Sunday, 29 June 2008

Back on Track

My internet was down last week, hence no blog.

Which is nice since I didn't have much to say last week.

This week however has been a good one. The novel feels like it's back on track. I completely stormed it this weekend and got lots done and I'm feeling my usual happy self again.

I was rejected by Murky Depths, yesterday, which is a shame. They said it was good and that I'd done a fine job getting into the head of the main character but they're not looking for a story like it in that length. Or as Roy Walker would have put it "It's Good But It's Not Good Enough."

I think the problem is that though I am now good enough to be published, I am not published enough to be published.

Which makes my next piece of news very contradictory as I am being published. Twisted Tongue got back to me and said that they would love to publish me. Aces. I shall be in their August issue and if I make editor's choice I'll get £10! Hurrah! I'm happy more for the kudos of course, to have one publishing credential on my covering letter shall be a right feather in my cap and no mistake and editor's choice would be even nicer.

They've asked for a short bio but I meekly requested to hold off until I find out whether or not I can also put Waterstones WYS competition winner. Let's see people talk that Roy Walker smack at me if I win that!

Right, I'm off to bed. A friend was kind enough to get me a copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (out in October *scoff* *scoff*). I'm really enjoying it, the beginning was excellent but I'm only two chapters in. I shall report more next week.

Thanks for reading,


Grey Freeman (soon-to-be-published-author *scoff* scoff*)

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Hello again.

you can now read my short story Paperbound on the Waterstones 'What's Your Story' website. Just type in 'Williams' (my actual surname) under surname and there it shall be. Now I just have to sit and wait and will hopefully get an email beginning of next month telling me I've won. I'm cautiously optimistic about winning, I think it's a fair piece I've entered but it only takes two people to be better than me I suppose. Oh, well, here's hoping.

I'm tired this week. I've put a lot of work in. I tore down the beginning to Act Two (again) and have rewritten about 40 pages from scratch. It seems to be working. The beginning was too complex in its original incarnation, now I've simplified it and suddenly the whole thing seems more streamlined, will hopefully be able to start linking it up to later parts and just get on with the whole thing.

That's it really, not much to report. Stories are still with mags and I'll get some replies soon. I have a good feeling that some things might start going my way. But then that's no different than all the other times.

Got a load of new books to read, so I'd better go and make a start on them. Yan Martel's Life of Pi for starters. Nice.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Adverb Users Anonymous


My name is Grey and I am an adverb user.

I've known for a long time now that using adverbs is wrong in prose. That 'shouted loudly' and "Piss off", he said, angrily" are near cardinal sins in the profession. Using these blunt, clumsy adverbs are an addiction I had long ago thought I had conquered.

Alas, it seems that what I have done instead is hidden my addiction to them even from myself. I have merged my aversion to adverbs with the treatise of 'show not tell' creating lines such as "Piss off" he said, waving his arms in the air' I do this a lot and it is only recently that I have realised how wrong I am to do it. These bits of description in dialogue are unnecessary and I hereby vow to remove them, creating a more confident sounding novel that trusts that the readers know what my characters are feeling.

I still have a lot to learn.

In other news, I'm moving on to chapters 25-30 of the novel. 21-24 aren't done yet but I just can't see what's wrong with it, I only know that it's something fundamental. I can't see the paragraphs through the words. I'll go back another time and hopefully the answer will be right there waiting for me and I'll be able to fix it.

Short stories are still all with mags and I'm awaiting responses soon and the Waterstone's competition still hasn't posted my story on the site yet (they post all of the entries, I think).

Right, that's it from me. I'm tired and frustrated and need to relax.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Learning by Degrees?

Just had a very awkward converstaion/argument in the pub.

The beauty of being an unpublished writer is that until you actually are published everyone feels qualified to tell you how to do it. And even when you are published I doubt that'll change much.

It's like people who assume they're good at music because they have loads of CDs or can boom out advice at the football players on television even though they themselves are fat, drunk people who have never really left their armchair in twelve years.

As you can see, the argument has riled me a little. But that doesn't mean I didn't listen to their points of view. They're comments have given me pause for thought and made me rethink my position on writing. Sometimes when this happens I rethink my standpoint, in this case I just came back to the same conclusion I had before but thought of all the things I should have said at the time (always the way).

The girls' stance (baring in mind that they have never read anything I've written) was that to be a good writer you need to learn philosophy and psychology, possibly even to a degree level. One so you can broach interesting issues, the other so you can understand what makes people tick and write how they would react.

When asked to name famous author's that have done this names were few and far between. No, that's being too diplomatic, one name came up: Jostein Gaarder who wrote Sophie's World subtitled A Novel about the History of Philosophy. I'm not sure if they knew that that was the subtitle or just hadn't considered it.

The stance I take is this: learning about these things don't make you good at writing novels, they just make you good at writing about psychology or philosophy. Yes, I imagine that learning psychology would make you better at understanding psychology. But how much do you really need to know to write a good story, make deep, interesting characters? If a character is punched around the face do I need to crack open a basic text book on psychology to find out how they would react? Or would they hit back, run away, cry or do any of a million things depending on the context, who hit them, who that person is etc?

Of course psychology and philosophy will make you better, perhaps, at writing some things, but I suspect they'll only really make you better at psychology and philosophy. Should I also study biology to have a better idea of how a frog hops or a sheep bleats? Or shall I just say what I just said knowing full well that the reader will know what I mean when I say 'the frog hopped'.

There's no doubt that research needs to be done on subjects to create a good novel, to make them live and breath but research is secondary to writing. Research is a tool, not an end in itself. When I'm writing about someone who is psychologically disturbed I'll do the research (hell, I have done. RWBW had someone suffering Munchausen Syndrome and I did my research). When I'm writing from the point of view of a philosopher I'll look into philosophy. At some point I'll have to look at farming techniques for my novel.

The point I think I have to make in the end is that you write the books you want to read. Gaarder (I'm reading here) contributed to textbooks on philosophy before he went near fiction. In the end he wrote a book he wanted to read and he did it well. Good for him.

Now, I'm going to write a book I want to read. It won't be about psychology or philosophy, it'll be about what I'm interested in: people and hopefully all that they entail, lovely, wondrous creatures that they are.

Thanks for reading.