybe their plot was a little better but that does not mean that all is lost.

Let me explain.

The chances of coming up with a completely new idea that has never been done before are few and far between. Its not impossible of course. Not by a long way. After all, we are only hindered by our own lack of imagination.

My point is that instead of waiting for that blockbuster idea to crop up and rock the Earth with its originality, I suggest you just write.

Eh?

Need an example do you? Okay, let’s take Twilight.

Now first and foremost I have to say that I am not a fan of Twilight. Vampires, Ms Meyer, do not bloody well sparkle.

Books and stories about vampires and werewolves have been done a thousand times over. What makes Twilight different is it’s point of view. The world is seen through the ideas of a teenage girl, bubbling over with teen angst, lust and general girly emotion. It fulfils a niche in the market by anyone’s reckoning.

That’s all that Ms Meyer has done differently. She has not come up with some earth shattering plot. No, instead she’s just told and old story from a different point of view.

Her characters are interesting and the underlying feelings of lust and want keep readers turning pages.

So why not give it a go?

Take a well known myth or fairytale and change the point of view. When you do this you’ll notice that your characters, particularly your protagonist, will have a very different goal than the one you previously associated the story with.

Just a thought. What do you think?

M 😉