Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Future... Much Like the Past

Largely in response to Solvey's latest post, I'm in a completely different boat with regard to my novel writing (when I get time to do any) - I'm writing at the moment, just to get words on the page - the framework, so to speak.

MG and Solvey have spoken of being involved in the writing... emotionally. Feeling what their characters feel, the sadness of loss, the trauma... and I've got to admit that I'm not feeling any of it.

In fact, I didn't "feel" very much in the ten months of rewrites on those opening chapters. And while Peter seemed to really like them, I fear that I can now jump through the hoops without feeling my way. It's like I'm dead behind the eyes.

As it is, I'm not too worried right now since I just need to get words on the page and keep moving forward. If Christopher Paolini and Cayla Kluver can get pubished before puberty (SIC) then why can't I now that I'm 30 (end of the week - lucky me).

There's no rush, I remind myself, and yet at work I've been rumbled by my boss over the fug I'm in that has permeated my work life, home life and writing life. It's not like one has taken over the other - I told him I've not written anything at work for months (lots of months) - so much as I've given up on everything.

We had a pep talk about my having stagnated and despite doing jobs as soon as they arise and with typical flair and aplomb, I spend much of my time day-dreaming... and people have started talking (bastards - don't they realise they're going to go into my book?)

So, now I'm turning 30, and I've had all of three employers in 12 years of having left school. I don't manage anyone and my IT skillset is largely learnt from the Internet. I don't have any certification beyond my generic HNC, HND, and Degree courses. What future do I have beyond writing? I've cultivated nothing but the belief that I could be in the 0.01% of wannabes who get published.

30, he said, is the new 40. He's retiring next year so sees the light at the end of the tunnel and has long fallen into a fug of his own, but he hates the idea of coming back in 10 years, even 5, and finding me sat at the same desk, doing the same job.

I read my old school report cards a few weeks back which pretty much encapsulated the notion of: intelligent to the fault of being a lazy sod. Had I learnt anything from that I'd be doing my writing and not blogging about not doing my writing.

Oh the irony.

Anyhoo, I feel at times like Anakin Skywalker (sans the intense need to slaughter younglings): I'm not the man I should be.

In other news, did I mention I'm 30 at the end of the week? And a major plot point just fixed itself in my head regarding my manuscript - the essential ingredient I've been searching for (searching as in waiting for it's arrival, not even realising I was doing so).

So I feel partially galvanised.

Will I still be here at 40? Will Atwood?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rambling! The Bane of Pace

This is exactly why Lesbian and Literary fiction never mix! Bring on the finger-frig!You know, this is exactly what I've suffered from all along - and why Lesbian and Literary fiction never mix.

No sooner have I brought my dastardly villain to bear on the damsel than I'm describing the curtains or over-egging the moment with a flourish about who shined the floor.

That's exactly why when I do get around to writing that novel I keep putting off, it's with immediate drive (and I don't recommend you trying this at home kids), and sans description - I hope on the second pass that I can add it in without fluffing it and going back round in a circle.

Anyhoo, some of you may note the name Discordia (tis one of the witches from my novel). Yeah, I know you've not seen a version that mentions her for quite some years. She is still present.

For more literary cartoons, by moi. Check out

Friday, May 15, 2009

LiToon - The Spitoon of the Publishing Industry

You knew publishing was a tough nut to crack. So what do the nuts do when the cracking gets rough?

They read LiToon.

Full of juicy, undigested ejectamenta from too many publishers' lunches, LiToon throws up the inside poop and outside phlegm fresh from the remnants of the book business. Expectorate the unexpected.

"For innocent souls wishing to conquer the publishing world in one fell swoop", says JK Rowling, "LiToon is the best possible place to start.*"

So spurn the spissitudes of fate, and remember:

Truth hurts. LiToon hurts more.

(*she didn't actually say this)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Mentalist - The Rote of Police Drama

I never liked Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Miss Marple, Poirot, Inspector Wexford. You can keep your Rebus and your Scarpettas... I just don't do cop shows and and crime fiction.

Why is it then that I am enjoying the Mentalist, have watched Seasons 1 to 3 of The Wire in a couple of weeks, and dip in and out of CSI?

Tis the same reason why we all hang on those other genres (which are layered upon the established groundwork of crime and mysteries): because we like to be surprised, love to try to solve the puzzle, worry about our characters and hope they don't take a hit.

It's just cop dramas are boring (aren't they?). We love sci-fi and fantasy mysteries, from Firefly to Buffy to Battlestar, and high energised shows like 24 and Prison Break, because the hooks keep coming.

Jack Bauer's 24 is a cop drama on a rollercoaster. Bauer must find the badguys... in 60 minutes, or the wheels will fall off his wagon!

So, they're not boring procedurals, are they? This is most apparant while watching CSI and the Mentalist.

Take away CSI's little torches and their "let's recreate the scene" and you've got a boring procedural. Take away the Mentalist's moments of "psychic" ingenuity, and you've got boring procedural. In fact, the Mentalist's non-ingenue moments are really boring.

Don't even get me started on how formulaic it is with him "always" being right.

Anyhoo, take this scene,
In it our hero, Patrick Jane, uses his psychological know-how to flummox the sherrif at Rock-Paper-Scissors. Not only do we see Patrick use his ability, but we get to see how it upsets the sherrif, so much so that his anger is used against him. It's not magic... it's psychology, and without it the Mentalist would be dull-dull-dull.

Just think on what marks your novel out from all the others. What's the high-concept idea about it, that stops it from being procedural? Do you have a Deren Brown character like the Mentalist, whose every action makes you wonder where he's going, or do you have sci-fi technology, weapons and space flight?

Are you using it enough to keep you audience entertained... hooked even?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Dorset and the Jurassic Coast

A week away to gather my thoughts and worry over whether I can carry off a whole novel on one subject (I've done that since my 180,000 word failure that was a psychic adventure back in 99 - 03). Mephisto in 04 didn't even come close to completion.

Anyhoo, it was a mixed bag of sunshine and showers - quite enjoyably mixed as it happens. The Golden Cap Holiday Park, where we stayed is a mere 100 metres from the sea down at Seatown, where you can wander to West and to East along the coastline, by beach or by cliff top.

When the weather is swells, the sea air down there gusts like no other wind, bringing the rush and roar of the sea.

It wasn't all plain sailing however, as Mum took it upon herself to take a dive. We'd crossed from Eype to West Bay, which, for those of you who know the area, requires (via beach) clambering over a ton of boulders to reach the end of the promenade from the West Bay, shimmy over the barrier and look at the sign which reads - no safe route to beach (or something like that).

Which explains, why, when Mum decided against following our "safer" route and whilst using the dog to pull her up the harder inclines, she didn't make it. I turned back when the dog stopped pulling. Mum had leapt onto a boulder, only for her legs to decide that they wouldn't hold her. She looked like a gymnast who'd just landed and was crouched and waiting to gain control. Except Mum wasn't going to gain control of anything.

She wobbled and teetered and finally - and this we watched in complete horror - slipped her legs forward, landed on her rump, and, looking like a teddy bear (you know the ones - immovable, always sitting)...
...she just toppled off sideways in that teddy bear position, as if she'd blown off the rock. She disappeared into a small crevasse.

It was shocking and funny all at the same time, like those awful You've Been Framed programs, where the canned laughter just can't match the home viewer's empathy for the pained victim.

She was shaken, and rightly so. She's on all sorts of meds, had landed on her head, arm, bum, leg... We shipped her off to hospital and walked the dogs home after a quick lunch at West Bay.

Of course, she wasn't the only one to fall foul of the scenery.

Here's my futile attempt at taking a sunrise shot on the first morning. Note the sea rising on the right. Immediately following this photo the sea jumped on me.

I kid you not.

I'd watched it to make sure the highest it would climb, but didn't factor on it's rising not falling. And suddenly I was thinking: "Oh dear, my shoes are going to get wet. I don't want them to get wet, that would suck."

So, I did that thing we all do, again as witnessed on You've Been Framed, I backed away as fast as I could, which, on shingle and up hill, was daft.

"Aw nuts!" I wasn't going to escape the sea and yet I sped up to escape its approach. Which, still up hill and still on shingle, meant only one thing.

As the horizon became vertical and the waves crashed over me (my arm with camera attached, raised like a main mast) I thought only one thing: "Well, this isn't as cold as you'd imagine."

Anyhoo, aside from wetting myself, we did plenty of walking and enjoyed lots of wildlife.