On Reaching a Place You Want To Be

Writing.

These days: when you see the word do you think of steep mountains reaching above the clouds, wastelands stretching beyond the horizon or lonely bleak shores lapped by cold seas and stroked by chill forlorn winds?

Before you started out it all seemed to promise much fun, redolent with pleasant spring and summer locations. Of course there would be challenges. Naturally.

And here you are. Weary. Discouraged. All those spring and summer places struck by a cold unforgiving winter.

It happens. It’s not you.

Thus this is another essay addressed to folk who feel they are getting nowhere with their writing. Here I will add my regular rider. This blog is the last place you should be if you want to seek advice on being published or making your work well-known. This writer is hopeless (and hapless) at such things. Here is where we talk and write about the basics which allows you get reach such the fortunate situation where you have to plan for publishing and readerships.

For the new writer a season’s worth of effort will lead them to the inevitable associations with:

Frustration at thoughts not forming into words

Refusal of plots or characters to behave

A sudden drought of inspiration

The misery of believing whatever they are writing will never be as good as…..

The horror of reading the first draft back to themselves. With typos, syntax, holes in plots and failures in continuity all combining with malicious glee to assail the confidence.

Problems with staying power and not drifting off to look at YouTube.

And those are only the first tranche of challenges.

Small wonder there is many of promising First Draft lying in a draft, gathering whatever. Or even worse is tragically out of disillusionment lost to a shredder or fire.

Been there, lived there, ached there, drunk bitter wines of envy too.

And yet, despite it all…

Just for this interlude, I am in a Happy Place.

Now those of you experienced in writing will be think ‘Shush…don’t.. .Not out loud’ Yes, I appreciate I am just begging for The Writing Muse to empty something allegorically unpleasant all over me and from a great height too. And I don’t blame other fellow writers in the weeks ahead to be saying, when things go wrong ‘You had that coming. Damn fool thing to say! You should know by now,’

Of course you are right, however this interlude of writer’s joy cannot be helped.

Two books in a series completed just the way I wanted them to be (let’s just not talk about typos write (sic) now). All is needed are the covers, which are in process and not in my hands this time.

Finally the narratives came together smoothly, the main and the principal support characters are satisfied with my interpretations, everything which needed to be put in is there. You can read one book and finish there, you could read the two books and be satisfied everything has ended there as far as you are concerned….never mind the other two which are in the metaphysical pipeline.

Yeah…yeah…never mind the typos already!…(Anyway Grammarly and Word are often not in agreement)

Uh?

Oh yes, sorry, I forget some of you might not have read earlier posts.

These are fantasy novels y’see. Mash-ups of humour, romance, war, crime, traditional fantasy ‘stuff’, politics, bits of observations, smidges of satire. Lots of characters weaving in and out. Heroes, of course. About 3 to 4 years in the making (with a back story of 30 years of terrible mistakes). Write, re-write, re-re-write etc. Launch, re-launch.

There is a very high probability these works will not even cause the least of ripples on the horizon. There is an even higher chance of obscurity. These are chances every writer with a minimal profile has to accept could be their fate. And I have written often that unless you are hoping to make a living out of writing this does not matter.Just a Smidge

What does matter is these books are together and they have turned out in a very satisfactory way, for me anyway, my own series

The Precipices Dominions

Volume I – Of Patchwork Warriors. On Kindle; edited twice and now ‘Revised’ . Just waiting for a cover.

Volume II – Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace. Waiting for a cover, and then ‘launch’

Volume III-To be started- Working Title : Adjudicators from The Mists

Volume IV- To be pondered on- Anchoring Title for the thoughts: Saviours in Blessed Oblivion (it’s meant to be very opaque)

And Game of Thrones; Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie to reference a few….these an’t. That is all I should say- we shouldn’t give out spoilers.

The reason for this post is the moral, therein.

Follow your initial nascent spark. Never give up. Keep on writing and re-writing. Let no one suggest to you otherwise. Never expect fame nor fortune, even those small sorts where your followers/readers number; say 750 and you make enough to buy (ooooh I don’t know; a new laptop?). Just write, write for its own sake, write for your soul and your heart’s sake. Rise up onwards, create and set sail your craft. It is enough for you to have there, in a public domain a finished work which you can point to and say ‘This is mine,’

And if someone should say, one day:

Well, one of the many things which kept me going, was this series of blog posts about writing by this guy Woebegone- wonder whatever became of him?’

That would suit me fine.

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

Whereas this post will be about the problem…ok MY problem… with writing sex episodes, this can also be considered as a parallel journey with other passages which are challenging or uncomfortable for the writer.

So once more, notebooks out for entries in your personal Guides to Writing, under sub-sections  (1) Oh man and I thought I made problems for myself (2). Note: Do not do this. (3) Ah, not just me then.

You don’t have to include sex episodes in a novel, personally I feel they look quite weird in some books, but since there is a great deal of sex going on around the world you cannot say the topic is irrelevant or to say in books suitable for adults there are some it cannot fit (fit?) into. When writing in the fantasy genre a portion of your readership are likely to be muttering…’Aww c’mon. Get on with it. It’s gotta happen!’. My own personal response is ‘Will you guys be patient!’

Now if you have been following this blog on and off you may remember my own surprise in ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ at Karlyn and Arketre falling for each other in a big way. It took a few re-reads to realise this had been bubbling in the background, and well after being through danger, destruction and facing death more than once, when they’d finally found a patch of peace and quiet, feelings were bound to be made known.

‘Oh great’, said I. ‘Here I am yet again 67 year old male writer in Problem City…This time lesbian love’….’Oh sure’ says some readers ‘Of course it’s all to do with the plot and sub-text…Yeah, right!’

{Perversely I am so glad I self-publish and am terrible at marketing thus limiting my potential readership and having to explain myself to hundreds}.

Whereas part of me was saying, just lead up to a tentative kiss, close the door on them, then just step away for a day or so, another part of me was saying. ‘An’t gonna work old son; these are a pair of intense folk with their whole pack of contradictions and currently unexplained back-issues. You need to see the detail through as part of their journey. Anyway some readers will say…’Ah-cop out!’ if you don’t’

I complained a lot to myself but by now the book itself and the characters were weighing in. They used that sneaky argument. ‘Challenge yourself!’ all I could reply with was ‘But…but…but,’. They laughed and resorted to, I thought, a rather unnecessary and vulgar analogy with the American use of the word.

Fine! I mean you can research stuff for crime novels, or SF, or military, or…But…Oh my!

At this stage panic set in. What if this part of the narrative ended up contrived and forced? Suppose there were incorrect assumption made? Suppose I got into Cliché Central?

Making sure no one was looking over my shoulder I tentatively perused the ‘Erotica’ section of Amazon, somewhat uneasily selecting sub-genres and so forth. Sampled a few ‘see what’s inside’,s and thought….’Huh! And I was worried about Cliché Central?’ So I checked the reviews (yeh I know not the most reliable source, but what’s a guy to do?). It was then the ‘OK kiddo, we’ve gone this far. It’s download time!’. So checking up on reputation of authors and taking a few more reviews a few 0.99p’s were invested in downloads. I concluded that there was a flourishing market for women writers writing erotica for other women involving women with women. Wow what a relief! Not just adolescent boys and drooling sad men! I’d been overthinking the problem. (Well, be fair it was a reasonable overthink, I mean I’d spent years readings, Heroic Fantasy, history and politics, some things passed me by!)

That sorted. The next issue was, to use the old adage ‘There is a time and place for everything’. Let’s keep this rationed (to the reader I mean, what characters get up to off the page is their business), not prurient because this is a Fantasy-genre novel and let’s give context.

In the first volume, their first intense interlude happened at towards the end of the volume and seemed to introduce a certain element of closure or new horizons. Since this was not ‘just physical’ (OK, so I did listen to Tegan and Sara sometimes when writing, anyway I happen to like Tegan and Sara’s music) there could be sensitivity and romance included. This also allowed me to introduce the slightly roguish element of Arketre’s character as she, in a nice way, seduced Karlyn, who in turn showed another facet of her vulnerable side and in turn there was Arketre’s tender caring side.

Somewhat concerned I released Vol 1 with flag warnings all over the place. Although not flooded with purchases (so what?), not one came back tearing at me for some contrived, male-slavering soft-porn…. Whew!

Vol II. Obviously, this relationship was now set into the narrative. The question was now should the sex episodes continue to be written in? The first answer, well since there had been one in Vol I it followed ignoring them in Vol II might look ‘odd’ as if I’d tip-toed away. I did have some advantages here.

In the first case the two had fallen in love with each other, secondly because they were in the first flush of this relationship, ‘they couldn’t keep their hands off each other’, as the saying goes; this however was not a problem as the fact could be mentioned in asides, reflections and general banter.

Graphic and open description would be restricted to intense situations. I used two episodes both to highlight Arketre’s anxiety  when dealing with The Ethereal / Stommigheid as well as to underline the commitment they had to each other. First: when in a haunted wood just when they were getting snuggly in a tent they were attacked by ‘ghostly creatures’ Karlyn performs a powerful, emotive, exorcism (and sets fire to one), Arketre wants to get out of the wood, ‘like now’. In the dawn’s light Karlyn draws Arketre into back love-making which I tried to illustrate as two people deep in a tenderness of love; erotica with flowers if you like and showing Karlyn as not simply Arketre’s goofy side-kick. Second: the other instance followed an episode where the two had been apart for a very intense ten or so days and at the first chance Arketre positively pounces on Karlyn which is briefly described and to make way for a bit of mischief along the lines ‘Oh we were just exercising’ feeble excuse when Trelli walks in just as they have got decent. She turns this around gently teasing them later on; this also demonstrated Trelli was no longer in awe of the pair and was not the shy retiring prissy flower some may have assumed she was.

And Trelli?

I have to blame Arketre here. Being a soldier with a series of encounters to her name she was quite insistent that Trelli have her own ‘fun’ time too, after all she’d earned, it yeh? (Characters can be so pushy not just with their own parts either).

Wigran, the cause of her abilities, was out of the mix. Trelli was still angry with him, by now he was involved with another and also still a bit scared of Trelli. The poor girl was not getting much chance to hang around with men for long term relationship. What did develop was when Trelli was re-united with Arketre and Karlyn in a new place; she encountered Lord Osavus the son of a Grand Duke. Now I admit to writing in a sudden mutual attraction and ‘sparks’. There again this was taking place in a land close to war, folks emotions were heightened; Trelli was becoming more her own girl, to this young fellow she not only appeared exotic, but much than a ‘silly young thing’. He was being ‘gah-lant and respectful to her and she did like this sort of attention. The dynamic was I admit old fashioned; she in his strong manly arms, welcoming his embrace, her first experience of men, he being a measure reverential and considerate to her entranced by this mysterious woman with ‘powers’. But after all she has been through Trelli deserved a ‘nice’ time (Arketre insisted)

This interlude allowed more character development and insights. Arketre encouraging Trelli (Arketre does carry a contraceptive mix around with her for others and as a dark reminder of one consequence which can happen out rape); Karlyn being quite hostile to Osavus in her protective side of Trelli and suspicion of men’s motives with women. Interludes between any combination any combination of the four providing more depth while taking care to ensure these weaved into the ongoing main narrative.

On reflection when working the re-write and re-reading this post I have realised in taking on this challenge and settling it into the narrative allowed for more opportunities to explore the characters and their relationships to each other. These having ramifications upon other episodes within the tale.

Here therefore is something to bear in mind when quivering on the edge of a challenge or for an uncomfortable part of the narrative. Keep calm. Keep mature. You never know what else will open up.

Keep on writing folks.

Writing Your Book – The Environmental Issue.

Writing Your Book- The Plot Thing

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

Writers. Who’d be a Writer?

So after all your hard work. After all the time invested in the writing, the re-writing, the self-editing; maybe the paying for an editor, The Book Cover ‘thing’. You’ve found it’s even harder to publicise the book than write it. You’ve done it all and what?

You are too intimidated to do anything else with it.

The book doesn’t register double figures in sales.

The book does well, only you can’t figure out how to write another.

The book does well but after all that effort…you can’t be bothered to write another one, and you cannot figure out why.

The book does well, the reviews are fine, until you get the ‘nasty’ one. And you naturally pay more attention to that one.

Who’d be a writer eh?

Suddenly all the drive has gone. All the perverse energy you got from writing under the Flag emblazoned with the motto ‘So What? I’ll write it ‘cas I want to!’ seems so far away now. Your flag lies forlorn in a puddle.

Who’d be a writer eh?

You swear the next cheerful pep-talk post(er) you come across is going to get real piece of your mind.

From now on, every time you see a post with a list if helpful hints, you are gonna ‘unfollow’ that blogger, faster than someone who blogs with political opinions you don’t agree with.

And you do not. No, you certainly do not, like ever again read about someone else’s book being published.

And then you think

‘Oh dear (or whatever else fits). How did I get here? What is going on?’

Yeh. Who in their right mind, looking for an easy uncomplicated life would be a writer?

(While we’re about it. Easy uncomplicated Life? Is there such a creature?)

Yeh, I ‘get it’ brothers and sisters.

Y’see the problem is, Writing comes with a price. All of the above. The effort, the energy spent, the ups, the downs, the desolations, the disappointments, the worry, the emptinesses. All the sly subtle draining. The folk who are seemingly successful, worrying about where the next book comes from, or what the public will think of it. We shouldn’t forget them either. If you are going to take up the pen, or tap out the keyboard, be ready with an allegorical pocket or two full of allegorical coins.

Yeh, I ‘get it’ fellow writers. You are feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, nor frightened of. This path is a rocky one. Even us Crazy ‘What-The -Hell’ ragged-style aficionados have tripped up over our own wild feet and fallen into a patch of Reality. Some of us have even wondered if it’s our weird nature or just us in Denial about our lack of talents which keeps us bouncing along with folk scratching or shaking their heads as we pass on by. Us on our faux-Captain Beefhart,/ ‘Pretend I’m a Frank Zappa of Writing’ trips.

I can do nothing for your pain, because it is yours and I would not pretend to have some long-distance answer, that would be insulting to you. Your despondency is a familiar feeling and easy to trace, origin so common in the writing world. I wish it were within my remit to incant something to take away as your fears and your woe.

Within my remit though is to understand the feelings, not to denigrate them or insult them with a Happy Mary Poppins approach. The dust, the dirt, the chill winds of doubt, I understand, borne witness to them, experienced them on my tongue, breathed them in and they settled on my heart.

The thing is.

You will shuffle, you will ease up your weary bones, feel about for your allegorical pen, hitch up your pack of ideas onto your back and belt, you will stare out across the battered landscape and move out. There does not have to be a squaring of the shoulders, nor some end of John Wayne War movie tough, determined quote (cue music & credits), nor my favoured style of ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ rendition out of full Metal Jacket. You will move on, because The Writing Calls, exactly why, for you will be personal. You will. Just because.

‘Not me! I’ve had enough! I’m tired through. Scared, scarred and scattered. Done all I could. It’s got me beat,’

To you I say. It didn’t beat you. You did as much as you could and found this was not for you. Well, who doesn’t do that? How do you know, if you don’t try? Don’t sell yourself down. You tried. End of chapter. Now go and do something else. It is for you to choose. No disgrace. You were there, you took a stand. Now move onto another place.

We are Human. We have weaknesses. We have strengths. We have pain. We have Humanity.

We are.

And you may write once more. Or never write again, turn your back on the whole thing.

In neither act is there is futility.

There is however in both Life.

Light your torch with it.

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

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!!!

outrage1-620x350

 

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)