Oct 28

Getting out of a Funk

So, while I thought I had a way out of the problem with the Hope Town short story series, it doesn’t look as though I actually do.

Oh, there was solution which technically was viable, but when reviewing it I wasn’t really sure that I liked it. So, I left it for a bit and then came back. After that little hiatus, I still didn’t like it, so I left it again.

This ended up morphing into an extended bout of not doing any writing at all, which is pretty much how my entire so-called writing career has progressed. Rinse, repeat; quite.

In the interim, I did go back to another novel that I had started on with the express purpose of listening to my own advice. However, even that didn’t help as at the back of my mind I really wanted to work this one out.

This all led to another bout of non-writing while I struggled with the problem in my head.

Unfortunately, I’m still not beyond that and find myself getting mired further and further into a creative funk, which is frustrating in so many ways.

What I need to do (other than stop breaking posts into paragraphs at the end of each sentence) is to just get past this and write. To hell with the niggling problem; I can deal with that when I’m ready to finally self publish, and in the meantime does it really affect the actual creation of the short stories?

I mean, there is such a thing as Find and Replace in Word, right?

Aug 08

I think I have a solution…

Following the event that I dubbed Crisis of Infinite Short Stories, I’ve put everything else to one side to try and find a resolution. It probably fed the demon procrastination that is always waiting inside me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice or when I find that there’s something else fun to do on the internet. However, this is a big deal and I didn’t want to move on too much more with the individual short stories in case the solution that I eventually found would require big rewrites to the work so far.

Luckily I have hit on something that should work.

You might think I sound hesitant, and you’d be right; its not quite all there yet, but its not a million miles away. To get it over the line I’m going to get the camera out, some maps and the like and piece something together. In addition, I’ll need to research some historical events, to see if the initial history lesson could work in the new location.

I know, historical events. Its almost research.

This may all work out for the best because I don’t have to worry about potentially offending anyone who lived in the original location. Now, I can take the new base and build on that to create something which is completely fictional and give me full freedom to tell whatever stories I want. This will be particularly useful, if I do write some past tales at some stage (and there are tentative plans to do so in the pitch I did).

I estimate a good few hours over the weekend and early into next week should crack it. Stay tuned.

Aug 06

If Its Not Working Move On

When I’ve been working on novels in the past, I’ve always written in a non linear fashion. I would jump around a lot especially when I was struggling with a scene or a character and so rather than let the entire project slow down I would walk away (not literally) and tackle another part of the novel which I didn’t have problems with.

Until I had problems with that too of course.

This method kept me going, but I found that sometimes when I went back to the problem child I still couldn’t work through it. On some occasions I would rewrite it completely. With others I would replace it with something else that did work. On rare  occasions I would give up completely as either I had no interest in that scene or a replacement wouldn’t work.

On those occasions I realised that perhaps the novel wasn’t going to pan out, because if I couldn’t make something that was once fundamental to the story work (or worse, didn’t have any interest in a portion of it) then perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

Throwing an entire novel (or part thereof) away when you’ve devoted a lot of time and effort (and perhaps love for a while) is a bit soul destroying and I would agonize over the decision for a good few days. Still, I would convince myself it was the right thing to do and move on to something else even though it felt like a little piece of me had died.

I’ve hit that moment with one of the short stories from the Hope Town series that I’m currently working on, but I’ve found that this time its different; a bit simpler really. I can jettison the short that I had been working on and pick up the next one. Although I’ve mapped out a lot of the series already, there’s room to pick up plot points or characters or relationships and see if they can fit in another story. Its not always going to work, but since all the stories are designed to be self contained its not the end of the world.

Now, with the stories being part of a shared universe and having seeded plot points in one that are designed to pay off in the future, or mapped out a few overarching story arcs, then I can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater in all cases. In those scenarios I’ll pick it up gently, wrap it in a towel, kick the bath over and let it drain away.

I digress.

In reality, I’ll keep the story on file and perhaps come back to it at some point. In the meantime, I’ve set myself deadlines so its off I go with something else.

Aug 05

Crisis of Infinite Short Stories

Just a quick post to report a crisis of um…rather large proportions. When doing some more research around the real-cum-fictional setting for the Hope Town set of short stories I’ve found that the origins and history that I had believed were correct are in fact not.

Yes, this is a complete work of fiction, and I could completely change the location but the location fits with the title of the series. So, now I need to find a way to create this place before it was actually created and find a plausible reason.

An entirely made up, plausible reason ;)

Ironically, I had created a post for today entitled If Its Not Working Move On. That’s now scheduled for tomorrow.

Aug 04

Expanding the History of Hope Town

One of the first things I did when I created the first Hope Town short story “The Devil’s Pâtissier” was include a little preamble which I titled A brief history lesson. It provided a quick overview of the setting and began to explain (hopefully with humour) why so many strange things occur in Hope Town. I didn’t want to name it a prologue because those usually run to a fair few pages; short stories don’t typically have prologues and everyone seems to frown on the use of prologues in fiction.

Huh. I think they have a place, but do think they need to be used well and sparingly, but to dimiss them entirely? Nope.

Anyway, this A brief history lesson that isn’t a prologue was to ease the reader into the short story because after that we get Pontius Smith saying “What is that smell?” and it pretty much doesn’t stop there. It has a job to do and I think does it well.

As this is a series of short stories, I thought there would be no harm in including it in each one and so I’ve done a bit of a cut and paste from “The Devil’s Pâtissier” into all of the first drafts I’ve been working on.

Of course, I got to thinking… is this cheating a little? Does it look like filler and will anyone who reads the first story really read it or just skip over it? At best it would be pointless including it, and at worst it would look like lazy writing and I don’t ever want to be accused of that (we’ll wait for the reviews on that one).

I still thought including the little history piece before each short story could serve a purpose, especially if someone picks up the 2nd or 3rd short and hasn’t read “The Devil’s Pâtissier” and miss out.

The solution was obvious but has its consequences, mostly on me. Actually, completely on me, but Hell I think its worth it so I don’t mind.

Now each short story will begin with a different A brief history lesson to fill in some of the background to Hope Town. Some will have relevance for the story contained therein, while others will just add a little something different.

It also helps that I’ve been looking at creating an overarching timeline anyway and was going to use some fictional historical events in subsequent short stories, so I like to think that doing this will help build the universe and make it richer.

Aug 01

Signage

Been playing with Gimp (which doesn’t sound right does it) and thought this might look good on a wall.

 

sign2

 

 

Some wall anyway.

Jul 31

The Past Few Weeks in Bullet Points

Reader(s) of this blog will notice that there haven’t been updates for a few weeks. There are numerous reasons for this but I won’t bore you with the details. There has however been some progress with on the Hope Town front so I thought I’d list those here in this catch up post before I start getting into more details around thoughts and process. Yes, there are more of those to come.

 

  • My pitch received a polite no thanks just before the 6 week deadline came up. I’m okay with that and its not like it held me up
  • First draft of the second story “Ever Vigilant(e)” is complete so I’ll review and edit that some time next week and then again the week after
  • I had a long return train journey a couple of weeks ago and had hoped to challenge myself to write the first draft of one story in that time but didn’t accept my own challenge so it didn’t happen
  • The little historical pre-amble before each story is going to change as I have a plan for it. More later
  • Notes are being taken as I progress with each story around how initial thoughts were fleshed out, or completely ditched/reworked with the purpose of tracking my work ethic and maybe something to include down the line
  • I spend a good half hour coming up with names for crap super villains and it was a lot of fun

 

Right, that’s the lot for now. I have short stories to write you know

Jul 10

Here I Go Running Off With Another Project … Again

Follower(s) of this blog will know that I have a tendency to go off on a tangent with my projects. Sometime I call it a disease, but on the odd occasion when I feel optimistic I think of it as a talent. In those instances, I imagine myself juggling plates on sticks on some mid tier light entertainment television programme, audience slow hand clap and all.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing more than one project at a time per se – indeed, if you manage to spend time writing down things then you’re already battling procrastination, so its all good right? – but when you have a love for a work in progress and want to complete it, other projects are surely just distractions? When you look at my track record with completing projects you would be right to be wary about another one sneaking in.

However, in my defense I would say that this is more looking to adapt an old project into a similar structure as the current one. In this case, the series of books aimed at children which were standalone but could form part of a wider universe, may already have the DNA of the Hope Town series already through it. The tweak would be to convert them into short stories rather than full length books which would actually elongate the series and allow for more dedicated time to more characters.

At the moment, its more of a scribbling of notes as I get to a stage with Hope Town where 50-90% of the first 4 stories have been written.

Call it a palate cleanser.

 

Jul 08

This Is Your Procrastination Station

I wrote this entry for the Amwriting blog in May 2012. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t developed or seen a cure as yet, but I’m continuing to battle every day. Slowly, slowly beaty procrastination.

The Amwrting blog is now archived, but there are a lot of great articles up there by lots of different authors. You should check them out: http:amwritingblog.com

 

pro·cras·ti·nate

[proh-kras-tuh-neyt, pruh-] verb, pro·cras·ti·nat·ed, pro·cras·ti·nat·ing.

verb (used without object) 

 

    1. to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.

 


verb (used with object) 

 

    1. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

 


When I looked the definition of procrastinate up on Dictionary.com, I was really expecting to just see a picture of myself and perhaps a smiley face. Knowing that this was a surprise to me, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that it has taken until almost the deadline for this article for me to actually get around to writing it. You may call it irony, I call it par for the course.

This is a subject very close to my heart and its not just because its probably something I excel at.  For those of you who have read my blog, you’ll know that I am an exemplary specimen; if you cut me open, would I not bleed reasons for not completing blog posts and writing projects? I’ve been a procrastinator for years, ever since the writing bug hit me in primary school. I think I’ve mentioned before somewhere that the ideas flowing were never a problem, and writers block never hit me when I sat in front of a blank page; no, my problem wasn’t a lack of creativity, nor a lack of output, but more a succession of events and scenarios created by myself to stop me from writing.

School. Play. Study. Work. Relationships. Video games. The Internet. Children. A broken wrist. Okay, that last one wasn’t something I would say was a diversion I followed as an excuse to not write, but you never know. I was fourteen and had a great idea for a series of thrillers. Maybe that made me run and slip, Clouseau like from the step and onto the combination of bum and hand. I should stop there.

I do often wonder how I managed to procrastinate before the introduction of the Internet, but whenever I do cast my mind back I realise that deep down there was some sense that the procrastination was because I didn’t want to fail as a writer; I always believed that I could write, but was always scared that really I couldn’t. Therefore, don’t write and you’ll never fail.

Yeah… I think so too.

When I was writing this, my mind began to wander and I found myself contemplating setting up an area for procrastinators like myself to gather and discuss our shared problem and seek mutual solutions which would take us out of the madness of endless creativity and into the brilliant sanity of actually putting words down on the page. However, the more I thought about it the more I realised that it would end up being just another place where I would spend my time procrastinating. A potential solution then would turn into another cause of the problem.

So instead I looked to find out what I had tried, to see if I could share with some of the others in similar bondage. What I came up with  are not the silver bullets, but more ideas which I will be looking to try out myself to see if I can get past the blocker and create something new. These should be doable right? Well, I’m up for experimentation.

 

    •  Aim lower – don’t aim to write a novel do some short stories, drabble, or write a few paragraphs

 

    • Participate in group events – Word sprints are great ways where you can write at the same time as others and can feel a sense of community

 

    • Create characters – rather than write your story, flesh out a character or two; it will come in handy anyway, so give them some TLC

 

    • NanoAllTheTime – This has worked twice for me in November, so how about attempting the discipline on other months? Doing 50,000+ words may seem strange when you always find the time not to even try, but there’s nothing better than the sense of achievement when you finish up… until you realise you have to edit.

 

    • Read about others – More procrastination? No, call it therapy but there are hundreds of resources out there with tales, tips and tricks. Just don’t spend ALL your time on it.

 


At the end of the day, what I’m really leaning towards is not to let it bother me. It seems counter intuitive to take a time out, since I’m not actually doing much writing, but perhaps I’m procrastinating because I think too much about it. I procrastinate, therefore I am? Apologies Descartes.

Whatever the solution, don’t let procrastination beat you. You’re creative, so the words will come and perhaps the biggest problem we all have is ourselves. After all, we’re our own worst critics aren’t we? Lets cut ourselves some slack, okay?

I hope it all works out for you. Drop a note below if you are a procrastinator, or if you have any tips. Maybe you’ve been cured. If so, congratulations.

Now, go invent a cure. We’ll love you forever.

Jul 04

The Hope Town Pitch

Just under 4 weeks ago I put together my first ever pitch. I had truly never done one before and hadn’t really contemplated doing one, but an opportunity arose for me to create one and send it off.

To say it was daunting just doesn’t quite cut it but I gave it a go anyway. I should have done some more research but I thought screw it, go with your gut. So I did.

I started off with the potted fictional history of Hope Town (as featured as the intro to The Devil’s Pâtissier) then onto my vision for the series and optional extras (printed collections, novels etc) before giving an overview of the first 5 stories.

I’m still waiting to hear back about the pitch, and in the meantime am still furiously writing more stories in the series. At some stage I will detail the whole thing, but for now here is the introduction:

 

Tales from Hope Town  – A series of short stories by David Little

Some History

While most people know that Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, and that it wasn’t always such, what they won’t know is the sheer number of cities and smaller areas that have held the title. Throughout the years, different kings, queens and permutations of general heads of state have taken to rename the various capitals for the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations on a whim.

So it was that, following the assassination of his father King James I in the then capital city of Perth the six year old heir to the throne the Duke of Rothesay took shelter in a place called Hopetoun just on the outskirts of Edinburgh. So taken was he by the hospitality that the newly elevated King James II decided that Perth, where his father had been assassinated, was a bit rubbish and decided to remove the title of capital of Scotland and instead give it to Hopetoun.

This elevated status lasted just three days when the new King’s mother decided that he was being just a little silly and ordered him to pronounce Edinburgh the capital at once, otherwise he wouldn’t get any supper that night.

However, as Hopetoun had been the capital for a time no matter how brief, it did mean that its status was forever elevated in importance. Indeed, those three days when it was the seat of the Scottish monarchy meant that there was an influx of immigrants from many nations who all fell in love with the tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle, and decided to settle anyway.

With these travellers came customs, and with those customs came all sorts of wondrous and often extremely strange practises, superstitions and myths. Such a number of different cultures with such strong and often opposing beliefs in one small area, led to Hopetoun being the spiritual centre of the universe.

Welcome to Hope Town.

 

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