So what do you do when your creativity goes to sleep? How do you respond when readers tell you that your character’s actions and speech are inconsistent and erratic? How do you smooth out those kinks in your plot? When your creativity implodes, rolls over and dies; or when it’s buzzing along so fast on turbo-charge that your characters morph and change faster than Play-Doh being pummelled by a hyperactive four-year-old; when your plot has more holes in it than a rusty cheese grater—it’s time to stop writing, give the right side of your brain a rest, and reach for your internal Mr Spock. Continue reading
Since I self-published my first eBook in March this year there has been around 200,000 books added to Amazon’s Kindle eBook store; that’s over 65,000 new titles per month. If my guess is correct, then this may only be the start and the floodgates have yet to open. Continue reading
When a writer writes, should they play it safe and live comfortably in the knowledge that no one will be offended? Do they push their craft to the limits of their imagination, even if others hate what they do? Is there ever a valid reason for breaking with ‘good taste’? These are some of the questions I’ve been thinking about this week.
Last month I tried an experiment: I gave an opinionated, obnoxious and thoroughly unlovely character some of my blog space. Most blog posts that feature fictional characters are careful to let the reader know what is going on; in my blog posts I deliberately kept that fact hidden—instead I left some clues in these posts for readers to find. Some clues were discovered, some were not.
I received a wide range of responses: some thought it was clever and funny; others did not like it; still others felt as though it was a joke made at their expense. So my question is, as a writer, do I follow my creative whims or do I censor what I write to avoid offending people? Continue reading
This week I found a new toy—the I Write Like online writing analyser that apparently compares your writing style to those of famous authors. So I decided to experiment, to see what it could tell me about my style and maybe even a little about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The results were quite interesting (at least for me).
I thought it would be fun to cut-and-paste in pieces I’d written from different genres. Before we start, I thought I’d include the necessary reality-check and disclaimers: I’ve no idea about the algorithms they use under the hood, so I can’t comment on how accurate or thorough the analysis is. Also, the analyser doesn’t profess to assess the quality of the writing it looks at, so however much I would like to be able to claim my writing is as good as these authors, the analyser gives me no basis for believing that claim, however much I would like it to. Continue reading
Image - open license from WikiCommons.
Now entering the final stages of editing my latest story I have been pondering the writer’s eternal question of, “What next?” What incredible, completely new, inspired, never-before-seen idea will seize hold of my inner essence and set me alight with a creative fire that burns brighter than for any work that has gone before?
Answer: Not a sausage.
So instead I am left pondering the meaning of my existence as a writer, and a human being.
The mood has been set by the subject matter of my last piece, depression, infidelity, cancer, and unemployment. In other words my character’s life sucks – which is entirely my fault. Guilt gnaws away the last vestiges of my self-esteem. Logging onto my blog I find 145 spam messages awaiting me. This is the fruit that now bends the boughs of my creative tree. I therefore feel the need to issue dire warnings and pontifications on the future of writing, creativity, and society in general. You have been warned….
Is Andy Warhol a good painter? Some have argued that a talented teenager could replicate his work. If one of his paintings had been taken back in time, before he became famous, and was displayed at a high-school art show, would it even be noticed? Years later he became a darling of the media, and acclaimed by celebrities. Then, any piece of work done by Andy Warhol could be displayed anywhere, and would be admired, simply because it was an Andy Warhol. In writing, as in the visual arts, the context of a piece of work can change everything. Ignore it at your own risk.
It occurred as I sat, slaving over a hot word processor, and going through the process of putting one of my characters to a gruesome and untimely end. ‘It’ was the realization that as my character went through sundry trials and agonies, and ultimately met an ignominious end, the whole tawdry tale of suffering and pain was accompanied by the sounds of hauntingly beautiful music. Perhaps my soul had been touched by the poignancy of my character’s fate. Perhaps the unfathomable biology of the human intestine was at work, but the dissonance between what I was putting on the page, and what my ears were hearing distracted me, and I was taken by the thought that writing can often be a surreal experience.
Indeed, writing itself seems a strange thing to do when I think about it logically. Writers can work long hours, often for little material reward, to produce work that may be read by only a handful of people. Yet we choose this way of spending our time over others. Why have I just started to write? I’m genuinely not sure, other than the process of creating something (hopefully) unique is fascinating, varied, and allows for the consumption of chocolate at the same time. When I have a more complete answer I may write about it, but until then (assuming anyone is reading this post) does anyone in Webland have an answer? Why do you write, even when given the option to do other things instead? What are your strangest experiences of the writing, or publishing process? I’d be interested to know.