Ten things I’ve learned (serious post)


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Well, enough of the whimsy (though I do like it) because occasionally this blog has to at least touch on my writing once in a while – it is the reason it exists after all. I do this on the auspicious occasion of my hitting the 200,000 word milestone. Actually, it’s 199,837, but I know that if I set to it, this blog’ll not get posted on today, such is the extent of my ability to get distracted.

So, what ten things have I learned since I started doing this, some ten or so months back? Let me list the ways and means…

  1. Don’t be an arse and set off on something without at least a modicum of planning. It’s all very cavalier and exciting to write by the seat of one’s pants, but it makes for a meandering tale that lacks focus. Have an ending at least superficially scratched into the meaty grey mass of your brain. You may be lucky and find one on the way and change it, but it’s better to start with one and change than just hope a plot will present itself. That way lies madness and 200,000 words of dubious worth. 
  2. Find someone who is willing to read your stuff, and will unflinchingly support you and tell you how fantastic you are. It makes for good productivity. Saying that, also find someone who will criticise the arse out of it. For balance…
  3. Even if you can’t be bothered, try to write something everyday. Yeah, it may be rubbish, half-hearted, and eminently delete-able, but it becomes almost second nature, and words start to fly.
  4. Last thing at night, as you lay with your head on the pillow, just think about where you’ve left the plot. Imagine where it goes next. I swear, if you grant some brain-time to it, the ideas come. Write em down if you think you’ll forget. I don’t need to, I remember everything, as I’m sure I pointed out at the start of this post…
  5. You will doubt yourself. You will read what you have written and think, “That is utter shash”. This is normal. But dont stop. Re-write. The next point will help…
  6. Be brave. If you are assailed by the winged tyrants of doubt, then don’t hesitate to cut that whole thirty thousand words. If I was on a deadline I would perhaps think twice, but if, like me, you are just writing to get your story done, then don’t hesitate to chop the last three weeks work. I have found the discarded stuff still contributes to the whole, even if only in background or in clarifying the best way forward.
  7.  Read. A lot. I often find that while I am reading I get a sudden idea for my own work, usually utterly unrelated. I think it must be down to the imagination part of my mind being stimulated. It works for me, anyway…
  8. Have a rest from it once in a while, but don’t stop writing. Go off and start on something fresh – a new story in a whole new world, if that’s your bag. In doing so you will find, when you go back to your original work, you will have some new ideas. You will find yourself in a rut, probably because you are thinking so much about the story, and a change can give you that freshness when you go back.
  9. Have milestones. Mine have all been word counts. The trap to avoid is the not wallowing in your successes. I found myself at 50k words and just stopped, a bit dismayed over the distance to the next milestone, and inordinately proud that I actually got there. But then next thing you know…100k words, and so on.
  10. Get someone to proof read. Your eyes will just skip over the errors in your own work, no matter how careful you are.

Wow, that was harder to do than I expected. I should have done a top three. I’m sure I’ve duplicated some entries, too.

I think this is one of my rare moments of serious reflection. You should cherish it. Not even the barest iota of whimsy. It feels wrong. Like watching a monkey masturbate. You know it’s wrong, but the damn thing has such a funny look on its face.

Until next time…

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Fudgemella and the delusion-teaching Knight


“Once upon a time there was a dusky maiden named Fudgemella. Her super-power was astro-physics, which in medieval Poland was not much use. The gods had dealt a joker there.”

What? Where am I? Did you say Fudgemella?

il_fullxfull.238657111“Caught in a downward fiscal spiral, she began to toy with the idea of branching out, maybe learning a new skill, like Badger-baiting, or popery, which was all the rage.”

Hello? What are you talking about? What’s going on?

“As she traipsed through the streets of the generic proto-germanic settlement, she swung her hips seductively, perhaps hoping for some kind of monetary reward. Her gods had done something right with those hips, so the scales appeared balanced. She considered going to Denmark where her super-power might be more useful”

Oh God, am I trapped in the consciousness of a bad writer? Wait, was that a Tycho Brahe reference?

“As she passed a group of travelling diplomats (whose employer was in no way related to the events that surrounded Fudgemella’s eventual disappearance, rescue and vindication), she arched her brow, or her eyebrow – it is quite difficult to see from here.”

I am trapped in the mind of a bad writer. Hang on, did you just give away the ending?  And you’re referencing the writer’s perspective? Are you mad?

“Quite by chance, a knightly knight by the name of Sir Deus arrived. ‘Madam,” he said unto her, forcing the words ‘twixt cup and manly lip, ‘I am Sir Deus. Deus X Machina. The X stands for, er, Ex. I am here to teach you the art of delusion.'”

Oh, come on! You’re saying that you actually have a character named –

“Fudgemella, startled by the knight’s abrupt/surprising appearance, laughed with gentle admonishment. ‘Sir knight, I have no such need for your teaching, for I have already mastered that particular skill.’ She flicked a bead of sweat from her brow with the last two centimetres of a stiffened digit.

If I promise not to criticise will you let me leave? Please…no more…

“The knight, pushed to a rage beyond compare – like that other fellow that got just as angry when someone broke his pencil – charged his mighty steed into the watching diplomats, piercing, quite by happenstance, their hearts with his lance, like a diplomatic kebab. Although that probably shouldn’t be a reference in a period piece. Unless kebabs existed in medieval Poland. Make it a – what do they have in Poland? Sausages? Yes, pierced their hearts like a mighty polish sausage.”

Not sure about the imagery in this – very suspect… 

“Thus the dusky maiden’s refusal to bow down to masculine domination caused the world to explode into war that lasted eight years, with a hiatus in the middle when one of the knight’s friends got lost in a copse. The End.”

So…a sexist morality nonsense tale? Didn’t know what to write for a blog post, eh?

“Can you tell?”

Calling all readers!


There! No, there, next to the lamp. No, to the left. See it? Is it how you remembered?

No. Because I’m talking utter rubbish. There is a lesson to be learned in this.

Lacking the wherewithal to post anything of relevance, interest or merit, I (your author) find myself poking the keyboard, hoping my unutterably complex brain will dredge up something inspirational. Perhaps under some vast self-delusion, I consider that my meaningless jabber is providing the previously bored reader with what they need – the nourishing, mineral-rich essence of entertainment, wrapped in comfy, fluffy words.

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What I don’t consider is that the reader (who is wise, considerate – a learned person of discretion) is not fooled by this.  “This person,” the reader opines, “has no idea what he is writing about. This is a waste of my valuable and tax-deductible time.”

That reader is right, of course.

Suitably chastened, I (your author) am both shamed and enervated by the realisation that I am engaging in foolery.

The wise author lays down (stops typing on) his pen (the keyboard) and reassesses his life, becoming a wandering doer of good, giving of himself that he might regain the self-respect the reader had driven from him in that devastating judgement.

But there are no wise authors, only stupid ones who write pithy posts with a desperate yearning to be loved. We are ineffably flawed.

The stupid author, caught in ever-decreasing circles of self-loathing and substance abuse, and the peculiar type of self-hate that comes from watching too many episodes of Star Trek – The Next Generation,is physically, emotionally and spiritually reduced. He turns to drink, self-flagellation and collecting ceramic frogs, to the detriment of humankind.

Do you, revered reader, want that on your conscience?

No, and thrice no. For you are, as had been said previously, wise, considerate and learned. You say, instead, to yourself, “Ha! Good post!” in the comments section, like the blog, tell your friends, give them your dedicated support and love, and then the world is a better place.

Is it too much to ask? You have a responsibility, dear reader. Validate this cheap-shot.