August writing goals.

Help! Bookworms. The other sort...

Last 'pop up submissions' of the summer

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Oct 19, 2014
Looking to maintain the usual daily keyboard bashing on my current WIP.

Down to sunny Dalmatia for a couple of weeks in the middle of the month so will be looking to up my daily word count given that outside of swimming, eating well and generally chilling out, I have some time on my hands. Planning on getting some serious reading done as well. The latest Ian Rankin novel along with 'Bleak House' (reading the first chapter in my favourite beach cafe-bar on my first summer morning invokes in me a delight I will never be able to articulate) and some trashy thrillers are all on the menu.

The Website can wait. Decided that techy stuff is probably best left for the winter months.

Also realised that I have to make sure that when I do fly back home, I can hit the ground running as well. In the real world I need to get myself a proper day-job again. My recent sojourns to my little Adriatic Island have led to me leaving my mojo behind, with it taking a while to catch up with me, and I need to ensure that this does not happen this time around.

Or rather be ready for it and take the necessary measures to keep that particular specimen of Black Dog firmly in its kennel or at least on a chain. Not a clinical issue or even that apparent to those around me but the cause of enough disquiet for me to want to mention it on here. Better out than in, as they say. So another goal for August.
Black dogs benefit from long walks, in my experience; so long as you have access to nice countryside.
Black dogs benefit from long walks, in my experience; so long as you have access to nice countryside.

Thanks for that. More walking is definitely something I need to do far more of. As I said, I would not class it as anything like the sort of depression that others suffer from but its been of sufficient concern for me to mention it here with the desire that it might help exorcise what ever demon it is that decides to exploit my sadness at not being able to spend more time in that part of the world.
Homesick for it?

I am sure that there is some clever German word for it!

And perhaps I have over-egged the pudding a tad. I guess most people get some post-holiday blues but on these last two occasions, it seemed to take hold in a way that troubled me for a few weeks. I suspect that it might be linked to somewhat of a late mid-life crisis. I turned 50 in September and that has had a rather bizarre effect on me. Never really got what all the fuss about 40 was but 50, that has been a different kettle of fish.

But this time around, I will be prepared for it. I also want to stress that whilst I relish my time down in Dalmatia, I have been going down there on a regular basis for over 20 years and understand enough about what goes on backstage to be fully aware that the delights of a full-time relocation might not be my cup of tea. But I would love to be able to split our time on a 50-50 basis between London and the island. Truly the best of both worlds as I am a city boy at heart and cannot envisage a future without having a London telephone number. Now this 50-50 can happen, even if nothing changes, once I hit pension age so I have that future ahead of me but I guess part of me is disappointed that I cannot have it now.

A touch of wistful petulance would perhaps be the best way of describing it. I recognise in myself a character flaw of being a little too retrospective than is perhaps good for me and can certainly see where I should have have zagged rather than zigged on many occasions. I have to remind myself that I am among the most blessed people to walk this planet. And I truly mean that. I am surrounded by a loving family, some fantastic friends, am well ahead of the game in terms of assets and generally have life pretty sweet. And I have my writing. The last few years have been the most productive I have ever had and I have a genuine love for the craft and process now for its own sake.

But when that plane touches down on UK soil around August 23rd, I am going to have my eyes open and ready to act accordingly! Forewarned and all that old malarkey. ;)
I've lived with the black dog of depression a few times, though my hellhound morphed into a black bear that crushed me for a few years. It was only returning to writing that helped to pull my soul out from under the bear's hairy lumpen arse!

As Marc Joan advised, exercise helps ward off depression, as does learning a new skill. The big birthdays are times of reflection that somehow make you see yourself differently. At 50, you're halfway through your life—so, at least it's all an easy downhill run from now on! :p One of the annoying things about life is how cliches are proven to be true. I recall old relatives saying things like, " I don't feel any different now than I did thirty years ago." And now, at 63, I'm thinking the same thing.

As for my writing goals in August, I'll finish a short story for the Galley Beggar Prize, which closes at the end of the month. I also intend to enter the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award for poetry and short fiction. Usefully, they accept previously published material.

The prize for short fiction includes consultation with Redhammer Management—run by International Man of Mystery, the Scarlet Pimpernel of Publishing—Peter Cox!
Good luck on 23rd, Matnov. I know what you mean about wanting to spend more time on another shore. I ache for Spain, and am actively plotting and planning and dreaming to see what I can do about spending more time there. In the meantime, I am going to finish the first draft of The Scribe's Boy by the end of August. There. I've said it out loud. Better get on with it then :)
So the end of another month.

Pleased to report that I have consistently written every day and hit my word target. No complaints on that score.

However, and a word of warning here that what is about to follow could/needs to be construed as self-regarding nonsense so if you are of a delicate frame of mind, or have something more interesting to do, look away now.

Had my two week trip to Croatia. And it was fantastic. Wonderful weather (it was hot, hot, hot), the clearest skies, fantastic food, smashing company and so on and on. Spent quality time with family and friends not doing much beyond drinking coffee, swimming, jumping on and off jetty's, playing cards and backgammon along with much general larking about of one flavour or the other. In short, the definition of good times.

And I struggled to write. Never really bought into this notion of writer's block but what I experienced was more akin to a form of constipation (sorry but it's the only comparison I can think of).

There I was, in idyllic surroundings, without a care in the world and plenty of time on my hand and I struggled big time. Still managed to spew out what I needed to but there was no flow to it.

Back here in this septic Isle of ours (well most of us anyway), I am currently working 60 hours a week to make ends meet. I do a Gig economy job (although I rather like the flexibility of a zero hours contract for a variety of reasons( and in short always feel like I need an extra hour or two's sleep. It is 12 hour shifts, on a 4pm to 4am pattern and I can be on the go for all of it with the only real chance of a break coming near to the end of it. Now I am not putting this out there for sympathy because it is all my fault and I zigged when I should have zagged on numerous occasions along with ignoring some fantastic advice from people who only had my best interests at heart. But such is life and it's all a learning curve.

Yet the words flow. I can blast away on my decrepit smart phone whilst huddled up trying to find shelter from the rain with my muse churning out all sorts of plot twists and turns as I am sitting cramped up in a van full of middle aged men leering at ladies who would not give them the hot air from their bodily functions.

But put me in anything approaching 'ideal' writing conditions and its like the part of me that controls this writing thing of ours goes on strike. For over 2 decades I had my own office, access to every type of gadget and stationary demand a writer could want for along with setting my own working hours and conditions and wrote barely a thing.

Maybe it is because writing is an escape for me? Put me into any sort of comfort zone and I do not need it anymore?

Who knows. Maybe I should get myself sent off to Prison for a fair old stretch and up my production that way!

Anyways, apologies for my naval gazing.

Oh and the mojo missing conundrum is back but this time I have coped better.
Writing is certainly an escape, and it's an addiction too, and whatever prompts you into fleeing into the rewarding reverie of creating a story is a good thing. Sometimes we have to reach rock bottom or be painted into a corner, to come up with our best work.

A bonus is, that being a writer makes you special. A 19th-century scholar called Benjamin Jowett put it well:

One man is as good as another until he has written a book.

That's a double-edged observation to make, for you lay yourself open to criticism as soon as you write a story, but, for me anyway, the key quality of writing is that I've damn well done it—I've honoured myself by completing what I set out to do.
And I struggled to write. Never really bought into this notion of writer's block but what I experienced was more akin to a form of constipation (sorry but it's the only comparison I can think of).

As we all know, writing is hard. I mean, really, physically and mentally hard. I say to people who ask that it is, far and above, the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life; and by a long chalk. So, with that in mind, I think when we have these huge splurges of creativity and get a lot of work done, we have to expect a toll at the end. Your mind literally needs to shut up shop for a few weeks and stare at pretty things. Anything else, and you'll burn out. It is the exact reason I no longer make the demand of myself that I write everyday, as I was finding that it left me dead to the world inside two months. I write as often as I am inspired during the week. No more, no less.
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Help! Bookworms. The other sort...

Last 'pop up submissions' of the summer