49,462

Numbers on their own are meaningless, open to interpretation and sometimes just alien to the original question (42?).

However, this one references The Amy Grace Adventures Volume 4: Prison.

A title that has become more than a little apt over these last few months.

49,462 words in and…

I’ve gone back to page one, improved punctuation, rephrased and titivated where I can, but the number stays stubbornly at forty-nine thousand and change – no real advances.

I’m stuck; yet every re-read leaves me feeling satisfied with my work.

I like the plot.

I like the little surprises in the plot.

I like the theme of complex retribution.

I like the new characters – I still like the old ones.

Yet I’m stuck in the steel town of Pittsburgh.

It’s the 21st of May 1890, and like Groundhog Day I cannot leave this Wednesday to see the dawn of a new and different Thursday…  

We have so many riches to dine upon.

We have a government agent looking for Amy, and we have Amy looking to kill the government agent.

We have a backdrop of the immensely interesting/tragic/cruel “coal wars” and the killers of Amy’s lost love are the rich industrialists tied up in this rich tapestry.

We even have a fairy.

Yet Amy is till stuck in a stable looking at a dun mare… 

I’ve deleted proceeding paragraphs, but whatever I do I cannot seem to (metaphorically?) get back on the horse.

My only solution seems to be to write chapters in advance of this situation and hope that I can create a union at some point in the future. 

We shall see.

49,462 and counting!

Guilt….

Yeah guilty of something, probably nothing too. 

Words haven’t flowed.

Stories haven’t moved.

Procrastination has been reanointed the undisputed Lord King or everything!

I’ve hidden behind research.

I’ve bluffed with titivation and editing.

I’ve luxuriated in dithering…

Questioning everything isn’t the help it could be.

Self-doubt is a gorilla sized monkey of doubt – and my back aches…

It could be the isolation.

It could be.

It could be so many different things, competing and complimenting each other to stop me typing.

The imagination hasn’t stalled.

It runs in full fettle frustrated at the lack of outlet.

And yet I know all of this.

All of these paths we’ve trodden before.

Not all knowledge is a good thing…

Maybe this public (empty auditorium) flagellation will ease the blockage.

Maybe.

We live in hope.

Whatever you are doing, stay safe and stay sane!

Stasis

Everyone thinks that working from home, being isolated, will be a boon for the writer that is me.

It isn’t!

I’ve been isolated for nearly four weeks – I’m not complaining, I understand the rationale.

Friends have said that production should surely proliferate.

It hasn’t.

Inside my imagination ideas, themes, and all points between continue to flow.

None are written.

I don’t know why this is.

I should be a ‘happy camper’ typing away.

But I’m not.

As a state of affairs go this one is perplexing.

Is it Covid-19, or is it me?

Do I have, if not writers block, then a remarkably close relative?

Am I suddenly averse to scribbling?

Have I developed a Nihilist view of my writing, is it is all pointless and without purpose?

Questions, so many questions – so few answers.

This is an empty auditorium so I can be self-indulgent.

Is it the rejections?

Am I worried by the sooth saying of Gretta?

Am I reinforcing failure – or stubbornly holding out for the inevitable break?

I don’t know the answer, I just know that I’m not writing, and knowing that is somewhat upsetting.

2015

All the time that has passed hasn’t been cheaply spent. 

Back in 2015 an opening line became a short book.

That cathartic first attempt created a need to tell further tall tales; and discussing the difference between Goths and Steampunk was the genesis that gave the world Amy Grace.

And, as ever the original incarnation is a very distant cousin from what we have now. 

Originally a child found amongst the dead of Khartoum, a child that was to grow up and chase a scoundrel around the world in an epic HG Wells/Jules Verne adventure. 

That was the plan.

Flying machines and steam.

It didn’t happen.

Page one, of book one, made an instant and drastic turn in the opposite direction from the pre-written plot line.

The first few pages were brutal (not the version that survives now) and pulled absolutely no punches as to what was going on and the inherent cruelty of such an event.

The premise for this revised incarnation was to write an unapologetic tale about surviving rape – steampunk and flying machines only ever guest appearances from that cruel moment onwards.

Rewrites, critique and further changes toned down the opening salvo, what had been brutal was now told with enough description to understand, but not enough to see each stretched sinew.

Thomas Payne had an ending an ending that was corrected with Magic.

Magic gave us love, and love gave us Gotham and lost friends.

Gotham led us to treachery and had us thrown into Prison, and incarceration is leading us a merry dance. 

Through it all I’ve sent versions of Amy Grace to agents and recorded the replies.

Delusion may be mine, but I honestly don’t think so.

My sales pitch is undoubtably poor – my elevator time is tongue tied frustration. 

Sip tea with me and I’ll tell you everything, I’ll enthuse, and I’ll pull you into the captivating world of Amy Grace. 

But it is the elevator pitch that counts, the application form that rules supreme…

It’s not insurmountable, but it is difficult.

Things of worth are supposed to be hard won, and begrudgingly I accept that maxim.

So, five years of writing continues.

Years of attempts do not end.

Tales still need telling, and the cursor is still blinking.

The Apachean mountains beckon, we have a coal war to survive, men to kill and friends to save. 

Keep the faith, stay safe and stay sane!   

Pandemic Padding…

Ever watched Apocalypse Now? 

Which version I hear you say…  and that is a fair point.

Which version indeed.

It may be annoying when they add those extra five minutes of footage, when that extra monologue is included, but if it brings you closer to the imagination of the artist, I’m kinda all for it. 

Edge of Darkness isn’t a great book, its not, well not in my opinion.

The loosely adapted film, whichever version you see, is indeed great art. 

And therein, by a round about route is my current undertaking.

I am again offering my wares to the world, and I am accordingly reviewing and adjusting my masterpiece. 

I’ve been adding words, removing words, adding commas, removing commas.

Passages have been left as is, passages have been ever so slightly ‘adjusted’.

The story it remains the same.

The story I am absolutely convinced is a good one, a page turner in the truest sense. 

Amy is different, she is a referenced blend of so many things, and she is her own indisputable character.

When she hits popular print, she will be enjoyed.

When she is enjoyed, she will be a subject worthy of discussion.

People will see things that others miss; nuances will be discussed.

And for those counters of beans, money will be made.

So, working from home I am working on my ‘Redux Version’ of Thomas Payne.

You will enjoy it.

Patience.

It will be printed.

You will be able to buy it.

Stay safe!

Stay sane! 

Time

It’s the stuff of life, or so a very wise Benjamin Franklin would have us believe – and I think he indeed had a point, we should spend it wisely!

Anyway, time is my current focus.

Prison is the first book that has a forced timeline – events MUST happen against a dictated and unmoveable rhythm.

Thomas Payne was easy; the siege of Khartoum lent a good series of dates to dance around.

Magic and Gotham played the easy flow of a storyline, with only one glorious summer needing structure.

Now, now that I’ve created a storyline (you’ll like it) and it has an implacable timeline.

I’ve looked back over the whole narrative (from birth) and tried to tie it all down to months, weeks and years.

There is a distinct possibility that I’m being far too forensic – maybe nobody has noticed, perchance if they have, they don’t really care…?

So, I am mapping Amy’s life from 1864 – 1890.

She is no longer the 21-year old debutant, she is a woman of substance, maturity and wealth, she is an independent woman who is galloping towards the end of her twenties

So that’s me typing away at my keyboard, I am mapping the life of a fictional character – oh the joys of writing!  

A Teardrop Explodes!

It’s a beautiful image, something that you can play with, I just need the opportunity to plagiarise it.   

I find it beautifully visual and wonderfully emotive all at the same time. 

And as it’s a reference to an artist of some renown, Julian Cope, who will appear as a character somewhere in ‘Prison’. 

This little missive was provisionally titled with reference to Mister Edgar A Poe and his dream within a dream poem, especially the grains of golden sand line, but indie guitar pop won out in the end – take a bow Julian Cope!

Time has inexorably plodded onwards, and the waves still crash on my shore, and the sand still falls between my fingers, and we’ve now had another silent refusal, another aspiration nullified… 

I know in sending my script that I agreed to the ‘if you don’t hear from us, consider it a no…’, I did, and I do. 

However, rejection is bad enough, but the silent rejection is harsh – it really is!

It is constant amongst my musings, a theme that will probably remain up and until I strike it lucky…

We have the next application in draft, we continue unabashed. 

I’ve been writing, moving stories along, reacting to reviews, and where possible making the necessary amendments. 

I was trying to move The Big House along, research was flowing, but no typed words were produced.

Whenever I warmed up the keyboard, it was a little fiery woman who near exclusively dominated.

We are four complete books to the good, scribbling with a purpose number five, and titivating six, seven and eight. 

My passion to tell tall tales continues, I am still enjoying the whole putting my imagination into structured form, and despite the rejection(s) I still take succour from the support of those who’ve read and enjoyed my stories.

The next step is a big one, but a small one too.

My hands are on the ladder…

Cruelty Without Beauty

It’s a play on the Bodyshop tag line, it’s also a lyric from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, and it’s an adept turn of phrase to describe my current internal musings…

I’ve tried very hard to be fair to those that suffer violence. 

I’ve made deliberate and conscious efforts to ensure that abuse is never voyeuristic entertainment, never given as some sort of sadistic side show, or written as a titillating exploitation to belittle the victim. 

I’ve tried very hard to ensure that such violence is appropriate to describe the emotional suffering that follows. 

I’ve tried very hard to be sympathetic (and empathetic) to those who survive trauma, to give validity to the struggle that continues long after such events have happened. 

Have I overstepped the mark with the scenarios that describe cruelty?

Could I have just stated ‘she was attacked’ and left it at that, let the imagination of the reader fill in the blanks with whatever level of depravity they were comfortable with?

I don’t know.

Critics will decide.

I have for whatever rebuffs follow genuinely and, in all sincerity, attempted to be kind, to be honest about those who are cruel and those who suffer cruelty.

I never wanted to produce a “Disneyesque” tiptoe through the tulips that avoided the harshness of sexual violence, and now self-doubt sits on my shoulder as the proverbial drug monkey whispering such things in my ear…

Bugger, bugger bugger!

Trains Planes and Automobiles

Well, all but the last two…

In book four of the Amy Grace Adventurers (Prison) our heroine is riding the rail, she’s looking like a hobo, but not smelling like one (spoiler – it all makes sense and is explained). 

Despite my protestations to work on other projects (The Big House), Amy like a sweetly singing siren – she keeps calling me back… 

For every word I type for ‘The Big House’ I must type ten or twenty for Amy.

I’m not complaining – I enjoy the scribbling of plot for both projects, yet Amy definitely dominates. 

The trials and tribulations of a young soldier in the 1880’s are indeed fertile ground from which to create a good yarn.   The scope to saturate with blood and thunder action is immense, and is definitely being indulged. 

Our protagonist in this tale will fight the Mad Mahdi in the Sudan; the truculent Boer in South Africa, suffer the industrial carnage of the trenches in France and Belgium before finally coming face to face with the terror of insurrection and civil war back home in Ireland. 

We are debating fighting the Reds, for the Whites, in 1919, we shall see if I can stick that lesser known part of history into the plot – at this point I hope so. 

We have also deviated into unrelated research into Orientalist artists, and although it is a wee bit off-piste, it does explain, or at least throw some light onto the choice of character names (John Fredrick Lewis).

So I’m now looking to insert Giulio Rosati and Ferdinand Max Bredt into the mix, names that I’m sure I’ll be able to happily create interesting characters around. 

So, that’s about it.

Been scribbling.

Job offer still stands!

Inshallah إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللّٰهُ

Well it’s the roaring/flapping twenties, a new year, a new decade and possibly a new opportunity for me and my long-suffering travelling companion – young Miss Amy Grace. 

Yes, dear folk we are once again indulging in the self-flagellation, disappointment and delusion that is submitting our fayre for thirty second scan scrutiny. 

Rejection has thus far followed a pattern of silence; comments politely saying ‘no not for me’ are less than 50% return on investment.

Yet still I’m again setting myself up for rejection.

I’ve read biographies, looked at profiles, tried to select fertile soil…

For my work I know I have all the bias of an indulgent parent seeing their child playing the robin in the school Christmas play.  My child, the skinny brown tights and red jumper, my child alone carries the tale, not the spotlight hogging tea towel wearing pillow up jumper pairing – my child is the undoubted star of the show! 

Delusion is my illusion (another musical reference?), but if we don’t offer nobody can eventually see with my eyes, read the tale that is worth both telling and reading? 

Amy is a story worthy of reading.

I’ve started to tell it; we just need folk to read it.

It is indeed what it is – Inshallah إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللّٰهُ