Rejection!

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I feel I must warn you, if your not a writer maybe this blog post is not for you. You may get something from what Im going to write but writers will appreciate it that much more.

Rejection is a writers burden to bear. We all suffer rejection in our lives. We can go to work and feel a certain amount of rejection each and every day. Only it’s short lived and often we brush it off as wit or someone being funny at your expense. And I say, so what, I probably do it to others as much as others do it to me. Life goes on. Only as a writer I feel our rejection can go a little further.
In most professions of art there seems to be a tough road that we must follow. A road of loss and pain which all the greats have walked down. some of the most famous being Vincent van Gogh and Goya and a more modern day star Amy Winehouse this is to name just a few of many. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not alining myself up with the likes of the above, just showing that great art seem to come from people that have had great pain.
So rejection plays a part in creating the art, and my art is writing. I have lost much in my life. More than some and not as much as many. When I look round at my fellow man and woman I see people who don’t see the world as I do, they move through their life with eyes closed and hear nothing of its beautiful sounds.

When I receive a rejection letter from an agent or a publisher it hurts. If you say it didn’t then you are fooling yourself and if that’s how you cope with rejection, then fine fool away. Only it doesn’t stop there, it took me over five years to write my first novel. And the one I’m on now I have been writing for a year already. I work full time and have a young family so time is my enemy and I just don’t have enough of it.

People can without knowing it reject us sensitive writer types simply by being nice.
You know when you meet someone for the first time and tell them your a writer is goes something like this-

You tell them your a writer, they think it’s great and tell you how they have a good idea and begin to share it with you. Then you try to explain that good ideas are plentiful and its not the idea that makes a writer but the commitment. They look blanked at you and ask you what your book is about. You reply with a fumbled pitch that takes all credibility from you which leaves them thinking your a fraud.
Now weeks go by and they will eventually ask how the book is going you say it’s coming great and go it to a boring rant about the currant plot because you feel they are truly interested and not just being nice. Then when you notice there face you stop and it’s many months before that person ask about your book. After a year( or maybe two) they ask again and are surprised when you still have the excitement you had before. But still you will manage to bore them and they will walk away thinking how can someone commite so much time into something that will amount to nothing.
And that’s the difference between a want to be writer and a writer. What we do is hard, each and every time someone asks how the book is it’s a kind of small rejection in its self. (That’s unless you answer is it’s published! Here have a complimentary copy.) All they do is remind you how slow and bad you are, but and this is a but with a smile on my face. If you want to be good you have to go through all this rejection.
It builds good writing.
You will only find your style through writing many hundreds of thousands of words. Not till then will it be you and you will be good.
So when the next person asks you how’s the book coming, tell them it’s coming fine and thanks for asking. If they ask what’s it about? And this is the hard part that I fail to do so often. Tell them sorry but you have decided to not tell anyone about the book until you have finished. Then talk about the weather or there new house or the next new smart phone.
then when they hear about your book its the first time and its complete. You are free to talk about all the characters and plot turns because they have read it.

ps, This advice is manly directed at me, I am a failure when it come to following these simple rules. But I will make the extra effort and not keep going on about my books that is until I have finished then i will not shut up.
Please comment as Im always happy to receive them.

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It’s My Birthday Blog!

41st_birthday_vintage_personalized_announcement-r36f0574b989a4e1bb8d251cec8afaf08_8dnmv_8byvr_216Picture from www.pic2fly.com

Well, here we are again, on my birthday. I don’t have many deep thoughts or profound truth to share today, even though, at 41, maybe I’m supposed to enter into a status of maturity and impart wisdom on all unsuspecting youthful twenty somethings. Well maybe, but hay ho who am I to tell you what to do. I could be accused of opening my mouth to much on the odd occasion, I could even be right in what ever wisdom I’m spouting (on the odd occasion). All I can do is tell you what I have learnt. Some people may disagree with me every now and then but I think I should share all the same.  After all isn’t that why we all blog in the first place.

Enough of all that. I stumbled across a question offered by baseball player named Satchel Paige and thought it fitting being its my birthday.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Now this really ticks the boxes for me right now, mainly because I’m forty-one years old and feel younger by far. So if I didn’t know how old I was then I would be a lot younger if asked.

He was also quoted saying, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.”
I love this one, because it really reflex’s my own opinion on the growing old dilemma. It only matters if you let it. 
So ask yourself the first question and when you have finished answering that one then think about the whether it matters to you.

I’m forty-one and love the fact that I’m more wise about the world and people. I can hold a conversation with most if not all people I come across. My life experience has given me the knowledge to write many short stories and almost two novels. I have two children and a wife of over twenty years. Happy is the under statement, I’m ecstatic with my age and the life that I’m living. We trade the youth for the wise and its a win for me no mater how I look at it.

I think this sum’s it up quite nicely.

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.  ~ Chili Davis

So happy birthday to all that share this day with me today. Enjoy it whatever your age.

Why You Should Never Get On The Wrong Side Of A Writer

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Get on the wrong side is a bit PC. “Piss me off.” Could be better or maybe “Anger me.” Which ever you want to pick is fine with me. Its just, I suppose I should warn you.  If you’ve done me wrong recently, this is aimed at you. (evil smile)

Take some popular singers, they like to ring the people that crossed them out to dry. Banging out a hit song with half meanings that are obvious to the world. It doesn’t take a genius to work out who they are singing about. But what about the people that cross a writer in a negative way.

I take my inspiration from the people I know and love. I also take inspiration from people at large. It could be at work, at play or just two people walking hand in hand down the street. The way they hold hands. The way they walk and talk. It all becomes very relevant when making new characters for a book. You see…. it all comes together in the back of my mind… and then people are born. Life like and full of what ever character traits I desirer. If your on a writers good side then you may end up being a leading hero with women (or man) and money, saving the human race from a devastating end.

Everyone has that special something, that something that makes them different from the people round them. And it’s that which makes characters jump right of the page and spring into life. Its that something that I want.

Now if your in a writers bad books, well lets say most of my villains die. They can have very painful and gruesome ends.  I’m just saying, maybe all those characters in all the books of the world wouldn’t have died so violently. Not if the people the writer was thinking of when they wrote them had not made them angry.

In the end ask yourself this question, If you opened a book and found your self in there, do you want to be a good guy or a bad guy?

Lets just say, the way I’m feeling right now…well, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a character in my newest novel happens to be overweight, short, selfish, and full of lies….and dies tragically as they are ran over by a lawn mower. Repeatedly.

Revenge is sweet.  Even if it’s only in my mind.

Self Improvement Through Writing and Continuous Assessment

Self improvement, I like this. I think I have believed in self improvement most of my life. Well at least as long as I have thought about myself as a thing that can be improved. So probably from the age of six or so. Either way I have believed in a simple rule most of my life, that rule is, ‘Given enough time and dedication, anyone can achieve anything that has been achieved before.’ Whether it be rocket science or brain surgery, a plumber or a writer.

I began writing story’s later in life than most. Writing my first draft of a novel by the age of thirty eight. Since then I have wrote two more novels and a bunch of short story‘s.

I am writing the forth draft of my first novel. While doing this I have noticed a vast difference in the quality of my writing. This is to the point where I have thought, on more than one occasion of scrapping it. Putting it a draw so to speak and letting it never see the light of day. The only reason that Purple is still around is that I have wrote a sequel. And it is technically a much better book than the first.
This is where self improvement comes in. I recently started a new job for a very large company that is known throughout the world as an innovator and has a constant drive to high quality of its products and personnel. Now most, if not all company’s would say this as part of there mission statements. But as I constantly assess my work, always looking to improve the sentence, the paragraph or the chapter. So does my new employer strive on a daily basis to improve not the products but the people that make them. I’m am encouraged to do this each and every day in the hunt for zero mistakes. This is done through constant improvement not by someone in an office, who is disconnected from me but by me and the people I work with.
We improve ourselves each time we learn something new. Goals are important too to attain a high leave of quality, whether it be a hobby or a job. But it is not the goal that makes us improve on a personal level, it’s the process of attaining that goal that makes us grow and become a better person. To strive for something better is to learn. Self improvement is very much about the journey, so aim high and don’t get to hung up on the target, after all you can always make the target bigger if you keep missing.

Genre Writing

Some writers only write science fiction novels, others romance and poems. Some only write non-fiction such as technical manuals on boats and cars. Some focus only on one genre and others on many.I think that when starting out like myself, we can get drawn into writing only what we know. But I believe we grow through what we write. We explore our selves while learning about others, discovering how people think. Interact with many and ask questions to even more. I know this is true because I’m like a child when first meeting someone with a different take on life. I just cannot stop asking questions.

So when it comes to genres, well I want to try them all. So far I have wrote a science fiction novel and a supernatural thriller. I am working on a crime thriller now. I have enjoyed writing every one and hope to write many more. With the books making the rounds i.e. The Shades of Grey Trilogy, I’m thinking of having a go at romance. As I see it, I’m just widening my writing horizons every time I write in a different genre. So lets not pigeon hole ourselves and write free.

First draft, kill the editor for now

Every now and then someone will ask me for advice or my opinion on something they have written. And I am happy to do so. With the caveat that I am a new writer myself and my advice is that of a new writer. You could ask why am I giving advice out in the first place. And that would be a question I ask myself each and every time. (Luckily I don’t do it often.)
I think we all learn and grow with many personal variations and tangents. That said I also believe that we are all the same and we follow a curve of learning that is quite unbending and unforgiving. With the odd exception we all learn the same way. Some are faster than others but the curve is the same.
We start at A and continue through to B and C finishing eventually at Z. If we live long enough to reach Z that is. Remember time is very real and we take as long as we have.
If I traveled back in time to talk to Shakespeare at the end of his life, I would ask ‘Have you learnt everything you need to know about writing?’ I bet his answer would be, ‘no’
You could do this to all the greats in all the fields of art and you would (with the odd exception) get the same answer.

So when I say I’m a beginner writer, I suppose I’m saying I have started my journey and except that I will never finish it, but isn’t the joy, in doing not finishing. Don’t you get the most smiles and satisfaction at the point when you have figured out the plot twist you have been waiting for. When you know your eventual reader will want to know more, but not why they want to know more.
I enjoy writing one word in front of another and seeing what happens. This all happens in the first draft, the rest is polishing or improving the work, bring it it up to standard. But the creative bit has been done.
So my advice to all that write is, to enjoy your muse, your inspiration. It’s what makes art, well art. If your rolling between the sheets with the long haired bottle of inspiration. (my muse has long hair and is female for that matter.) Lock the editor away in the box room or a small wardrobe for now. And enjoy the muse. She likes to feel special you know.

Learning To Write, The Lesson Goes On

This being my first post about writing this year, I thought it may be a good time to update you all on how far I have come along this road we call Writing. At the turn of the year it was two years and three months from when I decided (after reading a book I thought of being badly written) I was good enough to write a novel.

Since then I have finished a novel called Purple, which is about a man and his family. How an alien race attack his home town. The protagonist John Valley has to fight to find his son and wife whilst coming to terms with his birthright which has given him extraordinary  powers.

I began another novel called Sole Man this one is a supernatural thriller about a man who moves to a new home only to find he has unlocked an unusual ability. I’m currently only half way through this one. Mainly because Purple decided to push its self back into my life with (you guessed it) a part two, I called It A Lost Nation. This follows Purple but two years on. A kind of what happened next. I know that the books say that I should have finished Sole Man first but I just could not get Purple out of my head. With all the short story ideas, some written and polished, others still just notes on my computer, I’m finding that I’m pretty annoying to my family with all the change of subjects.

I suppose this is one of the biggest lesson, that you have to finish the story because if you don’t it just stays an idea. last december i sent Purple to a Pod cast show and  the first chapter was read out on air. Paula B (thats the host) says that the story and suspense was good but it needs cuts and a good copy edit. I think her words were ‘this is un-readable in its current state. At the time I thought ok, thats fine, maybe I should go over it again. It wasn’t until the first week into January that I decided to take a look at it.

Now keep in mind that I thought it was almost at a publication quality. The very first sentence I found two things that need changing and the punctuation was not good. I must have changed every sentence on the first page, then on the second page. I have since cut two and a half thousand words from the first twelve thousand words of the book. I’m acutely getting worried that this will not stay novel length by the end of this edit.

That said, it sounds so much better for the cuts. I think Stephen King said in his book On Writing that you must kill your darlings. Well it wasn’t just my darlings that I’m killing it was some very bad stuff that had no right to be in the book in the first place.

I began writing because of the thought that I could do better than a published author, well I have since read more of that authors work and have enjoyed most of it. He had a bad book I suppose. I can only throw my respect to all authors that have managed to get published. Maybe I will never be one of them or maybe I will. All I can say is that I love to write, I love the way the characters come to life in my head, how they become part of my life. And as long as I can write I will, published or not. I will learn and the lesson will go on.

The End Is Nigh

I watched a TV program this morning and one of the points made, was that of the sun exploding and destroying the earth. Thus killing us all.

It got me thinking that if we KNOW this will happen to the human race, then should we not be making concrete plans to find other places in the universe, and go there. (The story of Noah comes to mind. The only difference is that we maybe capable of avoiding our demise.)

They say that ninety nine percent of creatures that have existed on earth are extinct. So are we being premature to begin planning so we don’t go by the way of a swollen sun.

I must be clear that the sun will not take us for about another 5 billion years. So we do have time on our side.

May I offer this for thought, that we should maybe eradicate starvation and human suffering before reaching for the stars. Can a race expect to survive on other worlds when it still cannot fix such fundamental problems such as these. I’m no fundamentalist and I except the role of nature and evolution in our lives. Its just sometimes I watch the news and see things happen in the world, that make no sense to the evolution of our species.

There is a miss interpretation of the mayan calendar, that all ends december 2012.

A phrase comes to mind, ‘everything that begins, must end’  so the calendar could not run for all time and they who made it had to make a point to stop it somewhere.

It’s a finger nail biting moment

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The time is 07:46am I received an email last night from a popular podcast show called The Writing Show. It’s hosted by Paula B and she informed me that she will be looking at my book in her next show. The show is posted today and because it’s in America I’m not sure what time. I have checked twice already. They are a few hours behind and I have no clue as to what time zone she lives in.
Oh he’ll I’m nervous, its that someone else is reading my work with a critical eye. I have listened to Paula B’s podcast for years now and very much respect her view, I even look forward to listening to it because I know it will help me with the book. Still the nerves are here.
You will be able to find this podcast at http://www.writingshow.com or on iTunes it’s labeled as slush pile workshop 22.

The time is 8:22pm I have now listened to the podcast and before I give you my update I thought I would explain why I time stamped the post. Why not post the bit above this morning then post this update? Well because I think i wanted to keep it together and I like the format it’s like a diary of today’s events. And who wants to keep getting emails that I’m posting every two hours.
Back to the podcast, Paula B read my chapter and that was strange in its self. I have listened to her read other peoples writings for years. She was kind with a large scoop of honesty. In brief my story is good, my plot is good. It’s very cinematic. These are some of the good points that she talked about on the show. The main point was copy edit, copy edit, copy edit.
I have to say that this does not come as to much of a shock, I must be the worst speller in the world and punctuation, well I’m still on that learning curve.
In my defence I wrote the first chapter to Purple back in 2008 and I have learnt so much since then. I suppose my challenge now is to bring that what i have learned to the book and stop being lazy. Give it a listen and by all means give me your opinion especially with the word tw*t (for a full disclosure of this word listen to the podcast) as this seems to have a different meaning in the states and I think I may need to change it.

First person, third person. narrator, omniscient or limited which one?

This is one of the biggest shell we say surprises I have had since I began to write fiction. For instance when I wrote the hundred and fourteenth word and that word being ‘END’ I was not aware of the amount of work that will go into this fictional journey. I have been over the manuscript at least four maybe five times each time thinking this will be the final time. Then I find myself picking it up a few weeks later and bang it’s crap again.

Second and third draft, I would say spelling was an issue. Third draft was more more plot holes. Now I have started the next novel to this story, and I now find I have a problem with the way I wrote the point of view of the first book. I wrote first person in the first book, my narrator is third person. This I’m fine with, its the amount of each that is the problem. for instance in the first book I think I was more narrator and less first person. where in the second I’m edging the other way.

I suppose the question I’m asking is this ok considering these are different books or do I try and keep the same flow throughout all the books could this be my inexperience speaking? Could this be the show don’t tell thing? but surly you have to tell sometimes.

I may need to go have a cup of tea and sort these out, it seems my mind maybe running away again, it’s small grey and round, very wrinkled probable throbbing too, if you see it running down the road, please don’t tread on it, I need it.