While I may not have done much in the way of writing during January, I was able to do more reading than usual. Enough reading, in fact, to help me successfully complete my Goodreads reading challenge, for the first time ever, by the end of the month. And this was despite losing a week of reading time to the flu. Admittedly, the target of ten books I set myself is miniscule compared to the goals of many other Goodreads users, but given how many obstacles life typically throws in front of me it still represented a challenge, albeit a modest one.
Greetings folks! This is the post I delayed from yesterday, announcing that the inevitable has finally come to pass; the #SPFBO adventure of my debut fantasy novel The Exercise Of Vital Powers reached its conclusion at the weekend after missing out on an unlikely place in the final, having been pushed into second place by Devil’s Night Dawning by Damien Black.
To varying degrees, many authors, particularly those who are genuinely passionate about their craft, invariably put a lot of themselves into their writing, whether it be in terms of their personality informing their characterisation, or their life experiences influencing their plots. I’ve never been one of these writers. I have always consciously gone out of my way to avoid putting any aspect of myself into my writing. There are a couple of reasons for this: first of all, I am a very private person, so the idea of incorporating any part of myself or my life into a story is one I could never be comfortable with; opening up and sharing personal things about myself with anyone, even indirectly, is something that doesn’t come easily to me, and (with one notable exception) it never will. Secondly, I’m a boring person with a boring life which doesn’t really lend itself to writing exciting stories.
It’s a Bank Holiday today and I’m bored so I’ve decided to answer one of the default questions that Goodreads presents to every author who signs up to their author program. The question I’ve chosen to tackle is perhaps the most common one an author gets asked: how do you deal with writer’s block? What I find most interesting about this particular question is the assumption that writer’s block is inherently a problem, and that it needs to be overcome. Personally, I’ve never viewed the matter in those terms so writer’s block has never been a genuine source of frustration to me. Whenever my own creative writing is brought to a grinding halt by writer’s block, I take it as a sign that I need to take a break from my story, so that’s exactly what I do. And depending on my frame of mind that break will manifest in one of the following six ways.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion, recently, that I have a self-promotion problem, one that is potentially insurmountable. That problem, in a nutshell, is me; or more to the point my personality. I am what is known as an introvert. (People frequently mistake introversion for shyness, which is incorrect. For a more accurate insight into the psyche of an introvert check out this Huffington Post article.) One of the consequences of this character trait is that I really dislike being the centre of attention. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid bringing attention to myself. Now you’re probably beginning to see my problem.
I have generally taken it for granted that every author, whether they be published or unpublished, has one specific book they read during their childhood that planted the seed which would eventually grow into the desire to be a storyteller. I know that I can trace the beginning of my own journey to becoming an author to a book I first read when I was just seven years old. From that moment, reading and writing became my principal hobbies (although being born into poverty meant I couldn’t afford to do much else).
Although creating stories is something I have been doing for my own entertainment since early childhood, until recently I had never given any thought to what actually inspires the stories I tell. It was during the course of writing my first novel throughout most of 2016 that I first consciously came to realise that the inspiration for my writing comes from two things. It came as something of a surprise to realise these two factors were influencing all my work because beforehand I wouldn’t have thought either lend themselves naturally to writing fantasy or science fiction.