Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Reflections...

# "So please don't lose your mind.... cos it doesn't belong to anybody else..." # - Pomplamoose

Every picture tells many stories?
A large part of my time in 2012 has been spent setting about trying to begin to pinpoint, for my own curiosity, what kind of writer I am...   I know some days I can be a lazy one but then others I can be the most productive scribbler around if I just set my mind to it...  I also know that I like to write adventure stories inspired by the blockbuster films of my youth which had good storytelling at their heart and... I know I'm not embarking on a quest with my creative words to be some literary giant with my first novel... I've always just wanted to be a "working writer" - that's the true aim, to be someone who always has a project on the go (and by 'project' I mean, the next book) so that I can finally say I can devote my full-time to writing...  (But I think this is the dream of every amateur scribbler, to be honest)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On The Road To Publishville # 9 - "Try, Try Again... & Again!"

# "All possibilities are landing at my feet... There's nothing I can see but possibilities..." - Badly Drawn Boy

So it's been about a year since I last made a pit-stop down "The Road To Publishville" to recap on my efforts in getting myself into print and attached to a book agent, and it seemed at this point in the year, as winter is finally making itself felt, that it was about time I pulled off the road for a much needed breather and take stock of things again.  Over the last 8 posts of this occasional blog post series I've gone through the various processes any wannabe author might go through in their scribble adventures, heading towards that mythical town of print and ink that's always looming on the horizon... From initial drafting, to agent-hunting, to perseverance and new beginnings I've tried to document here on my online journal the trials and tribulations of an amateur writer facing the looming cityscape of "Publishville" and all of the fears and foes that might be faced along the way...

Over the course of 2012I've been overhauling the last draft of my first book - a long-needed exercise which I hadn't exactly put off but knew it was going to take the best part of a year to complete, but I'm glad to report that the newly-retitled 3rd major draft of Novel #3 is complete...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Maps and laps...

# I keep thinking, it'll be alright if I just get on the road... If I run, I can free my worried mind... # - Semisonic 


It's been a hectic few months for my usually idle notebook, fingertips and keyboard and I'm glad to say that I missed out a post here on the blog in September for no small reason...  I've been busying my scribble writing for the whole of 2012 so far and then things have intensified in September for me polishing off the next new draft of my first
 novel (the third big draft so far in fact)   You can see my next post in November for an in-depth analysis on all this but it's been a mammoth task...
But I wanted to take a short break from all that frenzied staring at my computer monitor to post about a couple of other things I've been up to recently which, while not directly writing-related, do help me to keep focused in my creative thoughts and always get my inventive juices flowing on the written page...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plotting the mind maps of the imagination...

# "“Did you know that Dickens invented 13,000 characters? 13,000! That’s a character a day for the whole of his working life. What have I done today?" # Nick Hornby/Ben Folds/Pomplamoose

A little while ago (well, almost a year now!) I posted about how I'm lucky enough to have a day job that feeds my creative writing tendencies...  Thankfully, given the day-and-age we're living in right now, I'm happy to say I'm still working in that same role, and this year, my video editing skills have been developing a lot more, particularly on a brilliant project over this summer for Seven Stories - the Centre for the Children's Book.

It's all to run in conjunction with a new exhibition launching in October 2012 based around the How to Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell.  My task was to film British Sign Language translations of interviews with the writer which would appear in the exhibit space at the museum over the next year, as well as glossaries of words also translated into BSL which related to the adventurous world of Vikings.

Not only was this a great project to work on because of getting to hear authors' and illustrators' thoughts about their creative processes (there were also interviews to be translated into BSL with Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt) but as a budding author I was also able to garner some great tips about starting points for new stories...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gone Fishing...

# "We've waited so long for someone to take us back home, it just takes so long... And meanwhile the days go drifting away, and some of us sink like a stone, waiting for mothers to call" # - Counting Crows 

This is a story about a land beyond our own, where humans can't survive but can only watch from afar...  It is a fast-paced tale of a race against time between rivals and rascals where survival is fought for day by day...  Colourful characters populate this world and even though their adventures span a tiny stage, they play out on an epic scale...

That first paragraph rather sounds like the makings of a damn good work of fiction now I read it back to myself but I must apologise, dear reader, for misleading you from the outset a little - although the descriptions made there are accurate - this is from an epic TRUE story told on a very small scale, but one which still resonates with me to this day...  It was on a recent trip back to the old homestead, journeying to the village I grew up in, to visit my parents that I was informed as soon as I entered the front door (no "Hello, how are you"!) that the old family fish tank had sprung a leak.

Now, as I sat and chatted with my folks and tried to catch up on the week's events in their lives, my gaze kept being drawn to the "second television" as I used to see the fish tank as a kid...  and strange feelings of melancholy began to well up inside me.  You could put this down to pure sentimentality or not wanting to let go of the past (I'll freely admit I do both of those things!) but this was something different - you see, staring into that 'other world' as a child, and to some extent as a teenager, I realised were where some of my formative storytelling tendencies were born...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Have camera, will travel..."

# "Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes... 
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again...  
Say goodbye to Hollywood, 
say goodbye, my baby..." - Billy Joel

I returned recently from a family wedding and then holiday on Kefalonia in Greece.  It was an island escape from the busy world of the day job, a place to get back to the basics of the writing of my first novel and also, which I found a pleasant coincidence was where the movie of the book of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set and filmed...

I've often talked here on the blog about how my creative writing is chiefly inspired, not by other writers, but actually by the stories told up on the silver screen...  I love travelling on this journey we call life, and as I grow older and the opportunities for globetrotting get less, I like to think about the days I spent trekking to far-off places (they do still happen, but just a little less frequently since getting a mortgage!), most of which, more often than not had a film-link and a Hollywood hook...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tick-tock...

# "I'm going down to Hollywood, they're gonna make a movie from the things that they find crawling round my brain" # - Counting Crows

Time slides away
all too quickly...
As a writer and general "creative type" I have many idiosyncracies, and I'm the first to admit that I'm getting more and more eccentric as I grow older (just ask my wife for proof on that point!), but one of my more mild foibles is that I can't sleep in the same room as a ticking clock...  I say "mild", but in fact, I've been known to take batteries out of every clock in the vicinity if needs be, in an attempt to stop the relentless clunk of the marking of the passage of time...

This has got me to thinking about what makes me tick as a writer. Why do I do it?  Why do strange ideas pop into my head at strange times of the day and night, and why does my brain then connect those ideas with ones I had say 3 years ago and propose I make a story out of them?   Why do I feel the need to scribble tiny ideas onto random scraps of paper,  wherever I am?  (It's for this reason I'm never without a pen or something to write notes down on!)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Those Dog-Gone Best Friends of Mine...

# "Well my dog wears a path on the same line... and lately I'm thinking I might take his advice..." # - Ben Folds

Bruce as a pup...
Spring is meant to be full of beginnings and possibilities, but every new beginning has to follow an ending of some sort and recently I've been reflecting on the loss of my parents' pet dog called Ebony...

She was actually not the only dog my family has had since I grew up and left the family home - there were a "Famous Five" canine companions, starting in the early 80s, and all had their own unique characters and led their own brand of anarchic adventures throughout the Allan household(s)...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"12 months to make it all work..." (the 2012 writing preview!)


# “Maybe that's how books get written, maybe that's why songs get sung...” #  - Ben Folds (with Nick Hornby)

It's taken me longer than I'd hoped back in January to write up my Preview post for 2012, but the new year has well and truly begun now and as the winter cold has receded and the spring air is beginning to penetrate my brain, I'm attempting more and more to lay out my writing plot for the 12 months that will make up 2012...
As ever, I've tried to kick-start the new year with a new update to my blog's title picture above... Each year since 2010 I've been adding another object to the collage and for 2012, a rather 'bookish' gnome has appeared.  What's different about this year's object is that it bears next year's date...
It's all to prepare the way for the book I'm planning to begin work on next year, but why jump ahead now?  Well, it's because for 2012, I'm returning to concentrate my writing efforts on a book I've already begun, and it's the big one....  In novel terms it's my first love, and by next year I'll have been working on it for a total of 10 years, so I'm giving myself the next 12 months to finally turn the last page on my first adventure novel... So my "new" writing news might go a little quiet for a while during 2012 as I knuckle down to the task at hand, imagining the many adventures in a tiny forgotten village somewhere up north...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"An Historic Year Spent in the Past..." (the 2011 Writing REVIEW!)

# "Who wrote the pages of our lives... in black and white...?" # - Adam Duritz


As the old year fully turns into the new and temperatures on the outdoors thermostat begin to switch to the “Arctic” setting, I’m naturally finding myself retreating more indoors and finding I’m in a more reflective state of mind…  So there’s no time like it, then, to think back and look over the in-roads I’ve tried to make over the past 12 months with my writing pursuits…