I have had a few ideas for poems running around my head for a while but am still plowing through edits of ‘The Fifth Coin.’ I got bored with this in the last few days though and decided I needed to write (strange that for a writer!). I have had for a while wanted to write a nonsense poem in the style of Dr. Seuss. When I decided that would be my next poem ‘The Nonsense Farmer’ just seemed to flow out of my brain. Some of the rhyming could be better but it is supposed to just be a fun piece and has helped me to refocus on the incessant editing I currently seem to be doing. You can read the poem on wattpad in the collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read’ or look at it below…
The Nonsense Farmer
There was a man lived in Blicket Bload
In a farm right down Yackity Road
He had twenty acres of rich land
Where he grazed ten pickety pand
Eight nickety nous, four hackety hees
And a rackty ripe with nobbly knees
The only problem with his own flock
Was that they always got themselves stuck
The nickety nous are furry and pink
They really love to drink and to drink
They have long tails and a little snout
To suck up water and the occasional trout
The problem with one nickety nou
Is he drank so much water he was stuck in a shoe
He puffed up so big and squeezed in the toes
But when he moved he was wedged with his nose
Sticking out of the hole where your feet go
To get out, the water he had to blow
Over the fence into the neighbour’s garden
Then pop round and say to them ‘pardon!’
Next farmer went to check his hackety hees
But you’ll never guess, they were all up in trees
Now the hackety hee is a ground dwelling fellow
About cow sized and all over yellow
With the odd spot of green on their bum
They tend to really stick with their mum
To climb up a tree is mostly unheard
That domain was made for a bird
But something had given them quite a fright
For they had been staying in the trees all night
They were shaking and shivering, too scared to come down
Across their long faces they all wore a frown
He had to grab their favourite food
A strange looking vegetable called a klood
Each was thin and bendy and blue
Sticky and sappy and dripping with goo
The hackety hees jumped straight for their treat
Completing their descent with an incredibly feat
Of twisting and turning within the air
Within just a moment they were now there
Stood on the grass munching so fast
That those poor kloods just would not last
They charged at the farmer baying for more
It was such a haste they knocked him to the floor
They pleaded and pleaded with their clacking sound
But poor old farmer was not waiting around
He charged and he fled away from the place
It was almost as if he was in new a race
To get as far from his animals as he could
At least at this he really was good
Next he came for the rackty ripe
But he could not find him try as he might
He looked at the field and up the mountain
He looked in the bins and in the fountain
He looked in his favourite spot by the stream
And tried to coax him with scones and cream
He looked up in despair to a great height
And there was rackty ripe stuck in a pipe
How did he get all the way up there?
He must have climbed ‘cos there was no stair
How to get it out, where could he go
There was no doubt, he would have to blow
The farmer bent over and drew in some air
Then blew through the pipe with considerable care
At first nothing happened so he had to blow more
Then out flew racty ripe with a terrible roar
He arched over the house and field back yonder
Making a noise louder than thunder
He hit the barn with an ear splitting crash
And on into the pond with a great splash
He left a hole in the barn the shape of his body
The pond was now all dirty and muddy
The fish had been flung almost half of a mile
To get back to their home would be quite a trial
The farmer was happy another animal was free
But there was one left to complete his spree
He ran to his collection of pickety pand
But luckily for him they were very bland
They had fur of beige and no spots at all
They did not get stuck or lost or fall
There they still were grazing in the field
With one whistle blow they did all yield
And came to the farmer all faces a beaming
With joy and love their whole bodies were teaming
He gave the group a hug, one mass of fur
And like a large cat they let out a big purr
From these he wished the others would learn
For at least the pickety pand were not a concern
I final submitted a short story to an online and print based magazine. It is a strange story that is a little sci-fi but not really and a little fantasy but not really. It moves away from character and focuses on implied mysticism. Safe to say that finding an appropriate magazine to submit it to was a challenge. The one I found focused on left field sci-fi. I suppose I really did not expect it to get in so when it was rejected I was not surprised, even when it got rejected for the reasons I thought it would. However, I thought I would be hurt when that happened but I am really not. Maybe it is because I know other people get rejected all the time or the fact that there are more magazines out there I can submit to. It could even be that I know I can independently release it through Smashwords or Kindle and it won’t cost me a penny (although it may also not get read). The thing that did frustrate me, though, is that many places that want short stories like ones that are about people and are a bit quirky. They call it contemporary but I call it things I don’t want to write about! That is why it is so hard to find a place for some of my writing. It is almost a little too mainstream whilst being not mainstream enough. So the search for my place in the market goes on.
I think another area that helps me is that I see myself as a hobbyist author. I have a full-time job and only write because I enjoy it, therefore if writing gets me nowhere it is no skin off my nose. As long as one person reads and likes my stories then I have an audience. Plus I will subject my children to my writing when they are older! So, being a pessimist has not always helped me but I do feel with writing it does. Robin McKinley said ‘Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you.’ I write stories that I want to read so as long as I keep doing that I will be happy.
So what next for my short story? I will submit it to a few more magazines and if it goes nowhere expect it on Smashwords for free in the near future.
Maybe it is because I am now an avid reader, maybe it is because I write, maybe it is just because I have grown up but recently I have found helping in a library to be quite therapeutic. It is coming to the end of the year at the school I am teaching at and, as per usual with a set of children not understanding the intricacies of library systems, the books are a mess on the shelves. There are Rs in the B section, junior fiction in the senior section and some children do not realise that RAN comes before REB! I decided to help organise the books, helping to work out what was missing and putting them back in the right places. Apart from the fact that I have now found a few more books I would like to read (not good as I already have a massive book pile!), I found that I enjoyed putting them in order. Maybe it is actually the authoritarian in me! As a child I would have found the monotonous task a little soul-destroying but now I am having fun. I tried to think about why and I feel that as a writer I am helping other writers by doing this work. I am also giving a little back to the readers (the few I have!). It almost feels like I am doing the dirty work again, the first step on a longer journey as if I am now some sort of apprentice. It is almost like the first stage is to organise the books, next is to scan them out, then I can read them and finally I can move on to writing my own. It is a strange and weird feeling. In many ways this is a bit of a pointless post but I would really like to promote helping out in a library, even just for one day. As a writer let’s give a little back to the readers and the general community. Oh yeah, another good reason is that there is a sense of power in using the scanner as well, like I am lord of the books. “Why is this late?” “Have you tried this book?” “Where are you going, that book has not been scanned?” Right, I will get of my high horse now and attempt to finish my editing so I can release one of the many manuscripts I have sitting in Google Docs, just as soon as I have moved Tolkien before Tolstov!
At last I have finished my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin.’ For the last few weeks I have been itching to do some writing (editing really is painful!) so have decided to add another piece of flash fiction to my sci-fi collection ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I have had the idea for the story for some time but managed to stop myself writing it to focus on editing, until now. I have added a bit of horror in there as well as sci-fi and played on the idea of one species taking over the world (yes it is inspired by Planet of the Apes!). It may seem a little silly but there is a twist at the end. I really like it and think it is quite clever, but you may just realise what is happening straight away. Anyway, you can read it on wattpad.
Suppose I should start the second pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ so I can send it to publishers and get rejected! Oh, and if you wanted to know, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ is still with beta readers so expect that out at some point!
It is very rare that a book makes a large impression on my three year old son. As for me, reading children’s books every night I find many merge into one collective mass of stereotypes and twee endings. Recently we got ‘The Book With No Pictures’ by B.J. Novak from the library. My son had his five year old cousin over and I was reading both boys their bedtime stories, I was told I could choose so picked ‘The Book With No Pictures’ amongst others. When we got to that book both my son and his cousin protested, they did not want me to read them something that had nothing to look at in it. I pressed my advantage of being the father figure and was allowed to read it to them as long as they got another book as well.
The idea of ‘The Book With No Pictures’ is that it gets adults to say silly things out loud. Very quickly it had the three and five year old laughing loudly and repeating the comments I was saying. As soon as I finished they wanted me to read it again, in fact I had to stop them asking for rereads so they could get to bed on time. The book really does have no pictures but that does not matter, it is the words (and the fact it tricks an adult into saying silly things) that the children will enjoy.
The next day when we got up, ‘The Book With No Pictures’ was the first thing they asked for, ahead of CBeebies! We then went out to a farm park and both were singing the silly song in the book (it is only two lines so easy to remember) and saying out loud (shouting) many of the funny lines the book makes adults say. My son even asked for the book again at bedtime. If we are getting intellectual then this is the classic story of never judging a book by its cover, but really I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed the book. So if you are looking for a silly book to read at bedtime, ‘The Book With No Pictures’ is a sure-fire hit!
It is about half way through the year so I thought I would do an update on where I am with writing, not that it is really interesting. It may seem like I am not releasing much other than the odd poem or piece of flash fiction, probably because that is true. However, despite my apparent lack of writing I am actually working harder than ever to get things ready. Yes work is hectic and yes I do have two small children but I have my phone at my side and a lot of the time it is in my hand so I can edit. This is really starting to annoy my wife who just wants to have a conversation with me! That and the fact I have recently got a Nintendo Switch and Call of the Wild means I am no more than an enigma at the moment!
Right, on to specifics. Firstly, if you did not know already, I have finished editing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ It is now with my beta readers, I have three but they are not professional editors or beta readers for a living so are doing me a favour. They also have busy lives so feedback is coming in slowly. When they have read it and final changes made it will be published through CreateSpace and on Kindle.
The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ is at the editing stage. I am about two-thirds through my first pass and am pretty happy at the moment. My new plan is to finish the editing then send it to a few publishers. When I get the obligatory rejection letters I will go ahead and publish it myself.
I have an idea for a children’s novel too but at the moment I am using all my willpower not to start it. Too many of my projects are half done before I flit onto the next thing. I am determined to get some writing finished so am focusing on editing before moving on. That said I do have ideas for more flash fiction to be included in ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I am holding off on those as well until my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ is complete then I can do a flash fiction or two before going on to stage 2 of editing my novel.
So there you go, I am still writing and I am being productive. With summer holidays coming soon I may even become more productive (although I will be spending most of it with the kids!). Just hang in there, I will be releasing stuff soon enough, I promise.
I have often seen local authors sitting in shops, particularly WH Smith, with a pile of books to sign and no-one buying them. I feel for them but move on pretty quickly. However, today I said no to a book signing and now I feel bad. The book is one I have heard of from a local author and fits into the Young Adult genre. Maybe the reason I feel bad is because this is a genre I write. Anyway, he told me he was signing books as I walked past but I just said, “no thanks.” After walking on a few paces I thought, ‘I am an aspiring author, I should be supporting this person.’ I did have my one year old daughter in my arms and was walking to calm her down, I am a little low on cash and I have too many books to read so did not want to buy it, but are these all poor excuses? Should I be buying signed books by local authors to support the cause even if I have no interest in the book itself? I then started to think about how I would feel if this was me. I think I would be indifferent, I mean he did go out his way to tell me he was signing books. I would not want to bug people who walked past if I had a book signing. However, I struggle to get people to review my books online and know how down it can make your feel. Really, the question I am asking is should we support other authors just because we are authors too or should we be truthful and only promote or help authors in those areas/genres we enjoy? I feel I am a hypocrite in some ways as I would always promote my friends no matter what they are doing. And the book that was being signed was, itself, a book I would not have minded reading. Oh well, none of us are perfect, he is probably over it now so I really should be.