New day job means my writing schedule is all over the place. There’s a few things I’ve been working on, but nothing that feels productive. I’ve tried to at least keep the blog ticking along and I’ve also started writing a test scene for Refugee in first person but mostly I’ve been thinking about one of the secondary characters in Gods of the Wild Frontier.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the weekend saw me up in Cambridgeshire to visit friends for a board games evening. Sunday morning saw us rise and drift gently into the day, accompanied by a soundtrack of Sunday morning cartoons and Mythbusters.
We all departed for our respective homes around Midday, but as it was such a lovely day, I decided to do some of the local geocaches. Barrington is a few miles north of where I was staying and a beautiful little village. There’s a series of just over 20 caches just to the North along a 4 mile trail.
It used to be that when I met up with my oldest group of friends, there would be beer. There would be beer, and gossip, and antics and sometimes, even dancing. But now we’re all old, there’s more tea than beer, gossip revolves around people’s children rather than the people themselves, and as for antics… well, they are slightly duller than of old. There is no dancing, and of that we are all relieved.
I honestly believe that if you want to *be* another author, you’re doing it wrong. I write because of the stories that are trying to burrow out of me, of a love and frustration with the genre, of finding an audience, of a hundred different things. Don’t get me wrong, there are authors I love, but I love them for being them, not because I want to be them.
That said, it’s inevitable that as you read you’ll notice some authors do some things incredibly well; enough, sometimes, to make you jealous of their talent and try and up your game. But seeing as it’s the weekend – and that I ‘ve had a busy week – I thought we’d have some fun.
If there’s a skill I’ve yet to master it’s commenting on friends’ books. It’s inevitable that as you get yourself involved in the writing community that sooner or later someone you know will be the author of a book you read.
Of course, reviewing a book should be no different whether you know the author or not; what I’m talking about is those times you meet at a convention and signing and mention you’ve read their book.
Inevitably, the author will ask you “what did you think?”
I never want to respond with just a “I thought it was very good” as that sounds very hollow. It’s an empty compliment. I want to show I’ve really read it, considered it.
But at the time I don’t want to come across sycophantic or false, so feel I must come across as balanced.
And so inevitably I end up saying things like “It wasn’t the sort of book I’d normally read, but I really enjoyed it” or I start going on (at length) about how I think it will get people interested in the classics.
I think they are just looking for “I thought it was very good.”
This week is a bit busy with starting a new day job. However, I did want to share this piece of music with you. As you know, I’m a huge Two Steps From Hell fan, and if you love orchestral soundtracks, their albums are some of the best released in recent years. Hard to think that they’re just a commercial outfit producing music solely to be used in trailers, everything from the last Star Trek movie trailer to the latest Mass Effect 3 one.
I do loads of writing to their two publically available albums but recently found this track by them that hasn’t been released outside of the industry. Anyways, this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s been buzzing round my head for the last couple of days.
Most people go into town to go shopping. On Saturday I appear to have used it as an excuse to clear my head and think about one of my writing projects (although I did get the new shoes I wanted for work as well as picking a book up in a charity shop I was about to pay full price for).
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about my novel Refugee. The book has been drafted and has sat dormant for a year whilst I work on other projects, but always in my mind.
It features a young protagonist, and whilst he isn’t the only one, the framework of the novel largely hangs around his character.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Fantasy genre. I think that most writers within the genre do to some lesser or greater degree. It’s that quiet dissatisfaction with the stuff that you love that makes you think you need to pick up a pen and write those stories you feel are missing.
Now let me start from the outset that I love fantasy’s breadth. It’s a genre so wide that it’s possible to love one end and hate the other, and because we are creatures of individual tastes, when I say hate, I mean “not to my taste” not “bad”. There’s little more interesting than talking about the genre with people, sharing a love of some books and then raising an eyebrow at one of their choices and saying “really?” I love that there is a diversity of opinion and think that’s really, really healthy for the genre. And at the end of the day, it’s just that… an opinion. My personal tastes are no benchmark by which to judge against.
As some of you are aware, I’ve been writing my latest book using a discovery process. This is where you go into the project not knowing a whole lot about it, and find the plot and story as you write. I normally like to think on a book, let it ferment in my head for as much as a decade before coming out as something pretty much approaching a finished novel, where every character is known, pretty much every scene is visualised. However, whilst I have no end of ideas (I think I’m up to 19 books now), there’s no way I can spend a decade on each. If I want to be a commercial writer, I need to speed that process up and I genuinely believe that not only can I do that but feel if I get my process right, I reckon I could possibly get two books out a year (although there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to speed up and fine tune the editing process). And so I’ve been using the time Four Realms is sitting in piles waiting for people to say ‘yes’ (or ‘no’), to play around a bit, try different approaches to writing.
One of the big reasons I prefer the Marvel over the DC universes is the way that with the exception of the Ultimate stuff, it’s largely all taking place in the same universe at the same time. The narratives intertwine and contradict and are usually brought together for whatever the big crisis (i.e. marketing crossover of the given year) occurs.
It’s big and messy and I can see why some people hate it, but there’s something about intertwining narratives that really appeals to me. I love the idea that whilst in one street Spider-Man is fighting Sandman or Vulture, in the next Daredevil is hunting a criminal, that there are lots of stories carrying on at the same time.
Of course, you then get those odd panels where Spider-Man talks to Daredevil and there’s a little asterisk, telling you in the box out to read more about the other character in their own title.
Trying to read all these comics normally would be expensive and not very satisfying. With so many writers and so many stories, there are always going to be those you love and those you hate. It’s not really been possible for me to really investigate the nooks and crannies of the Marvel Universe.