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.

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.

Burning the midnight oil…


 

I stupidly lay down a challenge today thanks to some dude called Jonathan Green. He’s an author type I follow on Twitter. I saw earlier that he’s posted the fact that he had finished and edited an entire short story in just one day. I immediately asked if that included planning and outlining to which he replied no, that that had been done months ago.

 

So why am I a fool?

 

I’m a fool because I said I was going to pull an all-nighter and try and write a complete story myself. Not only that, but as I didn’t actually have any on-going projects, I’ve had to plan and outline first. As it stands, I have a completed outline and synopsis and I’m about 2000 words into the story itself. The thought has occurred to me that if I do manage to finish I would have surpassed Jonathan Green’s effort. One major difference however is that he will likely get his published while mine languishes at the bottom of my desk drawer. C’est la vie.

 

I’m going to stop this post here as A) its eating up valuable story writing time and B) I am going to test something. Over the next hour I am going to try and hammer out 2000 words. That will bring the story roughly up to the halfway point and give me a major confidence boost. If I can’t and only average 1000 words an hour then I will admit defeat (for the night) and go to bed. Mr Green can keep his title and I will bow down out of respect as before.

 

Later,

 

M.

Behold my lump…


My story is finished. I hit the word count today and it came in a little over 9.5K. This is an awesome day.

I’ve been chatting with various folks on forums and many agree that finishing a story is a massive hurdle many writers will never make it over. Some will face plant straight into it and not recover. Others will see it approaching and change direction, giving up for a while before returning with a new story only to fail again.

But what do I really have here? Have I really got a finished story? Have I fuck.

I’ve got a massive lump of clay.

That lump is now ready for the real fun to begin. The story’s there, hidden and lost in crap but I know it’s there. Over the next day or so I’ll dig it out and watch it take form on the page. This is what re-writing is all about, and if you ask me, this is the real secret that wannabe writers everywhere are really looking for. I should point out that I am one of those wannabe types so I am in no way using the word ‘wannabe’ in a derogatory manner. That said, I am of the believe that nothing worth having comes easily. I believe you have to work bloody hard to finish that story, before you can even begin. That makes no sense right? Wrong. It makes perfect sense. Half the battle is not knowing where your story is going. If you can get a beginning, middle and an end down on paper then you’re half way there. It really doesn’t matter if what you have actually written is utter guff, because this is where re-writing comes in to its own. It’s easier to re-write a paragraph than it is to make up one from scratch. That’s my view anyway and I believe it really is the secret to writing.

Well, I’m sorry to make this such a short post but I have a bottle of wine to crack open now in celebration of reaching my word count. Then with highlighter in hand and a pencil or two I’ll put the secret into practice.
M:-)

Freewriting…


Free writing

The spontaneous and unfocused vomit of words upon a blank page. Sounds awesome! So how does it work?

Apparently I just stare out of the window or something and write whatever comes into my head. I’m not to think about it though. I am finding this a tad hard this morning as a there is a cat hopping all over my lap, kneading my legs and arms. Occasionally he’ll slip and drag his razor claws down my thigh. If I put him on the floor he sits under my legs. This is bad as I am only wearing a robe, which by the way is my name for a dressing gown. I worry he may look up and see something temptingly dangling and take a swipe. I can picture the blood dripping now, red and wet, warm perhaps and congealing quick. I’ll have to bandage it and clean it myself because there is no way on earth I’ll present myself at the local emergency department with a lacerated cock. I work there for Christ sake.

 

Yummy… a sausage!

What the hell was that? Its not quite what I thought it would be, this free writing thing but I am surprised how quickly the words flooded out. I may do this again, without the cat. Tomorrow perhaps. The point is, I have only been up for maybe twenty minutes, and here I am tap tapping away at 7am. Usually I would be up for at least two hours before finding the strength(?) to sit down in front of my computer and start writing.

 

One of the things new writers will struggle with is the fear that what they write will be utter shite and that any effort is only ever going to be a waste of time and energy. This is a daemon of your own psyche and needs to be shot in the face the moment it rears its ugly head. The dreaded white page of emptiness, writers block, call it what you will, there are treatments for these maladies. Free writing is one such treatment, and although it might not allow you to keep going with that story you’ve been struggling with for weeks, it will begin to free your mind and let the words tumble out. I cannot describe how good it feels to pour words out onto a bank page and watch it fill. Think of it as a kind of therapy whereby the physical act of pumping out words helps you get back into that zone in your mind, you know the one. It’s the one that makes you feel like a real writer. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what crap is coming out but I don’t let that bother me. I know there could be some hidden gems within that mound of raw material, and I’ll dig them out when I come to re-write.

 

I am the Aladdin of the blank page!

Freewriting is worth having a pop at. Try it for just two minutes – you’ll be surprised how much you can put down in just 120 seconds and even more surprised to learn a bit more about how your mind actually works. Don’t think about what it is your writing, just stare out of a window, into a guttering flame, at the bubbles sending you morse code in your coke, it doesn’t matter. Let them out however they come and you’ll be amazed at what happens.

 

 

The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog…


That damn fox makes it look so easy…

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

Will this work? Will getting up at the crack of dawn and beginning the tap tap tapedy tap regime stimulate my creative juices? Or will I sit here and stare at the dreaded white page for half the morning before doing all or a combination of the following…

Must get a 1000 words done/need a cup of tea first/just check my email/what’s up on Facebook?/click on that YouTube link/hmm its lunchtime/the muse is not with me… I’ll watch a movie to inspire me/perhaps going to the gym will help/I’ll never be a writer/I’m giving up for the day.

I suppose the fact that I am up and I am getting words down is worth something. I notice a hell of a difference in my ability to get those words down if I have so much as a few days off. Perhaps habit does feed the craft?

Well, I have a lot to do today. Today’s target is a meagre 2000 words but if I achieve that it will be double what I achieved yesterday.

Right then, I suppose the only thing left for me to do now is to crack on and get to work.

And the winner is… Me!


I found this post in draft form on my hard drive today whilst wondering what on Earth to write about today. It goes like that sometimes doesn’t it? You have to write just to get the words out but know that you might write utter shite in that same effort. Me’h, I don’t care. The fact I’m sitting here pumping the words out and not playing with my urethra tells me I have chosen the more productive of options.

So, what have I won? Well, it would appear I am in possession of a golden ticket for the upcoming Black Library Weekender…

Clicky clicky…

… to be held in Nottingham later this year. I think there were only eighteen of these bad boys on offer and so I feel justified in my glee. Having been a fairly big fan of the Games Workshop and more specifically its publishing arm, the Black Library, for many a year now this event to me is a big deal. Seriously, when I knew I had won a ticket I was as happy as this guy…

The fart decimated the area around him for twenty yards and blew a hole straight through his underwear, but everyone agreed it was worth looking this pleased about.

 

The weekend promises to be crazy fun and I know I’ll enjoy it but there’s two main reasons why I want to go:

  1. I get to meet the authors, poke them and see if they really are human.
  2. I get to have a twenty-minute chat with an editor. This is the big one for me. You spend your whole writing life trying to get your shit in front of editors and so this is just too good to pass up. The total expense of buying the ticket, booking the hotel and estimating the amount of booze I’m likely to get through is going to be a tad on the heavy side but I’m hoping it’s going to be worth it. If nothing else, maybe they’ll take a look at my stuff and tell me to try origami instead. I could argue that I’m pretty good at the ‘paper ball’ already but doubtless they’ll show me how to make an even more aerodynamic one using my own manuscript. Awesome.

I made a total arse of myself the other day when I called to book the hotel. You know those moments where subconsciously you’re saying to yourself, nay, shouting to yourself ‘DON’T BE AN ARROGANT ARSE’, but you just can’t help it? I had a moment.

‘Hello. Is that the Belfry Hotel?’

‘Yes sir, it certainly is, what can I do for you today?’

‘I’d like to book a room please. I arrive on the Friday and would like to stay for three nights, leaving on the Monday.’

‘Okay, let me see what we have available.’

‘Oh, I should mention that it’s for the Black Library Weekender.’

‘Oh right? Do they have a corporate rate here at the Belfry?’

‘Err, yes. Did I mention my golden ticket?’

‘No sir. What ticket is that?’

‘I have a golden ticket. There was only eighteen. I have one.’

‘Okay sir, I’m not seeing any concessions for a golden ticket.’

‘No, you wouldn’t. I was just saying, you know, that I have one… a golden one.’

‘Okay sir…’

‘There was only eighteen and I have one.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Will there be anything else, sir?’

‘No, I’m sorry.’

I’ve no idea why I felt the need to apologise to the girl but I don’t know, I sounded like an arse in my head. Hopefully, she won’t be working the day I check in and I won’t have to pretend I’m blind again. Pretending to be blind by the way, although morally ambiguous is bloody good laugh. I used to work as a life guard in a swimming pool and as you do, I wore shades just about all day. My colleague was in on the joke too. Every so often, especially during busy periods one of would get up from our ‘chair of sexiness’, pick up a white stick which we kept next to the chair and walk up and down the poolside sweeping the stick back and forth. Whoever’s turn it was not to be waving the stick would watch the reaction on parents face as they pointed and gasped. A blind lifeguard eh? Priceless.
Oh one last thing. Whilst running a spell checker in WordPress, I was a little dismayed to have it come up with this alternative:

 

There’s no fooling this computer is there?

 

Is scary how accurate this actually is. I don’t believe either of us got any action through sitting on that chair.

M 🙂

Iron Man faints at the gym!


A bizarre title you might say but it was a bizarre series of events if I’m honest.

I’ll make this a quick one as I have already blogged today, but this made me laugh so here you go.

I have a suit of armour in my front lounge. I say front lounge as though I have more than one but I don’t. I have a tiny lounge, and my knight stands in the corner glaring at people as they enter the room. I’m seriously thinking of fitting a little microphone thing inside his helm and saying ‘NONE SHALL PASS’ to whoever comes to visit me.

He was almost menacing. Almost… until you spot the rubber gloves.

That would be cool right? But I digress.

A friend and his autistic son came and visited me today to drop off some goat food (Yes, I have goats.) and the young lad was in awe of my suit of armour. He kept poking it which causes my eye to twitch in what I presume is irritation and barely restrained gorilla rage. He keeps poking until it starts to sway at which point I feel the need to ask them both to leave. The father was somewhat embarrassed and I kind of feel bad, but hey… nobody pokes my knight in the groin.

A little while later I receive a text message from the father, firstly apologising and secondly telling me that his son thinks I am Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Now I found this to be hugely cool. I have never been a hero before, even in my dreams. (Yes, I have been a Jedi.) To make things even cooler, my wife also bumped into them and the son asked her if I was a superhero. Ever up for a practical joke she simply replied, ‘Oh I wouldn’t be allowed to answer that. Superhero’s need to have a disguise, don’t they?’

She said his face lit up as though he were the only one in the world to know my secret. Priceless.

So, I am now a superhero in the eyes of an autistic child. Now, superhero’s need to look pretty super. They have to look all muscular and strong so that the baddies know they’ve picked on the wrong guy, and so I went down the gym. Now it’s important to remember a few facts here.

  1. I am now an approved superhero.
  2. I have not been to the gym in at least six months.
  3. The Olympics is on and they play it on huge screens in the gym, egging you on to greater feats of endurance and godliness.

I only did half an hour and boy did I feel as though I’d run for a week and lifted every rock and stone of Hadrian’s Wall. I left the gym and I have to say I was feeling pretty good until I stepped outside. My wife met me (as she had been swimming) and said that my lips were grey and that I had less colour than paper. I have to admit to feeling rather ill. We drove home as quickly as possible where upon getting in the house I promptly collapsed. My wife tells me I had no pulse at my wrist at this time and had it not been for my pitiful cries I could have been dead. Not a good look. Thank god the autistic kid didn’t see that.

Yes, I realise this is not Iron Man.

Right, that’s it for today. I need my rest. Hopefully my dignity will grow back as I sleep.

M J