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I found inspiration in a bear!

first-dreams-bear

The bear that gave me inspiration. But what is the song called?

I love the fact that people find inspiration in the strangest of places. Recently I won NaNoWriMo (as if you could not tell!) and in the dark times my inspiration came from the strangest place. I headed back to my homeland of Guernsey to visit family just before NaNo started. As it was the first time some of my family were meeting my six month old daughter I got showered with gifts, well they were all for her or her three year old brother! One of the gifts was a pink bear that played music, I have since searched on the Internet to find out is it the Chicco First Dreams Baby Bear. There is a blue and pink version, we have pink but that adds nothing to the story! The bear projects stars, that change colour, onto the ceiling and plays classical music. We put it on each night when we rock my daughter to sleep. Not that inspirational at the moment but something magical happened and I did not realise it at first. There was one tune, a soft melody that made me think of sadness but with hope. It was not until about a week into NaNo that I realised it was creating images in my head, these images were ones from the novel I was writing but it was more than that, it was like I was sat waiting for my wife to start a DVD. There was the main menu playing this tune and on the screen were parts of my story playing out like a move. Each night it seemed to be about what I had just written or what I was about to write. That bear, that melodic tune got me out of a few sticky situations, when I did not know how to link two sections of the book together or how a certain character would react to a situation. As soon as it came on, and still now as I finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to write, I had the itch, I had the ideas. I just had to get my daughter to sleep first!

The only frustrating thing is that I do not know what the song is called and I can not find anywhere on the web that tells you. I am not going to sift through every classic song to find it. One thing I do know is that if my novel ever becomes a film and we are about to release a DVD (probably will all be blu-ray by then!) I will want that song as the tune on the menu. I can see it now, sat in a meeting about the movie with a child’s pink bear blurting out songs till we get to the right one. “That one,” I’ll shout, “that’s the menu song!” Suppose I better stop dreaming and finish writing the novel then!

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Writing – Summer Update

So the summer holidays have come to an end and I am officially back at school. Here is the usual update of where I am with writing. As per usual I set out what I wanted to do at the start of the summer and as usual I did not achieve it. That said, I am being more relaxed this year and my only goal was to do some writing. I have managed that. In fact, I would say I have done more writing so far this year than the whole of last year.

I did not manage to finish my moustache story, which is now entitled ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ but I did managed to write some. I was hoping for a first draft to be complete but, alas I fell short. Thanks to Google Docs and using my phone I am now over 30,000 words into it so it is clearly going to be a novella. I may well release it for money with the profit going to Movember, we will just see when it is finished.

My other task was to plan a few stories and complete my next picture book. Neither happened. However I am now strongly considering trying NANOWRIMO again. I think by using Google Docs I might manage to complete the challenge this year. No turning on my laptop and having to wait ten minutes for it to load, just grab the phone or tablet.

I also bought a big pad, some pencils and a how to draw book with the intention of drawing my own covers. I cannot draw so it is safe to say my covers will probably still be poor. Also I have not opened the pad or picked up a pencil over the summer.

All in all I am quite happy with my relaxed approach to writing this year as it has, strangely, made me more productive. So it was not a bad summer overall. Oh yeah, I wrote a bad poem about finding the first word for a section of a story as well, bonus!

Joining a book club has helped me write

I started to read A Game of Thrones last year but due to work commitments I have not read a single word in over two months. I have said it before that when time is limited we have to prioritise aspects of our life and for me it was clear that reading and writing were two such things. But then, when we think about it, sometimes we take the easy option and remove those things that we love but we need to think about to achieve. I am starting to realise that reading and writing are two of these things for me. When I have spent a long day teaching, prepared lessons for the next day, cooked tea, put my son to bed and prepared my bag for the next day I feel truly shattered. My first thought is, ‘I wonder if there is anything on TV to crash in front of?’ At this point of the day anything that involves words feels like more of a burden than a joy. That was until I joined a book club at work. One person put out the suggestion of forming a club and eleven of us replied. From talking to some of the other members it seemed that not having enough time to read was an issue and joining the book club was an attempt to alleviate this and force ourselves to read.

So far we have only read one book, ‘We are Called to Rise’ by Laura McBride. The first thing I noted, and you may have done the same thing if you have read any of my work or parts of this blog, was that this was not my kind of book. However, like the open minded person I like to think I am, I went for it! We actually started it over Christmas but the new Star Wars film was out so I re-watched the six previous ones in-between yule tide with the family instead. However, I did start reading it in January. And you know what, it was a truly awful book. Well it was probably a good book to some people but I really did not like it. If you don’t believe me read my Goodreads review! But that was not the point, the point was that I had read something I would never pick up, something I would never even think about opening. More impressively I read it in three weeks and I consider myself a slow reader, one of those that needs to read every word and mull over even minute plot device. Yes, me, the one who spends months on a book read it in less than one! So maybe it was me taking the easy route all along. I was tired most of the time I read that book. It was late at night but I did it and I manage to work just as well as I always do and spend as much time as I always do with my family. But for me the biggest change is that I have started to get excited about writing again. If you have read previous post you will know that I always set myself writing targets that I spectacularly fail with so I set myself the simple target this year of doing some writing and, you know what, I have done some already! I have picked up that Movember story I never finished in time for Movemeber and I have added a few hundred words. Ok that is not much but it is a lot more than before I joined the book club. Even more, I am now inspired to finish it.

There is that saying that great writers read and I truly believe this. I do not believe I am a great writer, far from it, but the process of reading has made me want to write again. I am so pleased I said, ‘yes I want to join.’ So maybe there is something inspiring in this little mundane story for us all, what I would like to say to you is go for it and think about whether you are putting things off because you don’t want to do them or it is the easy option. For me it was clearly the easy option but writing is something I love doing. That said, it is still down the pecking order of things that need to be done but at least it is on my radar again. What’s more, we are now reading ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman and that is right up my street!

Where did that year go?

Errr…erm….what just happened? The last thing I remember saying on here was how positive I was and that there was some sort of Movember story coming out. Guess what! It never got finished. Have you notice that about me? I drop down my aspirations each time I do a new post about my progress and still fail to hit my targets. Well this time I am not making any promises. Ok, I will make one, I will do some writing in 2016 and that is it!

To go back to the Movember story, I do have a plot and have written about four thousand words but then work and Christmas preparations hit. This new job does take up a lot of my time. Oh yeah, I am also having a second child next year (well my wife is) so that means even less time. Anyhow, I did complete Movember and raised over £100. Here is a little pic of me with a tash, I did promise you one…

Tash

What a handsome moustache, sorry about my face!

Ok, so going forward there is not much of a plan. What about looking back at the year behind me? Not many blog posts done (I had ideas for a whole lot more but not the time to do them), little writing and a general lack of creativity. I did start a new project, a second children’s picture book (which I never finished), and did some work on my novel as well as completing Super Lizard Returns. I had a cheeky look back at my targets for 2015, as I have been so busy I completely forgot them and noticed I only had two. First was the novel, I did try to stick to the word count each month but the storyline for the novel genuinely did not work so I scrapped it. Super Lizard Returns did though and I got that up on smashwords. 50% target completion isn’t bad I suppose. That takes me back round to my targets for 2016, just do some writing. Writing is a hobby to me and family, work and general life get in the way but I have to remember it is a hobby and so I have to put it low on my list of priorities. I will try to blog a little more but cannot promise anything, I wanted to tell you about the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup, the talk I watched that was given by the Young Samurai author Chris Bradford and my thoughts on the new Star Wars film but again time got the better of me.

Throughout this post I suppose what I am saying is, I am still alive but don’t expect much from me. Have a great 2016!

No NANO but a Mo!

I said there would be writing this half term, I was wrong, again! It was decided that a home improvement project was the most important part of the to do list to get on with and therefore, once more, my pastimes fell by the wayside. I was hoping to complete NANOWRIMO again this year but the new job and the way the holiday has gone have made me reconsider so I am sad to say that I will once again not be taking part. A lot of people have been saying that I need to stop working so hard and do a little more for myself so I am going to take inspiration from NANO and rather than commit the time to take part I will make sure I spend some time during the month writing, or rather creating images. I would really like to get my second children’s picture book out before Christmas, largely as it is for my son and I would love him to have a copy in his stocking. Will it happen, probably not, but I can dream!
In more positive news I have decide to grow the mo again and will be taking part in Movember, much to the annoyance of my long suffering wife! If you want to sponsor me then please do, you can do it by going here. I will update with some pictures to suitably scare you all! To help fundraise I have also decided to do some writing so will be producing a short story and selling it through Amazon Kindle with all profits going to Movember. So look out for that and please buy it, it will be quite serious with a silly setting.
Once again I am sorry about the lack of writing and that I will not be doing NANO but at least there is some good news! Right I am off to decide which tash will suit me best!

Summer means actually writing

Well that first half of the year has flown by! Good in terms of work but not in terms of writing. Excellent A-level results and a new job put my career in an exciting place but the effort that went in to this meant that I have had to drop other aspects of my life, most notably writing. But with summer comes some down time from my career and I can once again pick up writing where I left off months ago. I had two plans for 2015, finish Super Lizard Returns and write a young adult novel. Neither have happened so far. Super Lizard had been placed on hold whilst I got up to scratch with the young adult novel but I found it increasingly hard to juggle work, family and writing. I managed a measly 200 words by mid March and I thought this was all down to my lack of time but the more I thought about it the more the ideas for the novel were not really fleshed out enough and as such when I started writing the story felt weak. For this reason I have cancelled the young adult novel. So once again I am in a situation where plans have failed. I am happy to say, though, that I have new plans, ones which may well come to fruition as I can now spend some time writing. Firstly I will finish Super Lizard Returns, in fact I have managed to start the last short story. So it will be finish by the end of summer then I will get it on Wattpad, edit all stories and place the ebook on Smashwords. As well as this I have started a new project, yes another one! I wrote a book entitled Captain Caleb and the Tickle Monster for my nephew a few years ago, well I am now writing another picture book, one for my son. Well I say writing, I have written it and am now creating the images (which could take some time!). I never liked the ebook format of Captain Caleb so I have opted to use Create Space to make a print version of my new book. The independently funded three copy print run for my family of Captain Caleb was so much better than the hashed together ebook. This book will be out by Christmas I hope. I also intend to reformat Captain Caleb and release that through Create Space so there is a proper print version which is how I always intended it to look. My final writing plan is to not start anything new but get some older stuff finished, I have three stories (two novels and a short story) that I want to finish before I start anything else. These are for adults and as such will not be released under my name but my adult writing pseudonym.

So there were are, a quick update of where I am at. I hope to have some new stuff out soon and will plow through as much as I can over summer so that when work heats up again in September and I go AWOL from writing I will at least have left you with something to remember me by!

Without him I don’t think I would read

Terry Pratchett, like Cohen himself, a Legend in my eyes

Terry Pratchett, like Cohen himself, a Legend in my eyes

This blog may seem as if it is fading, my writing my be halting due to work pressures but when something big happens you need to stop and think. For only the second time this year I feel it right to put my work and family aside and write something down. I am talking about the death of one of my heroes. A few days ago author Terry Pratchett passed away. He was a hero to many, a man who stood slightly away from the literary world by choice and produced book after book of gorgeous prose and clever humour. I first heard about Pratchett when I was in Year 5 of Primary School. I tried to read The Carpet People and Truckers, failing miserably at both as my unprepared brain could not comprehend what was on the page. This was not Billy Blue Hat or Roger Red Hat. Some years later, now at secondary school and in Year 9, I decided that I wanted to become a proper reader, I wanted to understand more and tell people of the books I had enjoyed. I had read some Point Horror and moved on to Point Fantasy. These were mainly watered down books doing for children’s fantasy what Mills and Boons does for adult romance. I was a bored, slow reader. Myself and a friend decided we would start reading the Discworld novels and picked up our copies of The Colour of Magic. It was so different, so new. I don’t think I got a lot of the jokes but I laughed a lot. I was still slow but I really enjoyed it, I may have ended up a few books behind my friends but we could all laugh about Rincewind, The Luggage, Two Flower and the librarian that got turned in to a monke…..erm ape. I think the one character that held my interest most was Death, he wasn’t some scary horror character, he had a soul (well maybe not but it felt like he did). His struggle to understand humanity just brought about so many laughs as well as a kind of strange respect. I stopped reading Discworld when I left 6th Form and decided to move on to new authors and try new genres. I had managed sixteen books in those five years which was amazing for me. Even with work begin hectic I can manage to read eight books a year now, that means that Discworld started my improvement in reading ability. Even though I stopped for some time I yearned for the Discworld and two years ago decided to carry on with them, alternating between a Discworld book then a non-Discworld one. Every time I pick one up it feels like visiting an old friend. Yes some are better than others but all are enjoyable and they are so easy to read. Now, though, I see intricate nuances that I missed before.

What is more amazing is that I have only really wanted to write stories in the last five years, before that I was more of a consumer. However, I did dabble in the odd story when I was younger. One of the my first efforts, which never got finished, was a novel entitled Magical Men. It should have been called A Massive Discworld Ripoff as I am Such a Huge Fan. It was terrible but it made me happy and I really thought I was being funny, I wasn’t though. The only comedy I have released thus far is Super Lizard, when I look at the short stories I think about the slapstick and silliness of the Discworld and use that as my yard stick. It is something I aspire to.

I have many people in this world I love, many famous ones I wish to be more like but none have had such an impact as Pratchett. Yes I have waffled on about myself but I think that is the greatest honour I can bestow on the man. He made me want to read, got me turning pages so my vocabulary, speed and understanding increased. He made me want to write, put pen to paper to give other people joy. But more than this, when I write,  particularly comedy, it is his work that is the gold standard I want to get to. I can say nothing more than the man has been an inspiration to me and I am incredibly sad to see him go.