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

Ups and Downs


This has been a truly bizarre month. Emotionally speaking I’ve been all over the place. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time pondering your place in the grand scheme of things or, where you would like that place to be.

For the last ten years I have been working with the ambulance service and have been qualified as a paramedic for around six or seven. The job has changed immensely to the point that I no longer recognize my role anymore. If you ask Joe on the street what a paramedic does he’ll probably tell you a paramedic saves lives. A paramedic goes to nasty car crashes to un-mangle people or appears out of the blue to resuscitate a dying loved one. I used to believe all that too and although these things do happen, it’s not very often and on the odd occasion I do get called to things like this there is rarely anything that can be done. Here we come to the heart of the matter. I find I’m asking myself ‘What good am I actually doing?’ more and more often. Sure, plenty of people are pleased to see me when I roll up to their house after they called 999 but, why wouldn’t they be? I get there super fast, listen with sympathy to their plight and then proceed to offer any help I can. Broadly speaking, I can categorize virtually any callout I go to and pigeon hole it into one of three automated responses. These are:

  1. I pick someone up off the floor that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get up themselves. Chances are there is a big strapping relative nearby who could have done this himself but won’t. People are too afraid of moving someone for fear of aggravating any perceived injury. In reality it takes me just five seconds to assess if injury is present. I do this using a very sophisticated method of assessment that goes something like this. ‘Hi, so have you got any pain?’ If they’re not injured, I lift them. If they are and it needs more than a plaster, it’s off to hospital.
  2. I arrive to find the patient does not need an ambulance, never did and is either bemused as to why I am there or, more likely, is over the moon that someone has rushed to their aid for such a trivial thing. I will spend the next hour trying to refer this patient to the correct service.
  3. The patient/relative deliberately called 999 because the problem needs immediate attention. This type of call equates to about one in four. More often than not, we cannot treat this patient’s condition at home and so transport them to hospital. Rarely, the patient is very unwell/dying and there’s not a not a lot we can do anyway. Why not? Well, there are two reasons for that too.
  • The patient has been involved in a traumatic accident. Invariably, their survival depends on the degree of injury and has nothing to do with the skill of the paramedic. We might buy time, but that’s about it. Fate is inexorable.
  • They are unwell/dying because of the culmination of a lifetime of poor decision making. The morbidly obese, the sedentary sloth, the lifelong smoker, alcoholic, drug abuser etc. Included in this group are those who never had the opportunity to make poor decisions – those born with chronic conditions, or their genetic predisposition renders them a ticking time bomb.

This is a generalization of course but for the most part I believe it hold true. My point is that there is rarely a day when I feel I am making a difference because quite simply, fate or the patient’s life up until that point, won’t let me.

So, that’s why I’m leaving. I’m going to remain on bank and maintain my registration but it’s time to call it a day. Life is too short to spend a chunk of it miserable. Anyone who has ever had depression can tell you that. Sometimes you have to do what makes you happy. Money is not everything so long as you have enough to keep the wolf from the door.

Think of it this way. There will come a time when you look back at your life and examine what you’ve achieved. What do you want to look back on? Will it be the life of a man/woman who spent a significant chunk of their life miserable? Or will be one where you smile at those decisions that took you somewhere else and allowed you to live a more enjoyable life?

And remember, if you did take the leap and try something else, what is the absolute worst that can happen? Ask yourself that, and make your decision. I hope you’ll find that even if the worst were to happen, it won’t compare to a life half lived.

The last bastion of youth.


I’ve just had some rather upsetting news. A friend of mine has just put his motorbike up for sale on eBay. He tells me he’s going to use the money to buy a people carrier or some other shed on wheels. I can’t think of anything else more tragic. But then this is life isn’t it? He has two very young children now and can’t see any opportunity in the future to be able to make the most of a bike. Its just going to sit there getting dusty for next three or four years which is such a shame and so it has to go. When he told me I had to sit down, genuinely upset both for him and myself. I’d hoped to get out and go for a blast together somewhere this summer but that will never happen now. He’s made the sensible decision to do what’s right for his family and sacrificed his pride and joy. I do admire him for that, but it’s so sad.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this issue. About a year ago I was on shift with a colleague who had been through the same thing. I found him late in the night browsing a website of classic cars. He told me all about the car he used to own, going into immense detail and becoming very briefly animated as his excitement grew. But that excitement died visibly as he relived the day it was sold and it’s new owner drove off in it. With the money he bought a people carrier. So sad.

I hope I never have to make a decision like this. I don’t want to look as forlorn as my friend did earlier. I think something has changed within him and it’s probably the realisation that one for the last bastions of his youth has finally fallen, soon to be replaced with a shed on wheels.

Tragic.

Its Winter in my House…


I live in a very cold house. We have heating but no insulation, anywhere. The windows are single glazed, half the house has tiled floors and we have a big open fire with an enormous chimney. This is all makes for a sub-zero environment. If I put the heating on for ten minutes it will stay warm for ten minutes before all that lovely heat disappears and it’s cold again.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, my wife does not like putting the heating on. It’s a waste of money apparently she’ll say and why can’t I wear a jumper? A jumper?? What another one?? Shall I wear that over or under the one I’m already wearing?

Today presented me with an excellent an example of our feud. She went out so that she could get on with some farm chores. The second the front door closed I was up in a shot and cranking the heating up to the max. Ahhhh, it was all lovely and toasty for all of half an hour when she returned. Why is the heating on?? It’s like a bloody sauna in here says she. Well, it will be for you I reply, you’ve just been outside working. I mean of course she’s going to hot right? She’s just worked up a sweat.

So, now she’s turned all the heating off and it’s cold again. I even had a dual zone put in to help with this sort of thing. For example, I work upstairs so I can have the heating on up here independently of downstairs where she’ll be sitting, probably browsing a knitwear catalogue or putting a third pair of socks on.

 

https://marksteventhompson.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cold.jpg
Sad, but this is how to avoid a draft according to my wife.

 

To clarify, I can only have the heating on if I’m already wearing my three jumpers and its still cold.

I need to come up with a plan so that she’ll relent and let me have the heating on with maybe just one jumper on. Open to ideas…

M 🙂

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.

Failed again…


A strange week it has to be said. I began with the intent of completely changing my online existence but by the end of the week, well, I wonder how many of you who regularly view will even notice the changes I have painstakingly made. Oh, it’s not all about me. I do try and make things readable, enjoyable and pleasing to the eye so that the odd passer-by might stay longer then he or she perhaps intended. That’s the real battle these days as far as the Internet and social media is concerned. Speaking of which, I should probably change ‘these days’, to ‘these hours’ for the modern world does move at a frightening pace. I can remember web pages taking minutes to load. Now we get upset if the URL we click on doesn’t appear before between eyes in millisecond. Can you believe it? If there’s even a one second delay we think something is wrong. ‘Hmm, site must be down for maintenance… I’ll go somewhere else.’ It’s true, I’ve even caught myself doing it.

Okay, so I may have gone off on a tangent there but these are the kind of thoughts that led up to me wanting to change my online image. With tablets and smartphones being the average consumers medium of choice for viewing web content, web pages have had to become ‘responsive’.

That’s an actual term, would you believe? Basically, sites have to be able to ‘respond’ to the medium that calls them. They have to self adjust and arrange themselves nicely so that whether you are browsing on a phone or table sized tablet – the consumer gets a similar if not the same view and navigation experience on each device. You may think that this is all completely unnecessary but as I said above, people won’t hang about while your aging site struggles to squeeze itself onto Nokia’s latest handest or Apples newest iMustHave. (I’ve quite fallen out of love with Apple at the moment. The whole Apple maps fiasco has made me go almost entirely Android.)

So what did I do this week? Firstly, I moved from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Eh? What’s the difference? Well, a lot. An awful lot actually. You should go and look it up if you want clarification on that. I’m not going to explain it here. The main reason was so that I could edit the CSS of my site and take complete control over how my site looks and most importantly, responds.

This transition meant I needed to get a web host to, well, host my new site. I chose bluehost.com basically because WordPress recommended them. They offered ‘one click’ set up of a new WordPress account with wordpress.org and surprisingly it was just one click. It also installed itself in about five seconds. Most impressive. Moving my old content was also a doddle. I simply exported from WordPress.com and imported to WordPress.org. Job done. All going well isn’t it?

Sadly, that’s about as far as the nice bits went. Shortly after signing up with bluehost I got an email through with the balance I had just paid. I nearly fell out of my chair. The offer had been something like $3.60 per month for 36 months. Sounds perfectly reasonable. What they don’t tell you until you’ve accepted is that they’ll be taking the entire balance up front. Bye bye $180 dollars, or about £111 in English money. Oh dear.

I hummed a bit and moaned a bit more for most of the morning before deciding, to hell with it, I’ll give it a go. I spent the next 24 hours trying to make my new web site look as snazzy and professional as all the other advertised sites and I’m not afraid to say that I failed miserably. I failed so badly that I actually went back to using my old WordPress.com account. I went back to bluehost and wait for it… they refunded every penny/cent. To say I was shocked by this does not do justice to the dance I did around the front room with a manic look upon my face. I was amazingly happy, and my dance looked something like this…

So, here is how it will happen in future if I do decide to go back down that road that leads to having my own website and domain name.

  1. Wait until its financially beneficial to have your own web site. If I’m honest, mine would only have been for vanity. I have zero web presence and offer no services to any customers. In this sense, why do I need a lovely looking web site if I have no one to impress/gain business from?
  2. If I were to ever need a web site, I’m having someone write one for me. This experience has taught me that although I think I could do it, it would take me about a week to learn the coding languages and perhaps another whole week to write the page. I simply don’t have that amount of time right now.
  3. If I ever need a web hosting service, I’ll seriously consider using bluehost again. Their customer service was quite frankly astounding and I can’t sing their praises highly enough.

So there you have it, I’m back and you didn’t even know I’d been gone. Not to worry, but believe me when I say, it’s good to be back.

Later,

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.

 

Victory is mine


Unbelievably, I finished everything I wanted to today.

Well, almost everything. I didn’t get anywhere near the word count I hoped for. Instead I achievied a miserable 1000 words in the end. I can’t write anymore today as I’m off out for a bite to eat with the wife because she’s arranged for us to have a dinner out with friends. A shame I know but take note… take your wife for granted at your own peril. She has the power and an inherited devious-ness (passed down on a genetic level from Eve herself) to make your life a living hell for at least a week should she so desire. A little bit of wife maintenance tonight will give me the next few days burden free. Oh, and I’ll also have a rather nice steak too. Om nom nom.

Yep, all in all, a surprisingly good day that deserves a victory dance. Behold!

Later,

M.

Oh, is ‘devious-ness’ even a word?

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.