Bad Day

WiP Day

There comes a point, in every writer’s life, when you look at a segment of plot and realise, with a heavy heart, that it is absolutely dire. After 16 years, I’ve revisited a story that is very important and yesterday, came to the first truly shoddy section of work. [*] I can’t in good conscience allow it to remain as it does, but the dialogue and exposition that takes place is pretty much vital to the overall development. So, not without a measure of trepidation, there has to be a rewrite of the entire thing from the ground up.

Once upon a time, this would have been enough for me to abandon the project. In fact, I know that’s the reason this has never been finished, time and again. At every point a problematic issue occurred, where hard-written words would have to be destroyed, panic would ensue. The epiphany that resulted from this bombshell yesterday has been making ripples all over the place this morning, and that is NEVER going to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s released a creative block that’s been hamstringing real progress for some time.

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I don’t care who you are, and how brilliant you believe work to be, everything can benefit from not being just written and presented as is. With blogging, goalposts can shift a bit, depending on the time of day something is written, or the creativity level you happen to be at when the post takes form. With fiction, rules are very different, because what matters above all else is your ability to maintain a believable narrative state. You’re selling this fiction to a reader, and to make it really immerse, there has to be a total belief that what you’ve presented is the best work possible.

That seems to matter a lot more in the realms of science fiction, which is where my story probably would be placed if they were selling it in a bookshop. Therefore, this section needs to be completely re-thought. I’m doing that right now, as it happens, as this is being typed. The scene in my head replays, over and again, working out what moves and stays, where characters shift, how dialogue alters. As soon as the sequence feels right everything is likely to be dropped so it can be plotted: that’s why the notebook’s here (/points) in case that happens when I’m out of PC range.

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Once upon a time there was a mistaken belief that all that really mattered was a decent story: now I grasp that with the best plot in the world, shoddy presentation simply make everything look bad. All the stuff learnt, over years of writing non-fiction, leads to the inevitable conclusion that sometimes, it doesn’t matter one iota how brilliant the prose is if the point you want to make is lost or indistinct. In my case, I’m explaining a central conceit of my novel here, and not doing a decent job at all. I’m 90% certain this is the right place to be doing it in (setting is solid) and the people doing the explaining are the right ones (characters are sound) it is just how those two things combine that is lacking.

Piece by piece, combining the factors required to make this work something that really matters, it will be completed in the timescale I put aside to do so. That, in itself, will possibly end up being the biggest triumph of all.


[*] Let’s face facts, it could all be shit, I have no idea, but there has to be a benchmark somewhere ^^

Still Alive

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My mini break seems a lifetime away, it must be said, after the last week, but I am now almost in a position to feel organised again. As a result, here’s the changed layout to the Website week as a result of the leaves on my Gym walk already beginning to change colour. It may not be September until Thursday, but Autumn is definitely on its way.

Monday

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The Great Social Media Experiment’s about to shift up a gear: as of midnight tonight my first legitimate ad campaign begins to run in an attempt to generate interest for Patreon. We’ll be following its progress, looking at how my attempts at engagement are going and continuing to demystify the sometimes murky practices within Social media.  I’m also widening the #GSME’s remit to cover a lot more stuff with general interest to those of you reading and using Twitter on a daily basis.

Tuesday

Origins

The Alt History Channel is shifting to Tuesdays, and with it comes the introduction of Great Fanfic Wot I have Wrote to pad out the fact my life’s not that interesting. Watch out for the first piece of fiction coming next week…

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Wednesday

Book of the Month

Yes, I KNOW I still don’t have titles up for September’s Book of the Month, but there is at least a text chosen, so that’s progress. 😀 This week’s task in what is a free Wednesday is to get an archive page up for the old Essays and Short stories.

Thursday

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I’ve been struggling to get content up post essay days (as you know, brain dead after a  deadline) and it seems sensible to schedule in some breathing space amongst all the work so, from now on, Thursdays are my WIP days. This means making valuable time for novels, poetry and everything else I want to be working on but normally can’t find the opportunity to. If I make one day a week just for writing the stuff I love? How can this possibly be a bad thing?

PS: Don’t use this time to write more Bond fanfiction. WALK AWAY NOW.

FRIDAY

don't be afraid of the Dark . . .

This has become the day when I scrape my Haiku and Micropoetry off Twitter and stick it here, and hopefully this will also give more time to explain the reasoning and process behind my writing. We’ll see how that goes starting this Friday, and work from there.


That’s the schedule that will run from now until the end of October. We’ll have some special events for the UK’s National Poetry Day that happens in late September, and I’m intending to take a month out of the normal schedule completely in November to make NaNoWriMo really count for 2017. More details on those will be available closer to their start dates.

The plan remains to still take weekends off, but that may change depending on projects and desire. For now however, I have a contest deadline to hit with a 40 line poem by Thursday, so time to get back to work. I’ll see you back here bright and early tomorrow morning.

Summer Holiday

Origins

This week, I am winding down for a week away which begins (unofficially) on the 16th. As a result, there’ll be the scheduled essay on Wednesday, but only intermittent service after that until the 23rd. It’s okay, you’ll manage without me, and there’s plenty of scheduled content via Twitter to keep everybody occupied in the meantime. However, whilst I’m away, there are other things afoot…

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A while ago, someone asked me if I’d be willing to share some of my fan fiction pieces. Well, I’ve been looking at possible candidates and there’s stuff I’m willing to admit were mine, and that I’m proud of after all this time. This includes pieces for CSI, Doctor Who, 24 and The West Wing, which I’m working on compiling currently and which will be given their own home on the site across the Autumn.

Watch this space for more details once I return from holiday next week.

 

Find Time

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I’ve been struggling to keep up with the goals set for writing here. I know why this is, and if all goes well today will be the last time I have to retroactively post to make sure things are effectively up to date. Of course, it will help that as of Thursday I’m being forced to take a long weekend away, because that makes me have to decamp to the basics of writing, surviving with only limited internet access. Many other people are beginning to grasp the dangers of an ‘always on’ virtual world: for me it is the distraction away from much needed focus. My saving grace, finally, is learning the Joy of Scheduling.

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My plan going forward is to write as much as possible and then forget about it, allowing scheduling to create the impression I’m always here. That works particularly well with poetry, but not with the more organic work I’m doing. Therefore, it is time to see how much I can produce ahead of requirement and make it look as if it is ‘fresh’, even when that’s not the case. What is required, at this point in time, is a stock of posts that are generic enough to work as ‘filler’ but still at the same quality I’d produce if ‘live.’ Then, I can simply introduce them when I’m either pushed for time or just don’t have the desire to write.

This is, on reflection, not the kind of stuff one should be admitting out loud, but that’s exactly how all other branches of writing work. It is not all done on the day, a phenomenal amount of content is recycled and it is why I used to earn extra cash by writing copy for websites. There’s a massive business in producing for other people, but I couldn’t stand doing it because there was a resentment at being paid a pittance to produce things I didn’t care about. In the end, looking at how little money would be exchanged for often thousands of words, it is simply easier to write my own content for nothing with the satisfaction that everything is my own.

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Having this work also act as a therapeutic means of dealing with daily pressure has become the unexpected bonus. Poetry especially is less and less about struggling to find subject matter or appropriate construction. Non fiction posts are less cluttered and structure has become as important as content. What this says to me is that this process, when imposed as habit, really can produce consistent and increasingly satisfying results. I’m calmer, more relaxed and generally happier: some of that is exercise related, but a lot comes from the freedom I now have to write about everything and anything.

Once upon a time, I would have felt apprehension at being so far behind myself but now, with a well-constructed list and a decent glob of determination, anything is possible. I’ll be looking at my IoW goals and objectives at the end of September to see what I can improve going forward, with a sense that will mean more original work and not less. Right now, I truly think anything could be possible with enough thought and planning.

Let’s see.

Life on Planet Groove

BIGGER

This week, I have finally been granted the free space and time to do more here than just repost poetry. In part that’s a lot to do with being able to organize myself to a reasonable standard, but it is more about how I’m adjusting to a life where games are no longer a priority. Normally, in a quiet period I would have fired up the UI and caught up: today, I need to write. It is amazing how much time gets sucked up by the desire to play, especially when content is piled on you to the point where it becomes impossible to keep up. Freeing myself from that is having unexpected and brilliant consequences.

In the last month, I’ve produced some of the best work I’ve ever written. I know that might sound like hyperbole, but deep down I know it to be true: aware that by freeing brain from the tyranny of needing to feel a part of something I already belong to, everything just gets easier. There’s another factor at play too: words are doing strange things to the very fabric of my mind. It’s not me getting all sci-fi on your arses, don’t worry. By spending every day thinking about poetry, it becomes easier. Rhymes slip with increasing ease from the fingers, the structure of pieces literally condenses in front of my eyes. I can tell what’s bad and good without the need to stress too much about content.

It is almost as if I am changing into a better writer simply by every word that’s written.

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The problem, of course, is that pretty much everybody else judges what constitutes success by criteria that involve you making money for what you do. It doesn’t matter how good I think I am, the test comes when other people are involved. So far, at least if the Patreon rewards are an indicator, I am at least doing something right. However, that only works to a point: I didn’t want to ask people to sponsor my blogging, because I wasn’t sure where it is all going to go to begin with. However, as of next week, my gaming site becomes the #3 priority behind the personal site and this one. Yesterday, for the first time in seven years, I got more hits on the other two than I did for pixel-related observation, and I won’t lie. I was REALLY happy.

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I used to really enjoy writing about Warcraft, I won’t lie. Now I’ve made a promise only to do so when I have something relevant to say or (as is the case currently) I have a Twitter Poll running. The toxic nature of a section of players won’t be going away any time soon, however many tools are put in place to prevent it. More importantly however the unstoppable juggernaut of esports simply has no appeal at all. If I have a choice to sit down I’d rather watch a film, TV show or read a book. I listen to nearly all conventional sports and don’t watch them, which allows me to write and ‘spectate’ simultaneously. Listening to esports may as well be a foreign language to me. I realise how many people are excited by this future, but as I would rather be exercising than sitting watching other people play computer games?

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I thought today it was worth writing all this down, for no other reason than it forms a bigger picture around why everything is shifting the way it is. I, like many other people in my Social media sphere love games, yet have decreasing amounts of time to spend playing them. Hanging around with people who do is, like it or not, a great way to still feel part of a community albeit vicariously. I’ll need to be careful in future how and what I respond to (leant that lesson now, not doing that again) but I hope I’ll still be welcome to give stuff away and hang about. There are however absolutely no illusions as to my desires. I can post motivational quotes as a way to use my extensive screenshot collection. I can try and make people think. Most importantly, as pretty much all of my friends still play, I can enjoy them doing just that, even if I don’t do so myself.

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One particular critic continues to enjoy calling me a fraud. They will be reading this post right now, and to them I’ll say what I’ve said since the first time they tried to chase me away from their game that I’ve devalued with my work. People like you are the reason I keep going. Those who think that threats, anger and their own narrow mindedness will eventually win and people like me will leave… well, nope, still not happening. My next plan, all things being equal, is to work towards becoming Twitter verified and when that happens, I have no doubt nothing at all will change. The bad people don’t go away, you cannot just click fingers and remove all sources of grief from your existence.

I like what is happening here, and long may it continue.

GSME #19 :: Ready to Go

social-media-asides

I am finally preparing myself for the inevitable: producing a Tweet for the sole purpose of promoting. I’ve been doing some research and it is going to need not simply a straight verbatim reproduction of hashtags and the right combination of words. In fact, to get this message to not only be noticed but pay for itself, there are a positive plethora of guides available to insure I get the ‘point.’

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From https://smartbirdsocial.net/get-your-tweets-noticed/

It isn’t however just the Tweet that matters. If I’m going to do this and make the maximum amount of mileage from the process, EVERYTHING needs a redesign. That will require a new Twitter header, alteration of my biography… in fact, pretty much the entire picture needs a once over to maximise the impact of dropping cash. For someone who is really not that fussed at all about their own self image, I understand only too well how much the virtual one matters. It’s a continuous, constant reassessment of multiple platforms: what looks best, what is attractive to the majority (and not you) and how to use the right combination of image ad word to make your ‘brand’ stand out.

Like it or not, I am a Brand, which means it is time to learn to sell myself.

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I love this graphic, and for many years the concept operated as a benchmark in my gaming existence: is the effort expended enough to balance my final outcome? Will I, once I decide on the budget for reach of my Tweet, pick the right ‘marketplace’ to shove it in? Well, that’s easy. I have a focus, know which accounts I’m looking to use as an indicator of what constitutes the right space to ‘sell’ in. After that, this is the biggest fumble in the dark I’ve ever made. You can just take the money and hope. It is like everything else in life: you don’t take the chance, you’ll never know.

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At least I’m finally getting the hang of the engagement game.

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It might be up and down like a fiddlers elbow, but the trend is positive. The days I don’t do polls, or I take time off to be elsewhere than Social media are now utterly apparent. Of course, there will be those reading this crying foul and accusing me of manipulation people for my own ends… ah yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I am so good at making random individuals bow to my will that yeah, just having these ideas should be enough to render me capable of millionaire status overnight. Except clearly I’m not rich, and people have to want to be part of your scheme. It is a fuck of a lot of extremely hard work and listening to people who know what they are doing. That’s how I’ve got here.

Hard work and good advice are really what matters at this stage, and I’m ready with both. You can watch the changes take place in the next few weeks and then, it’ll be time to start the self-promotion bandwagon on its way…

Coming Up

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If you’re a Patreon, you’ll already know that it isn’t long now until the first of my Book of the Month content is available. What you won’t know is what else is being offered, quite apart from the special weekly poetry and micro-prose options. We mentioned participation via visual prompts yesterday: as one of my Patrons rightly pointed out, it doesn’t need to be a moving image that acts as a catalyst. With that in mind, lets lay out how the weeks will pan out going forward. I’m still working on graphics for these features (just me here as the one woman staff) and they’ll be added when complete.

MONDAY:

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Many people have asked me about how I write, why I do and the experiences that have shaped arrival at this point. Monday’s posts, for the foreseeable future, will present a rough autobiographical journey from my first inklings of being a storyteller to where we now stand.

TUESDAY & THURSDAY:
GENERAL WRITING POST.

Whatever crosses my mind, writers and writing in the News, general stream of consciousness gubbins… gonna be a pretty mixed bag on these two days. Might try some longer form poetry or chain up some prose in a rough sequence… we will see. This is the area where I’ll allow spontaneity to shine, and which will probably be written ‘live.’

WEDNESDAY:

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Wednesday is Patreon Day, and that means a scheduled essay or piece of fiction, depending on what time of the month we’re in. To get more details of this, visit my Patreon page, and if you haven’t already, perhaps consider a pledge. However, there will be a second post on Wednesdays, which will pick up a word and consider how its definition has changed in recent years.

FRIDAY:
‘MAKE YOUR OWN CONTENT’ DAY
& NOVEL UPDATES

I’ve still not thought up a snappier title for this (working on it!) but Fridays will be when you can suggest images as prompts to next week’s poetry. This will also be the day when I keep you up to date with Novel developments and what I’m currently working on in terms of fictions generally.

I take the weekends off, as a rule, but that’s because there has to be some time to write for pleasure as well as business. You might get a post Saturday and Sunday from time to time, so we’ll pretend this is every day and say no more about it, ‘kay?


That’s the basic plan going forward, but I will review things again at the start of October. The key I have found to keeping things interesting is continuous reassessment, and I’ll be listening carefully to feedback and suggestions on every step of the way.

For now, however, this will do for starters

GSME #11 :: Personal Jesus

social-media-asides

I should apologise for being a couple of days late with the Guide, but as history can show this as being Monday when it is in fact Wednesday, I doubt there’s too much of a fuss to be caused anyway. Health issues have inevitably derailed my progress, but they’re also a powerful means of driving social media. If you didn’t know already, drama generates interest.

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Let’s be honest here: I’d rather not have all this fuss and bother right before one of the most important periods of my life, but the Universe does like to mess with your head at the most inopportune of moments. Therefore, my views last week were exclusively driven by the fact I’ve become my own news story, like it or not. I could choose to read these figures in an number of ways, but at this point I’d just like to think that more people than normal care about my welfare, and that’s where we’ll stop. The better news, if we look at the graph on the right, is that I’m keeping close to exceeding a 2% engagement rate.

How am doing that is part of a structured change to my Tweeting habits.

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This Tweet has a picture, from my phone, of me waiting in the Hospital to see my surgeon on Monday night. If I’d have posted it *without* the picture it would have received less interest, because what the image does is make this less about having a conversation. The image, like it or not, draws you into my story. That’s why SnapChat and Instagram are as immensely useful and compulsive as they undoubtedly are as tools for generating traffic: the brain, in most cases, reacts more favourably to visual stimulus. This means that if I post something with a GIF attached, more people will read it, as is the case with a screenshot or a photograph. Once upon a time mobile download limits might restrict this as useful, but as WiFi becomes de rigeur and mobile devices become portable newspapers and magazines as well as gaming rigs… use more pictures.

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On the flip side, one well worded, concise and honest tweet is worth an entire blog post.

Picture + personal affirmation, in this case, results in a 9.3% engagement rate, if you didn’t believe me when I said that pictures sell. On the flip side however, being overly personal can turn people off. There’s the individual on my feed for instance who’s almost permanently ragging on their ex-partner for being horrible, and although there is a continued measure of sympathy for the situation, that person does go on Mute when it all gets too much. As is the case with life, balance is everything.

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Finally, you don’t need pictures, a personal dilemma or the end of the World to engage an audience. With the right words, a bit of thought and some planning, you can use Twitter to write blog posts, by ‘threading’ a series of tweets together with an appropriate picture at the top. This method of communication is proving increasingly useful for me, and I’ll be making the most of the format going forward. This week, there’s not much else to report really, and with an operation scheduled for the 16th, it will be a little quiet around these parts on Monday anyway.

Time to go practice what we’ve learnt and be ready to start again once all this drama is over.

Calling all the Heroes

writing-as-therapy

Today was fucking huge, and here’s why:

A Schedule has been Established.

I have scheduled Haiku and Micropoetry until Thursday, which is fantastic because it now grants a couple of days clear air between me and more content. I have everything ready to start introducing the strands of my Project, and the Patreon rewards… well, nobody has said anything bad. I’ll assume that if anybody complains, I’ll hear about it soon enough, but as (right now) I’m preaching to those already converted… they’re going to be happy.

I Feel less Guilty about the Gaming Site.

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Completely by accident, I’ve worked out a way to go back to seven day a week posting and to cover quiet days when there’s no Warcraft news. This also requires scheduling, but I’m already planning to start this on Thursday. It makes me happy because I’m not disappointing what remains a small yet loyal audience. This matters more than I realised, and having a means to keep my small yet dedicated audience interest remains important.

I Can Do This, People.

I don’t care that nobody ‘likes’ my poems. I just need to write them, one after the other, so that I can learn to trust my voice. I need to use different forms, be clever with construction and content, for my own happiness and nobody else’s. I don’t need the validation what I’m doing is popular or accessible. These are my words, in my own way, and if someone notices the multiple layers of subtlety? So be it.

I have taken a strong and confident first step and that is all that matters right now.

I Saw the Light

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I spend a lot of time hanging around artists. It has become something of a cause célèbre for me: however, if there was less time admiring others’ work and more time perfecting my own, shit would get done far faster. Right now, however, inspiration is lacking just about everywhere: art provides that fix, vicariously reminding that passion can be seen and felt in pixels and pen strokes. Encouraging others is, like it or not, a greater source of satisfaction than staring at my own inadequate efforts and finding the means to become better. This is, I now realise, a writing slump. Non fiction fortunately does not seem to be suffering from the same malaise, and when critical thinking is applied to the reason, an answer as to why isn’t far behind.

Fictional worlds currently are not required as ‘escape.’

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Time for some brutal honesty: those imaginary spaces were created in my youth, more often than not, to run from from the less than happy domestic situation I found myself within. Only when my kids were born did circumstances dictate that imagination could be used just as it was: the work I have stretching from 2000 until now does, in nearly all cases, exhibit the same basic qualities. There are great ideas but never the ability to complete on them because the confidence in my work simply did not exist. Last year, I found the means to move forward with the help of Ian Fleming. The temptation would have been at this point to go full on fiction projects but in my heart the words now exist in two places where before only one mattered.

I’ve really started to gain pleasure in objective writing away from fiction.

That’s why this new project was born: it allows me to effectively continue therapy for myself using the written word. Where that leaves fiction however is both nebulous and uncertain. Last night after a family row I began and subsequently made worse, I sat alone in the bedroom and grasped that sometimes, there is a reason why everything needs to happen in a certain way. My desire to write has at no point diminished, in fact it grows greater with every passing day. However, what is written has become as significant as my favourite colour or most essential piece of music for relaxation. All the fictional ideas remain part of what I am, but with the practical skills learnt through non-fiction work there is now the means to re-invent each one as something better.

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The best way I can find to describe this is what I would imagine the process an artist goes through when learning the fundamentals of their craft. Learning to ‘see’ and draw people realistically might seem a waste of time to the Anime nut, but that basic grasp of anatomy and proportion, when learnt, allows you to think outside the constraints of accepted norms. Once you learn how to do something so well it can happen in your sleep, then comes the ability to step outside the restraints set upon a mind that looks simply at one thing alone. This, it is becoming apparent, is where I am now.

There was other stuff last night that surfaced, things as yet there is discomfort thinking about or even writing down. I want to mark yesterday as a watershed, moment when the reality of what sits in my head was finally reconciled with how I act when things happen that are out of my control. Words have give the chance to explain feelings, but until there’s clarity on exactly what those are, all that remains is silence. Some days, a lot of money would be offered to find the means for every feeling and emotion not to happen simultaneously, yet that’s where I am. Once everything can be sorted, then there’ll be the means to explain, but not today.

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I still need writing as therapy, but not in the same way this journey began. As I move forward, the desires have altered, needs sublimating into something more complicated than I’d first grasped. This isn’t just about telling stories any more: I am the story.

There is a lot more here to be considered.