Tuesday, 29 May 2012


For me, the greatest block to my personal success, is the loss of momentum.

Sure I am trying to be the happy househusband; with all the various duties that entails - including two children under six and a wife who does not drive a car. Without a doubt, they get in the way of what I am trying to achieve with my budding writing career. However, I can never really use them as an excuse because I know that line of thinking is only a surrender to procrastination and bouts of C.B.F Syndrome ( a debilitating condition I suffered through most of my teenage years and extended into my tweens to some extent.)

What is this, C.B.F Syndrome?

You know exactly what I mean - so don't kid yourself.



It affects most of us and can only be eradicated through restorative boosts of sheer willpower and the overwhelming urge to fulfill and succeed in all of your desires.

That said, I LOVE writing stories. Developing characters and engrossing myself in the creation of entire universes is where I am most happy. When I get going, I surge forward; I reach milestones and I feel good about the future. I have - momentum.

However so many factors, which I have convinced myself are merely functions of the universe testing my resolve, become blocks to my momentum.

I happened upon an analogy to this recently while I was driving. A large truck, eighteen wheels and as many tons, was thundering along the road towards the sudden rise of a hill. That truck, that speed, that weight - it has good momentum, an easy climb. Then some numb-nut decides to change lanes into the path of the hurtling mass. Silly yes, but not illegal and a considerate action for the old rusted four cylinder that would inevitably slow those in the fast lane while on their ascent.

I could hear and even feel the truck's engine howl as the driver rapidly changed gears down to compensate for the sudden block to his clear path. All that lovely momentum suddenly lost and the cursing driver was forced back to a low gear and now faced a slow tedious crawl up the hill.

Ironically, all that halts my momentum are those whom I love so much. It is their futures that ultimately drive my will to achieve. But the load I carry and the very momentum that I require for the task is being blocked, albeit unintentionally, by the very ones whom I am doing this for. Such a delicate and frustrating paradox.

So I curse and swear inside the cabin of my truck, and shift down several gears to once again crawl and plod up that hill. But hey, it's sure looks good up there, on top of the hill. Hell, even half way up I figure the view is going to be breathtaking. I find a kind of solace in that hope; in that dream. It grants me fortitude and endurance. It affords me courage.

I figure the bravest thing about being a father and a good husband is to do what you have to do without anyone needing to know. You don't seek validation or tally scores to be kept for future reference. They don't need to know. Is that not why we love?

Of course —  you now know; but I'm sure that these words are just an expression of what you have already felt. Besides that, ranting to you my friend, doesn't count.

So I will boldly continue my plod, head down, always rethinking and reworking strategies that will enable me to go over, under, around and even straight through any blocks that threaten to slow my momentum. Because if there's one thing I've learned about momentum, if you've got enough of it, there ain't no stopping it.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Process

A dozen false starts. Tens of thousands of words deleted in a ruthless, swift click of the mouse. (And empty the trash, just to make sure.) All that work is never wasted though because it was used as the foundation for the next model, the new edition, the more coherent iteration.

Organically developed over than span of years, the story comes together in the world that is given form; stitched together with ideas, dreams and imagination. New directions are taken because of the characters personality traits. Morals and dogmas. It's what defines them and decides what actions they take in a given situation. Finally a trail is formed, winding through the newly created universe and solidified as the storyline. Now I put the characters in and — watch what happens.

I am not a subscriber of the "write it all down and then edit" way. If a story is a collection of scenes in sequence, then I tackle each and every one as an individual. I start with a sketch, a basic framework; outline and raw dialogue. Then I return to the beginning and build. The words become voice, the scene comes alive when given detail. The prose flows easily from the tongue as I read aloud, a way to ensure sentences and structure that is easy to you, my audience, to read and understand. The story must move forward. I want you to enjoy yourself, to be entertained.

I write in a very simple program called Darkroom. It is basically Windows Notepad with a black background and green text. No distractions. No auto-correction, auto-formatting, auto-styling or pop-up paper-clip that wants to anticipate my requirements. It's old school  —  well old school enough as it reminds me of the first word processors on computers that barely deserve the title. I guess I could use a typewriter but typewriters were before my time. Just.

I then rebuild directly into an HTML editor. I do this because uploading onto Amazon requires the final product to be formatted and compiled into a .mobi file. This method ensures that final product will look how I want it to be displayed on your kindle. Although compiling it through the Amazon provided Kindlegen software has to be done at some stage, I might as well do it as I go along. It gives me a chance to read the partially written novel on my own Kindle. For some reason it reads differently. I am able to see mistakes to be corrected that I had not seen before.

Writing a novel is a very, very long process. It has been said that a big job, is merely a number of small jobs put together. The novel is no different. Small iterations, completed to satisfaction. Sure, there will always be polishing to do, improvements to be made, editing notes to apply  —  but I will say that the method described above is actually working for me. It's a process.