Tag Archives: writing

What I’ve Done This Week #9…

I delved a little deeper this week into the dialogue of Talking in the Fourth. I’m looking forward to grabbing some time and getting through it because I already have a good springboard for the plot and how it ends, and about half of my projected word count committed. It’s (hopefully) a clever twist on a familiar set-up.

I’m also going to make a concerted effort to fire off a bunch of stories in the next few days. I’ve sat on a lot of good pieces for a long time, and I miss those days when I’d have upwards of fifty active submissions… where I genuinely did look forward to the response, even though nine times out of ten it was a rejection.


What I’ve Done This Week #5…

Do you know what the collective noun for rejection letters is? No? Battlefield. Lately I have received a battlefield of rejections. All right, that’s a lie: there is no collective word for rejections. But there should be.

This last week or so I have seen a number of them fly into my inbox, so much so that I started to wonder if all these publishers had gone for a coffee together and agreed to reject me at the same time. Whether it is my novel or the various short stories I have got out there to be judged, none of my words seem to be immune to a shake of the head and the proverbial red pen.

Sure, it can be disheartening when you see something that you’ve put a lot of work into, be cast aside with the same simple stock rejection note that has probably been sent to dozens of poor writers before me, but that’s infinitely better than not hearing anything at all, and that happens far too often.

Years ago, before submitting a piece became (mostly) an electronic affair, you would hear tales of paranoid writers sending out their novel and delicately sticking a single hair in between a couple of pages. That way, when it was returned they would know if their work had even been read, let alone reviewed. Nowadays, that kind of insurance measure is impossible, and we just have to take an editor’s word when they pass on our literary gold for something else.

But you have to have a thick skin in this industry, and mine is beginning to feel like leather.

What I’ve Done This Week #3…

I sent off my novel Slipwater to a few more agents this week, because (hard as it is to believe) it’s been almost a year since I finished it. And even harder to believe is that I have not changed, added, or removed one word of it since then. Seems I’m showing some restraint in my forties.

I know that if other more traditional avenues don’t work out I could go the self-publishing route. That’s something that’s always open to me. I know as well that that does not have to equate to giving up. There are plenty examples of self-published novels that have subsequently been noticed by the big leagues, but the fact that anyone with internet access and enough words is literally a few mouse clicks away from being a published novelist still irks me and, for the time being, I refuse to do it.

I want an agent or an editor to tell me what I already know – that it’s good, that there’s a market for my writing, and that they want to buy the manuscript.

Too much to ask? I guess we will just wait and see.

What I’ve Done This Week #2…

In terms of pushing a new story – that monster one on the train – I’ve probably written less this week than last, but what I have done over the past few days is start to throw my stories out to publishers again.

I tend to use Duotrope for my publication needs. There are others out there which I check out occasionally, but Duotrope covers the bases and is presented clearly and cleanly. It’s a fairly stacked database, with thousands of publications to choose from. It’s by no means exhaustive, but there is a lot of content to wade through.

And yes, it does cost $5 a month to access, but if you’re going to be sending stuff out there with any regularity it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Speculate to accumulate, as they say.

With a little luck something positive will result from my efforts, because it has been far too long since I’ve had an acceptance. Sure, I’ve not played the game nearly as much lately, but still…

Fingers crossed.

What I’ve Done This Week #1…

Well, not very much as it happens – certainly not as much as the first week of last year, when I was burning both ends of that candle and kicking out my final draft of Slipwater, but definitely more than I wrote in the final week of last year. I’m going to take that as a positive and move forward from there.

The short story I’m writing at the moment has been on the books for several years, and has gone through a number of name changes along the way, but I have settled for The 07.43 to Blackford Station, which is of course, subject to change.

It’s an old-fashioned monster story – something I’ve wanted to write for a long time – and is centred on five teenage friends as they take the morning train to school. I have over 3000 words down, and I’m probably looking at twice that upon completion. I know the beats I want to hit, so hopefully I can finally put my mind to it and put this story to bed once and for all. .. by the end of February.

Random Bits of Paper…

ideas41200x630bbI’ve kept many notes I’ve written over the years – from stories I’ve since had published, all the way down to stories that I never even got around to writing. Not yet, at least. Frighteningly, some of these notes and ideas go back to the early nineties. It’s so long ago, people actually liked OJ Simpson.

I went through a whole pile of stuff today, all of which I wrote before I had seen any of my words in print. Some notes and ideas are documented on A4 sheets of paper, but most are written on torn promotional leaflets, or the backs of supermarket receipts, such was the urgency of my thoughts two decades ago!

It’s interesting to look back at these things, and it’s certainly an eye-opener to see just how prolific my thoughts were in those days, but while it’s reassuring to see that I took any and every opportunity to write down a thought I considered potentially useful – no matter how trivial – it’s also sadly frustrating that there have been many moments since those days when I have not been nearly as eager to… do my job.

Sure, a lot of the ideas I thought were gold then are actually complete shit now – in fact some of them were bad even then, but there are a few diamonds in the rough there… a few of which I still intend to get around to at some point. Sometimes an idea needs to breathe first and live later.

A lot of my notes from those days are no more than a few words or a single line, completely devoid of context. This obviously meant something to me when I wrote it at 17, but it means nothing as I stare at the paper at 41. Even with a little creative hindsight, the best reason I can come up with as to why I wrote WHEN THEY WAKE UP I WILL DISAPPEAR, in isolation on a slip of paper, is nothing more than an approximation.

Still, sometimes the why is the most interesting part.

This is What’s Under the Bed…

I’ve written hundreds of stories in my life, over a million words (you’ll have to trust me on that one). I’ve written comedies and thrillers. I’ve written romance and drama. I’ve written sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve written westerns and stuff for kids. I’ve even penned some erotica (much to my mother’s embarrassment), but what I’m writing now is possibly the first real monster story I’ve tried… well, ever.


I mention this only because for the longest time – in my head – I was a horror writer. I think somewhere in there I still am. I read horror and that’s what I wrote, or so I thought. But looking back over those hundreds of titles and those million words, it turns out that very little of it would actually fit in the boundaries of the genre. Maybe ten percent; fifteen at a push.

I’ve always wanted to write a pure, no-nonsense monster tale – one that doesn’t necessarily live in the real world, and doesn’t feel the need to apologise or explain itself either. Sometimes horror just is and creatures just are.

This may just be my first time.