Catching up and looking forward (NaNoWriMo is coming!)

Hello,

It’s been a while. And the reason is that I’ve been catching up on reading and mentally trying to prepare for NaNoWriMo.

As I have mentioned before, I’m a monthly subscriber to the seminal magazine ‘Writing Magazine’. If you haven’t heard of this publication it is full of useful articles, tips, hints, and everything in between for writers of all levels. I enjoy reading this magazine but lately I have found myself falling behind. Way behind. I discovered, about three months ago, that I had a pile of magazines to read. Now, whenever I read one of these I always pick up something I can use for my writing or something that I could use in future. With this in mind, along with many scratch marks on my forehead wondering how I’ve let myself get into such a position, I have read and read and read. I’m almost up to date now and have picked up even more useful writing tips. But as I have been reading I have felt a gremlin on my shoulder. A nasty, annoyed and slightly vengeful one that has creepy crawled around me for a while.

But you see, this gremlin wasn’t always a gremlin.

This gremlin, known as ‘Chip’, was once a wonderful sprite to me that stood tall and was helpful and wise. For two years, I used this NaNoWriMo sprite to complete the challenge for two years running (2012 and 2013). But last year I took it for granted. And I did a month of editing instead. Though the editing was very helpful the sprite, now hunched and dripping with anger fuelled slime, was not happy at being unused. For the last year, it has been running around trying to get my attention. And now it has.

The sprite is getting back to its previous wonderful form as I start to prep for NaNoWriMo 2015 and I’ve settled on a story I want to write. It’s a story that I’ve been dwelling on for years. Almost a decade. And I’ve never put it down on paper. Why? I’ve no idea. I have all the details I need and notes required. So now is the time. I’ve done my stretches, signed back up on the official site (www.nanowrimo.org) and everything is falling into place.

NaNoWriMo 2015…Here. I. Come!

An interesting question following some very useful feedback.

Hello

I recently decided to put my short story ‘Do I have parents at all?’, which is about a 114 year old immortal man living in modern day Manchester, England trying to find his true calling, onto the writing feedback website www.critquecircle.com. The idea of this wonderful piece of the internet is that you have to critique other authors work to gain credits. These credits can then be used to buy a place for your story to be critiqued on their website. It’s a simple idea that has given me a lot of useful feedback over the years and has allowed me to read some brilliant prose as well. And my latest venture into the critique circle world has carried on this trend.

A reviewer by the name of ‘Fergie’ (Who is Scottish and is a brilliant name for obvious Manchester United related reasons) decided to read my little tale and provide feedback. Amongst the many things he provided was a closing comment about how he was unsure whether or not he would buy my story if it came to his attention on a book shop shelf. ‘Fergie’ was unsure in its current form if he would buy it.

This got me thinking about how important the first line of a story is and also how important the first page can be as well. If I was looking to buy a book I would read the first page and look at the synopsis before deciding to buy it so I asked myself, is the first page of my story eye catching enough to be bought?

I have to be honest and say I don’t think it is. It could be better. And using ‘Fergie’s’ and other’s feedback I hope to make it good enough. With this in mind…

What do you think? Here is the first page only of my short story and all I want to know is would you buy the rest of my story after reading it? Either way I would really appreciate your feedback. Thank you in advance if you decide to read and comment on it. If not, have a good week in whatever it is you end up doing. Bye!

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actual years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Hey Handsome, why do you get preferential treatment?” Handsome? Wait…I know that look. She is just after a drink. Women. I have given up trying to work them out. Some say handsome, some say ugly. I do remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him, or her, after all of this time?

A holiday is what this writer needed!

Hello,

I didn’t realise it had been this long since my last post. Oh dear. Though my reason is a just one for not updating my little corner of the universe. I had a wedding to attend in Cyprus. How hard life must be for you? You may ask. Well, it was an amazing place to go to and the wedding was out of this world. I didn’t want to leave.

Although, when I did get back, and after attending another wedding on the same day we landed back home in England, I felt suddenly refreshed when it came to my thoughts about my writing. In truth, I had been feeling quite sluggish recently and that it was a struggle to get myself to write. And to update this blog of mine. But after a holiday, I feel ready to kick on and write, edit, and read whatever. I also found that seeing two couples get married made me think about my life and my goals. It made things a lot clearer and one of those things was getting back to doing what I love, and that is to write, edit, and read whatever!

With my refreshed self I have pushed on and have been writing my western story. I’m moving closer to the pivotal moment for my main character when he has to decide what he wants to do and what kind of man he wants to be. You see, he’s been running from his past for years and has become a seasoned gunslinger. But what is it all for? Should he just go around from town to town righting wrongs? What if he wants to just work all day, get drunk, pass out and wake up and lie in without any bounty on his head or worry over his shoulder to constantly look out for? As I have been writing this post and my western tale I have been trying to work this out. I’ll get there eventually. I’ve got all the action sequences and twists and turns in my head already but I just need a bridge to connect to them. I don’t fancy just running and jumping and hoping for the best. I’ll let you know how I get on of course.

Ok. This has been cool as always but I must get back to it, the voices are yelling at me again to do so. I hope you all have a good week doing whatever you do.

Bye

If one road fails, try another.

Hello

The last couple of times out I have requested feedback from you fine people on an excerpt from one of my short stories ‘Do I have parents at all?’ Now, I have only received a few pieces of feedback and they were very helpful and has helped me along. Even though I haven’t received anything more I’m not feeling too disheartened. I’ll just have to take a different road in order to get the feedback I may or may not need.

So, I’ve started back writing my western yarn about a travelling cowboy looking for a new home. It’s moving along nicely and the characters and story lines are taking shape. Up to now our hero, Benedict, has begun to settle into his new surroundings but is still worried that it all might change at any moment like has done so many times in the past. Will my western hero catch a break finally? With a love interest and a new father figure in the picture it might just happen. Though he does have to contend with a clearly jealous wannabe cowboy who has manipulated himself into owning most of the town. And it doesn’t help that our hero has already, within a day of his arrival into town, shot and injured one of the villains, Geoffrey’s, main henchmen. I have the story pretty much mapped out in my head but I’m conscious of making sure said story is not just set pieces and is an actual story.

This is something I started writing without using notes and it was a little bit daunting but I now have some good notes to help me along. I‘m filling in the blanks and now have town and supporting character names, descriptions and potential side stories that I could use. Research is also helping me attempt to get the finer points of the story, which so far is what they would eat and wear, correct. Writing down all of this needed stuff is made all the harder when I have the main set pieces of the story playing in my head. And with all the characters screaming ‘Get on with it!’ I respond, though they don’t listen, I’m trying but these things take time. But never out loud. Not yet anyway.

Those voices are screaming again so I’m going to get back to the writing. I hope you all have a good and productive writing and/or non-writing week.

Bye

Constructive Feedback Request.

Hello

So, as I mentioned in a previous post. https://johnrsermon.com/2015/07/12/andi-didnt-enter-the-competition-after-all/, here is an excerpt from a short story of mine with the working title ‘Do I have parents at all?’ The story is about a man named Henry with a very unique gift who is searching for the meaning of his existence. The full story is 5,000 words long so I’ve decided to break it up into more than two parts. And to see if I should post the rest or possibly go back to the drawing board depending on the reaction to it.

I would appreciate some constructive feedback on this and I would more than happy to do the same for you. Ok. Here it goes then.

Do I have parents at all?

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actually years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is now an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Why do you get preferential treatment?” What a nice voice. And was that a twinge of flirt I heard? It is a very rare thing that the most beautiful flower in this particular orchid finds her way to me. I remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him after all this time?

*

Thank the lord I actually slept. I thought I never would. Those beers did help I suppose. I need my balcony for some fresh air.

“Where are you?” I say to no one on this crisp October morn. What time is it? I will venture out and get some food. What clothes to wear I wonder? Faded Superman t-shirt, jeans, trainers, done. This café has always been so nice and located on a back street so not many know about it. Though I am sure it will become too popular being in the Northern Quarter so I will probably need to find another personal eatery. It has happened so many times before. Maybe I should have one built myself and keep it running. I have enough money to do so. Or write a book? How can I try and figure out why I exist and what I am meant to do if the First continues to allude me? “Hot chocolate please ma’am.”

“I’ll bring it to your seat.” I have spent my whole life preparing for this quest. The money I have made and saved and the time I have spent learning and developing my skills have lead up to this moment. This point in time. I hope it has all been worth it. Dear lord I am miserable. Where did all my happy thoughts go?

“Get off my bag!!” Where is that coming from? Great. A day light robbery. I should save her I suppose and…wait.

“A up mate, don’t get involved.” Not a chance ‘mate’. And I will not listen to someone who thinks shoes with no socks in October is a suitable choice of footwear. None of his clothes fit they are all hanging off him. Maybe he wants the money for a tighter outfit.

“Sir, give her the bag.” I could attack him now. It is not like I have to worry about a bullet.

“No.” Of course he is resisting.

“Sorry mate.” That noise was deafening. He is running away. What is wrong, my lady? That pain. I remember that pain. My stomach. My…

Constructive Feedback request.

Hello

So, as I mentioned in a previous post. https://johnrsermon.com/2015/07/12/andi-didnt-enter-the-competition-after-all/, here is an excerpt from a short story of mine with the working title ‘Do I have parents at all?’ The story is about a man named Henry with a very unique gift who is searching for the meaning of his existence. The full story is 5,000 words long so I’ve decided to break it up into more than two parts. And to see if I should post the rest or possibly go back to the drawing board depending on the reaction to it.

I would appreciate some constructive feedback on this and I would more than happy to do the same for you. Ok. Here it goes then.

Do I have parents at all?

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actually years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is now an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Why do you get preferential treatment?” What a nice voice. And was that a twinge of flirt I heard? It is a very rare thing that the most beautiful flower in this particular orchid finds her way to me. I remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him after all this time?

*

Thank the lord I actually slept. I thought I never would. Those beers did help I suppose. I need my balcony for some fresh air.

“Where are you?” I say to no one on this crisp October morn. What time is it? I will venture out and get some food. What clothes to wear I wonder? Faded Superman t-shirt, jeans, trainers, done. This café has always been so nice and located on a back street so not many know about it. Though I am sure it will become too popular being in the Northern Quarter so I will probably need to find another personal eatery. It has happened so many times before. Maybe I should have one built myself and keep it running. I have enough money to do so. Or write a book? How can I try and figure out why I exist and what I am meant to do if the First continues to allude me? “Hot chocolate please ma’am.”

“I’ll bring it to your seat.” I have spent my whole life preparing for this quest. The money I have made and saved and the time I have spent learning and developing my skills have lead up to this moment. This point in time. I hope it has all been worth it. Dear lord I am miserable. Where did all my happy thoughts go?

“Get off my bag!!” Where is that coming from? Great. A day light robbery. I should save her I suppose and…wait.

“A up mate, don’t get involved.” Not a chance ‘mate’. And I will not listen to someone who thinks shoes with no socks in October is a suitable choice of footwear. None of his clothes fit they are all hanging off him. Maybe he wants the money for a tighter outfit.

“Sir, give her the bag.” I could attack him now. It is not like I have to worry about a bullet.

“No.” Of course he is resisting.

“Sorry mate.” That noise was deafening. He is running away. What is wrong, my lady? That pain. I remember that pain. My stomach. My…