Not exactly blocked but…

I didn’t get a blog post out yesterday and I’ve barely done anything to my novel in progress since Thursday. I’m not quite sure what’s wrong.

The lack of blog posts feels like it stems from me no having any ideas for posts. But I do. I think of them all the time it’s just that when I sit down to write they seem wrong. I can’t even quite define why the feel wrong but that’s one of the problems with creative work. You’ve got nothing but your instincts and if you stop trusting those then you’ve got nothing. You might as well be making mud pies with your keyboard because you’ve given up on quality control.

With the novel it’s a plot problem. I’m deep into re-writes and I’m trying to fill a hole so I can’t use any of my usual forward momentum tricks. I can’t skip the scene cause that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. I can’t go and write some other scene because I need to know what’s going on with this scene to continue. I don’t know where the scene should be going and my attempt to wing it went nowhere.

This isn’t writer’s block exactly. It’s more like being lost in the mist. A block prevents movement. The mist renders that movement meaningless and potentially counterproductive. Do I stand still and wait for the mist to clear or do I pick a direction and strike out and hope to eventually reach the edge?


Burn out

Warning: This post doesn’t seem make a lot of sense but it’s the best I can do right now. Feel free to ignore it. Hopefully the next post will make more sense.

This post is two days late. I’m finding it increasingly hard to blog. I want to say that I can’t find anything to blog about but that’s not true. I have ideas I’m just reluctant to use them because I don’t feel like I deserve to use them.

Is this a kind of burn out? Am I experiencing a slow mental health crash? Have I reached the end of my positivity?

That’s a weird thought. I wasn’t aware that i had any positivity and yet I appear to have used it all up. Perhaps I’ve been underestimating how much positivity is required in order to create anything.

I’ve always thought that creativity can be optimistic but it can also be pessimistic. It’s an act of optimism to make anything but the attempt to create something that will live on after you is surely the act of someone who is pessimistic about the possibility of an afterlife.

Much of my creativity is neither optimistic or pessimistic. It’s compulsive. I write because I can’t not write. I crochet and draw and do calligraphy because if I don’t have something to do with my hands then I’ll go spare. But perhaps this compulsion stems from a desire to prove myself worthy of life. If I’m making stuff then I’m justifying my existence.

So when I’m finding it hard to make stuff is that because I don’t feel the need to justify anything or is it because I feel like that justification is impossible.

A question for my followers

I’ve noticed that people actually read this blog. Some of you, judging by comments on Twitter and Facebook and from the likes on the posts, read it regularly. Why?

The question is not triggered by false modesty and I’m not exactly fishing for compliments. This is my round-about way of getting you lot to do my job for me. I want to do a review of this blog in 2017 and that means finding the best posts. Since I am a terrible judge of my own writing and you people seem to like at least some of it I’m delegating the job of picking the best.

Are you here because of Spoonie posts, or Zeppelin forecasts, or because I am occasionally funny about writing and politics? If there was a post you particularly liked, or stuck in your mind, or found useful then please let me know what it was. If you’ve got any requests for 2018 then you can tell me those too.

Procrastination Deathmatch

So it’s almost time to start writing (for NaNoWriMo). It’s a bit late now for preparation but I have one final tip for those trying to catch up on chores they won’t have time for next month and finishing an outline that they will probably throw out the window sometime during week two.

Don’t do all of the chores. Leave a couple that you really don’t want to do. The ideal chore is something menial, boring and important. Whether it’s deep cleaning the fridge or sorting out the 800 pieces of malware that your mother has somehow downloaded it should be something you loathe.

These chores will be joining your novel in PROCRASTINATION DEATHMATCH. When you should be writing your novel but you’re putting it off these chores are the only acceptable procrastinations. Snacking, Netflix and computer games are for writers. If you owe your novel words then no fun for you. If you haven’t hit at least 1667 words that day either get back to the keyboard or go hack the ice out of the freezer or steam clean the George Foreman grill.

That was an excerpt from one of the messages I have to write as a NaNoWiMo municipal Liaison. I am going to be super busy for the next month. I will be writing a new novel (well the first draft of one), shepherding the members of the Fife forum through their attempts to write and trying to prepare for Christmas.

Usually I don’t post much to my blog during November but this year I’m going to try to continue to post three times a week. However you can expect these to be shorter posts. I will still post the weekly diet update and I will try to post more playlist stuff. I might repost the ‘motivational’ messages that I send to my region. There might also be at least one rant on the subject of how much I hate my fucking novel.

Behold my shiny new look

Check out the new theme. I liked the old look but I felt that it was a bit bare bones now that more people are visiting and I have multiple pages. I’ve also updated the About page since I think it’s more likely that people will visit it with the new layout.

In other news I sent off another query email. Since that’s almost certain to fail I’ve lined up the next Agent that I will start procrastinating sending a query to just as soon as the current one emails my rejection. It’s important to chain your rejections for maximum damage. I swear this paragraph made sense in my head.

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us and I really haven’t done enough prep. I’m about to spend a couple of days in Edinburgh with my Mother, which is great, but it does get in the way of the traditional last minute scramble of outlining and research. It could turn out to be useful since the story is partly set in Edinburgh. I just have to remember to take lots of photographs.


Looking ahead

I’ve been thinking about the best way for me to use this blog to tell my stories as well as using it to talk about the process of making them. I have thought about putting excerpts from my work up here but that feels a little like cheating. At the moment anything I put up here would be a work in progress rather than the finished article and that smacks of short changing my loyal readers.

But then I realised that I have a dimensionally transcendental pub in my stories and that means that anyone, including me can go there for a quiet pint. So I could nip in for a chat with my characters. I could interview them.

Or would that be weird? Would you rather read about crime and dark deeds than terrible pub banter?

Also be on the lookout for Zeppelins. I feel another forecast coming on.

A request for Zeppelin sightings

It’s an old trope of science fiction that you can always tell if you’ve slipped into an alternative reality because there will be Zeppelins. As I’ve mentioned before I tend to nip outside and do a quick Zeppelin check whenever weird stuff happens. You know, stuff like a reality TV star getting elected president.

Things have been getting so weird recently that I think it’s time to produce a regular Zeppelin forecast. That means I need to collate reports of weirdness. I don’t mean the sort of weirdness I normally look for, like that time a goat was kidnapped from a petting zoo and then returned wearing nail varnish on its hooves. I’m thinking more of the rumours (now denied) that Sinn Fein MPs would be taking up their seats in the Westminster parliament for the first time ever.

I’m asking my readers to send me links to the sort of news stories that make them look to the skies in search of airships. I’m looking for mainstream news stories that are as weird as that time a guy in Florida tried to eat someone’s face but also weirdly mundane like the news that two of the Grenfell Tower victims had been threatened with legal action for campaigning about fire safety. One of the weird trends recently is elected bodies and individuals behaving like pantomime villains. I’m sure that used to be really rare.

So if you, my loyal readers, send me links via Twitter (or Google+ or Facebook if you prefer) I hope to produce a weekly Zeppelin forecast. That way we’ll all know if it’s time to break out the helmets and hide from our new reptilian overlords or whatever else we have to expect when we are all shunted into some strange parallel world.

Good luck.

Pointless filler post.

This post is just to let you all know what kinds of things to expect in the coming weeks. Unfortunate I am currently deep in negative spoons so this might be gibberish. Good luck making sense of it.

I’m going to start a series of posts offering advice to young creatives. The posts are mainly aimed at aspiring writers but I will try to make them useful to people pursuing other arts.

There are more Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 posts coming. Sorry but I am not nearly done with talking about that film. It’s just too good. How dare it be so good.

I also intend to write some stuff about Doctor Who. Because I love Doctor Who, that’s why. It’s my blog and I will blog what I want to. Even exceptionally geeky head canons about peculiarly British scifi.

I will almost certainly continue to whine about how hard it is to get published. Eventually I might try to crowd fund self publishing since I can’t afford to professionally self publish properly.

Also if the Conservative party wins the forthcoming General Election in the UK then you can expect more salt that the dead sea from me. There will be language so foul that if you read my blog while drinking milk it will instantly turn sour.

I also have an idea for some stuff I want to write on modern witchcraft. Not airy fairy new agey kind of witchcraft and not the ‘I don’t actually know the difference between witchcraft and satanism’ stuff either.

I may even get my finger out and finally write some steampunk psychiatry stuff.

Anyway. If any of that seems interesting or intriguing to you then leave a comment. Preferably on the actual blog rather than via twitter or Facebook or Tumblr. If you comment on the blog then other people who read the blog will see it. If you comment via social media the only person guaranteed to see it is me. Which is great for me but less likely to start a conversation.

Something weird is happening to this blog

For the last three days this blog has experienced a massive uptick in page views and possibly a very small uptick in visitors. It seems like one or two (possibly new) readers a day are each viewing a huge number of pages.

I have no idea what this means, if anything. If you’re reading this and you’re new to the blog and have a strong desire to read loads of posts please drop me a comment and say hi. If you have a blog that is currently experiencing the same weirdness then please let me know. And if you know anything that might be causing this, or have any theories about it, please share that in the comments too.

It’s probably not actual people… Right? It’s probably bots. It’s probably Google or some similar internet leviathan doing something really technical.

Is it that time already?

I logged on to WordPress to be greeted by an alert wishing me a happy anniversary. Apparently it’s been eight years since I first signed up. Eight years – that’s a lot of whining.

I didn’t start with this blog though. That was at least two blogs ago. I’m not sure I want to go back and look at my older blogs. Just like I rarely go and look at my old diaries unless I’m already pretty depressed and looking for an excuse to wallow. It’s always alarming to be reminded just how successfully I’ve sought out and plumbed new depths of misery and pain.

But I’m still here. Still the undefeated champion of me.

It made me think about just how much writing I’ve done online over the years. I’ve been on the internet regularly since 1994. I caught the tail end of usenet. I’ve been on a lot of forums (or is it fora) and I’ve been pretty active on some of them. My first WordPress blog wasn’t my first blog.  That’s a lot of words.

Someone told me that Neil Gaiman once said that you have to write a million words of shit before you get to the good stuff. I sincerely hope that blog posts and forum posts and social media all count because between them I have definitely written several million words worth of shit.

I’d be tempted to say that I’m owed some good stuff but I’m old enough to know that the world doesn’t work like that. Perhaps it’s enough to hope that I’ve exorcised some of the shit for good.