Writing the sort of book I want to read

It occurred to me yesterday that I might be the only one who would actually want to read Choose Yr Future or any other book that I might write in the future. You might think this is a bad thing and it is in terms of making money (not that that has ever been my concern) but really I’m not sure it matters in real terms. I mean, it wouldn’t stop me writing. Nothing could stop that from happening.

I’m now elbows deep  in a pretty serious re-edit of Choose Yr Future brought on by comments made on the Scribophile site. Don’t get me wrong, the comments were constructive and keen to read on. What made me pause was whether they would like what came next. I can’t help but suspect it is not going to be what they expect.

It’s hard to see inside someone else’s head when they are reading. Already I have realised that things I thought were obvious weren’t necessarily obvious to others. This is what started me down the editing path again. And then up popped the question, just because I enjoy it, does that mean anyone else will? It’s a levelling thought. Sometimes I get a bit wild-eyed with how good I think something is. (Other times I think it is all rubbish.) There’s nothing like realising you may have completely missed your own point to bring you back down to earth.

 

Still, it is a process I enjoy and I will be posting more of Choose Yr Future and hopefully at least a couple of people will like it a bit. I don’t really hope for anything more than that.

Constructive Criticism

I guess most writers feel the same but it sometimes seems absurd how protective I feel of my writing. Putting it out there feels like giving away a small part of my soul. (Y’know if I believed in the notion of a soul but I can’t think of an atheist version of this simile.) So waiting for critiques after I posted the opening to Choose Yr Future on Scribophile was an absolute agony.

It’s a strange experience. For one thing, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think there was some merit in the writing so it takes a level of arrogance I wouldn’t normally display. On the other, it has left me a mess of self doubt over whether or not I was merely imagining that it has merit. These are the two extremes that I swing between.

On the whole, the response was positive and criticism was constructive which is how it should be. I know I would struggle being a member of an actual reading group but the virtual world means that I can be brave. Of course, not everyone will like what I write and I have to remember that this doesn’t necessarily make my writing bad. I don’t love everything I read and sometimes have the arrogance to wonder how the writer in question managed to get themselves published.

So now I have to review more work before I can post anymore of Choose Yr Future. I like the way Scribophile works. You build up points from critiquing others’ work so you can post your own. Remembering how you want your own work to be treated is a good benchmark for reviewing other peoples’. So far, it has definitely been a positive experience.

Writer Apathy

I really expected I might be closer to publishing Choose Yr Future then I am by now. The worst thing is there is no one to blame. I have been suffering from apathy. Not writer’s block as such – Choose Yr Future is finished and I’ve been scribbling away at other ideas. It’s the thought of further editing, beta readers, all the next steps. It’s making me exhausted. I’ve even been avoiding writing this blog. (It would be easy to blame lack of time but really that is just an excuse and not a reason.)

I wasn’t very good at promoting myself when I published Shattered Reflections. And while that has had some good ratings and reviews and so I am more confident, I still find it hard to put myself forward. It’s not really in my nature to show off and it seems to me that what social media involves. I’m quite a reserved person and while I know this is not a useful thing to be online, I find it hard to shake off the habits I have formed.

I have a better idea of what I am doing now, of course. And I have joined a couple of writing sites so I can get some reader feedback – Wattpad and Scribophile – and I would be grateful for any advice anyone has about getting beta readers. And then there are all the publishing platforms that have sprung up in the last few years. I’m a little stuck for which direction to take. I used Amazon’s Createspace last time but I’m not sure I want to again. Any advice would again be gratefully received.

642 things to write about – The Bicycle Accident

I’ve been entering a lot of short story competitions lately – to no avail but you’ve got to keep trying – and as a sideline to editing Choose Yr Future I decided to try some writing prompts to see if I could come up with something that I could develop further so I would have a bank of stories. 

You wake up at the side of the road lying next to a bicycle, with no memory and no wallet. What happens next?

When I open my eyes all below me is grey. The surface is cold and I’m stretched out on it. My arms are over my head and I’m nose down. There is pain but it is non-specific. All over. Everything hurts.

First step, raise head. The world is still grey. Clouds meet the road on the horizon. Pushing up further brings about twangs and clicks. Specific pain runs up and down both arms. What have I been doing? Pause before next step while I steel myself for the pain to come. Deep breath. Onto knees. Now legs are joining in with groans of pain and stiffness. The question comes to me from the side, how long have I been here?

A further look around. The road, the hedges, the bridge mean nothing. Low menacing clouds which threaten and suggest I should get home but where was that?

Final step. On feet and scanning properly. My head spins a little as the blood finds itself on high once again. There is a house up ahead. Was that home? It was still a good walk away. But it was a direction to head in. I look behind me, turning slowly which is wise because everything shifts sideways and I wobble. I bend to put my head between my knees and slowly stillness returns. As I’m bent, I see the means of my getting here. Well, I assume. A bicycle. A vision of the air flying past my head and the ground rushing up to me sends me dizzy again. I sit down heavily and each joint and muscle takes its turn in shouting out the pain.

Time passes. I can’t move. My head is too unreliable. I check through my pockets. I could phone someone perhaps. But they are absolutely empty. No phone. No purse. No keys. Nothing. No bag. Not even strapped to the bike. Had I been robbed? Maybe everything had scattered from the bike. But no chance of finding that until I could stop the dizziness.

A car. It is moving fast and I do the same. Foolishly. Darkness grabs me and the next thing I see is a concerned face, quite close to mine. He smiles and a wave of relief comes across his weathered face.

“Thank God.” His voice is soft. He doesn’t want to frighten. “I’ve no idea how to do the kiss of life.”

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

It’s a while since I’ve written a blog post that wasn’t a book review and, I admit, it makes me feel a little guilty. Like I’m not quite keeping up my end of the bargain. The modern equivalent of a pile of unanswered letters. There are reasons, of course – well, there always are.

So this by way of apology – for the past month and for the future. a brief hello to tell you I won’t be in touch for a little bit longer.

It’s that stupid busy time of the year again. Exams are fast approaching and that is the start of the extra work. Then there is the marking of them and I’ve doubled my workload this year so it is going to be even more difficult to keep the blog running. So far I have managed to keep the reviews going but whether I’ll be able to do that over the next month or so remains to be seen.

I have also been working hard on my writing. Any spare minutes go towards working on my two current projects. Hopefully, there will be some progress on that front to but again, not for the next month.

I’m looking forward to July. School finishes and hopefully I will be able to put my heart and soul back into the things I love rather than the things that make me money.

A general update: It’s been a while…

It’s been a pretty hellish start to the  year. For various reasons, I’ve spent much of the last three months either emptying or filling boxes. Sorting things and throwing things away is another new pastime along with visits to the tip and the charity shop. It hasn’t really been conducive to making progress with my writing and it is only in the last few weeks that I feel that I have started to get back to normal.

In terms of blogging, I have managed to keep up with my book reviews and I am pleased that I have still been able to read a lot. (All that travelling around on public transport has to be good for something.) I’ve read four books from my TBR Pile which is in keeping with what I’d planned – one a month. And when I finish John Boyne’s The Absolutist, I’ll be halfway through the Eclectic Reader Challenge so that is all to the good.

I am finding time to write but I have been concentrating on existing projects rather than using writing prompts. Much as I love doing that, I feel that I have more pressing commitments. I have entered a couple of short story competitions and I am trying to prepare Choose Yr future for publication ultimately but beta readers before that. I’m also quite excited by my other project which now has the name of The Practise of Deception. So, at the minute, whatever time I can spare to writing is being used for these. I will get back to using the prompts, I’m sure when life has settled down a bit and when I need a new project. After all, The Practise of Deception grew from one of these prompts so they are useful as well as fun.

642 things to write about – A woman thinks she might be living next to her grandson

From 642 things to write about – A woman thinks she is living next door to her grandson.

He was playing outside again. His features were so familiar, she almost expected that he had jumped out of a family photo. The bright blue eyes and fair, curly hair. Family traits that had been passed onto all three of her children. The one he was most like was her youngest. The daughter she hadn’t seen for so long it was an effort of mathematics to remember the number of years. She watched him through her net curtain. He was so full of energy; darting here and there, never completely still. She’d been like that too, such a live wire. 

It was impossible. That was what she had to keep running through her mind. She knew the couple next door and there was no possible link. They’d moved in with the boy when he’d been six months old. It hadn’t been so obvious then. Just another baby. But now, it was heartbreaking. He turned and was momentarily facing her. He grinned, holding up something in his hand so his mother could see it. He was so much the image of her daughter that she almost ran out and snatched him up. Then he turned away and she made herself repeat again the impossibility of it all.

Perhaps it was just a product of her own longing. She saw her other children and the ones they had produced but the one she really wanted to see would never be coming back. And she knew whose fault that was. She watched as the boy trotted into his house, trying to keep a hold on herself. Why was she so intent on this form of torture? Everyday she came to the window to remind herself how impossible it all was. She couldn’t rest until she had seen the boy and reminded herself that he was nothing to do with her. Her mind would not let go until she was utterly destroyed.