WRITING, TALKING, PERFORMING – But Not Necessarily In That Order

I’m always interested in a challenge. It’s just the way I am. And if that involves writing I’m definitely up for it. Bring it on, as they say.

The flipside of that approach to life, you could call it the downside, is that I tend to flip flop between projects, doing them full on for a few weeks then hippity hopping to another project to get that moving. I’ve mentioned this ‘butterfly’ obsession of mine before so I will go no further down this path.

However, I may just be about to set another challenge for myself….but this one may, from the outset, be a step too far. We’ll see.

Over the past five or six years or so I’ve done several talks/presentations you could call them, about a rather well known entertainer and his wife. They were both famous, and infamous, from the 1930s into the 1960s. I’ll not go into details. Their relationship was stormy, yet mostly kept from the general public, the wife being the dominant partner….and it’s this ‘strong willed woman’ aspect that always goes down well with audiences.

The talk is very popular and once given I’m always asked back, and to be honest it’s something I’m able to do, and enjoy doing.

However, in the last year or so I’ve become interested in two other female personalities, both again strong individuals whose lives would make for very interesting and entertaining presentations. I’ve researched both women’s lives but have not as yet turned them into talks/presentations…..

Now, here we get to the point….the more I think about these last two characters the more I think they would make terrific stage short plays. A two hander I think….the main female character and a man to play the other parts…..something minimalistic, stylised….I know it would work.

I’ve seen a couple of one man plays recently, touring productions, having similar formats to the kind of thing I have in mind. Two acts of approximately 45 minutes per act separated by an interval. I can already visualise how both of these plays might look….and it’s this visualisation that is urging me to begin writing.

As I said earlier, I have enough on my plate at the moment, and I know taking on a writing project like this would involve a lot of work and sleepless nights, but it’s this kind of challenge that I think most writers would welcome. But whether to pursue it or not?

It’s a tricky one. Maybe I’ll sleep on it. Or maybe I’ll not tell anyone I’m doing it and just get on with it, then if it doesn’t work out no one will be the wiser…..well, you will know, but hey ho.

Does anyone else suffer this kind of dilemma?  Do you ever ask yourself……“I’m already writing something rather important – why should I begin writing something else at the same time?”

So, do you leave the new idea alone until you’ve completed the first project? Or does the enthusiasm for the new project insist that you make a start on the new one?

‘To write or not to write….that is the question…?”

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I’m Not Going To Write Today – But I’m Going To Do A Lot Of Thinking – And Wire Twisting.

‘Where do ideas come from?’ I wish I had a pound (dollar, euro) for every time I’ve read or heard that question. Where would I be now?

Well, not here, obviously. I would be sipping something cool and refreshing under a palm tree on a desert island of my own surrounded by sun-kissed dusky maidens…..no, we’ll not go there for now, there may be children present.

However, as it’s Monday morning I thought I would re-visit the question, briefly.

I had a sort of ‘day off’ yesterday. Only two phonecalls and no one knocking on the door. Great. A day to do some serious writing. But to be honest I just fancied ‘messing about’.

I rather like messing about. It’s what I do extraordinarily well. People who know me comment on the fact that if medals were handed out for extreme feats of messing about I would have a string of gold ones hanging around my neck. Medals, that is.

So, yesterday was a messing about day. And what did I do instead of writing?

I messed about with some small sculptures….I use the term sculptures in its loosest sense…..they are nothing more than weirdly shaped bird forms. I make them in idle moments from wire, masking tape, papier mache and lots of PVA glue. It’s therapeutic. I wire up – I switch off.

Now before you switch me off, bear with me, there is a point to this…somewhere. Ah yes, here it is. As I was wire twisting and gluing….well, an absolute torrent of ideas flooded through my head. Ideas about writing.

New plotlines, solutions to dead ends in all my unfinished stories, ideas for short one act plays, presentations, interesting characters I should develop, the list could go on for another half dozen paragraphs but I’ll spare you. I realise Monday may be a busy day for you. Other fish to fry etcetera.

It was a waterfall of wonderful ideas. Niagara times a hundred. Amazing. Honestly, I couldn’t stop ‘thinking’…..that sounds extremely silly even as I type this, but it’s true.

So I kept on wire-fiddling and as my fingers twisted the wire this way and that into rather interesting shapes, so whatever electrical connections there are in my brain began to wire themselves together too. There must be some neuro-mumbo-jumbo term to describe it but it’s not in my dictionary.

It was an illuminating afternoon to say the least. You’ll be glad to hear I scribbled all the ideas down too, between breaks to allow the glue to dry….

So where do ideas come from? Wiring up. I may do it again today.

WORDPRESS BLOGGING CRISIS – That’s It, I’m Going On A Stats Diet…!

Right. Something has to change. I’ve had enough. It can’t go on any longer. Drastic action is called for. Right now. This minute. This instant.

I’m going on a Stats Diet.

From this moment on this blogger is going to be a Stats Free Zone.

Yep. I’m cutting down looking at the horrible little things.  That’s it. I’m definitely going to do it this time.  They’re taking over my life, and I don’t like it one bit.

I know I’ve said it before but this time there will be no turning back. No Stats Snacking. No Stats with my meals. Not even a Stats Substitute patch. Nothing. Nada. I’m going one hundred percent Stats Cold Turkey. Definitely.

Why?

Well, it’s getting ridiculous. The first thing I do in the morning is have a Stats check. And what’s the last thing I do at night? Yep. You guessed it – I check my Stats. I’ve even started checking my Stats in bed. No! Stats Checking in bed..! That’s definitely asking for trouble.

But can I really do it? Of course I can. Am I a man or a mouse? Don’t answer that. I already know what you’re thinking. You think I won’t be able to pull it off.

But to prove I’m a real man I’m going to do it just when the Stats have become important in my life. I’ve reached a time where a ‘significant number’ looms large….yes, you’ve guessed it – almost 200 followers. I think I’m about three short at the moment but I don’t want to look…..I daren’t…..I need to take control of my life again.

Or maybe one last look is okay? Just a peek? That would be all I would need to satisfy the craving. Just one little Stats check . Then I promise I won’t bother with them ever again.

Ever.

Honest.

SELF PUBLISHING ON KINDLE – What If I Never Sell One Copy Of My Book?

What? Self publish your eBook on Kindle and never have any sales? Is that possible? Sure it is.

I would reckon most writers uploading their self published book onto the Kindle would expect a sale or two fairly quickly. I mean to say, isn’t that what friends and relations are for? To support you in your hour of need? Well, no, actually.

I’ve witnessed it several times in the past year. Writers with high expectations that their eBook would rocket them to stardom with sales rattling up by the minute. I suppose it does happen.

What tends to happen is that after the first flush of excitement of having the book for sale worldwide comes the dull, sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach and the realisation that it appears nobody cares a jot about your written work.

So, what do you do? Give up? Think about packing in writing? Get another hobby? Stamp collecting? Flower arranging? Nope. You hang in there.

Which brings me to Richard…..I converted and uploaded his book for him almost eighteen months ago. It’s a quirky piece. Not what you’d call a best seller. But a work with merit in its own odd, off the wall sort of way. It’s been out in paperback for many years now and he keeps coming back to me, usually once a year, to have more books produced…never more than 50 at a time, and he sells them all. It’s a slow process but he’s doing okay.

But his eBook has never sold a copy. He doesn’t promote it at all. He has no interest in the internet. He doesn’t trust it. Result – the eBook has zero exposure. It just sits there on the virtual Amazon shelf gathering cyber-dust. End of story? Nope.

Richard has just this week sold his FIRST COPY.

So what? And I don’t blame you for thinking that. One sale? Who cares? Well, actually Richard does. He never really believed in the Kindle. He was doubtful from the start. But here is the proof that it works. Even without promotion. Someone found it, fancied it, and bought it. Yep, real money. Not borrowed or downloaded for free. Bought the blooming thing.

So the question is, will this sale make a difference to the way he views his Kindle eBook? I hope so. I sincerely hope now he’s seen there is the possibility of making sales ‘online’ that he will embrace the technology and promote his book.

It is ‘his baby’ so to speak….it deserves some attention.

THE JOY OF WRITING – The Reader Always Gets The Accent Right In Their Head

I had the pleasure (?) last night of spending an hour or two on the sofa doing nothing more mind-taxing than watching a TV film. It had been one of those days. I just needed to switch off and have a bit of a laugh. No harm in that.

So what was on offer? What kept me glued to the faux leather for almost two and a half hours laughing my socks off? Marx Brothers? Woody Allen? Ben Stiller? Nope. Russell Crowe. Eh?

Yes, it was Decimus Maximus Virillius himself, this time masquerading as Robin Hood. Robin Hood? Russell Crowe? You must be joking? No, really.

Now when this Ridley Scott epic came out two or three years ago, I forget which, and I heard rumours that Russell was going to play the part with an authentic northern accent I cringed. I think at the time I may have said in my own rather thick (?) West Yorkshire accent “Gerraway, Tha’s joking. Wot, ‘im? Russill? Reckonin’ ter play Robin ‘Ood? Nivver.”

I just couldn’t take it in. Surely He’d never be able to pull it off. He’d sound daft.

Then when I read in the press that Russell had stormed out of a BBC interview back in 2010 because the interviewer had dared to suggest that Russell’s accent in Robin Hood sounded more Irish than North of England, I was convinced this was not the film for me.

Since then I have learned that Russell, bless him, had spent hours, hundreds of them, undergoing intensive voice training to allow him to mimic an authentic East Midlands accent. East Midlands? Everybody from where I come from….near Wakefield in West Yorkshire…..knows Robin of the Hood was from Yorkshire…not ‘down south’ in the Midlands, so to speak.

NOTE: If you’re reading this outside the UK you will have no idea what I’m going on about…but trust me….wherever you live it’s like someone making a film about your neck of the woods and having it spoken in the language of the neighbouring country…..work it out for yourself.

Anyway…I need to move on. Suffice to say I laughed all the way through the film at the terrible accent….it did indeed sound Irish, then Scottish, then a touch of New South Wales and I think I caught a whiff of Welsh in there too. Ah well, you’re probably thinking to yourself “It’s the movies, Steve. What do you expect?”

Actually, I expect them to get it right with all the money they spend.

So, how much easier do we have it as writers? Pretty cushy I would suggest. A real soft number.

If we write something like…  Harold kissed Fiona gently on the lips.  She quivered. “Darling, I will always love you” he purred. She loved the sound of his lilting Irish accent. She quivered again….

Then ‘Bingo’ we’ve done our job. The reader knows Harold has a lovely Irish twang (so to speak) and we’re home and dry for the rest of the book…….how easy is that?

I rest my case.

RADIO FOR WRITERS – Amazing What You Think About In The Car….?

I was out driving last night.  Not that far really, only eighty miles or so as the crow flies, a trip to the corner shop for those of you living in the States or Down Under, and I was thinking. I do that from time to time. Think in the car. I find the monotony of the motorway encourages it.

I was thinking about how awful the radio was, and how little there was on offer. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the radio….I had it on. It was supposed to be half an hour of ‘cutting edge comedy’ but it was about as funny as a wet sock drying on a radiator.

So I switched it off, and as I say, I mused.

I tried to think of what I would like to listen to if I switched it back on again. What would I really want to hear that was ‘different’ yet entertaining, inspiring, good fun, enjoyable, witty, bright….all those things. And do you know what I came up with? Well, obviously not, because you weren’t there in the car with me……

I wanted a radio station with likeable presenters, who played ‘written stuff’ not ‘music stuff’….

For example, I wanted to hear a presenter who was not a half-wit introducing an hour long programme of short stories written for radio….stories that ran for three to four minutes, with maybe an interview with the writer thrown in for good measure. Basically, a music programme where the music is replaced by audio short stories.

I wanted that programme to be followed by a much longer production….maybe a half hour drama, sci-fi, something you could enjoy as the plotline and characters developed.

I wanted really well produced and acted radio dramas, an hour long, ninety minutes…or a full length John le Carre novel…..take as long as you want.

I wanted an ‘arts’ type programme that featured new writers, reading snippets from their books, a phone in programme where writers could ask questions of publishers, literary agents, managers…..that kind of thing.

I wouldn’t want it on 24 hours…..I would like it on-demand please, when I want to listen to it. And choice. Half an hour of scary monster sci-fi or 30 minutes of gritty northern kitchen sink drama……great.

But, it couldn’t happen. Nope. Never. It’s not possible. Financial considerations would rule it out. No one would listen.

Oh really?

It could be done…..online….it would be terrific.  Maybe in some ‘new’ way….some new technology. I’ll leave that to the techies to figure out. Surely it’s already possible?

Anyway, before I could develop the idea further, I arrived at my destination. I walked in. The radio was on. It was some half-wit yabbering on about the new hip indie band ‘Ice Cream Wallpaper’ and their latest free download and everything went sort of blurry…..

WRITING A BEST SELLING eBOOK – Could A Happy Band Of Bloggers Create A Million Dollar eBook?

Now that’s a question and a half…. “Would it be possible for a group of bloggers on WordPress to band together to produce a massively popular and best selling million dollar eBook?”

Think about that for a moment before you answer.

I have a hunch that most ‘serious’ writers would snap back with “Nope. It wouldn’t work. Group efforts never sell. I wouldn’t want to join a group. I’m an individual”  I think it was Groucho Marks who said something along the lines of “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member”.

And I can understand that. I can see their point. The idea does sound far-fetched, and as a ‘serious’ writer they probably wouldn’t want to dilute their own work with that of others they thought weren’t ‘up to their own standards’.

Then there are the technical details like…”Who gets the royalties?

Okay, you could have one ‘publisher/administrator’ who would handle all royalty payments and distribute them as and when they arrived. But wouldn’t that be a bore if only 100 or so copies sold…? I must admit posting cheques for a dollar or 50p to a hundred co-writers might not be the best use of your time.

But you could all agree to send any money to a charity of your choice? But which one? Show me even 20 writers who could agree on one chosen charity? Doubtful.

Then there would be questions about content…. “What would the eBook be about? Not another collection of short stories that no one wants to read? Not one of those ‘How To Become A Great Writer in Three Weeks’ eBooks? Surely not?

Okay….there are plenty of negatives. But….and it’s a big but I have to admit…..get a number of passionate writers together, all willing to write something decent for the book, and then willing to promote it once it’s online, then you’re talking about something really exciting.

In fact, I’ll make a prediction right now and if I’m still here in a couple of years time you can slap me in the face with it….here we go…..out of nowhere a group of WordPress bloggers will unite to publish an eBook that will take the online publishing world by storm. It will happen.

It will be a sensation. Everyone who has ever written anything more exciting than their name on the tag at the back of their favourite sweater will know about it. It will be publicised in all the media….the writers, all fifty of them, or whatever the number, will become overnight celebs.

I know you’re shaking your head right now, but wait and see. Mark it in your diary this minute, please…two years from now…..look up this blog post and reply “Good grief Steve, you were right.

But who will be the lucky members of this group? You’ll all have to decide that for yourselves.