Down in Albion….

Yes, another musical reference – this time we are nodding towards those indie rascals Babyshambles!

Hey ho! 

So, despondent we indeed were. 

The shadows of self-doubt were indeed dominant.

An eclipse was in process.

I was, and I remain, more annoyed at myself for my reaction than I do towards a legitimate and polite rejection. 

We also have to remember why it is we are doing this.

This isn’t a job, this is a hobby, something we enjoy – if we lose sight of that anything and that may flow would be pointless; I already have a job that I’m not too enamored about… 

We hope that my escapism may one day become enjoyable distraction for others, but if not, then the first principle must remain true – we must be happy in our work!

[Image] A frantically typing Jack Nicholson “All work and no play etc. etc….”

So the buoy has bobbed, the post fall bounce has happened, the sulk is indeed over!

We’ve also gone back to re-write (changed the plot) of book three.  It wasn’t the coherent narrative I was after, and so back we have indeed gone and simplified and focused things – naturally we have kept all the original drafts just in case we (again) change our minds.

So, yeah, that’s it. 

Was feeling a bit ‘meah’, but we are okay now.

Anyhow, big empty auditorium, thanks for listening!

Something something flip side, something something smoke me a kipper…. 

The Big NO!

I have in my mind that ‘the big no’ is a children’s character – and if they’re not, then they indeed should be! 

So, quickest ever rejection has been received!

Normally we wait weeks.

This one, BY RETURN!

Flip!

By coincidence I was reading a blog that said if you’ve had more than 10 rejections, maybe it’s a consensus from those that know, and probably your book just isn’t up to it.   

BUGGER!

What to do…?

Is it a reality check from the cosmos?

Is it my approach, or is it my product, or is it possibly both that fail the grade?

Nagging doubt sits on my shoulder, perseverance along with self-belief are retreating to the sanctuary of shadows…

Is this another hurdle to be jumped, or a reality check against my delusion of ever becoming commercially published? 

I’ve had rejections before – yet somehow the speed of this reply, the emphatic nature of this particular NO; this is different.

I will try not to wallow – I will try, but dam –  by return!!!

Writing is good therapy, but maybe my therapy just isn’t good commerce?

On the plus, and in all situations you must always seem the positive (no matter how small) I have achieved, I have written that mythical book that we all have inside – kudos to me.

Maybe that success should be enough.

Maybe.

Bugger.

The Big NO!

Petard Hanging!

So we said we didn’t write plot lines, didn’t do story outlines, that we were some kind of anarchic write it as it comes and dam the readers kinda rebel! 

Well that may not have been the picture painted in your minds, but in mine I was indeed a wee bit of a rebel without a plotline!

And then, as with all things flimsy, it all comes crashing down to the ground… 

I haven’t finished book three, but here I am typing away like a daemon at the story that will be book four!

Three now has a new end point, a different destination from the one originally envisioned and now we need to create a suitable journey that takes us there. 

Ideas have the most spurious of beginnings, but the one for ‘Prison’ has now become a bit of a wildfire in my imagination. 

How did it begin?

An off the cuff remark about suffering not being exclusively or even predominately physical – and where and in what circumstance could we engineer such a scenario?

Answer – Prison.

Not just Prison – but a Victorian (late 1800’s) prison!  

All other projects, side or otherwise, have been placed in stasis.

This story wants to be written.

This tale needs to be told.

So, book with three I will complete a journey that needed to be taken, book four a narrative now in need of telling!   

Will Amy triumph?

Have no fear, I’m sure she will.

But as ever it will be hard won bitter and painful.

Misery…

One day in your life you’ll realise why you’re here… and so the song goes.  The purpose of life being to give life purpose – that’s either deeply profound or a facile distillation of the complexity of existence – and I’m not too sure which (if either) it is!

So, Amy followers, where are we now? 

Young Amy Grace is flying with the bogy man as her passenger (didn’t see that coming!) to right the genesis wrong that echoes in all of her adventures. 

She is now in 1888 still correcting a repetitive wrong from 1885, some of the characters have changed, but the tragic concept remains consistent.

And there, or indeed here is where we are, blinking cursor flashing on a white screen thinking to ourselves is this all too predictable?

Are we guilty of rehashing the same story in a never-ending volume of telling’s? 

I don’t think I am, but then sometimes I do…

Yes, I know, and I understand if you distil any series of tales down you end up with the constant telling and retelling of a need for love acceptance and justice.  Themes that are universal from Homer to Billy the Bard James Herbert and so many others.  But…

We are currently reading some Margaret Atwood, and although the comparison is pitifully suicidal and we are doomed to view oneself as a sad charlatan, we still look at the works of those we both admire and enjoy and turn that spotlight that shines upon greatness and turn it into a harsh illuminating self-critique of ourselves.

It could be the isolation that writing necessitates, it could be. 

It could be the frustration at rejections for tales I feel are worth telling, indeed it could. 

Lonely are they who type tales.

Tea is being consumed in copious amounts, ideas for ‘other’ tales are scribbled, but guilt at abandoning the unfinished saga, of being a cheating lover permeates every word I type for the interlopers. 

I have to expunge myself of this story, I have to finish it, find a conclusion.

I’m not looking to kill off Misery Chastain, but I am keen to finish book three.

I know how it ends, I kinda know what follows, but I need to make that journey really believable and above all a page turning thrill for those who’ve travelled with us from Egypt all the way to California (and innumerable stops in-between). 

I have been scribbling away (metaphorically) at ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ and a new as yet untitled ghost story, but all these ideas need Amy’s permission to continue….

I appreciate that this is becoming as coherent and rambling as ‘The Book of Dave’, but as with the scribbles of that taxi driver these words are not a mantra or collection of sage inspirational words to lift humanity, they are my scribbles as I struggle to be published, as I struggle to finish writing.  Definitely nothing more and assuredly nothing less. 

So, the job offer still stands.

Keep the faith.

Introspection Overload

And here we are, a new year, new possibilities, but steadfastly still wearing the same old hair shirt! 

We have invested time effort and emotion reviewing Amy all the way from the alleyway in Cairo to the hazy autumnal sunshine in San Francisco. 

I’ve never wrote (or written) a plan, a plot summary, or an agreed narrative that needs fleshing out prior to the start of my scribbles. 

Sometimes I get carried away with an idea, and write a fully detailed scene and then end up working to bring the existing tale towards it, but as a rule of thumb I just let my imagination take me (and by default Amy) wherever the falling keys take us. 

So, December/January was my opportunity to review the current narrative, to see if the chaos theory had worked, to see if the tale (currently in three parts), as written, made sense?

It is very hard to debate in the echo chamber of a solo review, and that is where I’m struggling. 

But, I was critical.

And I was dispassionate.

One moment we needed more dragons, the next moment dragons are so last week – well not literally, but that is kind of symptomatic of my internal monologue.

One moment we’re all happy with ‘as is’, then we look at the ever growing pile of rejections and look for intangible improvements that I know I cannot deliver. 

The story is just that, it’s as good and indeed as bad as I can create, it can never be anything else.     

And, in the end, after it was over, after I’d edited all those pages from alleyway to hotel I rested happy in my creation.

I like what we’ve got.

I’m happy with the result.

It could be delusional denial – it could be. 

However, we are happy, and currently (spoiler alert!) in book three Amy is also happy.  

Happy in our creation, we will continue to see if others will share this with me.

BTW the advertised job opportunity still stands… 

Notwithstanding the rejections, the pushed keys keep adding black type to the empty white pages, my expression therapy with Amy continues.

Oh, and ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ is plodding along too – more akin to the at times irreverent narrative style of Sisyphus than Amy. Which naturally enough is just another excuse for me to moan about isolation, death greed and the pointlessness of it all, and to indulge in some observational humour and critique about the current societal obsession with transactional consumption!

Yeah – a laugh a minute read; well he is the last man alive – give him a break! 

So there you are, you are up-to-date with it all.

Oh, and I’ve had a fish finger sandwich, and the shop that provided it has gone out of business – whisper from the gods or poor fiscal management?  Don’t know, could be either/neither, could be both, could be relevant, probably isn’t.    

So as Hazel O’Connor sings softly in the background about spilt tea (oh silly me) we warm our hands on our own jealously guarded brown elixir of life, we warm our hands and feel somewhat content with the world. 

Amy is moving forward; progress is being made. 

The curse of the drop-down menu.

Augh – my woes continue!

Occasionall poor attention to detail notwithstanding, my innate inability to create a swashbuckling backstory about myself continues to be my main frustration.

Conversations with folk, face to face meetings, are easier encounters in which to let the blarney flow, the sterile blinking cursor considerably less so.

I understand and accept the need for a pithy author profile – I’m just stuck trying to create one.

The 20 second scan, the ability to instantly stand out, not for your works, but for who you are (a commodity I am definitely NOT selling) is a struggle that I have yet to master (I know first world problems!).

With a little trial error and patience, I’ll crack the ‘who are you’ conundrum; it is the next one that I am struggling with!

Sometimes your favourite book is easy to categorise, some books slot easily into generic groupings – it is their blessing and it is my curse.

Maybe I’m overthinking about it – wait while I procrastinate for a few days.

Mental gymnastics aside, I do worry about putting my best foot forward, about my sales pitch.

I have a passion for my work, a genuine love for the characters’ themes and scenarios that I’ve created, but oh, the ‘drop down menu’ – yeah that currently perplexes and vexes me in equal measure!

genregenreGenres exist, categories exist, they all exist for good reason, we use them continually to help us make informed decisions – what to read, who to listen to, or indeed where to eat.

I get, and I accept the need and benefit.

But, as a loud echo of my struggle to create a one-page synopsis that caused me inordinate thought and debate, so too is my failure to select an appropriate category from the drop-down choice weighing heavily on my mind.

I know I think too much – worry too much etc.

I’ve tried the deleting the obvious incorrect associations; and then looking at what is left – a simple process of elimination.

I’ve looked at Felsch-Kincaid; I’ve tried to make that score relevant against the remaining list and repeated the exercise again and again until the one single ‘commodity group’ remains.

I will re-check my algorithm, as I’m not too sure that under five picture books is correct, but then again everyone loves a story about a trip to the park and a lost balloon!

Punches own face and misses… 

Job applications are always tense affairs, speculative ones that little bit more so. 

It doesn’t help if you make an error in your application, and especially if that error is someone’s name! 

A blunder that couldn’t be more obvious, and possibly more costly – after all calling Steve “Susan” is very unlikely to endear you from the get go.

We then have the notoriously difficult ‘tell us about yourself’ section; a question I assume designed to flush out those media known butterflies or folk who’ve climbed mountains naked.

Me I’m neither a ‘personality’ or indeed a nude rambler.

While we are going through some self-deprecation I’m no salesman either.

However, all is not lost.

All is not forlorn.

We do tell good tales, we do write good stories.

We may not be able to self-promote or indeed formulate successful and proven sales strategies but we can provide a good product for those with such skills to flourish.

Our story about Amy Grace should appeal to so many people; it is historic, it is dark, it is female led and centric and most of all, the number one selling point, it is an engaging tale – a good page turner.

So, what have we learnt?

Nothing that we didn’t already know – attention to detail is important.

We MUST learn to self-promote we MUST master our elevator pitch.

So, if you meet a middle aged bloke in a lift mumbling about rape murder and revenge, please don’t call the police, call a good literary agent – that is the help that he needs! 

 

And she was…

And indeed, she was, or indeed she is, yet she is fictional, so is she either? 

Who knows? 

And it is the ‘who knows’ that is the pertinent question of our day. 

We are not discussing the metaphysical space time dimension thing; we’re not that cleaver.   

We are looking at the ‘who knows’ statement.

For the woes and triumphs of young Amy Grace who indeed knows about them?

And the tragic answer is few, a very precious few.

A number so low, that as tight fisted as I am (and I am) I’d be able to stand a round and buy them all a drink.  

And the fault, the blame, the reason, the cause and effect – all one simple answer, one singular root cause.

Me

Confidence is (from time to time) dented, but belief in this tale is unbowed. 

Despite the life affirming slogans on t-shirts and posters belief in itself isn’t enough; it isn’t.

Belief won’t get this tale printed, belief alone won’t get a paperback book in Waterstones.

Belief isn’t enough.

Hard work isn’t enough.

We (I) need to work hard to promote my belief in Amy, I need to take the polite and silent rejections and move on.

I need to strive, to fall short; to be that man in the arena. 

So, we remember this quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

We take this to heart, we plan for rejection, without accepting rejection we cannot ever archive telling out tall tale.

Without failure I cannot stand misty eyed in Waterstones. 

Failure is to be embraced, is to be chased and worn with pride.

We have a tale to tell, an adventure to share, a bar tab to create that will really make me cry!

Who knows…?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why?

The past may be a foreign country, but Brexit notwithstanding you can still dip your toes in the warm seas that surround its distant shores. So occasional visits occur, non dom status mitigating the costs, we traipse paths we’ve already taken, roads and tracks already discovered yet somehow forgotten.  Memories of holidays taken, rides enjoyed, and ice-creams eaten all add to the joy that is a visit to ‘history’. 

The past holds so much, so many decisions decided, so much pontification taken, and the whole painfully slow process that was endured.  But now we are beyond that, and so looking back, we cast our eyes with proverbial 20/20 vision hindsight that allows what was once so very complicated to be seen with crystal clarity.  Behind us also sits the errors we made, the lessons we learnt but more importantly we can look over our shoulder and see the clarity of vision, the undiluted passion, the undaunted enthusiasm that brought us to the place in time and space we now occupy. 

And that is something we should revisit, and review more than we do. 

The great ‘why’ was answered so very long ago, that moment of clarity that led us through the cloud of self-doubt should be tasted again, memories refreshed. 

Why we started, why we continue we’ve already established needs no third-party validation.  As the poet eloquently states, the prose exists for its own purpose and no other.  To chase plaudits is an impossible purist, a charge (tilt) at windmills that is unprofitable and as misguided as Miguel de Cervantes described.  I cannot please or address the needs of the crowd, I cannot carve David to meet desires and ideas that are not mine – I’m not that good. 

What I can do is create what I enjoy, write where my own fingers tap and accept that some won’t like, but maybe some will (which is nice), but I will write not from a committee of approved ideas but from my own flawed imagination.  To thy own self be true etc.   

I cannot get defensive against critique, I cannot seek and chase approval, I must, I absolutely must remind myself of the first principle, the prime directive in that I write because I like it and hope others will. 

So if you’ve read it my sincere thanks, after that I have no obligation over you, reading is sufficient, your pleasure in my scribbles a bonus. 

ARS GRATIA ARTIS

Here we are with nowhere left to go… 

Yeah, it’s a lyric, one attributed to a certain Mr Burns, but hopefully stealing that little segment wont’ have me in court sued for millions and billions that I don’t have…   

Not that the above has any real relevance with where we are now, or indeed the direction of continued travel, but, it is a nice little snippet.

So, where are we? 

What are we doing?

Why are we still doing it?

All good questions individually or collectively, questions that need continual and constant validation.

We are still typing adventures for young Miss Grace. 

Other projects exist, but she has a way of getting under your skin, and I as much as any reader want to see a resolution, a peace or happiness be granted to this young lady.

It’s just not that easy to create it. 

Is this all going anywhere? 

Do we have a targeted end state?

We are still trying to strike a balance between the creation being the justified end in itself (Art for Art’s sake) and the peculiar need for some sort of external validation.

We’re not being needy (we hope), but the base urge to have others appreciate your work grows with each page that is finished.

I didn’t think I’d need, or indeed seek such – but I am, and I do.

Somehow this lurking spectre has grown in strength, this ghost who haunts each written page is taunting away in the shadows seeking all the sustenance of a crying Audrey Jr…!   

In the interim Book #3 Gotham is looking to being twice as long as the other two. 

It is developing into a story that is going to take much longer to tell. 

So, patience from the readership is required. 

This one is a much slower burn, a more emotive than physical journey – maybe it will be liked, maybe it won’t.

So, Audrey Jr is acknowledged and accepted, the food that she craves isn’t the blood of those sacrificed on the high alter of literature, instead she craves positive feedback, confirmation that was has been created is liked, is appreciated, is enjoyed… 

And herein lies one of the problems.

Do you write for the ego, the crying plant in the cellar, or do you write to satisfy your own curiosity and creativity? 

If you write to satisfy what the audience wants you may indeed gather plaudits garlands little massages for your ego, but each word you type will be a little cut across your back, and then eventually, inevitably, what you write will be empty meaningless ‘soap opera dead babies at Christmas’, and then once you’ve allowed such rubbish to be your output, why are you bothering?

Ah, to be appreciated for your own ‘art’…

So, five hundred or so words saying not an awful lot, other than expressing my barley supressed need for external validation and my real fear that in seeking and achieving such I could end up writing banal rubbish for which I have no emotive connection, no passion, no love…

This is a blog, not a collection of essays exploring and debating the human condition, so a coherent ending isn’t mandated, a point doesn’t have to be reached or unambiguously explained, and maybe that is the whole point, this is me and the big empty auditorium. 

My ramblings, my mutterings.

Nothing more and nothing less.

So, this blog exists, as do my writings for their own right to exist, they are my words and nothing more.

I just hope that somebody out there likes them…