May 22, 2013
agent, followers, journey, learning, newbie, novel, publish, self-publish, tag, Wordpress, writer
I’m very please to share this congratulatory message from WordPress – fresh from yesterday.
Can I offer a great big
to everyone who has chosen to follow my random ramblings over the past ten months. It’s been a hugely enjoyable and education journey and I hope you’ve been able to glean at least one interesting or useful fact from my pages.
No laurels will be rested upon – the learning curve continues ever upwards!
In the meantime, Write On, everyone!
March 13, 2013
blog, book, doctor, eBook, Einstein, expert, frustration, genius, jack of all trades, master, novel, phone a friend, question, resent, self-publish, skilled, skills, surgeon, who wants to be a millionaire, wonder, write, writer
The question I am posing this week is this;
As writers, does it serve us better to be an expert – an absolute genius within a limited field…
…or a multi-skilled ‘Jack of all Trades’?
Having asked that, I will immediately concede that in order to write non-fiction and instructional works, a high degree of skill or expert knowledge is desirable. But what about we writers of fictional works?
It took me a long time to reach my own conclusion on this. Throughout my twenties and thirties (oh, such a long, long time ago) I harboured a mild, jealous resentment towards those who constantly excelled in their field of choice, grudgingly wishing them well whilst questioning those that administrated the Universe why it was that I struggled to master tasks, gaining only a limited skill (consistently in the top 1/3) in anything that I attempted. I had immersed myself in many disciplines (mechanics, electronics, motor racing, sketching, painting, computer programming and numerous others) during those distant sepia-tinged decades, emerging each time without the satisfaction of having truly mastered the necessary skills.
It took me a long time to realise that whilst I couldn’t proclaim myself to be fully skilled in anything I attempted, I was able to turn my hand to a great many tasks – and take some pride at being reasonably competent at most of them.
Then I remembered a story my father told me about a pathologist he’d worked with. The man in question was an expert in human anatomy. He could dissect a body and proclaim cause of death without error time after time. Often he could estimate the cause before he’d even touched the body (no, really!). He would teach class after class of young proto-pathologists, leaving them staggered and wondering how they could ever match up to this great man.
He was an undoubted expert in his field.
But one day, following some car trouble and a rather large repair bill, he took my father (a mortuary manager and owner of a series of self-maintained cars at the time) aside, showed him the mechanic’s invoice and in a low voice he asked; ‘What exactly IS a spark plug?’
It turned out that he was super-brilliant, but also limited in scope.
I have since learned to content myself with the notion that whilst I know very little about a great many things, I do know about a great many things. The difference here is that, like a contestant on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ one who still has their ‘phone-a-friend’ option, I know that there many people, reference sites and numerous sources of information available to me in the world today.
I don’t need to be expert in any particular subject - I just need to know that the subject exists and where to find out about it. Then I can research it thoroughly enough to weave the facts discreetly into a story.
I have finally concluded that knowing even a little about a great many things is a very useful position to be in.
Makes me wonder if I’d been born with an ‘expert’ brain – would I have ever embraced writing?
How do you view this? Are you particularly skilled and able to use that skill to your advantage in your writing? Or are you happy to be a ‘trawler’ like me, sweeping the internet for information, happy to leave the specialism to other people?
I’d be very interested to know if I’m alone in this…
February 13, 2013
A Construct of Angels, Amazon, arrest, biker, car, consequence, drive, drugs, eBook, electric muse, flour, fret, gang, imagination, imagine, legal, muse, novel, over-think, police, publish, questioning my sanity, sane, sanity, self-publish, short story, think, transportation, worry, writer
It occurred to me last night that most, if not all, writers fret about their content and I began to wonder about the whole process of worry and uncertainty.
Do natural worriers make good writers? Do we excel at creativity because our brains are always active, imagining events that range from statistically probable to those that will never happen even in the pages of a bad novel?
My mind, sadly, seems to be on a constant drive towards pessimism. Some days, when my fret gland is active, my Muse goes into overdrive, conjuring up a series of ‘what-if’ scenarios that leave me questioning my sanity.
For example; I can be driving past a police car and my Muse will whisper; ‘What if they decide to pull you over? What if some of the flour that you bought last week leaked onto the carpet? They might think you’re a dealer and arrest you. You could end up in a holding cell with a vicious biker gang that’s out to make a headline. They could kill you. By the time the police realise it’s only flour you could have lost an eye, or a limb. And then what would happen to your writing?’
This is the point where I look my Muse directly in the eye and say;
‘Seriously – WTF?’
She will calm down and take her meds as prescribed and become lucid for a time, but then, without warning;
‘You know how you think you turned the gas cooker off, but you’re not sure because you might be remembering turning it off yesterday and only think that you did it this morning, but you might really have forgotten and when you get home and you turn on a light, it could set off a spark and blow up the whole house?’
Me; FFS – The house is all-electric.
Muse; Oh. I worry too much, don’t I? I think I will take a tablet.
Me; Thank you. Please do.
Muse; *Pauses with the tablet close to her mouth* ‘But did you ever wonder about Lenticular clouds – you know, the ones that look like flying saucers? What it they really were flying saucers in stealth mode and they were watching us? And what if flying saucers weren’t aliens but visitors from our future and they want to know why it all went wrong so that they could guide us to a better tomorrow?’
Me; Now, look…
Muse; I know. I’m sorry. I’ll take that tablet now.
Me; No, no. *searches for a pen* Seriously, that last one is a great idea – tell me it again so that I can write it down. It could become a novel – a series, even. Maybe Hollywood will pounce on it and offer me millions.
Muse; *swallows tablet* Hmm? Sorry, what idea?
So, is your mind naturally over-active? Do you, as a writer, constantly ponder the (often far-reaching) consequences of your actions? Does your Muse deliver a stream of possible and impossible scenarios – one of which might be a gem of a story?
For the sake of my sanity, I hope it does.
For your sanity, I hope it doesn’t.
Please let me know if I’m alone in this.
If I am, I will seek immediate help from the family of accupuncturist hedgehogs that live in the fairies nest at the bottom of my garden…