Things to Do While Waiting for Success (1-look what others say about not getting there)

It is all well and good reading accounts by folk who said they spent a number of years in obscurity before they became an overnight success I have no argument with these and wish them well.

It is also worthy for successful folk to feel that the right thing to do is to tell you there will be many disappointments but to persevere is the right thing; there is nothing quite like achievement to prove to be a soothing balm to the past.

These positive statements can be a bit of a pain at the time when one is in slough of despondency after another rejection.

What is actually needed are wise words which are of comfort for folk who are facing the fact that they might never, ever see their words have some popular acclaim. Such as:

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” George Bernard Shaw. (Be fair that’s just the sort for thing you need to now, after all  what could be more noble than carrying on in the face of failure and having it endorsed by such as Shaw)

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edisdon (Now that is just the one you need as the rejections pile up.)

So get onto the net and type in searches for Quotes on failure and ignore the smug ones put out by folk who want to step on someone and print out the most uplifting then stick the quotes to your writing machine.

In the next post we shall look at what ways we can invent of our own to staunch the urge to give up.

: The RaggedTrousered Philanthropists- by Robert Tressell was published in 1914, he died in 1911- lesson – you never know when your work will strike a chord

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Lack of Success and subsequent Writer’s Block. Strategy and Tactics.

Well of course it is bound to happen. The struggling writer ends up with a few months’ worth of rejections and most ordinary folk begin to conclude that there is something wrong with their output in either substance, style, or both, or maybe because their pen-name is all wrong (Perhaps Prehenderghast Devilblade sounds better as a character?). Anyway the flow of creation grows sluggish and thence stagnant, and it is very depressing to be sitting there at a keyboard with the minutes seeping away and nothing but ‘There was…’ on the page. (Although though give Derryk his due, he did send that off to a poetry magazine, in the hope that someone might read something into it- apparently they didn’t)

One answer to this is to start off with the vaguest notion of a plot or even just an idea and then give way to the Stream of Consciousness approach to writing, not even bothering to wonder about structure or even content, just bang out the words as they flow from your mind, considering how the character might feel if you were the character and not someone who you thought might be the character…….. Think of the work as a loaf of bread, a number slices which individually looks small but placed in a wrapping has a substance which says unto the world ‘I Am Bread!’

And speaking of Bread I don’t know how things are in the rest of the world, but in the UK, when sliced bread came out first and developed we had Thin Sliced Bread and Medium Sliced Bread and finally Thick Sliced Bread, but gradually the Medium became the Thin and the Thick Became the Medium and thus did the manufactures lead into the realm of Extra Thick or Toasting Bread to make us think we were getting something extra!

‘Getting something extra. When we are just getting the same for a higher cost,’ Garnstang said bitterly and ground the half smoked cigarette into the pavement, noting with grim satisfaction the look of distain from the approaching young woman; he’d forced her out of her fashionably secure bubble to make her fashionably reactive pose’

Now you carry on like that for an hour or so, with a cup of favoured herbal brew at your side at that stage you should stop because you might be getting out of breath, or annoying another householder by the sound caused by the frantic tapping of the keyboard. Anyway you’ll have to go back to Spell-Check to make adjustments and also there will be time spent make dismissive noises at Word’s accusation of you using Reflexive Pronouns or Fragments.

You should then consider does this stand as a narrative or could you take portions and put them in other places or adds bits on. Taking the example above:

‘Think of work as a loaf of bread…..’ that could be said by another character desperately trying to find a way to justify their humdrum existence.

‘And speaking of bread….’ Could be amended to ‘Huh! Don’t’ get me started on Bread’ which could be spoken by a second character and adapted into their view on consumer society.

The other bit of Garnstang should stand as if is. One should always have a bitter character who is being obnoxious.

(In the 1950s- 1970s in the UK you couldn’t move for these types spitting out their bile or ‘earthy’ (moronic) views at hapless and passive other characters. Apparently all were metaphors for what was wrong with Society while the author missed the entire point that what was wrong was with the character themselves….Looser!! They seemed to be more nuanced these days and tend blame corporations, governments or small town social groups)

Anyway there you have the start of something, three disaffected folk in a town, there’s bound to be something you can do with that.

Annnddddd you’ve started writing again!!!

‘Who cares about those editors and agents! What to they know’ you say to yourself and stride forth once more on another venture and this time….It will be different!!

(Go writers! Go!!)

On Dealing With Rejection

By this I do not mean social or emotional. We are of course dealing with the day we get the notification our latest effort is not wanted. Of course it could argued that getting a letter from a publisher or literary agent which, no matter how they phrase it, says ‘Go Away and don’t bother us’ comes under both categories. That aside this missive contains suggestions on how to deal with the business; while maintaining the fiery independence which makes you the writer you are. (Yes I know the word ‘unpublished’ springs to mind, but let us not quibble with trifles at this juncture. We are seeking to maintain the small, slender flame of your will to carry on)

Emotional Responses

One should not be afraid of letting go, after all you have spent time crafting this, and who are these people NOT to appreciate the efforts which have gone into this work? Did they bother to read the whole depth and ponder on the underlying sub-texts and the subtle crafting of the interplays of imagery?  Did they? Huh-did they-huh? You get the idea don’t you?  So the important thing to do is to give vent to your feelings to work off the disappointment and not give way to woeful despondency and fall into the trap of thinking ‘Oh woe! What a pitiful creature am I! I should bother the world anymore with my scribblings?’  

A traditional approach is to grasp the letter firmly in both hands and tear it into small pieces, which can be dropped into a bin. This is slightly pedestrian in my opinion and is just the sort of thing the writer  of this rejection would expect and shrug over. Now some might say the pieces should be dropped into the toilet and flushed away, however being very domestic on this approach I would suggest writing paper or printer paper (if you had an e-mail) is not designed to be co-operative with lavatory mechanics and the bits will simply float there mockingly, now some might say this is fine because the next time you…..but no we shall not dwell any further, let’s look at more imaginative approaches.

With the letter firmly grasp(ed) growl with a passion and tear at it with your teeth, and spit the bits out into a bin (one must maintain a certain respect for hygiene).  True this may lack a certain dignity that some folk might look for, but others feel it can show the correct amount of justifiable rage the writer might feel. Swallowing the pieces is not recommended, apart from the possible disagreement with the digestive system, there is the metaphorical image of the writer ingesting, excreting  and thus taking to heart the words of the rejecter which is quite the opposite intention you wish to convey.

Now another: Carefully holding the letter with a suitable pair of tongs, set fire to it, ensuring the entire wretched thing is consumed in flames. The ashen remains should then be dropped to the floor and ground beneath your feet while you intone suitable epithets. I personally sing ‘Less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels art thou / More worthless than the used snuff are thee / Of more value is the fluff from the kitchen corner / Oh wretched purveyor of trite stuffs may gloom stalk thee everymore/ (By the way this practice should be carried on outside in the case of accidentally dropping the still burning paper will resultant distress. In addition grinding a burnt paper into a carpet or a kitchen floor will cause domestic upset as other people will not be that sympathetic with your distress.). I have thought about filming the event and posting it on YouTube or Facebook, but fate being what it is there is a chance of minor self-immolation and of course what self-respecting camera operating person would not hurry off leaving you in distress to promptly post a what they think unkindly as hilarious event on the Internet?

Methodical and Psychological.

An associate of mine, Phineas (it is his real name, and he has not spoken to his parents for many years now) a fellow of previous monumental output and matched in direction ratio by lack of success decided very early on that what was needed was to treat those who he began to see as the foe in like manner. So he collected and filed all of his rejection letters very carefully, while also noting with equal precision those submissions he did not receive a reply to.

After two years of careful preparation he released his revenge. Those who had sent letter received a letter from him; his letters varied in style and exact wording in response to the rejection letter, but followed a basic format. This was a rejection of their rejection in which he stated the failings in their rejection; he would cite insufficient information as to why they had rejected his work, or find errors in their use of English (to be fair to the publisher/ agent Phineas was using 19th Century rules of grammar which would bring a grim nod of approval from the stoniest of pedants of those times). He would then conclude that as they had shown failings in these areas he had to conclude they had not understood the body of his work and should (note not ‘would’ that was far too a submissive word for him in this mood) thus re-consider his submission. Much to his own grim and perverse satisfaction he never received a reply except for instances of the work returned with compliment slip bereft of comment. He would thus say ‘Ha! Typical!’  and go seeking out others to torment.

His downfall was when he came to tackle those who had not replied in the first place. He had set up a website called ‘Donotwasteyourtimewiththeseignorantfolk.com’ and listed each and every one stating the date he had posted submissions to them. There was the rather obvious failing that he had only sent submissions by postal services without making any arrangements for proof and receipt of the said work so burden of proof was hard, which might have been overlooked if he’d been a bit more diplomatic in the naming of his website. However the comments he made against each alleged recipient did in some cases positively leap over the bonds of libellous. Luckily for him as with most of us, his efforts were obscure and largely overlooked. Truth be known the only contact he had was from his brother-in-law who in addition to being a lawyer of some talent is very caring of the welfare of his young sister who had alerted him to her spouse’s current polemic. The contact as we say in the UK Civil Service covered the 3 Cs Clear, Concise and Correct, an e-mail which said ‘What the hell do you think you’re playing at???!!!’. Frantic phone calls and further more detailed correspondence explained possible civil action through the courts encouraged Phineas to shut down the site quickly, expunging its comments (well he hoped)

These days he restricts his literary efforts to genuine helpful hints on gardening forums for therein lies his true talents, in this he is happier, but occasionally he looks back to those heady times with touch of nostalgia.

It’s the most many of us can hope for. Bloodied but unbowed.

A short history of pre-internet failiures (and comparsions) and what to do when you find you are not original

Now personally I am most at ease when I am writing Fantasy stories; since 1978 in fact when (in all modesty) I pioneered the comic sub-genre. The flaw in this was that the tales were written on scraps of A5 paper in my own hand, which should be best described as ‘interesting’ and crammed into a paper wallet. One day these were shown to a fellow work-mate who was also a reader of Fantasy and claimed to have contacts and ‘also ‘knew things’.

What these things were or who the contacts might have been it was not my fate to find out. We were working for a ***redacted*** and these were ***redacted*** times, suffice it to say we went in somewhat different directions. Yet a year later in the city of ***redacted*** as I was being swept along by a crowd going in one direction I noticed him being swept in the opposite direction. I was for talking but you know the problems you can get into by trying to stop a crowd, aside from the physical ones people do get accusatory as if the whole world is geared to their wishes and plans anyhow judging by his grim demeanour it appeared he had Other Things on his mind and was an enthusiastic part of the crowd going the other way and so that was that.

Well, I carried on writing bits and pieces and intending to put them together but somehow there never seemed to be the time nor the resources to send them anywhere, apart from those occasional grand gestures inexperienced writers get to do; the tragi-comic process of sending a handwritten letter with handwritten bits of work to very large and prestigious publishing companies without checking if they are remotely interested in your type of work. I was not downcast by not getting replies. No sir! It was obvious they were only concerned with the trendy, the famous and the fashionable…..well I’d show them!!

So in the process of ‘showing them’ I found that I was not a pioneer in this sub-genre, there were and had been others before and about me who were in varying degrees of success writing Fantasy and being funny in the process. Maybe not quite as funny, but nonetheless funny or worse humorous, incisive and witty.

It is indeed difficult to place your piece about the villain slipping on their robe and falling headfirst into a privy above a pithy paragraph which manages to combine wry comments on the genre, the expectations and some fragile perceptions  in contemporary society with a colourful piece of action.

This all took place before there was an Internet and these days anyone can put up any sort of fiction or stuff masquerading as fact without much interruption. However it would seem that similar obstacles still intrude upon those who would have aspirations to being accepted by prestigious or even modest publishers . (Only these days the poorly researched submission would of course be e-mailed- and probably to someone in the organisation who has long since left or closed down that e-mail account)

At this stage there are a few options open.

(1) Give up the whole business and turn your energies to a hobby or interest which does not require placing the finished work before some person or personages for acceptance. In part I have gone down this road, I make post apocalyptical ruined cities out of card, with at least one building bearing an indication it was once the location of a publishers.

(2) Take the Bitter and Brooding approach and write savage and grim pieces on the follies of society in general while lamenting its failure to appreciate the true worth of whatever takes your fancy. Then post it up on a website and continue in this vein until you either tire of it or the website tires of you. At this stage you should go into self-publishing small volumes of angry poetry; it doesn’t matter what you are angry about, no one is likely to notice, which will only prove, to you, how misunderstood you are; this should keep you in inspiration for years, although the number of Christmas Cards you get will likely shrink. But art must have its sacrifices!! You should also get rid of any T-shirts you have with (apparently) funny statements or captions. You can’t go around the place with a grim brooding face and a funny T-shirt; just take a look at those who do. One if not both messages are being negated by the other.

(3) Shrug it all off with a small smile and justify your efforts as creating a sub-sub-genre which will one day have it’s…..errr….day, and devoted following.

(4) Get yourself a website and complain about something. It doesn’t really matter what, if you go on long enough, fill it will contradictory statements and as few verifiable facts you will be bound to get a following, particularly if you blame the government (of your country) and the CIA/NSA, this is always a winning combination.

Of course you will note that none of the above will be any the more likely to get your original work published, but all of them are less work, and in the case of (2) & (4) require no application of intelligence or artistic effort whatsoever.

Style over Substance?

I had intended to discuss the question of how to formulate plots and which plots make for less toilsome writing, but I received a letter from an old comrade-in-unpublishedness which set my thoughts along another path, that of Style.

By this I refer not to questions of what sort of tables you should sit at, or if ragged old but friendly clothes rather than fashionably new casual outfits set the correct balance between comfort and inspiration, but the matter of delivery of the story.

Some might think this an obvious conclusion, but you would be surprised, there are those with possibly more resources than talent having decided they need a room solely for the purpose of writing, set to the task of interior decorating with more effort, reflection and self-examination than possibly Dostoyevsky had in producing Crime and Punishment.

But I digress.

My comrade of many years…

Now his name is not actually Brinsleg Garstzrym; it is a pen-name in which he has submerged his identity, so much so I have quite forgotten his true name. For the years of our association he has been fixated on having a unique name. This resulted in failure with various combinations of European Names; it was astounding, those already in existence, you had to marvel at the ingenuity of parents. There was also his chagrin at being mistaking for folk at the top of their very learned profession, or worse when the internet came into being some finding out that colleagues (and rivals) of theirs were being bemused at this learned person being associated with some less than impressive works of fiction being posted under the said person’s name.

In addition as he is actually a compassionate, careful and caring fellow he is also not wishing to cause offense. I did press him to adopt his one creation of Obhadynka Azimbouf as it would surely be of advantage when writing comic or Metafiction for the reader would be so transfixed by the name that they would be half way through the story before they even began to wonder about its worth, but he had of late become agitated that he may be causing offense to goat herders who were Uzbek. Even though I pressed the case that the likelihood of any such indomitable folk reading his works as being very rare. Also whereas I could not claim to be an expert in their language I was sure the words comprising this name would be met with at best blank stares, and possibly an invite to lie down in the shade. But he would not be persuaded. And thus  Brinsleg Garstzrym he stayed and decided this was a name best suited to the more muscular forms of SF writing.

Which he therefore, makes valiant efforts at.

Naturally, being a dweller in the literary deserts where recognition is as water I sympathise with him and feel he should be given some recognition. There is much frenetic action, with central characters dashing about in all directions, expounding views while managing to cut down foes with unerring accuracy and hosts of lesser characters many of whom provide stereotypes and roles suitable shields or decoys dying in noble fashion with a few last memorable words. In fact there is so much going on that romance or erotica barely gets a mention, and as for a plot, well in my opinion that would only provide clutter. Brinsleg has always maintained there is a plot but that Action is a Metaphor for Life. He is a far deeper thinker than I…. But you must judge for yourselves.

In this I give you an extract from Iron Hounds of The Stellar Rim   (with Brinsleg’s permission; he feels if he can get the stories beyond editors and away from less prestigious blogs he will find his true audience)

The blood ochre sky was filled with the noise of tearing metals, burning towers and dying life. Across the pitted landscape poured the ranks of the Klongs of Zurg chanting the praises of the Warlord Scourgeous. They were mindless of causalities, no matter how many got blown up.

Captain Fryzzn frowned and composed himself. He might die this day, but he must do his duty. Nearby his last Multi-Laser Gun blew up.

“Flag Sergeant Grundeg,” he said calmly “Find Lieutenant Frish I need him to form a flank,”

“Sorry Captain,” Grundeg said calmly, as if on a parade ground “He was just blown up,”

“Pity, he was a promising young officer,” Fryzzn clapped a hand on Grundeg’s shoulder “Then gather up the Reprobates and form a flank. The left one, I think,”

The sergeant smiled grimly, he said something, but a nearby tank got blown up so Fryzzn couldn’t hear him. Then he was distracted by a guttural, savage, loud roar, as one of the muscular large bestial Klongs leapt onto of the barricade, wielding its atomic axe and blowing up the machine gun nest. Fyrzzn levelled his meson blaster, squeezed the trigger and the creature blew apart.

Colonel Spritzenhurg limped up, his grim face bending into a slight smile.

“Fryzzn, I had you marked down as a dam idealistic liberal fool, but you fight as hard as any. This line must hold, the other companies have all been blown up. We must hang on until reinforcements arrive and blow up these hordes,”  

“It will be done,” Fryzen said.

“Good,” Spritzenhurg said

And stepped into his command vehicle, which rose up into the debris heavy air.

Over the last remaining intact building it blew up.

“Guess ol’ Spritzen-guts couldn’t stomach them beanz we all had to force down last night,” drawled Corporal ‘Eagle-High’ Larwson, laconically as he drew an aim on an enemy flyer, snappering the release button and watching the Ion-Grenade arc upwards, striking the craft so that it blew up.

Fryzzn’s mind was buzzing with thoughts, when the slender grimed and blooded form of Lieutenant Ceeyleah Windrush appeared at his side. She smiled through the rivulets of blood seeping down her scalp.

“You are hurt,” he said

“You should see the others,” she whispered “What’s left of them. WE blew the entire squadron up,”

“You brave girl,” he said and he kissed her head, she smiled then swayed against his firm chest.

“Medic!” he cried.

Two turned up laid the young woman on a stretcher and loped off to the rear.

They had just turned the corner of the ruined civilian-hab when there came and awful screaming of an incoming Fry-Bomb.

The entire corner blew up.

Wordless tears streaming down his face Fryzzn picked up the atomic axe, no man should have been able to heft one.

He screamed in wordless anger

And began, singularly to blow up any and every Klong he saw.

There is a whole two hundred pages of this and I don’t see why it has not been published, there is much action, doomed romance, a tragic hero and a noble vengeful cause of slaughtering ugly aliens, and thus I think is more than enough Style for anyone.

As I suggested earlier you of course must make up your own minds, but please let me know your views on the matter.

Up-date…….. And in the spirit of this blog, in this month of September I have finally found Tags & Categories!! This could be the big-breakthrough….which might spoil the nature of the blog…..Ah me…beset by choices

              

Would be Writers. Learn by others follies and mishaps

So this blogging thing? Are there rules and conventions? Or do you make it up as you go along? At this stage should I be including pictures of puppies, kitten or bear cubs doing cute things, or is that best of specific sites; there again I don’t think I know how to upload such pictures, well not with any degree of confidence. But does that matter, because as there are specific sites dedicated to such events, therefore mayhap I should writing about things that I know best.

Which is…..

How not to be a successful writer. In point of fact how not to be a writer with any sort of profile what so ever. I mean be fayre to you the reader, until now had you even had any idea there were a trilogy of books within the series of The Nearly Not Quite Paladins. ? Of course you haven’t. Why should you? I mean you enter the word ‘Paladin’ and there about 29,100,00 hits likely to come up on a search engine, but they are probably mostly to do with RPG (computer and board) sites and who’d think to enter The Nearly Not Quite Paladins  ? unless we are into the realms of random entries and aspects of synchronicity.

So there is a lesson good reader. Make sure folk know about you and your work.

I will not progress any further on lessons as yet but will return to the initial reason as to why I have created this blog. It is to make the would-be writer feel better about themselves.

Yes there are goodly books which offer fine and worthy advice to the writer starting off. They are written by folk who are successful writers, or folk who are good at sounding as if they are successful writers. But does this really help the fragile individual who emerging from the cocoon of indecision now sits there trembling with still damp and untested wings of ambition? Do they really wish to be blasted by the winds of triumph and whisked off into confusing storms of How What Where and When? Being told that one should toil and sweat with a purpose that puts everything else to one side? That one should not visit that elderly relative anymore when one should be writing? And why are you sitting here reading this when you should be writing! And take over a room in the house! What you live in a one room place? Then hurl out your neighbour! Art must not be stifled!! And by the way don’t expect to have best sellers or books made into films, you must settle for far lesser rewards. ‘Tis a hard world of writing! Expect misery and disappointment!

Would that not make the new writer unsettled and fearful and think that maybe they are not quite up to the task yet and perhaps it would be best if they put it off for another year. And anyway does not that book filled with such sage and weighty advice seem a bit too expensive when success might not be certain?

No, far better for the would-be writer to read of the rather tragically comic soul who by various dream-like schemes and hastily patched together notions made so little progress as to make many of today’s governments seem to be thrusting dynamic houses of progress and rationality. Would you not rather learn by some other person’s mistakes? Would you not feel better by thinking ‘Oh dear (chuckle). What a silly thing to do. If I can see that was just plain stupid. Then maybe there is hope for me in my modest ambitions’

So this is the path we will be taking. I will be telling you all about my own efforts and of those of my acquaintances, and hopefully we will make your journey a less fraught and upsetting one, leading to one or two volumes of your own being knowing by more than just yourself and a few sympathetic relatives or friends.

I shall leave now to learn about SEOs, URLs and stuff like that

Up-date…….. And in the spirit of this blog, in this month of September I have finally found Tags & Categories!! This could be the big-breakthrough….which might spoil the nature of the blog…..Ah me…beset by choices