In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Always be Fun

 I've had a publishing offer from a company called Olympia. They want to publish The Death of Ghosts!

Unfortunately Olympia want me to make a "contribution" to their costs. They're asking me to pay, in short, and that feels a lot like vanity publishing. Olympia have a network and they could market my book well, I'm sure, but with £2,000 or more to spend I could market it myself. I don't really see the point, so I've turned Olympia down.

 The right choice, there's no real doubt of that. But still, it feels terrible. What if nobody else offers? Ever?

 Obviously I think they will. Death of Ghosts is a good book, one which Olympia described as "well-written with an absorbing narrative, we see potential in the work." Well, if they see it, others likely will too - and if not with Death of Ghosts, they might see it with The Pyramids of Saqoma, or Isles of Eternity. And if not? Then I'll carry on publishing as an indie, building my audience inch by plodding inch, and I'll sure as hell carry on writing.

 A bump in the road. That's all.

 The important thing is too keep going. There's a saying that behind every successful author there's a failed author who didn't give up. That's the sort of glib comment which usually drives me mad, but there's truth in it. Keep writing, folks. Produce a bad book, that's fine, the gods and little fishies know I have. A bad book, if finished, is better than every unstarted novel in history. Go write it. If it stinks, who cares? You'll learn a lot and your next book will be better.

 And you'll have fun. There'll be moments of tearing out your hair, times when you can't force the words onto the page no matter how you try... but there'll also be fun. If this game is for you, if this is your calling, there will always be fun. That's what keeps you coming back until the words flow again, pouring out of your fingertips like water from a hose, and it's the best feeling there is.

 Please don't tell my wife I said that.

 Done for now. Take care squirrels.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Grubby and Desperate

 My wife and I welcomed our second child, and second daughter, early last month. As a result, in our house every day is filled with rushing about (Bella) and screaming for food (Evie), and then with cleaning up the worst of the wreckage. It's all very tiring, so it's a problem that the nights are disturbed too. But there's hope.

 On Friday morning I'll be having a vasectomy. I turn 50 next year (How? How?) so I can't really keep producing kids, not if I want to be around for the next 20 years to take care of them. Past a certain point it feels irresponsible. Plus my wife spent both pregnancies being quite unwell, so I don't want to put her through that again (Caz isn't keen either). So, time for the snip. Which means... several days of enforced rest.

 Or to put it another way, an excuse to sit on comfy cushions in front of my PC for days. With any luck Caz will bring me bacon sandwiches and beer at regular intervals, but never mind that. It's time to write that counts. Finally. Finally, a chance to get some solid work done.

 Strange thing, y'know, but having two small daughters doesn't half eat into your life.

 So, I have some adjustments to make to The Death of Ghosts, just tinkering at the edges really. There are a couple of things that need to be played up because they become important later, sometimes in volume two, but in once case not until volume four. The plot's laid out, I know the story in detail now, so the changes will be simple enough. Then run over the text, do another edit check for errors - you can never do too many - and push into volume two, titled The Life of Shadows. Quite a lot of nasty things start to happen in that. The main bad guy from volume one turns out to be very small fry indeed.

 I like a degree of unpleasantness in Fantasy. It shouldn't be all polished breastplates and men talking about honour. Sometimes life is just grubby and a bit desperate, and when the world is changing and there's danger all around that goes ten times over.

 Speaking of grubby and desperate, I need to get back to clearing up after the kids. Like I said, life isn't all glamour... but it'll do me.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Just as Cool

 When you write a character, it has to be genuine. We all know that, right? I produce pages of details I never use, because the reader doesn't need to know them all - but I do. They help me work out how the character will react in a given situation. I can't really have a bloke who's homophobic then turn out to be bisexual, can I?

 Motivation matters. A person's history, his family's background, a thousand other things; they all go into making that person who he or she is. That controls how the character behaves. And that's why I'm having trouble with the idea of Doctor Who as a woman.

 Let me say first that I like diversity. The BBC (who makes Dr Who) is in trouble for having too few ethnic minority stars, and above all for paying its male staff much, much more than their female counterparts. It deserves that trouble, too. It pays lots of men over £1 million a year, but no woman earns half that. It's a disgrace.

 But turning the Doctor into a woman doesn't feel like diversity. It feels like ticking a box. The current companion is Bill, who ticks three boxes - ethnic minority, female, gay. The BBC is straining so hard to be right-on politically correct that it risks losing sight of what the character actually is.

 The Doctor was conceived as an antidote to all the comic-book superheroes of the 1950's and '60's. Give them a spider bite or a radiation accident and they started to defy evil by hitting it a lot. By contrast, the Doctor never used violence. He used cleverness instead. He was intended to show young boys that cleverness was just as cool as flying about in a red cape and punching the bad guy on the nose.

 But girls know that already, you don't have to teach them. Women know how to talk better than men, how to compromise, because they don't have all this testosterone and ego thrashing about inside them. OK, these are generalisations, but they're largely true. So where does this leave the Doctor? A woman who prefers to talk and use her wits isn't anything out of the ordinary.

 As for the show, it's gained a transgender Doctor, but lost the multi-box ticking Bill. That needs to be addressed, gosh yes, I'm horribly afraid that the next season or two will give us a gay Cyberman, a female Dalek, maybe a Weeping Angel from a persecuted minority of the species. It's all very modern, but you know, modern changes. Twenty years from now the Doctor is likely to look as dated as the original Star Trek - the Sixties in space, more or less.

 Making the Doctor female is just tokenism. If the BBC wants to do diversity properly, instead of just filling quotas, here's how.

(Roly is my favourite)

Night night, Squirrels.