Tools of the Trade

I’ve decided to go back and learn the basics of the English language.

It occurred to me the other day as I was listening to an audio cd about how to write good English. The author was one William Zinsser, and to be honest the guy really knows his stuff. His honesty and no nonsense approach to writing really struck a chord with me and I feel the guy talks a lot of sense.

He talks about a writer’s tools – the words we use, use of grammar and punctuation. These are tools we gather and learn to use as we grow as writers.

After listening I was left feeling two things. The first was that I had not gathered many tools during my relatively short and sporadic writing life. The second was that those that I have acquired are blunt, not fit-for-purpose and even, I dare say, broken.

So I’ve decided to go right back to basics. I’m currently re learning from scratch all about nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunction, pre positions, adverbs, and all sorts of other crap I didn’t even know existed.

My hope is that I will at the least fill my toolbox with fresh, new, and purpose ready tools that will allow me to form good coherent sentences.

At the end of the day I want my writing to be clear, simple and easy to understand. I don’t want to fill my pages with unnecessary clutter and make my readers experience a boring one.

So that should take care of the basics. After that its all down to experience. The only way to improve is to keep plugging away and getting those words down on paper or screen.

You can see where this is going can’t you? I have been lazy. I have not shown the self-discipline necessary to be taken seriously as a writer.

Well, there’s only one way to change that.


At Long Last….

I’ve done it. I’ve finally finished my submission to the Black Library.

It’s such a strange feeling. I have about as much chance of getting anywhere with it as anyone else I’d imagine, and may even never hear anything of it… but at least I’ve tried.

I feel really good at having finally completed and submitted something that I’m kinda pleased with. So good in fact that at this moment I really don’t think I care if it does well or not. Okay, of course I care. I’m just happy with the achievement as it is right now.

Anyway, its time to get back to the land of the living.

Bye for now.

M 🙂

Is there a muse in the house?

I am having a bloody awful time writing today. The words just won’t come. Or is that the problem? Maybe, it’s the idea I’m stuck on. I am desperately trying to submit a few stories to the Black Library’s open submissions thingy yet I just can’t seem to come up with a good idea. I could damn well scream.

This morning I woke up with a fucking blinding idea. I thought to myself ‘This is the one! This is the one I am going to submit because it’s just so freaking awesome.’ I must have compiled maybe a page worth of notes in under five minutes. I’m not talking random ideas either. I’m talking a beginning, middle and end. I’m talking full plot outline baby. Everything was going to be alright, I could almost feel I was catapulting myself into a better life via my Trebuchet of awe-inspiring talent.


At some point after I had compiled my notes I went to take a shit. Nothing strange there. I took a book though. I mean I always take a book, but this one shattered my whole mornings work. Well, you know… that whole five minutes of notes. I have read just about everything I can get my hands on that has been printed by the Black Library. I was supremely confident I knew all of the major events in the 40K universe, all the major characters, plot lines, story arcs… the fucking lot. Yet, the book I sat down on my throne to read this morning was a collection of short stories only recently compiled by the Black Library. I started reading the first story and my world dropped out of my arse. Literally in fact.

That was my fucking story!

Well, apparently it was their fucking story. Imagine if I had sent the bloody thing off. I’m fairly sure I would have been done for plagiarism. They were that similar.


Oh well, there is always tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be visited in my sleep by this elusive muse person/thing. We’ll have to see I guess.


Hello?! Can anyone hear me????

A great start to the day.

This morning I received an email from a magazine in America. I had long forgotten that I sent anything to that particular magazine so it really was kick-ass when I opened my inbox.

You see, I have a few short stories that are just kind of laying about on hard disks or in my desk drawer. One day I thought to myself ‘Why don’t I try sending some of this shit off?’

So I did.

I’ve trawled freelance writing forums for months now. They are awash with the number of people who have sent things off and subsequently wondered if they have just mailed their work to a black hole. Suffice to say I thought I was one of them.

The email I received this morning however was most heartening.

While the magazine is not buying my work, they have suggested I try to send the same piece again in six months time.

‘What? Is that it?’ I hear you cry.

Yep. I can see how others would say that this news is nothing, that I have been perhaps let down gently but I would disagree.

I have had a response, and I am led to believe that those are few and far between.

For this reason, for this tiny insignificant victory, I rejoice.

I will try again in six months too and not only that but I will also send more work out to other magazines.

As Bill & Ted would say ‘Most Excellent, Dude!’


M 🙂

The Great Procrastinator…

I am he who procrastinates….

Today I have sat at my computer, fingers poised at the keyboard… for six hours. I had a plan when I first sat down. I would sit here and knock out three thousand words before I could get up and do anything else. Alas I have not achieved anywhere near that. It’s not been a total loss though. I have managed to get my PC (which I am using now) up and running again. I am as yet unsure what happened to it. Chief suspect was a catastrophic hard disk failure. I say this because at anyone time I have at least two virus checkers running as well as windows own firewall so I don’t think it was a virus. How am I ever going to be able to call myself a writer though if I lack some of the most basic and fundamental qualities of a successful writer? I am at heart lazy, unmotivated and have no imagination what so ever. Yet having read the musings and thoughts of several well known writers I come to the conclusion that I am not alone in this and that they too have also had times of great self doubt.

I must persevere.

Part of thinks that I should put my ambitions on hold, go off and study some literature or creative writing course or some other mystical qualification that says to everyone that you’re an able wordsmith. Then again I think why? Why not just read shit loads and write shit loads more? Surely my craft will improve with time?


Another one of my fundamental flaws is a lack of patience. I want things to happen now. What is it I want to happen though? Well, wouldn’t it be great if your job were to write your own stories? You could roll out of bed at whatever time you want, knock out a few sentences and maybe have a glass of wine as you contemplate a walk along the beach with your faithful hound. Some say that professional sportsmen have the best jobs. I don’t think so. I think the best job is that of the artist who gets paid well to show people the innermost workings of their warped and mysterious mind. I am not so naïve to believe however that a life such as this is within my grasp or indeed within the grasp of ninety-nine percent of the population. Else we’d all be doing it wouldn’t we? So what do I want? One published story would be terrific. Not by anybody either. If I could just have one published story by a reputable publishing house I’d be happy with that. My name would live forever then. Not so much that everyone knew about it, perhaps a minor underground hit. It matters not. I would be immortal.

I know I don’t write too much here in this journal. I am sorry. I do however write a great deal of short stories though. I am forever knocking out the weirdest shit whether I am at home or at work. I may someday share some on here. Not till they’ve done the rounds though. I have this fear that if I put them one here then I can never submit them for publication anywhere else. In fact I think that is actually the case. Oh well, I will continue to pop in from time to time and moan about whatever it is I feel like at that time. You’ll just have to put up with that I’m afraid. Bye for now.