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!


Trust People.

So a little over week has gone by and things are still moving albeit slightly slower than I’d hoped.

I started this entry on my trusty old Samsung Apollo but after today I’ll be updating to a shiny new phone. I haven’t told my Apollo yet I’m just going to try and let it down gently…

In more relevant news my short story collection has a title and I’m already thinking about cover art. Now this is tricky; both title and cover need to be attractive to the reader. We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but let’s face it most of us do at some point in our literary lives. So I’m getting click happy with the camera and waiting for that bolt of inspiration to strike.

I know I’ve been lucky because I have a whole host of talented people around me so even in those moments when I’m thinking “stuff it that’ll do” I’ll know there’s someone around to guide me if they think I’m making the wrong call. In addition to my wife who has been my reader in residence, sounding board and moral support throughout the process I’ve had the guidance of an extremely talented and attractive young lady (married to my best man) who is a successful and established blogger and who has recently released her own superb short story collection on Amazon (Snapshots of a different normality a snip at 99p).  My brother in law runs his own graphic design consultancy and is also an exceptional illustrator(we’ve been talking about working together for a long time but now more than ever). All have offered help and advice throughout the publication process and their encouragement has kept me motivated when perhaps my spirits have flagged a little. I’d urge you to have a look at their work and I’ve provided the links below for you.

I guess my message this time is simple: there are people close to you who will support you and guide you.  Trust them and listen to them.

As for me I’m almost there, only life keeps getting in the way, so this week I’m unplugging Facebook and switching off twitter. Wish me luck!



The secret to achieving your dreams revealed

Following your dreams is, to be frank, bloody difficult. Most of us opt for the safe option of the nine to five; a beast which once it has its claws in you, is very hard to shake off. That’s the rut I was in until about two years ago I shared the first bit of writing I’d done in years with my wife who told me that she was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. To me that was a massive confidence boost and perhaps the kick up the bum that I needed to start writing more frequently. The second revolution was a technological one. Not long after I made the decision to write more I purchased my first smart phone; my faithful Samsung Apollo, an ‘entry level’ bit of kit which is still going strong. In fact I’m typing this blog on it right now…

I can’t lie to you this old phone’s very clunky and slow and running out of internal memory faster than a ZX spectrum with dementia but I write first drafts faster with one thumb than I ever did on a keyboard or with pen and paper. Doubtless some will insist this isn’t ‘proper writing’ but who cares? I’m writing for myself not them!

I have no idea if anyone will ever read what I write but (let’s be honest) of course I want to be read; that’s the whole point, I have a head full of stories and I want them to be heard. If people don’t like them it will hurt, but it’s better to have them out there for the world to see than stuck in my head vanishing with the slow creep of time.

A little while ago I was re-reading ‘The Salmon of Doubt’ a posthumous collection of works by Douglas Adams.  By 2001 Adams had created two successful series of books (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently), written a number of Dr Who episodes, plotted and scripted a couple of computer games and left a vast array of journalistic gems for the world. Then very suddenly he died. He was 49.

I remember at the time Adams death felt like a kick in the chest.  Like many of his readers I really felt that Douglas Adams was writing for me. We were great mates, we just hadn’t met yet. It’s clear from the snippets of the unfinished work in ‘The Salmon of Doubt’ that Adams had many fantastic stories left to tell and now they are lost. We can only hope he’s up there somewhere tapping away on his macbook creating stories that will last for eternity; but for us earth-bound souls those works are lost forever.

So my advice to you is go for it. Life is short and should not be wasted. Write, draw, dance, paint yourself pink and start a conga, whatever it is that you dream of doing, do it.  You might be a lone voice yelling into the wind but maybe, just maybe, there’s someone listening.