Technology driven stagnation

9, November,2011

I have stalled.  I was skipping along until I had a mismatch of technology.

On the train (where I get a lot of writting done) I use Evernote on my iPad, but at home I use Ywriter (free- thank you Simon Hayes who has a YA Spacejock book out).

I got the structure right but transferring files and managing versions became a pain.  I started looking for a different solution, then kind of just stopped.

What I am waiting for is a good cheap Win 7 tablet to replace the iPad


All the various articles/blogs/podcasts I come in contact with mention writer’s block at some point.

Does it exist?  What do you do about it?  Writing your way out of it?   This sometimes overlaps with the issue of finding/making time to write.

I personally find the quickest way to writer’s block is having an enjoyable life.  When I go home and I want to spend time with my family, my job stimulates me to the point that sometimes I sneak into my study in the evening to check my email.

When I sit down to write it can be an effort, I’m not sure where I was up to, the ideas don’t seem to flow, and you know, I don’t care because I’m having a good life.

I’m a dilettante writer, there’s no publisher knocking at my door.  My artistic emo soul isn’t being tortured by my lack of muse.

So if you find youself blocked, maybe you should look around and thank the fates for blessing you with so many distractions.

Now, go clean up the shed, it’s good for your soul.

Remember the 6 Ps

30, June,2008

I will get around to posting something of substance soon.  I’ve been a bit preoccupied by the business of life.  Rest assured by MS is still a pile of crap – everytime I pick it up I find a new major flaw.

As I flick through it I’m reminded of what my Father in law (ex police Search and Rescue) always tells me before I go on a hike “Remember the 6 Ps – Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”.

The next novel will have a plan.

With that in mind, I’ve downloaded some (free) software designed by Simon Haynes – clever clogs programmer and author of the humorous Hla Space Jock series. 

As well as giving away some very useful software, Simon is also giving away a free electronic version of the first Hal Space Jock novel.

You can get all the goodies from here

Leave a nice comment and order his other books – what goes around should come around.

Insane Optimism 2 – Movies

17, November,2007

I’m in a quandary. I’m not sure how I’d feel about someone making a movie from my (perpetually unfinished) book.

I recently watched the movie version of Vonnegut’s, Breakfast of Champions. Big name cast. It followed the story pretty closely – a brave move. It was utter crap. I don’t think it even came out on DVD in Australia.

I also remember watching Dune (the version with Sting) . Big budget effects, good cast, completely botched screen play. A total mystery for those who hadn’t read the book and almost as bad for those who had. Total flop.
Then there’s I Robot. Big name actor, big budget. The screenplay bore no resemblance to the book. Big hit (not huge, but big).

On a recent podcast I heard a published author compare selling your movie rights to selling a car. “When it leaves the curb it’s no longer yours.”
But what if it’s a car with your name emblazoned on it, that’s being used for something evil, like transporting underprivileged children to a mime school.

Bad luck!

So perhaps it’s better to forget integrity and go for the big bucks.

With that in mind, I’m thinking Scorsese in the directors chair. The over the top, comedy bad guys could easily be vicious, Afghani terrorists, and I suppose my alternative dimension could be swapped for Las Vegas. We’ll bring Arnie out of retirement to play the scrawny, bumbling public servant. As for the dog, that could be replaced by a customised V8 Harley.

When my legion of fans complain, I’ll just blame my over priced New York agent.

One of the common questions asked by new authors is how long should my novel be.  The common number seems to be around 100,000, but not for any defined literary purpose – the reason – it’s not too thick for the printers and but still thick enough to meet the publisher’s market research requirements. 

100,000 words!  Try and find any other time in your life when producing 100,000 words was a reasonable expectation.  You could do a 3 year degree and an Masters and still get change from 100,000.

What if you have written the world’s greatest story in 40,00 words – well the advice is to add some new characters and put in some more conflict – put in more words.

What about other advice for new writers?
Set yourself targets, write 1,000 words a day, keep writing until you finish – produce words.

How I loved seeing my word count creep up.  I stuck Post It notes to my monitor tracking my monthly progress.  Then I cracked the 100k. Yippee!  I’ve done it!
  Bow down to me, the great and witty author.  Harken to me for I have written a book.
Then I looked at what I’d produced. 

My word count has been around the 100K mark for almost 2 years and I’m still not finished.

As a new writer the risk is, that instead of a story, you end up producing a 100,000 word example of bloody minded persistence.

I think, if you’re being honest, what writing your first book teaches you is you don’t yet have the skills to write a book.

There is a joke. Why do dogs lick their balls?…Because they can.

What has this got to do with writing and research? Well, recently I abandoned a book I was reading and I’m a bit annoyed about it. I feel cheated. I was quite enjoying the story.

It thought it was going to be a medieval fantasy with a slight historical leaning; it turned out to be more of a historical novel with a slight fantasy leaning. Not a big problem, lots of action, the characters were shaping up nicely.

Then the historical accuracies started to intrude.

You know, I really don’t care what they called a horse brush in 16th century France. And the Samurai – I know he’s Japanese, he’s a Samurai. I don’t need the the pace bogged down by him not understanding English and Western Culture. Set up the character, make the point and move on.

The point I’m trying to make is, the reader should not be aware of how much research you have done. A work of fiction is allowed to gloss over some things to keep the story moving.

So the message – Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

I will blather about writer’s block and mutter about muses in another post, but for now, just know that I’m not a believer in either. But Editor’s Apathy, this I know about.

At some point you will reach a stage when the deed is done, you have completed the story, the word count shows the magic 100,000. Victory!

Ok, that’s the fun part over. Now you have to sit down and edit it – I’m not talking about fixing some punctuation, I’m talking, brain swelling, soul crushing rewriting.

I will guarentee the bits you found most frustrating the first time around are the bits that need the most work, and the bits you thought were gold, are now looking a bit brassy. It’s quite acceptable at this point to indulge in short period of pouting and foot stamping (Mums and Dads, keep the study door closed, the children don’t need to see this).

I don’t really have any suggestions for making this process easier but here are some things that don’t help.

  • I know, I’ll take a 5 minute break to play this highly addictive computer game that nearly broke up my marriage 3 years ago.
    I have Drizzt’s armour and my thief is up to level 5, but how do I get the Celestial Telescope from the Hall of Wonders – is that the sun coming up?)
  • I need to look at some examples from other writers. Mmm, lets see George RR Martin’s, Song of Fire and Ice series (7 x 180,000 words) or Stephen King’s, Dark Tower (5 x 100,000).
  • Gee, the back door is sticking a bit, I’ll go and get my plane, and that cornice could do with a touch of paint. Is that light fitting loose?  My wife quite liked this phase, she just wished it kept going until the paving was finished.
  • This is my first novel so it’s not going to get published anyway. Why not just put it away and start the next one.

This is what helped me.
I need to do it because this is part of the job of writing a novel. I can’t even lay claim to having a novel in my bottom draw until I have at least edited it to a competant standard. It doesn’t count as part of the millionwords if it hasn’t been reviewed and revised. It’s like calling yourself marathon runner because you are pretty quick over 10km.  Now pull your finger out.