FATES

We see in stories, a great deal of versions of the idea of things taking place according to an already written plan. That somewhere, at some time, some kind of all powerful being or beings started to pull stings and move pieces to guide or control all of us measly humans.

It’s an interesting idea, that all of the lives we all lead, all of the choices that we could take, have already been laid down for us by someone or something above and beyond us. From there comes two schools of thought.

It’s either good or bad.

Imagine that all of those tough decisions you’ve ever had to struggle with, the awful times you’ve spent forced to crack your head against an impossible choice. Now imagine that those choices and all of the pain and suffering that came with them, were decided by someone else and there was nothing that you could have done to do anything other than what you did? You were always going to do what you did and all of the uncertainty surrounding the choice was nothing but a waste of both time and energy. In short, you have no power. You’re nothing but a mechanism following a prescribed path and no manner of trying on your behalf will allow you to stray from the path.

On the other hand you truly get to say ‘what will be will be’. You can happily forego all of the stressed thought and go with the first thought that crosses your mind in any situation. It doesn’t matter what choices you think you’re making, they’ve already been made for you so you can just plonk along happy in the knowledge that someone else is doing all of the thinking for you and you can just smile and wave from the passenger seat.

But, if all of the events that take place are already known, that means that someone planned out all of the horrors that crash into you and how they’ll turn out. Someone decided that pain was what your life needed at exactly the worst moment. The illness and injuries. The deaths in the family and every possible nastiness has been put there deliberately because someone just fancied the idea of seeing you suffer.

As a story idea, the powers of fate offer a fantastic way to twist the narrative in any way you fancy but the thought that we’re all nothing but pawns is awful. You were always going to watch your parents suffer a drawn out illness. You were always going suffer the injuries and dark times which battered you down and you know what, maybe I won’t lean on the power of the fates in my storytelling. Giving my characters the knowledge that their lives are simply controlled from above seems almost like making them a step closer to a level of self awareness and I don’t think I could do that to them.

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BOOK ONE, MORE TO FOLLOW

You know what everyone, this weeks planned post is going to be bumped a week. Next week it’ll appear, but for this week I’m just going to bask somewhat in the fact that I’ve published my first book.

Not only that but my wife got a new job on the same day. First class.

If Wales had been able to win the rugby on Friday night it would have been the most amazing triple but I suppose two out of three isn’t that bad really.

I’ve already had some feedback from one reader who finished the book in a couple of days and it was really positive. The big question was then asked. “When is the next one coming out?”

The Circle of Fire is book one in a series of five and I’ve almost finished the first draft of the second book, currently existing under the working title of The Circle of Duty. I’m having a blast writing it, laying down all of the plot threads and details that will appear further down the line.

All in all, I’m really settling into this creative mood and I’m enjoying every single letter and word of it.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to buy my book.

The Circle of Fire on Amazon

The Circle of Fire on Lulu

LIGHTNING STRIKE

I’ve discussed previously about where I can find my ideas, how bizarre and compelling images can work their way to the front of my mind during dreams, inspired by pictures or from the depths of a drink addled haze.

But what happens when the strike of inspiration hits at a less than opportune moment?
Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam when you have a great idea?
Just nodding off when a problem that’s been bugging you resolves itself only for the solution to flutter away when you wake up?
Using the bathroom?

As you may have guessed, I came up with the idea for this post in one of the above fashions but that wasn’t the only idea I’ve had which have come at a time where I’ve had to work hard to keep it in my head while the seconds tick by to allow me the chance to act on it.

I’ve had the lightning strike moment when I’ve been at work (happened several times), in conventions, at the pub with friends, at the pub on my own and so many others when I haven’t had any way to record it. There’s been no paper about to write on, no computer to send myself an e-mail and no way for me to record for later consumption, leaving me with the singular option of having to try and remember the nugget of an idea for as long as it takes before I can make a note of it.
I know that, despite my best efforts, I have lost so many possible plot points, dramatic twists and narrative gold that I could potentially have planned out a whole novel.

The earlier days of my writing adventure saw a huge number of moments when I was stuck with the knowledge that, yet again, another idea had been lost.

Yes, it was frustrating. No, I did not learn my lesson quickly. Yes, I did swear on more than one occasion.
But eventually, the penny dropped.

I couldn’t just rely on being able to maintain total recall of every detail that ever wandered through my head. Instead, I had to do something about it.

I have a small collection of notebooks that I carry around with me which are filled with snippets of ideas, possibilities of where the story could go and how it could get there. I have taken a hardback notebook on holiday with me just in case the storm clouds of imagination gather as I lay by the pool. It’s chock full of ideas for future books and I’ve enjoyed playing with the ideas, safe in the knowledge that I can relax and just let them flow without walking the tightrope of losing them forever.

When I write, when I do anything towards my books, I love swimming through the worlds I’m creating, just throwing myself into everything and I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of the planning phase, but I have been forced to take action. I’m trying to do my best to turn my natural dislike for the ‘boring’ bits into a positive focus where I push forwards in every possible way for the good of the story as a whole.

The importance of the unseen work to make sure of the best results is not letting any idea get away. My notebooks hold lots of things I may never use but there could always be the little detail which bolts everything together perfectly.
Dealing with the lightning strike is akin to the swan’s legs, making sure the swan looks beautiful and calm despite all the hard work.

DREAMS

Do you dream?

Do remember your dreams in vivid technicolor or are you just left with the ‘feeling’ from your nightly mental workout?

I do remember my dreams and I get them both in stark clarity of image but also in the more deeply affecting after taste which travels back with me to the real world.

We’ve all no doubt been there. Startled awake in the middle of the night by a creeping dread of unseen monsters, of being chased by the bogeyman, of falling or of any other of a limitless landscape of possibilities. You can’t drop back to sleep easily because of the apprehension of just picking up where you left off. Not that fun.

The other side if the coin is waking up after having a great dream and just wishing you could find your way back in. These dreams always seem to happen just before the alarm goes off, blocking your return with the resolute horror of a day at work. Those dreams never happen at the weekend. Bugger.

People the world over have made an industry of trying to interpret their meanings and everyone has some kind of opinion on what the most bizarre or mundane dreams could actually mean.

But is that all they are?

Dreams are also the spark which have helped people give life to ideas their subconscious was working on. Elias Howe solved a problem with his new invention the sewing machine thanks to a dream about cannibals with spears with holes in the head threatening to eat him. James Cameron saw the image of the Terminator in a dream and both Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were nudged by the minds of the authors when they were asleep.

I pay attention to my dreams. I write down the good ones. My first novel, The Circle of Fire, came in some large part, from a dream, as did several of my short stories, some I’ve written, others are coming soon. I’ve been able to create very compelling ideas without any conscious effort. The stitching of them into a coherent whole is the tough bit though and I’m yet to discover the way of doing that while I’m in the land of nod.

Maybe I should explore that little idea for another story?

The mind is the most beautifully terrifying object that we all possess. At once we can create images of utter wonder but have them surrounded by the most sickening horror. Comedy and tragedy can be meted out so readily if we so desired. Why wouldn’t you listen to what your mind is saying when you’re not able to keep it chained up with the bonds of rational thought and the dreaded awake. All those thoughts are lurking away in the dustier corners of who you are. As a writer, those places I go when I close my eyes are intriguing in the highest order.

Do you want to see too?