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!!

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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

Now Here is a Thought About Writer’s Block (aka Log-Jam)

Let’s be open about this. Being a writer is not easy.

There will now be a pause for readers’ varied reactions, the politest of which might be

YA DON’T SAY!!!

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Ok?

Right let’s carry on.

I hit this log-jam recently on Vol II of this fantasy project. Words just would not…. Not the usual problem of getting them from thoughts into intelligent or at least legible and semi-coherent statements on paper or screen. This was serious, a vague, fog across the fen lands of my mind, the characters and the motivations were out there but I could not get out to reach them and ask them what they had planned. This was a worry, after all when you go on record saying this work might be a trilogy or even a pentalogy, well you can’t just fade away after Vol I. It looks, sad. About to Rant

What was exacerbating the situation was I had these ‘bits’ of blog posts hanging about in one form or another which were nowhere nearing completion, and they and the book narrative were simply slopping about in allegorical stagnant water.

By happenstance the solution came along in the most curious of ways.

I’ll keep the actual details out, not wanting to turn this post into a platform for arguments over the subject matters, those are being rummaged over with glorious glee on FaceBook by those who like to rummage on FaceBook and compete in one of the many Who Is Most Outraged competitions which make it such a vibrant place (sarcasm).Daffy duck

Anyway suffice it to say two items on the news or social media. One new, another a very old saw which has been going on since frib’ knows how long….Now two of the arguments put forth really irritate me. You’ll just have to accept this statement and put yourself in a similar situation, in your own experience.

By another goodly happenstance I had come by a brand new efficient laptop, which enabled swift and efficient access to FaceBook. (Previous machine did not like typing directly onto social media, I’m sure I don’t know why !). So I weighed in putting in my objections in long balanced posts about reality and the quality of communication when stating one’s view OR using history as a foundation for why my view point made more sense. Then a few side-swipes at folk using obscenities. And telling those who hurled facile judgements like they were in food-fights that they’d lost the argument. These by the way were folk who in theory share the same political views as me….civil wars are always the bitterest.

Now once I had got those opinions off of the chest, and the lyrical flows were set free, well everything became easier! Firstly the blog posts popped up in swift succession and seeing them there made me feel a whole lot better. Nextly the fog lifted, the characters said ‘That where you’ve been is it! Get over here, have we got things to tell you!!’ and the book starts to rattle along.

Of course, in retrospect, all made sense. I had been annoyed with these FB warrior folk and their opinions for ages and I had not cleared my head of the simmering thoughts. There was no intention of winning an argument. No one wins anything on Social Media,Andronicus1_2572537b I just wanted to bust into these little self-congratulatory groups and scare the horses a bit. Done. And I am feeling better….muttley_laughing_by_sektor8bit-d7fv6shThey had it coming.

The morale dear reader? If the words are not reaching daylight, maybe there is something outside of your book/story/poem which is getting in the way. I would not go so far as to suggest you fire off polemics at the nearest target or throw well passed use-by-date sticky buns at people or buildings which cause offense. Nor would I advise taking a picture or model of whatever distresses you and jumping up and down on it, neighbours notice things like that. Anyway whatever ‘it’ is, such treatments may not be applicable. Suffice to say ponder on the possible exterior reasons for the log-jam, then mull over any ways you might rectify the business, even this exercise may kick-start the writing.

Just a thought.

PS…..

This is the First Vol of the fantasy project; it’s on Kindle.

Patchwork

Of Patchwork Warriors….. By R J Llewellyn

This is me marketing.

Social Graces

Sad isn’t it?

My giggling as I write this part is not appropriate, I really must get Mature Me Marketing, some day.

Interludes with Cortana

An Interlude on Stage

Sleeping Beauty. One Foot Soldier’s Account (A Tale in II Parts)

Sleeping Beauty. The Foot-Soldiers’ Side (All Tale in II Parts) (Part II)

 

 

Just a Smidge

Average Body Weight 60,000 grms

Average zince 2 gms

Percentage of zinc = 0.00333 per body (one three-thousandth).

Yeh, that’s an estimate of how much zinc your body needs, scientifically the figures might be slightly off, but you get the idea……Not a great amount, but it’s vital, otherwise, things go wrong. Also, too much and things go wrong. You need a smidge…a very, very, very small smidge, but you need it.Shocked-face

Bit like something you add to a meal, if it’s not there, it’s bland maybe, if you put too much it…..Hello waste bin…..

So prithee dear blogger, you ask…..You do not normally post up tips on health or cooking. What the frib goes on here??      200px-Advokat,_Engelsk_advokatdräkt,_Nordisk_familjebok

Bear with me here, hear me out.

trilby

 

A scene at the ‘desk’ (allegorical) of a writer……

 

Me

 

“Oh what is the point of it all?”

 

You know how it goes don’t you? Consider the following:

Sitting there reading someone else’s erudite or inspiring or funny or informative post and even worse when they combine them some or all together, and you wonder….Oh what have I got to offer? I’m like ….blaahh-city!fed_up_woman-620x412

A part way through your book or short story and you start to slow down or notice on a re-read that the continuity is all skewed OR the main character is as fascinating as a small piece of cardboard, in fact you reckon the cardboard is more interesting. You are there thinking ‘why am I bothering, I just don’t have it! I am just less than the dust beneath the chariot wheels of other writers….Oh (you say once more) WOE (or any other word you care to use).

OR you get up OR sit down and think ‘Aww. Why bother! There was no great response to my last effort and I followed all the marketing tips…Let’s face it, I’m a nothing-writer. Who cares! (At this point you may well stick your tongue out at the latest best seller by someone you normally like, but today…..Hufffffffff!!! And foreswear never to read a book again because they only remind you or your own let-downs. You’ll buy boxed DVD sets series 1-15 of something and binge watch)

 

It happens folks. Doesn’t it?shoulder-shrug

And we all wonder just what can be done about it. Because we do so love to write, we do so want to be read. We have something to offer.Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised

The Arrogance of such a thought…..Really?

This is where in comes the smidge. The very, very small pinch of Arrogance. That little piece of flint which sets off the spark for the writer to try one more time, and the time after that, and after that and just never give up.

“Because I can do as well as others! Because I have something to offer.”

Let me just elaborate on this notion and bear in mind this is to illustrate just where the smidge comes in.

I write fantasy, I read fantasy.

Joe Abercrombie is gritty, this is the world big warts and all. His continuity is superb, a minor character is one book is central to another, the background from one book to another align. Haven’t they got their own swear words in this world Joe? I mean like what’s with this old goat having everything as part of his cunning plan, like not new & squaresville man. Where’s the chaos? Where’s the variety in the language. Uhh I’m gonna give that a shot in my own world….

Brandon Sanderson creates whole worlds with their own science in the Mistborn, and an encyclopaedia of characters who flit in and out, have their own vital part in the plot, no one is wasted. Yeh that was fine Brandon. But Stormlight and the Way of Kings, I’m there saying ‘Get on with the plot, the guy is down a big hole and trying to inspire a bunch of other guys, I get it….What about the pacing!..I can wrap up a tale quicker than that..(note to self- when writing vol II of my trilogy), don’t do a Way of Kings on the readers.

“Frib!”(shameless plug) You say, “That sounds like sour grapes and suchwhich.” I reply…..No, that is the smidge speaking, it is that which drives me on. The danger would be to lambast everything Abercrombie and Sanderson due just because I targeted on a few little facets which jarred with my style. I reckon I can write without those and that what’s what I am going to do…. Patchwork                                                                     see you can*

So say to yourself…..

I…. believe…..I can write……And no one shall stop me. What do they know?

And there you have the explanation dear readers/writers, the smidge is enough, just enough to get the words flowing. Any more and you will be sour, bitter and getting nowhere apart from joining the sad breed who write 1 & 2 star reviews on Amazon just because.

There is one other smidge you should add to Arrogance and that is the wry smile. Do not be angry, be at one with the belief, no writer is 100% perfect you can offer your own take and you are going to show the world. Never mind who says what. You…. ARE…..

Yes..You, YOU ARE A WRITER and let no one take this away from you. You have your own style, your own drive, your own images.

Repeat to yourself, without any doubt…

I AM

I WILL WRITE.

BECAUSE I CHOOSE TO.

Just that smidge folks.

Then get to work.

Good luck, and fortune to you all. You are worth it

*(Sorry about the other shameless plug, it was only to prove a point…honest…a snip at Amazon Kindle for not very much)

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SF Writing Competition

How’s your preparation for the upcoming Adventure Scifi and Fantasy Contest coming? Do you need any help or extra inspiration? Entries for this Short Story Contest don’t actually open until February 26th, 2018, so you’ve still got more time to write…or procrastinate. Whichever works best for you! My simple dream for this contest goes something like […]

via It’s Almost Time! Adventure Writing Contest — Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

Here’s one you should visit and think about.

There’s always something interesting on Rachael’s site, and all the details on the mechanics of applying are so neatly laid out.

Let you imagination flow!

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.