A Quiet 30: The First Four Days.

Day 1.

So, day one. I woke and as usual I rolled right to my phone to see what was going on in the world at large. Nothing. No Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Instagram, having all been deleted from my phone. There are of course other websites to use with the internet, but none spring to mind. I honestly feel a little bewildered, as if there is something I should be doing that I’m not. Already as I write this I find myself about to open a new browser tab to check out my accounts, completely autonomously. Luckily google has a helpful browser extension to help with that.

StayFocused is going to prove useful in the next thirty days, the program allows you to select a list of forbidden sites and then provides you with a time limit across all sites. You could allow yourself 10 minutes (default) across all blocked sites. That is 10 minutes for all sites, not each individual site. I dialed that down as low as it will go, 1 minute. Not good enough.

There is a nuclear option provided. Literally a little nuke button that encourages you to “Nuke ’em” (read: Nuke ’em Rico!) This option lets you set a number of hours, up to 24 which I selected, and it blocks all sites on your blocked list for that set amount of time. That is what I am looking for. I can’t undo it once it is done. Every morning I will hit the little nuke button, but with far fewer real world consequences.

It might not help that I currently have a lot of time on my hands. The key here is to focus on the work, the stories and the blogs I have let fall by the wayside.

Music helps. Music and tea…and mead. Shout out to Charlies 3000 Year Old Whiskey Emporium and Saturday Night Fire for an entertaining evening in good company.

Day 2.

A hangover and good weather keep me off the computer and away from social media today, although I did once again roll over to check my phone. A day out with the nephews in the sun, always a mini adventure. I even ran today, I fell over, but I ran. Well at least a little.

The evening finds me itching to check my accounts, more so than yesterday and I can’t seem to settle to focus on writing. Perhaps a book will help. Penguins little black classics, I have upward of fifty of these short little books that cover a range of authors and genres. Bought to get me reading outside of my habits. Seems the perfect opportunity to begin making my way through them.

#52: Plato, Socrates’ Defense. Should be an interesting read.

It is certainly quieter, and that may be the best way to describe it. It is an odd sensation, one of almost forgetting to do something important, as if I were no longer bound by a responsibility. The absence of social media should not leave me feeling like that. Today I think it has really hit me how much I need to step away and reevaluate how I interact with this thing.

Word count increased though, not much though.

Day 3.

I reached for my phone again when I woke up. I’m hoping to break that habit.

So far today I have down 1992 words and I feel far from done. I finally have a full draft of A Door For A Home: Part 6, after months of writing and rewriting, scrapping and starting again. It may be closer to a second draft as roughly 1500 words of that are edited.

I have a first draft of A Door For A Home: Part 7 sitting at 586 words. Low granted but it is from the villains point of view and I do keep those short, and I have begun on part 8. Clearly something is going right for me today.

I think it is too early to say if the lack of social media is a reason for this. One good writing day doesn’t mean I will stop with the “detox.”

I finished a full first draft of A Door For A Home: Part 6, 7 and 8, all of which need editing and rewriting, but as of 6:22 A.M. it’s done as a first draft. It is a fantastic feeling. A lot of work is still ahead of me on this one, I need to make sure each part feels consistent with the last and that each part has the distinct voice of the character it follows. I will leave that for a day or two to let the story sit. Total words for the day 4445. It looks good but I wonder if the other days can live up to that.

Day 4. 

I didn’t reach for my phone this morning, but only because I forced myself not to. Baby steps.

After yesterdays spree of writing I was eager to go back and begin the editing process. This short story (which is more accurately a novelette at 12.5k words) has taken me over a year to get a complete first draft down. That is in part to the serialised nature of how I have been releasing it on the website, each part was previously written and edited individually, but yesterday I just got it all down. It is still too fresh in my mind to edit, I find to edit effectively you need to let the work sit for a while. You can come back to it with new eyes.

In the in between time I have got down a first draft of another short story, an actual short story this time with a plan to cap it around 5k words if it gets that far. I find myself considering a collection of short stories for children based on odd creatures and fairy folk. Something to look into. It would be a fairly simple matter to preface some of the larger stories I already have that fit the bill, and write up a few shorts.

I feel like my concentration span is getting better, it’s easier to focus and I have more energy. My hand no longer drifts to open a tab to Facebook or Reddit. Now again, this could just be some kind of placebo effect, or it could be an actual difference caused by the removal of social media and the procrastination I’ve found it to cause.

I have run into a few snags, wanting to look something up, Reddit had a wealth of information on its various writing subs. Its writing prompts sub would come in very handy for me right now to pass a few hours. I wanted to run the first draft of A Door For A Home part 6, 7 and 8 past someone but I only have them as a Facebook contact. Tricky and a little inconvenient, but not the end of the world. Again, I’m not looking to remove social media from my life for good, just change how I interact with it. It takes about 21 days to form a habit.

Also discovered an EP by a fella named Brian Wayne Foster called Odessa. It’s only 4 tracks but I recommend it.

Currently sitting at 2320 words for the day, probably more now that I’ve edited this post but I can’t be bothered to weed out the little numbers.

I had planned to do these by the week, but as it is the post is already past a thousand words. I don’t expect the other days to have entries quite so long as these but I will play it by ear. Four down, twenty six to go.

It occurs to me as I am about to publish it that there is a chance no one will read it until I finish the 30 days. That is one aspect where a lack of social media has really hurt me, the ability to promote my stories and articles. A small sacrifice though to break a bad habit.

 

Blog: I’m Bad At Beginnings.

I am really bad at choosing titles for my projects.

It never starts with a title, never. It nearly always begins with some small detail, a picture or image, some sound or smell or perhaps a line of conversation. The story grows from there. In my notes and my head it gets a place holder name. A door for a home, one of the serialised stories I am currently writing was always and still is in my head Fyonn and Squigg, Mr Rowes’ Demon was Ethan and Spencer.

A lot of the time it is the thing that I struggle with the most. A good title is key in piquing the curiosity of your reader. Titles can then become iconic. The Lord of the Rings, I, Robot, 1984. It is hard to move past that place holder name, I become attached to it over the course of the writing. Even this blog post, the title currently reads “I suck at titles BLOG POST.”

First lines are an issue for me too. A good first line lets the reader know what they are in for, it sets a tone. Ray Bradbury’s “It was a pleasure to burn” from Fahrenheit 451 is a fantastic opening line. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Not just a great opening line but by accounts where Tolkien began writing all of Middle Earth, very fitting. A great opening line hooks the reader in, and they, along with titles are what I probably spend the most time agonising over. The project will be done but I will be staring at the top of the page, the title and first line. Sometimes a change in first line is for the better but it means rearranging somethings else. It is worth it in the end though.

 

Blog: Social Media Detox.

Procrastination is a bitch.

It doesn’t help that we live in an age where everything is immediate. Phones used to be a point of contact, a fixed location, and now they are synonymous with a person. You can reach anyone at almost anytime, almost anywhere.

Social media has crept into my life so gradually that I almost didn’t notice. Every morning I wake up and I scroll through my phone, checking all my different social media accounts. I can waste hours doing that, hitting the refresh button over and over to watch for new posts or notification pop ups. I sit at the computer and immediately open four tabs; Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and my blog, in that order. It makes me question how much time I spend on these sites, how much time I can waste in a day looking at social media.

That is not to say I think social media is a bad thing, far from it. It is an amazing tool that we are lucky to have the benefit of, many countries severely restrict this. The internet is a wonder of the modern age, we have all this information at our fingertips, a way of connecting and communicating instantly with the world, and we waste it on refreshing our Facebook pages. Social media is a useful tool, it helps me share and promote my writing in a way that just wasn’t possible previously, but it can also be addicting.

Just about anything can be addicting, addiction is about habits as much as it is about substances. When you think of addiction your mind goes to drugs and alcohol but people can also be addicted to gambling or playing games or shopping. Addiction is rooted in what makes you feel good and it has to be admitted that social media can make us feel good.

We take a picture and share it. We watch how many likes it gets, or shares, and the more it gets, the better we feel. We feel appreciated when those little notifications pop up and your post has confirmed views, someone is paying attention to us. How many of us write a status, then rewrite and reword it to best show how witty we can be, I know I have, maybe it is just one of my conceits. There is something narcissistic in the behaviour, it’s an instant gratification, one I have found to be counter productive.

I’m looking to boost my writing output, to make good headway on projects that I have been putting further back for lack of time. So I am going to try to avoid social media for thirty days, beginning on the 6th of May until June 4th. No Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Instagram. I will continue to upload any short stories or blogs to the site as they are finished, but I will not be sharing them through my accounts. I will remove the tabs from my browser, the apps from my phone.

I will likely keep a log of how I’m doing, if I feel it has impacted my productivity or creativity in any way. That will be posted at the end of the thirty days (If I get that far)

Lets see how this goes.

Blog: Only If It Has A Happy Ending.

I won’t say I hate happy endings. I won’t say I despise them. I won’t.

In truth they have their place, if they are used correctly, which I find is rare. Those are my tastes however. For me a lot of happy endings feel like a cop-out. You can say that is down to me being a person of dour disposition, but I find fairy tale endings do a disservice to the conflicts the characters go through. They often are not marked or barely changed by the events of the story which often leads to an ending of wish fulfilment. That I find often feels forced, and it detracts from the story overall.

Now you can argue that is the point of fiction and stories, but what is the point of conflict if there is no threat of loss. I’m not saying you have to be G.R.R Martin with regards to your characters lives, but yes, kill your darlings. If you make it to the end of the story and everyone is fine, what is the point? That is why there is conflict. Conflict moves the story forward and promotes character growth. You do not need a happy ending with everything tied up to have that. So long as the conflict is resolved then the story can end how you please. I personally think it makes for a better story if the characters are left wanting in some cases, but then I am often unkind to my characters. That is just my style.

Children’s stories more often than not have happy endings. We do after all have to consider their precious little feelings. This is grumpy old man Colin seeping in here. Would it be so bad to introduce the idea that the world is not fair to children. They might surprise you with what they can handle. That we don’t always get what we want and that life sometimes takes chunks from us as people. Maybe not. It could be something I can play around with at a later date.

What do you think about happy endings? Let me know in the comments below.

Blog: And And.

Get yourself a second set of eyes. Seriously they are invaluable.

I don’t have a readers circle that I share my work with before posting it on the site. All of the editing and proof reading is done by myself and that is a dangerous pitfall. I can sit in front of the monitor for hours a day working on my latest project or blog post, I will get everything in order and then let it sit for a day or two. I come back with fresh eyes, but they are still my eyes.

The problem is that I know what my work should say. When you are proof reading it for what feels like the hundredth time and your eyes feel like they just want to fall out of your head, you will miss things. You know what it is supposed to say, so your brain is happy to skip across a misspelled word, or a grammatical mistake. More than once I have hit the upload button only to have someone point out my mistakes once it is out there for the world to see. It feels bad, and I know I should do better.

The Terrible Goblin Brothers is a short narrative poem I have here on the site. It is something inspired by my nephews, and as a gift I had it printed out on fancy wood and framed for my sister and mother. I gave it to my sister as a Christmas gift. She liked it, thought it captured the boys really well. Then my six year old nephew read it. He went word by word as children do reading the first verse in a monotone drone. He stops and points at it.

“Uncle Colin that doesn’t make sense,” he says to me. Thinking he is having trouble with a word I look at the framed poem. “You can’t have ‘and and’ after each other, it doesn’t make sense.” Not seeing it immediately I read the first line again. It wasn’t until he was pointing out my mistake that I saw it, printed and framed for all to see. “In a vast and AND darkened wood.” I never noticed. Not once in the dozens of times I proof read the poem did I notice the mistake. Nobody else noticed either. Not my mum, not my sister or anyone else who read the poem after it was gifted to her.

The brain has a way of skipping over little mistakes like that. Now one of mine stares me in the face every time I visit my sister, and my nephew never lets me forget. There are some techniques I use that do help to mitigate these little mistakes though, and they are something I make sure to use on every story or blog post.

I read right to left, top to bottom. This helps break up the natural flow of the work and it is easier to spot mistaken words or grammar. I then read the entire work right to left from bottom to top. When that is done I have taken to highlighting each sentence and reading them individually. I’ve found these techniques help. Of course there will always be mistakes, so it is best to find someone, or several someones, who can act as a proof reader for you. A totally fresh set of eyes. Don’t let your mistakes hang on the wall and stare you in the face.

Are there any techniques you use to finish up your work? Let me know in the comments below.

Blog: At The End Of Your Nose.

It is easy to imagine the castle nestled against the green mountainside, banners snapping in the wind. The mouldering ruins seated at the foot of a glass smooth lake, or the station slowly losing its orbit framed by the vast accretion disc of a black hole. The fantastical is something we can sink into, get lost in, and it is easier to do that when the locations are just as ambitious as the story.

It makes wonderful stories much easier to believe, if the location matches the magical creatures, alien setting, then it just might be possible. It is something that has translated to the silver screen with book adaptations. The Shire is, unsurprisingly, a favourite. On screen it held the sense of home and comfort I always associated with it from reading. They did well to capture that. More outlandish locations such as Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal or Hogwarts are equally fantastical or alien. The weird and wonderful are bound to be found within such places, they belong in such places. It helps with the sense of escapism, it keeps us absorbed in the story. It’s easy to visualise.

I find it equally important however that magic and wonderment be found outside your door, without the need for you to live in such locations. Why shouldn’t we find creatures in our own gardens, in the fields in which we played as children, the abandoned buildings we explored as teenagers. The fantastical should be found closer to home. Sure a canal is not as picturesque as the rolling hills and meadows of New Zealand, but that is no reason that merfolk should not swim them. Trolls beneath motorway bridges and goblin circuses trundling the alleys between houses.

I would much rather take the seemingly mundane scenes about us and tease out the weird and wonderful stories they hold. The dilapidated mill in my town has just as much character as any castle and to me would make for a far more interesting setting of a story. I should note that down, it has merit for later ideas.

There are stories all about us, magic seeping into our everyday lives. We simply need to look, pick up the thread and have the courage to follow it a little. I think we look to far and too hard to find magic and wonderment when it can be found at the end of our nose.

Fiend, Interrupted.

“-didn’t work. Put the book back we’ll try again another time. Do not tell Mum and Dad I’ve been showing you this.”

There was the telltale slap and tickle, the usual micro blast of agony and I found myself in the middle of a scrawled chalk circle. I noticed it had an added second binding to boot. Some brat stood across from me with his huge bespectacled eyes looking at me from behind a large book. It looked like a dog-eared copy of Caspar’s fifth edition of Basic Summoning. I am anything but basic. The room was dark but the walls were dressed with dinosaurs…dinosaurs.

A table next to the brat had more books, one of them a bible and what looked to be a basin of holy water. Cute. The transference always hits you with a dizzy spell, lesser demons would be floored by it. One second I was happily carrying out a bit of mischief on behalf of Old Sam in the Big Apple and then poof, I’m swaying in the dark with bloody dinosaurs. The circle below me was complete, without error. You can imagine how I felt, one takes a certain pride in ones work. I do not like being interrupted.

“What the fuck Timmy!” I yelled trying to shake off the last of the unsteadiness, “I am supposed to be in New York getting a senator into a very uncomfortable and compromising position. I had him bent over and ready to…I mean how rude can you be?!”

“My name isn’t Timmy, it’s Jack, remember that,” it said in a little voice. It had to be its first summoning, playing about with mum or dads books maybe, but something had gone wrong, crossed wires as it were.

“I don’t give a shit mate, send me back I’m on the clock here, I have a reputation to uphold, jobs half done,” I gave it my best glower but it just stood there looking at me. Maybe it was defective. There was a tinkling of chains, a flounder of footsteps and a taller boy with dark mop of hair and makeup leapt into the room, pants strung low with what looked like dog chains. Centuries of existence yet I’ll never understand the fashion these kids get into, from neck ruff’s to dog collars.

“Shaun look, it worked,” the kid yelled, he was small, the book almost as big as his torso, ratty brown hair and a slightly confused look on his face. The older one quickly began scrolling through its phone. Great, another keyboard summoner. Google and Youtube had a lot to answer for in this day and age. What did these kids think we were, dial-a-demon. One second they were flipping bottles and dabbing, the next they were dredging up fiends from the Pits. I inched a Prada clad foot forward and the second binding flared sending sharp shock up my leg.

“Don’t try to get out, I have a second binding and Haldim’s Containment above you,” the little one said, it cocked its head to the side like a dog “You don’t look like a demon from the sixth circle.”

“And you hardly look like a summoning savant,” I looked up to see the Containment, a charcoal circle perfectly drawn in parallel with the chalk circle below, complete with the accompanying runes. “Hell’s bells kid what have you done?” I had no clue what was happening, to my knowledge no one had ever summoned a demon that had already been summoned to the mortal plane. Something wasn’t right. I do not like being out of the loop.

“The doors and windows are coated with Friars Soot, just in case,” he added.

“Jack, what have you done?” the older boy managed. The younger one ignored him.

“I’ll be damned,” I muttered. That was an ice breaker, the kids didn’t get it, I’m wasted on children. Friars Soot is not something you just have lying about, it was scarcer than tooth in a smack heads grin. Potent stuff.

“You’re not what I was expecting,” said the younger one. Looking down at myself I was wearing an admittedly attractive young woman in a state of undress, just a riding crop and heels. Hardly what you think of when you are summoning an ancient infernal evil from beyond, or even New York.

“I was already summoned, you can’t interfere with an already summoned demon. There are rules,” I allowed two great horns to erupt through my skull, blood leaked from a slack mouth and wings tore from the woman’s back. The skin peeled from the face as I exaggerated the classic devil features. “I will tear the soul from your body pathetic human!” I snapped. It was a good effort, one that had worked for me in the past, but it didn’t get the reaction I hoped for. I had once scared a summoner to death, heart attack, dropped on the spot. The kid just adjusted his glasses and looked bored. The older one simply stood, mouth flapping like a goldfish. Children these days, so desensitised, I blame the parents.

“Casper’s says that once bound, you must do as I say,” he spoke in a matter of fact tone. He was right, once summoned a demon is bound to carry out the wishes of the entity that summoned them, but how did this little turd even know my name. I’m not one to needlessly blow my own horn but I am on a rarefied level, I am summoned by the elite for tasks that crumble empires. You don’t just find me in the sodding phone book. The frame job in New York was just a way to pass the time, a favour for an old friend. I was an arch-fiend. I kicked at the bindings again and shrugged my wings.

“Do your mum and dad know you have a demon in your bedroom? I bet they would like to find out,” still in the winged form I called out “MUUUUM, DAA-”

“Silence,” The command was instant, my voice simply ended. Something was off here, no prepubescent brat in a dinosaur covered bedroom could have this much sway with the infernal. It wasn’t possible. I used the nose on the devils face and took a long breath. Crayons, plastic, paper all normal smells for an eight year old’s room, he had a half eaten cheese and ham sandwich going stiff under his bed but that wasn’t a sign of magical manipulation. No lingering taint of another plane, no divine odour or covered scent. Just a boy who smelled of, well nothing, the boy had no scent. The older one smelled of sweat, cheap incense and cheaper weed but the little one…I began scanning the circles for some small flaw, some overlook rune. I needed a way out.

“Jack you have to get this thing out of here!” Shaun had found his vocals and was beginning to panic, good. I grinned wide, splitting the face further and ran a claw down what was left of my curves. He looked sick.

“It worked Shaun, I did it. We can finally get to work,” the little one looked at its brother for the first time, “whats the matter? You said you have done this loads.” Isn’t it sweet when our heroes fall. It was almost worth the all the aggro to watch that little snots image of his big brother shatter. Those are the moments I’m in the business for. Lipstick boy was shaking his head.

“This is bad, this is bad, this is bad.” Oh goody, I love a teenage meltdown. The younger one took one look at me.

“Make him stop, but don’t hurt him,” he commanded, and there was no misunderstanding it was a command. I shrugged the wings again, why make life difficult for yourself, who am I to disobey an order. With a casual wave of my claw the blubbering teenager was frozen still, hands gripping his hair, terror welling up in his eyes. Where’s a camera when you need one. He rocked slightly before falling backwards to lean awkwardly against the wall with a nice thud, stiff as a plank. The little one sighed and ran a hand through his tangled mess of hair. A gesture he was too young for. I switched down to a more human scale. A man in a fine double-breasted suit, Armani, we had a good working relationship with Armani. I motioned for my voice. “Speak,” the brat commanded as it checked on its sibling.

“Tell me how you interfered and brought me here and I will do anything you ask,” I said in a normal voice. If fear doesn’t work, you might catch more flies with honey. The boy turned and tossed the book onto the table with the others, he stepped closer. Good, if I could get the little snot to spill how he did it I was sure I could work out a way to do it myself. This boy could be my key out of bondage, not the New York kind either. It could be freedom, actual freedom. He stopped outside the circle. Shoulders back, chin held high. There was something in the kids eyes. It smiled at me.

“You will do what I tell you to do,” This cocky little human could go far,  if he lived long enough, “but bring me the Ashes of Lucifer’s Wings, and I will tell you everything. Everything you need to know to free yourself,” Already a step ahead of me. I am a demon of the sixth circle, arch-fiend, I am born into blasphemy spitting curses and vomiting heresy. The smile that boy gave me sent a shiver down my spine, or any spine I’ve worn since. Jack, the little boy wonder, waved his hand and I was dismissed. The Ashes of Lucifer’s Wings, sure thing. No problem. Fuck.

Blog: A Questionable History.

How to remove bloodstains? What is the best way to cut up a body? Which types of UK plants can you make poison from? How much flesh can a pig actually eat?

I am 90% sure I am on at least one list somewhere, maybe more. My search history is questionable at best. I guess it is all part of the gig though, one moment I am happily typing away and the next I am twelve tabs deep in a search for authentic torture techniques from Africa.

It may even begin innocently enough, a quick google search for the sake of accuracy and an hour later I’m researching three different types of dead currency, the actual poundage on a Mongolian recurve bow and a type of Brazilian cake. It’s a rabbit hole.

It also detracts from the writing. Having the internet hooked up to the machine you are writing on can seriously lead to procrastination. Some of us are more prone to it than others however. Whilst accuracy will always be needed in writing, you cannot let the research take over the act of writing. I’m not immune to this. There have been many times when I have spent much more time actually worldbuilding and making sure everything is just right instead of focusing on the writing itself.

A lot of the time this effort and all the detail in the background never make it to paper, but it shows in the quality of the world we create. Just don’t forget the picture for building the easel.

You may happen across me debating the best murder weapon, hammer, screwdriver or good old fashioned tin of beans in a pillow case. Try to not to think too badly of me, and if I ever ask you to delete my search history…its not what you think.

Blog: A Younger Audience.

Writing a children’s story has to be the most frustrating thing for me. I have a few, and whilst I think they turn out well, they are easily the most difficult to write.

I think it is very important for children to read, it is one of the things that I am passionate about. A child that reads is a child that thinks. It’s a good line, and it’s true, but for me it’s about the imagination. Creating a story that fires the imagination is what I hope to do, and not just for children. However I have found that children’s stories are so much more restrictive, and I struggle with that.

Naturally I read about writing specifically for children, it should help. One of the books that I read, and the advice that it gave sticks out the most for me. Neil Gaimans “A View From The Cheap Seats.” In a section of it he talks about writing children’s stories and how he doesn’t know if a story he is writing is for children or adults until it is done. I can see the value in that but if left to my own devices my mind will inevitably take me to dark and grimy places. He also mentions that he finds it’s true that children self censor when they read. I can vouch for that being an avid reader as a child, sometimes I would come across something I didn’t fully understand and it’s meaning would be lost on me. Sometimes things were simply boring and children don’t absorb what is dull.

As an adult looking back, some of the books I read had some questionable material in for a child to read, I can’t recall it ever effecting me. That said there might be something in the fact that my mind seems to take me in dark directions, maybe it did affect me. The only time I can recall being really bothered by a book was Ursula K. Le Guins “A Wizard of Earthsea.” I had borrowed a copy from my Uncle Tommy (A man who shares my addiction to books) and I was lying on my Nan’s couch reading by lamplight. I must have been ten or eleven at most. It was late, later than I should have been awake. Outside the living room window, past the small garden were trees that were fantastic for casting shadows in the streetlights. I won’t spoil the story if you are unfamiliar with it but I will recommend you check it out. Shadows play a part in it, and lying there reading it, the trees casting dancing shadows across the living room walls, I had to put the book down. It evoked such a sense of fear in me like I have never experienced since.

I digress. I find it hard to gauge what is appropriate for a children’s story. It is my intention to foster a sense of wonderment and maybe in places a little anxiety or fear, but how much is too much? How do I handle physical conflict? How do I handle death? What is considered too far? Of course this is where beta readers are invaluable to me, and I do have a few (some even with children of their own) but it still bothers me. I still second guess everything in a children’s story, from the actual writing of it to the basic concepts. Perhaps I should simply write the story and let it stand on its own.

Although, I can’t say I wont laugh and maybe be a little proud if I ever scare a child like Le Guin scared me.

Please feel free to comment or discuss in the section below.

Blog: Fake People, Real Fiction.

Do I write about people I know? Do I put people I know in my stories? These are questions that seem to creep up when people find out that I write and I’m not sure if its caused by fear or narcissism.

The Short answer, no. Long answer, kinda, but not in the way you think. I will never transplant an entire person into written form, not even close. It would be discourteous and disingenuous of me to do so.

First of all, I’m not too fond of people, there isn’t anyone I like enough to immortalise in fiction. I don’t like a lot of my characters, they are not always nice people, so while they have that in common with some of the people I find out and about in the world, they will not end up in my work. Were I ever to be daft enough to do so I would never hear the end of it. I do not treat my characters well for a start, and my perception of you may be less than stellar. It is simply far too much hassle to deal with.

Secondly it honestly feels like cheating. It feels false. I am telling a story that I have pulled from my own imagination, and it is something that I will have worked over for a while. There is always so much more work done than what is seen when the story is posted. Research and background and worldbuilding all take up a lot of time and effort. To just plonk in a whole person from my life feels wrong. I am no longer telling a story pulled from my imagination, as it now contains Bob who I know from yoga class. Those who know me personally will know there is no Bob or yoga class, that was a carefully constructed veil to protect everyone’s identity.

What I do, however, is I will steal traits from people. They will not be character defining traits, Bob from yoga class has a scar over one eye and a thick welsh accent for example. That is something I wouldn’t touch, it’s too much a part of Bob. I will take a shrug, the way somebody taps their fingers, how they greet someone. Little things. Little things that when added together with the characters in my mind help create a whole. It is art imitating life. I do this for people I pass in the street, people I meet at work, people I will never see again. They colour my life briefly, a flash, and things will just stay with me. So into the mixing pot it goes.

Needless to say all creations, creatures, arseholes and heroes are works of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons alive or dead is coincidence.

How do you feel about putting people you know in your work. Let me know in the comments.