Motivations, Inspirations, Imaginations…And Characters. A Journey Care Less and Content

Strolling

Foreword

You know how it goes. You have this idea for a topic, and you start off. Then some allied aspect else occurs to you, which begs to be added on, which in turn leads you off down an interesting lane and somehow the original topic is behind you, round a bend somewhere and you are there, scratching you’re head wondering ‘So?… How did I get here?’

The intention was to write about World Building and how the one which formed out of my work was a place I liked to revisit, just to be there. Then the theme became something else. Here was another writer wandering through This, That and The Other. For no other reason than ‘Just Because’….

The books which are part of the post are not mentioned because there is no intention to publicise them. You’ll find enough information in earlier posts. The subjects of this post are creativity, inspiration and motivations. Anyway back to that start…

The Beginning

Sometime ago I promised myself ‘Tone down on the politics. Concentrate on the writing. Be at one with your creativity,’………………..

The next day……

Back on the soapbox or picking fights on Facebook. Will I ever learn?

Learn what? To desensitise myself against thing which get under my skin? Remove some part of me?

Well, maybe not picking on an easy FB target and ridiculing them. Maybe ‘They had it coming. Taste of their own medicine. See how they like it,’ Are not worthy and mature reasons, perhaps those sentiments border on excuses. Weighing down someone’s ‘one liner’ with three paragraphs of International Relations Theory and History? Maybe that’s showing off a bit. Overkill much?

I tell myself my political and social comments should be addressed to Word Press where generally the standard of debate is higher.

The fact, though, the political part of me, is one reason why I write fiction as I do; the challenge being to try and tone down the preachiness. A character sounding off on some political issue in the middle of an action episode sounds ‘odd’. A lesser character taking up half a chapter on observations on an injustice just spoils the narrative and detracts from the plot.

Yet there is nothing wrong with placing your opinions or views in a narrative, the characters will let you know if they think you’ve been too wordy. Those lesser characters’ two or three lines of conversation will suit just as well.

On reflection my views were one of the driving forces and at the same time a bit of a challenge to fit in neatly. I loathe the latent misogyny trying to slither back into our cultures. Thus was more than happy with Three Strong Women characters appearing. Prejudices on the grounds of race, religion, adult consensual choices tend to be a red flag, so those who embrace any or all of these prejudices would truly hate my trilogy. Sometimes a mischievous part of me nurtured on Facebook would snigger while whispering ‘If anyone hates this part. Good…they got it coming,’.

Another motivation and this is not criticism just personal taste, I did not wish to read anymore grimdark or ‘gritty’. The real world had enough of that for me. Happy endings and good folk running rings around bad folk was my intention.

In addition is a little fantasy of the whole trilogy being on a public forum where I would wait for the inevitable feeble whinge that is it is all ‘woke’, whose users are such easy targets…. (Ah but there I go again. Looking for confrontation)

Yet as I go treading into more dangerous and delicate yet related ground; it has been an observation that there is more than one way to receive criticism or even ire for portrayals of characters outside of your own social, ethnic, political, belief system grouping. This observation, and the word is stressed comes from reading commentary from those whose group is portrayed, in a sympathetic or positive light and yet is perceived by the commentator as not being the correct portrayal. My own conclusion is in this fraught world where colonialism, in the European sense has died out and the old Cold War alignments disintegrated and social norms are altering it is for many people or peoples essential their group are portrayed accurately and in a balanced, mature context. Of course my get out clause being; ‘These books take place in a Fantasy World. Not this one,’, though human natures being what they are it is unlikely this response would be seen as satisfactory. Never mind… ‘You can’t win them all,’ . And anyway folks this is a world of my characters and they led me through allowing me to explore (or was that witness?) all manner of the possibilities.

Characters eh?

One advantage, or salutary warning is once you let your characters in on the act and they start to influence you, the pace of writing picks up until the creative or speculative processes reach a velocity which leaves all caution behind. In a very paradoxical, maybe cussed mood, the lack of sales encouraged me and them onwards. We reached the ‘What The Heck’ Stage, followed by ‘C’mon Rog’. We just have to go this way, you know parts of the back story have been building to this. Remember the sub-text kiddo,’. This of course led to other directions for taking the main narratives too.

Maybe the final result would seem to some a vainglorious mash-up of genres, sub-genres and styles. And there would be no argument from me. In my defence this is what happens when the driving forces within you set the imagination in movement and in turn you feel confident enough to let the narrative take control.

Should the whole work come to public attention and there is consequential criticism of the plot line, characters and result, let it be so.

For I had far too much fun putting the whole together to regret. (apart from those stupid persistent typos and a few instances of getting the names wrong- sometimes you can be too indie).

And now I am learning restraint and economy on a monthly Blog Battle*, which is as much fun being very instructive, while keeping my interaction of Face Book to a minimum.

*

BlogBattle

https://bbprompt.com/

Musings on an Aftermath of Writing.

Reflective(Allegorical image by the way)

Some of you will be familiar with the opening of this tale.

Commenced I suppose from 2015, maybe, (although there were myriad false starts) and completed end of 2021. A fantasy trilogy written without much respect for the apparent ‘Rules of Writing’. And that was that. Completed.  Like any writer there were all sorts of ideas, whispers of ideas and the like swirling about. The same characters a few years down the line? Maybe the next generation, their children? A few experimental paragraphs suggested; it wasn’t going to work, not now anyhow. The scene was as if I had spent some time with this varied group, recorded these parts of their individual and joint narratives and now a parting of the ways was taking place, all by mutual consent. There was this singular notion any further novels would be intrusive into their lives. The conclusion was almost as if I had indeed strayed upon another fragment of Creation and had been a mere observer. Time for us all to move on.

The obsession to craft three volumes had been, of course unobtrusive. At the time, simply three basic ideas with plots and sub-plots spinning out all weaving into a pattern of cause and effect. The warning how obsessive I had become was the evening I flew into a rage because Kindle would not accept the download of the final cover, normally the solution would have been quite simple, but when Obsession takes hold anything that gets in the way in a foe…right?….Well no, wrong. Toxic.

Anyway, with the whole project completed and ‘Out There’, a calm settled. The urge to read books rather than listen to audio versions returned. An experiment to paint emerged; by numbers I add, because my perception of colours is rather variable; seriously an adult paint-by-numbers is a challenge, with tiny, tiny patches and titchy, titchy numbers therein; fun though and to be worked on at a leisurely pace. Finally there was the focus to stop trying to take up Quantum Mechanics as a serious interest, the maths and the terminology are beyond my capabilities. Back to History reading and in consequence looking into International Relations and the attendant theories. (Yes there are graphs and data but only for those who have made it their Life’s Work or intending to do so, a working knowledge of what is what is sufficient).

Does that mean you have quit writing? Some may ask. No, comes the simple answer. The Muses still flutter around me (or poke me in the back, if thus inclined). The frenetic side has evaporated. There is an idea to work a series of posts from way-back into a neater format and set in the same realms of the trilogy
Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

And there is  https://bbprompt.com/

Which supplies a monthly prompt for short stories and is quite a buzz to join as well as read.

There is a weight lifted though, the notion it was all for fun and relaxation was a flaw in perception, I was in deep. Of course being in deep is something a serious writer should be to embrace, but when you start to live with the characters, muttering phrases of possible conversations to yourself, going over and over in your mind situations, not being able to truly focus on anything else other than the day-to-day living and ‘Your Book’. No, maybe not. It maybe necessary for the true professionals with a contract but for the rest of us; the rest of the world needs to come in.

Maybe therein is the true reason why I’ll not be going back there. Even though it was fun at the time.

Writing eh? You love it. You can’t leave it alone. But it is as well to have boundaries.

Restless

Sailing Ship

I must go back to a narrative again, to follow the Muse’s eternal cry

And all I ask is my laptop and an idea to guide me by

(Thank you John Masefield for Sea Fever)

You finish one project, it’s taken you quite a while, you’ve experienced all the varying emotions, you’ve fought through the ‘Why Am I Bothering’  fug, you’ve edited or negotiated editing, all typos etc have been sought out, a book cover was navigated you have striven with marketing  and finally the work is ‘Out There’ . Then you might think to yourself ‘ I deserve a rest,’

Of course you do

And yet to visit another nautical bit of plagiarism from a jolly yarn.

‘Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November* in my soul [a few more ‘whenevers’ have been omitted Melville being Melville ] …….. then, I account it high time to get to my paper and laptop as soon as I can’  

In short. Do writers ever rest? Did not one plot have away in its unused corners threads and motes which begged examination? Was there not a minor character whose shadow would dog your heels and whisper possibilities? On some journey, be it physical, of the imagination, or amongst the other tangles of human consciousness was there not a murmuring of creativity beginning to coalesce?  Or did something just come into a writer’s head, a modest literary version of The Big Bang?

Ever wonderous, and tortuous is Creativity, calling you on. Embrace the Restlessness, it requires you to fulfil.

Would we have these feelings any other way?   

*Actually those are qualities which make November my favourite month. It marks the finality of the Summer’s assault on my senses – I know, singular. Anyway it has set loose my own restlessness- two projects are beckoning. One SF which requires a dip in Quantum Physics and Mechanics and might take some time (Quantum and Time, now there’s a paradox in the making). The other, that’s a follow on from my previous work, a generation later, and I have not the faintest idea what the plot might be, but one of the Muses is insisting I get writing. Ah good ol’ stream of consciousness, what little nuggets might there be amongst all the silt which will come forth from the dredging. 

  

 

Show Don’t Tell

Writers starting off, floundering a bit, wondering which way to go or reflecting on whether they should or should not continue will be aware there is something approaching an article of faith which is: A Writer Should Show Not Tell’

Just out of whimsey, as it were, I typed in ‘Show not Tell’ on Google and the busy little search engine proudly informed me that in 0.84 seconds it had identified 2,210,000,000 hits. Now how many of these actually refer directly to the subject of writing I did not venture to examine. If for some unaccountable reason I were to seek out each and every hit at the fanatical pace of 5 seconds per hit it would take approximately 350 years for a single person. Since this does not take into account all functions necessary to physical and mental well-being, what might happen to human culture and environment the effort seems somewhat unnecessary. A dedicated team of 1,000 might complete the task in ten years, although the attrition rate would probably be prohibitive and result in the organiser being actively disliked. Suffice it to conclude a lot of people have a lot to say on the subject.

It is only fair at this juncture to admit, yet again, there is within me a not so latent flaw which persistently inhibits any possible success; this being as my wife wearily reminds me ‘You will not be told’ . Thus if anyone even intimates to me how my writing should be done, at best they receive a politely vague comment and communication withers. Therefore there is a certain bias in this post; my apologies.

Considering the number of hits again. It cannot be denied that amongst all the comments and advice on the subject there has to be a certain diversion of view as to what constitutes ‘Show’ and what might be thought of as ‘Tell’. From this, taking into account all other Human responses to ‘Subjects’, ‘Beliefs’, ‘Outlooks’ and so forth, some of these diversions would be quite strong, if not, one fears verbally ‘violent’. Now whereas the proponents can have a thoroughly cathartic time arguing with each other and suggesting their opponent is displaying ignorance or heresy on the matter, none of this is of assistance the poor help-seeking writer, who at times, battered and buffeted by storms of advice must feel something akin to a literary sea-sickness.

One equitable solution for a writer experiencing problems in this area, would be to turn their back on the various advice books, columns, posts and writing exercises to simply read (or listen if they have a taste for audio books) thus be witness to a number of published writers at work. The choice should be very broad and should steer from the very successful who are sometimes indulged by the publishing process because their name ‘sells’. Far better to seek out those of more modest achievements who still need to rely on every bit of their art and skill to keep their audiences.

This is not a suggestion the writer should try and copy styles, more a question of absorbing the various approaches and bringing them to their own style. Because, I daresay when the various Show Don’t Tell  advisors visit books there will be levels of disagreement as to where Show or Tell started or finished at one particular part and whether either should or should not have been used.

Writing is a constant learning process, with a vast panorama of ways and means by which the writer reaches the conclusion of their work. Far better to absorb an empathy with Show Don’t Tell than to struggle to attain it by some dangerously close to mechanical process.

Keep on writing. No matter what.

Thinking about and hoping for Jill Dennison -Filosofa’s Word

As many of you may know Jill has not been in the best of health in recent times. I e-mailed our battling girl the other day, and sadly she is still in hospital suffering with serious heart and kidney issues.

She gave me permission to post this up-date so in her words  “as many of our mutual blogging buddies know what is happening”

As I’ve outlined she is quite unwell and can only manage short messages, but I am guessing will appreciate messages of support and concern.

We all know Jill for her ceaseless battles against political irresponsibility, sheer opportunism and downright hate.

I think I speak for us all, when I write how much we already miss those delightful Monday morning compilations of cartoons, captions, photos and cute videos; along with the adventures of Jolly and Joyful which start the week so well.

And although always ready with a well-aimed tirade against some deserving target or another, Jill has also been there to remind us there are folk who are working so hard to make the world a better place with her Wednesday slot of Good People Doing Good Things.

Let us all give some time in the day to turn our thoughts to Jill Dennison, her family and ‘moggies’, and for those of you in the USA, for her sake don’t give up the fight, the rest of us around the world have got your backs.

Let’s hear it for Jill then and put your own posts up in support of her 

Keep on keeping on kid, you’re a true American patriot 

On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble. Thanks to Amazon Kindle and the free-book promotions I guess about 30 folk have Volumes I & II downloaded and a big thanks to those kind folk who also purchased copies (probably about 10 sales). If Volume III bumps the totals up by 33% that might be in line with my expectations (based on the previous performances). Sometimes those figures were disheartening but were unlikely to be the sole cause of the low mood, more symptomatic of a general lassitude, my late father used to refer to this as ‘being at the bottom of the wheel’. Outside of the central character of a mid-twentieth century swashbuckling or ‘happy’ musical film, who does not experience these times?

At this stage a writer facing such results will have reached a crossroads of some sort of another. Their outlook will be dependant on amount of the effort they have previously put into their marketing, networking, assistance, outside editing and beta-reading to name but a few of the preparation and research strategies available to them.

For some despite their very best and diligent efforts in these areas, their work still fails to gain recognition and a despondency sets in. This is very understandable. They may well decide writing is not for them and seek other paths. Whether this was the right choice or another promising writer was lost to the caprice of the market, we will never truly know; this sort of judgement belongs as it were ‘to the ages’.

For others there can be an analytical response, they shrug (after a period of flushing out the disappointment) and ‘go back to the drawing board’. Maybe, they think, the work needs some tweaking, nay complete overhauling. Records of advice: friendly, editorial and beta will be consulted, the work re-read (a painful process at times) and the writer returns to the battle carrying out that very delicate balancing act between others input and how they, the writer, wishes the narrative to go.

Some will decide, they do so love writing, but maybe they chose the wrong genre or wrong style of narrative. They start again, maybe using the very bare bones of the first work. This happened to me, twice. First attempt was grim, bloody (and also unreadable). The second attempt, set in the world of my current books at an earlier time was comedic satire, the volumes are now a source of folklore and history in the current works. This third is a mix, one might say real as can be found in Fantasy. 

I stood at the crossroads and looked back over my shoulder. Had I utilised any of those aforementioned strategies and resources in my journey. Yes, but due to the vagaries of life met with three sources whose advice or commentaries were not to my liking, and hereabouts there are some strong opinions retained on their competencies and ability to use perception, but we shall move on. I was glad of the observations and reviews by Audrey Driscoll https://audreydriscoll.com/  Berthold Gambrel  https://ruinedchapel.com/  and Rachael Ritchey https://rachaelritchey.com/ Each gave support, advice incisive and constructive and was taken on board in future efforts. Those who indulge in throwaway criticism would do well to stay away from me, their comments get analysed, critically…yes one is not supposed to indulge so in kicking back at a bad review…. I have nothing to lose, there would be ramifications for the throwaway reviewer.  

And there came the decision. If my work was currently not surfacing into public attention amongst the many thousands of efforts by unknown writers and my approach to all the strategies and resources was idiosyncratic, nay even shambolic and I was using the massively populated medium of Amazon Kindle, then what was there to lose in going my very own way? The books could be recorded for the public to find, there would be some gratification there, and at the same time all creativity, imagination and experimentation could be utilised just for their own collective sakes. Thus I gave vent to all manner of writing about varied circumstances, maybe some had no business being in a book seriously put together with sales in mind as a benefit; some might send editors and beta-readers into much head-shaking or saying ‘WHAT???’ Let it be so. I have enjoyed this veering off at tangents, exploring issues narrative, and it is all mine.

At this juncture let me say this is not an attempt to mask vanity with an air of assumed artistic superiority or the self-indulgent woeful stance of someone ‘suffering’ for their art. No this is just me, writing as I write, for a particular  purpose, and because the whole project will not let me be until it is concluded this way. To put it another way for those starting out or those having doubts:

Writing about my approach as one you should follow is not the reason. It would, quite frankly be irresponsible for me to contend this is worthwhile way of ‘doing things’. Not so, the above words are tailored to illustrate my position and current view of my own work. For advice on the matter of publishing, please, please seek out others. Going Complete Rogue is generally a bad idea. 

As long as the writing does not mask an agenda promoting Hate, Intolerance or questionable politics I wish everyone well with their writing. Published conventional or self-published, the writer’s efforts are to be celebrated, another record in the great endeavour writing, another statement ‘I was here’.

That you strive at your work with the conviction you have as much right as any to do is enough for me.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after the original narrative of Daughters of Circumstance. Arbiters of Consequences was completed, still working on the final ‘publicationable’ document? But of course.  

And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

At All Times: Ah! I gotta write that down now!

On Reading ‘That Latest Best Seller’ : Yeah. It’s alright. Quite good really. Mind you, if I was writing it……. 

On Reading ‘Another’ Book in ‘That Genre’: Oh for Pity’s sake! Not again! I can do better…in fact I will.

When receiving a rejection letter: Like those editors and agents who turned down The Harry Potter books…..You’ll be sorry.

When reading a bad review: What the…. (Full Metal Jacket) do you know?. Go and write your own (More Full Metal Jacket) book.

When receiving a good review:

On Noticing Very Few Sales: It’s a sleeper. Just wait. In twenty years time.

When Doing The Re-Write: Stupid ‘WORD’, I’ll decide what is a correct choice of words. And add ‘that ‘to Dictionary willya! 

Also When Doing Re-Write: Oh Dearest Muse of Continuity, watch over this fuddled and woebegone writer. 

And When Assailed by Doubt, Naysayers and Lack of Success

Through tarmac

Writings and Our Faiths or Beliefs

We all have faiths and beliefs. Be they in those close to us, or our community, or way of life, or politics, outlooks, religion, science, art, following….I could go on, thinking up other categories. Our faiths and beliefs are part of who we are, we change them, we lose some, we find others; we gain strength from them, if we are of such stature we suffer for them. No matter which way you look at it or care to frame your explanations you are demonstrating one or the other, most likely both.

Of course some are not constructive, or positive. Some are built on Intolerance, Hate, Opportunism and Self-Aggrandisement; to name but a few of Humanity’s myriad failings and short-comings. Thus someone having faiths and beliefs is not always something to be celebrated by everyone who comes into contact with them.

Thus it follows that anyone who sits down to write, anything, will have as motivation those two factors working away within them. Not always Faith and Belief in themselves, because many of us are fragile creatures plagued by doubts. If you do write though, you will be expressing Faith and Belief in the processes which turn ideas into words on a page. At times you may feel ragged, wondering if it is all worthwhile, and yet at the same infuriating instance still be drawn back to ‘The Page’. This is because deep within there works Faith in your ability to write and Belief in the very creative process. They will not leave you alone.

Slight aside, but have no fear gentle reader, ’tis simply me getting there….

For some parts of The Christian Community starting on the 28th March was Holy Week which basically chronicles Christ’s journey to the Crucifixion. A time of reflection and meditation….annnndd if you’re honest with yourself about what another spiritual botch up you made since last Holy Week and do try and do better this time (sigh…as opposed to self-hatred. That is not what it is all about people). As with many spiritual, theistic systems the actually basic are all about being positive and compassionate to your fellow beings and not try and grab everything for yourself…… So with this in mind…….

I would say have when writing have trust in The Faith and Belief of the writing processes. Do not expect this to be an easy path. 

Just remember when you are writing you also have a responsibility. Write what you will, with one caveat, do not be cruel to those who are trying to be innocent of Intolerance, The Sweeping Generalisation is a soft weapon of Evil. I know I have been as guilty of its use as any.   

Wishing you well in your endeavours 

 

Just One Writer’s Statement…That’s All

Placeholder Image

I should be looking through my friends’ blogs and reading of their views, adventures and interludes. I should be reading the news and keeping abreast of the miseries that torment others. I should be….. (you fill in the gaps, they are probably very similar to mine)

OR

I should be writing something about the current state of the nation and world from various perspectives. There again I should be writing something about the creative spirit or maybe some other aspect of the craft of writing.

AND

There are the chores when need attending to, now that my breakfast is finished (8.30 GMT 25th March 2021. UK). (Well, that was when it was started)

YET

Reflection stills and then diverts me to write this…which has come from a frequently visited place on the map of my Writer’s World, wherein stands a temple dedicated to Creativity and from which tolls one clarion bell, a steady simple peel.

There again perhaps inspiration to write this comes from the small bird perched on the guttering of our roof and singing its Spring Time Anthem of ‘Here I Am’. However, the image of a wolf howling out across the still landscape does have its attractions.

SO.

Three volumes. 600,000 + words. Fantasy Adventure. Independent minds. Comradeship. Humour. Romance. Acceptance. Upbeat. The Positive and Constructive Wins Out. Villains cast down.

AND when the final re-write is completed having hunted down most of the typos, the syntax tidied up and the continuity ironed out.

ALL will be well.

What happens after?

Why, the ship sets sail. I was but the shipwright.   

Sailing Ship

But I love my craft.

Another Cause for Celebration

20th January 2021. The majority of Americans along with the vast majority of the population of the world celebrated the descending of an oaf followed by the inauguration of a person worthy to be called President of the United States of America.

Much, the overwhelming wealth being favourable has been written, and so it should be. I have said my piece(s) on the matter, therefore let me turn to another cause which can be celebrated on a smaller scale but celebrated nonetheless.

Two folk I call WP-friends (WP- Word Press) are intending to collaborate on a writing project. This is their first attempt and they are naturally hesitant. The fact they are going to try is something to be applauded, and our community of writers should encourage this and wish them well in their endeavour.

I understand they are a measure reticent because they perceive there are far better writers than themselves and thus dare they take this step? To which my reply is.

‘Oh don’t you worry about those perceptions. You may be told these are better writers and you may believe they are better writers, however those very writers you look up to, if they are true to the very spirit of their art should be the first to insist you write and should support you,’

After all Writing is its own universe. There are myriads of subjects, told in a wealth of styles for a host of reasons and in consequence a whole celestial dynamic for creation. (Sadly there are the hacks, hate-mongers and opportunists who produce dire dross and poison to spread tawdry thrills, intolerance, oppression and cruelty-away with them).

Each person or team who has a genuine pure wish to write for the pleasure, edification and, let us be honest, entertainment of the reader should not feel there is something less about their work. They have as much entitlement as any to gather together their images, feelings, ideas and motivation to forge into words. We who have spent many years on this path know the road is long, hard and demands attention. The rewards will probably be scant and the recognition might well minimal. Yet these are simply all parts of the writer’s life, or call it ‘lot’. You should write because you want to and can. True there are many worthy tracts and places to go for information on how to ‘market’, but you should not be thinking of those at the onset. To write is to be the primary thought.

Strive on then, you latest additions to the community. Work, and work again until you are looking upon the completed task, then put it out into the Reading Universe, and you can then sit back and say:

‘It is there. We have declared our work. It now belongs to The Ages,’