Wednesday, 26 November 2014
It's a preoccupation with melancholy writers to want to be recognised for work in this lifetime. But failing that, the second best thing (although fairly useless when you think about it) is to want to be posthumously recognised, like Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe.
Of course, it's a complete waste of time to be famous after you're dead and the sad fact is that most of us will not be recognised either in this lifetime or afterwards (obviously I speak for myself). This is why it's so important for writers to enjoy the writing - or there just isn't any point. Neil Gaiman says 'make good art whatever happens' - and presumably this also means whether anyone notices you or not.
This is why a digital legacy is so interesting. What happens to anything you have created after you die? Obviously there is the Google Inactive Account manager for those who want to let others access their material after they have crossed the glowing human rainbow bridge (not sure why the rainbow bridge is glowing - just trying to keep things light).
There are digital legacy firms who will protect your writings, passwords and digital art. But I don't think anyone has written about the Amazon pre-order system - which has the potential of being a peculiar form of life after death.
Because I've come to realise that should I kick the tin bucket (still trying to keep things light) before December 15th, my first novel will still be published. That's because it has all been uploaded to the Kindle Direct Publishing site and everything is ready to roll whether I do anything or not. It will happen automatically from here on.
In theory it is possible to add a book 90 days in advance. So if you had a particularly scandalous (or libelous) autobiography (or wanted revenge) you could upload a manuscript if you knew you were about to pop your glow-in the dark clogs (light?) in advance.
I have no plans to give up the happy ghost just yet and all being well, we will all survive the winter and not have to worry about bridges, buckets, ghosts or clogs. After all it is for such losses that many people (understandably) grow to hate Christmas. All I'm saying is that with the changes in the publishing industry and the rise of the ebook there is now a new way of leaving a digital legacy.
Think happy thoughts.
Friday, 14 November 2014
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
I’ve finished NaNoWriMo with 20 days to spare. I wrote 50,005 words averaging at around 5,000 words a day (according to the addictive stats on the site). NaNoWriMo is so huge now and whenever I look to see how many people are on the forums there are always over 100,000 writers. Maybe there are too many of us.
I was lucky in that I’ve had some spare time to write (because I am working part-time hours at the moment). My wife is also doing the challenge and she has somehow reached over 15,000 words. But it is much harder for her because she has been working full-time hours with overtime commitments. And she is writing by hand.
When I completed the challenge I updated my word count on the main NaNoWriMo site expecting some huge congratulations or some amazing graphic to flash up. Instead it just said ‘You made it’ in an obscure part of the webpage. It was a little like completing a really hard computer game and looking forward to a fantastic end-sequence only to get the words ‘You win. Game over’.
But there it is. I now have a rough draft for a new novel. If I go back to it I will need to do a lot of work on editing, but at least I have some more spare material now.
Now I shall be focusing my spare time on the final edit of my novel Destiny and Dynasty. This is about the same length as the NaNoWriMo novel (but it took a tad longer to write). It will still be published (first as an ebook) on the 15th December on Amazon.
Friday, 7 November 2014
I am one week into the NaNoWriMo challenge. After the success of the first day (in which I eventually wrote 13,000 words (an all time record for me)) my writing has been sporadic. On Wednesday I only managed 333 words. But all in all I have written just over 28,000 words.
It is mostly rubbish, I admit that. But it is in the form of a story and there is a kind of plot to it.
I often complain that everything conspires to keep me away from writing. For various reasons (relating to sanity) I have to resist the idea of any genuine conspiracy. But at the moment it is as if the Universe is playing with me.
For example, I've been at work all week but not had the chance to write there at all, even on breaks (I write on my mobile when I'm out and about). When I finally got a likely looking break I decided to go to a secluded bench on the uni campus.
I love the fact that it is a quiet area and I can watch squirrels while I have lunch there. This was the first time I had tried to do NaNoWriMo stuff at work and it was also the first time that the uni grounds-staff suddenly decided to drive a vehicle onto the grass in front of me, get out and sweep together the fallen leaves.
It was impossible to write - the grounds staff were all around me and it was clear that I was in their way. So I gave up and tried to find another secluded bench, except all of the other benches had activity around them too.
And I can't count the number of times this week I've been on the train, decided to start writing only to have a ticket inspector (who is no-where to be seen when a train is rowdy) suddenly ask for my ticket and interrupt the writing.
It is in these ways that I feel the Universe tests me. What seems to be a strange coincidence still seems to take place more often than not. These little ironies which life throws vary in their intensity and I've seen others deal with them (and I've even seen others get overwhelmed by them).
But I have managed to write a little despite the Universe's strange agenda.
So I reach the end of day 7 with a story which is mostly rubbish but is still a first draft. I am still in the challenge and as long as I can tolerate a fickle, biased Universe I still stand a good chance of reaching the end successfully.
But part of me can't help feeling that the Universe is planning some further tests...
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Day 1 of NaNoWriMo has gone scarily well. I have written more today than I have ever written in my life. To be on target I'm supposed to write 1667 words a day. Today I wrote just over 10,000 words.
I'm thinking of it like a swimming marathon in which I push myself off from the side. When you are swimming it is that first push which can be the most useful thing and give you some distance.
10,000 words! Why don't I feel elated? I feel kind of drained and a little fearful. It is going too well - it can't be this easy going all the way to 50,000 words, can it? Or am I making it harder than it needs to be? It all depends on how much the rest of life gets in the way of the writing.
The way I experience life is through my writing, through the organisation of often chaotic events into some kind of narrative. This is what people do - they put lives into story terms - even when those lives are chaotic.
I have genuinely never written so much before in a day. I once wrote so much with a pen and paper that I got blisters on my fingers, but 10,000 words is crazy.
I don't want fellow writers to feel too envious though, today's success brings with it a weird fear that something is about to go horribly wrong. It is too easy - it is flowing too well and I am too pessimistic. Perhaps I sabotage my own success, but I can almost hear life about to throw in some complication. It has been my experience and I have come to trust that experience.
The good news is that whatever life throws at me in the coming month, at least I have a bit of luxury when it comes to NaNoWriMo.
I think the tortoise and the hare analogy is about right here. I race ahead, take it easier and then I forget persistence - the very thing which has helped up until here. I have always considered myself the tortoise anyway - I have up until now been a slow writer with fiction but I'm using a couple of techniques to get around that with NaNoWriMo. And so far they are working. The tortoise is born the tortoise the hare is born the hare.