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It’s Supposed to be Fun

The whole reason I started writing stories is because it is fun. Little five year old James laying on the floor with his Ghostbuster’s notebook and pencil wasn’t making up stories because he wanted to make money, run a business, post about it on social media and all the other stuff that comes along with being an independent author. The only reason that little guy did anything was because he thought it was fun.

It’s easy to lose sight of that, and I’m certainly guilty of doing so, from time to time. I get so focused on the metrics, on fine tuning my processes, on being as productive as possible that I forget the simple pleasure of sitting down and making up a story out of thin air.

When that happens, you inevitably get bogged down, the whole thing starts to feel like a slog, like hard work. Which I think comes through in the story. If I’m not enjoying writing it, is anyone going to enjoy reading it? I can’t see how they would.

I started writing because it was fun, and most days it still is fun, but I need to get better at recognising when I’m sliding into not fun and do what I can to pull myself out of it. There’s no point writing if you don’t enjoy it.

I’m sure there are other things that we started off doing because they were fun, but turned them into hard work. I don’t know why. Part of me wants to blame it on the culture of side hustles and the nature of capitalism, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. Maybe people are just wired this way?

I’m back

It’s been a while since I last posted here and a lot has changed. Well, maybe not that much, but it feels like a lot. Enough that it’s going to change the way I’m approaching blogging, and writing in general (but more on that another time).

I finished working at Verizon in June last year, after 14 years with the same company. Since then I’ve been writing and doing a few other things. As of tomorrow I am once again employed and that’s going to take some adjustment. It’s a part-time role which suits me because I can carry on taking Oscar to and from school, and still have time to write and publish.

Even working part time, I’m going to have less time to spend on writing and publishing though, so why am I back to blogging, you might ask. Well, the simple answer is that I like writing here, and that’s a good enough reason. But it’s also because, while not having traditional employment, my time became sprawling. Things that I used to be able to do in a couple of hours took whole days. Returning to blogging feels like a way of fighting against that tendency.

While I’ve been away from blogging I have also been thinking about my upcoming writing projects and there are going to be some changes there. All for the better, I think.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you know what’s going on. I’ll be posting more regularly going forward so you shouldn’t have to wait so long for my next post.

Reading Challenge Update

Reading Challenge Update

At the start of the year, I made a plan to read 75 books in 2024. It started off very well, but lately I’ve been struggling a bit and I had to sit down and think about whether this was really something I could do, or, more precisely, whether I should do it.

Here’s the thing: I love to read, but I am starting up a business and that takes a lot of time. When I sat down and worked it out, reading 75 books a year would take about an hour and a half of reading every day. Longer, if I wanted to listen to audiobooks as part of that. That’s around 10% of my total waking time spent reading, more if you take out the essential things that I have to do every day, whether or not I want to. Then it’s more like 70% of the time I have on any given day.

I’m not quite ready to give up on the goal, but it’s looking less doable now, because some of the time I have remaining after doing all the things I need to do each day might be better spent on things that could directly benefit my business, like writing a blog post, and fixing up my website.

75 books in a year was always an ambitious target for me. Currently, I am on track to read more like 52 books, which is still a book a week and much better than I managed in the last few years.

Testing KDP Select

Testing KDP Select

One of the advantages of having a lot of books for sale is that it’s possible to try out new things and see what works. Although I have had all my books available wide for a long time now, with the launch of The Long Winter, I have decided to test KDP Select.

I am not sure what I am hoping for from the experiment. The book is a standalone post-apocalyptic thriller and I don’t know how well those sell in the marketplace. It’s worth a try though as for the foreseeable future I am going to be releasing Galdorland books. Ideally I would like those to be wide releases, but if there is a significant boost from Kindle Unlimited, I may be tempted to put them up there for the first 90 days before releasing wide.

The Long Winter is going to be available for pre-order soon with the release of 5th February.

Cultural Refugee

Cultural Refugee

I wasn’t born into this world of fast media and constant connection. The world I grew up in was one with four television channels and a home computer that could just about manage word processing. Now I have high speed internet in my pocket and instant access to millions of hours of television and films. It’s not a world that I am equipped to handle.

Few of us are.

Even people raised in such a world are about to have the rug pulled out from under them with the mainstreaming of virtual and augmented reality. We can barely handle the internet on our phones, which we at least have to take out of our pockets to look at. How are we going to manage when it’s right in front of our faces, all day.

The turnaround for cultural change is getting shorter and shorter. We had the internet at home when I was at college. Then I got a computer with internet access in my room a few years later. So I would guess there is about twenty years when things were similar. Now, the changes are coming quicker than ever, I would be surprised if there are five years.

The systems that I was taught were designed for a world where you weren’t constantly fighting to keep your attention on things. If I want to continue living in the culture of the modern world, then I need to find new ways of handling things. But that is a question, not a certainty. There is always the option of not trying to live in a modern media landscape.

Lessons Learned from the first draft of Symphony of Shadows

Lessons Learned from the first draft of Symphony of Shadows

This week was my first week back at writing after a couple of weeks off for Christmas and the new year and it takes me a week or so to get back up to speed. Rather than do that speeding up on a big project, I decided to write a short story. This morning I finished writing Symphony of Shadows.

The story has to go through editing before I release it, but should end up around 5,000 words long. It’s set in the world of Galdorland and follows an investigative reporter who receives a mysterious package which contains something terrible. It was good fun to write and let me dip my toes back into the world.

I changed some parts of my process with this short story, some of those changes didn’t work out, but I am fairly settled on the following improvements:

  1. Writing a set word count: in the past I have worked to an amount of time, and that was starting to get tough for me. I always enjoyed the writing, but staring down the barrel of a two hour writing session is kind of intimidating. So for this project I decided to work to a word count each day and it made a massive difference. Even though I probably wrote for the same amount of time, I never once found myself looking at the clock.
  2. Writing on my iPad: I would love to have a separate space purely for first draft writing, with a separate computer that I only ever used for that. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So for this project I decided to try writing on my iPad using a Magic Keyboard, which is a setup I don’t use for any other type of work. It went very well and I’m planning to keep that system up as I move into writing the first Jessica book.

It feels pretty good to have a story written so early in the year. I don’t have a gap in my editing schedule to work on it for a while yet, but I’m glad I am off the starting block now.