A Trip Into a Writer’s Head

Firstly apologies to all whose blogs I used to read regularly- you see it’s happened to me, falling in love with My Re-Write…..Explanation to follow-

I really should have attended more to my blog posts, I promised myself I would; surely there are minutes and hours enough for a retired fellow to fit in a post or two in 3.25 days a week, but Ah Me….there was a re-write and as is the case where inevitably the writer becomes very attached to the work AND the urge to finish became overwhelming.

Well the FIRST re-write is done, and naturally there has to be the subsequent one where the tweaks have to be inserted, more of those sneaky typos are winkled out, long sentences ironed out into something which is comprehensible and of course not forgetting continuity.

Now, I don’t know how it is with you, but these days I find my writing mindset separates into three, dare I say identities. This is not quite as alarming as it sounds. This has evolved as a process to make the work more rational and readable; the stream of consciousness approach has to be set aside when writing Fantasy with multiple characters, lest they all get mixed up with each other and are not sure who they are.

Thus there is I, the Writer, the one who comes up with the plots and suchwhich and sort of orbits The World. I think Reality is overrated and an inclined to a singular approach which assumes folk will be more than happy to spend time they would usually devote to crosswords or puzzle games working out just what I am writing about.  The creations are passed onto ME a fellow in touch with both this reality and those of the writing worlds, experience has taught ME that creations need to be unjumbled, set out on the allegorical table and sorted out into a rational set of consequences which will make sense to a reader and provide them with hopefully a satisfying read, and not expect them to work out was I was on about. Then finally standing there with noble fatality and some stern strength of character is THE ARBITER. I am certainly not sure how The ARBITER managed to work into the process, I suspect it was when there was an excess of reading of Advice on how to be published or at least write with a sense of maturity. This makes perfectly good sense to ME; it’s all well and good mumbling about Dada-esque and assuming one will be looked about by future generations as the Frank Zappa or Moondog of the Fantasy genre, but I will be disappointed because it is obvious to ME no one will ever read such stuff, unless I become famous first, which it seems to ME is not going to happen unless I take things seriously. But when I am told that I go all sulky, and it’s left up to ME to sort it out.

It occurs to ME how best to explain the problem is for you Dear Reader to read an imagined phone conversation between ME and THE ARBITER. Consider if you will the style of the Legend that is Bob Newhart- The Narration being carried out by THE ARBITER (who naturally has the final say):

 

ARBITER (to himself): Oh boy. This Patchwork project. The blurbs. They always leave the blurbs up to yours truly.

Phone Rings

ARBITER:  Oh hi there! Thanks for returning the call…Uh-huh….Uh-huh..Uh-huh. Oh that’s OK. Y’know what they say -Half a draft is better than none!….Uh-huh….So what’s he done now? (laughs)… Not speaking to anyone again…Yea, yea. Well they do that y’know. You try and make it a viable and readable book and they just don’t appreciate it…oh I know…My grandfather had the same problem with Gore Vidal! Not that that guy ever wanted to write rom-com. Uh-uh…No that was the good stance for you to take, y’know, I mean who’s going to take Vol 1 of a Fantasy trilogy seriously if the three principal characters ended that volume each with a boyfriend!..Yeh… agreed!.. Who wants to read a re-write Seven Brides For Seven Brothers? (laughs)…And then….Uh-uh.Huh-Uh….Quivering over your alteration to the romance aspect is he?….He asked ‘What’s the character with the wooden leg going to do now?’….and you said…uh-UH!! ‘Well, y’see that might have been a bit harsh of you, because that character doesn’t read as the sort of guy who’d get his kicks that way….BUT, we got three volumes at least, someone else will turn up or he can die heroically with a few wise or ironic words on his lips…..So what else?….Mmm….yeh…..Well he will have to wait. Y’know you’ve got the major re-write to do….No kiddin’ (laugh)…no, no not at you, with you. Yeh, get to this stage and you fall in love with the book. It happens. You want those crowd of crazy kids out there to be read about. He’ll have to wait. Tell you what..I’ll get him a writing pad and tell him to use it and stop looking at Amazon….No problem. That’s what I’m here for….

Puts the Phone down:

ARBITER (to himself)….And there was that gig with Brandon Sanderson, but no, I had to go for the unknown (sighs). Now, blurb or check the launch budget again…..

A Sum of Wyrds on Motivations, Inspirations, and Justifications (and probably a bunch of other ‘tions’)

 So this time (sometime in early 2016) I said to myself: ‘OK, you are going to approach this project in a serious, mature and planned approach. You will consider plot, you will reduce the number of words in a sentence, you will make sure the paragraph makes sense, you will watch out for those spelling mistookes that are beyond the capacities of Word Spullchuck. You will learn just what is meant by syntax and do something about it and above all you will read the wise words of the WP bloggers who have books published and sold them.’

To which I replied ‘By crimminy you are write! I will attend accordingly, honour the art, respect the words of other bloggers, and learn. I will place aside money for Editors and professional Covers. I will figure out how best to use Social Media and build up a potential reader base. And have more than one re-write and by sometime in 2017 the First Volume of The Patchwork Warriors will be launched as a sober and sensible venture!’

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I meant it folks, I truly did. As Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie are my witnesses! The was going to be the start of a series of Serious (with an underlying sardonic humour) Fantasy Novels (Albeit with a lite touch). The target was to reach a THREE figure sales number on Volume One. This was to be a reversal of the previous venture which was Three Volumes with a total combined sales of One.      

 

 

Thus, so it; the work began. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while will be familiar with announcements, sort of progress reports and extracts all from The Patchwork Warriors. Ah there was in truth, much effort and there were several starts ditched, lots of promising chapters & extracts consigned to Copy & Paste- In A Holding File for Possible Future Use (Useful tip there folks when editing always keep the bits- you never know)

But then, gentle reader, across the great ocean of The Writers’ Muse   came the siren songs of The Anarchical (“chaotic, without order or rule,” from Greek anarkhos “without head or chief”). For they did ride along on Brexit Winds and thus did tempt and so draw me to start upon A True History of The Isles (CurrentlyforsalesonAmazonKindle-termsandconditionsapply). 51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

Actually this project by my standards was a roaring success, not only was it well received in blog posts so that folk knew about it, but I managed to get it into on book format and upload as a Kindle- now there it looked odd as the chapters did break up but ran into each other. But, BUT to date FOUR! Yes FOUR copies have been sold, and only that but a 5***** review from one Nancy3333!…..Yea team WBH!!!!(well sort of, because it was still sloppy with typos and a few long obtuse sentences).solilqy

Despite this I then forged ahead and by Jan 2017 (or was it Feb?) I had completed the first draft of TPW, and not pausing for breath or even breadth ploughed on with the re-write. In this case not only referring to notes made to ensure continuity but also writing up a diary of the passage of time passing within the narrative (and having to cheat a lot to make all events match up, but you can do that in a Fantasy novel). Yes this would be the big break through By Jove!

Yeah, about that…

The budget for Editing and Cover…without going into ‘family business’ in detail; it’s gone, and quite frankly I would do it all again and again and again without a second thought, just ‘Because’. Hey, Life eh?2nd Dec 15 Blog

But was that a stumbling block? Heavens T’Betsy no! The most important feature of the whole business was to put the story together and to get this out in some sort of form. Its fate would be left to the whims of fortune and circumstance, as usual, and of course now belong to the ages (in so far as the memories of the computers are to be trusted). Thus onwards and ever forwards to completion!!

One facet of this sort of mindset does lead me to a type of free-form which for better or for worse does save me having to worry too much about structure. Some folk will quite rightly make an argument against this approach, and I would not attempt to take issue with them, only to say this is the fate I have chosen for my work. Nor would I urge anyone to make a distinct choice for this option, only to say: ‘It is there’. Working with Fantasy does give me a certain leeway in this, particularly in a world where the conventional laws of physics as we know them are prone to elaborations which none of the characters if they are honest truly grasp. This may seem again like cheating to some, but when you have your time fixed on a multi-volume work there will be other opportunities to sort this out later down the line.

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The question:

But why in the Name of Tolkien do you progress upon such an anarchical path with little hope of success, recognition or return?William Shakespeare

Is a perfectly valid one; if asked by a person who leads Word Press blogs as opposed to the insufferable professional who insists that all authors should idly crawl upon hands and knees on the path of being selected by the correct editors or agents and do as they are told.

The answer if my case is. Because I have created something which is mine; this world has been crafted by my hands; these characters have had live breathed into them, this plot has been fashioned by imagination. This is all my work. This is enough. I need no more.

The last three sentences are the only part which I actually commend as basic advice.

But if you are looking to make a certain level of income or career out of your writing, please dear reader find some other worthier blog

In the meantime, sometime in the possibly late summer will appear ‘The Patchwork Warriors’ as Volume I of ‘The…….. (errr I’ve not worked that bit out yet) or maybe ‘…………….’ as Volume I of ‘The Patchwork Warriors’- I’ll get back to you on that!b85885aa0fd01f0cbebaa2798639b472

Meanwhile keep writing folks….make me proud!

More on BAD Writers, while also considering Heroics Writers and Inexperienced Writers

In the soft stillness of the early morning I glared at the inoffensive radio as I resolved not to listen to whatever ‘those idiots’ are up to ( ever since Brexit I have had a much wider category of Those Idiots). I then turned my attention to firstly the kettle jug, and then the laptop; making sure I had the right roles adjudicated to each it was time to ponder on yesterday as the cereal went suitably soggy.

Had I been too apocalyptic and polemic in my post on BAD writing. Had the results caused many a writer to feel that they were Less Than The Dust Beneath Thy Chariot Wheel (Adela Florence Nicolson wrote under the pseudonym Laurence Hope); should not matters be re-addressed and clarified?

I feel they should (Pauses to refer to notes, finds he is looking at yesterday’s shopping list. The way this week has been going, is not surprised. Carries on anyhow)

The position as I see it must be considered thus, in relation to the variety of motivations for writing, the approaches, the styles and of course the underlying thematic influences prevalent in Society in general contemporaneous with the author’s perceptions (with that off-the-cuff piece feels that he has rescued the business of having lost his notes and nurtures the return of his confidence)

 

In this we can view three broad categories of writers who have not yet reached that ever evasive term of ‘Successful’. However before progressing it is important to bear in mind we are not addressing the question of a person’s ability to write, but their approach to becoming published.

Thus let us separate out these other circumstances, which do not count as BAD

Inexperienced Writers:

If you have decided to embark upon the venture of writing, of whatever sort but have no idea as to how you are to go about transferring your words on paper or computer file to book, article, short story and so forth by definition you are inexperienced. This is a simple statement and not a judgement. A whole wide and wonderful world awaits you and on Word Press there are myriad of helpful and knowledgeable bloggers. I am not one of those, my words are those of caution and bad example. You should as I have written often be taking notes of my posts on writing and doing the opposite.

Heroic Writers:

Are you following blogs of those folk who have been published and sold books, articles, short stories or poems (single of collections)? Are you following their advice? Are you downloading some of those aids to writing? Are you doing all that should be done as per the advice?

And still getting rejections? Yet not submitting to the urge to give up the whole thing?

Then you are indeed Heroic! No matter how wretched you may feel. Or wonder if there is something inherently wrong with you for wanting to carry on. This is not so! It is not your fault you keep encountering editors who are not in tune with your style. You cannot be held responsible for their short comings. As long as you are following the advice given out, then at some stage all will be well.

You may wish to self-publish, if you do so then again there is much good advice out in the WP community, again you will not find any of it here. Other than to ignore those ‘precious’ snobbish professionals who decry self-publishing; they are simply given vent to their fears that folk will ditch their self-referential and pretentious stuff and seek out more genuine work.

Let Edison’s wise words be your standard: ‘I have not failed, I have merely found 10,000 ways which do not work’.

Nourish your urge to write, let no one dare to suggest you stop. You owe this to yourself and to the world.

BAD Writers :

Three days ago, I embarked on writing this part, then found I was obliged to travel a reflective, nay, even existentialist path in considering just would qualify as BAD, and even what is ….’BAD’-

(You know the sort of thing, you come across a concept and you go Wiki-ing, then you find the concept is sub-divided into legion of categories and you get lost in the Wik-tunnels but escape before you go dizzy and fall over. Then having gleaned a smidge of knowledge you happen to mention it en passant on some social site causing a fully signed up member of the Huff ‘N Puff Lodge to tell you, you are wrong with all the long-winded turgid self-important pomposity their narrow little mind can manage)

Anyway, after this period of reflection and having carefully categorised various concepts of BAD while endeavoring not to sound denigrating or accusatory, I found I added approx 2,000 extra words to this post. This could have been acceptable had not the various explanations have gone into convolutions and abstractions which would serve no purpose other than project exercises for  trainee editors and  proof-readers and the type of fodder for that sort of pedant who trawls the Internet for new reasons to be outraged and demonstrate their inconsequential somethingorotherness.

Or writers  who are fascinated by weird things.

So I considered the following:

There is nothing to be gained by throwing away your hours of toil, because you did not have someone proof read your work OR if you could not afford that did not check you work with painstaking thoroughness. And if you do self -publish in such a way you will only serve that ghastly crew of professionals who seek out such errors and squawk with indecent shrillness as if one careless writer is representative of the whole.

Whereas there is much to be said for exploding upon the world with enthusiasm and determination, if you’ve not actually given fayre (sic) warning of what is one its way, then no one will notice you amongst all the exploding folk. Of course, there is nothing with being modest and not wishing to make a fuss over your work, you may be quite content to quietly ease it out into the world, and you never know who might notice; thus embrace your inner modesty.

To discover there are so many ways to enhance your profile and hone the work into publishable and sellable material

EG: I cite two examples of You-Should-Visit-These

Rachael Ritchley https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34052196

Yecheilyah Ysrayl https://thepbsblog.com

Both ladies (That’s a British compliment by the way) work hard at presentation, variety and offer invaluable advice for anyone starting out, floundering a bit, or very confused by the whole business.

And ‘Hey! That’s useful, I really should do that….and I don’t’ is really the essence of being BAD

Ergo ( or Disce aut discede, if you prefer) I am where I am today.

And can only deduce I must be displaying sloppiness.

But changing the blog to Heroically Sloppy Writer just looks……… odd

Therefore at this stage, I cease this post and leave you to draw your own lessons and conclusion, but beg you to continue with your writing lest we be subsumed in The pretentious, The formulaic, and The ‘wow that last tax-bill really stung, I’d better rattle off something quick’

Be heroic

Don’t be sloppy.

Marketing Day 3. No Excuses Thursday

Marketing Day.2 ‘Man! Can you believe this cat?’ *

Marketing Day.2 ‘Man! Can you believe this cat?’ *

Sometimes you just can beat a bit of Latin to sum up a situation; in this case

Alea Icata Est (I bet you know it, there again if  I’m wrong not don’t worry, it’s easy to google).

 

The trouble with my mind is it is prone to febrile-fit. On Saturday night, last I decided all was well with The History of the Isles project and I would place it upon Kindle, and the whole thing went smoothly (sort of; I learnt about TN104s from the IRS and a funny bank number I didn’t realise was there- it’s for overseas stuff) and was thus quite wired when the whole thing was finished.

Then I found I could access the proposed layout and noticed some of the chapters were running together, but in my appallingly frivolous mind-set judged this to be either all part of what Kindle does, or ‘gosh, well I’m done with it now’ and went ahead with what I laughingly call marketing.Marketing Day- A True History of The Isles is a Book!!

Ah, and cameth Sunday and reflections.’ Just what the heck (or other words) do you think you’re up to, man?? You’ve asked folk to shell out cash…..Never Mind How Much!….We are talking principles here!!..On a shabby bit of work. Get your brain out of whatever part of the anatomy it’s slithered into and do something about it!!’……For once I was quite acquiescent, and agreed to do so but not frantic because according to Amazon the book wouldn’t be out until Tuesday. So today was scheduled.

There now follows that rare episode when this blog produces a useful bit of technical stuff.

If you are intending to publish via Kindle and are using Word, and wish for chapters not to run together, then at the end of every chapter, click on INSERT and then PAGE BREAK….errrr…that’s it.

Thus this afternoon I followed this advice and all seemed to go ok and I guessed that another 72hrs would go by before the book saw the light of Amazon; thus Thursday, sometime. The problem this time being previously I could find a draft of the Kindle Book, but access, seemed to have vanished. But everything was cool, yeh?

So this evening tide I just checked the status and Oh My Sainted Aunt, the book was ‘Live’…..Live? I scrambled over to Kindle, and there it was…I read the extract, and there were the chapters…..all running together. (and as the characters in my fantasy project say when exasperated or alarmed)…..Oh frib!!

Now whether or not this will be amended through the wonders of modern cyber-things I cannot say; lucky for me the project is humorous.

Ah, this is me folks when in ‘publishing mode’. This is where the ‘Heroically Bad’ bit comes in. This is probably why my projects should only be carried out under strict supervision. This is where all folk who are new to writing and are regular readers of my blogs are advised to start making notes under the heading ‘What Not To Do’

This is where I say….’Goodnight all’

 

Tomorrow we shall consider more of ‘What Not To Do’

Inventions

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For those of you not familiar with 1950s/1960s idioms, approximate equivalents in use today:

“WTF!!?” (naturally)

“Oh honestly!! (more All-Age socially acceptable)

“Ah…Those Who Cannot Learn From The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It,” (for best affect said in a sombre tone with a sad shake of the head)

“Quite frankly, he deserves a clip around the ear ‘ole!” (traditional brit-speak, but the practice is now illegal)

“Get your act together!!”

“Dude!” (which seems to cover all situations)