Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The Lost Words of C.G.Allan"

# "Anyone plain can be lovely, anyone loved can be lost... What if I lost my direction? What if I lost sense of time?" # - the Barenaked Ladies


Not too long ago now I actually lost one of my writing notebooks which I’ve not yet found and am still pretty much lamenting over - it’s the first time it’s happened to me and it’s made me kind of pause for thought as I go into the second half of 2008 with my creative writing and continue to build my Official Writing Website, and so I've been pondering a lot on the theme of “lost words”...




Thankfully the pocket book in question was more of a diary with dates and "to do" lists than an all-out story notebook, but it DID have some sketches of new story beginnings and ideas which I've been wracking my mind's eye to see laid out on the pages that were quite familiar to me before I mislaid it... In this respect, it’s been a good exercise in memory recall as I visualise the scribbles of pen and pencil I had down there and commit them to clean paper in a new notebook (which will be kept under lock and key and closely guarded whenever I take it out of the house from now on!).

I won’t bore you with the circumstances leading to me losing the book or with the long tale of my "hunt for the missing notebook", except to say that after looking everywhere for it, I did end up trying the Lost Property department of the local train station! It's difficult when you care about your work so much to let it go but after a few months distance from the event itself, I'm slowly allowing myself to cut my losses with it, because after all, it could have been a lot worse - it could have been my back-up memory stick that got lost which contains my entire creative output, (at the end of the day, the notebook did only have a few sketchy ideas in it really).

The experience has definitely taught me to be more guarded with my writing though - I don't want to repeat the mistake of losing any more words, and as I said, I do back up all of my work properly. This has become even more relevant in the last few weeks as I'm slowly realising I'm heading towards having to buy a more modern PC in the new year as my old and pretty outdated laptop is slowly dying, which could lead to a potential total loss of all my words...

It's an ironic coincidence that the story of Moon Crater itself is one of 'lost things' and about an eternal search for that 'something' which drives us ever onwards in life despite the setbacks that befall all of us... So this theme of lost words is definitely very relevant to my writing at present and comes at a time when I'm polishing the second full draft of the novel's story, ready to send off to agents in 2009...

I wrote a post entitled "2008's New Batch" back in April and this "lost words" themed post here is probably a good opportunity to provide a kind of "sequel" to that in order to update you on the new story endeavours I mentioned then, lest they become lost words in the ether of jumbled sentences and paragraphs that is the Net... (I'll also provide direct links for each too because of my "lost words" theme, rather than giving my now usual "clues" as to where to find them on the Net or my homepage - but, you won't get off that easily cos after this post, I'll return to the cryptic clues!)

- My short story The Archenemy is still "publishing pending" by Dogeater Press in their 'Dogstar' e-zine. I've received news that it'll now be towards the end of year that their Issue 2 "Heroes" edition appears, so I guess good things come to those who wait...

- One of my oldest attempts at writing (aged around 8) is now online on one of my newest story pages... The very short story entitled An Old Horse's Tale can be seen on my "The Unmarked Time Capsule" story page which I created back in January of this year (see, I really hadn't been 'absent-minded' about that one, honest!) to provide a place for my potentially "lost" creative words and 'Forgotten Fiction'...

- A brand new teeny tiny type tale only just written by me in the last month or so called Blood Hunt is to be published by Two Penny Trash, "an exciting new hardcover... dedicated to the fine art of storytelling". And what's even more exciting is that the editors also asked for more of my other stories for their publication (that should hit the shelves next year) so I can appear as a 'featured writer' - stay tuned here on this blog for more news on this as it happens in 2009...

- This year saw the launch of an ongoing online collaborative tale (which ends soon) called "The Green Story" - I've been following this since the beginning of 2008 and have a few ideas as to where the yarn could go, so at present, I'm preparing my very own chapter to continue the story right now...

- Anyone missing some feathered friends? I have to admit that my sequel to Kyle's Courage which I reported as being posted on my Children's Stories page last December isn't actually there any more - apart from a lesson in time management and trying to do too many stories all at once, I've actually turned this missing story or collection of "lost words" into a much larger plot arc which I'm currently developing, split into smaller stories, but which weave back and forward just like a kittiwake in flight... So keep your eyes on the blue skies for a real cacophony of kittie yarns in the next year or so over at my Children's Stories page...

- You’d be forgiven if you thought my much-trumpeted "Moon Crater Adventures" which began late last year had been lost too, but to be honest, it’s always been intended that it evolve slowly, and it's without doubt its own creature, so I'm allowing it to develop organically as it must… Having said that, there'll be a whole post of updates on the Adventures here soon (probably in November once illustrator Rich and myself get our heads together for some more brainstorming sessions) and there'll definitely be a few surprises in store, if you're following "Simulacrum", I promise...

- And finally, expanding this post's theme once more to one of "lost AND found", there's more great news about my newly published short story The Silhouettes & Winds of the Valley. I've said before that it's one of my favourite tales to date that I've written and it could really have remained “lost” if I hadn’t decided to take the chance last Winter and re-draft it and send it off to an anthology competition… The story has gained some good exposure in a prominent writing organisation's newsletter this month which you can see my 'edit' of below... Voting for me is as simple as New Writing North say it is (but read the sidebar "ad" I've set up on this blog page for it if you want to know more!) Basically, the anthology is out now and my story is one of 24 published in it AND has a chance to be voted "best story" - the prize for me would be a full-length book commission from the same publisher, so it's quite an exciting prospect. You can buy the book and read it, and hopefully, if you like my story best, vote for me on the organisers' website. Another exciting part to the whole thing is the anthology is also sold through Amazon on the Net too, it really is a thrill to be able to say that some of my writing is actually on Amazon!)

- Added to all this, too, and the novel that will come out of the working Moon Crater manuscript, I’ve got real emerging aspirations to also at some point put together a collection of my early short stories in one book so that they themselves don’t become lost words (a process I've already started of course by placing some of them on the Web through the "Featured Fiction" extension pages of my Official Homepage).

Having all that news about where my creative output presently stands at, is there anything more I can add to stretch this post's theme of "lost words" any further? Well, as a matter of fact, there is, dear reader... In my ongoing attempts to streamline and make this blog journal more accessible to new and old visitors alike, I've started using the “labels” feature now on this journal for ease of reference to ensure that none of my words here since the blog's inception will be lost either… Just scroll down the sidebar on this page now and you should find a list under the heading "What does CGAllan blog about here", cataloguing and categorising the posts so far that I've written into neat and hopefully handy subject headings...

And while you're meandering down the right-hand part of my blog you may also notice a new "gadget" entitled “CGAllan speaks” which I've added to help prevent the loss of more of my 'actual' words (I'm still on an eternal quest to find my speaking voice as a writer while also developing my writing one!) It features the audio recording from my 2007 interview at the Live Theatre so you can now easily click on the link there to catch up on the clip of my humble thoughts on a writing life...

Lastly, "The Flipside of Words that Hide" page on my Official Site has been updated by yours truly with news of The Zip Code challenge launch – things are slower moving now on that page since the demise of "the Time Warp Initiative but rest assured lots of clues will be given on there from a fan’s eye view on The Zip Code challenges as they progress...

As I've thought about this theme of 'lost words' more and more, a whole bottom draw of unused ideas have presented themselves to me - I could mention the old newspaper we found recently from back in 1983, hidden between the walls of our bathroom which we discovered whilst renovating it or the fact that I've had to get a gold cap fitted by my dentist this past month (lest I lose even more words in the future - OK, this perhaps IS stretching the theme a little too far...) But everyday home life is something that really inspires my writing, and 'Family History' is another favourite place of mine to draw regularly on for ideas. That's why over this past year, I've tried to encourage the 'elder' members of my family, including my mother and father, to write down their stories and the stories of their lost elders, the ones I've heard over and over again, growing up, but which I know I'll forget if I can't read them later in life... One of the places my family grew up in was a village called Westerhope and I've blogged about life there before, and it was so nice recently to get a comment added to that blog post from a woman called Margaret who I've never met before but has obviously stumbled across my blog on the Net, sharing her own memories of the village after reading my own reminiscences... It really reaffirmed my belief that having a journal (online or not) as a writer of any kind is important, and can help to inspire others too... Anyway, I'll publish Margaret's comment on the bottom of that previous Westerhope post in the next month or so to share with the world (wide web) - those words cannot be lost either... (You can click here to read more on the "Westerhope Wheel" now)

It's funny, but setting up my writing web presence, I've never wanted to be “the famous Chris Allan”, it's never been an excercise in becoming well-known for the sake of it - what’s crucially more important to me with my writing online than a mere vanity trip is to get the words out of my brain and onto the page, to share my thoughts, so that my words won’t remain lost (as I've said, I'm not particularly good at speaking them out loud, so writing has always helped me communicate in a better way) So “Find the missing words, CGAllan..." is a voice constantly whispering in the back of my mind and will hopefully continue to do so for some considerable time to come...

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"The Proof Is In The Reading... (or so they might say...)"

I'm currently undertaking a Proofreading & Editing Skills Course with Chapterhouse and each time I post on my journal blog here in 2008 as a way of motivating myself to keep going with it (and because it's quite relevant to my writing, really) I'll provide a small update on how it's going...

August's update (as well as July's lost one!):
“Apologies for no Proofreading update last month – (more lost words!) But here's the lowdown for July and August now - having sent off two of the final three assignments during these two months (those being the major 'Proofreading' piece and the general Grammar study), I'm now on course to get the final piece of Copy-Editing work done and dusted, which is quite satisfying. The grammar study was great for helping me in brushing up on stuff I use daily in my day job (see next post for more on this very topic!) and I really learned a lot working through the Proofreading symbols which should come in useful for my writing shorthand in the future hopefully!"
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