It started out as a bet, do I dare make a blog about myself?

It was a surprisingly hard decision to make, there are a lot of shady people on the internet, after all.

But I came through and now I love it, sort of.

I think it’s important that you get stuff out there, not because you might get discovered; just a ‘like’ means a lot.

It means that you are not alone.

That’s why I keep doing it, for the recognition

Writing is my way out

It’s weird, when it was time to decide what to do with my life, I chose to be a writer. I never gave it much thought until at the end of University, when I was running out of time. The choice always seemed so far off.

I never wrote anything seriously before then and I’ve only been writing for about five years since. I took jobs where I could work as little as possible and write instead. I feel like I’m at a place now where I can actually finish something good and I’m about to. I’m already browsing agents but I still have some extensive editing to do.

For some reason writing is the only viable thing I could see myself do.

I’m a lonely guy. My sister had a kid a year ago and I’m more convinced than ever that I never want one. I ended a relationship recently too, realizing it’s too much work. I’m too self centered and I like spending time with myself. Funny thing is I like talking to new people but I don’t want to make friends and create obligations, people seemed to like me too, at first, at least… I must sound terribly immature.

I think there’s a bit missing in my head.

It’s All Bullshit

I love writing stupid bullshit, because that’s what writing is. We put words on a page and we have no idea if it’s any good or not. It sound right in our head until next time. Sometimes we know it’s bullshit but we put up with it anyway, telling ourselves I’ll fix it later.

Bullshit is good, it’s the only way to write. Otherwise you take yourself too seriously and that’s the death of the story.

An altogether serious novel has no place in literature, it must contain some silliness, otherwise it’s a product. It’s just pandering to the reader and putting yourself up on a pedestal that you’re deep.

Writing is one of the few mediums where the artist have full control, make use of that and write your bullshit. 

It’s all bullshit anyway.

It’s okay not knowing

How strange it is that a comfortable life can be a problem.

I don’t know about you but I remember when I just moved into my first apartment and took odd jobs as a substitute teacher I had the most fun being a writer. My life was uncertain, I didn’t know what to make of myself and somehow that translated well into my writing. 

Nowadays my life is secure and the job I have, although not the worst for a creative person, I’ve become weary of it. I want to do and see new things… I don’t think any creative person is satisfied with their condition. It’s a trap, if you let it and it becomes harder and harder to break up the monotony if you wait.  

At the same time, having a secure job gives you peace to write, but I don’t know about you, I wouldn’t mind living in poverty if it meant I could write and live.  

Sometimes things need to change and I fear I’ll live like I do now for the rest of my life if I don’t do something about it. 

What is essential to the plot?

”A story is based on the merit on how much is removed.” I never understood this quote until I had to do it.

I recently had to remove a lot from a chapter because it was boring and irrelevant, though there were bits and pieces that I adored, and tried very hard to incorporate, it never fit in anywhere, as if it lost its place.

I don’t know if there’s any meaning to losing text like this or if it’s just a necessary step in my process to get to the good part.

Of course, some things are removed on purpose; backstories, for instance, rarely fit into the narrative but is essential nonetheless. The reader doesn’t need to know the backstory (not always) but the writer absolutely have to.

The more you decide not to include in the final product the more depth a story has and the more implicit things become which the writer can build upon.

At least, that is what I like to believe, that the many hours I spent on a segment is important even though it’s not included and somehow enriches the story instead if being relegated to the void where it came from.

Why do we make life harder than it has to be?

When you write a story you often come to a point where everything feels wrong. It physically hurts working on the it and you don’t know why. That is your cue to stop. You’ll try to fix it, of course, because you are stubborn, but why move the boulder that’s in the way when you can walk around it? 

Discard what you have written, at least parts of it, perhaps only a sentence or two that you feel stuck on, and start over and you’ll find the flow again. It’s not worth working against the grain.

We don’t know what we are doing anyway and we need to accept that.

I like to think of us as scribes recording stories from a long lost archive that’s in a language we can barely understand. We catch the general idea but we must fill in the blanks ourselves. 

Kill your darlings is the advice, I believe.

Confront your demons

Are there dangers in writing too simply?

Whenever I approach a story, I build it up as I go, meaning, it’s very basic and I skip a lot of steps in the process. For instance, I didn’t develop the scene when the character had to battle between doing what he wants and what is right; instead I made the choice for him and moved on. 

Basically, I skip a lot of essential scenes that might change the story later. I only do them if I absolutely have to, which is often very late in the process… 

I can never understand how most writers are able to write so much. Their concern is having to scale down while mine is scaling up! This leads to a lot of rewrites, naturally, because eventually I’m forced to confront these events and, inexplicably, the event didn’t turn out as I imagined it to be.

It sounds ludicrous because am I not the one making up the story to begin with? How much control do the characters have?

It’s almost impossible to make the necessary changes so late in the process because I’ve grown accustomed to my ideas, they anchor me in the sea of words that is a novel. I’m a slow learner but I cannot escape this fundamental flaw in my writing. I’ve jumped stories so many times because I was unable to understand my problem and in doing so never finishing anything. 

The Great Plague

I get ideas sometimes. 

You never know when inspiration will strike, but it will happen. More often than not, those flashes of inspiration are just random ideas that don’t connect to anything. I’d like to share one of those random ideas with you. 

It’s not good by any means, but feel free to use it if I spark an idea in you.

There’s this theory that Syphilis came from America and brought to Europe, while others theorise that the disease has been latent fin Europe for a long time and it only suddenly mutated into the disease we know today.

The latter one  is just bad storytelling.

I also heard that Native Americans were much more advanced than we previously thought, apparently, a long time ago. They’ve found huge wooden cities scattered across America that don’t fit the description of the nomadic Indian. So I was thinking, Imagine if a disease ravaged the land, much like the black death did in Europe, only, much more devastating. It destroyed Native American civilisation until there were only tribes left. And by then, the survivors had become more or less immune to the disease.

Then came Europeans who had no idea. 

They had sex with the Indian’s and brought it to Europe and then, another plague more devastating than the black plague occur! 

Destroying European civilisation as well. Maybe they go back to their feudal cities? 

So what is this civilisation destroying disease? Where did it come from? 

This is basically how I approach writing, by asking questions. Then I explore them and ask more questions. But whether you should answer them for yourself or reveal them to your reader that’s a different issue entirely, because some things are better left unanswered.

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A simple story

I tried to make a simple story the other day, with simple language and a simple plot:

It’s about a girl who lives in a castle. She was born with a birthmark that makes people fear her because (as the story goes) people with birthmarks were touched by something evil before they were born. One day, this evil will come and get her…

(Is this stupid? It sounds stupid…)

She’s shunned like the plague and nobody cares for her, even her parents. One day, a distant relative comes and takes her away. She’d wished to leave the castle all her life but never did she imagine it would be like this.

He takes her to an old, mostly abandoned, castle in the mountains. It’s a mystery what he wants with her. He has no family, and most people, who used to live there, have gone away. But he’s nice and now she can walk around as much as she wants without being taunted by others.

There are two other characters, as well, that live in the castle. Their behaviour hints that they might not be what they seem. They are hiding something, for sure and she starts to wonder if the stories about her might be true. Does the uncle have something to do with the evil that will come for her or is he just a simple old man who wants company in his lonely castle?

Trying to summarise it like this the story seems dumb. Maybe if I develop it a bit more it might make more sense and it gets easier to explain.

Neil Gaiman said a thing

I listened to a podcast the other day and Neil Gaiman was the guest.

Lucky me!

One of the thing that stuck out to me was his fondness for fountain pens. According to Neil, the reason sentences were so long, back in the day, was because they had a flow with the fountain pen and couldn’t stop writing unless they blotch the page.

I love anecdotes like this, it makes the world a bit more loveable. 

If you can’t stop at every other word you have to think ahead before putting pen to paper. I never do that. I just write whatever comes to mind, I never think ahead and I’m wondering, is that a bad thing? According to Neil, using a fountain pen you get the kind of sentence you wanted from the start, instead with a computer, you fiddle with it until it become what you wanted.

I’m guilty of editing a lot and I can’t even imagine people who write ‘correctly’ from the beginning. How can you write a story and not edit everything as you go? How can you write and then say the story is done without editing major swaths of it?!

When I write a book, I feel like I write several stories worth because I edit so much. 

They say write as fast as possible on the first draft to get all of the ideas out quickly, and then at the second draft, you basically write the story as it’s supposed to be. The third draft is just the minor editing that doesn’t affect the plot a lot. 

That’s not at all how things go down.

My first draft is short and my second is also short, then I have a third and a 5th and it becomes longer and longer until it becomes a book. 

Maybe my approach to writing is wrong or maybe it’s the stories I choose to develop… Either way, I have a feeling that I’m making it harder for myself.