The Department of Wilful Obnubilation

It's been a while since I've last blogged. I'm sorry to anyone who actually enjoys reading blogs in the age of the YouTube vlog channel. I've been going through one of those periods of wondering why anyone would want to read anything I write. And so I've not been doing it.

It's kind of an odd thing. You see I've been getting back into my writing (novels etc.) pretty well after a brief hiatus and am now a little over 58K into my latest novel. I probably should tell you something of that and might in a while but I want to keep things a little more general first.

I started this writing malarkey some years ago and concentrated entirely on non-fiction articles and short stories. I wrote and sold hundreds - mainly book and film reviews I admit but sales are sales so I take them all. I even managed to compile and sell a bunch of horror crossword and other puzzles. It was going well.

And then it wasn't. Something in me changed. Literally overnight. I stopped writing. Completely. I even stopped reading and when you consider I used to inhale novels it was a shock. I didn't do anything with fiction for over four years; no writing, no reading. Nothing.

I didn't stop reading all together. I read a lot of non-fiction; mostly history. I read fascinating book about Count Axel Oxenstierna and King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden for one. And then there were the large number of scientist biographies. I think my favourite of them was one about J. Robert Oppenheimer; interesting man. But I didn't read a single word of fiction for years.

Well that ended. I read fiction again; just not the same kind as I used to. I kept a few favourites from back then. I still read Stephen King. I still read Zoran Živković. I hope I always will. Those are two of my favourite writers; especially Živković. But I've added some different ones into my pantheon.

I was always a mad science fiction fan. Now, it's less so. I still read some. I read the latest two Mike Resnick novels and enjoyed them. But I've added authors like Max Barry and Magnus Mills onto my list. And Magnus Mills is a true joy. For me he's up there rivalling Zoran Živković in my literary affections. And I am also writing again. You know this of course if you read any of the earlier blog entries.

Since returning to writing I have been successful in terms of completion of project even if not in sales terms. I have finished nine novels or novellas and a few short stories and the current WiP is two thirds done as far as a first draft goes. Sales wise though I've not been as successful. I've sold three short stories. That's it.

I've had four offers for publication on the novels/novellas (two each for novel Mr. Stinky and novella he Intersection) but none of them were ones I could take. But as yet the total number of readers I have had for my fiction is four. They have seemed to like them but they don't have any power in getting things published.

Actually I should increase this. I have had personal emails from a few literary agents who had read my work and they claimed to enjoy it, referencing characters and plot twists etc. that convinced me they had read the books. But in each case they said they did not think what I had written was what the publishing world would pick up at the moment.

So I started to consider whether things were worth doing and the inevitable happened. I stopped writing. Fortunately I didn't stop reading this time. A few months went by with only the occasional half-hearted attempt at recommencing and I was thinking that maybe I was done with it again for a while (or possibly for good). I began to reconcile myself with that position.

And then the ideas started to come again. And so to where I am...

My current WiP is not science fiction, fantasy or horror... or even weird. I'm writing a satire about capitalism. It's called "How to Run a Company" and I'm having fun with it. And it's this last though that is my new ethos. I quite like writing. It's enjoyable. Or at least it's enjoyable when the pressure is off. So I have taken the pressure off. I'm not trying to write to a schedule. I did that during NaNoWriMo last year, thinking quite reasonably that I was writing at a schedule ahead of the 50K per month target they have anyway so why not sign up. I'll tell you why not; or at least why not for me. The pressure of trying to keep up with the schedule to get to 50K stopped it being fun.

I finished the month a little over a thousand words short. But worse I finished the month not having enjoyed writing. It was the start of my slide. I did complete that novel, and another afterwards but my fourth Ben Williamson novella stalled. As did the four novels I tried immediately afterwards.

So now, as my pinned tweet on twitter says, "Think I'm starting to get my head around what I should do with my writing. I'm going to write the stories I would want to read."

And as I am reading Magnus Mills, Zoran Živković, Max Barry and Johan Jonasson then it might just be my muse is going to take me in this direction. Of course all the ideas that are brewing up would be back in the old direction so who knows? This might be an aberration. I don't care. I'm writing.

I'm going to write when I feel like writing. And if I don't feel like it, I'm not going to force it. And I'm not going to try to second guess the market as to what might sell. I'm going to write what I would want to read. And then when it's finished I will decided whether or not I want to submit it anywhere. My previous novel, a young adult ghost/demon story called "The Stairs Lead Down" has been read by my wife (who said she enjoyed it) and by no one else. It might stay that way. I liked it so much I'm not sure I want to sully it with a long list of rejections from publishers and agencies.

This might seem counterproductive. After all why write if you're not going to seek publication? It's a good point. Well, I'm going to argue that it's because I get the enjoyment out of the writing. Why spoil it?

Of course this is likely to change in the future as there is still a large part of me that does want to hold a book, a physical book, that only exists because I wrote it and someone else thought it was worth publishing. (Yes, you can read into that that I am NEVER going to consider self-publishing.)

And talking of enjoying writing, much as it is enjoyable writing this blog entry, it just isn't a patch on writing fiction. So I am going to head back over there and get back to it. And I will admit that I never did fulfil my promise of telling you something about the current novel (I made the promise in paragraph two) I just want to write the next scene in my story.

And listen to some more good music as I do.


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