Telling Tall Tales.

I can write.

I can tell tall tales.

I will tell you of the terrible events in a Cairo alleyway, the scars that such things cause; and you will wipe away a tear or two.

I will tell you what it is like to fly through a thunderstorm, the wind, the rain, the dancing with the lightning; all the time screaming life affirming declarations as you do.

I will do that.

I’ll make you angry, probably make you sad too. 

But I will also give you highs.

The sheer joy that is love – this I will tell you about again and again and again.

We will celebrate this love.

We will mourn its loss too.

We will seek revenge.

We will suffer for our desired justice; and then stare into the abyss that is the blackened remnants of our soul.

I will do this for you.

We will fight magic, embrace Celtic folklore and travel to the dreamworld that will stitch it all together. 

All of this and so much more, so very much more will I give to you if only you’ll read my scribbles.

And therein lies the rub.

It doesn’t matter how good the journey I offer if nobody ever takes the trip.

I can write.

I can tell tall tales.

But I cannot get an agent.

I cannot entice someone to take a chance.

If they did, they wouldn’t regret it.

But I cannot get them to.

I can write.

I can tell tall tales.

Play On.

Music is the food of love, so play on.  Billy the Bard wasn’t wrong when he wrote that.  The emotional blanket in which we wrap our words helps so much with the development of context. 

‘Everybody Hurts’ by R.E.M a suitable example.  If this were playing in the background of a scene, it would set it so quickly, it would provide a near universal shorthand for melancholic introspection. 

A kitchen table, a hunched figure reading a letter, Everybody Hurts playing on the radio – you almost know the words being read (almost).

I think it works while we’re writing too.

The tunes that we immerse ourselves in help format the narrative we type – or at least they do for me.

Writing that sad scene, that tear jerking moment where the near crushing enormity of loss that crushes your MC would be hard to write if ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams was playing on a loop.

We have been writing such a scene, and the stripped-down simplicity of the music that accompanied my typing (I think) helped me create a more distilled/raw emotive scene.

The artist that was my muse?

The Cure, the album – Disintegration.

Still (happily) typing away.  

Stay safe – remain sane!

Round and around it goes, where it stops nobody knows…

It’s a rhyme we all know.

It’s also a reflection on my writing style.

I am a gardener.

Not one of those from the MaddAddam©™ trilogy (thank you Margaret Atwood).

Nope, not one of them.

More I’m a plant a seed and see what (if anything) blooms scribbler of tall tales.

Not knowing the route is sometimes great if you’re a riding the roller coaster in the dark/with your eyes closed kinda person, if you just love the thrill of the ride, then (like me) just plant away and see what happens!

This is all good, fine and dandy, until you box yourself into a corner you (obviously) didn’t see coming.

Do you spend time correcting the preceding text?

This strategy (can it be called such?) has a remarkably high tendency for unforeseen cul-de-sacs. 

But, to counter that, so too is opportunity to follow that random trail and find your lost city of gold.

Some risks are worth the reward.

I have the complete freedom to fly by the seat of my pants (aka pantster) with my tales.

I have an ending in mind – the route flexible enough to win an Olympic gold.

So, point if any of this blog entry?

To thine own self be true, create your art with joy in her heart, even if that heart has been burnt in the sulphurous pits of hell – remain true to it. 

That’s it.

Keep the faith, stay safe & remain sane!

Musings From a Comfy Chair.

So, it was agreed by the cosmos that my time is not yet over, the sands of time for me (despite rumours to the contrary) have yet to run out!   

I’ve had my second dose of the plague – and despite my flouncing around pronouncing to all and sundry that my demise is imminent, I have indeed survived.

Some may call my fight with Covid truly heroic and inspirational – others may cruelly snipe that my struggle was melodramatic indulgent hypochondria…  to them I simply say “haters gotta hate”!

My brush with mortality did allow me to progress (in my debilitated state) my WIP a few pages closer towards completion. 

It has already been noted that I have started this tale more than once, rewritten the beginning middle and end, killed off, resurrected, and then again re-killed characters – yet, despite it all, I’ve managed to push my tale forwards.

Hooks have been moved, intended plot lines abandoned and new ones written.

The bare bones of the narrative remain more or less as originally envisaged, the interaction between characters an ever changing (and oft deleted) landscape.  

We are still on a ship, still travelling towards Ireland from America.

We are still looking to include a scrape or two that will necessitate the sacrifice of some passengers – their bloody and violent demise a tragedy that is sadly unavoidable…

We are debating a love interest – it has been a while (two books back) since our MC had such – so maybe it’s time to remedy that omission?

We are still enjoying telling tales, still genuinely thrilled by where my imagination takes me, the creative process remains the joy today it was on day one. 

It is also true that we are still frustrated by our lack of exposure (readership), and indeed it is a matter of public record that each rejection from an agent still cuts deeply. 

So, in summary – I am still alive (hurrah), and I am still writing away.

The offer of employment for a suitably qualified agent still stands.

Whatever it is you are doing – please stay safe, look after yourself and those you love, and please stay sane!

Introspective naval gazing.

Yep, it’s that time in the writing cycle.

We’ve reached that point whereupon we (again) question why we are doing this.

Other than participating in a hobby cheaper than golf, are we achieving anything?

Our initial goal has been achieved.

We have gone beyond the opening line and written a book – the mythical tale that is within us all we have given birth to!

Nobody’s read it though.

The spine has yet to be creaked…

We wrote one to see if we could, and then we wrote another because it was a rush to find out what happened next.

That second book morphed into a series, a trilogy that now sits at five volumes.

Still no chiropractic intervention…

The industrial rejections are a constant.

Their judgement unwavering.

NO.

So, what to do, indeed what to do?

Who are you?  Who, who, who, who??

We know the lyrics to this song, we know the catchy chorus, but knowing the song and adequately answering the repeated question aren’t the same thing at all. 

Buy me a cup of tea, possibly add into the mix a nice traybake and we can happily gossip about the lives that we’ve led, the complexities of the universe and our respective places in it. 

But ask me to submit a pithy paragraph that would entice a person I’ve never met to ‘pick me’ and read my submission…  palpitation overload!

I am overthinking this trial. 

I know I’m putting far too much thought into it, but if this ‘narrative’ is my shop window, my chance to entice you into the emporium of Telling Tall Tales, how indeed do I sweeten the lure?

I’m a 50 something bloke.  Married, live on a farm, and I’ve had a few jobs, travelled a bit – seen some of life, cried at it too. 

I love books, music, castles, tanks and dinosaurs …  I write tall tales, I stretch credibility just enough so as not to be ridiculous. 

My tales are all compassionately told – no exploitation, no demining put downs or dismissive tropes.  I try my very best to be kind amongst all the cruelty.  I try.  I do.

My scribbles have merit.

They may need polishing – I cannot debate that.  But even in the state that I present them, they are still a journey worth taking, time worth investing, pages worth turning!

So, me, how does being me entice YOU to read my wares – the answer to that I honestly don’t know.

I am beyond naïve in my hope that a good tale will carry itself – me the writer nothing more than an anecdote after the fact – never the appetiser that takes you to the main course. 

But, if I cannot get you into my shop, if my window dressing isn’t enticing – what hope a tale well told?

I don’t know the answer, maybe while walking the dogs a flash of genius inspiration will strike me (and I’ll remember it!), or possibly I’ll hope that my submitted biography is just enough to keep my tale away from instant rejection…

We all have dreams – this is mine.

Stay safe – remain sane!

Jumping the Shark

There is that moment, I suppose that point of time that unifies all people who write a series, where they look back and ask themselves that question ‘have I jumped the shark/nuked the fridge’? 

Star Wars, good god, it most definitely did that so long ago, yet perplexingly it still makes money‽

We digress…

Big empty auditorium I have a character who has been beaten, abused, suffered almost intolerable pain, and yet survives, survives, and thrives (all be it with nightmares and crippling bouts of sadness). 

Is it all so-so pedestrian predictable rehashing?

Have we passed the shark jumping moment?

Is it a tale with recurring themes or rehashing old tropes? 

Self-doubt is a crippling monkey that happily climbs on your back to whisper incessantly in your ear… 

Good art is not its own reward – it just isn’t. 

Words are written to be read, paintings to be seen.

Creations aren’t finished when the paint dries and the keyboards stop clicking, bizarrely these are the moments that only confirm the true beginning of the project.

To be relevant Art must be enjoyed.

To be enjoyed it must be seen, be experienced.

The monkey is telling me all the doubt, all the negative. 

There is a chap called ‘Harvey Andrews,’ a Birmingham (England) folk singer of some considerable ability.  This chap wrote a song called ‘Writer of Songs’ which articulated better than I can ever hope to express the urge to create written words, for him it was songs, for me tall stories…

So, Amy, is it cliché trope overload? 

Is the (absent) reader sat there mouthing the plot before it has happened?

Do we invite others into our world to ‘spice it up,’ ‘keep it fresh’ or are indeed those actions as predictable as the preceding ones? 

Henry Winkler is poised; the speedboat is revving its engines…

Once more into the breach, once more to submit our wares.  

And so, it continues.

Validation is again sought.

A glutton for punishment?

Possibly.

The email inbox dance resumed.

Nothing today, maybe tomorrow?

It is masochistic, it is a bizarre relationship with the Id and ego, but it is one that unifies all scribblers of tall tales.

We want to be read, we want to be appreciated, but mostly we just want to be read – the plaudits and five-star ratings will be nice, but primarily we just desperately need to be read!

So, the near impossible one-page synopsis sent.

The letter of introduction crafted, and chapters 1-3 polished as much as our skill permits to whet the appetite, to compel the reader to ask for more – these too we have sent.

We are simple folk, our demands are not (yet) for world domination, they are simple, our manifesto uncomplicated, our plea to St. Francis de Sales that he will intercede on our behalf…

“Please sir may we have some more, may we read the rest of your manuscript”?

Nothing in today’s inbox, maybe tomorrow?

Maybe tomorrow…

A Stalking Horse

We all do it.  

We all seek approval for our scribbles.

When someone asks to read our work, we are all a flutter…

Our words will see the light of day, the passion on the pages released!

But stalking that euphoric landscape, in that vista of bliss lurks a distant figure on a horse.

The rider has always been there – he existed before you started writing.

The horse isn’t black, the rider doesn’t wear a cloak and hood – no scythe can be seen.

This rider isn’t death.

The man’s name no one knows for sure – for he has many and yet he also has none.

Yet all who tell tales know who he is, all instinctively recognise the rider.

Sometimes he stays on the peripheries, sometimes though he rides up close and tramples the seeds of you work under steel shod hooves.

Sometimes you destroy your own crops first…

You can see him; you could scare him off – you could wave your arms and shout at him to go away – but you don’t.

You stand rigid.

This rider knows your secret shame.

He knows you are scared and so he can slowly canter from the far hill – time is on his side.

You have a small stick and a heart full of passion for your work…

He’s getting closer…

Will you stand your ground, defend the seeds you have sown – or will this crop suffer the fate of so many other failed harvests?

The bark is rough in your hand…  

The last safe refuge.

The timid can use their imagination to give strength to a royal hand they are too afraid to play.

Scribblers of tall tales can stride like a colossus over the environment of their own creation.

It is liberating.

Fears can be exorcised, terrors purged – others can fall while the writer can remain strong.

Creativity is the release for the captivated soul – the mundane can become fantastic – even for a few hours…

Beautiful women, handsome men – all can be approached, the legacies of reality temporally suspended.

Ideas that you would never discuss in ‘polite society’ are given free reign.

Angels may indeed stand aside afraid of placing their next footstep, but the writer has no such inhibition – the writer in the midst of collective terror is calm.

Errors can be corrected, mistakes deleted leaving only the chosen purity remaining.

The typed word, the collection of pages upon pages of narrative, a world of their creation – it is an achievement that has them standing next to Sheila taking that long deserved bow…

But the escape only lasts so long.

The auditorium that was impassive while the worlds were created now takes an audible intake of breath…

The footlights become bright, the crowd becomes visible – are they about to clap, or is this silence not a pause before accolades rain down, is this moment about to become extended indifference, or an exiting audience confirming their rejection of your works?

Such a scenario can be avoided.

If you never offer up – you can never be rejected.

Logic can be cruel in its simplicity.

But if rejection can be avoided, then so too the opportunity for applause…

So, we stand in the auditorium, the lights begin to rise…

Are they shuffling to give an ovation, or standing to exit…?