A Lesson Truly Learned (Learnt….whatever)

 

So this is how it ended….

OK, thought I would start up a site dedicated to my series of novels ‘The Precipice Dominions’

Vol I Of Patchwork Warriors 

Patchwork (revised edition…new cover pending)…Old edition currently avaiable on Kindle…. (New edition can be supplied by pdf on request…..Commercially bad move…..Who cares?)

And the ready for publication……(cover pending) Vol II’Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace’  (Pdfs avaiable)

And I set up a site, I spent two days (daze) setting up a site….several times…..and now reports come in from friends that the link does not work.

I was vexed sturm_drang2 But not surprised…not where computer sites which have been recently revised are concerned. I took a mature and philosophical approach…..

 

Big Raspberry

And then decided it would be best if I just continued to use this site to discuss the world and the people of the books. For these are places and characters which have taken on a three (at least) dimensional form, this is quite exciting and has lent a serious level to my writing I have not used in pervious years.

Some might say this is just overblown marketing or jottings of someone who has nothing else to do with their time and just ‘gone in too deep’ (the latter would be ironic  as this is a problem one of the characters has). For me it would be a continuation of a naartive which has been going on for some time. And as is the case with most of my posts one of the intentions is to provide some basis for other writers to ponder over when producing their own work…..Not a ‘How To..’ more a ‘Make of it what you will’

OK I’m done for the present 

Risks and Things When Raising a Profile

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Stereotyping. Did I? or…. Did I now?….Or….No that’s Not What I Meant…Or…Oh Heck I Wish I’d Never Started This…

Introduction

Currently, mostly for better, sometimes for worse, we have more opportunity for self-expression. The ‘worse’ aspect is the amount of filth, hatred, lies and self-righteous indignation being spouted out on social media displaying hideous levels of ignorance, even by those who claim to espouse enlightened views. Give me a regular bigot over an intolerant liberal any day at least with the former you can get straight down to the argument and not have to wade through distractions on the grounds of alleged ethics, contradictory bombast, fashionable buzz-words, and painfully obvious self-righteous indignation. With free expression should come responsibility….a word these days which it seems should only be applied to others.

Anyway as usual I have digressed, but only slightly, sort of. Because this post does walk hesitantly on the borderlines between the justifiable, the questionable, the excessive and the downright hypocritical.

Trouble with those borders, they are prone to shifting, as do the myriads of factors which make up the weather. And like the weather too much of one sort can be harmful to our survival, although in this case the survival would be artistic.

Currently as the fourth paragraph takes shape I am wondering whether I am in the process of producing an erudite opening statement or simple procrastinating. Ah me, thusways without anymore endeavours at rhetoric time to step in.

 

A Walk Through The Minefields of Writing Fiction.

Gender. Race. Religion. Politics. Social Groupings. Humour. Violence. Sex (didn’t want to disappoint some of the readership there).

Any of those by themselves contain enough combustible material to illuminate a social media site to nova proportions, even when the hapless author was writing with the very best of intentions. Here and now we may as well ALL admit it; we all contain a capacity to be not just be offended but to seek out reasons to be offended. If you have yours under control and just rage at the most obvious injustices, bigotry and hate then I salute your maturity; otherwise, c’mon guys, you and me know the guilty secret, we all get a kick out of it.

Meanwhile for the innocent and well-meaning fiction writer there is a charge which will get levelled at you straight away.

The charge will be because you are not one of the ‘whoever/whatever’ you are writing about you are stereotyping. As with most reasonable criticisms there is an element of truth buried deep within. AND to be fair this is something the writer has to grapple with. HOWEVER when taken to excess this would limit me to writing about retired married Caucasian males in their late 60s resident in the North East of Wales (UK). I hasten to add there is probably a wealth of material in such a theme and some very good books could arise….But not from me. I write Fantasy Fiction and am wont to throw lots of elements into the mix, for me writing anything else would be, to say the least…not very good, and meandering.

This initial accusation can give birth to portrayals being ‘demeaning’ ‘offensive’ or ‘typical view from a….’ (fill in the character-type and then the ‘type’ of the writer, you’ll get the idea).

Should the writer be trying to avoid this and miss a step they can be accused of ‘pandering’ by creating an ‘alpha’ or ‘saintly’ or ‘magician’ or ‘too perfect’ Annnnddd if they try and balance they risk getting slammed from both sides.

I tell ya folks…

You.

Just.

Can’t.

Win.

You can’t please everybody and since you are an ordinary human being, whereas you might get a hundred ‘likes’ and ‘favourables’ those three or four ‘dislikes’ ‘angrys’ and ‘kritiks’ (sic) will really sting you off of your game.

Like most good causes, subjects which started off with nobles aims and clear projections get side-tracks and distortions added in because of The Human Factor in its multitude of forms.

Somebody somewhere will not like something you have written on some sort of grounds other than your style of writing.

 

Down in The Shelter Prior to Starting.

OK, you and I are probably never going to create works whose portrayals will be argued over in the columns of prestigious newspaper or causing massive flurries through the Social Media-verse. And yet, fragile creatures that most writers are, being aware of these controversies can hamper, stifle and even frighten a writer into not producing their very best.

So what are we going to do about it? I say ‘we’ because I am proud of the struggling writers who finally get into print, ok maybe the genre is not for me, but heck they have got there, and for me that is a victory for us all.

 

(Pause fer thought: Here’s an example of the problem I am writing about. Look at me using military phrases ‘minefield’; ‘shelter’ ‘victory’. I am willing to bet if this was a popular blog someone somewhere would object to at least one of those words, for some reason or another…..I could write the objections myself…and that’s before we get onto those angry at ‘the theme’ )

 

Back to the ‘We’ and the ‘What’.

Remember, unless you are going to try and write about you own group which when you take into account age, gender, social grouping, race, religion (or not) etc, etc is going to be narrow (ish), you will always be writing outside of your comfort zone and will likely to be making assumptions or be seen to be trying ‘so hard’ not to be so. Accept you will upset someone, somewhere, sometime. The important aspect is try not to antagonise. (unless you are being deliberately provocative, if this is the case you had better have a pretty good balanced ethical reason otherwise I will be in the kicking line.). Nor patronising by giving the character all the goodies. Therefore just do the best you can…. as simple as that.,

In doing the best you can, try and familiarise yourself with the whosoevers you are writing about. This does not mean you ostentatiously try and hang out with them and ask stupid questions like ‘How does it feel to be….’. That is painfully offensive and patronising. There is enough material out there written by folk of the various groupings (and don’t forget those groups do cross-pollinate) for you to get a general idea to break down your own assumptions.

When breaking down your own assumptions try not to shoe-horn a type of character in, just because you want to prove you can write about ‘that sort of person’ or they ‘look good’ in the narrative. Try that and oh my, you really will be heading for a lot of trouble…..unless of course you are writing something wildly comical and even there can await deadly traps for being offensive and stereotypical. Fit the person in naturally, where you would expect them to be, which truth be known would be a lot of places. You don’t need to force them in.

Once you have eased in a possibly ‘sensitive material’ character (which could in some febrile corners of society could be anyone irrespective of age, race, gender, orientation, beliefs etc, etc) into your narrative then do not try and have them skirting about trying to be perfect, or exceptionally empathetic, witty, brave and all good things (see above ‘goodies’)….OR…fall into another trap of trying too hard not to make them so, so they end up as a spare villain. Give them depth, let their purpose and motivations. Then defend them and their inclusion against all comers outside of the book. They are a person, who happens to be…… (fill in your blanks)

 

No One Gets It Exactly Write (sic) for Everyone, Everytime, Everywhere, Everywhen.

Being plain about it; to reapeat.  Do your best. Meld your characters. Check yourself from time to time to see if they are fitting in naturally to the situation you are writing about. Avoid a preachy style if you can (unless you really don’t care what folk think; it’s your narrative kiddo. What do I know?)

 

Conclusion

Sounds like one of those ‘How To’ pieces yeah?

[Whoever writes those is not going to win either.

If they are famous, many will be the sceptical person who will say ‘Oh fine. That might have worked for you…BUT…..(and then they go off on a tirade)

If they are not famous (let me get my mirror function on this laptop), then folk will say ‘Ha! If that’s the case, how come you are not famous?…..AND….(then they go off on a tirade).]

Just accept folks, if you write, someone is not going to be happy with what you have written. (When you think about, that could be pretty cool because it means you have reached a wide audience…Whooo-hoooo. Embrace it!!)

In the next post I will endeavour to illustrate my own journey and justifications in getting from conception to written…..an act which will have its own pitfalls.

 

Writing Your Book- When The Feeling Arrives- Embrace it!

Firstly to the new writer, just starting out.

Yes, you’ve made progress on your work, but suddenly you are assailed by a whispering dread. ’Is it worth all this time and effort? What happens if someone reads it and doesn’t like it?’

If those sly words haven’t reached you yet, they will.

Follow me as I turn to writers of some experience, not all of it good.

Hi folks. I have a new writer here who I’ve scared a bit about the ‘D’ word. Yes, I agree with you, would that ‘doubt’ were banished from the lexicon of the writer’s experiences, but what can we do? We’re all human and apart from the most obnoxious egotists we are all prone to it, being part of the human composition.

Let us consider not those tendrils curling about your creativity in an effort to stifle your efforts. Instead let us consider those signs pointing out you are doing your level best.

I Really Must Catch Up On Everyone’s Blogs….Sometime, Soon

This one needs addressing promptly because it is the most challenging. You’re reading this  thus you are in the blogosphere. You read them, your write them. You form bonds with other bloggers. You like their posts and you get to ‘chat’ with them, exchange views, support, ask questions and so forth. You might do this on a daily or other regular basis. And then one day you suddenly drop off the radar. Why? Well you know don’t you?

Yes, you are caught up in your writing. The time you have available to ‘tap’ the keyboards have been inexorably taken up with your latest project. It’s not that you don’t care about these folks, got bored with them, or become selfish. Oh no, you have been drawn into your work, deep. There is exploration on plot, motivations, characters to be attended to. Re-writes, checking for typos. You try and snatch some time on WP to let folk know you are there and well, for you know the dear genuine folk will worry if you are not around, it’s that sort of good community. Meanwhile it is back to your work, for this has become the principal attention of your creativity. Within the part of you which is the writer a spark has ignited, one beyond the usual chemistry of writing. You are now in the centre of the  writing equivalent of the nuclear fusion process which brings in birth a star. And here you are. Your writing has ascended and drawn you upwards. Embrace this, the future of your valuable work is calling you.

Hey! How Have You Guys Been? I Missed You!

You finally find the time in your day to sit at your laptop and pick up where you left off. You want to speak with your characters, you’ve been thinking about them all day, wondering how they will react to your latest idea. You want to know if this will work for them. You’ve missed their approach to life or been worrying how they’ve been coping. There are various views about characters taking hold of the narrative from a writer or whether they should be kept under control. Whichever viewpoint you take if you are engaging with your characters to the point, they are not pieces on a gameboard or out of cliché central to move along the Plot Above All Else, then they are alive and they are vibrant. Work with them for sometimes you just have to listen to them.

Are You Feeling OK?

Yes, it can be a bit disconcerting for the person who happens to be in the same room as you. They are sitting there working on some craft project, doing a jig-saw, reading or attending to their own laptop, you are ‘tip-taping away when suddenly from your direction they hear a sibilant ‘Yesssssss!’ and notice one of your fists is clenched and shaking in what can only be described as a gesture of triumph. Then there will be the occasion when odd words spring from your lips such as ‘Alll-right!’ Got—-It!!’ ‘Rock AND Roll!’ or other such random and statements unconnected to the current surroundings. There might even be a gentle laugh followed by ‘Oh yeah. It works,’ or even nothing apart from the laugh.

After a while a patient and astute companion will realise you are simply expressing delight that amongst all of the words you are producing there are some passages which you are particularly enthusiastic about or proud of.

We all have to admit we are plagued by worry over parts of the book and if left to our own devices might be tinkering with the thing for decades. However if you do encounter yourself lapsing into one of these episodes of vocalised joy, you should realise you are certainly on the right track. Those nagging little parts might just well have to be steam rollered over. If you are connecting this way with even one small part of your work you are mining your true potential. Keep on keeping on.

So What? I mean, Like So **** What? You Don’t Like It? This Is Me Not Caring! 

This may be a ‘just me then’ interlude. However I do feel it is worth voicing. There are many useful, cogently constructed and intelligently helpful posts, blogs, even books about what to do and what not to do when writing. I accept this to be so.

However where my teeth start to bare (I picked up the habit from one of my characters Arketre, fierce person when provoked), hackles rise and fists clench in a not happy way is when would be krit-tiks, folk who never wrote anything apart from snark and the literary fashionista start to pick, pry and come up with cliched or lazy commentary which proves they never read the whole thing, or it offends them(Hah!). Where I dig my heels in and snort derision or scratch my head around above my left ear and say ‘yeah, yeah’ is when someone tells me my work is ‘interesting’, but……..

In short, if you have written it, it is yours. You did a damn good job to get it completed and if some part of the world doesn’t like it, or not understand it, you cannot be held responsible for their lack of comprehension.

If you believe your work has the right to be put out there in one form or another. Then, you dear writer are cookin’. Advice is one thing. Guidance is helpful. As for the rest…LIKE I (bad word) CARED!

Might not sell books, but it will ensure you get your book completed.

 

Therefore fellow writer, if you are experiencing one or more of these , you are on your way and more power to you. If you are not, well keep on they will turn up sooner or later.

Keep writing.

The world might well be waiting for you.

Writing Your Book – The Environmental Issue.

Writing Your Book- The Plot Thing

Writing Your Book – Main Characters (You can’t avoid them)

Writing Your Book-A Journey Barefooted and Treading on Glass under a Hot Sun- facing challenges you’d prefer to avoid

You, The Writer. Let Your Universe Come into Existence

It’s all very well you going on about letting words flow Let The Words Flow….; suppose they don’t?

A very good question actually. To be sitting there staring at blankness and the longer the staring goes on the less chance there are of any words turning up there, mental log-jam. Panic comes a’knocking- ‘you are never going to write anything’ it intones with grim glee, ‘why are you bothering?’

Let us stop there with the sly whisperings and the toxicity which is the fall out from the media obsession with this week’s latest writing success (poor soul, you know there are folks waiting in the wings to pull them down). Let us concentrate on You

Just turn back a stage or two, or three.

So you want to write. You have these ideas, notions or themes bubbling away in your head or heart. Now there is the starting place. Your very own Big-Bang circumstance.

I’ll just clarify, a smidge. The current general scientific perception informs, everything we know as Time, Space and Matter was all compacted into an infinitesimally small situation, which erupted and the whole Universe began.

Move this analogy to your own writing situation. Your idea and your creativity compacted into one small space within you. Naturally, you ask ‘So where is the spark? I can’t see, nor feel it’

I would suggest to you the spark starts with the first word you write. Exactly what that word will be in relationship to your final narrative is not something which you should trouble yourself with. Embrace the concept that one word will give rise to another. Do not think about the consequences of the breaking of the barrier. Creation has begun, once the words begin the ideas are let loose and thus more words. Words and ideas give rise to other words and ideas.

Now in the early stages of the Universe (we are talking very small slices of time fractions of fractions of seconds), there were changes in states of matter and laws of Physics. Now shift this idea back to your writing. At this early stage you are in a Stream of Consciousness, ideas and words ate tumbling out, again worry not, just keep them coming.

Of course, there is the Stream of Consciousness mode of writing, which is not quite the same as your state you are in. You are in a burst of creativity; heady and free all the melding and the moulding is to come later. Right now, pour out the words, do not be afraid, no one is looking over your shoulder, no one is guiding you, you are The Creator of your own universe. All is yours to create.

Forge on, one word, one idea after another, do not stop to think. Write until the blaze has died down to embers, to which you add the fuel of success at starting, fan the flames with the realisation that the blaze will rise again.

The time for the re-write, the editing, and the polishing will come later, for now, you are in the Epoch of Groundwork, the rest is to follow.

And therein lies another post…

Let The Words Flow….

Firstly, ‘ware those if you are going to spout hatred against people because of their race, religion or social grouping while using use lies, distortions, and hysterical venom. If you are intending to waste precious space and resources on such sinful behaviour and hide behind the tawdry excuse of Freedom of Expression, you are a menace and a fool. You will also be on the receiving end of such treatment. For you have no right to pronounce your filth. 

However, for you dwell in the myriad shades light, then if you wish of course you should write, just whatsoever you have in mind (in spirit and heart). You are entitled to let your imagination flow out onto paper or cyber and no one has any business stopping you.

There used to be this lazy saying masking as wit which went ‘Everyone has a book inside of them. And in most cases, that’s where it should stay,’. This was never about the moral content (see above), this was always about ‘style’. So who appointed anyone the Supreme Arbiter of ‘style’? Yes, I admit there are many books I personally wish had never seen the light of day…however for my one opinion there are many others who say ‘yes’, therefore personal taste of style should not be the judge of anyone’s work.

Of course, nothing which flows out of your pen or keyboard in the first flush of inspiration is going to be the final draft. The world of writing does not work in this fairy tale way. There are revisions for continuity, punctuation, grammar, even for pace. Parts may have to be taken out because at the end of the day they detract from the main theme. You will at some stage seek for outside opinions; take it from me writing in a bubble just does not work, I cannot stress this hard enough, you are reading the words of one who worked thusways for twenty years; being partially delusional at the time had something to do with that strange path. You may even seek out a professional editor. All part of the writing process.

My opinion is never to think too hard about the motivation, on being inside of the characters. In the first instance let the words flow out, even if you know they may be less than final perfect. The important part at this stage is to finish your first draft; there is plenty of time and opportunity to work on self-editing, honing polishing; entire chapters may be re-worked even scythed in the re-working stage. Quite a normal procedure.

There are many good and valuable blogs out there with advice on how to perfect your style, how to go about seeking help and guidance. You will find many as well who can assist on the path of submission, agents, publishing organisations etc. There are many who will guide you through self-publication. Sadly, I am of no help to you here for being a ragged, insolent and rebellious sort when it comes to publication, being more interested in putting work out there than anything else my choice in Amazon Kindle, and so be it. There is much hard work to be done on my marketing skills.

The important facet of this post, which cannot be stressed enough is when bearing in mind the opening paragraph I urge you to write for the initial joy of freeing your muse out into the winds, to soar, glide, dive, skim, bank and soar again. Be above the clouds and worry not where the journey will take you. You have every right.

Advice on Publishing, Markets etc- Look Somewhere Else

There is nothing of value I, personally, have to offer on the practicalities. There are probably intelligent, dedicated and astute writers and bloggers out there in WP who despair of, who are irritated by or have given up on my approach, or lack of when it comes to:

Firstly- The very art and determination in ensuring that their work is as polished as they could humanly manage.

Secondly- The associated effort in spreading news of the forthcoming conclusion to a work they have embarked on; particularly in the correct and effective use of the opportunities afforded by Social Media

Thirdly – The professionalism required either to market by oneself or by contacting professional folk who can assist in this way.

I can evoke, lyrically I might add, the reasons why someone should write. I pride myself on being able to ignite a spark or breath life back in the fading embers of a lonely and uncertain soul wishing to write. I can, allegorically, stand on a podium and thunder with all the passion of a wrathful preacher; railing against badly strung critical reviews; professional critics; the snobbish sorts who look down their noses at self-publishing and anyone else who tries to stifle a new writer. I would sit on the edge of the nest of the nervous person about to start upon those excruciatingly difficult first words and gently ease them into spreading their wings to take flight amongst the breezes and breaths of Creativity. All those come rushing into my mind and my spirit, they are clarion summonings to bear aloft the banner emblazoned with those inviolable words ‘You Can Write’.

But I cannot give practical advice. I know not why, and sometimes do confess wretched sluggard that I am, not to caring to either. For me, the thrill is the creating, the crafting and the completion and then as some person caught up in the joy of a festival or event, once those final words, as chords in a musical event are done, away go I with fond memories. Ah, dear harmless fool; jester for the more focused, sensible and ultimately successful. You have your day amongst the words, the posts and the comments to posts, but the rest will always be vague stumblings……………………..

Errrrr, not too sure where all that introspection came from, but since I spent a good few minutes of my time crafting it, here it is and here it stays. Take it or leave it folks. Be warned. It could happen to you.

Anyway……

To the most important part of the post.

There are many energetic, inventive and determined folk in the WP Community who are kind enough to share their thoughts and suggestions on the matters of actually getting your words out there to the public. These come in all shapes and sizes, differing approaches, particular details, varying personalities; in fact across the myriad of the positive sort of Human Effort. They all have one thing in common though. They are taking very, very, seriously the business of getting their work known to the public. At times, it seems as if once the book is completed then their Hard Work begins. I salute them, I marvel at their adroitness in navigating all the pathways.

Thus, for all the new and uncertain writers there is a treasury of guidance and advice here in WP, without you buying a suspiciously self-aggrandising book by some ‘name’.

I cite you a few examples from posts on this subject which just had to be reblogged

So You Want To Be A Writer

3 Rejection Letters Indie Authors Receive

The Thing About Writer’s Block

When Your Writing Issue Is…

Newsletter BlitzNew Feature: Writer Rants (with host Dan Alatorre)

Useful Tips for Self-Editing a Manuscript

Let’s Talk: Grit as a Writer

Now some of these links might not actually cover a point in your journey as a writer, but they will guide you to folk who have a wealth of experience, talent and drive and are some of the people you should be reading. I apologise to those who I have left out, ragged that I am.

There we are folks, as the old saying goes

‘Get Weaving’

All the very best in your endeavours, now go and read someone else’s blog for pity’s sake.smile

Refreshing Holidaze

Our perceptions of Time can be whimsical; a week can be a very short span while at filled with so much as to seem a month. This was my experience between the 14th & 21st July spent at the village of Trefriw, about 2 hours from where we live but may have well be another country. Set off the main bustling thoroughfare of the only arterial road of the North Wales coast in a region of small villages, roads where courtesy is essential, and wooded stretches  which absorb then stifle the noise we are inclined to make.

20170718_140701B

Beneath a bridge unimpressed by the traffic runs the River Crafnant, although not filled with the pomp and self-importance of wider and deeper cousins around the world, she runs at her along own steady, bright course, feeding the lush banks each side and lending some energy to help the local woollen mill about its modest trade.

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She was in a peaceful mood that day and let me clamber over some of her rocks while singing her own endless soothing anthem.

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While these hills will remain; unimpressed by the posturing and gabbling of small-minded folk, stately custodians for those who value peace and tranquillity.

A time and a place to reflect on how grateful we should be when the opportunity comes to be allowed to share in the majesty.