What Would Jerry Do?

I’m not saying I’m a ‘Jerry’, but if I was writing ‘Rick and Morty’, after separating from Beth, Jerry would’ve started wearing black eyeliner and writing bad sci-fi based on the adventures he never got to have!

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, ‘Rick and Morty‘ is a cartoon in which an alcoholic mad scientist (Rick) takes his insecure grandson (Morty) with him to parallel dimensions and alien worlds. The results are hilarious and often disturbing, and Jerry (Morty’s father and Rick’s son-in-law) never gets to come along.

Jerry loves Beth (Rick’s daughter/ Morty’s mother) more than anything, but he’s rather spineless. As a result, his attempts to be the man of the house are more than a little desperate. Beth clearly wears the pants in the relationship. Even after they break up, Jerry still defines himself by the relationship he’s lost.

He’d clearly be better off moving on and finding someone who appreciates him for who he is. After of course, he’s taken the time to truly discover who he is as an individual, and not as a clingy parasite, but he’s Jerry, and he’ll continue to self-sabotage and aim to fail because that’s what Jerry’s do across multiple parallel dimensions.

It occurred to me last night at work while humming ‘Everything I do‘ from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack (I made the mistake of watching it again recently) that there are some definite similarities between the relationship Jerry has with Beth, and the one I had/have with my ex-wife. Unlike Jerry, I don’t see my ‘Beth’ anymore, but I still find myself thinking about what I’ve lost even though I know that what we had was unhealthy.

I even had a somewhat Rick-like father-in-law!

However, the point of this article wasn’t to mope down memory lane, wondering for the infinite-th time what I could have done to make her happy and berate myself for the promises I didn’t keep. It was to realise that I can use this parallel to my advantage! Most writers are familiar with the advice ‘write what you know’ (interestingly enough, the writer I recently interviewed recommended the opposite) but doing so often leaves me bogged down in emotions that halt my progress.

I’m working on a story right now in which the main character is intimidated by his more intelligent and successful spouse, and it occurs to me that, instead of reopening old wounds to bare my own soul on the page, I could just base the character on Jerry! Hopefully, the trick works and I can finish the short story without spiralling into self-pitying depression in the process!

If only I could also find a character with a similar childhood to mine so that I can tackle my The Science Of Magic rewrite too! I’m hoping to get part one of both stories out on Kindle soon so that I have more on my Amazon author page than just the first book of The Haunted Story series. 🙂

Plot Twist!

The last article I wrote got me thinking. I may be getting in my own way.

When I came up with the idea for Monolith, it was to create a high-quality product that would serve as a flagship title for a new era of independently published books that stand out from the crowd of cheap, poorly written stories that have flooded the marketplace.

The story I was originally going to write for the Monolith anthology wasn’t good enough, which is fine. I don’t want the team to compromise the quality of the book by accepting sub-par work just because it was written by the boss. I don’t want to embarrass the Creative Writers’ Press brand.

I’ve already started the rewrite, but since we’re short on Sci-Fi, I’ve also started another short story that I don’t feel great about. The way I’m going about this is starting to feel like a bad return on the time and effort I invest. Almost as bad as when I was trawling the internet looking for writing opportunities that didn’t suck. It will be even worse if Monolith fails to sell.

I may not like the fact that Candace writes to the market instead of writing from her heart, but I can’t deny that it gets results. Her advice, along with the video she recommended, made me wonder if I could self-publish some of the rejects, many of which were always intended to be the first in a series, and build up an income from it.

With that in mind, I’ve removed The Haunted Story from this website but left the place-holder open so that I can share the links to each story as they go live on Amazon. If it seems to be going well, I’ll do the same with The War on Magic. If I manage to actually build up an audience, I may even sell Hermes925 this way too. Despite my passion for the story, I still don’t feel like it’s ‘good enough’ for Creative Writers’ Press.

This is a sharp change of direction for me, but if it actually leads me to my goal of becoming a full-time writer, I’m willing to explore it.

 

How To Become a Full-Time Writer

I realised as I was put this article together that I’ve been letting my ego stand in the way of my success. Sure, I’d rather only sell books that I’ve carefully and lovingly crafted as a true expression of my talent and imagination, but I’d also rather work full-time as a writer than having to fit writing in around working for someone else. At least I’d be writing full-time, and perhaps generating enough of a surplus income to build Creative Writers Press into a real business.
I’m going to start with ‘The Haunted Story’. It’s not doing me any good while it sits waiting for me to rewrite it as a paranormal crime novel. I may as well see if I can generate a little cash from it.

Creative Writers' Blog

I know there are several people in Creative Writers that (like myself) want to make a full-time career as a writer. Today I had a conversation with an author, Candace Ayers, who had posted on Facebook, “I make six figures a year from royalties. It supports my family very comfortably. I don’t love writing. It’s not my passion. But, I like it okay and love the lifestyle it provides me.”

This made me curious. I wanted to know how she’d managed to build a six-figure income from writing. I asked her if she had an article on the subject (I didn’t want to tread on her toes) and got this amazing response:

“I haven’t written an article about it, but I can share a few of what I consider important tips on the way I do it.

1. I write to market. In other words, I don’t write what I…

View original post 800 more words

Getting Back to Writing

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to work at all. I could just write at my own pace and people would be so impressed that they’d throw money at me like confetti!

Sadly, getting paid to write isn’t as easy as it sounds. For one, there are no office jobs where you can sit in a cubicle and produce fiction while taking home a base wage, benefits and a bonus each time a book sells that you wrote or contributed to. I would be applying to that job in a heartbeat. Particularly if there were on-site proofreaders and editors!

The opportunities available often take advantage of writers that are so desperate to get their name out there that the writers often end up paying for the privilege of being published, or getting paid so little for each story that it would be impossible to sustain a living wage even if you were to write 24/7.

The best I could manage, when I was able to get by without a ‘proper’ job, was about 35 hours per week. 9am-4pm Mon-Fri. I would update this blog on Mondays, write the next part of Hermes925 every Thursday, and the other days were dedicated to other WIP, updating the Games and Geekery blog or searching for writing opportunities.

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Disheartened by the lack of opportunities that favoured the writer, I wanted to do something better. That’s when I took over as admin for the Creative Writers group and started bringing people together to help me make the Monolith project a reality.

For those that are new to this blog, Monolith is a series of anthologies (short story collections) containing a variety of fiction written by members of the Creative Writers group. Despite my passion for the project and my education/ background in business management and marketing, it all started to get too much for me to handle and I feel like I’ve had no time to actually write!

Thankfully one of the newer admins has taken it upon himself to organise the project and is doing a far better job than I did at keeping everyone on task. I’m still the heart of Creative Writers, but Greg is the head. Some people might have trouble handing over the reins like this, but it’s not about me and my ego. It’s about doing what’s best for the group, especially the Monolith writers.

I feel like I can finally write again! Especially since my current job as a night porter typically gives me a good few hours to kill between re-laying the breakfast and dinner tables at the start of my shift, and setting up the breakfast buffet right before my shift ends. I may not be able to do seven hours a day, like I used to, but I should at least be able to write something every day again.

I’ve already begun drafting the next part of the story following on from Hermes925: 13/17 Data Not Found. Written a blog entry or two, and added my Monolith story to this page (so readers can get a sneak peek, and to prove I wrote it first if it leaks). I haven’t quite managed to write every day yet, but perhaps that will change as of now.

The reason I started Monolith is so that I could sell my writing, and help other authors to sell their writing too. If I’m so wrapped up in the process that I don’t do any writing then it’s has failed to serve it’s purpose. I’m excited that the team has reached a point where it barely needs me, and that I’m able to get back to writing.

Why am I even trying?

Yep, it’s going to be one of those posts.

Things are going fairly well at the moment. The new job as a night-porter is just what the doctor ordered. I get time to write, I only have to deal with a few customers, I don’t have to work with an ex-girlfriend, and the other new night porter is awesome. Of course, now that we’re both trained up we’ll be on opposite shifts most of the time.

The potential romance issue has been resolved also. We talked. She recognises that I’m in no emotional (or financial) state to up sticks and move to Italy. We’re still friends, and maybe, when I have my shit together, it will still become something more. Who knows?

The Monolith project is going well too. I’ve got some great admins helping me to regain order and sanity. Each admin has been assigned specific tasks, taking a lot of the weight off my shoulders and allowing me to get back to doing what I’ve always done best. engaging with the Creative Writers group members and building interest in the group projects.

Thanks to the lack of stress I’ve even begun working on Hermes925 again. I haven’t even needed to smoke. I’ve been completely weed free for a week and have no compulsion to acquire any more. I’ve been wanting to quit for a while, but every previous attempt has left me feeling anxious and resulted in a relapse. I haven’t even written about it because I didn’t want any family that still read this to worry about me (and when I last described my ‘recovery‘ I was ridiculed for it).

 

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One of the ‘Game of Thrones’ characters I empathise with. A man who has had everything taken from him.

 

However, a new job means new people, and new people (especially when they hear the slight American twang to my accent) means having to tell my story again. It’s not just co-workers and customers either. There’s a woman in the Creative Writers group that is going through some trouble with her partner remarkably similar to my relationship with my ex-wife. Helping her get through it and telling my story to others has inevitably stirred up some less than pleasant emotions.

The reason why I’m writing this article instead of working on the Creative Writers group FAQ, like I intended, is because it occurred to me that maybe the real reason I’m trying to become successful as an author, as a boss, and as a man, is to feel like I’m worth something. To give my life value and meaning. If I don’t produce something of lasting value, I’m just a waste of good oxygen.

I’m not writing this so that people will feel sorry for me and try to help. I know everyone that reads this is going through their own drama, trauma and pain. I also know we’re all broke, so I’ve given up asking for financial assistance either. I think I’ve removed every reference to asking for money from the website, including the ‘Tip Jars’ page I recently created, but if you find any I’ve missed let me know.

Realistically, I know that success won’t result in the permanent state of happiness that most of us aspire for, hoping that if they’re ambitious and determined enough they’ll be able to relax and bask in the glory of victory. Being the best invites challenge and conflict. We know from reading stories, playing games, and the lives of our cultural and literary heroes, that the better we become, the larger the challenges we face are.

However, that’s not what’s putting me off. Life is hard, but conflict and hardship make it interesting. However, it occurs to me that I haven’t stopped trying to prove myself worthy of love. Despite telling myself I don’t believe in love anymore, I still find myself wanting it. Though I feel like I’d have nothing to give. I can’t offer children or wealth, or even a place to stay until I can afford to move out of the back room of my Grandparents house.

 

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Intimacy often feels awkward, embarassing and one-sided for me too.

 

Relationships would just complicate things anyway. Even the idea of socialising seems pointless. I sometimes crave company, but not enough to be worth the risk of becoming emotionally attached. Maybe love will find me when the time is right. When my assets are greater than my awkwardness and social anxiety. When my life is stable enough to know that I’m with someone because I truly love them, and not because of some selfish emotional need to feel loved and desired.

Any affection I receive would be charity on their part at this point in my life. If I work hard at becoming a success, I may eventually become worthy of love. Though no matter how hard I work I’ll still never be able to produce a family, so the whole thing seems like a waste of time. Why bother working so hard to become an attractive prospect when I’d be trapping any woman interested in a life of changeable moods, intermittent attention, and childlessness?

I like to write, but the pressure I’m putting on myself to accomplish ‘success’ is taking all the fun out of it. If it’s truly not worth the effort, then why am I even trying?

 

Please don’t worry. This is not a cry for help. Just processing some feelings I’ve long been suppressing.

 

 

 

 

Playing Catch-up!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time, inspiration or motivation to update this blog, but I’m in the process of making the necessary corrections to my schedule and priorities so that I can get back on track.

I’ve already made some significant changes that have helped a lot. Including changing my ‘day-job’ to a ‘night-job’! With the release date of the Monolith anthology looming ever closer I knew I needed to save my money up. So far every attempt to crowdfund the Monolith project has failed, so it’s down to me earning as much as I can.

However, the hotel I was working at offered only the minimum wage. I applied for a supervisor position, which I didn’t get, and moved up to full time while I looked around for better opportunities. It’s early days yet, but I seem to have found one. It’s a night-porter position at a different hotel It’s only a 10-minute walk from my house, it’s more money, and the workload is light enough that I can get some of my writing done in my downtime.

If all goes well I’ll have enough to afford a high-quality edit of the final manuscript, and have enough time to complete it. I highly doubt that I’ll also have the money or time to pursue other goals (there’s a girl in Italy that I would dearly love to meet in person), so that will have to come later, and hope that she doesn’t meet someone else (though that would solve the dilemma rather neatly).

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I’ve also been planning out the ongoing adventures of Hermes925.  *Spoilers* The Pan AI has taken over the ship and thinks he can do a better job. He will attempt to replace the ratkin on board with genetically engineered lifeforms. The ‘infected’ ratkin were his creation. An attempt to kill off the existing population so that he can harvest the genetic material and build a new species. The ratkin fight back though and survive despite Pan’s efforts.

Does using the word ‘ratkin’ as both the singular and plural form sound right to you? ‘Ratkins’ doesn’t sound right to me, but maybe it will grow on me.

I also intend to rewrite the story so far to provide a deeper understanding of the civics and politics of the world that Jaime grew up in. Namely that criminal convictions, matters of public interest, and even proposed laws are put to a public vote. Anyone that might be affected or has previously expressed an interest in similar matters is notified of the debate and can submit their response via the N-Viron network. The votes are calculated in real-time.

I also had an idea for the end of Pan’s part of the story. The Nymphs on board the ship are a cutting edge fusion of soft-robotics and genetic engineering, or at least they were. Earth’s technology continues to evolve in Hermes’ and Pan’s absence. Wetware technology becomes the next big thing. The N-Viron network becomes obsolete, replaced with a biotech equivalent that’s completely compatible with the human genome.

The discons have become even more paranoid of the technology. Especially when the new humans are born with technology already integrated into their bodies. Despite the fact that the disconnected humans are convinced that the technology is a threat to humanity, the new humans colonise one of the planet-sized bodies orbiting Jupiter and leave Earth to the discons. When Pan reaches our system, he’s not compatible with the new network of augmented minds.

 

FroudfaeriesAll of this is distracting me from rewriting the story I would like to include in the Monolith anthology. A series of short stories that tell the story of The War On Magic. It’s a story that’s been playing around in my head for a while, and it would be nice to get it out there, but the story I submitted to my fellow admins received enough negative feedback to necessitate a rewrite. You can see the current version here. Please offer any feedback you think might help make you want to read part two.

Once I get the story ready for Monolith, I can get on with polishing up, and adding the finishing touches to, the rest of the anthology. At least I don’t have ‘Write a blog article’ on my to-do list anymore.

Thank you for reading. I’d ask for support for I know that you’re all as broke as I am. Feel free to share and comment on anything you like.

Have a great day 🙂

New Plan!!

Before I can really explain what the new plan is and why it’s necessary, I should catch you all up on what’s been going on.

As you may be aware, I’ve been spending rather a lot of time building up the Creative Writers group and managing the incoming short story submissions. So much so that I was neglecting my girlfriend, who then left me. Despite my self-assurance that I want a partner that will like me as I am, I found myself revisiting painful memories associated with previous experiences.

I was still recovering from this attack of depression when one of my favourite singers died. The resulting article will soon have a follow-up show-casing my manic counter-balance.

I also had some issues with a used MacBook I bought recently. I had hoped it would replace the tired old laptop I’m currently using, and allow it to retire from ‘work’. It seems this is not to be. I had originally planned to try and save up for a hardwearing and portable laptop, but the one I want is about £1400. Not going to happen.

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It hasn’t all been bad. I also met someone, online, who seems terrifyingly perfect. We have an impossible amount of common interests, perceptions, motives and ideas. The only real problem is that she lives in Italy, and I don’t. We’ve been talking every day, and she’s wonderful, and I can’t wait to meet her and see if this is the real thing this time.

Which brings me to the first part of the plan. Find a way to fly cheaply to Italy. To visit her for a few days and see if we have the same chemistry in person that we do online. If I don’t do this I’ll regret it.

When I was a kid, my parents told me that there’s one true love in the world meant just for you. I thought this was a bad plan because if that one person in the world meant just for you lived on the other side of the world, you might never meet them.

I met the woman I would marry in University, and she was from America, and I convinced myself that she was the one. Needless to say, I was wrong. Neither one of us got what we thought we were signing up for, and I’ve had a jaded view of love ever since.

However, this wonderful English girl that lives in Italy reminds me of that moment when I decided that, if there is only one, then it must be possible to meet them. I may be about to make the same mistake twice, but I don’t think so. This is different. I’ll only really know though if I go see her.

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I did worry that, if I allowed myself to fall head over heels in love with her, it would mean starting over all over again. When I moved to America I brought one suitcase. I had some stuff sent afterwards, but there was a lot of beloved items I had to say goodbye to forever. Some of which I should have brought with me in the first place, but I never thought she would accept.

That was my first mistake right there. Deciding not to be myself and leave all of my gothic clothing, jewelry and decor. Leaving behind my Warhammer collection too. I chose to take my stories with me though. I’d forgotten that until now. I’d forgotten that I was trying to be a writer at that point in my life.

When I came back to England twelve and a half years later, I brought one suitcase. I sold off the Warhammer 40k collection I’d accumulated, and also the Magic: the Gathering, Munchkin card collection, Card Against Humanity, and many precious graphic novels, including a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Endless Nights’. Again though, I brought all of my writing with me.

I’m finally building up a life again and I’ve been dreading the idea that I may have to abandon everything again for the sake of love. However, my Mum reminded me that I could get to Italy by car if I decide to move there! If I went by car I could get to see some of the rest of Europe. Perhaps even meet up with some of the other members of the Creative Writers group on my way.

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It also means I can take my stuff, and that I don’t have to have a laptop for easy packing! I can build the computer I want, to whatever specs I want for way cheaper than the next closest laptop. I’d be able to pack it in the car with me! Which leads me to parts 2 & 3 (or more accurately, 2, 3a & 3b).

Start with buying myself computer bits to build a professional computer I can’t use both for my creative writing, and to help me manage the Creative Writers’ Press brand, the royalties and marketing/selling the books.

I’m also going to need to save up for driving tests and an affordable, reliable, and, preferably, a fuel-efficient little vehicle I can tootle off to Italy in containing almost all of the contents of this little room barring the furniture.

I’d also need to save up money to occasionally stay in a hotel with a shower and proper bathrooms (I can’t sleep in the car or a tent all the time), buy food and drinks and possibly pay for repairs, healthcare and tolls on the way.

I will, of course, be writing about my adventures and sharing pictures of various European landscapes, buildings and people. If this sounds like something you’d like to see, all I’m asking for is encouragement. I’ve already put more hours in at the day job to save up faster, and I’m putting a lot of my time and energy (when not at the hotel or travelling there and back) into making a financial success of Monolith.

I’ve learned that crowd-funding for big personal goals, or even expensive computers, doesn’t work. Thankfully, I have had a few people donate to the Monolith project to help cover the costs of final editing and marketing. If there’s anything left over from that fund, It’s going back to those who contributed.

I’m not dipping into any of it for my personal stuff. It is, however, likely I’ll end up adding my savings intended for plane tickets, or a car, or the computer, toward the monolith project instead. It’ll keep me motivated to try and make more money, both at the day job and by selling more books. No crowd-funding necessary! 🙂

I’m not even going to try and sell ad space on the car to pay for it and covered in brand decals from the various sponsors (though that is an idea I’ve been playing with for years and now would seem an appropriate time to see if I could actually do it).

So that’s the new plan. What do you think?