Killed

This week has utterly killed me; a combination of a desperately unwanted deathly illness from the kids and a week of ridiculous stress at the job thing. Oh, and one of the kids being bloody inconsiderate in his own illness and waking me up every night. All of which has somewhat robbed me of the enthusiasm I’ve had for the last few weeks, where I have been bounding towards my inevitable career as a multimillion selling author with all the joys of Autumn. I’m just hoping that it’s all getting out of my system ahead of NaNoWriMo. I did manage to attend a writing group though, which was lovely as usual. It’s such a joy to sit around with fellow writers and chat writing, even if it’s only to be in a room with people who don’t roll their eyes when you start talking about the world you’re creating.

Writers love talking to other writers, we fire off each other. This is why I really love the infrequent catch ups with my writing group, the lengthy discussions on my online writing group and listening to writing podcasts like The Creative Penn and the Self-Publishing Podcast. It’s also why at the moment, this blog is pretty much me writing about writing. It helps me to stay focused, stay motivated, but most importantly it helps me order things in my head, work through my thoughts on how to approach things.

I’m not sure how helpful it is to anyone else (my guess is not a lot), but until I start to really try to build my ‘brand’ for readers, I guess it’s what I’m going to be doing. All the literature I’ve read says that the worst way to market yourself as an writer is to talk to other writers, but this blog has existed for over a decade now in one form or another as a way of getting my thoughts out without any grand scheme or over-arching theme, and what I’m largely thinking about right now is writing.

I’m no authority, I’m an unpublished wannabe, and if you are following this blog trying to gain knowledge on how to become a millionaire author, then sorry, I’ve got nothing for you. But perhaps what I can give an insight to is the process of trying to write, of trying to follow my dreams. You’ll be able to follow along as I creep closer and closer to the realisation in my fifties that I’ve wasted my life chasing unicorns. I jest.

Hopefully.

There are three books on Self-Publishing that I’ve had on my Amazon wish list for a while now, cued to sit there eternally while I wait for that mythical day when I might have enough money to actually procure them. The books are Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran, How To Market a Book by Joanna Penn and Write, Publish, Repeat by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt with David Wright (the Self-Publishing Podcast guys). All of them are considered experts in the field of self-publishing, all of them having worked in this area for years, getting increasingly successful through sheer hard work (and a fair bit of talent, of course.) I figured that between the three books it’d cover pretty much everything I’d need to know about the market I’m getting into.

Imagine my delight, then, to find a post on Joanna’s blog this morning that the authors have teamed up to bundle all three books together, and at the ridiculous price of 79p for all three books. I may have actually done a merry little dance. So if that’s your kind of thing, head here to find out more about it.

Ode to a new tub

So yesterday I had the bad stuff (update, seems having a swanky job title helps, my case has been escalated to someone whose surname is the same as that on the side of the hotel so maybe I’ll get something back after all) so now for some good stuff. Our house in a state of renewal right now. We live in a rented house that we’ve been in for a good few years now, and it’s starting to show the stresses and strains of rented accommodation that hasn’t been spruced up in a while. Last September we reported to the estate agents that nominally run the property that we needed new flooring in the bathroom and the kitchen and now, just a mere 9 months later, the work is being done. It only took endless emails back and forth, threatening legal actions and the eventual withholding of rent to get there. The upside to the saga is that because they’ve left it so long we’re actually getting a completely refitted bathroom.

And so it was with great excitement, after four years of not having a bath (relax, we had a shower, we’re not cave people) the other night I was able to rush out and buy loads of nice bath stuff and scented candles and the like. Not because I’m a great big softy at heart (although I am) but because I adore having a bath. Seriously. I love baths, to an almost manic level, and being without the means to have one for four years has driven me almost spare.

A bath my favourite way to unwind, and also my favourite place to read. Which means it’s probably good that I’m not reading via an electronic medium, I suppose. You might think this is a bit odd, but there’s a reason for it.

I used to go to one of those schools that’s so posh they don’t let you go home very often. Long and short of that story is that I had a pretty miserable time for a good few years. One of my favourite ways to escape this misery was to go into the bathrooms, which had big old cast iron tubs in cubicles, on a Sunday after my weekly indoctrination session and get into a bath with a book.

I wouldn’t leave until I absolutely had to, which usually meant four or five refills of the bath and half a book later. Nobody else knew that I used to do this, and because on a Sunday everyone else was out being sociable or getting the hell out of the school I pretty much had the place to myself.

Occasionally some of the sporty types would surge into the huge bathrooms celebrating their victory or mourning their loss, but after ten or fifteen minutes of noise I’d have the place to myself again.

This admittedly odd ritual is also the same reason I love Douglas Adams. I remember specifically reading the entire Hitchhiker saga over a couple of weekends. I remember also getting really into the Allan Dean Foster adaptations of the Alien movies. Good times, when a book was the surest way to escape the drudgery and awfulness of the rest of my existence. Looking back, it’s probably around this time that I started wanting to be a writer, back there in the baths having my mind expanded and world transported.

Strange, the things we carry with us. There is something so utterly calming about a good bath, and now I have one. Good times.

Change in the house of me; part the first

Note: This was written before I heard about Rik Mayall. Needless to say it's horrible that one of my childhood heroes has gone. Rubbish. Anyway... It’s been all go with me recently. I’m a sucker for a self improvement project, even if I’ve rarely seen them through to the end. Mostly I blog about wanting to do something and then that’s as far as it goes, as anyone who remembers my ‘Year of Health’ debacle can attest. Before I get to the good stuff, however, I suffered something of a minor bereavement this week. I was travelling with work, and it involved an overnight stay in a hotel chain that one tends to associate with its heiress’ indiscretions. Naturally, with a total of 8 hours travel and an overnight stay I had my Kindle with me. Unfortunately, when I got home I no longer had it. I left it in the room, and the hotel are now disavowing all knowledge, despite the fact that I totally left it in my bed.

So now I am Kindle-less. I loved my Kindle. As an avid technophile on a limited budget, I was ecstatic when I won it in a work competition nearly a year and a half ago. I went from paper books to screens with nary a backward glance, and my book consumption rate skyrocketed, despite the ever present distraction of the entire internet. I even overlooked the fact that the Kindle OS is cumbersome and refuses to stock more than a handful of decent apps.

I phoned Amazon and they were very good about it, even refunding me the money for the triple pack of Jon Ronson books I had queued up for when I finally trudged through Pride & Prejudice. But now I am a sad man.

In order to cheer myself up I headed straight for the nearest supermarket (well, I was going there anyway to buy wine to ease the pain) and picked up a book at random, a schlocky thriller by a first time author that described itself as ‘Bourne meets Homeland meets The Wire’ which I am already enjoying immensely. It’s heavy though, and I can’t seem to access Tumblr through it.

I wont be getting a Kindle next time, if I can avoid it, for the reasons listed above. I’d like more of an actual tablet next time. But given that I’m not likely to find myself able to get one until a bearded fat man in a red suit brings me one, looks like it’s back to the paper age I go.