Being unfaithful to my story

I have been slow this week in my efforts to make Langoria into a workable story. I am half way through the chapters, but now I have some serious competition in my head. I am being unfaithful to another competing story. The Dark List is clamouring for attention.

This is certainly distracting. I find myself wondering whether it is a better story than Langoria. Would I be better served by dumping the old story for the new story? Am I currently wasting my, at present, limited time on a dud, when I have a potential gold mine festering away in my head? This new story is exciting, makes me laugh at my own jokes (sorry about my ego!), and is trying to entice me into its clutches. So what do I do?

As hard as it is, I am concentrating on Langoria because that story is a finished draft and it s therefore a product, something that may be saleable. The other story is just an idea at present – 5000 words of prose that has potential, nothing more. It’s damn good-looking, though, with a sexy plot and great sense of humour.

Add to this that I do not earn a living from writing, and the priority becomes clearer. There is no imperative for me to get a bestseller, or even a seller, because what pays my mortgage is something else. I do, however, have a strong desire to publish a book that sells. I do enjoy writing. And I do want to finish what I start. Langoria is a good story, albeit with some flaws that need attention, and I believe it is worth my time. I will undoubtedly keep getting moments of inspiration for the new story, and I will write them down, but they will stay in my notebook until Langoria is at a stage where somebody else is reading it.

So, back to it. But only after I get out for a walk. Speaking of walking – this is a little article I wrote a few years ago on a now ignored blog about the joys of walking –

Killing your creations – Langoria is evolving

I’m at a traumatic stage in drafting Langoria. It’s time to start killing bits of it. Well, not actually killing things, but certainly cutting good bits of writing that simply don’t fit any more with the direction that I’ve taken the story. So, hard as it it, well it’s actually getting easier, I am taking out in big swathes.

However, on the bright side, most of this writing is at the start of the manuscript where I was feeling around a bit.  I expect much less to be in need of disposal the further in I get. The second half of the story is a lot tighter, and, quite frankly, much more exciting and better written.

This also showed me how slow the start of the manuscript actually is at present. I have cut at least 80% of chapter two as it slammed the brakes on after setting the scene. There is stuff in that chapter that still makes me laugh out loud, but that doesn’t fit with how the story evolved. Humour is less a part of it now. Of course, now I need to make sure that nothing I take out leaves a hole in the plot later on – but I am on top of that.

So back to it. Killing your creations, or at least parts of them, is an essential part of redrafting. See y’all later.


How to be a Writer (by JB)

I am a pretend writer. No, really, I am. I have completed two novels (short ones) which are either not quite good enough to be published, or are simply shit. Perhaps they just need some more work, or perhaps they need an incinerator. One day I’m sure that I’ll work out which is the correct path. I have long ago run dry on my blog The Dregs of History and none of my self-published satirical manuals have sold that well, if at all. Shit happens.

But (I know that stating a sentence with ‘but’ is frowned upon, but fuck it, this is my piece of writing so I’ll do what I want) I do want to get better, so I occasionally read a book about writing rather than piece of fiction. I am assuming they are not fiction too.

Of the books that I have read about writing, two stand out. The first one of these is On Writing by Stephen King. This is a wonderful insight into how he writes and the hurdles he has overcome to get where he is. It is a combination of autobiography and writer’s assistant. The second is a book I have just recently read – How to Be a Writer by John Birmingham. They are very different books.


How to Be a Writer is both entertaining and enlightening, with many handy hints (I hope I never have to resort to his suggestion of writing an erotic letter to Eric Abetz as a way of combating writer’s block) and insights from other writers. I may even get the suggested dictation software. Looks good.

At its heart, this book is a written in short easily digestible chapters. There is no over-long explanations of things, no self-indulgent tangents that lack relevance, and no bullshit about your chances of success. There is, however, lots of humour, lots honest advice about the amount of effort required, and good solid advice about the joys of being a poet (I can speak from experience when I tell you that this chapter is spot on). It is an easy read, just as a novel should be. Not too much requirement for huge contemplation (at least not unless you really don’t know yourself that well and this book has caused a light-bulb moment) and no boring bits. Lots of published novelists could learn a lot from reading this book – it’s a lot of fun.

How to Be a Writer covers writing novels, columns, articles, and even has short section on what expect as a poet. It covers such areas as a writer’s special media presence, endorsement of other writers, some useful technology info, how not to get sued, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Most of all though, it got me a bit more enthused about going back to my novels and cutting the shit of them before putting them back together again. This has been useful and fun. They might even end up as novellas available as ebooks.

And hey, pretend writer of not, How to Be a Writer got me off my arse to write this blogpost after a long hiatus filled with posting half-baked songs instead of prose. Cheers JB. Much appreciated.





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