I am me. Really.

Yesterday I had to visit a solicitor’s office to have my identity validated. I’d failed a money laundering test because I have two addresses and it wasn’t clear to anybody, including me, in which one I lived. According to the test I was a paradox; an object that had failed to satisfy any condition.

Fortunately, these days, solicitors offer an existential service, and for £15 they confirmed that I am the person I’ve been claiming to be all these years. Me. And they stamped a letter to confirm it. But can I still launder money? I don’t know. I paid in cash.

As I walked home to one of my possible addresses I wondered what other philosophical uncertainties the solicitor could resolve and stamp.

  • Why is there something rather than nothing? Because there is. Bring in a photo ID and a recent utility bill. £15. Stamp.
  • Do we have free will? No. Bring in a current council tax bill and a current driver’s licence. £15. Stamp.
  • If I see blue, what colour do you see? Blue. Bring in a letter from your parent or guardian and proof of postage. £15. Stamp.

The possibilities seemed endless. After all, who can argue with a stamped, legal document? But when I walked into my house I was surprised to find myself already there. So I went back out to demand the return of my £15. They were closed.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Strays | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reviews and comments

Version 2One of the things I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that once a book has been published, genuine reviews on book sites such as Amazon and Goodreads are like gold. If anyone has read The Wrong Story and liked it, a review on either of those sites would be hugely appreciated. Thank you! And to those that have already written reviews, huge thanks too. You can find out more about The Wrong Story and how to get hold of a copy by clicking here. And you can find it on Goodreads by  clicking here.

Posted in Writerly Things | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

That Moment

Five months ago a very important person in my life died. I was there. I saw it all. Senses diminished. Movement slowed. Breathing stopped.

It might be witnessing the mechanics of dying, or trying to accommodate the loss, or just failing to comprehend nothingness. I don’t know. But that moment, that image… it just won’t go away. I do get it. I do get that we all die. But for the life of me I cannot shake that moment from my mind, that moment of being and then not being.

Her last breath.

 

Posted in Strays | Leave a comment

The Wrong Story – 503g of obsession

I am obsessed. For the past week The Wrong Story has been available for pre-order. I could go online and look at it, pre-order it if I wanted, search for it. And I have. I can’t stop looking at it. Sales rankings and review stars. At the beginning of the week I was in the top 35000. Yippee!

I have an ISBN, or rather the book does and now I insist on telling people about the breakdown of that number, what it means and why. I searched on it and found my book available for pre-order in France. I spent an hour translating the specification. Guess what? It was exactly the same as the English version.

And it has a shipping weight – 503g. That seems rather heavy for a paperback. I wanted to discuss this aspect in great detail but suddenly I was alone in the room. I compared that weight to many other books and I was right. It is substantial. Does that include the packaging? Has it been printed on vellum or a light metal such as Titanium? What else weighs 503g? I discovered that in making explosives, 503g of a certain compound is required. Now, how long will it be before there is a knock on the door and I am the subject of a rendition?

After months of writing, crowdfunding, editing, hoping and waiting, The Wrong Story is now available to buy, read, review and comment on. So, it’s time to let it go. Stop doing all this and focus on novel number two.

Yes. Let it go…

…but in the meantime, just in case… Click here to see it on Amazon

Yay!

51GGujdiN7L

Posted in Writerly Things | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rolling the pastry

I call it ‘rolling the pastry’. And it’s not a metaphor for something rude. So those of you that thought it was, read no further. You will be disappointed. It’s about writing – again.

I sit down, I start typing and when I look up a few hours later I’ve got about 1000 words sitting on the page. A good days work. Time for a break – walk the dog, strum the ukulele, trim the hedge (none of these are euphemisms either. What is wrong with you? Although in fairness, I haven’t got a dog).

Anyway, when I go back to my desk there it is: a big lump of text waiting for me. It’s time to roll the pastry. This is not editing, it’s simply smoothing out the scene. That initial freewheeling feeling of words just tumbling out can be saved for tomorrow; now I can be IMG_6609more thoughtful, more considered. And as I go through what I’ve written I add a bit here, change a bit there, explain, illustrate, write – and instead of 1000 words I end up with a nice even layer of 1500 words. I haven’t taken the story any further, I’ve just made the scene I’ve written more digestible. It is very satisfying.

Of course, this is before the editor’s knife cuts it away until there’s not enough left for a jam tart. But that’s work for another day.

Posted in Writerly Things | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I am unblocked

I spoke at the fabulous Bath Writing Events (@WritingEvents) the other day. It was my first outing and I wanted to make a good impression. I made notes, rehearsed against timings, hoped I wouldn’t run out of things to say. And then the night before I spotted an unusually long hair growing out of my eyebrow and I thought using a beard-trimmer would be the best way to deal with it. I showed up at the event with half of my eyebrow missing. Fortunately my hosts were too polite to mention it. This morning I went for a walk and I fell over in the mud.

2017-02-23-photo-00004546

Muddy but eyebrow concealed…

I mention these two events because they are examples of things just happening, and this brings me, indirectly, to my blockage: I couldn’t get started on Novel Two (catchy title?).

I know what it’s going to be about and I know (roughly) what’s going to happen, but I wanted a loose structure in which to to start writing it – some guiderails to keep me from wandering too far from the path but loose enough to let the story grow naturally; for events to just happen which had yet to be conceived; for the writing to have room to take over. Room for someone to fall over in the mud or shave off their eyebrow, for example.

But that word Structure. It kept getting in the way. Three act, five act, seven act; set-up, conflict, resolution, inciting incident, rising arc, plot points; Plot A, Plot B, midpoint, ascending action… aaarrrgh!! Stop, stop and stop. Please. Enough with the structure. I can’t write with those things staring at me. They take away all the fun. It’s just semantics, I know, but I wanted something… less formal.

So I went back to basics. Stories start and they finish. Was that enough? But ‘once upon a time they lived happily ever‘ isn’t a gripping narrative. So, okay, I supposed I could put in a middle bit too.

‘Once upon a time there was a person who lived somewhere and everything was really good or really bad, and so they decided to do something and everything got even worse or better, and then it all changed so they did something else and lived happily or miserably ever after. The End.

That would do. That was as much structure as I wanted. A reusable and very loose framework. I knew that within, there lurked all the context and character introductions and themes and catalysts and climaxes and so on, but those italicised lines were all I needed to get going.

Now I’m writing scene after scene and some go in the beginning bit, and some in the middle, and some at the end. And things are happening which I never expected. It’s working for me. I even have a rough idea where the beginning ends and the end begins. Although, I don’t mind if they don’t. I’m 20,000 words into the first draft and averaging about 1500 to 2000 words a day. I have a minimum goal of 5000 words a week and I’m on target to complete draft one by mid-June, if not earlier.

At least that’s the plan. Tomorrow, before I start writing, I intend to sharpen all my kitchen knives while sitting on a unicycle… What?

 

 

Posted in Writerly Things | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

I’m in control and I’ve got a spreadsheet to prove it…

It’s been a month now since I began my new life as a full-time writer and things haven’t progressed as well as I’d hoped. On the plus-side, I have registered as self-employed and cleared my ‘to do’ list of anything that wasn’t directly to do with writing – other than ukulele practice, of course. I have completed my feedback on my friend’s novel, put the PhD idea on the back-burner and prepared for a  reading later this month. Oh yes, and I’ve sketched out a short-story for a BBC competition. I’ve even been in touch with Unbound and should be getting the page proofs (press ready files) for The Wrong Story to review in the next day or so.

That’s all good. But on the negative-side I have only written one word of my new novel. One word. 1. It is a good word but it needs company. My friend’s novel has 104,000 words. So I’ve constructed a spreadsheet that lays out the challenge. It’s colour-coded with lots of formulae and conditional formatting and pivot tables and all that stuff. It took ages. Then I looked at all the how-to writing books I’ve got, and googled all the how-to writing articles that are out there, and fed that data into my spreadsheet too. That also took ages. But now, just by entering a date, I can calculate when I need to have written the structure, plot points, chapters, characters, scenarios, big scenes, little scenes and upside down scenes of my new novel.

So, let’s see… ah yes. According to my spreadsheet I have to stop faffing around and get writing immediately. Hmmm, I knew that already but I suppose it’s nice to see it laid out in a column.

 

Posted in Writerly Things | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment