Friday, 19 August 2016

With a Deep Breath…

I have often been asked why I don’t have a writing blog, and the answer has always been a simple one: I may write rather a lot but I have never previously felt comfortable – qualified – to comment on the field. What’s changed? I have always felt professional acknowledgement is the tipping point, the one extra step beyond the non-paying credits, which, while they are certainly nice, are not quite the same. Having been paid for one’s work is a lynchpin of today’s society, and while there are certainly grades of payment and grades of “standing” that go with them, a transaction is a transaction.

I have been writing most of my life. I recall being in early primary school, age around 7, and being asked to draw a picture and provide a caption – I drew a small picture at the bottom of each of two pages and filled the rest of both with writing, something about an expedition to the moon, if I recall, using rather Thunderbirds-like hardware. My teachers commented rather a lot. After that I always enjoyed “composition” in school.

Writing for fun has been a lifetime hobby, and as an academic I learned to use English at the level of the 99th percentile, with 218, 000 words of theses collectively, and academia is a hard habit to break. Converting textbook English to popular prose can be a mental gymnastic and it’s harder than some might think to be able to see one’s own style and know it may be inappropriate in a given context. Having a first rate beta reader is almost a prerequisite, as we cannot “see ourselves as others see us” and only a perspective separated by a few or more degrees provides objectivity.

What is it that makes a storyteller? That question has probably been asked since the first bards, when wandering recitations were the stock in trade of the ancient world. There may be no definitive answer, no matter how long philosophers debate the point. The born storyteller knows they need to tell stories – there is an inspiration that burns within and cannot be denied. I remember as a kid being inspired by sci-fi cover art and, without necessarily understanding much of what was going on, feeling an impulse I could only describe as – literally – a burning excitement and a needing to give form to events and places. The same feeling remains, if at only a ghost of its former intensity, and inspirational creativity is still a valuable tool.

I have long wanted to try my hand at the traditional short story market, and I recently decided to give it a go, so this blog is a companion to that process. I’ll discuss what I’m reading or writing, perhaps review things, talk about the craft of writing, and certainly report successes as they occur, with links to outlets I’ll be only too happy to promote (see the previous post for the first of these!).

So, I’ll be posting from time to time with my thoughts and ramblings, and I hope my ravings will be of use or interest to fellow writers and aspiring bards. This will be an occasional blog which I hope will develop over time with general literary mill-grist. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Cheers, Mike

PS: Apologies for the stock images so far, I’ll get creative with a camera, I promise!

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