A cold that was a writing break in disguise?

Hello,

So, around the middle of March, a snowy, windy, coldy, all-round menace of a weather thing that the media dubbed ‘The Beast From The East’ terrorised the UK. This ‘Beast’ caused a lot of snow and then ice and then more snow on top of the ice and so on. Usually, I enjoy the snow but when the ‘Beast’ came so did a nasty illness. I take pride in how little time off from work I have and keeping generally healthy. But this illness just hit me all of a sudden. I’m sure it was linked to the sausage and bacon barm I had for breakfast the day I got ill but it manifested itself as a banging headache, blocked nose, and tickly cough, which I have only just gotten over.

With all this happening, I said to myself that I would try to keep on writing. This did not happen. Sad face.

Button---Sad

In work, I stare at a computer screen. I could not bring myself to do that when I got home and the illness put me off doing anything for a few weeks. I found that I wanted to write but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. My WIP was constantly spinning around in my head, which I could not keep writing and it drove me a little crazy. But, as I dosed myself up each day, the illness slowly departed. It was like my writing inner beast was slowly winning the battle against the ghastly ill that ravaged my body. Those few weeks were also a writing break. Was it one that I needed?

It appears that the illness was…dare I say it…a blessing in disguise?

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I spent weeks feeling awful and it was all just so I could take a break? Was my subconscious working with the rest of my body to force me to take a break and recharge my batteries? I am beginning to wonder because of how ill I got and how quickly it just seemed to hit me.

I am now writing as normal and moving my WIP along at a brisk pace so it will be finished soon. Within the next few weeks hopefully. I am also looking forward to entering more competitions over the rest of 2018. Last year, I entered one competition. This year, I’m hoping to enter more and flex my old writing competition muscles.

So, I have a question, have you ever taken an unplanned writing break that turned out to be really helpful?

 

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The virtues of reading two books at once…almost.

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Currently reading: The Breathing Method: A Winter’s Tale by Stephen King.

Also currently reading: The Good, the Bad and Me: In my Anecdotage by Eli Wallach.

Hello,

Recently, I have been reading Stephen King’s Different Season’s and really enjoying it. I always wonder though, with every book I read, what book I should read next to keep the enjoyment going. Usually, I wing it but recently I have started to plan ahead when I was coming to the end of The Body (Stand by Me) and starting the last story of Different Seasons. I thought, why not read two books at once? I have never done that before. Let’s see how this goes, shall we…

Well, actually, I have tried two books at once before but it didn’t work very well. I just ended up focusing on one book and forgetting about the other. I would always have to go back to the beginning of book two when one was finished. This time though, I have the ten minutes or so before my second train departs to take me to work and the twenty minutes on the train that allows me to read one book in a fair amount of peace. Beforehand, the bus or tram had mostly been my method of travel. Or walking. Each with plenty of things to stop me from reading (mainly concentrating on the road and other people. Laaaaame.) But waiting and travel with plenty of space available has helped my cause.

I thought of many books that could be my second book. As I did this, I began to hear something. What do I hear? What is that noise? Thousands of little voices but from where? I follow the sounds and they get louder and clearer as I approach my lovely bookshelves. All the books and their characters giving me their own reason why I should read them instead or as well as my current book. They say “Kindle is killing books, you smell lovely, you should be worried as you’re hearing voices from books”, and so on. I looked around and saw one book I’d been looking forward to reading since Christmas. Eli Wallach’s biography The Good, the Bad, and Me. He played The Ugly (Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez aka “The Rat”) in my favourite film of all time so naturally, I wanted to read it. And so, I now have one book for home and one for travel.

I’ve found it very useful and enlightening for my own writing to read two different authors and their very different styles. Each I enjoy and each is pushing me to make mental notes to use in my own writing. Stephen King (for obvious reasons) and Eli Wallach for his straightforward and unflinching account of his life. Most of the notes lean towards helping me to describe effectively and to try and make the reader feel what I want them to feel for a particular scene.

I’m also reading fast and racing through my books. But what of the next two books? Oh no. I hear the voices again…

Before you go. Quick question, if you do read two books at once, are they similar? Or different? And for either answer, why?

Thanks for reading. Have a good rest of the week!

 

 

 

My Writing: Everyone is Welcome! A 996-word story of mine.

So, I entered a short story competition in August 2017. Safe to say I didn’t win. I’ve not heard anything. Ouch for me.

Anyway, here is one of my short stories. It is about an aging employee and his annoying and constantly angry assistant who are just trying to make sure they do their jobs correctly for their very strict employer. Let me know what you think either good or bad but please be constructive. I would be more than happy to return the favor.

“The day begins like all those that have come before it with my big, bearded and always grumpy assistant standing guard to help me welcome the new arrivals. “Good day to you, Sir.” I always say to him. Silence is his eternal reply. Such a grump.

No hassle from the first customer but judging by the look on her face, I can only assume she is not a morning person. I am and why would you not be? The hot and humid weather might have something to do with it. Some act like the weather is nothing to them but I know they lie to themselves. That is the worst thing they could do.

The heat is searing and the sun is easily cutting through the clouds. If only I could reach up so high to calm the heat down and help the new customers. I wonder what it would be like if I could reach so high? More arrive now and are moving in a smooth stream with little to no grump on their faces. It could be a busy day but as long as I remember my routine, they will all get in with no problem. I hope my aches and pains do not come back. That would be a disaster.

Great. One stupid rubbernecker holding everything up. The worst thing that they could do. To be fair, most concentrate on just getting in. The people walking through seem to be shivering slightly. Is there a breeze? I cannot tell. In fact, I can feel something but it can barely be described as a breeze. Do they shiver for a different reason?

What are some of these people wearing? More money spent on their clothes and hair than their bodies and minds. Individuals wearing all kinds of so-called fashionable clothing with not an ounce of class or pride amongst them. Well, except that guy. Tragic really. They look so bad they do not even look good walking past the overflowing refuse bins. How can you look worse than a bin? It is a shame they did not think things through. Or maybe they did. That could be why they are here.

Mid-day approaches and the customers are increasing but they still come in a steady stream so no worries. My assistant barks at the unruly ones. He has such authority. More than me. I think I will ensure the gates are fully open for a while. Until it dies down later on.

Wait. Disaster. I can feel them. The aches and pains. I thought I was getting better. He will be here soon to help me so no worries. He does not spare any expense with me. He knows what to do. Just a few drops of medicine is all it takes…hold on. Where is he? No. He is busy! How could this happen? Now, of all times! I am starting to seize up. No, not now.

“What are you doing? The punters are brushing against the steel? You know, the tall spears that make up the structure with gargoyles atop pillars that hold them together at either side lose their desired effect when it jams like a common garden gate.”

“I need him to come and provide me with my medicine. There are so many new arrivals.” The steel is beginning to bend under the pressure as the punters push against the gate. Look at this one. His red face reminds me of so many others that have come before. Took it too far. Big shame. Moderation is key. Enjoy life but remember to care for body and mind.

“There are always so many. Calm down. I’ll get him. Why can’t you just do your job?!” He shouts like I can help it. Please stop shouting. It is slowly getting better, I assure you. Stop shouting, Sir. Please!

*

What did he just do? Has he managed to get him to come back? It is such an honor to see him. How long has it been since I looked upon the Lord?

There. He. Is. So domineering. So in control. So much strength. He is coming closer. Look at the punters. Cowering. Treat him with respect and he will be your guide. He is your leader now.

“He is unable to perform his duties again, my Lord. Replacement is needed.” Wrong words. And from a Gatekeeper no less. You are lucky to have a role in this at all. You can be mean to me but not in front of the almighty. “Please, I did not mean…”

That sickening thud. Never ceases to make me flinch. Look at him, flying across the land and smashing through the piles of waste. I hope he is in good health and not hurt too much.

For someone so powerful, what great care he takes of me. So delicate. “Thank you, my lord.”

My Gatekeeper is back. I hope he is well enough to continue. He flew faster than I have ever seen him fly to get back. I forget his power and how wide his wings can span. He looks shaken but I feel he will be alright. He is a tough customer and always was. I knew that when he first walked through the gates.

“All I meant was that they are old gates, your eminence. The fear that the gates of hell create for those who are to spend eternity behind them, thus avoiding the white fluffy Lord above and seeing you; the red, brilliant, and all-powerful God below, is diminished when you have to keep fixing its aches and pains.”

“Your words are heeded. And immediately disregarded. The gates will stay and your lack of respect is wasting my time and making the hounds of hell hungry. The refuse bins are empty. The rotting limbs within them are coming with me. Now, let the accursed through. I am in need of torture and…amusement.”

I am fixed and back to work I go!”

Thank you for reading and have a nice week.

Timelines: An Apology.

Hello,

So, I’ve been really enjoying writing my latest story. It’s set in Stockport, Manchester, England, my hometown, and it is allowing me to use locations I have either been to, lived near or can easily get to. I’ve written stories based in Manchester City Centre before that I have enjoyed writing for the same reason but in my hometown is slightly better. Eventually, I’m going to write one a lot closer to home in the small village I grew up in but that’s for the future.

I have been doing some character profiles and story outlines but do not have an ending written out just yet. As I have been doing this I wondered how I could track my story. Usually, I would just read back over my notes or the story itself to make sure everything is as poly hole-free as possible. This has always been a bit messy really so I thought, how can I do this easily and efficiently? A long time passed thinking about this question until…

…a timeline punched me in the brain.

I’m not sure why I haven’t used one before with ANY of my previous stories over the years. It is working so well so far. I’ve laid out my timeline per character and date. Side by side, each column with actions to move the story along. This has allowed me to sync each character up and it seems like a breath of fresh air compared to my usual method. And long may it continue. But I feel I must say…

The Kid

I’m sorry, Timelines. I’m sorry for not utilising you sooner. You are now, barring any goliath of a story planning idea to come my way, my future. I cannot see why I would not use a Timeline. It seems like it should have hit me sooner. I am sorry. Also, I hope the use of ‘The Kid’, my Lego monkey writing sidekick, will help my cause.

Phew. That feels better. Though, I feel I may have more grovelling to do. I’ve read many articles regarding timelines and obviously just let them rest in my subconscious. More fool me. Hold on. I’ll have to go back over all my previous stories and create one for each. But that will take some time. Maybe I should just use Timelines for any stories in future? But don’t all my stories deserve the same treatment?

Do you use or have you used Timelines when planning your stories? Do they help to ensure that each character is kept in line (story)? Or did you find them a hindrance and move onto something else?

Okay. I’m going back to the Timeline. And the apologies. Have a good week. Bye!

 

 

One quick one and one…not so quick one.

Hello,

It has been a while. Again. Always seems to be the way recently. I think to myself ‘I’ll post more often’ and then stuff happens. This time it was moving house. I thought I’d have time but it has been all consuming, until recently, with setting accounts up for bills, unpacking boxes, building things, buying things to build, buying things to dig up other things, the list goes on. I’m almost completely settled now so I can get back to posting on my blog. This wonderful thing. My little soupcon of the internet.

So, since last time I have written another 1,000-word story. This one is opposed to the last one (see https://johnrsermon.com/2017/07/19/the-editing-beast-has-been-defeatedfor-now/) the last was a story based in a very dark place and this one is based in a very light place. The lightest place as it happens if it exists. I would say where it is but it would ruin the twist to the very dark story, which I will post on this blog in future.

I wanted to write an opposite story and one that occurs at the same time as the other. I have always enjoyed watching and writing chapters that have events happening at the same time but shown from different viewpoints. Anyway, I decided to write it quickly while the idea was fresh in my head.

Then I finished. Then I was living elsewhere. Then I moved out.

As I was setting everything up around the house move (bills, more bills, finding the local supermarket, and local pub etc.) And during this, a story woke up and began to run around my head. It’s been months since it had been for a run but I’m glad it managed it. And it is based in the town I’ve just moved too helped as well. The story is my take on the one man vigilante tale. I’ve watched and enjoyed plenty of them (John Wick, I’m looking and smiling at you) so I decided to write one myself. I wondered what one would be like with a person who isn’t an ex-Army, Special Forces, Gangster, Assassin, or any of them. A story about someone who just took up a number of different, readily available self-defence classes because he wanted too and then, suddenly, had to use them.

I got to work and I’ve written two chapters so far. Hopefully, I can keep it up and finish the story soon. It’s slowly building in my mind but I don’t have an ending yet.

Have you ever written anything without an ending?

It’s been a while since I have. Feels…schwifty.

So, I’ll get back to it. Hope you all have a good week.

The Editing Beast has been defeated…for now.

Hello,

Finally, after weeks of editing, I read over my 1,000-word story competition entry and did not make any adjustments. I found myself happy and proud of the story I had created and did not make any one-word changes which over the last few weeks, though needed, were annoying me. Really annoying me. I even added in two lines of dialogue as the deadline date got closer. It was all worth it. The story is complete and I have entered the competition.

**My first competition entry of the year!**

Very slow going for me as I was hoping to have entered at least a few others by now. With other life things getting in the way this has not been the case. I am aiming to use this as a starting point to entering a few more at least before the end of the year. Fingers crossed and all that.

Unless that nasty editing beast decides to come calling again. Then I may never enter a few more competitions again, let alone this year.

The beast is cunning you see. It lies in wait. When I finished my latest story, my next step is to write another 1,000-word story but from the opposite side, of the one I’ve just finished. I want to get the first draft done within the next few days. But then, once finished I will have a nasty (yet very satisfying) urge to correct and amend parts of it. I would have to start my editing process soon as it would be on my mind. And there you have it. The editing beast is back.

All the while he has been leaning back in the corner of my room, watching me write, and thinking to himself:

‘you can’t beat me, mate. I’m undefeatable. Made of diamond. Can’t shatter me, pal’.

I am foolish to try and fight him off. Maybe, I should embrace the beast. Make him my friend. He makes me write his dialogue in a different font for crying out loud. His powers must be immense. In truth, I like editing. The big edits (characters, story, description etc.) more than the small ones. It’s the small ones I can’t stand. The words here and there. Adding and subtracting. All the smeggin’ time! Until I look in the mirror and see a man with hair all over the place and a greasy shine to his skin who has spent an hour agonising over whether or not he should use ‘and’ within a certain sentence and if he should use a different phrase than ‘punch to the face’.

Anyway, the first competition entry is in which is the main thing and I’m looking forward to much more. Best get back to it.

Well, I hope your writing is going well and have a nice day!

The Editing Beast.

Hello,

I’m currently in the process of editing a 1,000-word story for my first competition entry of the year. The competition is run by Writers Online (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-competitions/open-competitions/writers-competitions-wro-wro-jun17-1000/) and the only requirement is that you do not exceed the word limit. No specific theme. Just a word count.

Now, I have previously tried to enter this competition but came unstuck as writing a story with such a small word count is tricky for me. That is until I read a recent competition winner through Writing Magazine. The story was for a Fantasy competition and was 1,642 words but managed to tell the story very well and kept me hooked till the end. Yes, it is more than 1,000 words, but it is a fine example of using your words well. See for yourself (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-competitions/showcase/winner/writers-competitions-wro-wro-nov16-fantasy/dominic-bell-2).

Anyway, this has given me the confidence to try and enter the 1,000-word competition again. I found my original attempt from way back and read it through. Not bad but with a few problems and I didn’t like the end. However, I could see promise in it. So, I changed the ending and completed a re-write. Then, came the next step.

Oh, the edit. The beast that awaits at the end of most stories. The question I find myself asking is, should I feed it or let it starve? I decided to feed the beast and it just keeps wanting more! Every time I go back to my story thinking I am close to finishing it, something else comes up and I edit even more. How much does it need to be fed before it is satisfied and will let me enter the competition?

The_Beast

In my head, this is how it looks. But, it is the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the so it’s not that bad of a picture to have in my head at the moment. Moving on…

I am happy to continue with the edit, even if it winds me up no end. I have faith in my story. I like it and want to see it through. That is what drives me forward. Regardless of the outcome of the competition (don’t get me wrong, I would like to win) I want this to be the best it can be.

With this story, it has a twist at the end. I have written twists before and have recently watched a few TV programmes and Films with twists to whet my appetite. I am trying to put some red herrings in and some double meanings. Easy a? In my head maybe but in practice, not so much. Making sure each sentence drives the story is essential but 1,000 words do not allow for a lot of driving. Once the story is written and I know how I got on in the competition, I’ll post it on this blog. Or burn it. I’ll make the decision later.

Since the last time I had to edit for a competition, which was for ages ago, I have learned a lot more and I am thankful that my persistence appears to be paying off. Things I left in the first draft, thinking they were gold, made me shudder and have been discarded. Practice does help a lot with this writing game.

Well, back to the edit. I hope you have a nice day and if you are editing, that it goes as well as possible for you.

Bye!