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

Wassup imaginary fanbase. How are you all surviving the pandemic. Sorry my ,missives have been verging on non-existent. Life has been getting in the way. And it probably still will. I have a family etc. - we all have a lot of stuff to deal with, so I can't promise this will get any more regular - but we'll see.


Writing-wise I have given up on the short stories. I was finding it so hard to get anything at all on paper.  I think part of that is because one of my main source of motivation is the sense of wonder at movie-scale epic plot lines - you know fabulous monsters, epic betrayals, that sort of thing. You can't squeeze that into a short story - it's like trying to do a long jump with a 2 foot run-up.


So I have embarked on a change of tack. Having *accepted* that I don't have the hour+ a day to get proper traction on a novel, I am sharpening the saw in other ways. First is essentially to plan a re-write of Gorodin. So I am doing things like character questionnaires, using a lot of hints from podcasts etc, a plot 'swimlane' which follows the main characters throughout the book, and a synopsis. The PLAN is - I publish bits of these here, and you get to see the masterpiece taking shape. But we've had plans before, so let's not promise anything.


I'm going to wrap this up now, because I have a job to do, but I will check in next week. Or that's the plan…

Sorry for the delay. Had a lot on. We all do, don't we.


Just looking at the last entry - it seems like years ago. I was still trying to write, for a start. Since then scarcely a word has passed by keyboard - not counting emails, other work stuff, or notes not dissimilar to this, urging me to do something significant with my life.


This is because - shortly after the last entry where I was trying to wrestle myself back to the keyboard, I gave myself a week's break. And it felt good. Way way to good. What's more it continued to feel like that for a while. And then other things started to move in on my time. Some worthwhile things, like helping my kids revise their mocks. But also other things, like work.


I have been toying with giving up. Abandoning hope of getting anything published and doing something else. Try to play the piano. Compose some music. But I can't even get enough zhuzh for that. It's like I'm shrinking.


I also have another issue to deal with which  kinda puts everything into perspective. In fact just thinking about it makes me feel guilty for the self-indulgent hogwash up to here. I am going to stop now for a bit

So there I was - this Saturday, at the start of my big weekend. Time to smash heroically through the writers block.


I had reached a critical point, you see. For - I dunno - 6 weeks - a month maybe - I had been hardly writing anything because I couldn't find space for it in my routine. Regular space, that is. I tried to do it after work, but family stuff takes over. Not all the time - but enough of the time. And that lack of routine is fatal to me - maybe that means I am not committed enough I dunno - let's hope not.


Anyway - during Sunday planning (geek!) I found a solution. I get up early, exercise (without which spending all day in the house is fken hellish) and sit here until 8:15 when the kids need a lift to school. Giving me 30-45 minutes of regular time. The family are still there at this point, but too half-asleep to make too many demands. Now I read this over I realise I need to add to this even to get to my miserable commuting writing time, but hey - it's a move in the right direction.


And it worked - for a bit. Week 1 I got stuck into my second short story - developed a couple of characters, began actually writing. Since then though…not so good. A lot of the time I seem to peter out after about 200 words. Saturday being a case in point.


I was writing a scene in which Richard, my main man, is talking to Rachel, his wife, who is wheelchair-bound. It's set in the near future. And at some point it seems apposite that she might stop talking, and, I dunno - pick up a cup of coffee. But then I get stuck. Why? Because I haven't really worked out how bad her condition is, what her wheelchair is like, what her house is like. How will she move? Can she even drink the coffee properly? What height is the table? So it's simple right? I have gone too far toward the write side of the 'prepare' vs 'just fken write' spectrum, and I need to work out how the MND patient of the future lives.


So why have I spent the rest of weekend moping, rather than coming to this basic conclusion, Hm? Should come to you first, right? I just hope it's just that simple. I plan a bit more, unblock, and hit a gusher. Lord knows I'm due one…

Allright imaginary fans. So a couple of things to update you on. Firstly, John my author buddy told me some home truths about my short story. Unsurprisingly for a first ever short story, it has significant structural issues, which I am glad to get the chance to work on. As I was sneakily aware, my biggest problem is perspective - I am utterly useless at appraising my own work. Most of the things John said make me go 'yeah of course. I knew that. Why didn't I do anything about it'. To which the answer was: 'You have accused yourself of every possible kind of writing issue, so picking out the genuine ones is not always easy'.

Anyway - to assist me I have purchased a kindle copy of 'The Story Grid' by Shawn Coyne (amazon link). I am not sure whether I'm going to apply to Woburn, the first story, or write a new one I have half planned according to the new structure. I'll let you know how that goes.

Secondly I feel the need to express my thanks to Brad Reed, of the Brad Reed Writes podcast and other resources https://www.bradreedwrites.com/ for giving me oodles of writing tips - including the recommendation of Sean's grid thing. About 25 years ago I went to a creative writing class - and it was a bit pants tbh. Teacher was very charismatic but useless - not really interested/able to actually teach anything about plot structure, characterisation. Anything at all really. If only she'd been more like Brad I'd be famous by now!

So that's it for now. Tune in next fortnight/month/aeon.