I didn’t do any fresh writing this month, which – although a little disconcerting – is not altogether unexpected. Covid-19 has knocked everything into a spin, which is certainly no excuse, because I have absolutely had more time to write, but it has tweaked the way I go about my days. One good thing about the pandemic is that I am no longer having to wake up at 4am. That’s something I won’t miss.
I am slowly making my way through my exhaustive filing of stories, and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Starting with all the stuff I did far too many years ago to mention, I have filed and dated everything (in colourful lever-arch folders) up to and including 2012. By the time I write next month’s update I am confident I will have it all squared away and be able to dedicate some time to coming up with new stuff.
Over the last few days I have submitted a lot of stories to various markets, primarily to get back in the habit of doing it. There was a time when I’d get a response from a pubisher every day. Now, I go many weeks between replies, and that is mainly because I just don’t throw my stuff out there the way I used to. Well that is going to change. 2020 has not been a good year, but I’m determined to salvage something positive from it.
In other news, I was officialy made redundant this afternoon, so – with the thought that such an endpoint was coming sooner rather than later – I’ve been looking for other work as well. I don’t have anything yet, but I have a few irons in the fire, and I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m back out there earning a wage rather than taking the furlough payment for granted.
Take care folks!
After playing about with editing an existing board game, with my take on Monopoly, and then designing a Scotland map for my extension to Ticket to Ride, I turned my creativity to something entirely new, and decided to build my own board game. You know, this pandemic sometimes gives us silly ideas…
I went with a wedding theme (because there doesn’t seem to be any of those) and over the course of a few weeks I fleshed out the concept, drew out a few trial runs, and spent more time in the crafting section of shops than I would like to admit. In fact, when I went to buy coloured paper the proprietor asked if it was just for my kids to play about with… I decided it was best for all concerned if I just said yes.
Anyway, it’s called Get Me to the Church, and it’s a (fairly simple) affair where the object of the game is to, well… get to the church. We tried it out for the first time this afternoon, and – with the exception of a few teething issues that should be easily ironed out with another draft – I think it went down quite well.
I was hoping to get back into my writing in August, but it seems that I’ll be polishing up this game first, and then trying to find someone who may be interested in taking it further…
Anyone know Hasbro’s number?
It took a long time, but I finally finished printing out all my stories in May. There are a few stragglers – a couple of drafts that for whatever reason I don’t have saved on my laptop, and anything I wrote before I was thirteen or so. But everything is there that should be…
…including all the mistakes I have made over the years. The poor grammar, the missing apostrophes, and my god the flowery language. If there was an opportunity for me to say something in three words you can be assured that I chose to say it in thirty.
The funny thing is that I distinctly remember thinking the more convoluted I could make a sentence, the better a writer I was. The density of the prose is what makes a story sing, right?
It took me a while to get out of that habit – years, probably. Sometimes I catch myself circling that literary drain again and I’m reminded of that teenage writer who thought there was nothing better than the flourish of his own pen.
I was going to take a few examples and slot them in here so you could see what I’m talking about, but once it’s out there online, I can’t take that shit back. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Now I just have to organise what I’ve written, and I can concentrate on the new stuff.
April zipped by, and the only creative writing I have to show for it is carrying on with one of those challenge stories I had intended to finish for Christmas last year. It’s nearly there, and I can probably cross the finish line in a few days.
What I have done though is spent more time staring at a jigsaw than at any other time in my life. It’s relaxing and takes my mind off all the other shit that’s going on in the world… I just wish there wasn’t so much damn sky in every one I do!
I’ve also written a hell of a lot of quizzes for the house. For a while I was presenting one a day, and finding out a lot of things that I thought were common sense were really not all that common at all. Bats are mammals, guys. That’s stuff they teach you when you’re six.
I’m back into my reading as well, which is nice. I am currently in the midst of two books – the Jimmy Connors autobiography called The Outsider, and the Stephen King novel, Joyland. Both are very good for quite different reasons, and they are reminders that I should have been doing more of it these last few months.
Wash your hands, folks.
Unfortunately my short story More of a Wednesday Girl didn’t place in that contest that I was waiting for at the end of February, but I’m all right with that. It was nice to be shortlisted, seeing as it has been so long since I’ve even been that close to success. And more chances will come my way, I just need the right story and the right judge looking at it.
Obviously, the coronavirus has been all-encompassing this month, and rightly so, but the downtime at home has given me (and will hopefully continue to give me) the opportunity to catch up with some writing.
I finished a short piece called Paid in Full, in Plastic, which was a lot of fun and turned out quite well. It’s the fifth tale I’ve completed in 2020 and the 100th short story (upwards of 1,000 words) I’ve done since I started keeping detailed records of my writing exploits in 1995 – some of which are even pretty good!
It’s nice to hit a milestone like that, and I just hope that the inspiration can continue in these strange and uncertain times.
I’ve written a few flash pieces this month, all to fairly strict deadlines, but that is as much of a challenge as the writing process itself.
Row Boat Resuscitation is a dramatic tale about a sinking ship… although I’m not married to that title. Filling in the Blanks is fiction, but it does take a lot from my experience with my grandma. And Maternity Test is about a teenager’s prospect of meeting his mother for the first time. They are all very short, but they each offer a good platform to jump from.
I’ve started another short piece as well, which will see conclusion over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.
I also got word that More of a Wednesday Girl – a short story I wrote last year – has been shortlisted in a contest that I had all but forgotten about, which is a nice end to the month. It’s been far too long since I had any competition success, so fingers crossed there.
I’ve come to a decision about Slipwater. I am giving myself until my birthday next year – that’s May 7, 2021 – to find traction with a professional agent or publisher. If I still have made no headway by that time I’m going to self-publish the novel.
I know, I have always been opposed to going down that route. It’s the easy way, right? Any idiot can do that. There are no checks at any point in the process, and certainly nobody to tap you on the shoulder to tell you what you’ve written is trash.
Yeah, I know.
But I wrote the novel for a reason, and it’s good. I believe in it, and I want others to have the chance to read it, and if I have to swallow my pride and do what I swore I never would… then so be it.
Of course, I would much prefer to do this the traditional, tried and tested way, so if anybody in the business is reading this, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.
In other news I wrote a dark flash piece called I Am the Cheese. It’s something I put together very quickly – in about an hour actually – that isn’t particularly polished, but has potential down the line once I give myself the room to mess around with it.
I have sent off a few pieces to contests this month. I was going to give myself a budget each month for this, to get me in the habit of sending stuff away, so that may be an idea I can run with. I’ll have to see how it shakes out.
Well, I promised three short stories by Christmas Day but only managed to deliver one by the end of the year. I finished Last Chance Lagoon just in time to close out the year on a high note.
I think it was always going to be the one I finished first, but at 1400 words it’s a little longer than I had originally expected. It’s good – I like it – and I did enjoy presenting it to my captive audience, who seemed quite taken by being the star of the show.
This is my final post of the year, but I have big ideas for 2020. There are many things I want to accomplish in the next twelve months and beyond, and I’m going to get on them right away.
Happy New Year, folks!
First of all, Happy Holidays. I hope you all had a good time, and got what you wanted and deserved.
Unfortunately, I didn’t finish any of those short stories that I had tasked myself to do. All three of them are in the home stretch, and I reckon if I had put down the chocolates and the turkey I may have found the time to have completed then over the last couple of days… but alas, the call of the festivities was much too great.
While I may not have met my self-imposed deadline, I have manufactured a few decent tales that I otherwise would not have created. I think they will turn out pretty well – it’s just finding the inclination at this time of year to put a bow on them.
2020 is just around the corner now. I aim to make it a good year for me and mine, and I hope you all do the same for you and yours.
Not as much as I would have liked, that’s what I’ve done this week.
Christmas is not just one day or even one long weekend – it’s a whole damn month. I’m certainly not complaining – I love Christmas – but it does create a bit of a dip in the work rate.
Having said that I did manage to take my second of three tales over a thousand words, and it – like the first one – is almost ready to bring home.
I did promise myself that I’d have them completed in time for the 25th. It will be tight, but I’ve got a week off work leading up to the big day so I’ll get them done, even if I have to stop wrapping presents to do it.