Welcome to the web page and blog of Gregor James, children and adult fictional author.

'sup gang. It's me again.

So I think I might have missed a slot. Sorry about that. But it does at least mean that I have news. The short story is finished. Yay! But I cannot convince either my wife or daughter to read it. Boo! This is not what you'd call an auspicious start.

But besides this I feel strangely optimistic. I have lined up 2 proper beta-readers - one fellow struggling author (though he's been published, the git) and a friend with similar fantasy/sci-fi reading tastes. I was just hoping to get someone in the house to stupid-check it first.

Speaking of writer infrastructure, I've been trying to find other sources of help. Remember YouWriteOn - the place where people would review a chapter of your book if you did the same for them? Gone. Not entirely sure where, but the site is down :(. Apparently there are other places, but I haven't got the time/cohones together to check them out yet. Currently wrestling with urges to start/research another story/do more paid(ish) work. Indecision is final again.

So what you you do, web-crawler/hacker bot? OK - you'd register this site as not worthy of further action and move onto the next one. But what if you were a helpful conscious entity of some kind, rather than a semi-autonomous algorithm? You'd tell me to seek the answer inside myself huh? Well that was helpful.

I think the last time I was at this point I decided to focus on the resources to hone the writing. Review sites, forums and that. So I'll do that. And come back and tell you about it. Because I know you are counting on me, right ;).

So the first thing I should say is - well done me for coming back after 2 weeks! This is probably the high point in terms of productivity though, as the short story is still at 5- well maybe 6 thousand words. Remember last week I was waxing on about the sotrt story being a medium for learning. Well that might be true, but it's also fertile ground for constant re-writing. 

To be fair it probably needed it. I'm a sucker for plot twists you see. I think everything I've written so far has some stab at a killer ending - just because that's what make me love to reader other stuff. So this is based on a twist, but I feel I have failed to set it up properly. It's like my guy goes for a coffee and then suddenly someone tells him that his whole life is a lie - not quite that bad, but nearly. So I need to set it up, while trying to keep things interesting.

Trying to think of good plot twist endings now. The Wasp Factory springs to mind. I'm struggling to think of many in the fantasy/sci-fi world. Iain Banks (RIP) has done a couple. China Mieville was always good at an unexpected - and therefore satisfying - endings, but it not a twist along the lines of 'ha - you were in VR all along!' or 'you are actually a Fish!' or whatever. Is that because they are all quests? I don't know - will have to come back to that.

The other thing of note is that the latest Brad Reed podcast has told me I need to do mindfulness, which is something I've been thinking about for a while, and dabbled in, but not really embraced. So trying to get started on that properly, while restructuring the story, holding down a job, doing progressively more sadistic 'PE with Joe Wicks' exercises. Lots and ,ots to do. Better get busy!

Wow - still reading after that naff, partly copied pun? Have you read the rest of the internet? Well whatever it is, thanks for reading. I'm not entirely sure how six months passed since the last entry. I just read that  - short story by Christmas huh? Jeez, well that didn't happen. What did happen was that I climbed on the old literary horse and was shrugged of like a..very unskilled, lightweight horseman. I wrote about 500 words and then convinced myself that it wasn't the right time to return, because I couldn't devote enough time to get a head of steam up. Thereby hangs a cautionary tale - if you let life get in the way, then it will. Every time. Learning some throwaway skill to make your work life seem a little safer and easier will outrank your need to become a literary genius every time.

Interesting what I wrote about Brad Reed Writes as well though. Because somehow I have moved from panicking about how ignorant I am about creative writing to being keen to throw in all these new tricks into my book. Which looks depressingly like another gammy phase to be endured where I pepper my prose with them indiscriminately before I finally work out how to use them in context. Also I've just had to look up mis en scene again, this proving that half of what I'm learning hasn't even stuck.

The plus point is that I have actually got writing again - finally. My short story isn't finished - but we're 5k words in - at the denoument - and I can already feel the value of the short story as the best way to learn even before I try and get some feedback on the thing, because they are so much easier to rewrite. This is starting to feel a bit more like a stage where I develop myself as a writer, rather than produce a enormous chunk of text, hurl it into the void, and never see it again.

We'll see how well that works out. But I will now set a reminder for 2 weeks, and let you know how it goes then. Or maybe 6 months. We'll see..

So I'm back. s'up Sergei? How's it going Webcrawler?

 

Has it really been 2 years? Wow. Time really does speed up as you approach decreptitude. Now I know you'd love me to tell you everything I have been up to in that time - it wouldn't even take that long, sadly - but I think if I focus on stuff affecting my writing I can condense it still further.

 

So to dust off an old metaphor with a bit of help, a lot of effort (18 of the 22-odd months I was out) and a generous sprinkling of fortune I made it to the Kingdom of Betterjob. The rumours that the streets are paved with new and interesting people seem to be true so far - I just need to make sure not to P*ss them off. Also I reckon I have found the secret passage to Semi-Retirograd. It's a long way away though - through a block ed tunnel that will still be several years in the digging, but it's there. So it looks like I managed to stay on course long enough to get somewhere, and I am pleased with that. It's not where I want to be, but it's closer. :)

 

What next then, I hear you both cry. No idea - stop pressuring me, I cry in response. I've only just made one decision - gimme a break! What I do know is that I have some time, I have lots of ideas and I still want to write. I do I just. Can't. Get. The Rust. Off.

 

It's fear partly. You see I have discovered the wonderful and varied world of podcasts in the last few months. I have learned French. I have learned how we're all going to be ruled by robots (stay tuned for more on that). And I have listed to Brad Reed's 'Inside Creative Wiring' podcast. Which is excellent, but also scary, because it has reminded me how little I know.

 

Right from Episode 1 I felt like I was walking off a cliff edge. Fictionalising your audience. (What just as worrying is that I had to go and look that up.) It was about ways of placing your reader in the thick of the action, through ways I have already forgotten. I did none of this. Nor do I do any mis en scene.  I don't even have much of an idea what my theme is - let alone how to support using the various extraneous parts of my characters, settings etc. And this is only at podcast episode 5. Out of 37. If I took on 20% of those podcasts that makes me about 3% competent.

 

I've had time to reflect on this now, and have realised a few things. Firstly a lot of these episodes have a lot less implicit criticism of my writing in them. The one about grammer for instance - my grammar's not too bad - and not just because of my scrupulous daughter proof-reader. Secondly - and more seriously - I am throwing up barriers because I am scared to get back on the old literary horse. The way I combat that is goals. I have a goal now. I need to finish a draft of the short story I have been kicking around for months by Christmas. Short stories - I have realised - are a much better for learning one's craft - and for fitting in all the other stuff that comes with this like trying to hold down a job/get published, or more realistically get anyone to read what I've written without me paying/emotionally blackmailing them.

 

So we're off. I'll see you in 6 weeks time . Wish me luck !!