Monday, 17 December 2012

My White Whale and I....

Hey, how's it going?

Well as my two daughters and my wife keep telling me.  A week to go before Christmas is here.  So I have a week to read through my nemesis - Chapter 8.  Dun, dun, dahhhhhh!!

This is the largest chapter I have written in my story/book, it's 65 pages long which equals 27,528 words.  I think that eventually I will end up splitting this in to at least two, maybe even three chapters as the average pages in all my other chapters is 13 - 15.  So to have 65 pages suddenly appear just doesn't feel right.  But that isn't why it bothers me that I have to work through the 65 pages for revision and refining.  No, the reason I have been dreading this chapter is because I have written and re-written this 3 times now and each time it ends up being different.

The problem I'm having with this 'royal pain in the arse' is that it's predominantly one huge flash back scene and whilst it doesn't give much away regarding the plot of the whole piece, some of the parts within are extremely relevant, leading to clue's and clips of later events (That's my hope for this chapter anyway, whether it comes across like that to the reader has yet to be established).  And as much as I would like too, I don't really think I can edit it down.  I suspect a more experienced writer would have no problems cutting away the fat and stream lining it to a more acceptable page and word count and if the day comes where someone with experience can help I will listen and learn, but for the time being I will continue to work through this brick wall, with only my head as a sledgehammer.

Thanks to this chapter I have added a new insult to my already well established list of profanities.  So if you hear me calling someone or something a 'Chapter 8', it means that  they have annoyed me greatly and that I am slightly flustered.

So today's blog is going to be thankfully short as the more time I spend here, is less time spent there.

I just want to wish anyone who may read this a 'Very Merry Xmas' and all the best for the New Year.

Look after yourselves people, but above all, stay cool.

Pip  x

Monday, 3 December 2012

A thousand reasons to stop, but I only need one to continue...


Well it's been a while since I have written anything here, which means I have broken my promise that I will write in here at least once a week.  I wish I could say it's because I have been busy, I wish I could say that with Christmas coming I have been distracted, I wish I could, but that would be lying.  The truth is I've hit a bit of a 'Awww Mum, I don't wanna go to school today' slump.  Everything seems to be just a little bit to difficult, a tad to arduous.

I think what I need is a coach.  Someone who will spot me.  So today I am sending out a call to anyone who is prepared to be what I shall call 'The Reader' (Now that's a cool job title).  Please see the advertisement below.

Someone who will read my book and tell me what they think.
The successful candidate will need to be able to read through hundreds of pages (approximately 400-ish) with a firm and critical eye and then tell me in a constructive and sincere way what it is I need to do to improve it.
I'm afraid there is no salary as, well, I can't afford to pay anyone at the moment.  However I will be happy to compensate you for your time by offering to shampoo your carpets, bathe your dog, paint your house and countless other things you may need doing.  All you need do is ask and short of  knocking off a bank I will do ALMOST anything to compensate you for your time and critique.
This exciting opportunity gives the right candidate the chance to work with the next big thing to enter the literary world by storm.  'JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer eat your heart out babies.  There's a new kid on the block' is what people will be saying according to the daydreams I often have.  (We can all dream can't we?)
So, if you are interested in the position and have a desire to break new ground in the literary world then contact me on '0800 NO FRICKING WAY' and we can discuss the terms and conditions in which I will become your bitch.  I am desperate for someone who has an idea about writing to advise if what I have written is any good and who is prepared to push me hard enough so that I can finish what it is I have started and hopefully give me some kind of direction and purpose with what I am trying to achieve. 
Back to reality...
I don't expect anyone will get back to me regarding this, it's just me being a twat if I was to be honest, but at some point I know I need to find someone who does actually have a clue about this new world that I am trying to enter.  But I will not be disheartened.  I will continue to strive forward, forever in to the face of adversity, kicking the shit out of any and all who may try to thwart me on my quest for world domination in the literary world.  MWhahahahahaha!
Mark my words PIP CONNOR will be known, his voice shall be heard, his words shall be read and I solemnly vow that should anything I write ever get published, which in turn will hopefully allow me to write more, I will pay it forward.  We live in a cynical and cruel world at the moment.  People find it difficult to trust others and who can blame them for feeling like that and whilst I am not even the slightest bit religious, I have hope.  Hope that one day, we as a race will eventually get our heads out of our own arses and simply sort it out.
This weekend I stopped two idiots from breaking in to my neighbours house.  Without thinking I shouted at them to stop, they were startled and ran, which should have been enough.  But for reasons I can't explain I then proceeded to chase after them. 
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me) they got away.  As I returned to my own home, out of breath and sweating, I started to ask myself why I had chased after these scrotes.  What would I have done if I'd caught them?  What would they have done if I'd caught them?  I can't explain why I gave chase, just instinct I guess.  But it did get me thinking about how we are governed by others.  I don't mean by government, the police, etc.  I mean by other people who to me just seem to be ballsy enough to do what they want when they want and have little or no concern of the consequences of their actions.  I like to think that I am a 'live and let live' kind of guy, but I am getting increasingly more concerned about the way things seem to be going.  Especially when it comes to my two beautiful girls.  We live in a world where people take what they want and care little, if at all, for those that they take from.  We are either becoming desensitised by the things that are occurring on our very doorstep or we simply don't care.  Ask yourself this...
When was the last time you did something for someone else and didn't want anything in return?
What I did yesterday wasn't brave or clever, in fact it was probably stupid.  In the last two years, in the area where I live, several people have been murdered, arm robbery has gone up, burglary is rampant and there is a van going around that is apparently trying to steal kids?  To quote the youth of today 'WTF!!'  I live in an old mining village in South Yorkshire, how is this happening?  Why is this happening? 
I know we live in a cruel world, my childhood would probably give Stephen King nightmares.  As a child I remember lying in my bed, too frightened to sleep, praying to a God that I stopped believing in long before I should have, that the following day would be a good one and that whatever it was I did that made the man that I used to call Dad so angry, I would stop doing it and hopefully he would stop hurting me. 
I tell you this, not because I want sympathy, but to illustrate that I know exactly what people are capable of.  I have experienced and seen things that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  And whilst I took everything he had, telling no one what was happening to me, I would console myself by repeatedly saying that if what I was going through was happening to me, then it meant that it wasn't happening to someone else and that I was saving someone from the humiliation and degradation that I had to endure on an almost daily basis.  The things kids say huh?
Anyway, back to my point, I promise I do have one.  I believe in my writing.  The story/book I am trying to write is fictional, I suppose you would put it in the 'supernatural' section.  But ultimately it's about us as a race and how I believe that in the end we're all going to be okay.  I have to believe this because if I didn't, then what is the point of anything.  I would love it if people read my stuff and realised that whilst the world can be a harsh and cruel place, if they just believed in themselves, everything will work out in the end and that there are people out there who feel the same way.  To know that you are not alone even when it feels like you are is the one feeling I can't shake.  At times I am terrified that I am losing my mind and who knows, maybe I am, but that's my problem.  I just hope that in the end it will all be worth it if I can just feel like I am here for a reason and that I'm not worthless.  That's why I have to write my story/book.  I sound quite arrogant and self-righteous don't I?  Perhaps I'm just being naive or maybe it's wishful thinking, is there a difference? 
I'm not sure how I'm coming across when I write this stuff.  I suspect I probably sound like a whiny, whinging, pitiful fuckwit.  But I promised myself that I wouldn't lie when I write on my blog.  I'm not trying to reach out to others, shit, you guys have your own problems, (but if you want to talk about them, the least I can do is offer a friendly ear, I promise I will listen).  I just think I am trying to let go of some very heavy luggage that I have been carrying for most of my life, (as we all do), and by writing about it, whether it be here or in my story/book is me proving to myself that it's okay to say (or type) stuff out loud for other to hear (or read).  So if you have got this far, thank you for your patience and taking the time to read this.  Who knows, maybe we can help each other?
That's it for today.  I've noticed that no one has submitted anything to the 'Social writing experiment #1'.  That's okay, I'll keep adding to it, you never know...
Stay cool people and above all stay cool.
Pip  x
Writers are people that tell hard, exact truths in a form that is a beautiful lie...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Social writing experiment #1

Hey, it's me again.  I know, twice in the same week, who'd have thought it?

I have had an idea.  It may sound a tad crazy, but to hell with it, what's that saying?  If you don't ask, you don't get. 

Question - Is it possible for a collective of people who don't know each other to write a book?

I find that at times, more than I will honestly admit, that I really want to write, but when I am then sat in front of the ever patient, blinking cursor, sometime the words don't come.  So what I do to get the old juices flowing is pick an object outside of my window, it can be anything, a tree, a person walking past my house, I even once did this with some litter that was being pushed around by the wind, and I write a short story about the subject matter.  For me, all this does is get me thinking and before I know it I'm ready to tackle the main piece I am currently working on.  Often the short story I used to get me started gets left and never thought about again. 

So this got me thinking, if I do it, surely there are other that do it too, or at least something similar.  Rather than delete these little bits of writing that we start and never finish or we do in fact finish them but find that after having read those little morsels it turns out they're no good, what if they could go towards something bigger. 

Here's the idea, it's probably already been done, but I curious to see if this works. I am going to write a few paragraphs to the beginning of a story and then I am going to invite anyone and everyone to submit their own bit.

There are no rules to this 'Experiment'.  People can write as little or as much as they like, (If anyone writes anything at all).  Feel free to introduce characters, create plot lines, etc.  Anything goes.  I don't think there should be any rules when it comes to this.  All I ask is that it is kept within the feel of what was written before and it has to be credible, if that makes sense.  There is no 'theme' or 'genre' either.  I'm curious to see what kind of a story could emerge.

I'm not going to give this possible story a title, not yet, that's maybe something we can debate about if this idea takes off and people contribute.  So to start off it will be called simply 'Chapter One'.  Two words that scare the crap out of me.  If you would like to add to this you need to make sure that you are one the blog post labelled 'Chapter One'.  This will allow anyone to read what it is we have (hopefully) collectively written in what I hope is a chronological order.

If this works, all you have to do is reply to the post with your contribution and then when you have finished end your post with the words <TAG YOUR IT!>.  And then hopefully someone else will take over, etc.

So it is with great trepidation I start this experiment in combined thinking and writing.  You never know, together we could write something epic.  If you would like to take part, please click on the link below to get started.  Let's see if what we write can inspire others to write too.


Additional Note

I realise that if this project does take off that there might all sorts of legal mumbo jumbo that might concern people.  Copyright stuff mainly and other things that I have no clue about. 

We live in a world were it's almost impossible to trust anyone and the intentions that they may have when they ask us for something, especially if it's for free.  And it makes me sad that we have to watch out own backs so closely, but please remember, this is just an exercise in fun.  If any contributions are submitted but are considered to be offensive, insensitive or just out right rude, they will be removed.

Apparently if an infinite amount of monkeys, each had their own typewriter, eventually they would write the complete works of Shakespeare.  Well we are not monkeys, but that doesn't mean that between us we couldn't write an epic.  It only has to start with one word.

Take care, but above all, stay cool.

Chapter One

His footsteps echoed loudly as he ran down the dark alley. The repeated clack, clack, clacking of his shoes as his feet hit the wet tarmac was reminiscent of a broken, if not somewhat ominous metronome, counting time to a beat and rhythm that should never have been played.  But he didn’t stop running.  He couldn’t.  They were after him.

Persistently fear would try and infect him, but with every exhale of his breath he would try and push it out.  He had no time for fear.  Fear made people weak; it created doubt and stole away hope.

His lungs felt as if they were on fire.  He needed to find a place to stop and catch his breath, but all he could make out in the low light of the alley were bags of litter, gathered around dumpsters which were already brimming with waste.  At least this particular alley didn’t have a dead end.  He was grateful for that.

Halfway down the impossibly long alley he stopped to catch his breath, he didn’t want too but his chest felt like it was going to explode and his vision was starting to go dark around the edges.  Leaning against one of the filthy wet walls, swallowing down huge gasps of the filthy smelling air he looked back at the way he had come.  He couldn’t see anyone, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t there. 

He pulled up the sleeve to the expensive shirt he had worn for tonight and looked at his watch.  The time piece told him it was 23:23.  Seeing the two numbers together unnerved him, but he wasn’t sure why.  The sound of an empty can rattling across the hard concrete floor tore his attention away from the numbers on his watch.  He didn’t stop to look and see who or what had disturbed the can.  With more effort than it should have taken, he pushed himself away from the alley wall and continued to run.  He could see light at the end of the alley that he desperately wanted to leave.  The street lights shone, as welcoming and as warm as any open fire in a hearth on a cold and miserable day.  If he could just get to a public place, he would be okay, they wouldn’t be able to get him once he was out and in amongst people, normal people, real people.  Once he knew he was safe he would then be able to figure out what had happened.

With less than forty feet to go before he reached his destination he foolishly started to believe that he was going to be okay, that he was going to get out.  But hope, whilst powerful, can be as delicate as crystal and as small as a grain of sand.  Easily smashed and easily lost. 

With the finish line in sight, a tall dark silhouette stepped out of the inky dark shadows, obstructing the exit, cutting through the light from the street on the other side like a black shard.  Its elongated shadow cast an ominous shape on the wet, litter strewn floor.

The running man skidded to a stop less than ten feet away from what he hoped would have been relative safety, his shoes losing grip on the wet concrete.  He fell to his knees.  Panic and fear was now being smothered by a new emotion, acceptance. 

He knew escape was impossible as the dark silhouette took a step towards him.  The darkness of the alley and the backlight from the street made it impossible for him to make out any discernible features of the being that took another step toward him.

Inexplicably he started to laugh.  At first it was more a chuckle, barely audible and then the inappropriate sensation got stronger.  Before he could explain it he was laughing out loud hysterically.

Still unable to make out who or what it was that now stood in front of him, the man on the floor stopped laughing.  He wasn’t going to fight, it was pointless.  The shadow reached out slowly to him with a pale, skeleton thin hand.  The man on the floor knew that if it touched him, it was over.  But he was too tired to try and escape, besides, if he did manage to fight his way out, they would find him again.  Instead he chose dignity over fear.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, ready for whatever came next.

Past the dark alley, in the protection of the lit world, a car horn blared.  The man had expected and waited for his life to flash before his eyes.  Wasn’t that what people said happened when forced into a situation like this, but instead the last thing he would hear would be an irate driver hitting their car horn impatiently.  Then he heard it again, only this time it was louder.  The man on the floor opened his eyes to discover that he was no longer in the dark alley.







Thursday, 22 November 2012

It's time to kick arse and chew gum, and I'm all out of gum.

Okay, it's time to get serious.

I have been writing my story/book for over 18 months.  I am powering through my 3rd draft now and feeling pretty good about where I am regarding my writing.  No, wait, that's a lie.  I'm not happy where I am with my writing, but for the time being I'm doing the best I can and I'm okay with that.  Anyway...

When I first started I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't read any writers blog's on how to write, I wouldn't look into subjects regarding what to do once I had a written a book, etc.  Not that I didn't want to, I did, I really did.  I just wanted to make sure that I wrote the damn thing first, before I caught up in the idea that one day I was going to be the next New York Times Best Seller (We've all been there).  But let me tell you something if you are reading this and considering doing some writing of your own, it's harder than you think.  The reason I didn't subscribe to blogs and visit different writing forums was because I was a little worried that I would get caught up with idea that I would write a book instead of actually writing a book.  There are some amazing blogs out there that are open and honest about the ups and downs of writing, offering advice and support.  And then there are others that are a little more blunt. But at some point they all say the same thing.  Writing is hard work and not a guarantee to fame and fortune, which I bet would put a lot of people off.  Apparently everyone has a least one book in them and if there was a machine that could extract it from us and put it on paper we'd all be writers.

I think, and remember I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I believe that anyone who makes the decision to sit down and attempts to write something, somewhere in the back of their mind is the idea that they might be able to make a living from it.  I'll be honest, whilst it wasn't at the fore-front of my mind, it definitely crossed it more than once. 

Now I'm finishing draft 3 I'm approaching the stage where I have to consider the concept that after all the hours I have spent writing the damn thing, perhaps it might be worth seeing if anyone is interested in doing something with it. 

I feel I need to point out here that I have no expectations of anything coming from my writing and believe me when I say that.  But what if?  Just what if?  It has happened to others, maybe it can happen to me.

I'm starting to discover that there are many options when it comes to the possible/potential/wishful thinking publication of my material.  I'm aware that it doesn't mean I will be able to make a living from writing, but I do wonder what the likes of Stephanie Meyers or JK Rowling went through mentally when they wrote their first book.  I'm guessing that they never considered the idea that their books would become so colossal.  I remember reading somewhere that JK Rowling was knocked back dozens of times before she finally got picked up and now look at what she has accomplished.  Amazing. 

The one thing I am starting to like about writing is the idea that you have to earn it.  There isn't an '(Insert Country here) Got Talent' or 'X-Factor' for writers.  (Although I would love to go to an audition if there was, can you imagine the characters that would turn up).  I doubt it would be a group of wannabe's who (mostly) look the same, sound the same and think the same.  The diverse range of people who might audition would be inspiring I think. 

Anyway, I digress.  What I am saying and it isn't clever or original, just an observation.  You can't cheat with writing.  You have to earn it and after spending countless hours working on the piece in question, it still doesn't mean anything will happen, but, and this is what keeps me going, I have learnt so much about myself.  Just by getting to the point I am at now and knowing I still have miles to go doesn't concern me.  Yes I get frustrated and pissed off (See some of my other dribble, especially the one named - Why Bother?  No-One Cares.  That was a bad day).  But that's okay, I am learning everyday and you never know one day I might be one of the lucky few who can do what they enjoy for a living.  And whilst I now do read other writers blogs regularly for hints and tips and just to try understand what makes them tick I am discovering that there are other like me. 

I know now that there will be good times as there will be bad.  And I know that it might be all for nothing.  If my blog is anything to go by, I don't imagine my writing to be much cop.  But do you know what, I'm okay with that, because maybe, just maybe...

Stay cool

Pip   x

Friday, 9 November 2012

The kindness of strangers...

No, don't run away.  I promise I have calmed down since my last entry.

For any and all people that may have read my last rant I would like to take a moment to apologise. 

I don't want people reading this and thinking what a (please enter expletive here).  That really isn't my intention, but (and I realise I am opening myself up to riddicule here) I don't have anyone who I feel I can vent my anxieties, fears and frustrations too.  All together now...Ahhhhhh!

But with the help of the interweb you can feel like you have shouted your lungs out and expressed yourself well enough that eventually you feel (hopefully) a little better.  And every now and again, if you are really, really lucky, a kind soul will provide you with a supportive and above all honest word and the offer of help. 

And for that I would like to send a huge Thank you to Anne R. Allen.  You know why. 

Please check out Anne's blog, especially if you are a writer, aspiring or otherwise.  The information and support I have gained are invaluable and I will be reading your blog long after mine has died a tragic and pitiful death from a Jack Daniels overdose.  And that's if I'm really lucky.

Anyway, it's the weekend and I have promised my girls that I won't spend the weekend locked in front of this thing.  It's going to be difficult, so wish me luck.

Until next time.

Take care and stay cool.

Pip  x

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Why bother? No-one cares.

This is me right now!!

Hey, it's me again and I had better warn you now, I am having a really bad day.

Nobody reads this blog, so I don't really care if what I write pisses people off.  I am going to sound really pathetic for the next 10 minutes, but at the moment, this little blog I have is the nearest I have to a friend right now.  And whilst I realise that you can't talk back and offer me reassurance, a supporting shoulder to cry on or even give me a bloody good slap for acting like a complete dick, it's still nice to know that I can vent to something, even if you are essentially an imaginary companion. 

Oh my God, I am 36 and have just realised that the nearest thing I have to a confidant, is a laptop and a blog screen.  My life truly is pathetic.

I feel I am very close to admitting that my experiment in whether I can change my life for the better is nothing more than a failure.  As is everything I try and do. 

Do you ever have that feeling that you were put on this planet for a reason?  I used to, if I was to be honest, I still do, but I am starting to suspect that my only purpose is for people and life to use and abuse me for whatever they can get, and then when they're done bleeding me dry of everything I can offer, they fuck off and leave me wondering what the hell is going on.

My head hurts!

I'm finding it really difficult at the moment to put into words just how it is I am feeling.  In my head it feels like there is nothing but chaos and entropy.  I am having serious trouble making sense of things. 

Is this what it feels like to lose your mind?


Is there anybody out there who can help me, please????

I hate feeling like this, I really do, but I have no idea what I can do to make things better.  I feel like I am nothing more than a burden, a pain in the arse.  I don't mean to be, but I am so frightened right now.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

My cure for the blues...

Hey, it's me again.

Well I have been 36 years old now for almost a week and am fully aware that I am creeping ever more closely to that daunting 40 number. Don't get me wrong, whilst it would be a lie if I said that turning 40 didn't bother me, I am more concerned about where I am at the moment and what I can do to change this.

I realise that it might seem a tad melodramatic but I am having serious doubts at the moment whether I can change my life for the better, which is after all what this writing experiment is all about for me. I feel at this point that I need to explain what it is I am trying to do.

I am not trying to write a story/book with the expectation that I will be able to make money, although I would love to be able to tell people, one day, that my name is Pip Connor and I make my living from writing books. But the idea and drive behind me writing a story/book is to see if I can just do it, to see if I can produce several hundred pages with words on them with the hope that if someone was to read it, they would hopefully enjoy it. But now I have started on 'Version 3' and I will probably regret saying this, a very small part of me is starting to believe that I might just have something here.

The last few years for me have been the toughest I have ever had. Almost everything that could have gone wrong has. And I'll admit that for a long while I let it all get to me. I didn't just wallow in the self pity and despair I felt (and to a certain extent still feel) I let it consume me completely. I took to drinking, quite heavily and was put on some pretty heavy medication too. And for a while I barely knew where I was and what I was doing. And then something changed. I don't know what it was, I really don't, but I decided that enough was enough.

I realise that other people who suffer from depression have their own tales and experiences and I don't want to belittle their own situation as I have learnt the hard way that depression is a very serious condition to have to live with, but in my own experience I realised that at the time I wanted, perhaps I even hoped, that someone would make everything okay and in turn stop me from feeling what it was I was feeling, a fairy godmother perhaps. But in my experience these people don’t exist.  Fortunately for me, and I mean it when I say fortunately, I somehow managed to figure out that whilst my wife and baby girls helped more than they will probably ever know, there was only one person that was going to make everything all better and that was me. All the medication + the booze and everything else that went with it, for me anyway, weren't working. In the end I had to bite the proverbial bullet and sort my life out myself.  So I decided the best way was to concentrate on something I reaal wanted to do and so I decided to try and write a story/book.

You might wonder why it is I refer to what I am writing as a 'story/book' and the reason for this is simple. I don't feel at the moment I have the right or deserve to call what I am writing a book. Not until I see it printed, even if ends up being nothing more than a pile of paper sitting on my table.

But by writing my story/book I have found that whatever it is I am trying to fix inside of me it seems to be working. I do feel better, more than I have in a very long time and the closer I get to finishing it, the more confident I feel about things in general. People still scare me, a lot. I seemed to have lost all my social skills over the last few years and I have real trouble trusting anyone, but I am hoping that one day that might change too.

My only problem now though and I am trying desperately to ignore it, is this little voice in the back of my head that seems to be getting slightly louder with every page I finish which is persistently asking me what happens if nothing comes from what I write? What am I going to do if it’s no good and no one else likes it?  At the moment though I am choosing to ignore it, as I have a sneaky suspicion that even after I have finished writing my first story/book, that doesn't mean that everything is done and my gut is telling me that there is still a very long way to go.

Anyway, time for me to go as I am taking the afternoon off to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the comfort of my own home.

So take care and stay cool.

Pip x

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Disney. Fact or Fiction?

The Only Thing That Stands Between You And What You Want Out Of Life Is The Will To Try And The Faith To Believe That It Is Possible.

Hey, it's me again.

Well I'm well on the way with version three. I'll be honest though, I thought that this time round it would be a lot easier than the other two versions.

With the other two, I wrote them from scratch.  I started with a blank page and let my finger do the talking (so to speak). But this time, I basically copied version two in to a new folder and decided that I would read through what I have written and just start fiddling with it. Take some stuff out, put some stuff in, move it around a little, that kind of thing. Turns out it's not that easy though.

I have been working on version three for about a week now and whilst I took yesterday off and didn't go anywhere near my laptop, I try and work on my writing for at least a couple of hours every day. The way I see it, if I spend a couple of hours just writing a single paragraph then at least I have added a little bit more to my story, rather than do nothing at all.

I know it sounds ridiculously silly, but these things don't write themselves, no matter how much you think about the plot/storyline and I think about mine all the time when I'm not worrying about other things. I usually figure things out when I'm out walking my dog Gibson (named after my favourite guitar, not the actor).

(Gibson.  My Devil Dog)

The thing is, I feel, and I'm probably wrong to do it this way, but at this stage I won't move on to the next chapter, paragraph or line until I am happy with what I have previously written. The main reason for this, as I am quickly learning, is that by just changing just one line it can alter the whole feel of the story/chapter. So if I decide to skip ahead to another chapter if the one I am currently working on becomes too much of a headache to process and then I go back to the original chapter later on that I originally skipped, I find that I'm having to re-write what it is I have already re-written as it doesn't match what it is I have just changed previously. Does that make any sense to anyone else?

I think my biggest problem is I have no idea how to write a book properly, I'm not entirely sure if you can learn to write a book or if you have to have it in you to be able to do it. Either way, it's bloody frustrating. On Monday I must have spent the better part of two hours writing and re-writing the same line until I was happy with it (and I'm still not 100% convinced that it's write).
So today’s question is this:-

Can you be a writer because you want to be one or do you have to learn to become one?

I understand that if you want to do something well, anything really, then there has to be some kind of learning curve. But if I was to join a writing group for example and learn everything there is to know about how to write a book, would that make it easier to write? I can only assume (Yes I know, never assume as it makes an ASS out of U and ME, very clever) that by learning anything about something you want to do is beneficial, building blocks, foundations, etc. But I haven't done anything like that, it never really occurred to me to do that. I had been thinking about writing a book for several years and had tried a couple of times, unsuccessfully I might add. And then I had the idea for my current story and the words just seemed to appear on the screen, kind of.

At times though I had to push through, as sometimes it became difficult to keep motivated, but I continued to work, despite the figurative road blocks that would pop up more often than not. And now here I am working on version three and I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's still a long way off, but it's definitely there. But it doesn't mean that what I have written is good or that others will like it. If we met and had a bottle of Jack to drink, I could bore you for a couple of hours with my story, in my head I have crossed all the T's and dotted all the lower case J's. But just because I think I can tell a good story does not mean I can write one. I mean, I have seen people jump out of a plane at 20,000 feet but I know that doesn't mean I should grab a chute and go out and do it myself.  That’s what training and learning is for.

I'm aware that this is a ridiculous analogy, but to a certain extent, for me it isn't. I have told no one about writing this book, because I'm frightened that people will laugh at me. Stupid I know, but confidence is something I am sorely lacking at the moment in all aspects of my life. It's one of the reasons I am writing my story/book.

I have watched dozens of films, whilst sitting with my two beautiful daughters where the message is, if you want something bad enough, you can have it, if you work hard enough. I fully support this message and encourage my girl’s everyday to work hard and enjoy themselves whilst they do whatever it they are doing. But for every success story you read/hear about, how many people don't make it? How many times can you be knocked down before you start to believe that it's not worth getting back up?

Well all I can say is stay tuned, because knowing my luck, together we'll find out.

I apologise if I sound depressing, it's really not my intention to be like this, but these are genuine concerns I have. One day I hope to look back at these posts, perhaps in a couple of years (if I'm still writing them that is) and laugh at myself. I'm actually looking forward to that. But at the moment the fear that I am doing all this for nothing is a very real concern for me as I genuinely believe that for me, this is my last chance at making a difference in mine and my wonderful families life.  But if Disney is to be believed all I have to do is have faith in myself that I can do this and work bloody hard and one day, (hopefully sooner than later) I can start to enjoy whatever may hopefully follow.

I have probably bored you enough today so it's time for me to go.

So as always take care, but above all stay cool

Pip x

P.S.  It probably doesn't mean much but I have finally joined the human race and joined Twitter.  Feel free to add me at @pipconnor.  Hope to speak to someone soon.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The X-Factor Paradox

Hey, It's me again.

It has been over a week since I have even touched my laptop after completing version two of my story/book. I decided I needed a break away from the never ending flashing cursor on my screen, but now I'm back and ready to do it all over again and this time I will be working on version 3 of my story/book.

Just for my own benefit as I'm not entirely sure anyone reads this, but below is a page count of both versions.

Version 1 - 391 Pages - 26 Chapters
Version 2 - 359 Pages - 22 Chapters

I'm not sure if this is consistent or even the correct way of doing things. To be honest I have only just really started to research the art of writing and other writers, as I wanted, no that's wrong, as I needed to make sure that before I started trawling the interweb for help and guidance I had to make sure that the idea of me writing was more than just an idea. And now, whether I believe it or not, I think that I have shown sufficient commitment for me to perhaps look at asking someone else to read what it is I have written.

The idea of giving it to someone else to read genuinely fills me with a very serious feeling of dread. What if what I have written is shit? How do I know that I could have made just as good an effort by repeatedly writing the sentence 'I am a mole that lives in a hole.' I have tried to imagine what I would do if someone I knew asked me to read something that they had spent months working/writing on, only to discover that I didn't think it was very good. How do you tell someone that?

The X-Factor Paradox

It was for that very reason that I haven't told anyone, except now, what it is I am trying to do. My wife didn't really know until a few months ago just how serious I was about trying to achieve whatever it is I am trying to do, I'm not even sure myself if truth be told, what I hope to gain from this experience/experiment.

I remember a few years ago a very good friend of mine told me that she was thinking of auditioning for the X-Factor and would I mind listening to her sing to see what I thought. I'll admit that I was flattered that she would ask me for my opinion, in the past I had played guitar and sung in a few bands, nothing massive, but I loved doing it. Gigging was amazing, the feeling I would get when I knew that the band was performing well and that the crowd was really enjoying us. I would recommend to anyone and everyone to take up an instrument and get on stage with it, just once, (something else I can tick off my bucket list), anyway, I guess that because she had seen me sing and play in my band a few times, she must have thought I would be able to advise her.
Now I don't claim to be any kind of expert when it comes to music, (although I abhor chart music, sorry), but I will happily watch anyone play and sing live, for no other reason than it takes bottle to get up on stage in front of people and give it everything you've got.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, my friend turned out to be not as talented as she may have thought. I listened intently for three and a half minutes as she belted out her favourite song and whilst I applauded her conviction and obvious passion for singing, how was I supposed to tell her that I didn't think it was a good idea to audition. The only reason I thought she shouldn't audition though was because I didn't want four apparently professional music moguls (Louis Walsh? I shake my head with bewilderment) tearing her off a strip and telling her she was no good.

When she had finished singing her song there was a deathly silence as she waited for my opinion. What was I supposed to do? Here was my friend asking for my honest opinion and I knew that if she auditioned she would be devastated when she got the four 'No's' that I knew she would receive. So I did the only thing I felt I could do, I chickened out and told her that she wasn't bad, but she could do with some practice. I showed her a few exercises that I used when I was in my band and told her to practice every day.

And that's exactly what she did, practicing almost religiously. A few months went by and I had forgotten about her audition if I was to be honest, when she came back and asked me to critique her again. In all fairness she had gotten slightly better, this time she was almost in time with the tune and her pitching, whilst not anywhere near to what it should have been had improved, but still I knew what was eventually going to happen. I tried to convince her to give it a year, see if she could get in or start a band, allowing her time to get experience, etc. But she was very keen to audition. This time I promised myself that I would be brutally honest and tell her what I thought, but like most blokes I bottled out.

My friend went to the audition; I was unable to go with her. She got the four 'No's' that I knew she would, Simon Cowell even commented on just how bad he thought she was and asked her why her friends and family would allow her to embarrass herself like that? She was devastated and has since never tried to sing again. My friend never blamed me for letting her go (although I wouldn't have been surprised if she had), but the way I see it, if you enjoy doing something that doesn't hurt anyone who has the right to say whether you are good at it or not?


And I think it's a big but, what if you're wasting your time chasing dreams that never become anything more than that, a dream? To Spend hundreds of hours working on something that will eventually turn out to be nothing more than a waste of time, time that could be put to better use. And that's how I look at this writing experiment. Singing, for example, is something anyone can do and most people do do it, some without even knowing that they are. How many times has a tune come on your MP3 player or the radio and you've found yourself singing along to it. It takes no effort really, not unless it's your lively-hood then I assume it takes up quite a lot of your time, but if you're singing for a living, then that normally means that you are one of the lucky few that has managed to do what you love for a living.

What if what I am writing/doing is ridiculous and stupid and all I'm doing is burning through hours that I could be using for something else. And all because someone I asked for help doesn't feel they have the heart to tell me what it is I'm doing is shit and a waste of time? I suppose I could spend the rest of my life blaming that person, LOL.

But like my friend with her X-Factor audition, I suppose I won't know unless I give it a damn good go, I just hope that whatever the response is, it doesn't ever put me off writing for good. I take rejection quite badly. I suppose there's only one way to find out...

Oh and by the way, my friend with the X-Factor audition isn't me I swear. I wouldn't put myself through that kind of turmoil. I'm afraid I'm a bit old school like that, it's only my opinion and we all know what they say about opinions, they're like arseholes, everyone's got one, but the way I see it, if you want to be good at something and reap the rewards, you have to put your time in first and pay your dues. How can you appreciate what you've got if you've never had to earn it?

Anyway, enough from me today at this rate I'll never get started with version 3. Wish me luck.

Take care, but above all, stay cool. x

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Two drafts down, I have no idea how many more to go...

Okay, so here goes.

On February 10th 2012 I found out from my current employer that I was one of many of a list of people lined up to have their jobs unfairly taken from them through redundancy. I know it's something that, especially with the way the current employment climate is going, most people have to watch out for. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have since been told that to keep my position in the firm I need to move almost 200 miles away to a new office they have built.

I turn 36 in less than 3 weeks and do not relish the idea of having to fight for new employment, with a new company and having to get to know new people and new procedures and everything else that goes with it. But I am also a husband to an amazing woman and a Daddy (Not Dad yet, there's a day I'm not looking forward too) to two beautiful and wonderful girls. My wife and I have discussed the idea of relocating, but for us it's simply not an option. The girls are settled in school with friends, my wife has family local to us, all the usual stuff. So I decided to come up with a backup plan and a while ago started to mess around with an idea for a story, it was nothing serious, just a thought I had about a story I wanted to tell, so whilst I was still being paid by my soon to be ex-employer I decided that I would give writing my tale on to paper a proper go.  (Question 1: Is it paper if you’re using a computer to write the story?)

I was going to write a book, how hard could that be?

Turns out, very. I wrote my first draft, in about 6 months and to a certain extent I was very pleased with myself. Not because what I had written was any good, because it wasn't, but it was a start. Without any hesitation I ploughed on with my second draft, which I finished this week. Hurrah for me! Now I have to start on Version 3.

The weird thing is, when I started this project I didn't really think that I would get past the first chapter and now, after writing over 800 pages of the first 2 drafts collectively I find myself slightly underwhelmed. I knew that I would have to write what I suppose I could call a book at least 3 times before I would be ready to let someone read it, but in all honesty, I really thought that with every draft I would be a little bit closer to realising my dream of hopefully being called a writer.

I originally started this venture as an experiment really. I wanted to know if I could take control of my own destiny and change my way of thinking and feeling, knowing that you are going to be made redundant can be a real weight and worry, but if nothing else, if I wrote a fictional book, it was one thing I could tick off of my bucket list. Now here I am, having written, essentially, the same story twice, ready to embark on it for a third time and it struck me that at some point I am going to have to ask someone to read my work and critique it.

It's not the feedback that bothers me; I believe that any and all feedback is helpful as long as it is given constructively.  No, what I think is freaking me out is actually handing over to my wife or a friend, something that I would have spent over a year working on.

(Question 2: At what point do you know that what it is you have done is good enough to share with another?)

What happens if they read it and hate it? Or worse still, what happens if they read it and hate it, but tell me that they think it's amazing, fabulous, original, thought provoking to save me any embarrassment or heartache. I don't want to be one of those people on the X factor who take their loved ones along with them and watch as a member of their family stands up in front of thousands of people to audition and then murders a well known hit song. I wonder why it is their friends and family let them do that?

Anyway, I suppose at some point I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and see how it goes and hope that whoever reads it for the first time at least likes/loves me enough to be brutally honest. I just hope I can be brave enough to give it to someone and not freak out after I have done so. I'm sure that there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it.

I have to go, so until next time my imaginary friend, stay safe and above all stay cool.