Thursday, 27 August 2009

Why Blog?

Why should people blog?

This question came up recently on a writers' board and it got me thinking. There have to be thousands if not millions of blogs out there - some of them hardly ever read by another living soul - so why do we all bother?

Well, I blog for my own benefit as much as anyone else's. It's a good discipline to write with the possibility (however remote) of being read. And it's fun. Sometimes it gives me a chance to show off about my successes, moan about my problems and vent some spleen when some injustice winds me up. It's frustrating sometimes not being able to say exactly what I want to say, for fear of giving offence or being sued. But that's part of the discipline. Writing is more than just pleasing yourself, after all. You have to have the reader uppermost in your mind at all times.

There are lots of different types of blog out there. The most boring ones are not the personal, meandering type, but the ones that nag endlessly about the same few subjects. When the blogger stops writing about their own impressions and starts shamelessly preaching I get turned off. So in my opinion some of the most high profile blogs are actually the worst. Small scale and personal are usually the more interesting. I'd far rather read one person's honest reactions than be lectured.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


I love learning new words and urban dictionary is a good source. Here's one I encountered lately:


According to the urban dictionary it means:
The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss.

And it got me wondering how many people get published not because of their talent or burning ambition but because of assmosis. There is no shortage of people in the business to suck up to: agents, editors, other published authors. Anyone in fact who can put a word in for you.

Networking is generally regarded as a Good Thing, but at what point does it become assmosis? I've seen it on some writers' boards - the double standard that says We the Publishers and Published are better than You the Wannabe and so you better tug your forelock and bend the knee and hope we like you enough to give you a chance. And a lot of wannabes play the game for all it's worth, showering praise and sucking up shamlessly as if their very life depended on it. Yes, plenty of wannabes play the game, but does it get you anywhere in the end?

I'd like to think not. That kind of grovelling really turns my stomach. And surely writers should be more concerned with Truth than demeaning themselves this way?

But people being people, I'm sure there are those who rise to the top by sucking the hardest. So if you lack talent or driving ambition, have you ever considered assmosis?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Where do you get your stories?

I'm at the brainstorming stage - looking for likely threads to weave into my next project. What I need are interesting characters, intriguing plot lines, problems to be worked out and lessons to be learned. In some ways I love this part of the process the best. After months - even years - of being hamstrung by the limitations of a project I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. I can run around grabbing chocolate and jelly beans from every glass jar and tossing them into the mix. Nothing is out of bounds, nothing too extraordinary; everything is allowed.

But where do these ideas come from?

A useful tool I'm trying this time is tarot cards. Pull a few at random and try to arrange them into a story. Here's a useful site I discovered that explains the process. It's basically a randomiser, but anything that helps break the linear mode of thinking is a big help. I'm trying to be open to the process and let my imagination have free reign.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

As Truman Capote once said...

"Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it."

That's kind of how I feel at the moment. I finally sent off the revision on Thursday and since then I'm like a dog with no tail. In the past I've been left with lingering doubts and fears - symptoms no doubt of unfinished business. You know the sort of thing: waking in the night in a sweat thinking should I have said this? or why didn't I do that?. But not this time. For some reason it really feels finished and it's almost like a bereavement.

Of course, that'll only last until the next rewrite...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Not been blogging much lately because

a. it's hot

b. I'm very busy

OK, I know everybody's busy, but this week I'm especially busy. For one thing I made the mistake of entering a flash fiction competition on Critter's Bar a couple of weeks back and won - don't get too excited, there were only 2 entries so it's not such a huge achievement - but the upshot was I had to judge the next one. It's the first time I've had to judge anything and let me tell you it's a lot harder than it looks! All the stories were clever and well written so I felt a right heel picking one over the others, but what can you do?

So that's one thing I've had on my mind. The other is I've more or less finished my revision of the novel. I've printed it out and this week I'm line reading it all in its entirety before sending it into the ether. How do I feel about this? Well, it's a curious mixture. I expected to feel elated but it alternates with bouts of pessimism. So far I've read about half and it's Not Bad, if I say so myself. But then, what do I know?

Anyway, once I've ironed out the glaring typos and other miscellaneous mistakes it'll be winging its way and then it's back to nail biting in a big way.

Why am I doing this again...?