Tag Archives: thoughts on writing

“An ugly child belongs to its parents, whereas a beautiful child belongs to the world” — unknown.

I heard an interesting quote the other day that was told to me by an extremely inebriated, anonymous reveller, and it has stuck with me ever since.

Here it is: “An ugly child belongs to its parents, whereas a beautiful child belongs to the world.”

I suppose, in some ways, I can see how this quote is sort of akin to the well-known saying that states, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan”.

Whatever. What’s more intriguing to me is that I’ve since been surprised to find that I can’t seem to locate this first quote anywhere else on the web. (NB Please let me know if you know its source.)

As an artist I often feel about what I create as though it were my own offspring. And hence I can relate to the above quote not as an actual parent of a child, but instead as a writer. Sometimes I worry (like I’m sure all writers do at some point) that my literary offspring appear ugly to others. No matter, I tell myself stoically, it’s just a case of the ugly duckling syndrome…

So, until such time as all of my various ink-children should find similar birds of a feather to soar with, I have turned my attention to crafting the next big Internet meme instead (I wish!). 😛

An ugly child

Forget About the Numbers Game, Let’s Talk About The Naming Game, Shall We?

It started simply enough with a name that drifted into my head a few mornings ago, as I lay in bed struggling to get up and start the day.

The name that mysteriously suggested itself to me was Tinder Catchfire. It came to me complete. Unannounced and seemingly from out of nowhere. But what’s more unusual is that the name was also linked to a particular occupation from the very first.

For in one split second, I suddenly became aware that there exists this character called Tinder Catchfire, who also apparently happens to be an extremely gifted student teacher.

Interestingly, the gender of said character was not so definite. And even now as I write this, I have no idea if Tinder is a he or a she. But what I do know is that it is my job, as a writer, to tell Ms/Mr/Mrs Catchfire’s story, as best I can.

However, ultimately, the telling of that particular story is a project for another day.

Really, I suppose, what I’m more interested in knowing right now is how those of you who are reading this come up with names for your own characters in stories. And also, how do you feel about the use of aptronyms, more generally? (NB aptronym: a name that is especially suited to the profession of its owner, eg Dr Fang the dentist)

To get the ball rolling, I’ll confess that I personally find aptronyms a bit trite or try-hard ordinarily. Nonetheless, I now feel committed to the choice of Tinder Catchfire for the name of my future protagonist in a still yet to be written story.

So what say you who are reading this? Are you interested in knowing more about Tinder Catchfire? And if so, what gender does the name suggest to you? Please do share your thoughts and experiences…

The High Price of Obscurity

Due to the fairly mild weather where I was today, I went out and did some busking. It was nothing too elaborate. I kept it pretty basic, limiting my set up to just me and my guitar and a microphone stand down by a wharf. Although I did also use a little busking amp (that runs on batteries), to cut through the sound of passing traffic and general street noise.

As a rule of thumb, I tend to get around $40/hr wherever I busk; and today was no different to usual. Which got me next thinking about how impossible it is for me to make any kind of money at all from writing, my other great passion alongside playing music.

Seriously, over the last 20 years or so, I have earned 10’s of thousands of dollars kicking around in dead-end bands and teaching guitar and busking etc. But, please, you must trust me that I’m not telling you this so as to boast about it. I’m just pointing out a fact, so as to put what I’m trying to say in context.

Because, even though I have a degree in English literature and have spent many years trying to refine my writing style — during which time I have also completed a novel, I might add — I’ve never managed to make any real money out of being a writer.

Sure, at the drop of a hat, quite literally, I can stand on any street corner in the country and earn enough money to feed myself, by busking. But, trust me, if I had to make an equivalent amount of cash through writing I would immediately end up starving.

“So what’s up with that?” I ask you.

Yeah, okay, you might argue that busking is simply a less demeaning form of begging. And that people are merely handing over their money to buskers the same way they would to someone who was panhandling.

Well, of course, it hardly needs to be said I totally disagree with this view of busking. And yet while I could next go on to explain exactly why it is that I disagree. I’m not going to for the sake of brevity.

Suffice to say that I’m much more interested, instead, in again lamenting the sorry fact that, as a writer, I have no means by which to make the sort of money I can from strumming a few chords while casually belting out a handful of old Iggy Pop and Lou Reed standards.

From searching the Internet, I gather what I’m suffering from is actually referred to as Starving Writer Syndrome. A condition that evidently is largely fed by a misguided belief that there is something romantic about living in obscurity as a struggling writer.

Notwithstanding the accuracy of this label, I’ve decided to end (somewhat ironically) with a quote from a famous musician about his view on making money from writing. To my mind, it neatly captures my own misgivings about professional writing, more generally. And perhaps it even helps explain why I have not enjoyed any real financial return for my literary efforts so far.

“I didn’t want to write for pay. I wanted to be paid for what I write.”Leonard Cohen