Having a much needed break from the workaday routine this week to indulge in some rock climbing in the Fontainebleau forest in France.
For all intents and purposes this also means a bit of a break from all things writing related, I still bring a notepad and pen, and have my trusty Kindles Fire and Paperwhite, but they’re generally for just scribbling the odd note, doing a bit of reading in the evenings or penning something a bit more on the odd bad weather like today. But I also have my shiny new author site and blog, and now as the rain pours down on all sides of the veranda that I’m sat on, it seems like a natural time to waffle on a bit about some of the things that are important to me, but which exist at a slight tangent to my writing.
In the spirit of full disclosure though I should probably also add that I like the act of writing, whether scribbling on paper, typing away at a keyboard, or as I am now swiping away on my tablet. Not only that, but I also hold with one of the ideas mentioned in Ray Bradbury’ s book ‘Zen and Art of Writing’ about writing every day, even if only for a few minutes, in order to retain that fluidity that’s comes from daily practice. If you aspire to attempting your own novel one day, then this is a habit I can’t recommend enough. There’s no need to be slavish about it, missing the odd day here and there doesn’t make a huge difference as long as you manage to pen something on the vast majority of days.
All of which brings me back to those tangential things in life that I was going to ramble on about:
But first another aside, as I’m sat here on the raised veranda at the back of the chalet I’m staying in, the rain tipping down and saturating the pine tree fringed garden that surrounds the house, I look up occasionally to spot the local squirrels making a dash for it between one group of trees and another, or sulking on a branch on the lee side of a trunk trying to avoid the full force of the occasional heavier wave, meanwhile the lightly gusting breeze brings the rain in under the roof of the veranda to soak the railing that surrounds and a few feet of the decking in from the edges, leaving me, almost like the squirrels inching backward to try and avoid getting too wet. On the plus side it’s only mid September so the temperature is still in the mid to high teens making it warm enough to sit around outside without a coat. I can still feel the wind through my clothing, and the damp in the air is palpable, so much so that I know if I were writing in a paper notebook right now the paper would feel slightly damp and clammy beneath my hand.
It’s moments like this that I really like to incorporate into my writing, the sound of the rain, the general background of the downpour, the drumming on the roof and of course the heavier drops and dripping that every roof or guttering has, all this combined with the feel of the weather, the breeze through my clothing, the dampness of the air and the paper, the cool but not cold air, and the occasional stronger gust that brings a light mist all the way back into the shelter but that’s only detectable on bare face and hands. I’m already thinking about where I could incorporate this into either my TFOT novels, or my Glass Darkly serialization.
To my still naive sensibilities it’s the details in settings like this that give a story depth and lay a foundation that I hope most people can relate to, but they’re also the things that take a bit of additional time and energy.
All of which brings me to one of the books I’m reading at the moment, Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright.
I decided to read this serialized novel after watching the Self Publishing Podcast produced by Sean, David and another author Johnny B Truant who collectively make up Sterling & Stone publishers. These podcasts are a great resource for writers that are thinking of going it alone, but they’re also a fascinating insight into the writing process of these three authors. Sean and Dave for example are very open about their strategy of writing as much as they can in order to build up as big a catalogue of work as they can because they believe this will allow them to reach more readers and then keep those readers happy by providing new work more frequently.
Now I’m enjoying Sean and David’s book, there are some great ideas in it, some interesting characters and plot elements, but there are also some obvious stereotypes deployed throughout along with some fairly generic scene setting and unnecessary padding. Now none of this is fatal, but it’s the kind of thing that can bring the reader out of the story and interrupt the all important suspension of disbelief.
Do these issues stem from essentially rushing their creative process, at the moment I can’t help but think they do, and that the quality of this story could easily have been significantly improved by just investing a bit more time in the process.
Will I continue to read their books? For a little while yes, though the issues are starting to grate on my patience more than some stories that I’ve abandoned before now. What I’m reading now is their early work, so even if I do abandon Yesterday’s Gone I will probably try another book of theirs to see if they’re better.