Posts filed under 'Writing'

The Great Reset for Authors

All the talk recently of The Great Reset got me thinking about what it all means for publishing. I’m undecided on whether this supposed reset will happen, or perhaps take a different form than what many people currently envisage. The prospect of it happening at all merits consideration of the potentially tumultuous consequences for all of human society.

The prospect of the mooted universal basic income intrigues me. We’ve seen the seeds of it in the pandemic furlough schemes**. Many writers already find it hard to make a living from their art, and have to augment with some other income anyway. So is UBI a potential boon for authors? For all “creatives”, for that matter.

People who can survive on a basic income from the State will need things to do with their time. The prospect of a large number of people at a loose end, without any obligation for participative contribution to society, is one that should worry us. But those who are perhaps naturally drawn to creative arts will see UBI as a means to an end, as a means to allow them to do the thing they most want and love to do – to create art for the greater good.

This may be no bad thing. Great writers who may not have otherwise come to light may emerge only because of UBI support, but a word of warning to any aspiring author in such a scenario – it will also mean lots of additional competition (for want of a better word) for the attention of publishing houses. Many more bored scribblers on UBI flooding the slush piles with their manuscripts might not be a thought that excites many in the publishing business at the moment! Those who can’t get publishing contracts will go the self publishing route (as if the amazon book lists aren’t already chock-full of indie publications diluting the attention of would-be readers too.)

On the bright side though, more people with more time on their hands means more people likely to pick up a book to read. So perhaps we can look forward to a reset in reading habits too, just as we saw during these pandemic lockdowns. More readers is good news for any publisher and ultimately for any author that can scramble to the top of the increasing slushpile.

** How these schemes will be paid for – or indeed whether they should be paid – in the longer term is a whole other discussion, but that’s a different post.

Add comment February 2nd, 2021

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.

Add comment April 27th, 2012

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