Sunday, 30 August 2015

The next wobbly step

So, what have you been doing, I hear you ask. Or rather, wishfully think that you might ask.

It’s been a long three months since my last blog post and truth to tell, I must admit that I have missed the weekly distraction – and often frustration – that accompanied my frantic scribblings. But that’s not to say that there hasn’t been much frantic non-blog scribbling, often accompanied with hair-pulling frustration.

Okay, so the last bit is something of an exaggeration these days. Not for want of frustration, but more for want of sufficient hair. I’m far from bald yet, but there again I can recall the names I have given to each of the remaining ones.

What I’m trying to say is that the three month blog hiatus has been filled with similar activity – lots of scribbles and research. Also, something which has disproved the adage about old dogs and new tricks. Or in other words I have been focusing on the love of my creative life – writing.

A few months back I mentioned that I created a new website for myself ( which is to be the base for my nefarious literary plans. The two strands have now started to bind together in that the website now supports a new page called ‘Books’ which (fanfare, please) now holds the links to the shelves at Amazon where my new novel and new novella now reside.

I’ve done it at last, you see? Both finished the writing of the books and learned how to get them published. I’ve even been re-learning the joys of Photoshop in order to create designs for my own book covers.

First online was Charlie’s Tale (The Novella) which tells the story of how an ARP warden, Chaz Jones, believes, at first, that he has discovered a ghost in the bombed-out remains of a house destroyed by a Doodlebug. He hasn’t, of course – but there again he has found someone rather unusual… This is the story told from his perspective as a very old man, and retains his native cockney speech patterns along with his rather dark cockney wit.

An aside, given that I’ve already been asked the question more than once – the cover is actually based around a photograph of one of my daughters, Melody. Thank you, M.

Second to hit the shelves was the first part of a much longer piece, The Diary of Horace Wilt (The Novel), which has been split into two on the grounds that there’s already 115 thousand words in this first part and 210 thousand in total. The story also lends itself to a natural break at that point and the two halves of the story could probably sit alone as stories in their own right – although the second half would certainly need considerable additional material so that everything made sense (always assuming anything makes sense anyway).

I’ve described it as tragicomic, but the emphasis is firmly on the comic element within that description, albeit that much of the humour is somewhat dark. It’s the story of a rather dysfunctional guy who goes to college and in the process discovers himself. And quite a few other things.

One of the things that was discovered by this poor author is that if you give one of your characters a speech impediment on page one – a feature that is central to many of the themes within his story, and therefore something that you need to keep present at all times – then maybe a little more forethought could be employed. You see, Horace has a stutter which affects him whenever he tries to pronounce the letter ‘W’. With a surname like Wilt, perhaps that’s not so surprising, and I reasoned at the start of the tale that this would provide some comedic opportunities.

What I didn’t quite realise is just how often we English speakers actually use a pronunciation of that particular letter sound. There’s his surname, of course. And five of the six questions. But then there are the ones that sneak up on you. ‘Anywhere’ is a bit of a sneak but ‘anyone’ really is starting to creep around like a politician meeting his accountant. Call me a masochist but there’s a speech given in the second part of the book (to be published later in the year) which is given by the hapless Horace when he is chosen to be best man at a friend’s wedding. I thought it would be ‘cute’ to have Horace come up with a wordy speech that didn’t include a single ‘w’ sound… Three days later I was inventing new swear words. I couldn’t use ‘welcome’, ‘wishes’ or even ‘wedding’, of course, and was starting to thank my ‘lucky’ stars that the part of the story in question was set in the eighties – prior to the ‘www’ era…

All of which should explain my absence from your inboxes during the recent past. And all of this is just the start, as well. Later this year – and there isn’t that much left of it really, is there? – I will be publishing the second part of Horace’s tale alongside a few other odds and ends (with the emphasis on the odd, I’m sure) as well as performing the official launch of a new venture which will see me teaming up with a number of other writers to offer what appears to be a unique service. More details will follow very soon…

Of course, you might notice that my publication date was the 27th August – and that was chosen for a mark of respect to the dear, departed Sir Terry Pratchett whose final Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, was published on that date. I’m in no way comparing myself to that incredible author – if only I had a hundredth of his talent – but I felt it was important for me in some weird way. I’ve now read his last book and it shows as much imagination and wit as his previous ones – it’s a thoroughly entertaining read and a fitting way to bow out (if one must). Spare a thought for him and spare a word for him, if you will because in his own words, “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken”.

Finally, it feels rather odd – and very welcome – to have my own Amazon author page now (My Amazon Page) (and yes, that is plug, plug), but that fits well with my longer term plans. It’s no new news that I have MS and quite apart from the lifestyle changes that have had to be made so far it has forced me to look into the dim, distant future and start to plan for the day when mobility issues (probably among others) mean that I will no longer be able to function to any useful effect away from a desk.

For now – and for the foreseeable few years – I can carry on with my normal (?) professional work, and much gratitude is due to my employers for the moves they have made to ensure that I can continue. In fact, my forcibly sedentary lifestyle now means that I am even better able to carry out the necessary. But that cannot last forever – and I’m not talking about the fact that I would only have a maximum of about 15 working years left anyway.

It’s no good ducking the inevitable no matter how that can make you cringe (and believe me, I learned things about cringing that I would much rather not have to know), and planning becomes an ever more serious concern. In my case that has become a focus on the written word and I’m in the fortunate (really?) position of being able to turn my spare time over to my scribbles. The whole publication thing is simply the next step on that path and I have just devoted a couple of holiday weeks to that cause – because I’m in no position to go rambling through some foreign woods or even trawling along some foreign beach.

I love my writing in any case – by which I mean I love the act of writing, not (necessarily) what I actually pen. So that’s good… Yes?

Well, it is what it is. And I have to admit that the past few days have been fun. I’ve already sold a handful of the books – another unexpectedly lovely feeling – and while I have no illusions about millions of the things flying off the shelves, it really does feel like a second string has been firmly tied to my bow.

Now all I need to do is check it for woodworm…