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

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When the Demon Comes A’ Callin’

Title: Quote from the very cool over the top Predator 2

Predator 2

Annddddd….

It happens to us all, OR if you want to be pedantic, it has, is and will happen to every writer…..

This I mean…..

‘Oh (exclamation of despair)! Who am I fooling. Why am I bothering. Who is gonna care what I write…right?’Unit2_Lesson2

Yep!  About three-quarters a way through the first draft of the Second Novel in a three (or maybe four) book series.

The words hadn’t stopped flowing, the plot miasma (I never write with an outline) was still there. And, yet there was one of those sneak attacks by the ‘What Is The Point Of It All?*’ demon. Yep, anyone who writes and doesn’t become a ‘name’ gets it. The feeling may be more tolerable the ones the ‘names’ get such as ‘Where’s My Next Plot?’ or ‘What Happens if The Critics Don’t Like It?’.

Every so often this blog is host to one of my rousing posts on the noble cause of writing Just Because and don’t let anyone stop you. And I still hold to these words and thoughts. It’s nice to read of a fellow writer getting a breakthrough or publishing another book. My fingers start twitching in concert with my brain when I read of someone having doubts or getting *WITPOIA (I wonder how is best to pronounce that anacronym? It does sound to be deserving of a solid pronunciation).

And yet, there I was 102,480 words. One Hundred and Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Words and…..

WALLOP!!!!!…..I am sitting there before the keyboard all deflated and dried up, to extent it even hurt a bit.

Thus puzzled with myself I set to doing some back-checking on possible causes.

OK there was the weirdness. Other people get SAD in in the winter, I get it in the summer (unless in woods, near rivers and away from crowds). So, possible cause.

And there was the lack of action on my published works….Well be fair mate, you aren’t paying attention to the marketing…are you now? I mean the writing is the easy bit…Yeh I know, I know..Ohh I suppose you are right (I often have these conversations with myself- do you?)

Then there was that mix of day-to-day ‘things’ which are like grit in the machine or mud on the wheels and drag you down a bit. You never know when they are going to pile up.

Check reveals it was the usual suspects which this time had all coalesced to form a Perfect Block. Situation filed as NOT UNUSUAL. Ride it out.

I set myself to cutting up small pieces of wood in the garden. Those arising from trees which had to cut down on account of them assailing walls and depriving other plant life of growth. Rather than throw the wood out I was busily doing ‘things’ with the bits.

I, also, set myself to cutting up small pieces of cardboard….no don’t run off…Let me explain…..Print and Play board games, cheaper than buying the whole boxed thing but they do require some time, cutting and gluing.

Well after a couple of days (and daze) of doing this to listening to an audio book of a fantasy author, the Good Ol’ Smidge  Just a Smidge came back and a small grumblin’ voice began to whisper ‘Y’ know you can do as good as this don’tcha?. Get on with that lousy first draft, finish the blessed thing! Then have fun re-writing, y’ know you like that bit’.

And back I went to the work.

Y’see dear readers this can and does indeed happen to any writer. Have no fear. Keep faith in yourself. The doubt and the pain will pass and the urge to put words to paper will return.

OH the joys of being an author!!

fed_up_woman-620x412

The Smidge: Walking The Walk

A while ago I blogged a viewpoint arguing the notion for every writer to embrace a smidge (just a pinch of the smidge mind you) of arrogance.

Just a Smidge

This, I suggested was necessary to fire up self-belief when starting a project, when the times get rough when starting out on the marketing part or all the other aspects which torment most writers.
Once the post was posted a thought cropped into my mind. Now most of us have a store of quotes from films which we use on all sorts of occasions, and my thought was encapsulated in the line from Full Metal Jacket;
‘You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?’

In short, there I was going on about how you should be arrogant (just a smidge), and leaving myself wide open to the criticism…..’Oh yeh. That’s fine for you to say! I mean SAY, but how does it WORK for you? Uh?’

Sssssoo, I thought maybe there should be a walk-through with this book of mine just to demonstrate how this arrogance approach works. The business is not without risk when I have completed this post some might say:
‘He’s delusional if he thought his book was working’
‘Ha! Cheap marketing-central!’
‘I wonder what’s new on Netflix?’
Lesson 1: “So what do I care? I’m going to say what I am going to say”. This is a fundamental of the Smidge approach.
(At this stage, dear reader you are entering my world. Do not worry. You are only experiencing diagrammatical commentary on the subject matter. Take notes if you feel these are necessary)

As stated in the previous post my writing usually focuses on Fantasy. It is the area I am most comfortable in mostly because the world of Reality does not suit me. To be able to make up my own and make sure things go my way (with the consent of the characters of course) is my idea of rewarding effort, if the known Laws of Nature need to be extended or circumvented, so much the better.
Lesson 2: “I will work my story on the ground I am most comfortable with, (or I am intent on carving out my own way)”. Familiarity and Intention breed confidence. Confidence is the dry tinder for the Smidge, which in turn gives fire to more confidence.

A writer will, of course, encounter successful writers. They might inspire. They might also inadvertently stifle the new writer. A new writer might think: How can I ever reach this standard? Fair enough, however in any book you have read, would you say the whole work was perfect. Were you happy with every aspect of the narrative? Open your mind to the small whisper of doubt, the slight nagging of unhappiness at one aspect; dwell on just why you skipped quickly through those few pages.
Lesson 3: “I think I could have done that theme better if given the chance…. I will give myself that chance!” There is nothing wrong with having your own opinion. It’s only those play at being kritks and whine about anyone new without having lifted a pen/tapped a keyboard to write their own stuff who should shut the frib up.

A writer will encounter much worthy advice often contradictory, which is nothing new under this particular sun. However, there will also be the subtle and pernicious beyond the realms of these blogs which will suggest that certain themes, styles, and even conclusions lack the zest or punch. Says who? More to the point…. Don’t’ care.
I happen to like a tale which has well-meaning folk of approachable personalities as central to the tale. When I start out the intention is to have if not a happy ending have one which suggests hope and that the bad folk have not triumphed. My book ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’* was always going to be a feel-good tale, with mild triumphal action, some romance, a running theme of humour and an upbeat ending. There are many good books which don’t give the reader as easy time and have stark endings. I don’t do them. Enjoyment was my intention.
Lesson 4: “I am no one’s Imitator. I will not follow What Sells. Only What Spurs Me”

Lesson 5: “Balance & Credibility. Never forget The Balance & Credibility of the Characters”
The theme I wanted to explore would involve three young women, from different backgrounds. This was not going to be easy, hence using a style which was comfortable. If I as a man in his late 60s was going to write a credible tale without prurient interludes, lacking ‘female’ stereotypes but sufficient reality and trying to concentrate on believable people in a fantasy world I did not need to have to be looking over my shoulder or at my feet (in allegorical ways that is) with the narrative construction.
I wanted to avoid an ‘Alpha Female’ of greater than average height, folk who grumbled, made mistakes, squabbled, didn’t have a smooth answer for everything and at times lost control of a situation. Although there is a nominal leader in the form of the soldier Arketre, she is at times failing to impose her will and making bad decisions. Whereas Karlyn is somewhat appearing to be crazy, she does not have a thick hide and blind confidence. Trelli is the newbie, but has her feet on the ground; she is the one who has to grow up quickly and has the biggest struggle, it’s a challenge for her.
With these three occupying centre ground in essentially a male world, the next problem was to make sure many of the men were their equals or at best not in awe of them. This required a deal of attention, honing of words, and re-writing to spreading strength of purpose all around the place, so we just had People.
Going back to the humour, there was some slap-stick, being set in a Middle Age/Renaissance era a lot of bawdiness and observational comments. The effort was trying to keep in context, putting humour into situations which themselves are not comic but can seem funny at the time in the stress of the situation, trying to think what one person might say in a pithy or sardonic way, when they are fretful, just plain ticked off or giving way to mischief. Karlyn being the loose cannon allowed for leeway in some of her more outrageous actions, after reading a few chapters of her no one would be surprised at her behaviour.
Then came the very, very tricky part. Since anything I write being feel-good will end up with a romantic interlude (I’m sentimental. So sue me!), this was going to find a way in. One conclusion was written, then read and the response was ‘What The Frib, were you thinking about when you wrote that? It’s worse than bad; it’s verging on the ridiculous straight-to-DVD-in-a-supermarket bargain-bin-terrible. It wouldn’t even qualify for a tenth-rate fan-fiction/slasher site!’. Well, Trelli and Wigran the young son of the Household she worked in who got her involved with ‘powers’ were always going to be in a will-they, won’t-they? But there was more traction and potential in nothing being concluded, particularly as Wigran was out of his depth in most things and their last meeting went badly.
It was the other which caught me by surprise. Originally Arketre, the soldier was being loved at a distance by a captain of the same outfit, forbidden by regulations romance. Didn’t work, like went you try and fit a jig-saw bit in the wrong place. Then as I re-wrote something occurred to me, Karlyn and Arketre were scraping a lot and yes, Karlyn was definitely flirting, what was more she was getting very upset when they truly argued; while Arketre was comfortable with Trelli, she was edgy around Karlyn. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked myself ‘Read the damn narrative willya!’ the pair told me…Yes, you should always listen to the characters. Well, Arketre, the soldier had been around a lot, seen the world, and once the crisis had passed, she made the first move. Gay romance. Well, it hadn’t been the original intention, but the jigsaw piece fitted., as long as there was romance within in the situation, yes it worked. I was not worried about any reaction or analysis, it made sense in this context.

The above ‘lessons’ were my guidelines. I don’t know if the book will ever become visible to the public at large because I am a terrible marketer, but when I read it for continuity as the second volume gets underway, it doesn’t seem too bad. (even if despite Grammarly a spelling error has still slipped in!).

So be your own person when you write, don’t seek the invisible and intangible ‘approval’ as you craft each word. Not going to happen. Write for your sake and its own sake. Just that smidge. Just that smidge is all you need.

  • The book in question….

*Book Cover 9