Tag Archives: criticism

A wry smile to judgemental people

How many stories did you choose not to write because you felt you weren’t original enough, because you have found something similar during writing your story?

I wager it happens almost on a constant basis and you feel you can’t win, you can’t be original and guess what… you’re partly right… you can’t!

But then again no one can, all stories, movies etc are from borrowed ideas, the thing is, they were not written by you, in the exact way you want to write it, so in a roundabout way, it is original.

There have been hundreds of stories I gave up over the years because I felt defeated over their content, it was like the world was taunting me with “it’s already been done you fraud”. 

But if you read a lot of non-fiction, particularly biographies of other writers and even book and film reviews etc, you will find that you are not alone and you are not a fraud.  Around 2015 I nearly gave up writing altogether, because I had a hundred ideas and all of them were taking several times over in some way or another.

Even Harry Potter has been done multiple times and there are two similar stories where the main character is called Harry Potter!  A very low budget 1980s horror movie called Troll had a main character called Harry Potter who didn’t realise that his neighbour was a witch battling an evil wizard who kidnapped and possessed his sister in the basement after turning into a troll.

Even if you want to be so unique writing fantasy, the chances are, your unique conglomerate of a name may have already been done somewhere, either as fiction or a foreign cultural mythos.  I was caught with this a few years ago, I thought I had a wonderfully unique name for two characters in my fantasy story, Shannara and Melissandra… two of the biggest fantasy works out there had already used those names and I didn’t know until a friend asked me who I was trying to kid!

I thought nobody would be silly enough to write about man-eating rabbits and guess what they have and from what I read in Danse Macabre by Stephen King it was a jolly good horror movie as well!  Then, I felt the world was testing me again, because a year after my idea the movie “Curse of the were-rabbit” came out, but thankfully it was nothing like the thing I wanted to write (which for your information I decided against).

I also felt like a fraud when I wanted to put pen to paper to write a story where all the childhood heroes, Santa, Easter Bunny etc would team up together in another world because something happened to the children on Earth – but again I gave up that idea because of a movie which came out that was similar – a movie by the way that I love and is a family favourite nowadays!

I had this idea of a post-apocalyptic world where the only survivors lived on a permanently mobile train to survive because leaving the train was too dangerous… Hello snowpiercer!  I worked on this novel for five years whilst I was learning the science behind the stuff I wanted to do in this book – after seeing the movie I had a three year sulk, the book may still get written but it definitely won’t be because of climate change now!

The main heartbreaks happen when you realise that you don’t know your subject well enough that this and that has happened before – vampires my dears, my vampires have been done so much before the world has become bored and complacent over them – that is heart wrenching, but when you discover you worked hard for three decades on something and find a big corporation older than you have done half of your ideas, you get to feel like you shouldn’t bother anymore!

I got to the point about a year ago where even a novel title would get my heart racing for all the wrong reasons, because oh my god, it is another thing that is going to prove to me I am wasting my time as a writer!

I force myself to read and watch reviews of similar things lately and even read or watch them, just to make sure if I am panicking for no reason… Paul assures me my ideas are similar but so far removed that it won’t be considered a copycat.  I am still nervous nonetheless.

I am also nervous about the fact that around a third of my books I consider comedy, not all of them, just around a third and that some of my ideas may come across as cameos of works that have already been done by other people and may be received with criticism, because they think I am being critical of them!  Yes, I know I am a worry wart, but it is something to consider!

The thing about me is that I like comedy, but I also like to be considered serious in other works.  I don’t know how to balance that out if I were to become a published and known author.

I have thought about making it uniquely refined by choosing two pseudonyms, one which concentrates on family comedic fantasy and the other which is for my darker and more serious themes in horror and dystopian fiction.

But as the world grows ever more sensitive to the content of fiction, it also raises concerns in whether or not I might actually be too taboo for my readers?  I worry about the state of the world in that people are developing such horrific sensitivities about bad things in life, that they want to hide it all, thus making it go further underground and making it lost to history so that history will eventually and inevitably repeat itself, because it is just too god awful to be shown and be remembered!

Rape, suicide, racism etc are really awful things and I do nothing to glamorise it, but because I write it, it doesn’t mean I enjoy or partake in those things, it just shows my experiences in life and that this is life in all its cold and horrifying ways!  Why hide it?  Why criticise it to the extent it can’t be written anymore?  Most of my novels are not set in contemporary times; they are set in the past or the distant post-apocalyptic future.  You want realism and yet you can’t stomach it?

Grow a thicker skin for the sake of your children, because they need to know this stuff goes on eventually, so they don’t repeat the horrors of the past!

For me, writers block doesn’t exist – what throws me off writing is all the judgemental ass-hats out there who think that uniqueness comes ten a penny, when in actuality, it doesn’t exist!  What throws me off, is trying to please the masses by making my writing so passive and politically correct, you won’t want to read it because it’s too damned boring and unrealistic!  We can’t all skip around in daisy fields, kissing strangers and pretending we’re all care bears my dears, if we did that, you’d say we’re all a load of pot heads!

I have offended so many people with this post, no doubt you’re going to sweep me under the carpet and forget me and unsubscribe because I hit a nerve or I caused some kind of trigger in you… but hey, that’s life, trying to go around all the time pleasing everyone will send you mad and I am not even going to try anymore!

I am what I am and I write what I write, like it or dump it!

But know that regardless of what you choose to do right now, I love you, because we’re all cousins and you stood up for what you believed in by unsubscribing from this awfully mislead and evil person!

Happy reading!

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Being deaf & not being published

There are some biting comments in DMs on twitter and other places I get regularly about my quantity of work; yes, my blog is not as active as it should be, but no, I am writing a lot more than I admit to you all! 

One of the biggest things that is asked in DM is “why are you not published yet”?  My answer is – personal choice.

Once in 2003 I felt I wanted to get published but because of personal reasons, I refused to go ahead with it, when lo and behold a miracle happened, my first ever attempt at publication was accepted!

I still believe to this day it is a fluke!

I turned it down purely because my mother was salivating over the proposed advance and had already spent my money in her head – I was still very much submissive to my mother back then and I knew that only a small margin of any money I gained would be mine.

My mother tried to force me to take the opportunity but I feigned losing the letter and forgetting which company I contacted, she believed me.

Since leaving my mother to live with Paul in 2009 I had wondered when I will be ready to do so again.  The reasons up until now is purely fear, because although I want the work published as books and potentially made into a movie, the idea of becoming famous is very unappealing.  I know most writers don’t have a lot of glitz and glamour and huge fame, but I reckon it would be sods law that I’d be popular – and I am easily lead into things by good and supportive friends.

I am terrified of privacy invasion, I am prone to panic attacks and I do not like surprises and I do not generally like strangers unless I have someone with me on first contact.

Ironically it is not social phobia, I am actually afraid of myself – for two reasons, I am afraid that I am quite co-dependent and get talked into things whether comfortable with it or not; another reason is that I can sometimes become attacked verbally by people because they think I am being ignorant with them, but in fact I am profoundly deaf and rely on lip reading or people remaining on my left side, to hear them.

Another reason I am not published is because I haven’t sent anything off since 2003 and not only this but because I am deaf and poor at the same time, I have not got a telephone which is OK for me to use and phone conversations I heard are quite common in this industry.  Nobody has bothered to educate me about what is available, FREE for someone like me, so I have no idea what my options are!

All I do know is that on my previous hearing assessment, I was surprised to learn that my hearing levels are so low, that I am eligible for a dog for the deaf if I want one!

My biggest fear other than fame is disappointing people I will work with by my inaccessibility to talk with them on a 121 level and my inability to travel due to health.

Paul gets his navy pension next autumn; this will mean he will be able to afford technology for me to become independent in communications.  This is one of the major reasons why I will not be approaching publishers until autumn 2022.

During this waiting time, I plan to finish six books to final draft quality; this is more doable than you can imagine for me.  There is potential for more finished drafts too, but I am being realistic for now. 

In a few days I will post just for my naysayers photographs of all of my files, ring binders, envelopes and notebooks, so you can see how much work has already been done over the years!  Because there are a very tiny handful of people who don’t believe I work towards any novel at all and that it is all a lie!

I am determined to prove to you how much I have done, this is giving Paul a massive headache, because it is going to mean that the equivalent of 8ft by 3ft of papers are going to be collected for a photoshoot!  I am not exaggerating by the scale, either; I have been writing novels since I was ten years old!  I have kept at least half of them, the others were burned in a bonfire when I lost heart aged twenty one, when I was for the first time ever suicidal!

Happy reading all!

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Writers and social networking

The question I posed in yesterday’s post was written because I genuinely struggle with the question and it can cause a writing slump for me as I sit back worrying about writing yet another story just like “story A” but with a lot of major differences and different characters.  I would love nothing better than to have the freedom to write all the things I would like, but that would make me come across to readers as predictable and boring.  I can run along with the same idea and make changes quite easily and do so forever and be quite happy about it, but I don’t like doing things for myself too much, I like to write to make other people happy and to help break their monotony, I don’t want to be accused of boring them with the same stuff all the while.  But I do know that diehard fans would love reading the same stuff and the same characters over and over again, but they are far and few between usually.

What I lack more than anything in my life is a group of people who can talk to me about their experiences and how they do things and whether or not I actually have the right to feel this way and to sort of give me the permission one way or another to continue doing that or discontinue doing that. 

I can think for myself don’t get me wrong – but it is hard when you are the only writer you personally know and that the ones I do socialise with are very successfully already that they got past all of this twenty, thirty years ago and I can’t get close enough to discuss this at length with them.  My writer friend circle is so small that there isn’t a lot of room for debate if you understand me?  So I don’t have a lot of personal opinions to mull over.

This is the big bug bear of writers who don’t socialise – they don’t have a support network that is large enough to actually give them a good look into a true writers world and they can eventually become quite easily biased by the very few writers or indeed tutors of writings opinions and styles so much so, that they lose themselves in their tiny circles quality of writing.  Or to rephrase that, they become who they socialise with because their circle is so small and therefore influences them too much.  I understand how vital it is to have a large network, but I just can’t seem to get started – I don’t seem to have the personality where other writers want to talk to me more than just a criticism or a sentence. 

I think it has a lot to do with the social isolation I have in general life anyway.  I never really knew how to socialise appropriately because I was always shut away whilst growing up – but I have tried to approach people in the writing community to find myself up against people who seem so full of angst at talking to me that they give me short terse sentences or just all out criticism which isn’t healthy on so many levels that to be quite frank, I have given up on the idea of online social networking.

That’s a big shame, because I really want to learn more about this craft but I just keep coming up against a brick wall socially about it.

 

 

 

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Social media following corps

This post is about what I call “The social media following corps” and how I feel about social media in general – it is not a rant, it is just an opinion and one that many people find both interesting and strange regarding my view of it all.

I have many social media accounts purely to try and network if I can, usually my time whether sick or not, dictates that I don’t really have time to squeeze in too much conversation with people who may not ever actually be involved in my offline life.  Many people, who follow me on the social networks I am on, are lucky to get a reply from me about once a month, but certainly over two thirds of my followers don’t even get that much attention from me.  It is confusing for me to understand how many people in the world of social media have full-time jobs, families, write as a side-line and still have time to spend twiddling away on mobile phones talking to thirty individuals a day and manage to remember and even get upset if someone has not replied to them for a set time frame and will go to the extent of deleting the said individual.  Where do people find the time to do all this and remember thousands of individual on their social media following page?  I can’t be like that – no more than I can do what my aunt and cousins constantly request of me, which is to take photographs and videos all the time on my mobile phone to prove to them that this certain day was as great as I said it was, that I did indeed go to the Severn Valley or Dudley Zoo, they want photographic proof all the time and I am just too busy living the moment to remember to pull out my phone every five minutes and I am made to feel alien because of it.  Is it really so weird to enjoy the moment without pushing buttons and capturing it all for the world to see?  Must I really take a photograph of that gluten and lactose free cheeseburger I found in Rugby that time?

I feel the world of social media can sometimes become too silly and compulsive.  By trying to capture the moment it often ruins the moment and makes the moment less personal – it’s that way for me anyway!

I like checking twitter and seeing who has made effort to try and communicate with me and I do try to reply to those I feel have something worth replying to.  Most of the time however I just say thanks for the heads up or thank you, or whatever it is usually just short and sweet and usually I hardly get anything back other than the same old same old.  I will always praise where I feel praise is truly due, I will not make a polite comment just to boost someone’s ego that is not me, I am very honest about my opinions of other people’s work.  I am not just nice for the sake of it, if I comment nicely to you, then you in my opinion are worthy of that comment and you should feel proud of yourself for doing great work.  My criticisms are there to help you along, improve you and I don’t usually bite that hard when I do so, I am tactful.  I am not like the guy who once told me that they believe that something I wrote was a one night bender after booze, that is just rotten and cruel and not very specific and constructive, it is just criticism for criticisms sake.

I have never understood the culture of follow Fridays.  I like and appreciate that people share my name with their followers, but I often wonder why?  I don’t do that myself and some people have unfollowed me for it as I rarely mention other people in my tweets unless I am specifically talking about them or to them.  I only follow people I find interesting and that goes for all social media and blogs, if I am following you, I genuinely like your work and I am interested in you as a person.  I am also quite an introvert with new people so it can take me awhile to try and make a conversation if I am the first one to start any kind of conversation.  I am a cautious person when conversing with new people because I have been raised in a very aggressive, uptight and insecure environment, where a relative of mine had their throat cut once just for looking at a person and allegedly smirking at them.  So you can understand my caution.

I am not anti-social, I just find it difficult to meet thousands of people’s expectations all of the time, every single day, when they are not actually involved in my personal offline life.  I always try to visit other bloggers who follow me here, but sometimes it is not always easy to get around some of their blogs and I am a bit of a luddite, if technology is difficult I don’t give it much time before I think “ugh, I can’t get my head around this, I have to go” because complicated technology makes me quick to anger.  Some people over complicate their blogs and that is where I think a lot of bloggers go wrong.  They hide things behind this tab and that tab and every time you go to their page their oldest introduction page is the first thing you see – whereas really it should be your latest post.  Because some people have so many tabs that their latest post could be hidden behind any twenty of those tabs, not the one you think it might be.  It is a crying shame as there is a lot of talent out there with people who just don’t know how to present their work appropriately.

Another thing which sort of upsets me regarding social media is the idea that because I am a writer, I must have had a book published somewhere, anywhere and that I must promote it to these other writers who are following me and if I never do that (and I never have) they question my authenticity as an author.  “Oh, but your profile says you are a writer and you follow me and you have retweeted my promotions I need to do the same for you”, yes but the problem is I am unpublished formally and I unlikely to have anything published within the next two to three years, realistically.  So they start to tell me how Amazon is a great medium for becoming published or other self-publishing places, I keep telling them I am not yet ready for this because there are some personal issues I need to clear up first but they never understand.

You see, I have been told that there are some medical conditions the doctor suspects I have, but our area has a two year waiting list to investigate anything let alone get to have a first appointment with a consultant – nobody is ready to hear that because they want my work and they want it now and these are just other writers, they are not even agents, publishers or anything like that.  It is both confusing and frustrating.

There are agents and publishers who know of me and like what little they know of me so far and they do try to send me prep talks from time to time, but really they know my situation too.  For the past several weeks I have been confined to my bed and house, my illness, whatever it is, is taking such a big toll on my body I can barely move these days.  So, I am fearful of many things because of this – as I spoke about yesterday, I am fearful of death.  I do fear that something has a tight grip on my body that maybe nobody will see the novels I have finished or half finished, the only thing the world will ever see is whatever I can manage to stick here on my blog. 

I am that sick that I am not even planning a future anymore.

Things should improve in about two or three years’ time, I don’t know why I have this idea that it will, because there is something at the back of my mind which keeps telling me that in 2023 everything will improve.  I don’t understand what it is, maybe it is the subconscious realisation that in three years’ time I will be forty and I have always heard people say and I have always believed it to be true as I have witnessed several women in my past, that life begins at forty.  So, maybe it is that, maybe it is something in the universe telling me it is just a health blip which will correct itself in three years’ time or maybe I am just being dumb.  But there is definitely something biting at me that my life will vastly improve by 2023.

 

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TASKS AND PASTS

I have this book called “365 Ways to get you writing daily, inspiration and advice for creative writers” by Jane Cooper.  I have been thinking about what to post on my blog to keep it active, I am not sure I want to post up my snippets for actual things I am planning as I find it a bit personal, but I thought that perhaps these tasks would help me show you my creative writing so you can critique me, thus help improve my style or enhance my work. 

I don’t lack confidence in my writing, because each to their own and I understand that not everyone is going to like my stuff, but I do want to be more involved with my blog and I do want to know if my writing does need more improvement.

I don’t want to worry about grammar and punctuation at the moment, because the priority for me is to get writing and be more active in the creative community than be a pedant, because being a pedant (and coming across many other pedants) was what made my writing stop for several years.

I have many friends who are artists and not many that are writers and the artists tell me that the worst thing that any artist can do with their creativity is to try and make it too perfect before it’s finished, because then you lose the heart and soul of your work and nobody will like it then; writing is not different, many writers like to look at themselves as a form of artist and visual artists like to consider anyone who is creative as an artist too!  Actors = performance artists, writers are verbal artists, painters are visual artists, singers are music artists, you get the picture – if you are creating something or trying to show something in a new light YOU ARE AN ARTIST!

One big thing I learned recently is that my writing from 2002 is completely different than the writing I did in 2008 and though you would think that I had been writing that time and had obviously improved my craft, you would be wrong!  I became a pedant and people who read my work were also pedants, they were grammar Nazis and they were not interested in my genre and they were going on about honing in on my style of writing before I actually wrote the stories I aimed to write to the extent, I found I lost my heart and soul and so did my stories.  I became a show don’t tell writer who turned into a tell don’t show writer and I didn’t know it until only last month, when I was revising three neglected stories to revive, two of which came from before 2002 and were rewritten in 2008 and 2016 – that is how I could tell that I had lost my way. 

I also sat back and wondered about why I had lost my passion to research, read and write?  I blamed a lot of things and people for it, but ultimately it was because I had lost heart and I was no longer giving momentum to those three things that used to bring me joy every day.

I lost contact with several of my favourite forums and journal sites because of some spiteful bullying I endured at the beginning of 2009 from a scorned ex – that broke my network big time, I had developed decade long relationships which were broken down very quickly with his childish games and I just didn’t want to be anywhere where his energy had been at the time.  This caused me to go into what I call “Creative Isolation”.  I had only two creative friends who stuck by me after that event which spread across thirty websites!

But anyway, the blame still lies with me.  I allowed this to affect me in such a way that I created this creative bubble around myself, thus my writing suffered due to lack of oxygen and lack of oxygen made me lose momentum and once momentum is gone it takes will power and a lot of pushing yourself to get it back again, but you can get it back again. 

This is why I mentioned the above book.  I am going to do tasks in the book and post them on my blog for you to critique, I may not respond for a few days at times, as I often forget to check my mails and comments, but I will get to you in time.  I take my craft very seriously, sometimes too seriously that I forget sometimes that it is supposed to be fun.  I know the book has 365 ways, but I will not do one task per day, I may do many a day or my own random tasks whenever I can.

Another post may follow tonight, dependant on what’s going on with the family tonight; We’ve been pretty busy lately and it’s not just me who appears to be sick either, so bear with me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing style and narratives

Many new writers write in a first person narrative; this is very limiting and produces problems if they want to include other characters opinions and viewpoints.  The main character of a story isn’t psychic, so wouldn’t know the real reasons behind their nemesis or co-inhabitants reactions to various events.

When I first started writing my vampire dark fantasy series, I was also to blame for writing in a first person narrative; this made it very complicated for me to introduce new characters with their personalities effectively.  My aim was to write the series as a series of biographies of individual characters from the same story, but this wouldn’t work well as it had already more or less been done by Anne Rice and I wanted to be different.  I found it much easier moving onto the third person narrative, which is what’s happening in my rewrites.

Writing in a third person narrative gives me more flexibility for my story’s direction.  I can skip viewpoints and characters at will, I can write about how everyone feels simultaneously and without too much effort.  Since writing in this style I have been able to write more words to my story daily, much more than before, alongside another technique I will tell you about shortly.

As a writer you must see yourself as a god, you are creating a world and these are your people; you’ve made them, you control them, you control events; you should be as dedicated to your creations as you are to your own god, you should be motivated by the sheer fact that your characters are waiting in limbo for how you are going to progress their lives.  But gods have two sides to them, good and bad, cruel and kind and so you should not feel too emotional about wrecking their lives, otherwise you’ll have a happy, clappy, crappy story.

Thinking about how I structure my novels, I am not the usual can of beans; I’ll share with you why;  It seems to me that most writers write a book from beginning to end, I’ve noticed I can’t dedicated myself to surprises. 

I write down my ideas in my ideas book, then I put up bullet point of events on my computer that I’d like to see happen in my story; then as scenes come to mind I write them, whilst trying to write from beginning to end, then I sew it altogether and sometimes I revise but mostly I don’t – in fact, everything that’s posted on this blog is never revised, I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I don’t have faith that what I write up here is my best work?

I do have massive flaws grammatically, punctuation wise and possibly prattle on too much needlessly, this is mainly down to the fact that I’ve had limited formal education.  My mother home educated me mostly and had a problem with me studying in college and university so I was put under pressure to become a drop out on seven occasions.

I must remind you too, that my main tutor at home was my mother who is dyslexic; yet I still managed to do a distance learning course when I was nineteen and got my only qualification in the world of a B grade GCSE for English Literature.

So, if I am not fine-tuned or polished, those are my excuses and I learn through tenderness.  This is why I beg for criticism and comments; I need help fine tuning my art of writing.

 

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For you are not perfect, I say

A tragedy is when humanity has lost its compassion for its fellow man

To cause him grief whenever you can

To comment of how he looks and lives

Yet you know him not

How can you do this, will you stop?

You are tearing lives apart by words

You have the voice of cowards

If things were turned and you were scorned for how you looked today

How would you feel when you get home, after you’ve walked away?

For you are not perfect, I say

It isn’t a laugh when you’ve said those things about a person’s weight

It isn’t funny when you’ve hurt your classmate

For her scars

For her red hair

It doesn’t matter, but you should care

A joke is not the excuse for causing her despair

Stop this hatred, stop it soon

Or someday judgment will bring your doom

I’m not talking religion here, but someday nasty words you’ll hear

And it won’t be you who is giving them

It will be another who’s chosen you to condemn

You are not perfect I say, but what you have now; let’s hope you keep it, hey?

For you never know what might happen

An accident to your face may rapine

I give you no threats but a warning

Don’t monish peoples adorning

For you are not perfect, I say.

 

 

 

 

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