Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Think For A Minute

So we start today’s post with a bit of good news, ne verging on exciting.

A couple of months ago I sent two short stories off for consideration in a competition and consequently heard nothing for ages.

Then, around the end of September/start of October I received news that both had been accepted for publication – for which I would receive the princely combined sum of $40 (about £25)

There were, of course, slight catches to this – firstly there will be no free author’s copy to tout around and try and sell to family and friends, secondly the only place it is being published is in Canada and on demand – so when I do buy copies (admittedly at a discount) I will have to pay a transaction fee to my bank.

So not quite vanity publishing, but close.

But then my friend Argent was telling me that back in the beginning of publishing everything was vanity published – it was the only way to get things out there.

For anyone wondering I won’t be naming the stories, nor the location of printing here because I’m still keen to keep my name and face off the internet as much as possible – but if any of you actually feel like putting up £10 for 2,000 of my well chosen words (along with the words of about 13 other people) please let me know and I will email you details.

To be honest though, I don’t expect you to buy it – I’m happy that you come and read my thoughts in the first place.

And I know that some of you prefer my factual writing to my fictional (I enjoy the process of both), but today I wanted to talk about what we each get out of blogging.

I always remember what Douglas Adams said about writing – which was that it can be very lonely and like staring at a blank piece of paper until your head bleeds.

For me I have written stories and poems and songs for as long as I can remember and became terribly down heartened at the response from family and friends. Some just wouldn’t be interested in reading them at all, whilst others would look at my 50,000 word Magnificent Octopus (as I call Magnus Oppus – or great work) and pick out all the punctuation mistakes and fail to say anything positive.

Even worse would be the “great….great…sorry, what was it about?” that some people would give to something I had spent three or four years writing. Eventually I came to doubt my ability to write: which has (and continues to have) given me a certain degree of writer’s block – sometimes its difficult to continue writing something when you know that the end result will sit in a drawer, or on a computer file, unloved and unread by all other than a few non-committal family members.

On one occasion at work I tried to explain that I had woken at 4am with a really good idea and had to get up, switch on my computer and work on it there and then or lose it forever – the response from the person involved was that I was “sad” (IE a loser).

It’s something I continue to be frustrated by – this bizarre need to be creative and to express myself in some way and yet my personal feeling that I am never able to get what I mean on paper, or that the people in my own community wont “get” it.

And so when I discovered blogging it became a chance for me to talk to people that DID understand – people like myself that woke at 4am with ideas, people who were prepared to look at the world from a different point of view.

Since I started blogging I’ve done some of the best writing I’ve ever done and I have to thank each and every one for your continued support and feedback. People always surprise me as to what they pick out of something I’ve written.

Finally – I wanted to discuss an idea for my next Toastmasters speech, which will touch on the subject of genius and where creativity comes from.

Take William Shakespeare: the bane of school children reading in bored voices across the land, but universally accepted as a genius.

Most of us can quote some of his works – like “To be or not to be – that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of oppressors”

However – I saw a production of Hamlet recently and it said in the booklet that an early version of the play showed a much shorter version of the speech: “To be or not to be – aye, that’s the rub”

Why was this? Because back then plays were constantly written and re-written according to public response, actors might add lines that would be kept and writers would openly steal bits of plays from other writers that they liked and add them to their plays…

So if all this was happening to Shakespeare’s works – was he really a genius??

Perhaps true genius exists in the coming together of minds??



the watercats said...

I just left a comment on someone else's page about the same sort of thing (though put in a much more complex way, dominic rivron).. I'm of similar ilk to you, have written from the moment I could hold a pen and the things I write have often led to horrendous confrontations, due to it being a tool where all the shite in my head comes out and gets processed. Anyway.. I had a few poems published when I was younger which made me want to become a poet, until i realised what a cliquey, high-brow, academic area it is/was.. after that, things just got stashed away, written only for my own perusal. Then, the ronald taught me guitar.. yay! an outlet!.. I am a realist and know everything I ever do will only ever remain in obscurity, I'm not disciplined enough to ever be great..
the genius thing, to me , it is present in everyone, every time one of us puts a word down, snatches it from the ether and turns it into something... that's the alchemy of writing that I love!
Congrats on the publishing, it's a warm snuggly feeling aint it! :-)

Argent said...

Similar experiences, been writing stories poems and songs forever that no-one's bothered with or gets even if they do read them. Blogging has been a really liberating thing for me in that regard. There are people out there who actually read my stuff! This is a constant delightful suprise to me. Congrats on the publishing and here's to many more.

Raven said...

Congrats on being published! I've had a few things published but I'm not good about submitting them. I don't deal well with rejection. Blogging does offer a nice outlet.

May this be the start of a history of many, many more pieces being published.

thecheekofgod said...

Interesting post. Something to chew on, and I like that.

A friend once told me: "Writers write." His point was that there are so many of us who claim to be writers but we seldom do it with any sort of passion or consistency. I disagreed at the time, but have since come to see the wisdom of his words. And blogging, the process of plucking out sentences and getting them out of my head, has helped so many other areas of my life. It's not all genius, but it's process.

And I'd gladly buy the journal. Send me the information . . .

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

watercats - the good thing is that you found an outlet, not everyone does

Argent - indeed. i'm still surprised by what people say

Raven - thanks...and keep trying.

Cheek of God - thanks for agreeing to read them :)

Rachel Fox said...

I think very few writers get success quickly or easily. As well as the work of the writing itself there is (for most people) also the long, hard slog of getting that writing out into the world (by hook or by blog...). Even for the most talented - it's a long and winding road!
Good luck with the book thing. One thing leads to another...

Michael said...

Awesome news. Please send me the ordering info. Maybe it's something I'm already getting!