Posts filed under 'Writing'

On my way to blog this evening…

… I came across this passage while doing some research reading. In it CS Lewis captivates almost exactly the central theme of Broken Evolution:

If any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are the patients of that power. [..] The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.

– C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

The only disagreement I would have with Lewis (-does one do such a thing?-) is in the notion that future man will exercise least power. Humans have the ability to prevail, endure, and transcend, no matter who we are, or how we are made. I think bio-engineered challenges for the human race are ones, for sure, that humanity will ultimately have to grapple in its own circumstances, and in so doing define and assert humanity once again, for another generation, in a future time – that’s the innate power of human nature.

If that power to question, discover, shape, and transcend is lost it will be because of nothing less than a loss of human nature. If that were to happen, could we even be considered human anymore? I choose to believe that won’t happen … but then, I’m human like that, you see.

Add comment August 4th, 2018

On Writers’ Retreats

I’ve squirreled myself away to a writer’s retreat for a few days. I’ve been to a couple of them in my time. Even alone in a cabin in the woods helps to free the mind from distractions and focus on a writing task, but writers’ retreats have the added bonus that you have the companionship of other writers around you. This, of course, can be a risky thing! Creatives can be a very wild and unruly creatures. I’m fortunate to be able to say, I’ve had no bad experiences. In fact, I’ve made some good friends and kept in touch. The advantage of being in such an environment far outweighs the risks. You get to meet up for meals and chat about writing and the work problems of the day, so you don’t feel isolated. And when writers scatter to their own cells to work after meals, one feels one must comply. It is a great environment in which to write.

The big disappointment is that it takes so long to get the city and work out of my hair, and to get into the writing routine – if not frame of mind – and once I have it’s a short time until I have to head back to the day job again, and the challenge then becomes maintaining that writing focus and discipline during life beyond the retreat. Wondrous will be the day when my time will be for one thing only – writing. I slightly envy writers that can write at the drop on the hat, on a train, or in a noisy cafe. Not I.

As I looked out over the beautiful Shropshire hills, with swallows launching and docking in regular sorties, it all took a while (and not a few walks) to seep into this city-slicker and draw me down to a slower, less distracted state of mind. Once I’m in that state, my head then enters the parallel universe of my writing, and my real surroundings become scarcely of any importance at all, with the worlds in my head receiving all attention.

That is the joy, and the irony, of the writer’s retreat.

Add comment June 15th, 2018

I’m back

It’s been another while, a long one …
and whiles are never uneventful, are they?

But …
new blog server, new book.

Ready to rock again.

Add comment January 5th, 2017

Update: of books and backs

It’s been a while.

The last few months have seen a resurgence of my back pain, as bad as it first was. To cut a long story short, I’ve opted for surgery this time, and I go under the knife next week. Spine surgery is never something to be undertaken lightly, but everyone’s case is different and unique.

To books. Being laid-up gave me the opportunity to catch up on some things. One of those things was to advance the promotion of Broken Evolution, to cross those last things off the indie-author’s to-do list.

Firstly, I set about getting some reviews from real readers – readers I don’t know and who have no vested interest in sparing my feelings. Friends and family and fellow authors are all well and good, but they will veer towards encouragement. I had the niggling sensation that I never really knew what I had with Broken Evolution and that I would have to get real at some point to find out. I would have to get actual reader reviews. The result: average. Broken Evolution is not brilliant; it’s not a disaster either. It’s an ok read. And I’m convinced now that “well-written” in a review is a euphemism. Anyone who has ever used it or received it will know what that means! However, I have learned from them all, and could carry what I’ve learned through to my writing in future.

The second goal was to get the novel into as many readers hands as possible, to start building a readership. Here’s what I’ve learned. Paperback is a waste of time for an Indie author. EBook is the only way to go to start with. Amazon have the indie author market sewn up. With the introduction of KDP Select, it is the only reliable way of pushing your eBook up in the search results and differentiating it from the millions (and counting) of eBooks just sitting in the Amazon catalogue. If you’re an unknown author, 99 cent eBooks do actually work to get some sales (better sales than at 2.99). Free is even better (assuming you are more interesting in starting a readership than making money. If your goal is to make money out of it – start something else). With the latest ebook price fixing ruling, it seems certain that Amazon now set the terms of indie publishing (and even trade publishing) and for many years to come. Indie authors will need to be familiar with Amazon’s rules of the game – albeit the visible rules only.

For now, I now have a novel read by thousands of readers – what any starting author needs.

It’s been a ride. On the other side of recovery I’ll decide whether it’s a ride I should return to. Chronic pain alters you. It drags your spirit down. Concentration is lost. Motivation becomes a struggle. Motivating to write is hard even at the best of times; this isn’t the best of times. You teeter on the edge of depression – and the view from there is ghastly, let me tell you. Pain is very personal journey that can not be shared. Only those who have experienced severe unremitting pain understand. I can only hope mine is now near an end.

Raw, but real.

1 comment April 27th, 2012

The tyranny of originality

It’s NaNoWriMo month and I’m using the opportunity it provides to complete the first draft of my WIP (work in progress). Only two days in and I discover a published book with the same name I was going to use for my latest – Zero Day. Not only that, but it’s in a similiar domain (cybercrime and zero day exploits) … and it has a forward by Bill Gates. Top that!

It got me thinking about originality. I inhabit the software industry with its endemic start-up culture. The water-cooler conversations are always about cool ideas for a new web site or business. It is almost a religion in this business – the cult of originality. It can become tyrannical. That same tyranny to be original seems to be a driver in “high-concept” thrillers too. It is said (I can’t remember who) that for every original idea you think you have, there are at least 3 people in the world having the same idea. Some will be in better position to pursue that idea, or further along with it than you. For example, tablet PCs have been around for years. The idea was in even Star Trek (and probably earlier than that). But it took the convergence of Steve Jobs to bring the idea to its time with the iPad. Now they are everywhere.

Then there is the school of thought that says there are no really original ideas in the world anyway – it’s all been done before. If we followed it to its logical conclusion, we would never do anything at all!

So does the discovery of a potentially similar book de-rail me?

No.

There is also the school of thought that you can do something others are doing, but you should do it in your own unique way. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Don’t let the tyranny of orginality topple you. As they often say on Litopia, you can’t protect ideas, only the expression of ideas. So I won’t be reading any cybercrime novels for a while, just in case!

I have always asserted that authors can only write the books they can write. Authors are the amalgam of all the ideas, philosophies, experiences, and people that have influenced them in their lives. There lies the originality and the uniqueness. It is a writer’s style, and the way he or she combines story elements and plots that makes the work unique. I want to complete my own draft this month. I want to write those scenes in my mind on the steps in Odessa, and that pivotal character piece in the Karelian forests, and that closing scene in the streets of Seattle (whose charms I first discovered last year).

I noticed the same thing even happened to Mr. Russinovich – a novel just published after his by David Baldacci with the same name Zero Day! At least I can change my title. (By the way guys – I have the domain zerodaynovel.com registered if you want it!)
Congratulations to them both. I know that writing and publishing a book is a major achievement.

In truth, we write because of our creative drive, our characters, our own imaginative worlds … and for the fun of it. There’s nothing like it!

2 comments November 3rd, 2011

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