My 800 words on writing

Writing is one of those occupations that requires a lot of hard work for, sometimes, very little output.  We, as writers, strive to produce a certain number of words per day, or, sometimes, just a few words just to keep oiling the machine and keeping it in working order.

When this creative process stops we tend to call it writer’s block, or something else entirely.  For me it is a point where I have lost the way, and the next chapter, scene, or plot development is not clear.  Time for a shower, sleep, or a walk in the park.

Other times, the creative processes are firing on all 12 cylinders and ideas, thoughts, plot lines, and words are pouring out of you like water over a waterfall at thaw time, or in a flood.

Sorry, shouldn’t be using metaphors, bad writing.

At the moment I have finished my next novel, yes, it sounds really good, and in itself, it gives me a sense of achievement.  In another sense it fills me with dread because I have to start editing, and, more importantly, make sure the first part of the book blends with the new developments that only occurred to me later.

Sometimes I go back and add notes at the appropriate place where the story needs to be corrected, or I just sit there and fix it on the spot.

But, editing is a horrible job.  Making sure of continuity, making sure the characters names didn’t change, or they suddenly go from being short, overweight and red hair to thin, tall and blonde hair.  Making sure the English is correct, grammar correct, spelling correct, and fore’s not confused with four’s.

And not start my sentences with and or but.  Sorry, again, bad habits die hard.

I have read that it’s a good idea to let that first draft sit on the shelf for a few weeks and let the dust settle around it, ruminating on it sub-consciously.  Good idea.  It’s another excuse to put off the inevitable.

So, is it time to have a holiday, take time out from the business of writing, or catch up with all that social media stuff, tweeting, facebooking, tumblring, instagramming, or whatever it is.  Oh yes, that’s right, as an indie author I have to do my own ‘pitching’ to the reading public.

Time to plan a campaign to get my title out there, and generate some interest.

Time in fact to hit the internet and see how others have done it.

42,647,345 hits on Google.  Damn, I didn’t think there were that many writers.  I’m starting to feel very, very insignificant in the greater scheme of things.

OK, that goes in the too hard basket for the moment.  Moving on.

On those days when the creative juices were on overdrive, I fill notebooks with the ideas for stories, short and long.  When out, waiting around for doctors, and others, I have my mobile phone which has a notebook type app called SomNote which I write.  I find it is very easy to lose oneself in a story when there is so much inspiration around.

These notes are then sent via email to my computer and stored in an email directory, ready for me to look at, at a later date.

That later date has arrived.

I start looking through the ‘ideas’ list, a cavalcade of story titles,

Amnesia- the story of a man who wakes up in hospital with amnesia, and then is led to believe he is someone other than who he is.  The plot needs some work, well, a lot of work.

The Will – the story of a grandson trying to stop the greedy and selfish siblings from selling out the family heritage, I’m sure I saw a British movie about this not so long ago

Mistaken Identity – The story of a man who is an illegitimate son, and has a brother who is both an evil man and his exact doppelganger.  He was never told about it, and comes face to face with his doppelganger in extraordinary circumstances.

Strangers in the night – no not the song, but a story about two disparate people who have no time for anything but work and career, who have a chance encounter.

Breaking the rules – a story about a pair of cat burglars who run into each other, on separate heists in the same building.  This has potential.

More than three hours have passed, I’ve been reading the stories, notes, plotlines, and staring at the ceiling looking for inspiration.

That used to come from Chester, our deceased cat, who was sometimes my friend and confidant.  He’d wander into the office, climb up on the chair and sit, usually one with a printed copy of the latest manuscript.

Not any more.

Sigh!

My 800 words on writing

Writing is one of those occupations that requires a lot of hard work for, sometimes, very little output.  We, as writers, strive to produce a certain number of words per day, or, sometimes, just a few words just to keep oiling the machine and keeping it in working order.

When this creative process stops we tend to call it writer’s block, or something else entirely.  For me it is a point where I have lost the way, and the next chapter, scene, or plot development is not clear.  Time for a shower, sleep, or a walk in the park.

Other times, the creative processes are firing on all 12 cylinders and ideas, thoughts, plot lines, and words are pouring out of you like water over a waterfall at thaw time, or in a flood.

Sorry, shouldn’t be using metaphors, bad writing.

At the moment I have finished my next novel, yes, it sounds really good, and in itself, it gives me a sense of achievement.  In another sense it fills me with dread because I have to start editing, and, more importantly, make sure the first part of the book blends with the new developments that only occurred to me later.

Sometimes I go back and add notes at the appropriate place where the story needs to be corrected, or I just sit there and fix it on the spot.

But, editing is a horrible job.  Making sure of continuity, making sure the characters names didn’t change, or they suddenly go from being short, overweight and red hair to thin, tall and blonde hair.  Making sure the English is correct, grammar correct, spelling correct, and fore’s not confused with four’s.

And not start my sentences with and or but.  Sorry, again, bad habits die hard.

I have read that it’s a good idea to let that first draft sit on the shelf for a few weeks and let the dust settle around it, ruminating on it sub-consciously.  Good idea.  It’s another excuse to put off the inevitable.

So, is it time to have a holiday, take time out from the business of writing, or catch up with all that social media stuff, tweeting, facebooking, tumblring, instagramming, or whatever it is.  Oh yes, that’s right, as an indie author I have to do my own ‘pitching’ to the reading public.

Time to plan a campaign to get my title out there, and generate some interest.

Time in fact to hit the internet and see how others have done it.

42,647,345 hits on Google.  Damn, I didn’t think there were that many writers.  I’m starting to feel very, very insignificant in the greater scheme of things.

OK, that goes in the too hard basket for the moment.  Moving on.

On those days when the creative juices were on overdrive, I fill notebooks with the ideas for stories, short and long.  When out, waiting around for doctors, and others, I have my mobile phone which has a notebook type app called SomNote which I write.  I find it is very easy to lose oneself in a story when there is so much inspiration around.

These notes are then sent via email to my computer and stored in an email directory, ready for me to look at, at a later date.

That later date has arrived.

I start looking through the ‘ideas’ list, a cavalcade of story titles,

Amnesia- the story of a man who wakes up in hospital with amnesia, and then is led to believe he is someone other than who he is.  The plot needs some work, well, a lot of work.

The Will – the story of a grandson trying to stop the greedy and selfish siblings from selling out the family heritage, I’m sure I saw a British movie about this not so long ago

Mistaken Identity – The story of a man who is an illegitimate son, and has a brother who is both an evil man and his exact doppelganger.  He was never told about it, and comes face to face with his doppelganger in extraordinary circumstances.

Strangers in the night – no not the song, but a story about two disparate people who have no time for anything but work and career, who have a chance encounter.

Breaking the rules – a story about a pair of cat burglars who run into each other, on separate heists in the same building.  This has potential.

More than three hours have passed, I’ve been reading the stories, notes, plotlines, and staring at the ceiling looking for inspiration.

That used to come from Chester, our deceased cat, who was sometimes my friend and confidant.  He’d wander into the office, climb up on the chair and sit, usually one with a printed copy of the latest manuscript.

Not any more.

Sigh!

No more conversations with my cat – 100

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

Even now, I still believe he is here with us, in spirit, though sometimes I swear I hear him coming down the passage, or is sitting on the floor, behind me in the office, waiting to hear the next piece of writing and offer his often sage comments.

But, no. When I turn around he’s not there, and I stop, for a moment or two, and remember.

This was Chester.

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For a few days, we have been monitoring Chester.

He hasn’t been talkative, in fact, I have been mistaking his usual taciturn nature in the mornings for what it really was.

A total lack of interest in anything.

He did not come down in the morning. OK, so, sometimes he cracks a hissy fit and totally ignores me.

But, this is different.

After a few days he returns and gives me the benefit of his wisdom.

Today, he hasn’t shown at all, so I went looking for him.

He was in his usual hiding spot, lying down.   I give him a pat, he opes his eyes and looks at me.  This is a cat who is not well.

I pick him up, and there’s no immediate fight back. He doesn’t normally like to be carried anywhere. Today, he’s putty in my hands.

I call the vet. She can fit him in now if I run.  I’m running.

He goes into his carry basket without a fight.  OK, now I know something is definitely wrong.

There’s not a sound between home and the clinic. Usually, he screams the place down, trying to get him into the carrier, and then makes as much noise as possible when driving.

Today there is nothing, not even a whimper.

The vet comes out. She has been seeing him for the last ten years and they are well acquainted.

We see her every six months. Without fail, for shots and stuff.

I take him out of the carrier and he lies down on the metal bench.

She looks at him, then picks him up.

She weighs him.

He’s lost two kilos, and that’s a lot for a cat.

I can see it’s bad news.

It is.

He’s 19 years old, long past the average life expectancy.

To keep him alive now would be inhumane. He has, apparently, reached the end of his life, and has lost the desire to eat or to do anything. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

She says, it just happens.

It will be quick and it will be painless.

I can see in his eyes that it’s what he wants.

I said goodbye, went outside and sat in the car, and cried.

There’s going to be a lot more tears before this day is out.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 99

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20151219_163915

This is Chester.

Not everything is fine in la-la-land, as he now calls it.

Not happy that I didn’t tell him about the second week of child invasion.

He should consider himself lucky that the school week started on Tuesday, and only one was staying home to do schoolwork.

The other has been able to return to the classroom.

One less tormentor, I heard him mutter as he slinked past the room where the homeschooler was working.

But a more sinister problem had arisen.

He’s stopped eating his food.  I first thought this was part of a two-week standoff, where he cuts his nose off to spite his face.

This is not the first time we’ve been through this.

So, just to see if it is a fit of pique, I get him his absolute favorite food.  Fresh Atlantic Salmon cut into small pieces just the way he likes it.

Yes, the aroma reaches him in his hiding spot, along with the call-out that I’d bought him salmon, but when he goes to the bowl, he takes a sniff, or two, then wanders away.

He doesn’t even look at me.

Very, very unusual.

I will be keeping an eye on this.

 

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 98

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160903_163902

This is Chester.  He’s now over having the grandchildren staying with us.

As part of the COVIS 19 restrictions in place, the grandchildren cannot go to school.

However, because their parents are both working (which is very fortunate as so many others are not) they have asked us to look after them.

So, they arrive Sunday night, stay the whole week, and go back home on Friday.  It means they are homeschooling, so the internet is taking a beating, I have to feed them, morning tea, lunch. After school snack at three and then dinner.

Chicken nuggets, pies, and shoestring chips can only go so far, and, no, he does not like scraps from their plates.

And having to cater for four rather than two means a gentle shift in logistics.  More shopping for food, having to do the washing every day, tormenting the cat.

OK, that last part is where Chester comes in, or, rather, he stays hidden away.

Remember that phobia he has when the grandchildren are around?

Now they’re here semi-permanently, he’s in hiding, and coming out only for food and water.

And to let me know just how displeased he is.

He wants his domain back.

Pity I haven’t told him yet they’re going to be back next week.

 

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 97

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20161008_135142

This is Chester

Still hiding away.

Like any wise, old, skeptical cat, he’s not believing the good news.

We do not have a COVID 19 case in our house. Of course, we had to wait an agonizing 24 hours before we got the good news by phone.

It shows that our testing labs are getting through the tests, of which I heard in the news there were about 4,000, with only 10 or so new cases countrywide.

Queensland had none overnight, so if our case had been positive, we would have been in the news for al; the wrong reasons.

So, after broadcasting the news, that is, walking up and down the passage saying it was safe to come out, there’s still no sign of him.

But…

I have a cunning plan.

I bought a can of his absolute favorite food.

Come dinner time I’m putting it out.

 

Of course, food trumps fear every time.

He walks past me on his way to the tasty treats, the tail movements indicating he is not a happy cat.

The things I have to suffer at the hands of you humans, he mutters.

So, I say casually, we have guests for dinner.

He stops, turns his head in that dismissive manner of his.
What else can you do to me?

COVID 19, Grandchildren, I suppose you’re going to let me outside.

Do you want to go outside?

With COVID 19 lurking on every corner?

It’s under control.

Right. I’ve been watching TV. You do realize there’s good news and fake news, and there’s more of the latter than the former.

So, he’s going with the confuse the poor human with blather.

It’s working. I say, Go back into hiding. I was quite enjoying the silence.

After dinner, he says, ending the conversation with the angry tail swish. Yes, we are not amused.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 96

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160902_093753

This is Chester

Once again, it’s Sunday night, and he’s looking for a philosophical discussion.   COVID 19 is off the topic list.

He’s suitably disappointed that the Trump Show is over, as far as we are aware, though he’s not surprised.

But he is worried that two cats have tested positive.

I try to tell him that it is in New York, about 18,000 miles away, where there are over 200,000 cases. We have just over 1,000 and they are all isolated so we cannot be harmed.

I guess it’s hard to convince a cat when his mind is made up.

We’ve also taken the grandchildren off the list of topics too,

They arrive a few hours ago, and studiously ignored him when they arrived. I tried to point out that he was in hiding when they arrived, but again, the stubbornness of opinion is amazing, or normal.

I should be used to this sort of contrariness.

So, what is on the discussion list?

Outlander, Season 5 Episode 10. Well, I say, we haven’t seen it yet, so don’t tell me what the plots is.

He looks at me as if I’m mad. I only get to see it when you do, he says. How should I know what the plot is?  In fact, what is the plot?

Time travel, I say.

Pity we can’t do some of that, he says.

Why I asked, and really, I should know better.

Because I could go back to the day you came to the pet shop and hide. I have given you 18 years to improve, and you’re still the same as you were then.

Discussion over.

Not his favorite food for dinner tonight.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 95

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160909_062838-2

This is Chester.

He realizes we are now part of a different world driven by the events surrounding the COVID 19 virus.

The grandchildren are here while their parents are working, and they are going to school remotely, that is one is in the kitchen and one is in the dining room, remotely linked to their school, teachers, and classmates.

Chester finds this interesting because they are not trying to find him, so, he’s come out to see what they’re doing.

First, he jumps up on the dining table and sits next to the 13-year-old. She is hard at work. I hear him ask if there is anything he can help with given his vast knowledge of everything.

There’s a universal greeting from 30 others, and he tries to find where all the other people are. No, it’s not hide and seek, they’re all online she tries to tell him.

No, doesn’t get it. They must be in the room somewhere. And he’s suddenly miffed that he can’t find them, and then that his assistance is not required.

All too much to cope with, he comes out to join the 10-year-old sitting at the kitchen table. She had headphones on and doesn’t hear him.

This time he sits on the floor and looks up thinking, if they can’t see him, he’s not there. She ignores him. I don’t think mathematics is his strong point.

So, he wanders into the office, planning to annoy me.

I find some headphones and put them on. He gets the message, no interruptions today, everyone is hard at work.

A sigh, then he goes to his corner and lies down on his bed, yawns and closes his eyes.

I know he’s not asleep. He’s waiting for something to happen, ready to spring into action.

Unless, of course, it’s a mouse.

Past conversations with my cat – 94

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This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 93

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160917_075223

This is Chester.  We’re getting by during the ‘stay at home’ order.

I’m doing just that, though it sometimes feels like I’m in jail, on the inside looking out.

“Now you know how I feel”, Chester tells me, after jumping up on the window ledge to look out the window, trying to see what had caught my interest.

I don’t tell him I’m basically staring into space.

Except, a car passes, not fast, not slow, but much like the rest of the traffic that passes by.  Or used to.  With the order to stay at home, and the fact schools are not open, there have been fewer and fewer cars passing by.

“Didn’t that car…” Chester mutters.

He’s right.  The same car just went back the other way.  Slow, but not too slow.

“Perhaps’s he’s looking for a house, a particular address.”

We watch and wait.

Five minutes later the car has returned and stops outside my window.  A man gets out the passenger side, says something to the driver, then closes the door.  He starts walking back up the street from where the car had just come.

The car drives off, then a minute later is back, and parks on the other side of the road.  We can see the driver.  Not the sort of person you’d want to need on a dark night.  Tattoos on his arm, and smoking a cigarette, negligently stopping ask on the road below his window.

“He’s watching,” Chester says.

“He’s a lookout?”

We’re both thinking the same.  A crime is being committed.  They’ve scoped the street for an unattended house, a rarity for obvious reasons, though these days robbers rob the house while you’re still in it.

We wait.  Three minutes later the other man comes running very quickly to the car, jumps in and they drive off very quickly before the man had closed the door.

Seconds later another man appears with a baseball bat in his hand.

“Close call,” Chester says, interest now waning.  He jumps down.  “Pity they didn’t catch the robber.”

Perhaps.  But one thing is for sure, those robbers will not be back.

Diversion over, back to boredom.  Chester has gone back to one of his hiding spots.  I’m going to do another crossword.

Six months is going to be a long, long, long, long time.