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Monday, 24 September 2012

UNBLOGGING.

You cannot unblog that which you have blogged. Better to say, perhaps, you cannot kill that which does not live. A blog can be shut down. Left, mouldering, with a stake through its heart. Pull the stake out, and Blogula Lives!
   I’ve been staring at my electronic version of the blank page for a few minutes. The duration of a song playing in the background. Windows Media Player tells me I’ve been staring at the blank screen for a 4:06 chunk of my time on this world.
   Valentine Heart, by Tanita Tikaram. (From her debut album, ancient heart.) Eclectic doesn’t mean special. It means you are all over the place in selecting sources of inspiration. Those sources are quite meaningless.
   Blogger and Twitter changed my plans. I have a Zombie Apocalypse story to write. Why couldn’t I use that as a source for inspiration? Time plays its part. I had thoughts, in the dim and distant. Two novels. I’ll write these two novels. First, I’ll write other things. Become a decent writer.
   Kept two stories in my head for years. Then I kept more and more stories in my head for years. The two that sat side by side were untitled. One was the skyscraper story. The other was the Quaich story. They were novels waiting out in the street. Not waiting in the wings. They’d have to work up to that.
   I became a better writer. A feat that wasn’t hard. All I had to do was stop writing utter crap. Let me know how I’m doing. No. Don’t. Looking back, every twelvemonth, I sense improvement. And room for improvement. Your future self is always your worst critic. My future self will pour scorn on that last sentence.
   Events in 1993 and 1995 altered my views of what would be possible in writing the skyscraper story. By 1995, the Quaich story had become slim*thriller. I was a world away from these novels. Other stories concerned me. Stories I was writing down. In 1998 I may have written a note about coinage for slim*thriller. Coinage seemed important to me. By 2000, I must have started plans to write the book.
   Music plays in the background. Sometimes that’s a source of inspiration. I also take photos, or scan images from a wide range of sources. My archive is shot to hell. Migrating from one computer to another screws up the dates. Files are absorbed into other files. Occasionally, only the content of a file screams the original date of creation. All the statistics and properties are out of whack with reality.
   Still, I dig. There are some gems. A few images with intact dates attached. I must have made notes in early 2000. Before I laid hands on the coinage I sought. There are prototype scanned images with year 2000 date-stamps. Once the coins were in my hands, I set up plans for my novel in early 2001.
   Then I turned away to other things. I had a plan, and the plan didn’t involve the skyscraper story or slim*thriller. By the end of 2001, the skyscraper story was dead. I’d lost one. Yes, I’d lost short stories before. I’d vapourised an appalling novel, too. But now I’d lost an unwritten book.
   I am outraged amazed now that I’d advanced all those stories in my head after taking few or no notes. The Quaich story only just started to appear in files after a little over a decade in my head. Alongside the skyscraper story, the Quaich story burbled away at the mercy of traffic. One wrong step in front of a bus, and worlds are destroyed.
   My plans for slim*thriller were set aside in favour of other tales. At least I’d made a start. I returned to the prospect in late 2004. An arcane note concerning coinage became the chapter I’d always meant to write. The Quaich story became the book I’d always meant to write. Had the World Trade Centre not been destroyed, the skyscraper story would have been written. Knowing me, I’d have dropped a few slim*thriller references in there for readers.
   Stories stay inside my head for years. This is true of the Zombie Apocalypse book. Only a few years, in the case of the zombies. Preparing to publish books in the autumn/winter period of 2011/2012, I started to have ideas for something…new.
   Gasp. What am I thinking? That I’ll keep a story in my head for a few months and then write it? Not let it stew for years, forming part of the production-line. Just throw it out there? Of course not. Let it stew. Do the Zombie Apocalypse story.
   Then I remembered that I’d wanted to try something different, related to the zombie story. It would be good to throw a story out there. As a source for inspiration. I don’t mean to go all Japanese on you. As though I’m in a rock garden, poised over a parchment, waiting hours to strike. Creating the perfect poem.
   No. I’m far from that image. No rock garden, for starters. I write rapidly. My ability to edit is powered by the Dark Side of Publishing™. Many Ewoks died to fuel the process. So why haven’t I written a bajillion books? Life gets in the way.
   Ideas stay in my head as they aren’t ready for the world. I’m not saying learn to edit in your head. That may not be for you. To concoct stories, and conversations within stories, and keep them unwritten. Adding to them. Elaborating on the chatter. All that stuff might poison your mind. Doesn’t seem to affect me as I throw another Ewok on the fire.
   Plans change. But I don’t unblog that which I have blogged. Yes, I’ll still do the zombie story. It is easier to turn to fresh material lacking illustrations than to tackle the technical minefield that is slim*thriller. So I tackle short story collections, and blog compilations, novels in the backlist that constitute unfinished business, and…new ideas.
   My fiction factory is full of things I’m tinkering away at. Special projects. Not-so-special projects. The whole while, I’m looking at the business of business and not worrying too much about things that drag other people down.
   So many people out there get sucked into the need to advertise. I do short plugs for my books on Twitter, and leave it at that. It doesn’t cost money. My advertising budget is ZERO. You may be shocked. Well, I’m darting around my factory, seeing to fiction.
   Yes, I will put out a book called Clanjamfrie. It’s proving a tricky customer to nail down. Without getting into it, the problems are technical, plot/character related, and not for public consumption. My personal carer, Dr Anton Phibes, sees to that.
   Nurse, the screens!
   I resolved some Kindle-oriented technical issues over my not hamlet adaptation, and hope to bring that to a semi-suspecting public one day. What do I have in mind, as I type? REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE as a blog collection featuring a giant space cockroach. Clanjamfrie, Clanjamfrie Tales, not hamlet, slim*thriller once I fix the pictures, REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE as a blog collection featuring a lost story I’ll recover from memory, JUST ANOTHER ZOMBIE STORY, and assorted volumes of Neon Gods. (Including a short story collection which will house The Chalice in the Snow.)
   Oh, and other stuff besides. How long will it take to put all this material out? It takes as long as it takes. Life gets in the way, remember. I’d like to spend a mad weekend bringing all this stuff to the boil. Then, on the Monday, I’d hit the big red button on the end of the machine and watch e-books roll out at a frightening rate.
   Mm. I wanted to write a story, rapidly. Not on the backlist of books. Nothing that constitutes unfinished business. Material I’d thought over, at the start of the year. Oh, I’m constructing a new story in my mind. How long will I let this stew in the old brainbox?
   Not long, I decided. The world has gone digital. Immediate. I could rattle this out as an example of how to do things. Yes, I’ll do that for Kacey Vanderkarr. And show her how easy it is. That was wrong of me.
   For starters, I’d already shown her that she had to confront her fear of publishing. No need to bludgeon her with a book. To finish on, I should be writing a book to write a book – not to help out a single named individual. What was I thinking. Clanjamfrie has a delicate mechanism at its heart, if I choose to wind it up and link it to the heart. I must tread lightly.
   But I see that I am walking close to the edge of the room, where visitors from the outside world pass by. There, my personal carer, Dr Anton Phibes, stands ready to foil my plans of discussing my plans. One day, someone will get at him. Without knocking me out of action, for he has radio-linked his heartbeat to mine.
   I just wanted to waffle in a blog post about my works in lack of progress. They all proceed in dribs, in drabs. Even though I write quickly. Something technical comes up, and my writing day is shot to hell resolving it. For the technical must be resolved. As must the writing.

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