20 March 2016 - You're a Waster!
Do you get told you are wasting your life away?
One lesson I have learned in life is that nothing you do is ever a waste of time! At least not if you become a creative writer!
I read somewhere the best writers are older as they have more 'life experience' to draw on. Well, it's not just age, it's what you have done in that time. Spending your working life in the same job is not the same as backpacking and partying all over the world in your youth. You can still be young and have a lot more 'life experience' than someone else.
I remember learning to scuba dive in the Caribbean in the middle of the week. I had given up full time work a year earlier, and my ex-colleagues would have been working that week. They probably thought 'what a waste!'
Not at all, I have accumulated a rich seam of experience to mine. Well, except those times that were so colourful I never managed to recall the next day! Of course it is possible to write a good yarn synthetically. A little research, imagination and visualization of scenes are a basis. But truly original ideas need a good dash of experience to make them come alive.
Don't let anyone call you Waster - you never know when you might need your Waste of Time!
10 March 2016 - London Book Fair
I'll be taking a short break from finishing 'At Reception' to attend the London Book Fair which runs April 12/14. It's pretty obvious why I am there, everybody who is anybody should be there! If you are attending and wish to meet please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I won't be describing every nuance as I don't have social media activated on my mobile. I have never needed to go before, so will blog my experience as a novice after the event! See www.londonbookfair.co.uk for details.
5 March 2016 - Short novel 'At Reception'
I have provisionally titled the short novel 'At Reception', as it deals with events in the lobby of a hotel.
As the storyline evolved it became a deeper psychological novel than originally planned. This has required extensive rethinking of the scenes, especially as it is written in first person. I now expect to finish the current draft in late March. The draft will be sent to an editor to correct errors in grammar etc. I then have to tweak it prior to submission to agents and publishers, and in parallel prepare for self-publishing as a book and ebook. The novel is unlikely to be accepted by a mainstream publisher as it is shorter than their usual requirements. However, I feel I must give the book a chance to sell itself, based on the size of its target market.
A little prematurely, but so I can start a debate on the issues raised in the book, the following have been set up:
Facebook: At Reception
Please like/follow me on the above and when a critical mass has been achieved I'll kick things off!
17 February 2016 - Promotional Campaigns
How does an unknown writer get noticed? Promotional campaigns!
There will be a number of trials of Galahad Porter promotional materials ahead of the short novel launch. A trial is planned for Brisbane, London and Singapore. Other locations are still to be decided. If you see any Galahad Porter publicity please let me know on email@example.com.
If you would like Galahad Porter promotional products an online store is planned to open to coincide with the launch of the short novel.
13 February 2016 - How I write is changing!
As the short novel and trilogy progress the way I write is changing. I used to sit at the screen and type anything that came into my head, watching the word count rapidly grow. Now, as the words become a novel, the pieces need assembling, editing and turning into something approaching the final format. Ideas have to become actions and conversations, locations need describing etc. The word count growth seems to crawl along, 1000 words adds 1% now, not the 10% or so of early days. It feels like one step backwards for two steps forward - deleting a paragraph then replacing it with two paragraphs closer to, but still likely to be a long way from, the final version!
Most of my writing is now done between 11am-2pm, usually turning ideas from previous days, and sometimes months, into actual text for the novel. Outside of this period, ideas come to me and get noted for future use.
When I started writing ideas would open new storylines and the words flowed. Now any change has to be integrated into the existing framework. I expect this to become a real pain. For an organised person having to reorganise whole storylines is very annoying, but necessary to keep improving!
You may think writing seems like a jigsaw, putting the various plot pieces together. But it's MUCH more difficult! The pieces have to be assembled in space and time. Each piece is flexible, it can be bent, twisted, shrunk and stretched - it is not always easy to tell what goes where! You sometimes feel lazy, the challenge is too much to take on, and want to leave some pieces out - but who wants a book full of holes?!
To work on the jigsaw I find I need to keep printing sections out, and then occasionally the whole thing. It is then laid out in front of me: initially it fit on the dining table, and now it's on the floor, and eventually will be any surface I can find! I need this to help both see and FEEL the balance between sections, and look for obvious bits that have not been rewritten. You cannot do this on a screen, not even over two monitors. Recently I discovered I had not written any conversation for a character, although he was busy doing things! The use of ink, paper, shredder and the recycling bin is rising!
The one thing I am not yet sure about is how much of the book I will be able to remember! I don't want to have to keep re-reading the whole thing to find the odd paragraph that needs linking into something else! I am sure I'll be revisiting this subject again during the later stages of rewriting!
7 February 2016 - First Person Issues for the short novel
I blogged at the beginning of the year that I am considering publishing a short novel, based on some deleted scenes from the trilogy I am writing. As mentioned in the latest Newsletter, this project has moved ahead and a first draft should be ready for editing by the end of February.
I have chosen the first person style of writing, where everything is from the perspective of the main character who is a woman. It is less popular that the more common third person writing, but produces great dramatic effect. You are there, living inside her head, with all her thoughts and emotions.
There are many challenges approaching a story with this technique. In a sense everyone who has ever written in this style is writing about the same person, a human. Humans have many things in common, although each has a unique combination of personality and physical traits. The interaction of the character with differing situations makes such stories interesting.
Obviously, it is impossible not to have some elements of your character similar to those in other works. Many conversations are pretty well standard eg 'Good morning, how can I help?' and specific actions and emotions/humour are typically human eg checking ones hair in a mirror and thinking about it.
The challenge is avoiding basing a character on yourself. It's sometimes hard to detach your own opinions from those of the character. It is necessary to get into the head of the character, and try bring out a compelling story from what can be largely mundane actions and situations.
How far you go with psychology is a difficult call, the character needs depth without over doing it.
I hope the reader will identify with her thoughts and feelings, and see her as a friend who is struggling to cope.
More on all this soon!
23 January 2016 - The Woman you see
I have a character. She's a Scandinavian woman. Think about her.
She works in a hospital. Think about her again.
If I mention she is a medical researcher, hold that image in your mind.
How would she prepare to have sex?
Did you say: She takes off her glasses and lets down her hair?
But I NEVER said she had glasses, nor her hair was tied up!
If, half way through a novel you are reading, your medical researcher buys and reads enthusiastically a celebrity gossip magazine, what would your reaction be?
Did you say: No Way! She would never do that!
You become uncomfortable with the book, you have lost your feel for your character and link to the story. You may even stop reading it in disgust!
It's the same thing with seeing the film adaption of a book. Isn't it awful when the characters are not as you imagined them?
But why wouldn't a medical researcher want to read celebrity gossip?
If I want her to, then I have to build up to it so it isn't a shock, it's a pleasant surprise for the reader!
It's not just about writing characters you can see in your own mind, it's also getting a feel how the reader will visualise and relate to them. I hope the above demonstrates how the writer and reader can have very different perspectives on what characters are like - and that can make writing very difficult!
16 January 2016 - How's your handwriting?
Inspired by a possible scene for the book, I got up at 1am. I could not be bothered to turn on the computer so started writing with a pen and paper. My first words were almost 2 cm tall, and realised I needed to write a bit smaller. I was writing as fast as possible so I didn't forget any of my ideas. After the first few sentences I realised my writing would be illegible in the morning, so had to write the letters more carefully. I then got stuck guessing how to spell a word, resulting in three versions of it. I then wanted to change a sentence but there was no space unless I wrote in very tiny writing. At the end of the first page my hand was struck by cramp!
The next morning I looked at what I had written. It was a mess, rather than cramp, a teacher's ruler would have struck my hand at school!
When much younger I applied for a job and the company asked for a sample of my handwriting to send to a graphologist (see www.britishgraphology.org). The interviewer was so impressed at the results they offered me the job (I hope for other reasons too). In those days my writing was neat and tidy, looked very logical. Today a spider would feel insulted! My note book is full of scrawl, some of which I struggle to read. I wonder what the graphologist would make of it now! Maybe Creative Writer would be the analysis?
9 January 2016 - The joy (or not) of working outside
Imagine The Writer sat with laptop in the shade of an umbrella or palm tree, by a swimming pool or tranquil sea, typing away. Improve it with a colourful fruit encrusted cocktail, with its own little umbrella, by the keyboard. Been there, tried it, and love it!
Alas it's usually more fantasy than reality. Usually the glare would make writing difficult, your own reflection staring back at you behind the page! Then the risk of wind blowing any papers into the pool must not be underestimated. I end up pinning things down with anything I can lay my hands on. The mobile phone holds down something from the breeze, only for everything to fly away on instinctively picking up the phone in response to the ping of a message! I now use a cat meow as the ring tone. It usually makes me look around for a cat before picking it up, so that gives me a second to save the paperwork!
I am an avid bird feeder - feeding seagulls in Weymouth, England nearly got me in trouble with the authorities in the past! I keep the garden bird feeder in Australia full of fruit and sunflower seeds, which attracts a wide variety of wild birds, especially rainbow lorikeets. The problem working outdoors in such a setting is the laptop provides a lovely perch, the keyboard a playground.
Refilling my glass indoors and returning to find a bird perched on the laptop, or typing a secret message is a regular event. Then there is the risk of poo.......
Nevertheless, an outdoors job is nice... I wanted to be a refuse (trash) collector when young, guess writer is next best thing!
2 January 2016 - Any reputation is better than no reputation
I was told a long time ago that any publicity, good or bad, is better than no publicity at all! For the writer "reputation" is important. Is it better to have any reputation, good or bad, than no reputation at all?
A writers' public reputation starts with their first published work, eg journalism, short story, or article. The track record provides a publisher with a guide as to what to expect. What about the unpublished writer with no reputation and first manuscript ready? For a publisher, to take on a first novel and put effort into promoting the writer (not just the book) can be difficult to justify.
Modern self-publishing companies allow an unknown writer to get into print and start to build a reputation. However, self-publishing your first novel, containing all the big ideas that drove you into writing in the first place, is not the approach I plan to take. If you really want to see your novel in airport bookshops around the world you need a mainstream publisher. I have a message and I want it read and, hopefully in film, heard! But I have no reputation....
As I write the trilogy the storylines and characters are evolving. Some of my earlier writing is no longer key to the main plot. I am thinking of reworking one of the scenes, and self-publishing this as a short story in paperback and e-reader formats.
Maybe it's the time for Galahad Porter to get a reputation, any reputation.....!