Monthly Archives: November 2011

Support versus Tolerance

As writers, we seek the approval of others for what we do. We may say that we write for fun, or because we love it, and that is all true. A writer writes because they have to, but we publish because we want to share our work, and in doing so we hope for good great reviews and the respect of our peers.

If you talk to any successful person, they will invariably say that they have a wonderful family who supported them the entire way. Just watch any Oscar speech and you will see what I mean. This is also true, and say what you like about successful businessmen or actors. I cannot see another profession that takes quite the toll on friends and family as that of a writer.

We live in worlds inside our head, worlds that not even our nearest and dearest – unless they happen to be writers themselves – could ever understand. We are moody and brooding when writing because we want to write more or need to work out a particular kink in the mechanics or arc of the story, or we are grumpy and moody because we are not writing at that moment in time. We write down and take a sometimes perverse interest in the crazy things that happen around us because it could be a good story idea at some point down the line. Yet our loved ones stick by us. They support us every step of the way.

I have a friend who is really into these self-help books… or as I like to call them – common freaking sense. However, one point that comes across again and again is to surround yourself with people who love and support you. It is supposedly some big secret to success  (sorry the RANT will stop and I’ll get back on topic now).

What got me thinking was, how can you tell the difference between support and tolerance. Those loved ones that smile and nod their heads when you talk about your writing or sit there plotting, writing and editing. Yet on the inside, just below the surface they are  thinking… “You fool. Oh well, at least it keeps them quiet. Stops them from causing trouble”

Can you still count that as support? Are they a positive influence in your life? They support your writing, but when it comes to promotions, and you want to invest some money or a chunk of time during the day to promoting, they put their foot down and refuse. Where does that leave you?

I am lucky enough to have the important people in my life supporting me, but there are a few that I know merely tolerate my dalliances with the written word, and view my attempts to carve a name for myself as nothing more than folly. They are waiting for me to grow up, to start pushing myself hard in other avenues… whatever they may be… please, send all answers to me on a postcard, because I draw a blank here.

This post is dedicated to these people. The silent partners who suffer us writers and support our every step, without ever truly understand what it is we do, and why. It is also a swipe at those who merely tolerate our actions. You all know who you are, and fellow writers, you probably know who they are too. You may not understand why we do it, and you don’t have to. You should support us unconditionally. We are not asking you to do it for us, nor are we demanding you buy 500 copies of our book to make us feel good and give us a rankings boost. We are merely asking that you believe in us. Smile and nod when we talk about our work, even if it is just like the approach taken by John Wemmick with the Aged P in Great Expectations. We are the ones putting ourselves out there, you have absolutely nothing to lose.



ROW80 – A Difficult Week

This has been the most challenging week so far in my ROW adventure. Not because of writing problems or a lack of creative flow, but rather because of busy work schedules and sickness.

Thanks to two days of zero words, I am behind my weekly target for the first time all round, and still working on that pesky final scene. I have it all planned out in my head now at least, and don’t think it will take more than a couple of days, depending on how much time I get to actually write it in. It seems that the closer I get to the end, the more restrictive my time gets. Then again, better that than have no time at the start then all the time in the world once I have written the final sentence.

Sunday: 283

Monday: 0 – I cannot remember why I didn’t write on Monday. Either an internal confidence crisis – I am prone to those – or it was because my Monday is now ridiculously busy.

Tuesday: 1050

Wednesday: 1065

Thursday: 927

Friday: 0 – My wife, our eldest son and I were all sick. Luckily it was just a 24 hour sort of thing and come evening we all felt 99% recovered.

Saturday: 817

On the days I did write I surpassed my daily goal, so I am not concerned. Disappointed that I haven’t finished yet, but not concerned. I will easily have the book finished by the end of the week, and that is well ahead of my target so I will not complain.

I am starting to see the NaNo winner certificates surface and want to take a moment to say Congratulations to every one of my friends and writing colleagues who have taken part this year. If you haven’t reached that magic 50,000 yet, don’t even begin to worry. You still have plenty of time to reach your goal.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great Sunday everybody

Doubt: A Writer’s Worst Best Friend

Doubt: Noun

1. A feeling of uncertainty: an undecided state of mind.

 2. An inclination to disbelieve.

3. an uncertain state of things

Doubt is a word that every writer knows about. We have all had a moment in our lives where that creepy little bugger rears its ugly head and sends our world into a spiral of self loathing. If you ask me, I like to think of doubt as a nasty little Imp that will perch on our shoulders and whisper into our ears. Kind of like this little guy.

Not only is Doubt a mean-spirited chap, he is also rather intelligent. He will never waste an opportunity, and will always strike with a ruthlessness that will leave your head spinning.

For me, this always comes at the end of the first draft. Ironically the place where I am right now. I spent the most of last week lost on a doubt fuelled quandary.

It is always the same, that’s another one of Doubt’s strengths. Even if you see him coming, there is nothing you can do to stop it. Like trying to not jump when Carrie’s hand comes out of the grave.

Whenever working on the final scene of my novel, the doubts come. Doubt starts small, throwing jabs at us, working out what are defences are like.

‘Are you sure this is it, it’s a bit weak’ He will say,

‘It’s fine, I know the weak points and will work on them once it comes to editing.’ We tell him. It silences him, for a while. He retreats, studies us. He sees another spot, and jabs again, a little harder now.

‘Why are you saying that. That’s pointless, nobody’s going to read that.’ He will jab, and then follow up with the hard ‘That’s weak’. It shocks us, we reel a bit, but we recover.”

‘It’s not weak. It is setting [xxx] up for later on, it’s part of the character arc. Just trust me, I know what I’m doing.’ We pushed back, standing out ground.

Doubt however is crafty. He feigns an injury, lulls us into a false sense of security and then, just as we lease expect it he pounces. Charging us down like Jonah Lomu hurtling towards the try line.

‘You know this is weak, nobody will like it. What are you playing at. Look at what others are writing, read their sites. They are writers, you are just a hack. How many copies have you sold then… hey?‘ He bellows as he reigns down self-confidence denting blows.

By the time this little bastard is finished with us, we are broken and curled up into a ball, afraid to even think about our manuscript without that black wave of despair enveloping us.

 Luckily, while Doubt is resourceful, writers are resilient. We have had people telling us all our life that we are dreaming, that we should concentrate on real life. Ok, we may take a knee, and even the odd standing eight count, but at the end of the day, we stand back up, we seek out doubt and bring the fight to him. Because you can’t stop being a writer and more than you can stop breathing. It is in our blood. We cannot read a newspaper article or over hear a conversation without having it stored away for future use.

Regardless of the success we achieve, Doubt will always be our companion. He will sit beside us in the passenger seat and offer his comments as he sees fit, but… being a writer is a lonely profession, so maybe a bit of company is a good thing. Maybe Doubt really is a writer’s worst best friend.