A change is as good as a rest…

Life has a funny habit of springing surprises on you.

I think back ten months to last June and I remember how settled everything felt.  I was working in the same place I’d been working in for eleven years, working on the same job I’d been working on for eight years and working with the same group of people I’d been working with for six years.  There didn’t seem to be anything new on the horizon, everything seemed like it would remain the same for another year.  Indeed, despite my January resolution to be in a better situation at the end of the year than I was at the start, I looked on course to be worse off if anything.

From my viewpoint, everything seemed to start going tits-up* around the end of June.  My friend Chris, who had been my wingman for the better part of five years, announced he had gotten promotion and was going to be moving to a new office.  Now, being a man I did not do anything so unmanly as shed a tear, but when he eventually departed it did feel like my left arm** had been cut off.  Another of my colleagues left around the same time, a further colleague with whom I had worked for the last eight years retired at the end of December and now, this Friday another of my close friends is going to be departing for fairer shores.  Finally, to round it all off my team got moved to a new section, they’re all really nice people up there, but I was sorry to leave behind my old section as we were made to feel unbelievably welcome there.

Now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of how that’s a lot of change for one year.***  Well yes it is, but I’m not done.  As anyone who has been reading this humble blog will know I applied for a new job recently, well I got the new job.  So, finally it’s my time to move to something new and that was essentially what caused me to write this post.

It’s a bit of a corny and overused cliché oftentimes, but for me this is the end of an era.  Not all my friends have gone from my current team and I will be sorry to leave those behind who are still there.  When you work with the same group of people for so long you get used to their foibles, come to appreciate the peculiarities**** of your workmates.  I spent upwards of eight hours a day with some of these fine people and it is going to be hard to leave them, that’s going to be one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced in there.

Change, it’s never easy, but it’s not always bad either.  For me this has come at the right time in my life, I have so many things I want to do and for that I need to be closer to home, as well as have more money available to me.  This accomplishes both of those things.

All I need to do now is make it through the next few weeks without breaking my cool manly exterior.

*Gone wrong.
**I’m left handed, my right arm would have been easier to lose, metaphorically speaking of course.
***You’re probably not actually thinking that, but for the purposes of my blog you are, so shut up and think it!
****They are incredibly peculiar sometimes.  Not like me, I’m perfectly normal.

It continues…

This is frustrating.

I thought I had a good idea for a blog post, I was all prepared to sit down and write it, I’m past my writers block I thought.  Well, two paragraphs into it I was sat there looking at the two paragraphs I’d written, ruminating about how shit they were and wondering why I can’t seem to put two decent words together.  Indeed, it seems all I can write about these days is my inability to write, it’s made all the worse when I think about how I’ve been like this since the beginning of January.

I think I know what the problem is though, I’ve got a new job.  I’m due to leave my current place of employment where I’ve been working for the last eleven years, same employer, different job and location.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that my problems started around the time I put the application in for this, clearly, it’s causing me some problems.  The upshot of this is that if I’m right, this is only going to be a problem for another month.

This does make me think however, change really isn’t easy.  A new job is going to be good for me, but the fact that I’m going to be leaving the place I’ve made so many friends over the last eleven years is going to be tough.  It’s a big change and it’s not going to be as easy as I might have envisioned it would be, the effect it’s having on my writing is obvious.

I think I’m going to have to take my time and write my way out of this one.  In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted as to my labours.

The lights are on but nobody’s home…

I wrote a little while back about how I couldn’t get my head in the writing game.  Well good news, I’m past that, so great!

So, you might be wondering why it is then that I’m not writing regularly again?  Well therein lies the problem you see.  I’m in the mood, I’m all excited to have my motivation back and be at the stage that I want to start putting pen to paper as it were.  My problem right now is that when it comes to blogging my mind is drawing a blank as to what to write about, a total blank.

It’s a strange situation to be in to be honest.  Usually when I’m in the mood to write, the subject matter just flows from my overactive brain dome onto the page, but not this time.  As it stands now you’d think I lived the most boring and uneventful life imaginable, because when it comes to writing I’m without inspiration.  I partly blame myself for this to be honest, I haven’t had my writing journal in my bag, so there’s nothing to document my thoughts and musings in as I go about my day.

I have just had a thought however, there’s a coffee shop near where I work in Warrington and I must admit it has become a favourite haunt of mine since my friend, Chris and I enjoyed a fine beverage there.  Relaxing in a place with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere might help to inspire me, I’ll take my journal, soak up the atmosphere and see where I end up.

I just need to start taking small steps towards regular writing again.  I suppose you could say I need to rehabilitate myself, because if I’m being honest, this is beginning to get tiresome.

I’m at a loose end…

Having recently come into ownership of a brand spanking (nearly) new Playstation 4 and a copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, I found myself playing it over the weekend, now three games later and I’m done.

What’s your point, Tom?

Well it’s funny you should ask, I’m at something of a loss.  I don’t know about the rest of your but when I finish something, games, books, series boxed sets or series of movies I always find myself adrift.  Having spent so much time and effort into something I find myself unable to settle on anything, now it’s true that part of my problem here is that I’m currently awaiting the arrival of Uncharted 4 and so don’t see the point in locking myself into anything long term until I have played it to death.  But nevertheless, my feelings would be the same had I nothing new on the horizon, it’s like when I finish a story of any variety I find myself entering a period of mourning for the characters that I can no longer experience.

I have to fight the feeling to go back and play the game again, or fight the urge to watch the film again or whatever.  I don’t always succeed and sometimes end up running through the whole game or series again, or perhaps maybe just my favourite bits.  Which is fine to a point, but one must move on eventually.

I usually manage however, until I finish the next thing and I’m right back where I started…familiarity is a bitch.

A Healthy Debate

Has anyone ever found themselves in a fiery debate over the merits and behaviours of their favourite character in a book?

I was recently engaged in a heated debate with my brother over a book we had both read.  It was part two of Games Workshop’s Gathering Storm series and having both just finished reading it we engaged in what started out as friendly discussion about it.  We started off discussing the contents of the book specifically, what we thought of it in general and what direction we though the next part might take.  There was recently a leak with regards to the third book and we now have a good idea of where it is going to go, it involves the return of a character that I and many others loath with a passion.  My brother however likes this character and is greatly looking forward to his return, this being were our opinions differed.

My opinion was that the series has been very good up to now, lots of twists and turns that kept the reader guessing, with some good background to boot.  However, the character returning in the third book is a bit of a Marmite character, you either love him or hate him, there doesn’t tend to be much middle ground and truth be told his return probably doesn’t surprise many.  Cue heated discussions as to his virtues or in my case, negative character aspects.  Indeed, it got so heated that we were both starting to get exasperated that the other could not for whatever reason see our respective points of view.

This is not an isolated incident.  Myself and my brother tend to have these discussions regularly, they get so heated that you would think that the people we were discussing were real.  I suppose that is the sign of a good story with well-constructed characters, you feel such an attachment to them that you feel like you must defend them; well I do at least.  I get so worked up that someone is criticizing my favourite character I feel an unstoppable urge to leap to their defence.

Grant Ward from Agents of Shield, Shane Walsh from the Walking Dead and Rogal Dorn from the background of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 game to name but a few.  I can’t help it, they’re great characters and don’t deserve a lot of the criticism they receive.

I could go on about this all day, so I’ll finish off with this.  The art of great story telling is getting people to care about your story and your characters, if people get half as worked up about my characters as I do about other people’s then I shall be a very happy author indeed.

What about yourselves?  Are any of you similarly pushed to these levels of defence?  Any characters you feel are underappreciated?

Please comment below, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Short Story – Vernon and the Chalice of Destiny

Good day to you all.  Upon taking a look back through my blog I realised two things.  Firstly I realised it has been slim pickings in terms of updates here and secondly it’s been a month since I last posted a short story.  It is therefore a great pleasure for to be able to rectify both of these things.


The Chalice of Destiny.

It was almost within Vernon’s grasp, all he had to do was work out how to turn off the flame jets before him.  The chalice itself was hidden inside a vault of some sort, the door was closed of course, but he knew it was in there; no-one had set foot in these caves for over two thousand years.  The flame jets however were proving quite the bother, he had come here with a group of seven other adventure seekers and all barring one of them had perished in the fire; the last of them had given up their quest and left.  But Vernon would not be so easily defeated, all he had to do was work out how to turn them off and open the doors, then it was simply a matter of reaching out and taking the chalice.

‘Hmm,’ he said idly.  ‘Perhaps it is some sort of puzzle.’

He started to look around at the tunnel in which he stood, the walls bathed in the orange glow of the flames fiercely gushing from the holes in the walls.  He had heard tell of some of these most ancient cave systems being littered with traps to keep the treasures within them safe, indeed that would make sense by the assortment of centuries old bones they had encountered, victims of an assortment of now sprung traps.  There were all sorts of carvings and engravings on the walls and floor, telling some sort of tale and he suspected, giving clues to the way into the vault.

‘What a bother,’ he muttered.

He leaned up against the wall and as he did so the stone slab beneath his foot seemed to shift, at first, he paid it no heed assuming the passing of years had taken its toll.  However, he moved across to the other wall and as he stepped on the next slab, it also shifted, causing him to examine them more closely.  Looking down at them he noticed the faint outline of a tree on each one, after a moment of looking at them he noticed that they were not the same, but were in various states of bloom.

‘Of course,’ he said realising the puzzle.  ‘It must be a combination lock, in the order of the seasons.’

Putting his foot on the tree he believed to signify spring, he pushed down as hard as he could and was rewarded with a satisfying click as something dropped into place.  Next, he placed his foot on the stone for summer, with the same result, before doing the same with autumn and then winter.  As he placed his foot on the last stone he heard a loud grinding sound like two stones rubbing together, followed by a loud thump and then a metallic sounding click.  He stood there half expecting to be decapitated by a fiendish trap of some variety, when suddenly the flames flickered and died, followed by the door to the vault grinding open.

‘Finally,’ he said stepping forward into the smoke rising from the now well-cooked corpses of his former companions.

He entered the vault and through the haze of the dust he could see a plinth, around four feet in height and a foot wide.  He started to get excited as he approached, knowing full well that the Chalice of Destiny was now in reach.  Then the smoke cleared and he was faced with an empty plinth, confused for a moment he thought it must have been another puzzle.  But as he looked around he saw carved into the walls laughing faces and slowly came to realise that not only was the Chalice of Destiny not here; it wasn’t anywhere.  It wasn’t even a myth and he had been the victim it seemed, of a very deadly two millennia old practical joke.

‘Bugger.’

Writing on Auto-Pilot…

It’s no secret that I’ve been having problems writing of late.

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been in something of a lull since Christmas, nothing would work for me and I could never seem to work up the motivation to get going consistently.  I seem to be coming out of the other side of it now and that brings me to the subject of my blog post.

My lack of energy and motivation really taught me to appreciate and savour the good times.  Before Christmas I was on a roll, writing on auto-pilot you could say.  I was churning out multiple blog posts through the week and still finding the time to do some creative writing as well, I felt like nothing could stop me.  I think back and it’s no surprise I came to a screeching halt.  I’d write in the morning before work and having worked a full day I would spend all night, every night sat in front of my laptop or with a notebook in front of me writing.  I loved doing it and enjoyed it immensely, but it was always going to burn me out eventually.

You know what though?

I’ll do it again, I’ll get that in the zone again and sit there writing all day loving every minute of it.  Because when writers are in that sort of mindset that’s what we should do.  We should take every minute available to us to hone our craft and do the thing we love.

So, whatever you write.  When you’re in the zone and racking up the wordcount like a child prodigy at a spelling bee, be sure to savour and make the most of it, who knows how long it will last.

 

This was a daily prompt response.

Happy Accidents

I sometimes forget things when I’m writing.

I set out to write stories with grand ideas of all sorts of content I want to put in them.  I write in events, that are foreshadowing other events further down the line.  I insert these things to allow me to use them for various stories and whatnot further down the line and most of the time I use them.  Sometimes however I forget I put them in, I get to the end of the story and forget I put it in and realising it was too big a thing to ignore until the next book I have to go back and take it out.

In Brogan and the Bandit King, I had one of the characters retrieve something from the wheel arch of a wagon they had been riding in, only to not do anything with it later.  Sometimes they are small enough things that I can ignore them for the time being and maybe use them later.  In fact, it has to be said that I feel some of my best plot points and stories have come from overlooking a plot point in a previous story, before remembering about it just as I launch into a new one.

I like to call them happy accidents, most other people call them oversights.

 

This was a daily prompt response.

Writers Block

I’ve been having a problem lately, I’m having trouble getting my writing head on.

Before Christmas I was in my flow, writing a few blog posts a week and managing find enough time to work on my various projects as well as writing short stories.  I took a break over Christmas, I did a couple of short blog posts, apart from that it was all quiet on the writing front.  Having been at it so consistently last year I really didn’t think a break would be a problem, in fact I rather thought it would benefit me to get away from it for a week.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think taking such a long break was a mistake.  It robbed me off any momentum that I had built, I came to full stop and now I seem to be having trouble getting going again.  What I should have done was dial it down, I should have done less writing rather than no writing at all.  It would have been easier to dial it back up afterwards, to get myself back into a writing mindset.

I’ve always been of the mind with writing that if you’re not in the mood you’re not in the mood, at times like these it’s better to not write, than to try to force it.  I’ve done some of my worst writing when I wasn’t in the mood, produced utter pap* because at the time I thought it better to be doing something than nothing.  Unfortunately, I think I’m just going to have ride this one out, it’ll come back to me.

I wrote this though, so maybe I’m on the verge of fighting back after all.

*crap/rubbish/shit

My Time to Shine

It’s my time to shine.

Over the festive period and into the new year I had something of an epiphany, a moment of realisation that I hold in my hands everything I need to progress this year.  To push on, achieve things and make some progress towards the things I want in life.  I just need to be focused and not get carried away, set myself realistic goals that are achievable with hard work.

My list of goals (in no particular order) is as follows:

  • Redecorate and renew my flat.
  • Get my second book finished and published before the end of the year.
  • Hone my writing so that I’m better at the end of the year than at the start.
  • Be financially better off and the end of the year than I was at the start.

The first one is the most realistic and is the one that is most in my power to achieve.  Myself and my brother have been living in this flat for ten years this October.  Whilst we have done our best to keep everything looking fine and dandy around here, there’s no hiding the fact that the place is starting to look somewhat shabby.  Money has been an issue for some time now, there just hasn’t been enough to do anything but maintain our living space and I think this has contributed to a general malaise.  Our financial situation is better now than it has been in a long time and we’re now able to do something about this, or at least start doing something anyway.

As for my second book, well if truth be told it’s finished, it just needs editing and frankly that’s on me.  I have not been using my time most effectively and I need to get better at that, this carries the same in terms of getting better with my writing.  I need to make sure I split my time effectively between my books, my blog and my short stories as well as factoring all the other things in that I need (and want) to do.

Finally, the money situation, well that’s in hand.  I’m making efforts on several fronts to make my financial situation better and enable me to achieve my long-term goal, to own my own home.

Like I said, these are all things that are in my power to achieve.  I need to be focused, I need to be determined and I need to be hard working.  No more later, no more putting things off and kicking them into the long grass.  If something needs doing, then I need to do it now rather than later.

It’s my time to shine, prepare to be dazzled folks!

 

This was a daily prompt response.