In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Friday, 28 August 2015

Dancing and Drinking

 Well, a few things have happened recently, such as this,

and as you can imagine, I've not had much time to write.

 The wedding and reception went off perfectly, though. The ceremony was charming, the weather held, and at the reception people danced and drank and had fun. We only had one issue - the DJ cancelled in the morning - but we found a replacement, who turned out to be very good. Best of all, Caz became Mrs Blake.

 My best man said in his speech that until I met Caz, I was focused entirely on my own projects, mostly writing. That's true, but there's more; I was focused on those things because my life held nothing better. Maybe it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: I don't know. Either way it's over now, because I have a wife I love very much and a child on the way too. I'll still write, nothing changes that. I need it for my sanity. It will no longer be the be-all and end-all.

 Still, I appeared on local radio two nights before the wedding, on a book club feature. Just a brief interview, but it gave me a chance to plug my own books (naturally) and also talk about the anthology, which is due to be published on 24th September as things stand. It's a great project, a chance for North Devon writers to achieve something together, and I was happy to give it a nudge as best I could. It's terrifying, mind. The Voice might only have an audience of twenty people and a dog, but it's still intimidating to think of people listening to what you say.

 In addition to all this, I have a new job (again) as manager of a Barnardo's store. It's in Yeovil, which means on Sunday I have to leave my wife and move to a new town. Caz will follow in November, when her own work allows it. So four days after the wedding I have to leave my wife alone, which is vexing, but the offer is too good to miss. And Yeovil is the home of a prestigious writing competition, so it must surely have a thriving community of authors. It could work out very well for my whole family.

 Let's hope so.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Just Scribbling

 Caz and I have moved into the new place now, and everything's going well. We have more room than before, which makes a big difference. I just spent the day assembling a flat-pack chest of drawers from IKEA, and it wasn't too tricky. Not much cursing at all.

 I've been working hard at the new job too. The hardest bit was finding a decent route to drive to and from Minehead. I tried the main road first, the A39, and it turns out to be a mess of hairpin turns, very narrow stretches, and places where water flows across the road. One part also runs along the edge of a cliff and when I went there was thick fog. I avoid that now. But I found a good route, a nice enough drive, so I 'll stick to that.

 Meanwhile I've ordered a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. It was suggested to me by an author called Ruth  Downie, who's very good by the way, well worth a read. It sounds the sort of aide every writer ought at least to look at. The biggest difference between self-publishing and traditional publishers is that in the former there's nobody independent to edit or proof-read your book - and no, friends reading it for you don't count. They can help, we all need beta-readers, but they're not proper editors. So in self-publishing we have to do it ourselves, and it's very hard to be consistent. A book like this could help.

 Everything helps. Writers should always be trying to improve what they do. Ernest Hemingway once said "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master", and it's true. Nobody understands how to write, not entirely. It's large parts instinct, but also large parts practice, and not just scribbling - we have to focus on what we do, try to recognise when a word clunks or a sentence groans under its own weight, and find ways to make it better.

 Hopefully, what I'm writing now will turn out to be the best thing I've done. It's called The Death of Ghosts, and I'm more pleased with it all the time. That bodes well. But we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?