Tag Archives: Writer

Write Here, Write Now: The Importance of Imagination.

It’s not enough to say you’re a writer; you must have something to show for it, some kind of proof. Whether they’re lines from a poem you wrote when you were four, or outlines for the next Great Irish/American/British Novel, a writer, fledgling or otherwise, will have something written down. Somewhere.

I was tidying out my bedroom the other week when I came across a hand-written manuscript dating back at least ten years. Three things surprised me. First, my handwriting is terrible. I can read the parts where I wrote when I was sober. I can’t read the parts where there was drink taken. You see, I wrote most of it in my local pub. I sat at the counter and drank while writing the book that would make my fortune. I was the source of much amusement to other customers, as well as the owner of the establishment.

The second thing that surprised me is the way the story made sense, in a surreal nonsensical kind of way. Each paragraph, each chapter contained scenes and dialogue that to this day fills me with a certain amount of pride. It had Beatles lyrics sprinkled about the place; it had spectral observers; it had angst and unrequited love – all in 27 drunken pages. Stephen King had nothing on me.

The third thing that surprised me is that I wanted to know where the writer was going with his story. Namely, where did I want to go with it? Was there an endgame? Would the story be worth pursuing? Was it important enough to me to continue?

And that, for me, is the crux of matter. When I was young, I read comic books – as I’m sure most of us did to some degree – but I would copy the story into a notebook, using the pictures and speech bubbles as prompts. I “wrote” Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog stories from 2000AD. I used Captain Kirk and Mr Spock as templates for new adventures set in other universes. In other words, I used my imagination. It was important for me then, and I guess it’s important for me now.

I don’t drink any more, but I now work in the pub where I started my then magnum opus. I may go back to it one day…when I have the nerve to do so.

 

 

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Write Here, Write Now: An Introduction of Sorts.

As a writer I’m about as prolific as film maker Terrence Malick. But this salient fact doesn’t take away from the urgency I feel whenever I let my sense of creativity lapse into the doldrums. Writing, quite simply, is something I must do; an activity that is as much part of my nature as the need for food, water, coffee, sleep, friendship and more coffee. If I lack in any of these essentials, I suffer. So it is when I don’t write in a way that’s meaningful. (Emails and texts don’t count. Blogs do – but only to a degree.)

In case you’re wondering (and I hope you are), this is not just another blog about writing. There are many to choose from on the Internet (among the very best is my friend Richard Scott’s Uphill Writing), so I don’t particularly want to add to an already growing list. Rather I want to write about my writing. By this I mean my reasons for wanting to be a writer, the highs my chosen life brings, the lows it hits me with, my dreams and nightmares.

I don’t really believe in writer’s block per se. I just know that I have an inherent laziness that needs to be conquered if I want to get anywhere near realising my dream of publication (by any media on offer, not just the traditional way). And so I’m beginning a new series of articles on this blog. I mean to dig deep into my heart and mind and offer to you the reader an insight of how I might shrug off my ennui and get stuff done. It is only by writing that stuff will get done.

I look forward to your company.

Steampunk’d

The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann

I’ve just finished reading my first Steampunk novel. It’s called The Affinity Bridge, and it’s written by an English writer called George Mann. It’s the first in a series of books featuring Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes, and it’s a thumping good read.

The setting is Victorian London, at the turn on the 20th century – but it’s not the London historians would be familiar with. It’s the age of Steampunk: a sub-genre of science, speculative and fantasy fiction that combines alternate realities with modern-day technology. Whereas “proper” Victorian London was all gas-light and horse-drawn carriages, Steampunk London adds automatons, airships, a daring sense of fashion and a hint of the Dark Arts to the mix.

The forerunner of Steampunk is believed to be Jules Verne with his 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The term itself was coined, it seems, by writer K.W. Jeter, who was looking for a way to describe his own writing. Steampunk became mainstream with the release of the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. You may remember the disappointing movie adaptation rather than the novel, but the elements are the same: technology at a time that historically wasn’t ready for it. (The less said about the Will Smith movie, The Wild Wild West, the better.)

image c/o brassgoggles.co.uk

It’s a unique genre; well, unique to me, at any rate. So much so that when I was reading Mann’s book, I couldn’t help but envisage Dublin from a similar angle. I began asking myself questions. What would Steampunk Dublin look like? What would its citizens wear? And what kind of adventures would they have? By the look and sound of what Mann and other Steampunk writers have done, absolutely anything could happen.

Imagine the relationship between Ireland and England in a Steampunk setting. I already have an idea about what I might do. I already have a working title for it, too.

It’s going to be called Minus Ten. You read it here first.

I Am Me!

Image website: http://www.uci.edu

Sitting in at a LifeRing meeting earlier on today, I was struck by the difficulty a friend of mine was having with acceptance; namely accepting that he has an alcohol problem.

Frank (not his real name) has been in and out of recovery. He need only think of having a drink and then – bang! – he’s down to the off-licence. But today may yet turn out to be a turning point for him. Frank hit on the notion of self-acceptance; an idea I caught onto almost immediately. If we can accept who we are, and the limitations that acceptance accords us, we can learn to live with ourselves and let go of the driftwood.

So, who am I? Well, for starters, I am a brother, son, cousin and nephew. I am a writer and blogger. I am a student of journalism. I am a boyfriend and lover.

I’m a caffeine and internet fiend. I sometimes think that the people who know me best are those who live inside my laptop, along with wires and microchips. But this is not true. My family and close friends know me better than I know myself, and they make no bones about letting me know that. This is why I love them dearly.

I am a reader of whatever I can get my hands on. I’m intelligent (though not an intellectual). I like football, tennis, snooker, cricket and darts. I hate boxing, trivialities, pettiness, and racial and religious intolerance.

I have been guilty of many things, including all of the above (except boxing). I can be insufferable and occasionally I promise much more than I can deliver. This is because I rarely so no. But when I do deliver, I do it with the best of my ability. I can not do otherwise.

Set me a challenge (like reading all seven of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series) and I will attack it with the gusto of a woodpecker on teak. Because that is what I do. Give me something or someone to love and I will love them until I’ve copied and pasted for the last time.

This is me. This is what makes me who I am. The fact that I don’t and can’t drink alcohol is no longer relevant. I don’t wish it to be so.

Ten Things Writers Need To Do Before Editing

  1. Ensure that there’s an actual manuscript to edit. The book in one’s mind  and imagination doesn’t count. The one on paper or saved in a computer hard drive does.
  2. Owning a copy of Strunk & White’s The Element’s of Style is a prerequisite to the job of editing. If you don’t have one, get one. Now. Before you read the rest of this blog.
  3. As well as S&W, a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing should be ever-present on your writing desk. Follow The King and you won’t go far wrong.
  4. Ensure enough time has passed between completing your manuscript and starting the editing process. A month or so should suffice. Any longer and you’re being lazy. I should know. I’m the lazy one.
  5. Read up on your chosen genre. Get tips from your favourite writers. Even better, get tips from your favourite writer friends.
  6. Make a deadline and stick to it. Procrastination works only in plays by Shakespeare. To write or not to write. To edit or not to edit. It’s a no-brainer really.
  7. Stock up on your favourite legal drug of choice; i.e, caffeine, chocolate, cigarettes (filthy habit) or gobstoppers.
  8. Play your favourite music if that’s your thing. I prefer silence when I’m writing and editing my novel and stories. But when I blog, a little music gets my juices flowing.
  9. Have a plan of action. Rushing in wearing hob-nail boots and causing untold mayhem will only result in an unreadable “masterpiece” (which is fine if you want to be postmodern) and a shattered confidence in one’s ability.
  10. Most important, this one. Run out of excuses not to edit. I did – and now I’m editing.

Good luck!