Last Christmas I got the oddest writing related present I could possibly get short of a giant novelty pencil, it was an Alphasmart 3000 word processor. A seventeen year old piece of tech that looked like the lovechild of an 80’s Tandy machine and an early 90s iMac G3 in fetching Bondi Blue.
I wasn’t really sure of what to make of it as I’m an extreme lover of high end tech with more PC’s and weird gadgets coming out of my proverbial wazoo at any given time. It took a little prodding and few perplexed looks from people in coffee shops thinking I was a strange bald hipster for me to fully comprehend it’s amazing usefulness and versatility that blows any computer/tablet/phone out of the water in 2017.
I attended my first ever writing retreat last weekend and I came away from it with a strange tangible sense that it wasn’t what I initially expected.
Before I went I’d set in my mind that I would get some solid writing done, socialise with other like minded writers and hopefully learn something useful along the way. I completed all my tasks however I learnt something completely unexpected.
Since my last entry I’ve burst my proverbial validation bubble. I made the decision to submit my work for some creative critique from other writers and editors.
My initial trepidation was well founded because after a good round of having Nightcall critiqued, it highlighted everything I was doing wrong. Submitting your work like this is a very frightening experience and not for the faint of heart, but I can tell you this; it is the best thing I have done for my writing career so far. I discovered I was overusing adjectives, badly structuring my sentences, confusing tense, repeating myself far too much, and only mildly guilty of of cliche here and there.
I’m stuck in this strange bubble of trying to work out if I’m actually a writer, or simply someone with a vague delusion of being one. Sure I can string a few sentences together, form a vague plot and a tenuous ending might come out of it. But does it actual constitute some form of talent?
I suppose I’m looking for some sort of validation in my work. I would never be so boldly arrogant as to presume that I am amazing at what I do. I have enough confidence to know that it is better than some of the trash I was vomiting up 13 years ago when I had It in my head I wanted to write stories. But will it be enough for a total stranger to pick up my story and leave that all important five stars to say they loved it because it is something that they genuinely enjoyed reading it. I feel it will be the push I need to go for it 150%. So for the very first time ever I’m going to put my two recently completed short stories onto Amazon as free samplers of my work. (Cue the tumbleweed making it’s entrance into the frame before traversing un-majestically across the internet and exiting stage left.)
Always make sure your verbs have matched your subjects.
Avoid hard to read sentences that go on forever with no punctuation and turn the reader off by just looking at them because you forgot the basic idea that a sentence is there to express something and contains both subject and predicate in various combinations.
Comma’s, should be in the right places.
A preposition isn’t a good way to end a sentence with.
Remember to really never split infinitives.
When typing away on your computer, dangling participles must be avoided.
Apostrophe’s should be in their correct place’s.
Proof read your work to make sure that you do not words out.
Avoid cliches like the plague.
Make sure singular pronoun agree with their antecedents.
From an early age I have actively encouraged by son to pick up one of those strange usually oblong shaped objects made of paper, take the effort to open it and pay attention to the words that do not contain any hashtags, URLs or hyperlinks.
I watch children walk down the street with their headphones on, staring at whatever engrossing new app is taking over the world. It makes me feel sad as it imparts no knowledge, or serves any purpose other than to waste peoples time.
Near our little village there is a picturesque little market town that contains almost everything you would need to get by with, including a little bookshop selling second hand books. It is ran by a Sweet Old Lady that sits behind an old school desk and always greets every customer with a smile. (The exact opposite of Bernard Black).