Tag Archives: Writer

The Golden Art

Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum 2014

Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum 2014

I can’t exactly confess to having been afflicted with writer’s block this past year. For instead it’s truer to say I had totally given up on being a writer altogether.

Ironically, however, the circumstances leading to my complete abandonment of my craft, I believe, make for an interesting enough story, on reflection.

After having seen my debut novel sink beneath the waves of global public indifference, it was suggested to me I seek guidance in the form of mentoring from an already established writer.

And as an example of the adage “careful what you wish for”, through a series of seemingly synchronistic events, I soon managed to make contact with one of this country’s more celebrated and awarded writers.

What thrilled me most of all was the fact that this writer in question also claims to have been largely inspired to write by the very same 17th century alchemist I myself have been. Too mind-blowingly cool!

Anyway, now the story gets a little bit more complicated. Because my first real contact with this writer is actually with his wife. An amazing experience in itself. For, literally two or three days earlier, I had quite by chance read the book of poems written for her by her future husband to be, with which he had first wooed her. And now here was this great writer’s muse standing before me — in the hallowed recesses of his writing studio no less — sharing intimate details of the intervening 40 years of their married lives together.

“I think he really is happy at last,” she confessed to me, “now that he has decided to stop writing.”

It was the usual story. There’s no money in it anymore, the dumbing down of the reading public, the all-pervasive curse of political correctness. This is a man after all that can recite whole cantos of classical poems in their original Latin, from memory. I mean, I feel stupid even thinking of myself as a writer worthy of the name in comparison.

So I listen to how this great luminary has finally decided to call it quits and feel all conviction drain from my body. Still, I leave my details with his wife and arrange for a time when it would be convenient for me to make contact with the man I wished to be my writing mentor.

Soon afterwards, I do in fact next have a telephone conversation with the man himself. Although the problem is that I can’t seem to clarify whether he thinks he is going to mentor me as an apprentice alchemist or as a failed novelist. Argggh, it’s all so hopeless! I don’t know what the hell’s going on.

“Look, it’s very hard to talk about these things abstractly,” he says, “but I’ve got a book of essays coming out next month that explains everything. Give me your address and I’ll send you a copy. Read that, and then we can start from there.”

Fine. I’m totally confused. Not least because his wife has just told me he has quit writing, and yet now I’m informed he apparently has a new collection of essays coming out. Also, I don’t know if I’m ready to start an apprenticeship as a real-life alchemist any time soon.

A month passes. Nothing. No book of essays comes my way. Just as I suspected. The whole thing was an elaborate lie to brush me off. Okay, so this writer is no JD Salinger when it comes to reclusive writer types, but he’s not exactly the kind to hold literary soirées either. All right fine. I give up, I think to myself. Being a writer simply isn’t worth it. What’s more, I’ve made a complete golden ass of myself with this whole mentoring debacle already.

Two months pass. Three, four, five. Still nada. I turn my attention to honing my guitar playing skills, swearing to never write another stinking word. Alchemy is for the birds. What delusional world had I been living in? Synchronicity? Oh, brother!

Seven, eight, nine months go by. I haven’t written a single poem, stanza or word. But my guitar playing is off the chart. Woo-hoo, couldn’t be happier.

Ten, eleven, twelve months have now past, when I pull up in the driveway and see an envelope sticking out of the letterbox. I grab the oversized piece of post and open it distractedly in the front seat of the car.

Oh, shit. It’s the book of essays, but I can’t remember their significance. I’m finally happy being just another second-rate guitarist rocking the suburbs. Man, I’ve given up. Like really given up. What the fuck. I feel like someone has just dragged the needle back across the record of my life, and that the back-masked message I’m now hearing threatens to implode the very reality of my new simple, dumbed-down choice of existence.

“Read that, and then we can start from there,” my would-be mentor had told me almost exactly a year ago.

Start what? I can’t remember what it was I wanted so badly. Let me go back to my Wild Turkey and amplified heat haze. Fuck this, I was happy. I was happy for having quit.

I crack open the cover of the book, searching for answers. But it only gets worse. My mentor has handwritten notes to me in the margins of his own book. His tone is jovial and self-deprecating; his handwriting impeccably informal.

Don’t make me go back to being my old self, I beg the Fates. It’s too hard to contemplate. I’m a fraud. A master alchemist will see right through me. I’ve forgotten how to turn words into a golden phrase. I have fallen out of love with all language and it with me.

But still I hold this invitation in my hands.


“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


Coming Back for Seconds — Why I Just Can’t Get Enough of the Whole Blogging Thing

Blogging Heroes

Blogging Heroes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m still new to this whole blogging business, but what has really blown me away the most is the instant sense of community I have felt since starting my blog.

As a writer, a lot of the time, I feel kinda marginalized by society. I don’t want to sound like a victim in all of this, believe me. But it’s rare that I openly tell people I’m a writer or that I’ve written a novel. Mostly, I suppose, because I worry people will think I’ve got tickets on myself or that I’m being pretentious.

But it’s more than just me that’s the problem. I’m sure of it. Really, it’s about jealousy, I think, ultimately. People can’t stand to hear about someone else who is actively following their dreams, especially when they themselves are locked into 9-to-5 wage slavery. Because even when I have told friends and such, in the past, about my writing, they have usually feigned complete indifference.

Hell, even my own family have in no way got behind me in this respect. It took me seven years to write my first novel, and do you think I could find a single family member willing to give up the seven hours necessary to read it? Nope. Not bloody likely!

But that’s enough about what’s bad in my life as a writer. Now I want to focus on what’s good. And, at the moment, that’s blogging. And by blogging I really mean everything about blogs generally. The writing and the posting I do on my own blog, sure, are a big part of what I’m talking about, and yet, you know, what’s really got me excited is knowing all you guys are out there doing your blogs as well. Finally, I don’t feel so all alone! Yay!

I didn’t use to know why people joined blogging communities. Until I joined one myself. Because the operative word “community” had apparently been completely lost on me. Now I know differently. There are hundreds, no, thousands (tens of thousands, even 100s of thousands)  of you out there all obsessing over the same literary quandaries I myself am beset with. Hallelujah! I’m not a freak…well…

Anyway, let me tell you about one of my current favorite blogs to visit. The site belongs to a guy called Cristian Mihai. And here is some info I copied from his About page: Cristian Mihai (born 25 December 1990) grew up in Constanta, Romania.

Now, like I said, I’m new to blogging, so I still don’t know how to link my blog to other people’s blogs and all that technical stuff. But, whatever, I just really like what Cristian writes about. To be honest, I actually just really like the way he writes period. He’s only 23, but he is filled with such incredible ambition. I gather he wrote two novels last year, and (wait for it) this year, 2013, he plans to write three more! Holy writer’s block, not! Prolific, much?!

So, look, he doesn’t really have any idea who I am. But yesterday I posted a comment on one of his articles about how inspiring both his attitude and output are. Along with that, I also added how it took me seven years to write my first novel and how I was in no way keen about embarking on writing a second.

Then, early this morning, something completely shifted within me. On remembering my comment of yesterday, I came to realize that I can do this. I’m ready to give it a go. And God help me, for saying so, but I’m going to embark on that hellish journey I have practically sworn I would never embark on again. I’m going to write that second novel that’s been taunting me ever since I finished my first. Moreover, I reckon I’m going to write a third as well to round out a proposed trilogy. Nuts! Totally. Come on, bring it on!

“So, why?” you ask, “What has given you this incredible change of heart?”

To which I reply, “You. All of you out there who I know are just like me and Cristian. Because you, too, are aspiring novelists, budding screenwriters, gifted poets, genius photographers, funny fringe journalists and kick-arse comedic talents, more generally.”

And how do I know this about you all? Because I’ve seen your blogs. And you know what, I absolutely LOVE what I’m seeing! So keep it up guys, let’s change the world. Together.


The Self-Published Author as Agent Provocateur

Tags:stockings garter lingerie

Tags:stockings garter lingerie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a shameful secret to confess…Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am a self-published author (gasp!).

There, I said it. But, even so, I absolutely flatly refuse to accept that I am now therefore also guilty of that which we writer’s consider the most cardinal of sins: (dare I speak it’s heinous name?) Vanity Publishing.

No, you see, I prefer the term Guerilla Publishing™, to describe this desperate course of action I have chosen to take. The crumbling tyranny that is the book publishing establishment needs overthrowing, and my novel might just be the one to finally tip the balance.

So, if you like, you might like to think of my novel as being a kind of “dirty bomb” in the revolution to free the written word from corporate interests. I know I do.

Which brings me to the point of today’s blog, namely: the self-published author in the role of agent provocateur.

What exactly is an agent provocateur, I hear you ask? Well, here, I’ll let Wikipedia enlighten you:

“Traditionally, an agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for “inciting agent(s)”) is an agent employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act.”

And so, what exactly is the “so-called” illegal act that I’m proposing the self-published author should be enticing or provoking others to commit?

Answer: Why, the buying of one’s savagely brilliant subversive novels, Stupid! Thereby cutting out the Fat Cat middle men of the traditional publishing world.

(Sorry, I didn’t mean to get personal just then, by calling you stupid. Forgive me, it’s just that I’m all hyped up with this revolutionary zeal!)

Anyway, I hear you next questioning my use of the term subversive. By which I simply mean that your novel now exists outside of the system, solely by way of its being self-published, that is.

So how is this done? How does the self-published author achieve sales?

Well, first off, it must be said that it only stands to reason that by the very act of choosing to self-publish the onus thereby also falls entirely on any such author to self-promote their work as well. Yes?

Ok. Well, as an agent provocateur one must learn how to “provoke” the reading public.

So be provocative. And you know what? I personally can’t think of anything more provocative than women’s lingerie. Trust me, sex sells! (see below, but only after stopping by Barnes and Noble, of course, where you can buy a very reasonably priced eBook copy of my novel, Missing Zero)

Agent Provocateur in Broadwick Street, Soho, L...

Agent Provocateur in Broadwick Street, Soho, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Top 10 Reasons Why I Suck As A Writer

English: A whole lemon

English: A whole lemon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No. 1 – Because I care more about me than I do about you
Explanation: I’m self-obsessed, that’s why I became a writer, duh?! I’m not alone in
this, I’m sure, but a writer’s greatest mistake is having so much of a rogue-ego they
write so as to solely please/pleasure themselves and not others…hmm.

No.2 – I take rejection really, really, REALLY! BADLY!!!
Explanation: see previous blog article here.

No.3 – I refuse to run with the pack
Explanation: Human beings by nature are social animals, we writerly-types are not.
“Not human?” I hear you ask. No, not sociable. Well, not fit for polite society,
mostly. What I mean to say is that the very term “writers’ co-op” is surely an
oxymoron? Whatever, by banding together writers can help each other out. Just don’t
expect me to join the Christmas mailing list, understand?

No. 4 – Because proof-reading your work is for sissies, right?
Explanation: Wong. I mean, wrong. I mean, I just wrote the bloody thing, and so you
don’t actually think I now want to actually read it. ( I think I actually just used the
word “actually” twice in the same sentence. Nah, pooh cares?

No. 5 – Because I’m a lover; not a fighter, Michael!
Explanation: What was the topic again? Did I mention I get distracted easily? No? This
would never happen on Tralfamadore…

No. 6 – Self-doubt is a disease without any cure
Explanation: You’ve already stopped reading, because you hate me. Stop everything!
What’s an infinitive, and have I just split one. Ah, if I could but boldly know…

No. 7 – Bad habits are not just solely the preserve of poorly-dressed nuns
Explanation: Falling back on the same old sentence structure and turn of phrase makes
for a quickly tiresome writing style. Vary it up a bit. Honestly. It works! Or so most
successful writers will tell you. Don’t listen to me, though, I’m some anonymous hack
just like the rest of you.

No. 8 – “In-jokes” aren’t funny!
Explanation: While I personally might think Monty Python are hilariously funny (and
know many of their sketches by heart), jokes about The Ministry of Silly Walks probably
don’t have quite the legs I might like to think they do. Think, similarly, for the word
fnord!

No. 9 – What’s my name again?
Explanation: Let’s face it, as a writer, it’s much more fun to spend time dreaming up
pen names and plotting out our imaginary Pulitzer Prize speeches, than actually writing,
isn’t it? Don’t fall for your own bullshit, if John Smith had written War and Peace,
it would still be War and Peace. Sorry, Leo 😉

No. 10 – Oh, God! I Can’t Be Arsed…
Explanation: Hell, you can finish this damn list off, if it’s so freakin’ important to
you! I’ve got some serious drinking to do…

“The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” William Blake


Hello, Rejection, My Old Friend!

English: post card with message about acting d...

English: post card with message about acting differently to avoid rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ah, sweet soul-crushing rejection! What would a writer be without it? No doubt much happier, I’m sure. But also much less of any kind of a writer worthy of the name, I should expect.

Because, really, without the constant threat of rejection, writers would grow lazy. Or even lazier, if you like. As you know, we’re a feckless bunch of layabouts us writerly-types, aren’t we? We want all the applause and plaudits with none of the hard graft or headaches.

All of which, I believe, marks out rejection as a necessary evil in the life of any serious word-smith. Simply put, it’s only through the constant threat of rejection that we force ourselves to improve and grow.

Recently, for instance, as a case in point, I have decided to try my hand at professional blog writing. (FYI The on-line concern I’ve signed up with are called GhostBloggers). There’s no real money to be made, I’m quite certain. But as a way of honing my writing skills, well, I thought it was worth a try.

Anyhow, of course “surprise, surprise!” — true to form — my first article/blog was immediately rejected. For your amusement I’m inserting the main body of the rejection email here:

“Thank you for submitting your article to Ghostbloggers.net. After careful consideration your submission has unfortunately not been selected for purchase. We are limiting the amount of articles written in first-person POV. ‘I’ is personal and informal, and is still not appropriate in a lot of business and marketing writing. We encourage you to change your article and submit it again.”

My favourite bit, though, came by way of a sort of coda at the end, which read thus:

“You have a unique voice as a writer, and I look forward to reading future submissions.”

Why thank you, a thank you very much! I say, ever-so sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. Yeah, right!

To which I next say, “Hello, Rejection My Old Friend, I welcome you back once again.

Because really what’s the point of making enemies with that constant companion (and infallible advisor) all of us writers are forever stuck with? Believe me, REJECTION RULES! Can you dig it?


Missing Zero – A Case of Username Envy

Envy

Envy (Photo credit: iThinkergoiMac)

The face of writing has changed forever. Due to the Internet, that is. It’s obvious, sure. But it can’t be denied that everything we do today as writers is now influenced by the vagaries of the great almighty World Wide Web. For better and worse.

Take this blog I’m writing. I don’t even know what a blog is. But I know as a self-published author I have to write one. I’ve also created a FaceBook page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr and Pinterest site and produced a YouTube video to help me promote the novel I wrote, called Missing Zero (see more links below).

Without the Internet there would be no Smashwords, granted. Or eBooks, more generally. Meaning my treasured manuscript would no doubt have been left in a bottom drawer somewhere to serve as cockroach bedding. Instead copies of my magnum opus are available for download at Smashwords, Diesel, and Barnes and Nobel for the modest price of $6.66. This being just one of the many obvious boons of the Internet for an unsigned author.

Personally, I have also somehow relished the challenge Twitter, for instance, presents of using only 140 characters at a time to convey one’s ideas. Distilling Missing Zero’s 116,000 words and central conceit to just 140 characters or less proved strangely liberating – namely “the role of Antichrist is defunct in a world so gone to hell”. Hilarious premise for a darkly-comic satirical novel, huh?

More incredible to me (a child of last century), though, is the fact I’m writing this on an iPhone, while lying on my back on the couch. Technological advances continue to make writing easier…Again, for better and worse.

Which brings me to the main point of today’s blog: username envy. Because don”t you agree with me there ought to exist a single amusing and universally-accepted word to describe it? That pissed-off feeling you get when you go to open a new Internet account only to find someone already owns your username. Damn! It happened to me just today, here at WordPress. The URL missingzero@wordpress.com was already taken! Believe me, it sucks. But what can I do? Change the title of my novel? Not f#%*ing likely!

No, the genre-bending comic masterpiece I wrote shall keep its title of Missing Zero for evermore. Unfortunately, its companion blog shall be hosted at zeromissing@wordpress.com for evermore, also. Oh well, it could be worse I could share Justin Bieber‘s sex life. Hmm…

As an experiment I just posted the following request for help on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/missingzero666 – Anyone know the Internet slang word for “username envy”? “Ah, fuck, it’s already taken!” seems a bit cumbersome. Any ideas, twitterfolk?

Within about 30 seconds someone favorited (if that’s even a word) my post. But no-one offered up the kind of zippy slang term I was after. The more observant amongst you will notice, by the way, that even my twitter account is @missingzero666 (@missingzero having already been taken). The 666 tag on the end was forced upon me, essentially. Although the story of the novel does centre around a character named Lorem Ipsum, who starts to believe he just might be the (now defunct) Beast of the Apocalypse or Antichrist, I’m not an advocate of Satanism per se.

Anyway, so, in my wider search for answers, I happened earlier upon a random username generator (http://www.jimpix.co.uk/words/username-generator.asp), where I got given malmseynosedzero as a suggested username. Who nose/knows maybe I’ll use it someday? Whatever. Either way, this conveniently leads me to my next point. Cue segue music now, please!

What I am trying to say is this: many of the characters in my novel got their names from online usernames I have used over the years. Names like Lorem Ipsum, Sdeerwf Eggeth and Missing Zero itself! I must admit I have a personal affection for Sdeerwf Eggeth, having been asked once in an Internet forum about this most unusual of names. My reply was that I believed it to be of Norwegian origin, before leaving it at that.

Yes, the face of writing has changed forever. If you don’t believe me, simply take a look at how many writers are now using social media and online hosting sites to promote their e-wares. Me included! Follow the links to see the kind of web presence I’ve started to build up around Missing Zero in just over 12 weeks. It’s a numbers game. With a world population of 7.071 billion, you only need a fraction of a percent of people to pick up on your talent and you’re away. Sure as hell beats watching your unpublished prize manuscript slowly decompose into compost in the bottom drawer of your desk. So get tweeting/posting/blogging today, right this instant. Who knows, it might be your novel that’s the next “now trending” success story…if trending is even a word, that is.

Missing Zero eBook downloads:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/missing-zero-lorem-ipsum/1114301801?ean=2940045109604

http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000256919/Ipsum-Lorem-Missing-Zero/1.html

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/256919

Missing Zero social media sites:

https://twitter.com/missingzero666

https://www.facebook.com/zeromissing?ref=hl

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/missingzero

YouTube