Monolithic (the Xan Whittle edit)

This article was edited with help from Xan Whittle, a member of the Creative Writers’ Facebook group. The original can be found at journal.media/monolithic. If you like the changes they made, check out quill & ink consultancy.

A few months ago, I received a Facebook notification that one of the writing groups I was a member of was about to be deleted unless I would like to become an admin. It had no admin and only 32 members. That group was Creative Writers.

Normally, I’d ignore such notifications. If I wanted to make a name for myself as a writer, I couldn’t afford to take on the responsibility of safeguarding a growing online community. I had too much to do already. Between writing my Sci-Fi series, Hermes925, maintaining my authorial presence online and looking for paid writing opportunities, where could I possibly find the time?

Perhaps it was because of the name. My favourite classes in school were the Creative Writing classes. To this day, my best stories are written the way my teachers at St. James’ Junior School taught me to write. You always need to know the beginning, the middle (or muddle) and the end before you even start the rough draft.

The fact that almost every writing group I was in wouldn’t let you post links to your stories was definitely a factor. I wanted to start my own group that encouraged open discussion of your work-in-progress. Posting links without participating regularly in discussion would result in you being labelled a spammer.

Amongst these other reasons, the opportunity to create a haven for writers lead me to my final decision of filling the role. With a little help from my writer friends, I got by, and Creative Writers flourished. We have now reached 6,308 members, and we’re still growing! It is a bustling hub where writers of all genres seek advice, information and encouragement.

One of the ways we’re encouraging members to discuss their writing (and thus, often, write more) is by offering our members an opportunity. This was also inspired by the way that other Facebook groups, writing contests, and vanity press sites did things. I wanted to provide a writing opportunity that I, as a writer myself, would be excited to participate in. So, after in-depth consideration, I produced from my figurative sleeve; The Monolith Anthology.

The Monolith Anthology would not charge a submission fee, or have any other hidden costs. It also wouldn’t bear an iota of resemblance to the endless slick of hideously overproduced, poorly written self-published work. Regardless of the level of technical skill, the books I’m referring too are clearly written too quickly and solely for financial gain. Monolith would be as grand, epic and magnificent as its name implied, and would also be priced appropriately. Too many books devalue themselves. I wanted to be able to pay my writers well, and know that the book will sell. I want to produce something that I know will blow away all who read it, drive them to enthuse about it to their friends.

We’ve already begun receiving short-story submissions for the anthology and the quality of writing we’re receiving is impressive. By the time submissions close on August 31st, we could easily have a book at least 2 inches thick, packed full of some of the best short stories you have ever read. We originally planned for a finished product by January 2018, but I think we can do much better than that. The sooner we get it out there, the sooner we can start work on volume 2!

In order to secure the success of this endeavour as much as success can be secured, I aim to encourage pre-orders, sponsorship, crowdfunding and donations in order to fund the project and allow me and the other admins to work on this full time. With the Creative Writers‘ shared passion for writing, and my own background in business and marketing, this challenge is well within our repertoire.

The way I see this story ending is with over a hundred success stories from every author whose careers we’ve helped to launch, each with a range of books published by the Creative Writers’ Press; writers that were all valued members of the best creative writing community around.

True Love

It is often said that true love lasts forever. I’m not sure true love exists. I think that in reality, love is a fleeting emotion. Temporary, and all the more precious for it. However, it’s possible to fall in love again and again for the same person. Each time they do something that makes you smile, and your heart flutter.

When love ends it’s not the end of the world, just the end of your time together. You discover some principle they have that is diametrically opposed to one of your own, or they behave in a way that you find shameful or repugnant one too many times to balance with their enduring qualities. Perhaps they just flat out refuse to conform to your preconceived perceptions, or insist you do something that you find boring, useless or disgusting? It doesn’t really matter. There’s nothing you can do to change it.

Unless you can make them fall back in love with you, but that one’s tricky. Usually, there’s a bond of trust that forms between people in a relationship. At the very least there’s a familiarity between you both and the prospect of having to be single and fend for yourself again inspires some resentment. At least one partner will probably feel betrayed.  It’s unlikely they’ll ever trust you again.

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Especially if you pull it off. You show them you’ve changed and given them everything they ever wanted from you, so they give you another chance. Then you regress back to old behaviour patterns as soon you feel like things are good between you. Yet the alternative is worse, having to accept that you failed to do what every successful adult is supposed to do. Find your one true love and be married to them forever.

You don’t find out until you’re in the mess of relationships that falling in love is easy, and we often fall so hard and so fast that we’re swept away by the blessed miracle that we have found our one true love so soon. You find yourself making little concessions for this person, and making excuses for them so you can maintain the delusion that you’re going to stay with them forever.

Some people manage it. Live perfectly content lives, soldiering on together through hardships and victories. Bottling up the resentment over how much you had to give up to keep the relationship going. Even old lovebirds that smile and talk to one another happily, can still cry when they’re alone. Regretting the chances they could’ve taken if they hadn’t played it safe.

They chose to hold on to that one constant individual, even if it means lying to themselves and each other. It’s silly, and it’s based on something that isn’t real. Wouldn’t you rather live a real life? One in which you make big risks, stupid mistakes, have genuine adventures, new experiences, and fall in love all over again? It is a choice. A real choice we can all take. We can stop living the lie, admit the love is gone, ride through the resentment, the withdrawal and the fear of being alone forever.

We can stop living the lie, admit the love is gone, ride through the resentment, the withdrawal and the fear of being alone forever. Or, we can stick with what we’re used to. We can apologise for things we know we haven’t done wrong, just to keep the peace. We can wear that awful garment they say you look good in, hoping it will rekindle the romance, even though it makes you feel ugly, weak and dishonest. At least you’ll be able to look back on your life and say “We stayed married”!

I wanted so badly to stay married until she said something to me that completely broke my world view. She said, “It’s not your job to make me happy”. I may have mentioned this before, and if so sorry for repeating myself but I’m going to say this again anyway. I had believed until that point that my true purpose in life, as her one true love, was to make her happy. Suddenly I felt like I had no reason to exist.

Now, to be completely fair here, I hadn’t been doing very well. I would promise to do something different to make her happy, and I would do that thing (such as wash the pots more often, or maintain a house planner) for a little while. Then I would slide back into old habits.

Arguably, this could be just ADHD. Unable to focus on necessary tasks, because it’s boring as fuck and I don’t want to. Especially when it doesn’t need doing yet, and I’m really really enjoying my Xbox 360. Which she bought me, by the why, to illustrate that she recognised I’m not happy and wanted me to have more recreational time.

Whenever we talked (usually after a fight) she would tell me that I needed to spend more time with friends and have something in my life other than just her, and yet the fight would usually start because I hadn’t been writing chores that needed doing into the planner and marking them off one by one as they are completed each day.

In hindsight, I understand now that she also wanted me to schedule in ‘me’ time and friends time. I think she seriously imagined that I would be able to breathe in a strictly scheduled life in which I plan out each day meticulously in order to balance my work life, home life and all other pleasures of life in perfect harmony.  I can see why it would have comforted her to live in such a safe and predictable world, but I felt trapped.

Even writing “Monday – laundry,  Tuesday – groceries, Wednesday – litterboxes, Thursday – dusting” and left every other day blank. Leaving that journal out for her to oversee and check was enough to make me feel like a caged bird with a snake in the room. Beating it’s clipped little wings pathetically to escape. I’d build the cage myself though, and it was keeping her out.

Those words of hers let me see the bars. When we were dating, she told me that she saw greatness in me. When she took it back, telling me ‘I don’t see that in you anymore’ I saw that the key had been in the lock the whole time. It still took me a little while after that to pluck up the courage to open the door and escape.

It also turned out to be more like a multi-walled fortress than a cage, and I think I may still be working my way through some of the outer defenses. Turns out imaginative people can build one heck of a prison! It had oubliettes. Go watch Labyrinth (again), followed by Dark City and at least 3 documentaries about medieval castle defences. You’ll thank me for the imagery. 🙂

I thought about her words and realised something. If she saw something great in me when I was single and confident, and dressed all in black, perhaps I needed to go back to that. Not to win her back. That had been the plan shortly after we broke up, but that ship sailed when she told me about her new boyfriend.

I started to notice how ratty her face was (in hindsight, this may explain why I often use giant rats as villains in my stories), and how immature and nonsensical some of her opinions and assertions were then. I became determined to find my greatness despite her pronouncement that my chance at greatness was behind me. To come back to who I was before I met her, make some different choices, and be the person I was meant to be.

I may have missed the window for greatness, but I’m going to do my damnedest to get close to it. I want you to know, in advance, that I appreciate all your help on the way there. Maybe together we can build something greater than all of us, and perhaps the spirit of the Creative Writers group will continue after we’ve all gone. Who knows. For now, I’m just enjoying taking the journey with you all.

Have a great day 🙂 I hope you enjoy my writing

 

 

Give Me Another One!

I’m going to be brief, just to catch you up, but then I’m going to go back to hunting!

As you know I’ve been trying to get Hermes925 finished. The theory being that the sooner I get it finished, the sooner I can pitch it to publishers and get it on the shelves. The only problem being that in the mean time my cash reserves are dwindling to nothing. If I wasn’t living with family right now I’d be scuppered.

I’ve been aware for some time that it’s possible to sell short stories to anthologies and magazines, but I’ve been putting it off. Currently, I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s just that I hadn’t found one I wanted to write yet.

However, a couple of very exciting things have happened since I started networking more actively on Facebook and Twitter. Firstly I was pointed in the direction of an e-zine publisher that is willing to publish Hermes925 as a series, starting with the first 3 entries, in their bi-monthly publication.

The publication is called Diversions from Drudgery, and they are still looking for contributors. So if you want in, contact Chris Maddock or join the Diversions from Drudgery Facebook group. They need writers and artists.

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I also didn’t realize that one of the writing groups, called Fiction Writing, I was in also had their own series of short story collections, until it came up in a conversation in the group. The theme for the next one is ghosts. My first thought was a ‘ghost in the machine’ idea. An MMORPG gamer dies, but he remains online, continuing to exist in the game and scares the shit out of his surviving friends (until they get used to it).

Turns out it’s been done and was even a film. I might have still been able to go with it if I told the story differently, but I wanted to do something new. I was wide awake in bed thinking about what I knew about ghosts from when I was a kid collecting unsolved mystery cards and reading Usborne books.

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This was one of my favorites.

What if someone had decided to treat these books that try to explain the existence of ghosts as a ‘how-to’ guide and set out to become a ghost himself? That’s the premise of a short story I just submitted to Scout Media. I’m looking forward to telling you more about that too when I have something more to tell.

So now I’m looking for more publications that accepting submissions that I want to write. I now know that I can come up with an idea, write, re-write and proof a piece in a few days. It may take me a little longer occasionally, but the idea of writing for magazines no longer seems as daunting as it once did.

I’m going to get back to looking for more opportunities now. There’s bound to someone looking for a story I want to write 🙂

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…and have a great day 🙂

 

 

Wherefore Art Thou

I was going to write this article much earlier, but then found I wasn’t in the mood. However, I am laying in bed too hot, too restless and oddly too tired to sleep,  with ideas for this article still rattling around in my brain.  I’ll write, until I finally feel like sleeping. I might even get the whole thing done. (I didn’t, I added links and images the next morning).

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As you may have noticed, the blog articles have grown a little infrequent lately. If been putting the focus on writing the story instead. The goal after all, is to become a published author of Sci Fi and fantasy, and I’m not going to get there if all I write is my blog. I need to do what I set out to do, and don’t let myself get in my own way.

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If you haven’t been following my progress, please drag your mouse to the Hermes925 tab at top of the page and select each journal entry. As you can see Jaime has had (or will have, since it’s set in the future) his heart broken, his world view turned on it’s head and found a new obsession to take his mind off it all.

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It’s been a little difficult some days being strict enough with myself to write more. It helps that I already have planned out what I want to happen, but I often don’t know exactly what Jaime’s going to say until I start writing. He tends to rush through his thoughts, without disruptive descriptive details.

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I want to see how it works. Let the reader fill in the blanks, and maybe find some awesome art to each entry. For now I’ve been able to pull somewhat applicable images from the Internet, but I would love to receive artwork from readers and fans illustrating the world I created. Perhaps a picture of Mr. Waddle, or your impression of what it would be like to see the world through the N•Viron, an image of the Hermes spacecraft, or a painting of Jaime stepping through the portal doorway.

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Of course if you’d rather draw dragons and mages, perhaps The City of Gate is more your cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be specifically made for my work either. Any art you’d like to show off could be included in a blog post as an image and a link back to your own website or Etsy page. I already do something similar for blog articles I like.

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I’m not making any money yet, so I don’t have any to give, yet. When my book is successful, and I use your illustrations, then we’ll both get some money. In the meantime I’m happy to showcase any artist trying to put themselves out there. I’m even happy to help out musicians and fellow writers spread the word. If we want people to find us, without having to compromise, we need to show tham what we can do, and help each other out.

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I had a thoughts about YouTube too. Would anyone like to see me read each of the Hermes925 entries out loud? I’m sure it would be rather dull just watching me read though, but I could edit the video to include a montage of images, and perhaps background music. I could use this as another way show off some of the artwork and music sent in.

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I’m hoping that the YouTube channel  (once I have some content people like) and affiliate marketing will help keep me afloat while I get Hermes925 finished and published. If you want to help by offering your talents, advice or money please do! Comments are always welcome, as are donations via PayPal. Any art, music or writing you like me to share can be sent to AntonyM.Copeland@gmail.com

I hope you like the art I found online. Have a great day.

Blog of Indefinite Purpose

When I write an article, yap about my life right now, run through a story idea, or review a friend’s new 3D printed thingy, mobile app or cake, this page is where I’ll post it! I’m going to try and come up with a system of tags that will allow you to see just the review posts, or just the new story ideas, or just posts in which I mention the Masquerade podcast.

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I might also post some literary challenges here. Stuff I’ve never tried before, like rhyming triplets, or a story that has to include a secret message, or includes people or places or things suggested by you guys.

I’d also happily post any artwork, music, stories or videos you’d like me to share, if it’s your own work, or it’s really awesome.

What would you like to see me try to write?