Monday, 30 April 2012

Writing or Publication?

Do you finish one story, grab your notebook, and look for the next? Or do you focus on promoting a single story or manuscript to gain publication?

There's plenty of us out here in the wilds of the Internet who look to become published authors. I'm one of them. However, a thought struck me the other day: What's more important? Money, being published, or the writing?

Many people focus lots of time and energy solely on getting published... How do I get published? When can I get published? When do I get the money? Agent? Reply time? And so on.

So, incentive. Why do you write? Do you want to be the person who has published a novel, with their name cut across a hardcover? Do you focus on getting paid? Being the best seller? Or is it about your character, your story, the message? Writing?

This has been knocking on the door of my thought-house for a while. When I was 25 I said to Past Allan, 'give it ten years, if you haven't had a story published, quit writing.' This has been an incentive for me AND an excuse. I've just turned 32 (I know, THE HORROR!) and still not published. It's became a negative. Never been paid for my writing. Well, I guess you need to send off your writing to get paid... So my fault right there... Yet I have written many stories. But should I give up in three years just because of missing my deadline?

I've enjoyed writing most of my little stories. That's been the real incentive I guess, the getting paid part hasn't really been the focus.

Motivation is key here, I guess. Over the years I've done a few courses, read lots of blogs and listened to people talk about writing. At the end of the day, lots of it was about either getting paid or getting published. Yep, there's been the writing part, but a large percentage of time goes into the clinical side of writing, not the fun part.

Mind you, there's also a good shout that getting paid can fuel more writing, creating time and pushing along those ideas and turning them into characters, plots and action. There's another good shout about just wanting to write stories - you have an idea, a story, and MUST write it - and finding ways to share it with others.

Honestly, I feel that if it just becomes about being published you may forget what makes that happen: a bloody good story and damn fine writing. Without that core, all the self promotion and sent manuscripts will be for nothing. And let's be honest, how much time goes into twitter, emailing and blogging compared to actual writing?

If it's about getting paid, beware of a similar fate - if the story has no emotion and is just a deadline and word count, well, will it really be good enough? Will you have the same pride looking back after spending all the money you were paid? If so, fair dos, at least you're honest!

Writing a story has a magic about it. I believe that this should not be forgotten. Write first, money second. If you write for a living, well, I get that it's about being paid, but make it about the characters and story and not just about the deadline. Like anything in a workplace, have pride in your work. Please don't be soulless, theres too much of that about these days. I think the readers will thank you for it, and you may well enjoy the process that little bit more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 20 April 2012

A Random Ramble a.k.a My Motivation

Please note: most of this was written in 2009 and became a kind of motivation to move on with my life during a time of change. It also kick-started my writing again in a big way after years of blank pages. I've edited it, and hope it shows that some positive thought can help you get things done, particularly about writing and life, and starting on the that story of finding your dreams, whatever they may be. Oh, it's a bit of ramble, even after the edit, so don't read it if you hate that kind of thing...

Just a thought...

by Allan Maxwell on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 02:18.

I listened to a speech today from a world class orator who happens to be a very well known world leader. Let's forget about who it is, because that's not important here. What is important is the impact the speech had at this moment in my life. I started to think about where my life's story was going, and what I really wanted from it.

I want to be something more than what I am at present, something better I guess. I’m wondering about my life and thinking about what I have done. Short answer is: not much. No completed stories sent to publishers for years, no promotion for years, no love for years. It's a growing list. I look at how little I’ve affected history, at how little I've expressed my thoughts because of some form of shyness. Yes, I’ve lived a little, especially with my young life (what a story that is), however, it turns out lots of that shit still hinders me to this day. But should this dictate what I can do and what I am now and in the future?

I know, at a personal level, that in my life I’ve set up some local clubs, done stuff for charity (at a small level), and helped my local community unite where I’ve worked – but what does that mean really? Is that enough?

Well, no.

I think it’s time for me to look at what I want to achieve in life.

Time to decide what I will become.

What will I leave behind?

Indeed, what will the rest of my life be? What meaning will it have? How will I affect my fellow man? What ripples am I creating across the country, or the world?

We are in a time of unease, yes. We are in a time of doubt, I agree. Does that mean I should hide within that bubble, or could I push it ever-so-slightly, and carve out a life filled with some of my own dreams and have a positive affect on others?

Think about this: opportunity is part of humanity, yes? So what opportunities does each of us have? Even within that bubble of society. More that you think, I’m guessing.

So, under the supposed gloom and darkness of modern life, could the spark of thought, belief and change be seen and heard and change your life?

Yes. Yes it can.

Take the opportunity to do some good, for others or yourself, or do something meaningful that you've wanted to do for years.

Take small steps. Look at the positive angle - even when it hurts, no, ESPECIALLY when it hurts - and see what happens. Take the new job, or swallow some pride and get bloody good at the job your doing now. Start telling your story, your way.

Want to have your own book or short story out there being read by others? Write it. Finish the first draft, no matter what. Then work hard making it epic, and send it out there. Read some books to motivate you, take a course, do whatever it takes and see what you can do.

Because it's there, just in reach, that opportunity, that dream. You just have to take that chance, do the work, and make it happen.

So make it happen.

It's now 2012. Three years after I set that little mission statement to try and motivate myself. Taking that leap of faith and working towards the positive mindset HAS paid off. Ok, I've not been published, but that's my fault for not working hard on that front. I do, however, have this Blog now, written lots of short stories and ideas, and completed and passed a university course on creative writing. I have fiancé, a six week old little boy and been through several promotions in work. It's not been all plain sailing and I have failed too, but the good has certainly outweighed the bad, and I have zero regrets.

The dreams are still alive, and still need to be poked and prodded every now and then, as does everything worth it in life.

In the space of three years everything has changed - I achieved more in that time than I did in the fifteen years before it. My life's ripples have widened across the world, and I'm happy about it.

So go make it happen.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Breaking the Block, idea one...

Just before I started to write this blog post I was sitting in a pub in a train station looking at a blank screen on my iPad and worrying about writers block (I use the term 'writer' here on the blog fairly loosely, considering my lack of being published and my general use of the English language). Now, minutes later, I've found that the raw stuff of stories surrounds me, and so was born this little blog post!

I'm in a busy pub inside Euston Station and every seat is filled. In my annoyance at the God of writing for not dropping a great idea into my head for me to start writing, I looked around. Scores of people were chatting, eating and drinking around me. And with a little observation (and the relaxing of my so-called blocked mind) I found that each of them held the potential to tell a story, or help me find ideas to write.

There was the woman in the corner holding a glass of red white in one hand and a book in the other (Game of Thrones, just like half of the other commuters in London right now); there was a suit-wearing man staring into the middle distance, a pint of beer lying untouched before him; there was a group of young woman talking excitedly with one another, dressed up for a big night out; there was a drunk guy walking around trying to engage people in conversation (yes, he did try to befriend me), with the bar staff looking at him wearily, and there was an old man on his own in the other corner with several empty whiskey glasses on his table.

Even from that description on a small amount of people at the bar you realise that there's a plethora of stories there. With a little observation, and relaxing the mind, we can find opportunities to find stories all around us. We should never worry about a lack of inspiration - spend a little time to look away from the blank page and take in your surroundings. Or even go for a coffee (or to the pub...) and see what happens, and what ideas you can find.

Just don't drink too much if you do go for a cheeky beer, doubt you'll get much writing done after too many pints!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Horror!

Alright Blogland, it's time to stop procrastinating and time to start writing!

Ever since completing a writing course and realising I wanted to work on some horror fiction I've been submerged in social network hell, living out my dream of writing through others and ending most days with a zero word count (compared to racking up hours on Facebook, blog sites and twitter).The death of every would-be writer.

However, like a dodgy American horror film, there's light at the end of the tunnel for me as I have now been working on two short stories that I am determined to finish and send out to publishers over the next few months.

I've read lots on how important an online presence is these days, but it's a slippery slope to the zero word count, whiling away all those hours on the Internet. As ever, doing it in moderation is the healthy way forward. I've set my weekly goals and aim to limit my social network lurking to times after I've hit my daily word count. Maybe I should have given up twitter for lent...!

While I'm aiming to get these stories published, and write more, I'm thinking of using the blog to share the story of how I work towards completing the shorts, and my luck with getting published, hopefully sharing some helpful thoughts on writing along the way.

Here's my first tip for those reading this and wanting to be published authors themselves. Stop reading this. Now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

New Beginnings

Stories have their beginnings in great ideas, someone told me once. And I guess it's true in many cases. Though, I was up to 5am with my 3 week old son last night and a thought struck me - that giving life is a true beginning to what stories are made of.

All stories come from man, and we all start as crying, vomiting, shitting little wonders. The story starts there, is carved from a life beginning at that moment.

Now I wonder what my son's story will be, and what kind of stories he may create and be part of once he's old enough to have the ideas.