The more I write

The easier it gets, right?

Archive for the category “Starting to write”

What stops you writing?

Maybe it’s just me, but given the number of books, websites and blogs dedicated to addressing writer’s block or offering help to finish that novel, it would seem I’m not alone in my struggle. I would, on average, spend more time coming up with excuses why not to write than I would on actually writing.

The simple solution would be to find a way to earn money through procrastination.

Not that I’m looking at my writing as an opportunity to earn money, it’s very much just a hobby, a fun distraction from normal daily life. I think if you go into something with the sole intention of making money, it probably puts too much pressure on it. It would feel like just another job. Regardless, a big part of being a paid writer is letting other people read what you have written. As I haven’t yet transitioned to the point of letting anyone read my work, it’s kind of a moot point.

Yes, the irony of publishing my writing on this blog, for the world to see is not lost on me but I feel safe in the knowledge that no one is reading this.

Since the 2014 Easter/ANZAC Day public holiday period (in Australia we are fortunate that in some years we get two short weeks in a row due to the alignment of certain public holidays, yay!), finding the time to write has become difficult. Yes I have the normal excuses running in my head, but I also had a new situation to deal with. During that period I just mentioned, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have never experienced anything like this before, where everything just stops.

It’s like one minute life has the usual sucky crap going on, your job, your bills, mowing the lawn, taking your dogs to the vet, going to stuff at the kid’s school. Then bam! Everything melts away, like plastic in a fire. Normality ceases to exist.

Suddenly you’re visiting the hospital almost every other day to see a doctor or a specialist. You know you’ve been at the hospital a lot when you discover that the cafe staff know your coffee order and you’re on a first name basis.

One day you’re holding your wife’s hand walking along the street, then you’re holding her hand as they wheel her into surgery, trying not to cry, trying to be strong for her. But she looks terrified and all you want to do is grab that hospital bed and get her out of there.

Then there’s chemo and radiation both of which are terrible to watch someone you love go through, but you know they have to go through it. Wanna get someone to stop smoking, have them spend a few days with someone who just had chemo pushed through their veins. It’s a scene man, I tell ya.

The worst part is that, unless you’ve had cancer, chemo, etc, you really have no clue what they’re going through. You just can’t understand, no matter how caring, how loving, none of it matters because they look like death and they tell you they feel like they’re dying. You can’t hug it away, you can’t make a cup of tea and say there there, it’ll be okay. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be. So all you can do is stop everything and be there.

The good news is that my wife finished her last radiation treatment on Friday January 2, 2015. At this point the doctors have said they can’t detect any cancer. This of course could change at any time but we’re both, very much living in the moment. Being present, letting go of the past and not thinking about tomorrow.

The intention of this post was not to bring everyone down. I didn’t even really plan to write as much as I did about my wife’s battle, it just flowed out of me I guess. I think I wanted to use the experience to emphasise how quickly life can change and how important it is to use your time wisely. Or to quote the title of a book by Wayne Bennett, Don’t Die With The Music In You.

So I’m putting aside my fears, living in the now and doing whatever makes me happy. You should too, unless what makes you happy is hurting people or animals. Please don’t do that.

Thanks for reading, peace and love to you all.

Just do it – AKA just finish one story

 

Broken swoosh

Broken swoosh – source https://www.flickr.com/photos/smoy/

 

What am I afraid of?

I write a little every day but the more I write the further away I am from finishing anything. I get an idea and I’m excited! I bang away on the laptop for a few thousand words and then something happens. I get distracted, maybe another idea pops into my head and off I go with the new idea.

What is that about?

I just want to pick one idea, stick with it and follow it through until I have a first draft. Maybe that’s too ambitious?

Maybe I need to be like Bob and take baby steps? I really thought this blog was a baby step but it turns out to be just another burden. Not that I’m going to stop, it’s still a very important part my process and it actually represents something I start and finish.

Things that aren’t important to the process are; Tumblr, Facebook, other WordPress sties, Instagram, YouTube and basically the internet in general…

So anyway,  after I finally finish this post (which has taken me several days fyi), my first assignment is to write one character. Let’s see if that works.

Thanks for reading, peace out.

 

PS. I’m not sure how I go about recognising/referencing the owner/creator of images I use, but the image on this page is not owned by me. I found it on Flickr and this is the person who owns it – albyantoniazzi

 

 

Where do you write?

My pool

The view outside the window where I write

I have no specific place where I write and maybe that’s a problem. I have a laptop set up at the end of my dinning room table that is permanently on (during the daylight hours at least) for whenever the mood strikes me. But I also write using the Pages app on my iPad when I’m traveling to and from work on public transport.

The set up in the dinning room is nice. I have windows all around me so I can see our garden and pool area with its tropical plants, it really is paradise. There is a TV in that room as well, which is also on most of the time. It can be a distraction but it can also provide inspiration and ideas. The truth be known, having an internet connection is more of a problem…”I’ll just research this topic, I won’t Google anything else but this topic.” 30 minutes later, how did I go from researching the effects of anxiety attacks on people trapped in elevators, to watching dogs say “I love you” on YouTube? Side note, I’m trying to teach our dog Otis to say “Rye ruve roo” (I love you in Scooby Doo speak).

I know that this is not the best place to get the most out of my writing, but I love my family and don’t want to lock myself away in a room until I’ve written 2000 words. Again, the more I write in this fashion, the better I’ll get at maintaining focus. I hope.

Writing on public transport is also challenging. I have progressed a few stories in the hours between home and work, work and home. But the issue with this is privacy, or lack there of. Both the bus and train become quite full, quite quickly, so I always end up with someone sitting beside me. Being the archetypal paranoid writer, I don’t want to write with someone looking over my shoulder. So that’s pretty much out as a good place to write. I generally write until the bus or train is full and then swap to playing Plants Vs Zombies or something like that.

Where is the ideal spot to write?

I have this vision of sitting in the coolest, hipster coffeehouse, with views of the busy street outside as people go about their working day (thankfully I’m not one of them). The smell of good coffee, Apple and Cinnamon muffins and raisin toast in the air. I smash out best seller after best seller while tattooed, hipster baristas bring me skinny cappuccinos.

Yeah, it could happen.

 

 

The first line is the hardest…

IMG_0464

This is my dog Otis, looking very cute.

 

This being my first post for this site, I thought there’s no better place to start than with the first sentence of a book.

Charles Dickens had a few good first lines, as did James Joyce. There’s some good websites that list the top 50, 100 and probably thousand best first lines. But are they the best first lines because the books attached to these first lines were brilliant or because the first line was brilliant and made people want to read the book? My brain hurts.

No doubt about it, you need a hook, you need to grab the readers attention, but is the first line the most important or will the first line become great if the story is great?

I should say right now that this blog isn’t about me sharing my wisdom. Not at all. If I had wisdom, skills or any marketable expertise I’d probably be published and have no time to write this gibberish. I’m writing stuff here to get it out of my head, maybe clear out the cobwebs and free up the works so that I can write. And if anyone ever reads this, maybe they can give me some tips 🙂

Anyway…back to the topic at hand.

I struggle with starting (yes that’s a lack of confidence, I don’t need Freud to tell me that) and even when I do get a line, I question it, I doubt it, I make fun of it, I hate and ultimately I change it. Then the whole process starts over.

Someone might say, the reason I struggle is because I’m not meant to be a writer and that’s a fair comment. I’ve had more jobs than I can remember. From cleaner to welder, shoe repairer to employment consultant, security guard to underground miner and for the last 12 years a public servant. But writing is the one constant, the one thing that makes me feel alive. It’s the first thing that pops into my head if anyone asks, “what do you want to do with your life?” (thanks Twisted Sister). So I don’t doubt my passion, just my ability to execute.

Here are some of my most recent first lines, you be the judge if they suck or not.

  • The graveyard was particularly nice at this time of the afternoon. Winter was behind us and Spring was happening all around the city.
  • I’m sorry, it’s not good news I’m afraid. You’re dying and there is nothing I, or any other doctor can do to change it.
  • I’m no ones first choice, no one is sitting by their phone hoping I’ll call or text them.
  • The plume of smoke rising up through the trees in the forest behind Jake’s house was concerning.

“I got a million of ’em”, but I won’t bore you with anymore.

There’s probably nothing wrong with any of those and as I look at them now they seem fine. Maybe Stephen King was right when he talked about leaving your work for 6 weeks. When you come back to it and look at it with fresh, objective eyes. This is from his book, On Writing, which I highly recommend, particularly the audio book version because he reads it.

Anyway, I have purged enough. I’m going to take one of those lines and turn it into a paragraph.

Peace

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