New Blog!!!

If there’s anyone still signed up to this please come over to my NEW PAGE where my blogging continues in earnest.

This blog was barely touched and a bit sporadic. My new blog has already been more active in the last week than this one.

Hope to see you over there!

 

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Submitting Work to Magazines/Competitions

I just submitted something. This is a big step for me.

It feels like pushing your baby out of the window in the hopes that someone will catch it.

God I hope they catch my word baby.

For those interested I entered the Aeon Award – http://www.albedo1.com/aeon-award/aeon-award-2014/

It may well come to nothing, but that’s okay. This step of actually submitting work has had a positive effect. I now feel like a struggling writer, rather than someone struggling with a hobby.

My work is out there. It’s like opening a flood gate. How many other things can I submit? How many magazines are out there accepting new work?

 

 

This is an important point – I really didn’t understand how many sci-fi and fantasy magazines there are out there accepting submissions. You’d be surprised! There are so many!

Do be careful though, each place has their own strict guidelines. Read each carefully and make sure you follow them to the letter. There is no ‘basic’ way of submitting your work these days. Fortunately there are now extensive guidelines and FAQ pages so make use of them.

And, finally – exercise caution.

There are always going to be shady places out there looking to trick you out of money. Research a magazine/competition etc before entering it. The internet is your friend…

 

Push those word babies. Push them.

 
– Zero Nine

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Remembering Why We’re Here…

This marks the first time I’ve missed my ‘new blog every Sunday’ rule. But I’ve been busy dammit!

Stop judging me!

 

 

London Film and Comic is coming up so I’ve been busy getting ready for that. But enough excuses!

What little time I do have is spent actually writing. But I’ve also been thinking about how I got into writing. I’ve always been an avid reader – something inherited from my parents – but what was that spark that made me really want to write? And why? And does it still inspire me? So in essence – what helped me comprehend the power of the written word and inspired me to try and weild such power?

The answer, for me, is below. It’s best read out loud, as with all of Poe’s work.

——————-

The Haunted Palace

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

 
In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion,
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A wingèd odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute’s well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
Porphyrogene!
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

————————–

There’s still something about it that sends shivers through me. Sorry, *Poe fanboy alert!*

 

http://www.harkavagrant.com/

 

So give it some thought. What set you on this path? What inspired you?

 

All the best,

 

– Zero Nine

 

 

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Take a Break from Writing!

 

Wait! Come back! Close that search window… close iiiit.

Perhaps the title should be – Take a Break from What You’re Writing.

I’ve discovered the wonders of writing short stories. Now, like many writers out there, I am well and truly submerged in my ‘first real novel’. And by that I mean I’m writing something that I could imagine being published. It’s something that I’ve been working on for AGES! It’s hefty.

But in all this time I’ve never tried to get published in other ways. I’ve never seriously sat down to write something that could be submitted to a magazine. In essence I’ve been hiding behind my novel.

We’ve all been guilty of it ‘I can’t split my focus, I have to work on my novel’, and then what? Typing a couple of hundred words in the early hours of the morning?

Do you remember when you didn’t look at the word count? Do you remember losing track of the time because you’ve spent it all typing?

 

 

I lost that feeling for a long time. Then I got a kick up the ass to write a short story just to have something to submit for a magazine. I plunged in – with limited word count there’s less stress to have everything planned out. You really can go wild without the danger of plot holes (I favour sci-fi, plot holes are commonplace).

I’ve been flying through it! It might never see the light of day but everything is in perspective now. Once I’m done with it I’ll return to my novel with fresh eyes. I’ll submit it. Who knows, I might even get published before I’m published…

 

 

So if you can’t keep your eyes away from the dreaded word count – if you’re not as scared/excited of the events of your book as your protagonist is – maybe it’s time for a break.

Write something fresh, a little window into another world. Flexing your writing muscles doesn’t drain your creativity, the more you write the more you CAN write.

So stop writing, and start writing!

 

😉

– Zero Nine

 

 

 

 

 

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A Game of Thrones Reality

There’s been a lot of controversy recently with regards to the excessive sex and violence on show in HBO’s Game of Thrones show.

There’s always controversy where sex and violence are involved, so nothing new there. But this got me thinking – I’ve not watched the show yet (hush, I will at some point) but I have read the books. One thing in particular that struck me about them was the blunt reality that they portrayed. It didn’t revel in rape, sex and violence, but it wasn’t shy about them either. The books were coldly realistic – a rare trait in a series of fantasy books.

As I haven’t watched the show I can’t really comment on whether what’s shown is overly glamorised or not. But it did get me thinking about the place of realism, even in books that needn’t pay any heed to reality.

Let me be more specific:

If you were actually dumped into a dangerous situation you would not suddenly become a kick-ass warrior. The bullets or arrows would not all somehow miss you. I don’t consider myself a coward but if I thought I was going to die I’d probably get the hell out of there – it’s survival 101.

Stories, especially fantasy and science fiction have a tendency to focus on the chosen one, which is fine. But whilst the chosen one is enjoying being protected by the plot who is narrowly avoiding death in the background? I find the idea of the ‘desperate blunderer’ protagonist far more appealing.

So what does trying to write realism mean to me? Does it mean I can’t have alien races or magic? Nope. If they’re part of the world I’ve written then they exist.

But will my lead character suddenly find the power to fight her way through countless well armed and thoroughly trained soldiers in unarmed combat? No. Because unless she gains access to super powers or a secret weapon (i.e. goes down the ‘chosen one route’) then that can’t physically happen.

Will she occasionally find herself in a situation where things are in her favour and she narrowly comes out on top? Yes. Because that’s called using your initiative and we can all do that.

Will she willingly face ridiculous odds for no real reason other than to forward the plot? No. Because… well… would you?

Will she throw herself into harms way to protect someone she loves? Yes. She’s fundamentally a decent person and people do crazy things for love.

I hope I’m making sense here. Contrived writing is the bane of reality. So to create reality one most avoid cliché’s. Not every protagonist can save the day. Not every mystery can be solved. Not every life saved. As with real people – all my characters can do is their best and hope things work out. They are not protected by the plot – quite the opposite:

What I’m getting at is that I strive to find the reality in my fantasy; the real people in unreal situations; the survivor of a war, not war heroes. This is what George RR Martin does perfectly, in my opinion: he creates realistic, flawed people – not ideals.

Not that my protagonist won’t be heroic on occasion. Indeed, any act of heroism will be made all the more substantial by the reality of their situation. Real people can be heroes, but it’s a risky business…

– Zero Nine

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The Importance of Deleting Words

I know. It’s blasphemous. As a writer, whether published or not, deleting words is the hardest thing in the world to do. I could easily wax lyrical about every word being a beloved child but that’s simply not the case. Every word is another soldier for the grinder, driving you towards your goal. But not every battle can be won. Sometimes sacrifice is needed.

My latest writing project (which I’ll go into more detail about at some point) was going really well until the 40,000 word mark at which point I dramatically changed the direction of the story. The main characters went from being survivors to action heroes. I suppose I wanted more to happen in the plot but in doing so I belied the original intention of the book and made caricatures of my protagonists.

Yet I ploughed on into new plot developments, all the while worrying about where it was going. Before I knew it I had reached 60,000 words. But I wasn’t happy, and I felt that I was in too deep now to really turn back. I was stuck between not being able to carry on and not wanting to get rid of everything I’d written.

I remained in this no-man’s land for ages. Never writing, never reading. Always thinking about it. Then I bit the bullet. I deleted it. I knew the point that it all changed and I deleted everything I’d written after that point. Then I read through it and deleted more. I went on a delete-fest. I deleted myself raw. If the delete button had a mind it would…

Well I suppose it would have an existential crisis, not unlike this one:

But less fruit orientated.

I digress.

When the red haze dissipated I was left with around 35,000 words. With my goal being around the 80,000 word mark this set me back considerably. But that doesn’t matter: because I’m writing again. Not much I admit. It’s slow going. I’m restructuring everything. Re-reading and editing as I go.

It’s bloody difficult. But not half as hard as what my characters are going through. And without me they’ll never get to the end. So I guess it’s the least I could do…

– Zero Nine

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Back to Basics

It’s been silent on here for a while. I thought I had better things to focus on. Perhaps I did. It’s been a long time and I’m sure I’ve achieved things between then and now; I’ve been published as a model, I’ve appeared in a short film, yet I feel like I’m just skimming the surface of something greater.

Sitting here, after a job rejection, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only achievement I really want is to write, and be published. Job security, academic gain, all of that is nothing. I need to write. If anything can validate my time on earth it’s that.

And you know what? Good. I’ve dallied on the edge off bohemian life for far too long. I want to be a writer yet I barely write. All the drive I had at the beginning has trailed off, so it’s time to get back on track. This is the kick I need to get back into it as though my life depended on it.

Not that I’ll refuse a job offer should it come up, but there’s never going to be a perfect time to write – I’ve been waiting for a mythical sense of financial security that may never come.

I’ve done a huge amount of reading, I’m talking a book a day here! I need to be a part of that. I need to spin tales and put them down in words.

For me writing is a lot like exercise: the more working out you do the more working out you’re capable of doing. So this is what this blog will be about. Me writing about writing, purely for writing’s sake (God I’ve written writing a lot). Whenever I hit a wall I’ll come here and write about it, and you can read about it, if you like.

It won’t be Gilgamesh, but it’ll be mine, and that’s good enough. For now.

In the meantime I plan to order two books, both by friends of mine. I’ve been meaning to for so long it seems.

Walled by David Owain Hughes.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walled-David-Owain-Hughes/dp/0957648081/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

And Suncaller, by B John Shaw Liddle.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Suncaller-B-John-Shaw-Liddle/dp/0956609090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400666191&sr=1-1&keywords=suncaller

One must check out the competition, after all 😉

– Zero Nine

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