Saturday, 19 December 2015

Let's see what Saturday brings - musings

Well the weekend started off well. I logged on as soon as I got in (usual pre XMas shopping things) and watched the emails downloaded. There were four from various agencies I'd submitted my novels to and all four were rejections. Or to put it another way - good morning World, good to see you too.

Three of the rejections were for my YA Fantasy, the other for the political science fiction novel.

Rejection Report so far

Mr. Stinky (horror) - 20 - 11 presumed dead
Against the Fall of Empire (sf) - 18 - 8 presumed dead
The Intersection (weird novella) - 3 - 3 presumed dead (but far fewer submissions)
The Patternmaker's Daughter (ya fantasy) - 13

I had better not delay revising No Man's Land for too long. It's probably starting to feel a little left out in not appearing on this list. I could also start sending out submissions of A Parallel Life - the other completed Ben Williamson novella. I've been holding back as I'm not totally happy with one part of it and have yet to figure out how to rewrite it. I'll dedicated some time to them before the end of the year and sort it once and for all. Then I can six flavours of rejection.

Against all this negativity though there are some bright spots. I have four requests for whole manuscripts still pending

Against the Fall of Empire (sf) - 1
The Intersection (weird novella) - 2
The Patternmaker's Daughter 1

Okay these might (and probably will) come to nothing but it gives me some hope to know that I have got three of my four submitting longer works getting past the first stage of submission at least once each. That makes me think that I must be doing something at least close to right. And I could cite the three short story sales I've had since returning to this writing malarkey. (See, I'm being positive.)

I also need to consider one other thing. I only made my first submission since returning to writing in mid April. It's been just eight months (to the day) since I sent my first sub in to John Jarrold on April 19th.

So to get three different books to full manuscript consideration I consider a success. I also consider the fact that since the end of May I have written three novels and two novellas plus three short stories to be positive. I've learnt the discipline of doing this writing thing. And this is where I must give a little kudos to one man who's been a source of inspiration for me in so many different ways since 1977.

You see that was the year I found an Isaac Asimov book in a small kiosk newsagent/general store in Great Yarmouth whilst sheltering from the English summer. I bought Through a Glass, Clearly - a collection of four short stories and, much to the surprise of my mother, read it.

I can remember that part clearly (no pun intended with the book title). Even given my precocious nine year old nature and being a mathematics fanatic she didn't expect me to fall in love with reading as much as I did - even given the fact I was always devouring the usual kiddie book fair such as Roald Dahl. Well, from that book onwards I was hooked on science fiction in general and Asimov in particular.

He first inspired me to learn more and more about science ending up with my studying mathematics/astrophysics at University, and more recently he has inspired me to write. This time it is my constant reading of his volumes of autobiography/memoirs that are doing the trick.

In them he talks about the getting up and getting on with it approach he had to his writing. Don't talk about it, do it. Well in this Web 2.0 world you have to do a fair bit of talking (or rather typing) about it. Writing without a social media presence is a no go really. But I approach that about the same as I do the writing. Do it, and try to do it well. Whether I succeed in that is not a matter for me to decide.

And in the writing side of it - I try to write most days. Okay this week has seen a couple of nights when I didn't - a headache causing one and a pre-arranged family thing last night causing the second. But generally if I have chance I will write or at least do something to support the writing. Thursday, the headachy night saw me fire off seven submissions in the end so the time wasn't wasted. (I would never dream of calling spending time with my family as wasted.)

That approach seems to be working for me - at least from the POV of word counting. From the start of June until today I have written (and mostly redrafted) over 350,000 of fiction. And I have a full time job alongside that. Where is independent wealth when you need it? How many more words could I have tapped into this keyboard if I had had an extra eight hours each day?

Of course I have no idea whether I would have had that much more inspiration to fill all those hours but it certainly would have been nice to find out.

Well today I will have a little time this lunch time (maybe another half hour) and some considerable time this evening as my wife has a gig. She'd doubling alto sax and clarinet today. And tomorrow she will be out at another (baritone sax) so there should be chance to get the third Ben Williamson novella to grow.

I guess you might be asking why then am I tapping out what is turning into quite a lengthy blog entry rather than just getting on with writing the damn book. It's good question and one I admit is occurring to me.

In truth I never expected this entry to grow quite this long. I'd intended to tap out a quick update on submissions and then head off to the novella and get going but when I re-read the start of this blog I realised it sounded a little depressing and I wanted to make it more upbeat and try to convince you (or is that me?) that I am not down about my lack of writing success.

I am a realist. I am writing because the doing of it makes me happy and the dream of holding a book I'd written is enticing. But I am fully aware it may never happen. All this effort may well be for naught. But the chance is enough to make it more worthwhile.

Oh - the other thing Asimov inspired about writing is to not overly labour prose. He talked about keeping the telling of the story as straightforward as possible. He did it saying it was because he didn't know how to write florid descriptions but I think that was just modesty. He told tales without the words used getting in the way of the story. That's what I would like to do. I may miss at times as I enjoy language and know a lot of obfuscating words and could it I let myself allow my prose to head into the darkest realms of bloviation.

Here's some links for what those words mean
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/obfuscation
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bloviation

But I wouldn't want anyone reading my storied to need to keep a dictionary on hand just because I like feeling superior. That really would make me a pompous arse and (although I probably am one) it is not what I'm aiming for with my writing.

Anyway, it really is time to post this, tweet a link to the page and get writing. I hope I haven't bored you too much.

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