Pinterest

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Out of curiosity I joined Pinterest some time ago and discovered that it’s a great source of inspiration and a handy place to save all those interesting images you stumble across when you should be doing some actual writing…

Anyway I have a few boards set up now, some things that interest me, some that inspire or amuse me and a couple of project boards. One of these is called Dynasty and a cursory glance will prove that it’s nothing to do with an eighties TV show featuring Texan billionaires, massive shoulder pads and bad hair.

Dynasty is the working title for a trilogy of books I’m working on the first of was written and I thought (at the time) complete.

I was wrong.

Whilst floating high on morphine (hospital administered, I swear I don’t have a problem) a whole host of ideas flew into my head and now it’s getting another re-write. The first thing I did once I regained use of my faculties was scour Pinterest for images that I can refer back to when I’m refining my work. All of which is there for you to see here: http://www.pinterest.com/mattadey/dynasty/

It’s probably best not to think of it as a window into my mind, because that’s a really scary place and believe me when I say you wouldn’t like the view.

What do you do when life gets in the way of writing?

Medical EquipmentOk so this is my first blog post in a long long while, in fact I really left just as I was getting started. In fairness though I do have a pretty good excuse for slacking off having being diagnosed with cancer. Leukaemia it turns out, is not conducive to either blogging or to be frank reading or writing.

So have these been desert months?
Has all that time been lost to illness?
Well yes and then again…

I have had a lot of time to dwell on my own fate, a massive amount to be honest and to be frank I’m counting every moment that I still live, breath and think as a blessing. Don’t worry dear reader, my outlook is good and I can and see a better future ahead for both me and my family. I’m exhausted, even getting up and going for a shower knocks me out some days, but that will pass with time and it doesn’t stop my mind from being active. The storyteller within me is still waiting with the sparkling eyes of childhood and he is beginning to dance again, albeit with trembling feet. Given time he will find his strength and whilst he does I’ll read a little, write a little and listen to a lot of radio drama. Mentally I think radio has been my saviour, it is the bridge between page and screen, the place where imagination and realisation collide. It’s dawned on me that all writers should listen to the radio and not just to the spoken word. Radio is a gateway to new music, a place to keep up with current affairs and opposing world views and it can hold up a mirror to our own past; nothing brings back memories more than the music of our youth, but things can sound very different second time around!

During these months of reflection I’ve been reminded that music can be magical and would encourage you all to go back to old songs and really listen to the lyrics because they are the key to the writers soul. Remember that line in a song can be the spark that ignites a story, a joke in a sketch can can be the catalyst for a tale of darkness or maybe, just maybe you’ll find something in another writers tale that changes you in ways you’ll never expect.

Happy 2014 to you all!

Making the final leap!

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Well folks, I’ve done it.  I’ve taken the leap, dived right in at the deep end, set myself up for a fall or perhaps taken another step to achieving my dream?

I’ve submitted my work to agent.  Multiple agents in fact.

I’m not now going to sit here and type up a load of advice about ‘this is how you do a synopsis blah, blah, blah…’

The fact is I still don’t know how to write a synopsis, I suspect mine was a bit rubbish!  It was also the most painful thing I’ve ever written.  Originally I thought it would take me a couple of hours.

NO!

Ten hours would be a better estimate.

But I’ve done it, this might go nowhere but then again…

If I can do it then you certainly can.

If you’re anything like me, then there’s always that doubt in your head.   That little voice that tells you whatever you do is not good enough.

Well, whatever your field you always need to practice.  Everything can be improved, but before that your work needs to exist.

The great writers of our time all started out with a blank sheet of paper and the stories in their heads; but it takes time to find the words.

The finest sculptures were crafted by people driven by a desire to make something beautiful, they all had to start a chip at a time.

So here’s my call to you:

Go create.

Yes I mean you.

Go and do something amazing.

Iain Banks

Stone BayI was going to blog about my weekend.  I had a lovely time on the south coast with my in-laws and quiet walk down to the sea that sent my mind spiralling off in some new creative directions.

Then today I heard the sad news that Iain Banks has terminal cancer and does not expect to live for longer than a year.  Of course my heart goes out to him and his family, but it also aches for us the readers, the consumers of his art.  Those of you who know Iain’s work will appreciate what a loss this will be, although his books don’t consistently reach the heights of his début The Wasp Factory, his legacy includes some absolute gems.

Iain is the master of the opening paragraph, the most famous of which is probably from The Crow Road and begins with, “It all started the day my grandmother exploded.”  That’s not my favourite though, that honour belongs to Espedair Street; a dark, yet slightly comical, assessment of the life of an ageing rock star, a man who has it all and now can’t decide what to do with any of it.  I loved it, from the moment I read it, I ‘got’ this book in a way I could never describe.  Few books come close in my mind, only the collaborative efforts of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman on Good Omens pips it in my top five.  The opening paragraph sees our protagonist (Daniel Weir) discuss his intended exit from the world, “Two days ago I decided to kill myself…”  It then describes just how he intends to exit this mortal realm by diving into the cold waters off the west coast, before throwing you, the reader, a life ring “Last night I changed my mind and decided to stay alive.  Everything that follows is… Just to try and explain.”

What follows is a tale that makes me feel good every time I read it.  It’s not a light story by any standards, but it’s engrossing and believable and by the time Danny makes his fateful journey, you fully expect him to go through with his plan despite the opening assurances.  Then the ending comes and the grief pours out of him (and you) to be replaced with a strange feeling of acceptance, a realisation that happiness is found within, with those who love you and in the love you hold for others.  Few books will ever manage to pull of that trick so well.

So Iain Banks (with or without the M), for The Bridge, for Complicity, for The Crow Road, The Business and The Wasp Factory I salute you, because they are all great works, but for Espedair Street I will thank you, because it makes the world a better place to live in.

Daylight Savings Time

Digital Clock ImageFor those of us on Greenwich Mean Time this weekend sees the clocks roll forward by an hour, consequently that means that we all lose sixty minutes valuable sleep.
So the following day we will inevitably traipse around the house resetting wall clocks, thermostat timers, wrist watches and a myriad of other devices to the correct digits, only to change them all back again in a few months time (lets just give thanks that the video recorder’s now packed away at the back of a dusty cupboard).

Now the modern world has complicated things further by giving us devices which automatically adjust themselves, sometimes.

Not all of them do, which then leaves you with that moment of temporal uncertainty as you peer bleary eyed at your phone, watch or clock and wonder “Is it really 6:30? Or is it 7:30?” It’s a quandary that’s never really solved until you haul your weary carcass out of bed in search of any device that you are fairly sure isn’t equipped with any self adjusting mechanism. By this point you may as well give up, make some coffee and fight through the fatigue.

Don’t get me started on the perils of setting an alarm.

Now, despite my grumbles, I’m actually quite looking forward to the change, purely because my middle child takes the presence of a mere ball of fire in the sky as his cue to wake up, and when he’s awake it stands to reason that mummy and daddy should also be awake. So I’m praying that losing an hour on Saturday means that I’ll gain a few as the week rolls on. All this will change of course when (if) the British summer actually kicks in and he gets up at dawn again.

I could of course, simply go to bed earlier, but I’m naturally one of natures nocturnal creatures and I find my mind is most creative between the hours of nine in the evening and one in the morning. Sadly children tend to harbour the irrational belief that there is only one twelve o’clock in the day. So I’ll cross my fingers and promise to go to bed early this weekend so I don’t wake up as Captain Grumpy on Sunday; but sadly I think we all know how this story will end.

Oh and you forgot to change the clock in the car.

Second drafts are painful.

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You know that scene you wrote?  Your favourite bit, maybe the bit that started it all?  Well that scene might just have to go.

It’s painful I know.

All too often you can find yourself tweaking and crafting an element of your work until you reach near perfection.  Sadly it’s such sections that often make your story drag.

I’ve followed the advice of wiser people and I shelved my novel for two months before revisiting it.  Approaching it as a reader, rather than a writer, gave me a whole new perspective on things.  That’s why I’ve just cut over two thousand words from the beginning of my work.

It’s not that those words were wasted, rather that they were excessive and did little to advance the plot, so for the sake of pacing they had to go.

I’m not worried.  There’s a subplot to be expanded on that should more than make up for the deletions; but those words were the first seeds I planted for this story and now it’s grown far bigger.

So I guess that’s the harsh reality, when the oak has grown who cares about the acorn?