Rubix

13 06 2014

I was given a Rubix cube at a book launch the other night. Each side was coloured complemented by text, each side giving a teaser about a certain aspect of the plot or about one of the character’s back-stories. I loved it and it got me thinking about these 30-year old toys.

They are very like a writer’s mind at the start of a story. So many different aspects of a tale whirling around. A dervish of character and plot and scene. But then you get some clarity. A block of colour appears on one side. Your hero is formed. Some of the side colours adjacent to the block still need moving around to match other sides, but the hero’s heart, his voice has become clear.

Then another side, or perhaps the middle layer. You have a tale. You have it in your mind. Clear. Nearly focused but still some work to go and this is where it gets a bit trickier. All the side stories have to come together. The edges rotated. To give the whole. The plan, the future. Where you are aiming.

I took that cube home from Mayfair and played with it. I got a side quite quickly. The basic idea. Then I stalled.

So I cheated. It’s what I do in so many things.

For this cheat, Mr Google came to my rescue. I used his mind to creatively solve the rest of the puzzle and now it sits on my desk as a reminder. I didn’t finish it you see. Two corners still need to be rotated to give six sided symmetry. I know the pattern of moves to fix these flaws but I like them. They’re a reminder. They remind me that no matter how far along a story you are as a writer there is always something ready to jump out of a character or a scene to make you need to stop and reassess. Stop and think. Your job is never finished.

I have the cube, I see the teasers on each side. Can’t be bothered to read the recently launched book though!

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Topical fiction – It’s Alive! Alive, I tell you!

21 08 2013

Sometimes an author gets lucky! They’ll be beavering away, writing hard about, say, a dark psychological view of a man’s twisted world. Then they’ll be taking a break and see on the TV news that their anti-hero was real. There was someone out there who’d just been caught doing exactly the same thing. Something that some in the real world would call a crime!

Two things would run through that author’s mind. Firstly – they are not alone in the dark. Second – is this prime publicity for their book?

Is it? Should he quickly finish it off, even if second rate finishing, just to get it out in time to get some fillip from the fourth estate, ride some wave of rich ghoulish publicity? Or should he continue on his way, writing what he wants to write – perhaps taking some elements of reality into fiction – but not letting the world’s priority impact his inner creative urgency?

A third thought comes…

This was a particularly dark tale from suburban American. If he doesn’t get the book out soon, will some pulp fiction author steal his thunder with a piece of reality-based-fiction and leave him with only the dregs and reputation as a coat-tail-hanger, a genre-stealer?

No – if the public want tales from beneath ground level, they’ll get what they want!





Where to do it?

30 07 2013

IT. The physical act. Writing I mean?

Being creative should not be about location but the process of actually getting it down on paper, on the screen – and that typically takes a special place. Some people are lucky enough to have space enough to create their own writing zone with inspirational possessions around them and the ability to close the door onto solitude.  Some have special places out in the world with the oft-quoted anecdote about Harry Potter being brought to life surrounded by Edinburgh coffee drinkers sheltering from the rain. I’m not like that. 

I actually do have a place of my own. A desk, a PC, even a room I call a study.  But I don’t write there. My so-called study is a place for house admin, internet trawling and for meeting visitors to the house. My books come out the darkness, out of the mind locked away from the world – hot-housed so creativity is all there is to focus upon. There’s no writers’ block allowed, no breaks to make tea or put the washing on. Writing is all there is.

Some would find it difficult to find the time and isolation. Being a single man with my own house gives me that opportunity. I have made the dark spaces in my house where only I go to find creativity, where the inner eye can be focussed on a single goal. It isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone but for me it works. My output is my testament.

I’ll do it in secret, locked away from the world. But what I do is for everyone to share.