Encouragement and extra work

Well I had the pleasure of speaking with a far more established author than myself today to get some advice and guidance on bringing my ideas to another market in the form of developing stories/a story suitable for dyslexic readers. It was agreed pretty early on that Footprints is not something suited to that particular audience with both its length and complexity and as I was speaking to them I realised that the world I have fabricated for my children fits perfectly.

I have always wanted to translate my idea of The Magdon into a story but struggled to taper my writing style for an audience younger than myself. Taking the advice and guidance most certainly reminded me that the Magdon story is perfectly suited and will require less of my sometimes over-articulate and embellished creativity and force me to produce something far more succinct and compacted (with a target of 11,000 words that’s some 10% of what I wrote for Footprints and aim to write for Whispering Shadows.

 

Thankfully though I have been living, and forcing my boys to live, the story and world of the Magdon so in reality the leg work has already been done and I know the story inside and out. It is I suppose just a matter of getting it from in here to out there and there lies the challenge.

Whispering Shadows however remains the priority at the moment as my aim is tom complete Part I before I begin a full edit, brainstorming for that during which time I can pour myself into collating the Magdon story with bombarding my head and giving me enough to time build the story for Part II. It sounds terribly confusing when I see it written down but in truth it doesn’t daunt me probably as much as it should.

I’m still busy scribbling away in my red book of ideas and have had some nice feedback from another reader who has enjoyed Footprints. As I said to them I didn’t write for fame or money (which is a good job as I have neither!) but I wrote because I enjoyed it. The fact it was able to be published is a bonus and the fact people have entered my creation and enjoyed it is a very good feeling. To know other people have invested their time and imaginations to enjoy what I have to offer really is pride and payment enough really. Although I won’t say no to fame and some money…..even a Hollywood approach to bring Jack James to life would be a dream come true! A very distant dream I know.

So really I find myself scribbling and tapping more often but even my wife seems keen and very encouraging of getting the Magdon story out there as she has always said, along with many other parents I know, that the story is very vivid and has most certainly caught my boy’s imaginations. In reality I will be heartbroken when thy grow up and realise it isn’t real but for now they do and that brings me all the magic to keep the story going.

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The world I have created for the Magdon is so real we had a treasure hunt and found the Magdon swords on a wet summer morning solving riddles and searching through the graves _ Theokoles and Athena (the swords are named)

So really I’d just like to say you know who Jack James is by now and if you don’t……well get yourself a copy of Footprints On The Other Side and find out what you’re missing.

I suppose though I should introduce you to the Magdon protagonist, I introduce to you an aged gentleman, an ancestor of my own who long ago passed away but his story and adventures have remained unheard until now. I introduce to you the man that is Archibald Barney Skevington and his life is the story of an ancient evil that has been forgotten by history yet has lived with us since the dawn of time, the creature that is The Magdon.

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Hiatus but progressing

It’s funny what challenges life throw at you and I can say these last few weeks have been full of them. No matter how much I escape into my imagination when writing there’s only so much real-life I can block out and sometimes the real stuff overshadows my imagination and sends it packing back into its dark little box. That said today has been refreshing as I decided off the cuff to see if these typing fingers find a rhythm and thankfully they have.

Sat watching Star Wars Rebels with my oldest I decided to crack open the Dropbox and open the current chapter that’s been haunting me. 641 words of painfully slow progress. An hour later and there’s now 1,648 words and the draft chapter is done! Wow the feeling is pretty good and nice to know that I’ve obviously moved away from the shadows of my stresses and reconnected with my head!

If I sum up what I can of how I deal with life I’d have to say it exists on three levels – mind and body (gym and some meditation), family and writing. If these three things are in balance then I can exist on my divided personality between work and home which for me is a very big thing. If you hadn’t realised by now I am the sort of person that takes things rather seriously and throws myself into things wholeheartedly. Obviously sometimes this can be a little debilitating and can become a massive obsession with things or an overwhelming force but when it’s all in balance then it’s fun!

For this set of rest days I’ve got a kid’s summer house to decorate, a little girl’s second birthday to celebrate, a costume for Em-Con (East Midlands Comic Convention) to prepare and of course some writing to do too. But you know what, life would be boring if I didn’t keep myself busy and I can;t say I resent it, it makes my life varied, unpredictable and fun.

 

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I remember really pouring myself into the story and edits of Footprints On The Other Side whilst they were filming The Dark Knight Rises locally at Wollaton Hall (2012). The presence of Hollywood creativity and imagination was a big influence and I sill love visiting and reminding myself what can be achieved – it’s a long way until Holywood though but I can dream!

I’m honestly dreading the edit phase of draft construction so I think I’m going to have a hiatus and pause whilst I collate and finalise Part 2 ideas into a coherent storyline but whilst doing this go through a full draft edit of Part 1. As the story exists on two distinct levels whilst Part 1 leads to Part 2 they can be considered, from the writer’s point of view, as quite separate entities therefore I feel happy enough to get into a full draft edit without jeopardising the flow of the story. There are a few things that will bleed between Part 1 and Part 2 but ultimately Part 1 and 2 come together to make Part 3.

That may sound completely cryptic but to me it makes sense and I don’t want to risk over-exposing the story and ruining my work. Loose lips sink…..book sales after all!

Well it’s only a brief explanation of how things have been (slowly) progressing but rest assured the story of Whispering Shadows is moving forward.

Whispering Shadows – I’ve decided to stick with the title as it was originally just a working title but it seems to fit. The title implies that the past offers secrets and that really in order to learn the lessons from the past they are not shouted and you must listen clearly to what they have to say. And so the title reflects Jack’s progressing journey and the fact that the future comes from the past and the past sometimes needs careful attention to understand and realise things you may have missed.

Mind clearing – family and fun

With the steady climb that has been going so well with developing the continuing adventures of Jack James in Whispering Shadows there is the inevitable stall, the infamous “writer’s block”. It’s well settled in and everything externally (work, family and fitness) are destined presently to interfere with the construction of a proper draft so it is back to ideas and brainstorming as I have previously said.

Last weekend however my oldest son decided that his latest favourite film is Point Break and as such being seven and influenced by films he decided he wanted to climb a mountain. What better really for clearing my head than climbing a mountain and bonding with my seven going on seventeen year old.

So we set off into the wilderness of the Peak District heading for Castleton where we intended to climb Mam Tor mountain. My not first but his very first mountain. Boy did he do me proud. Blisters aside he climbed to the top and then almost skipped down with pride and a new found sense of dare I say manhood acceptance. It was amazing to see how one simple journey up a hill could change someone so much and it filled me honestly with an immense sense of pride.

But what has this got to do with writing you may ask?

Well sat atop the peak of Mam Tor and looking around the amazing surroundings it gave me a chance to just let myself be free of everything. In some overly elaborate way it felt like trying to write walking up the slopes, that uphill struggle, fighting against the elements and the tiredness but knowing at the top there is something worth the work. Sat there eating a protein bar (yes I know) and huddling together against a bitter wind it all made that journey worth it. Walking up I have even decided as a back story element I may introduce something similar for Jack and his daughter. Yes it may add nothing to the overall story but for me when I write I like to add something that makes my characters seem more human, more loveable and more “real”.

Again that is just my way of writing and I know it will grate some but I don’t know any better. I’m in reality very much an amateur trying to become as my mentor would say “unconsciously competent” at this! Still a ways to go I suppose.

But sat there watching the clouds roll by and the journey across the  peaks before descending back towards the car I had to laugh. This walk was just like my writing, just like me as a person in so much that I may have plans, I may try to source out routes and events but in the end they just become an outline, a rough idea and everything I do descends into unpredictability based on a simple idea.

How so? Well I planned a 2.5 mile route on an easy trail, looked on the maps and saw where to go. When we got there I parked in the first car park I found and pretty much bastardised the route I had found. Some five miles later I’ve doubled the route but in so doing had the most enjoyable day with my boy who aside from having a really bad blister (bad dad alert) hobbled back to the car with a new sense of achievement.

 

And there it was for me, the epiphany that no matter how structured I try to be, how detailed I try to plan my journey it never quite works out that way. Maybe I should just realise and accept that I have a rough idea about where I am and what I am doing but in the end I perform much better when I just go with the flow with a basic idea of where I am and where I want to go. In that way I get the best out of myself and whilst trying to tame myself, much like my imagination, to do so too much results in rebelling or non-enjoyment but if I just see what happens I get so much more out of it.

So what I may not have written in two weeks (you’d be amazed what I had been through in that time but that is best saved for memoirs when I retire). That aside I’m just going to see what I can do without forcing myself – I have no deadlines, I have no demand from a plethora of fans to get the next instalment out as soon as possible so I’d rather give it the time and necessary space it deserves to once again produce a story I feels will be a reflection of me and tell the story I want it to tell.

Sadly you’ll just have to put up with me until I’m done on my messy, unpredictable and difficult journey.

Doubt, deletion and development

Today I continue Chapter 13 and slide (I’d love to say effortlessly) into Chapter 14 but it has been a painful write. The original draft was only 1,100 words so a prompt re-read and re-draft sees it up to 1,511 words but I don;t feel it adds much to the story. It is a necessary aspect to build up to an event but it feels a little laboured. I have changed it twice and considered putting the idea across in a paragraph or two but on that hand it also feels incomplete and lacking in detail.

In truth I recall reading an article about how cut-throat editors can be and like to remove things they feel don’t add enough to the story. I’m not sure if it is a case of seeds of doubt or else I am simply fluffing up one aspect of the story. And therein lies the issue of trying to conform to other people’s ideas and expectations.

I remember all too well that this is not something I have paid an expensive University to train me to do. Studying the form and function of the English language in literature form but that makes me all the more proud of my raw product, I can say it is entirely my own and not something that in itself gives itself up to conform to structures and forms that I do not understand. For me I have always been of the opinion that if I do not understand something then it isn’t something I should use, in this circumstance I suppose it is the finer art of writing and grammar/structure. Why make a fool of myself and get it wrong? Obviously the trade off being there are those who are literary scholars of scoff at how I write and condemn what they probably see as my bastardisation of the English language.

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This road was the inspiration for the opening of Footprints On The Other Side – the irony is I now own the house that started the idea for the setting!

But again it is mine in its entirety and remains the truest form of the story and world that I have created. In that way it is a pure story, flawed but true to its origins.

So I close the latest version of Chapter 13 as completed but incomplete. How will it stand in the future I fully expect it to be a heavily edited version by the time it hits a respectable draft. In reality all the chapter covers is a visit to a hospital. A conversation with a completely unimportant character and the foundations of an extremely pivotal meeting within the story. Even as I write that I question myself as to whether I am dragging something out by using the means to justify the end. Who knows ultimately as the story is still growing and of course it may develop into an important addition but today I feel plagued with self doubt.

I feel I want to have added more, be further in the story but in a mindset such as this I know I am ultimately undoing myself with the story and perhaps taking the time to write is doing more harm than good.

So today I close the laptop and enjoy some family time. My only input into the story if Whispering Shadows will be in the form of idea scribbling ad not adding to the formal pages of the book yet. Forge ideas from the frustration and see where I take my imagination rather than try to formalise something which in the end will become too influential. Once it is committed to page it is hard to leave it behind whereas ideas can be scribbled and scratched away far easier.

Brainstorm as opposed to formalise is this weeks idea. Of course there is always the gym to pound away my frustrations – I suppose I’ve already spent an hour in there today this morning and came out with a clear head for one thing and still a muddled one for writing! Isn’t life a completely entertaining  and unpredictable journey…..gotta love it.