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Old 12-04-2020, 09:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
Born to be mild
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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Default Trollheart's Writing Desk


You know, I finally get it. Took long enough for it to sink in, but I get it now. I’m 57, I’ve never had anything published and the massive likelihood at this stage of my life, and with such little effort expended by me to get published is that I never will. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a bad writer. I’m something of my own worst critic, and I know when I have failed to come up to my own standards (quite often) as any writer does really, but I know I can write. I’ve been interested in writing since I was knee-high to a velociraptor, and given the small accolades some of my stories have received on certain writing forums, I know it’s not just me thinking I’m good, living in a bubble or an echo chamber and ignoring all outside criticism. Nobody has gushed “Oh my god! Why aren’t you a best-selling author?” or anything like that, but there’s been praise, and affirmation that I’m a decent writer.

Sometimes, decent is enough. Look at some of the books written - hell, look at some of the best-sellers - and it’s not unfair to say the authors of some of them are not what you’d call brilliant. But sometimes it just takes one thing - catch a moment, be in the right place at the right time, say the right thing, know the right person - and bam! You’re away. I’m not for a microsecond suggesting all, or even the vast majority of well known writers today fall into this category, far from it. I know most writers work hard for most of their lives before attaining fame and fortune, but there are some out there who have really just been lucky. Certain names come to mind, but I won’t mention them. Not if you paid me fifty shades of - I mean, fifty thousand Euro.

And if these writers have succeeded through a combination of dumb luck, connections and the right timing, then fair play to them. I’m not knocking anyone. I merely raise the point to illustrate my own, which is that you can be a great writer and just never make it. I don’t think I made up the quote but until someone claims it I’m going to say I did: the cemeteries are full of excellent writers who never got published. Just because you’re good, or great, does not mean necessarily that you’ll make it. And hell, even if you do, there’s no guarantee you can even make a living as a writer, at least not solely. My eyes have been opened in the last year, talking to and listening to published writers who have made it clear they don’t all drive fancy houses or own big cars (maybe that should be the other way around) on the earnings of their writings. Most of them see it as a kind of supplementary income, and may take other work, such as translation, proof-reading, or writing technical works to keep the money coming in.

I think it was the late Sir Terry Pratchett who thanked his wife in the dedication of one of his books for working and allowing him to write, until he could support her. Stephen King tells many hard luck tales of waiting for the hoped-for cheque to come in from a short story in order that he could pay the rent, or buy baby food. Of course, that was when he was starting off; now he’s a gazillonaire. But for even Stephen King, JK Rowling or Robert Ludlum there are a thousand, a million even Trollhearts, Oris and other writers who can’t, and never will, get published. It’s just how it is. You might read a book and say “I write better than that!” And maybe you do. Nobody cares. Unless you can somehow make that immense leap across the gulf between writing at home or on the web and being on the bookshelves of Barnes and Nobles or Easons or in the listings for Amazon, you’ll stay unnoticed, you’ll stay poor and nobody will ever read your material.

OccultHawk made a comment a year or two back which really pissed me off, but thinking about it the fucker is probably right. He said “At least when you die, your writing will die with you.” Yeah, it probably will. Almost certainly. Which is why I want to try, now, to let others see it. Hey, I’m not expecting anyone is going to grab the phone and get on to their cousin thrice removed who happens to be in publishing, and suddenly I’ll have a career as a writer. Nor am I expecting some wandering editor to be idly perusing this forum, and then the journal section, and then this journal. Not gonna happen.

So either I keep writing and nobody ever reads my material, or I put it up here. I choose the latter. Here, then, I’m going to post short stories I’ve written, perhaps even extracts from longer, not-yet-completed ones, maybe even unfinished novels (I’ve a few of them!) for anyone to read and comment on. I’ll take any feedback; you don’t have to be kind (but it would be nice if you were) though constructive criticism is always more welcome than destructive.

One of the things I wanted to do while away was learn a little brevity, how to write literal short stories, instead of the long ones I tend to turn out. To some extent I have learned to do that; forums I have been on have had competitions in which story length is strictly limited, so I’ve had to compose stories of no more than 5,000 words, 1,000 words and even 100 words! It ain’t easy I can tell you, but it does help to hone the writing skills a little. A lot, actually. Deciding what you need to jettison, what’s extraneous and what isn’t but could be said in less words and still retain the spirit of the story is quite a skill, and I’ve a long way to go before I have mastered it, if I ever do, but I’m getting a little bit better at it. My stories won both the October competitions on one of the forums I’m on; not a huge achievement as there weren’t exactly tons of other stories, but still, I consider it a personal triumph, though I’m not getting ahead of myself by any means.

All the above notwithstanding, I still write, and have written, very long short stories, and do tend to waffle on at length. This is probably purely a discipline issue: if I’m restricted to a certain number of words, I have to stick to that, but if I’m writing my own stories I never constrain them; a story will be as long as it needs to be. So yeah, there are short stories in my portfolio that certainly don’t deserve the description, some of which could be mini-novels or novellas in their own right! But I enjoy writing, and while often I start with an idea and then run into a blank wall, I do always try to come back and ensure the story works out, maybe not the way I had originally intended, but then characters have a way of shaping your story without any real input from you other than directing the fingers. This is fine, too: if a character wants to be something I hadn’t planned for him or her (or it), or if they want to take the story in a different direction to the one in which I had been heading, let that happen. It’s only likely to improve the story.

So anyway that’s it. I’ll be posting here on and off, and I’ll be interested to see what anyone thinks of my writing, should anyone bother to read. If anyone wants to submit any of their work I’ll be happy to give my opinion on it. I’m also happy to talk in general about writing with anyone who wants to. It’s not really like I can give advice but I have been writing (badly) since I was a youngster and I enjoy discussing writing with others, which is why I’m now on a few writing forums.

I’m not going to spoiler anything. This isn’t the main section and anyone coming into this journal will know, or should know, what to expect. I will do my best to avoid walls of text, breaking larger stories or even novel extracts up, but I will if possible also preface each entry by advising the word count. If it’s part of an ongoing story of which I have already posted parts previously (like the alliteration there? What? No, they’re not green monsters who live in the Florida Everglades!) I will note this too, and may provide links to the other parts in the post. At any rate, the main index, held here, will allow you to get to where you want to go at any time.

If there’s anything special to tell about an entry, a story, a novel, I’ll put that in the post too. It’s not as if I think I’m Stephen King (god don’t I wish!) letting my readers into the incredible thought factory behind the creative process or anything like that, but some stories have come about for varied reasons, and it might be interesting to talk about them. Or not. We’ll see.

Most of my material centres on fantasy, science fiction and horror, or speculative fiction, but I have also written crime stories, humorous stories and even human interest stories, one of which I intend to be the opening post here.
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018

Last edited by Trollheart; 12-17-2020 at 10:07 AM.
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