I first read this story in an Isaac Asimov book. It was supposed to be the originator of the term a shaggy dog story. That term is used to describe any anecdote that draws people in on the presumption that it’s going to have a witty ending. It then rambles on, keeping people waiting, till finally, the audience begging for mercy, it ends with a weak pun. I happened to like the wordplay in this one so it stuck with me even though I must have read it a good 35 years or more ago.
I started writing this blog with the admission that I’ve never read a ‘how to write’ book, but had ploughed my way through several ‘how to edit’ books, which felt true as I wrote it, but made me pause and run upstairs to check my bookshelf because something didn’t seem right about the admission. True enough my shelf has several ‘how to write books’ and I’m sure I’ve read at least two of them and probably more. I have a terrible memory, some people are cursed with the inability to forget anything, they can tell you exactly what they had for breakfast on Tuesday the 12th June when they were five years old. I’m the opposite, my brain ditches information at an alarming rate. It always has so at least I know this isn’t early onset dementia. Continue reading
This week my update lands on my birthday by pure co-incidence but it got me thinking about how long it’s taken to get to this point. I’m turning 49 and haven’t published yet. I only started writing around 18 or 19 years ago. I’m not entirely sure when as I didn’t record my first few novel’s start dates. Since then, as I’m a bit of a maths geek, I’ve created a spreadsheet tracking my writing, start and end dates, total number of words written, number of stories per year, words per story. So far I don’t see any trends, but I know that I’ve written 3.8 million words (that’s original words and doesn’t count all the rewriting and editing). All the same I only really started writing in my early 30s. I was probably too busy being sensible and holding down a “real” job to take things further. But as I said before, times have changed and self publishing or being an indie-writer is now a respectable possibility. So I am finally tackling phase two of self publishing, editing. Phase one of course is to actually write something. Editing is time consuming so I worry I won’t have huge amounts to write about on this blog till I actually get to publishing although so far that hasn’t been a problem and it gives me a chance to review the process. Continue reading
What set it all off?
What on earth possessed me to set a 100 books published challenge? Two things converged for me over the last few of weeks. The first was a realisation that I was working with a number of clients who want to transition from office jobs to new careers as creatives. One of my clients wants to ditch the day job and do art, another wants to be a singer whilst a third wants to be a designer of cryptic crosswords. I have encouraged each of them to follow their dream, and worked through strategies to make it happen. Yet at the same time I haven’t pursued my own dream of becoming a writer. This is odd because I really enjoy writing and would like nothing better than to be able to focus all of my attention on that and not have to worry about finding other work to pay my bills.
The second was a book. I have just finished reading Chris Gillebeau’s book, The Happiness of Pursuit, Find the Quest that will Bring Purpose to Your Life. I have always liked the idea of a quest, who doesn’t? Many of us are on mini pursuits, be that train spotting or bird watching, walking from Lands End to John o’Groates, or a friend who planned 40 miniature adventures for her 40th year. They have an instant appeal. Continue reading
I am not a very reflective person. I tend to look forward to what’s coming rather than to review what has gone before. I also have a terrible memory, which is good in some regards as I can re-watch films or re-read books a couple of years later and not remember a thing about them. So if people had asked me how far back I can remember about being a storyteller or a writer, I wouldn’t have been able to give them a good answer.
Recently though, I have been working as a coach specifically helping people live a happier life by finding what they love doing and helping them set up in that. Many people are desperate to get out of jobs they hate and an equal number of those don’t know what else they could do so feel trapped. One of the most interesting questions I have found to help them discover what they love comes from Marianne Cantwell’s book Be a Free Range Human. It asks, when you were eight years old, what were you most likely to be found doing?
For as long as I can remember I’ve made up stories. These were little fantasies that stayed in my head. I tried a few times, as a child, to write them down but what I managed to get on paper was never good enough, it didn’t reflect what I saw in my head when I played through the story in my imagination. They were dreadful, so I stopped trying to write them down.
I never stopped making up stories though. Over the years I built up quite a collection of characters and situations. Some of the characters became favourites and I dreamed up new episodes they were involved in, little chapters of ever expanding lives. Continue reading