A Life of Fiction CLXXVIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Tapping Into The Darkness Within: Sometimes I am almost consumed by the darkness inside me, at self-destructive part of my personality which I carry around with me, and which I will carry around with me for the rest of my life. At those times I could wallow in despair, or o could actually try and use the darkness as a creative force. I try to choose the second option.
I try and let my depression power my poetry. I get a lot of bad poetry out of it. But it does help in exorcising my darker emotions. Sometimes, too, I get some piece of poetry which is not too bad, and which I feel that I can stick in one of my collections. But there is no way in which anybody would ever want to read everything which I have written, when powered by the darkness within. Nobody wants to read poem after poem on depression, darkness, and suicidal thoughts.
Writing is, of course, a distraction away from my personal darkness. When I am being creative I tend to forget how I feel, at least for a short while. It becomes all about the words. Writing is therapy, at least in part.
Some of my writing is, I guess, very depressing. But I try to limit the darkness breaking out in my words. I try to limit it to my poetry, rather than my novels or my short story writing. I don’t moan about being depressed on Twitter. Please shoot me if I start doing that.
Sometimes, when I am trying to exorcise the darkness within me, I will hit a purple patch, and I find myself writing poem after poem, and not just about depression or suicide or stuff like that. No, I knock off poems about all of the injustices of the world which concern me, whether how the Irish were treated in the past, or the futility of war, or kitchen sink murders, or whatever I feel driven to write about.
Despite that, though, I would rather not have this depressing darkness in the first place.

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A Life Of Fiction CLXXVII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Working my way through Dick: I am not trying to be rude here. The Dick in the title is the science fiction author Philip K Dick, who is one of my favourite authors of all time. I am currently working my way through his short stories and novels. I am reading Eye In The Sky at the moment, and I have Cantata 140 (The Crack In Space) lined up when that is finished.
Books I have already read include The Man In The High Castle, Radio Free Albemuth, Dr Bloodmoney or How we Got Along After The Bomb, Counter-Clock World, Solar Lottery, The World Jones Made, The Penultimate Truth, The Simulacra, Martian Time-slip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, Our Friends From Frolix 8, and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
One of the reasons for my mentioning my love of Philip K Dick in my blog is because I think that Philip Kindred Dick was a great writer. His books are brimming with ideas. His books have been adapted into movies – some of them great, some of them less so. Minority Report was not a bad film, and Blade Runner (the filmed version of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep) is one of my favourite films of all time. The original version of Total Recall, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was not bad. I did not think that the remake was that great, though. The plot does not even take them to Mars. It moved a bit too far away from the source material for my liking. And when Philip K Dick is adapted for the cinema the film producers, for some reason, rarely stick closely to Dick’s original (in this case We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), as though they do not trust the source. The film which is supposed to be closest to the source material (I haven’t read the book yet) is the Rotoscoped A Scanner Darkly, featuring Keanu Reeves. I must find the original and check it out.
Another reason for mentioning Philip K Dick in this post is because I guess that he has been a big influence on my work, even though we possess different writing styles. I am not so stupid as to try to write in the style of some other author. At best you produce a pastiche; at worst it is unreadable rubbish. But I have been influenced by Philip K Dick. Once I wrote a short story where the plot, I felt, was the sort of plot which Dick might have wrote, although I was not trying to rip him off. The story, actually, had its origin in a dream which I had. It is called Are You Dreamworthy? I am currently in the process of turning the original short story into a novella, although I have no idea as to when it might be completed. It is kind of on hiatus at the moment, as I work on other unfinished projects. But I will go back to it and finish it at some stage. I’m not sure when, though, as my creative juices are pretty low, at the moment.
Anyway, there are those out there who like to know what people are reading at the moment, and what I am doing is reading Philip K Dick. Why don’t you do the same?

A Life Of Fiction CLXXVI

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

New Year Resolutions: My New Year resolution, this year, was to try to get noticed. I have written a lot of stuff, in the past. Not counting unfinished stuff I have written more than ten and a half million words. But there is not much point in writing all that stuff – even though I primarily write for myself – unless people read my work. I want to have as wide an audience as possible. Doesn’t every author? I don’t think that there can be many audiences who might say that they are so elitist that they only want a few people to read their work.
Ultimately, I want to be an overnight success. It is turning out to be a very long night, though, considering that I first began writing over ten years ago. Back then, though, it really was a hobby. It was some time before I tried pitching any of my work to publishers. Most of them got back to me, and I now have a great number of rejection letters. In fact being rejected has given me ideas for two different works (not sure when either will be finished). The first of those is now a half-finished novel called Rejection, in which a serial killer, formerly a would-be author, goes around killing all of the people who sent him rejection letters. It was one way in getting rid of the annoyance which I felt in getting rejection letters which said that I could write, but that they did not think that my novel was commercial enough. It is sometimes liberating to have your main protagonist as a serial killer. Get it all out of your system. It is certainly a lot better than becoming a serial killer in real life. Not that I have ever been tempted to do that.
The other idea which I had for a book, inspired by my rejection letters, was a non-fiction work called How Not To Get Published, which, I suppose, you could say was a bit of satire. Basically, in that book, I will list all of the many mistakes which I have made. And I must have made lots of them, I suppose, over the years, even though I have tried to follow the advice in such things as the Writer’s and Artist’s yearbook. I will stick all of my failed pitching letters in that work, should I ever get around to finishing it.
Anyway, the point of this post was not about the many books which I have not yet got around to finishing. It is about my intent to try to do at least a little bit more to promote my works on Kindle. Oh, and to put a few more books on there, as well. I haven’t stuck anything on kindle in many months. During that period I have completed a couple of poetry collections, as well as a few novels and one short story collection. They might as well all go on Kindle. Poetry collections are never going to make you any money unless you bag the title of Poet Laureate – and I am afraid that that will never happen to me. I am not some great talent like John Masefield, although I do think that I do produce a decent poem now and then.
So I am going to stick everything which I can on Kindle. But that alone will not be enough. Sticking things on Kindle really is the simple bit. The hard bit is promoting your work, and I freely admit that it is a problem which I have not yet cracked.
I have begun going to a monthly spoken word night near where I live. I recite about three poems each time. I think that, now, it is about time to get commercial, and tell people that all of my poetry can be purchased on the Amazon Kindle site. I suppose that I might sell a couple more by doing something like that.
What I really need to do, though, is to try to increase my web presence. It is very small. But I intend to do that without Facebook. For reasons which I will not go into hear I am not a fan of Facebook. Well, I am on Twitter, but with only four followers I do not think that Twitter will be the path to fame and fortune. So I think that I will have to increase my net presence by contributing to other sites.
Those are my New Year resolutions. But, like all such resolutions, the chances are that I will not stick to them. What is it that they say bout the road to Hell…

 

A Life Of Fiction CLXXV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Writing short stuff: As I have said, in the past, I am now on Twitter. Not that I actually tweet very often. I do not always have anything worthwhile to say, and I am not going to bore anybody with the minutiae of my day.
I do like the fact that you only get one hundred and forty characters on Twitter. That forces you not to meander all over the place while you are writing. I should probably state, here, that I am a big fan of haikus. I have also done a collection of prose stories which were exactly one hundred words long. One of them is featured below:

Red Ferrari

Roderick has bought a shiny bright red Ferrari to compensate for the fact that he has turned forty, and short, and going bald. He thinks that he’ll pull the women now. He is tired of going home alone on a Friday night. But alcohol and fast cars do not mix when being used by men who are not used to handling either; and all that Roderick achieves is wrapping his car around a tree. His safety belt saves him, albeit not his bruised pride, and he has to settle for his old battered Mini as a more accurate penis extension.

You can, of course, be more succinct than that. Here is a short story of only one hundred characters. It was originally written with the idea of doing a whole series of Twitter fiction:

My seafront chips, hot, vinegary, wrapped in old papers, are stolen from my hand by a gull. Two decades later I return with my sniper rifle.

And here is a haiku, one of the shortest verse forms:

ToyTiger

The striped Toy Tiger
Pouncing with feline fury
Plays with the toy mouse.

With writing short pieces let yourself be liberated by only having a few words with which to work. You will find yourself choosing your words very carefully. You can spend as long composing a haiku as on a sonnet. Writing short pieces can be a very good exercise, even if you do not intend to ever publish them.
Be succinct. Remember the saying that brevity is the soul of wit. Try not to repeat yourself.
Hm. A short piece on writing tersely.

A Life of Fiction CLXXIV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

After NaNoWriMo: Well, I finished a novel during November, even though it was only just over fifty thousand words long. In fact I managed to complete two novels during that period: Strange Days and Blank New World. So I wrote over one hundred thousand words during November. I finished the second novel with a couple of days left to go.
Spending all month on one (or two) projects was interesting, as I usually write bits on several projects during a month, as the mood takes me, and as thoughts arise as how to take projects forward. I work at my own pace on each novel or poetry collection or whatever. While writing constantly on a single project was interesting, I don’t think that either of the novels which I did during November was that great. I think that they were a little hurried. And, if you write at that pace, you can’t do anything else but hurry, forcing yourself forwards.
I did not bother to put either novel into the NaNoWriMo website, after discovering that a picture was required for the cover. I am a writer, not an artist. The only art program which I have on my computer is Microsoft Paint. Anything which I did not that would be boringly simple. I did not have any idea of what sort of cover I would like for Blank New World. But that certainly was not the case for Strange Days. Any cover for that would have shown the cover of a book – the book mentioned in the novel. The cover would be an image of a hardback copy of that book lying on a wooden table. On the cover the sun would be dawning blue, lighting up an otherwise dark sky. It is an image which is important to a storyline. But I don’t have the skills to produce a book cover like that.
I took part in NaNoWriMo, this time, only for myself, setting myself a target of two novels and hitting the target. I proved to myself that I could do it if I had wanted to. Three years, now, I have taken part in NaNoWriMo. But I don’t think that I will bother to take part next year. I already have that JPG award showing that I have doe it. I have four novels as a result: the two mentioned above, as well as Steam Park and Empire of Steam. I don’t think that I have anything else to prove. Not to myself, anyway, and I write, ultimately, to please myself. If anybody else likes what I have written I consider it to be a bonus.
As to the two books I wrote I think that I may stick them on Kindle at some stage, when I feel like it. They will certainly be no worse than some of the books on there (no names). But I think that I will put them on very cheap, at least until some stage where I do a second or third draft of them. And I can’t see a second draft appearing any time soon.
Strange Days is a book about the collapse of reality (or is it?) and a work of fiction which writes itself into the real world. It is, perhaps, not the most original idea. But I needed something which I could write quickly without much pause for thought. Reality going insane is one of the things which I have no problem in writing. I don’t want to say too much else about the novel as I don’t want to spoil it for anybody foolish enough to buy a copy on the Amazon Kindle store.
Blank New World is set in a world where Trump is President of the United States of America. It is set in the very near future, and is a world where, in terms of foreign affairs, things are pretty much going crap. But the main protagonists of the novel are three unemployed ex-students who share a flat in an unnamed town. They spend their time playing console games or watching television or going to the pub (when they can afford it). The novel describes a week in their world. I got the title of the novel after watching an episode of Pointless. It had a round where contestants had to fit in the blanks in the titles of famous books. One of them was ________ New World – or, as Alexander Armstrong called it, Blank New World. I liked the title so much that I decided to use it as the title for my second NaNoWriMo novel. I don’t need to tell any of you that the correct answer to that Pointless question was Brave New World, by the great Aldous Huxley.
Since the end of November I have begun a science fiction novel called Psionex-328. It is a novel in which psionics play a big part, in a dystopian future world. But I have only written the first three thousand words so far. I am still working out the details of the plot inside my head. While I work out the details I work on other things, such as posts to this website and a little bit more to the Bridget Jacobson Mysteries.
Anyway, I think that is enough for now.

A Life of Fiction CLXXIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Loss: Some time ago one of my very close friends, Brian Grove, passed away. As you are reading this he will have been dead for many months. But that is only because I have had a backlog of these posts to put on WordPress. I put them on in the order that I wrote them.
Right at this moment I feel like giving up, as far as the writing is concerned. Hopefully that feeling will pass. At the time, though, I am in a miasma of inaction, where I have to force myself to write, and where none of my current projects feel all that appealing to me. Writing steampunk or gaslamp fantasy tales feel ephemeral at the moment, if you know what I mean. The one thing which I have been working on is a series of letters to Brian Grove, to try and put my thoughts down on paper, and get some of this sorrow out of my system. I have also wanted to record down what I can remember about my friend, before I begin to forget stuff about him. So far I have written about sixty odd short letters to my dead friend. But even that is running out of steam, at around some thirty thousand words. Maybe I have already said everything which I want to say, and I should wind up that collection of letters and move back to other projects, and try to finish them off. Maybe by the time that you are reading these words I will have already put those letters on Kindle. Or maybe I will never ever publish them. I haven’t decided yet.
Like me Brian Grove was a writer. But he was one who got a proper publisher to publish his book, The Treasure Hunter’s Handbook. If you are interested in becoming a treasure hunter then I know that you can find the book on Amazon. There are some really interesting chapters in the book. I think that my favourite was the one on gold. So go and pick it up and honour my dead friend.
I feel as though I should have stronger feelings of loss, and I feel almost guilty for not mourning more. But I’m not sure that it has completely sunk in yet. I still can’t believe that I am never going to have another drink with him.
The only thing to have come out of this loss is that project called Seventy Letters to Brian Grove, in which I write to him about our relationship, and I try to recall some of his views on life, his likes and dislikes. That project is now complete. I suppose that it is a coping mechanism. I may release it on Kindle, one day, although I cannot really imagine that many people would like to read it.
Anyway, enough on the depressing matter of death. The next post will be called After NaNoWriMo.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

A Few Notes On Storylines: Here are a few brief notes on constructing storylines. First of all, even before you put a pen to paper, don’t think of suddenly coming up with the entire storyline. Imagine how you want the story to end. Then plan how you are going to reach that ending. You don’t have to note your plans down – those who write quickly can, sometimes, keep such plans entirely within their minds. Try and have an idea of the ending, and how the story unfolds from the beginning to reach that ending.
Sometimes I have written the beginning of a novel, and sketched out the next couple of chapters, and then written the ending, while it is still fresh in my mind. Other details can be filled in as the story progresses.
This is especially true of murder mysteries. You have to know who the killer is, at the start of the novel, even if it is something which is only revealed on the last page of the novel. work back from the end, deciding why the killer murdered the victim, and how it was done, and how the person tried to cover up the crime. Be sure to include red herrings, to try and lead the investigator astray (and possibly the reader, as well). People who read murder mysteries don’t always want to know the identity of the killer from the start (unless they are fans of Columbo, of course).
Create story arcs, when you are ready, on your computer or on a piece of paper. If you are doing a complex novel you want to be able to move around sections of the prose, especially if you have multiple storylines running through your prose. Don’t be scared of moving things around to where you feel they fit better.
When you are ready start writing, when you think that you know what is going to happen. But don’t be scared to modify the storyline as you are going along. Sometimes novels can evolve as you are writing them.
That’s enough for now. But I may come back to this, later, in more detail.