Writing is a hard business — hard on the soul. In many ways, writing is like a drug — no! It is a drug. Its pusher is the muse in your head offering up that hit, which envelops you in an ecstatic rush. Oh what an idea!
You can see the characters, as plain as the spider webs covering the peeling paint on the cornices in the far corner of the ceiling that you stare at in a stupor while lying on your bed. The devil is in the detail and you are corrupted. You revel as you work your victims through scene after evolving scene, their story unfolding and morphing to the delicate touch of your imagination. Over and over, you knead the clay in preparation to sculpt a tragedy. Or is it a comedy? Or a love story? Gone wrong. Or....
So many variables: beginnings, middles and ends. The sad irony is that you think you are in control, but the truth is the opposite. It’s the story that leads. You are but its sacrificial lamb.
At last the story fades.
The burst of neurotransmitters that the story surfed across has washed up on the beach of your consciousness only to ebb away. You feel tired, but ebullient. The story is complete and all that is needed is to commit it to word.
Commit it to word ... oh how easy that sounds.
Jump to it. Quick! Even now, those clever nuances that ripped a laugh from your throat or brought a tear to your eye grow hazy with each wasted second. If there is one thing I have learnt over the years, it is that my memory is not a viable backup system. Somehow, my brain (and I suspect yours as well) has been infected by a kind of computer virus. Maybe it was by a form of osmosis from years of sitting in front of computer screens, but however it got in, it has consistently rifled through my memories and erased or corrupted those I would have considered the most important to me.
At least I think so. Ah, if only I could remember....
And so you find yourself staring blankly into a blank screen. The cursor blinks, waiting. Your fingers hover over the keyboard. Nothing. Dregs of the story still play in your mind, teasing you, laughing in your face at your impotence, but the necessary neuronal connections between where the story is slowly fading and the language part of your brain seem to have been severed.
Now begins the addict’s agony. The craving claws at you and the only way to stave off the pain is to commit the remnants of your fantasy to word in purple prose that will hopefully fan the embers for one more burst of that ecstatic warmth. But words are no substitute for the real thing and the first draft is the hardest. And slowly it dawns on you ... all that’s left of that wondrous story you nursed through three trimesters in your mind is a stillborn baby, fit only for a cannibal’s cooking pot. You screw your face up and begin to pick over the bones for a starting point to a new story, a sorry substitute for the glorious comet that had blazed through your imagination.
But it’s better than nothing. Your muse is an unreliable supplier and your next hit may be a long time coming.
And though you want to abort, you can’t. An alien presence takes control and draws your trembling fingers to the keyboard and too late, you realize the story on the screen has taken its life in its own hands. It demands to be born. You struggle through the pain. Push. Breathe. Don’t fight the contractions. That’s it. Again. Don’t give up. Push, harder this time. I can see the head. It’s coming, it’s coming ... just a little more....
And then it slips out, filthy and slimy, and you stare at it in horror.
It ... it ... it’s ... still a dud. Awful! Crap!
It’s not even a pale comparison to what had held you enthralled that first time. That’s the trouble with addictions. The highs rob the real world of colour and leave you nowhere to go.
Which is why we have rewrites. Revisions. Plural. Over and over you work that pile of vomit until at last you reverse entropy it into something vaguely edible.
At least you think so. It’s the best you can do, anyway.
Now is the time for your baby to leave the nest. You tie the scarf around its neck and pull its coat tight, then toss it to the winds. It’s a cruel world out there and your mood swings from high to low in rapid fluctuations until the rejection comes in and you sink to suicidal depths. But you rally and once more toss your baby to the wolves. Over and over.
And for most writers, that’s as good as it gets.
I’ve been through that grinder until my mixed metaphors were well and truly minced. It is hard to get published professionally these days and (I suspect) harder than it used to be. There are more people writing, while the reading population for the pro magazines appears to be falling, and yet there are more and more little ezines and websites popping up (and disappearing just as quickly) than ever before. They are most often labours of love, surviving on the smell of an oily rag, and offer up free stories of widely varying quality. If they pay, its a pittance, but for the new writer it’s a start — a sale — a way to get an eyebrow to poke out above the slush your babies inhabit so they can get noticed a little better and so reach the next rung up that long, long ladder to success.
There has to be a better way.
So I put my fetid — I mean my fervid, er fertile — imagination to work. Sure it meant getting my brain out of bed before midday so my neurons could begin their marine-style get-fit-quick regime and by that I mean the kind of hard thinking that even Mensa-accredited brains would blanch at. Yes, I was going to think, really think! I was going to pump my neurotransmitters to boiling point and beyond until I was ready to explode with ideas. Maybe even good ones. Ones that might actually work. Hey, just because I’m the world’s dumbest genius (an achievement I’m proud of) doesn’t mean I have to be the stupidest. After all, I’m not a politician.
And I did think. Hard. For at least five minutes. And then it hit me, I was staring straight at it — the internet! I could sell stuff on the web. Okay, not in this particular porno site, but I realized that millions are doing it right now (selling their stuff that is) on their own sites.
I can do that, I thought to myself in smug contemplation. And voila! Who says you can’t teach an old fart a new smell, huh?
Which brings us to you ... yes, you. The reader (preferably one with money).
Now that I’ve done my bit, this is where you come in. Read my short stories. And when you finish each one, repeat to yourself, ‘I love this story and I must buy his novels.’ Remember it’s okay to lie. I’ve lied all over this website; it’s all part and parcel of marketing. God forbid, if the politicians ever passed a law that made the truth mandatory in advertising. The world’s prisons would be chock-a-block with those imaginative morons whose creative accounting with the facts hound us night and day on TV, the radio and the net, in our physical and electronic mailboxes and on great big stinking billboards that tempt us as we drive by—
Whew! I almost started to rant there. Why don’t you go read my stories while I try to calm down? Hell, I’ve even packaged them in an easy to read PDF ebook that you can download for free from lulu.com if you don’t want to hang around here, although I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to stay because I now provide it here, plus as an epub ebook.