Thick-skinned writers.

Let’s face it we’re not all great writers.  In fact very few of us are.  Nevertheless, we persevere and produce labours of love in whatever form we think we are good at.

When our major work, which has sometimes taken years to complete, is done there remains an almost universal desire to seek the approbation even admiration of our friends’ colleagues and readers. How then are we to react when our work is considered poor?

The reasons why our readers find it so are many and various, some deserved some perhaps not as valid as others.  Nevertheless,  criticism can hurt.  There’s no use denying it.

Is there a defense mechanism that can help us ward off the hurt?  Probably not, but what we can do, is go again.  Write some more, but when we do we should if possible take yesterdays’ criticism as tomorrow’s guideline, at least to some extent.  If we are to write anything worthwhile we have to believe that one day someone will read what we’ve written and say: “Hey, that was worth my time.” That’s possibly the greatest compliment of all, we filled their moments with words that exercised their minds and made them think,  enquire, cry, laugh or even be amazed. This is the challenge every writer faces and very few writers achieve.

I hear you say, that’s ‘baloney’.  I don’t think it is, but equally, I believe that the business of writing has become a very tough place to be.  The commercial mainstream demands excellence in well-trodden genres, yet there are still astonishing breakthroughs.  However, it remains true that the readers enjoy the hero rather than the anti-hero,  that readers have habits and areas of comfort where they are comfortable.  Do we, as writers, want to follow or lead. That is the question each one of us has to answer.

The thing is, we’re all storytellers, and some stories are better than others. It is the unpredictable that makes us tick, the ability to wander around in the frontier-less expanses of our minds.  No one has been there before, and no one but us can tell where the stories will lead. Good for us, let’s write another one. Somebody somewhere might like it.


Forgiveness – the gift of love.

Forgiving something small is easy,

excusing someone you hardly know;

but some one close, who fails you

that’s a wound, an open sore.


So when to mend the scars and how?

We need the answers now.

Lest the wounds we bear

fester, get angrier and grow.


Still, dark angers urge redress.

Surely there’s no sense in this.

Strike back and hurt, at least a bit.

as deeper gets the vengeful pit.


We need not vengeance here; but healing,

to find a balm for all the pain.

Easier far to repay in spite,

then hate wins, despite love’s might.


Turn back, turn back; from the abyss

where darkness rules the day.

Let light flood in to heal the wounds,

despite our instinctive way.


It is not easy, to wipe away the hurt,

of injuries that stick like stinking dirt.

We must forgive; for that’s the only way,

for love to linger longer, despite the price we pay.


Ready, steady, start again!

Writing anything of worth we know takes real hard work.  Even more than that, we need to constantly develop ourselves as well as our skills and content.

On my latest project, which is in its infancy, I have already made some about-turns.  As any work/ novel progresses we must not be rigid about the initial idea being all consuming.  Sometimes this initial or dominant idea can become constricting and smother developing or better ideas.  Innovation and creativity rely on the discontinuous, the unexpected which in turn means reveling in the unplanned and listening to that part of us which the dominant idea tends to discount.

Chaos, I hear you say.  To an extent yes. It’s all a question of confidence to try new things, ideas and even vocabulary.  For example, most of us have a style which predetermines the words that fit.  What if we change that, and think more ardently about the things we know that come from outside this paradigm.  Do I swear a lot?  Answer; yes/No.  Do people swear a lot?  Answer; Yes they do.  Swearing is not my written style, how about listening on the street?  How about making the vernacular more strident? Is there enough lyricism in my writing, can I re-read out loud passages and enjoy them?  Do I find them engaging?  Why would my reader?

Of course, there comes a time in any work where the aim is set.  Even then, at rewrite stage, we have to keep an open mind.  You know what?  It might mean tearing the whole thing up and starting again.


As times goes by.

I remember all our yesterdays Summer, winter, sad and happy days lazy, sweet days of love and mingling Days of wanting more, Sometimes hurt by carelessness Sometimes raised by care. Counting all our yesterdays brings the years around, But yesterdays are meaningless For now, we’re safe and sound. Today’s the day that counts, it’s a […]

Rolling the stone up the hill.

So, I’ve started the new book.  A thousand words have hit the page.  An idea is taking shape.  This first word, first paragraph, first page will condition the whole of the next year as the plot develops and redevelops.

Then, a finish line in perhaps a year but that’s the cruel bit because I know that finish line is an illusion.  Re-read, change, review.  Lose sleep, think what a waste of time it’s been. Re-group, start again the re-write won’t take long, will it?  Maybe another year, maybe another month.

Why did I start this?  Was it worth the effort? Will anybody love it like I do?  Maybe a few, maybe many, hey I might get discovered.  Then again I might not.

Shit, who wants to be a writer?  Just got to give that rock another shove up that impossible hill.

Getting down to writing.

How easy is that? Well not so easy if you are setting out to write another novel.  I wrote last week about the challenges and choices that face every author at the beginning of a new work.

I was once encouraged to just put down my bottom, sit up and type/write – no matter what the substance and sooner or later there will be something of value remaining that can contribute to the finished work.   Though I have reservations about where the empty page can take you.  An empty page and perhaps an empty mind!

Today, after mulling over the last week the development of the idea of “The beginning of my end” I’ve put a bit more flesh on the bone.  I still agonize about the autobiographical bit and how hard it is to avoid.  We are after all, what we have become through the data bank of our experience.  It is impossible to avoid even in this age of endless research tools.  The key is our imagination and our ability to imagine.

This should I suppose be limitless, but it seldom is, tied down as we are to the experience of our own being.  I find it impossible to get excited about certain options that are fantastic, sci-fi, horror and even brutal everyday crime.   There lie my limitations as an author.  A narrowly defined horizon that imprisons my imagination.

I will try to work to broaden my options and open my mind.  But even at 76, it’s hard to do despite having traveled more than most and enjoyed a relatively wild and certainly interesting life.

At least in this little blog, I’ve set myself up, to flex my imaginative muscles and step into a brand new horizon.  Who knows what I shall find there?

The Accidental Spy

Secretive, cynical, scary, even silly.  A fresh look at the secret society of the CIA aka ‘The Company’.

Loyalists, lunatics and losers interact in a series of mismanaged and doubtful pursuits in the apparent defence of ‘Uncle Sam’.   The loner, Accidental Spy wanders into this lurid and administrative nightmare and walks away with invaluable secrets.

Sometimes funny, sometimes frightening and sometimes shambolic our accidental spy staggers through a variety of trials, some of his own making.  A passport to adventure!

Who’s conning who? What’s the secret?  Does any of it really matter?  With ‘The Accidental Spy,’ you decide.

Digging deep to find a story

Another day in paradise, not long now till be beat a retreat to the UK for the summer. Worked this morning writing and editing, my wife is top gun when it comes to syntax and punctuation.

Working on ‘A Touch of Class’ is not as easy as I thought in the sense that, I find the discipline of tense and person  hard, the story limps along a bit because of all these stops and starts, ensuring I’ve got this sentence and that paragraph nicely bedded.

This morning I had a lot of interruptions, about a termite attack, and the plan to repulse the attack and what it will cost, plenty, I’m afraid.

I work on, determined to do my thousand words, edit and work on this wretched platform stuff, no time left to think about the next story.

I shall be glad when ‘The Psychedelic Traveler’ is finished, it might be today’s mood. but it has been a work I have enjoyed only in parts.  Short stories need such a wealth themes and ideas, and yet they are finished so soon.  This book is not like writing a novel where you see your idea grow, sometimes very slowly.  With short stories, no sooner do I have the idea and it is finished and the necessity to find another is like a blister on your brain.

Then it will be time to think of Publishing, how?  I’ve tried many ways, all of them fairly unsatisfactory.  If I add to my daily chores, the pursuit of a useful agent, I will never have time to write anything worthwhile.

I sound like a manic depressive, I am not, it is just hard some times pushing myself to another thousand words, and worst of all admitting sometimes that those thousand words are shit.  Occasionally of course they are not shit, they are lovely, glorious, they make me cry and laugh and smile. Then I think how lucky I am to suffer from this obsession to write.

I’ve just been reading some of my old poetry, it has been a good experience. I cried a lot – surprised sometimes that I had written such moving stuff.  Maybe I should take a sabbatical and go back to it(poetry).

On BEING Seventy


Three score years and ten,

the end they say, my time is up!

My lurch into decrepitude lies unavoidably

beneath my uncertain feet.


Then downwards? Towards what end?

Hopefully to peace of mind and spirit.

Not hopelessly to hell, condemned by unforgiving diety

judging me as I  probably deserve.


Bits are metaphorically falling off,

Arthritic fingers, and flaccid parts

The extremities that mattered,

matter less as days tick by.


But things do still matter,

My accomplished grumpy rudeness

threatens equanimity in others.

I must resist the gurgled satisfaction.


All the hours, days and seconds do matter,

as things rush to their inevitable end,

There are those I love and care about

Much more than anyone would guess.


Each ticking second is as much worth

as when I wailed, balling in my pram.

Others giggled and enjoyed my baby charms,

more innocent than my  old acerbic wit.


Enjoy each remaining day,

Enchant the world with one’s experienced head and heart,

Be kind and mild, calm and quiet,

unlike the child, unlike the man.


So three score years and ten, is not the end!

It is a start to put so many rights and wrongs in place

and leave the dust of eternity untroubled

and of hearing laughs fade, and smiles melt sweetly away.