Freelance? Me?

I won’t lie. I want to make money out of this writing lark. I’m sure many people do, as I’m sure many people actually do. But can I?

There in lies the question at the heart of the matter. There are a few concerns I shall list below that are at the forefront of my mind whenever I ponder this subject.

1) Do I have the motivation to stick to a given deadline? I really don’t know. If the frequency of my blog posts is anything to go by then you would be forgiven for thinking that the answer is no. And yet, I write an awful lot behind the scenes and 90% of the dribble I do churn out is just sitting on my pc’s hard drive. I tell myself that maybe one day it might make interesting reading but in reality it probable won’t. I am a victim of today’s fast society. Everything must be now now now. I need instant gratification. If I start reading something that hasn’t got me hooked within the first few lines then I’m gone. It hurts to say that because I know how hard it is to write. To spend hours crafting something, rewriting countless sentences and re-reading paragraph after paragraph – you don’t need someone like me deciding it’s not worth the effort after reading your first line. Perhaps I’m missing out. Maybe. Or maybe I’m saving time for those writers who know how to grasp my attention.

2) Talent. Quite simply, do I have any? How do you gauge this? I could (and have in the past) give my work to my friends or family to see what they think. But what are they really going to say? It’s doubtful they’ll be rude or harsh in their critique, just as its likely they’ll come back with something nice to say about it. They won’t be impartial and because of that fact, anything they say wont mean a damn because you just never really know what it is they really think. So what do you do? My personal thought on this is to not give anything you value to friends or family. Instead, send something you love equally out to the competitions. Let the public be the judge. I have a few bits and pieces on another website right that are doing quite well. A short story I wrote while smashed off my face a year back is still ranked number one in its particular category. Yet, when I re-read that piece I cringe. It’s grammar is appalling and I clearly didn’t proof read it before submitting but there you go. I guess maybe even if it looks bloody awful (and it really does), the underlying story still somehow shone through the shite. It never ceases to amaze me what people really like.

3) Were my fortune to change and I managed to sell something, or several bits and pieces…. How much would I have to sell before I actually made enough to live off? I’m not in this for mega money. I’d just like to be able to get up, not bother getting dressed, sit in my study and paint with words all day whilst not having to worry about how to pay the bills. That’s not too much to ask is it?

4) Where do I find the writing jobs people say are everywhere? How do you break into writing for tv or role play gaming?

5) Where the hell is the writing oracle who knows all the answers to my noob questions??????

Well there you have it. I know I’m not alone, and that there are 100000000000 of you wannabe writers out there but I just thought this post might strike a chord with some. We travel a lonely road but maybe someone reading this has seen the off ramp somewhere and might throw a few sign posts up? Then again, maybe that’s why the road is lonely. If its that hard to get to where you want to be… Maybe you feel nobody should have an easy time of it. I mean, if you worked as hard as I am right now to get where you are, are you really going to let someone else in who hasn’t put in the time? I’d be interested to know any thoughts people may have.

On Writing – Support


‘Are you coming down the farm?’ She asked the question in a tone that expected I had nothing else important to do.

I hesitated, aware of the precarious situation I was in. After all, a refusal could be construed as rejection on my part.

What to say? I was desperate to write, but in truth, and even though she didn’t say as much, I really had nothing important to do. I certainly hadn’t got anything important to write. And yet, I knew I had to write just for the sake of writing. Writing is of course a craft and one can’t expect to ever get any better if one does not practice his craft with fanatical fervour.

In the end my hesitation won the battle for me before battle had even begun. It warped itself into a palpable aura of sulk that proceeded to melt my face into that of a petulant child. I did not do this on purpose, rather my whole being seemed to respond to the threat of not being able to write by my regression back to a child like state. I call this my Level One writing fit. Level Two sees my regression go even further whereby I enter a primate like state, raging and hopping about like a maddened gorilla. Unfortunately for me, Level Two is completely ineffectual against my wife who is able to slay petulant gorilla men with a single stare – a stare that threatens pain and suffering on a scale untold unless one calms, sits and enters peaceful negotiation. This negotiation is I swear both victory for her and a punishment for me as not only do realise I have become an arse, but I am losing writing time by the second until I acknowledge my current arsehole status.

On the whole though, I have the support I need. I am blessed with a wife who understands the importance reading and writing are to me. I feel immense sorrow (pity?) for those writers whose partners are not supportive. Knowing how much reading and writing means to me, I am not sure I could be in a relationship without the level of support I have. I read about writers who have shut themselves away from the world. They’ve cut themselves off from friends and family and they hide behind closed doors, and all so that they can gain a piece of that solitude we as writers all crave. I can understand why they would do that. I really can. It is for this reason that I bless my luck at having a wife who stands by me as I stumble on down the path of the writer. My concerns are heard with a ready ear, my hopes caressed and my dreams encouraged. When I fall, my wounds are soothed, my pride eased and my ambition stoked.

You would be wrong to think my wife simply pours honey in my ear and gives false hope for she is also my chief critic and advisor. Nothing gets passed her that would not be better burned. In fact, my previous post talks all about this and so read that if you can spare another few minutes. It saves me repeating myself.

Having read back through this post I am amused by what it has become. It was supposed to be all about how important support is to writers, but what I appear to have written is how important my wife’s support is to me. But then, I suppose I have achieved my goal after all as without her support, I wouldn’t be writing very much at all. Support in my eyes is not just that which someone gives so you can go off and play writer while they do the dishes or walk the dog. It’s something they give even when you’re down and don’t feel up to putting your thoughts and feelings out there. That’s real support – the ability to give you a bloody good kick up the arse, and make you chase that dream you’re always harping on about.



My earliest memory of receiving praise for a piece of writing I had done comes from my first year at secondary school. Obviously it was part of an English lesson but I remember it because of that. English was always my favoured subject. I always looked forward to it. Our teacher used to say to us,

‘Class, you have until the end of the lesson to write a story, off you go.’

On this particular occasion I had been having a relatively dry patch, creatively speaking, and so I was thrilled when the teacher came back to me and said,

‘Mark, this is really good stuff. I really enjoyed it. This is the kind of stuff you used to write! Write more of it.’

I do remember thinking, what do you mean ‘used to?’ Still, it was a bold move on my part. Most other people would write variations on Robinson Crusoe or other well-known classics. I wrote something about a Mermaid-man ( a Merman?) and I can remember describing his movement through an undersea tunnel, his great battle axe scraping the worn stone sides.

Another memory, a much more recent one this time, comes from a piece of fiction I wrote a couple of years ago. It was about a paramedic and his patient. I think I wrote that as some sort of cathartic release from feelings I had cultivated at work. Basically, it is very easy to make a snap judgement of someone based upon the most minuscule piece of personal information; it’s even easier to be wrong about that person. So I wrote that piece and I handed it out to a few friends. In retrospect, this was a mistake. They were all nice with their comments but not one offered any real criticism. To me, this highlights the problem with handing your cherished work to a friend, especially one who does not want to tread on that friendship.  What could they say? I mean I believe them when they say they enjoyed it, and I don’t believe they would have said so if they hadn’t. Yet, I don’t think they would have offered any criticism in a negative light for fear of damaging relations. I understand that now and I shan’t be passing my work to friends again in a hurry. As much as I am grateful for their taking the time to read my nonsense, they were just too nice damn it!

My harshest critic is my wife. She’ll tell me straight if something is god awful and to be binned at once in a fiery bin. Once I gave her a sci-fi story I had just finished. I was immensely proud of it and was about to submit it to a publishing house that afternoon when I had the brilliant idea of asking her to take a look. I’m not sure what I was expecting really. I mean I loved it. I thought the plot was tight, the characters were believable and it even had an underlying theme. Yet, I still felt trepidation as I handed her my precious few pages of creative genius. She sat down and read the first page. I tried to feign disinterest but it was impossible. In the end I just sat cross legged on the floor and watched her reading. I scrutinized every expression of her face, followed her eyes as they moved across the page, imagining I knew which sentence she was currently on. Oh… she’s near the bottom of the page, I thought. She must be nearing that part where Mal the Slayer announces his big secret. She’s turning the page… and… What is she doing? She’s turning back to the first page! I’ve made a mistake?? I’ve obviously handed her the story with the pages all out of sequence. Her expression is now puzzled, confused even. She shakes her head and plods on through the second page. My insides have turned to mush. My heart has dropped out of my arse and my eyes have begun to burn in a most unmanly fashion. She doesn’t even finish the second page. She puts it all down, looks at me.

‘This makes no sense what so ever,’ she said.

I was utterly gobsmacked. I can remember staring at her in disbelief, becoming slowly aware of my own teeth grinding.

‘Your grammar isn’t very good either.’

I felt my fists clench involuntarily and thought that now would be an excellent time to leave the room. I can remember sitting down at my desk and re-reading every word over and over again. She must be wrong, I told myself. She just doesn’t ‘get’ sci-fi.  I must have sat there for perhaps three hours mumbling and gnashing my teeth in the direction of the study door every time I heard her in the next room. It was then that I came up with my master plan. I am a little ashamed to admit this but stay with me. The end justifies the means.

I was convinced I had to test the theory that she didn’t understand sci-fi and that therefore she wasn’t qualified to make judgements upon my own work. So I copied someone else’s work. Ah! I cringe when I even write such a thing, but I did it. I found a short excerpt off of a blog written by an author I admire (Aaron Dembski-Bowden). I copied it, printed it, and handed it to her and then… I pretended it was my own. I’m cringing so much as I write this. I had to prove that she was wrong though. I had to prove she just didn’t understand sci-fi. I mean, if she found his work rubbish then mine must be fine right? Right?

Once again, she sat on the sofa and patiently read the piece I had given her. I could discern no emotion or reaction this time on her face and inwardly I was preparing my victory speech. Ha! I would exclaim. This has been written by a very successful author and you thought it was rubbish. You know nothing! Nothing!

She’d finished reading now and sat back drinking her tea.

‘Well?’ I asked.

She looked at me in mock surprise, clearly enjoying my discomfort. I think she could see the strain etched inch deep in my forehead though and relented.

‘It was good. Really good actually. You should write like that all the time.’

I stared at her for a few moments before standing and walking back upstairs in total silence. I presume she must have thought I was just relieved. I closed the door to my study and sat down in my chair. Then I shouted at the top of my voice, ‘Bollocks!’

I learnt an important lesson that day. Criticism, be it good or bad is extremely important to an aspiring writer. I understand that now and I take any criticism on the chin, appreciating it for what it is. I don’t worry if I get something wrong now but instead learn from it, and I’m reminded of a good quote as I write this. It’s very apt I think and a good place to finish for today.

I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.’ – Thomas A. Edison.


Head in the Cloud

WordPress for the iPhone?

Sure I’ll give it a go. I like the ability to be able to write as the mood takes me. Also, I’m finding that writing on the iPhone is really really easy. The physical act of tapping into a keyboard is what I mean. I love how the phone switches to landscape mode as I turn it on it’s side, presenting me with a full qwerty keyboard. This is great!

I read a few reviews about this app before I downloaded it and they didn’t look to promising. I have to say that I don’t know what the problem is. Writing on this thing is so easy. Now I just wish inspiration would come as easy.

As per usual I’m sitting in a carpark in my ambulance. I’m a coiled spring, just waiting for someone to dial 999 so that I can launch onto action. I am so bored.

Or at least I was. I’ve only just worked out that I get free wifi via The Cloud as part of my iphone package. Now I can sit here and watch endless YouTube. Better than that even, I can sit and research my next app acquisition! This is precisely how I stumbled across the WordPress app actually.

I used to use WordPress on my blackberry but it was hard and difficult endeavour – tapping away on it’s tiny little buttons… Oh the hand cramp was so bad after a long typing session. Thank god for the iPhone and WordPress, working seamlessly with me to bring sheer blogging ease and bliss.

Yup, I think this is the start of a beautiful threesome.

M 😉

Share the Love

I want to say thank you to a fellow blogger. As is the life of those who aspire to write, its only natural you’ll take the odd knock and feel as though your not getting anywhere.

Most will persevere, keep going, and rise above it, content in the knowledge that its all just part of the process.

Yet it helps to have others who are in the same boat as you, perhaps on a similar journey offer a helping hand and some friendly encouragement.

I want to extend a thank you to the author of a blog called The Good Twin. Although it was likely only a passing comment left on my page, it made my day. Incidentally it was also for a post that received the most views I have ever had.

So thank you, Josh.

As a result of this kindly chap stopping by my site, I have returned to blogging with a renewed vigour. Long may it last.

In way of payment I am going to make an effort to read more blogs in my area of interest and try and share the love a bit. I feel good and I’d like to spark that same feeling in others. Especially those who diligently tap away at a cold keyboard, a ghost to the world but for their fleeting bursts of creative output.

I feel for those people, and I’m going to find them.

Share the love people.