University & that slut called addiction

I think I’m suffering from some serious withdrawals from writing lately. I’m edgy, my sleeping patterns are out of whack, and I seem to be holding conversations with the various voices in my head more often than usual. It feels like forever since I have put pen to paper and crafted something imaginative to help quell my unrelenting impulses to create. But for once my lack of writing, and subsequent feelings of edginess aren’t coming from writers block; rather this is the end result of the fucking university degree I struggle so valiantly to complete.

Studying a degree in creative writing should mean that I spend the vast majority of my university life creating whimsical metaphors for the human existence, or reading through paperback after paperback produced by authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Orson Wells and so on. But instead I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks reading through lecture notes on theories by Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and fucking Moretti in preparation for an upcoming exam. It’s been a gruelling endeavour. Until now I’ve actually enjoyed my studies. But this… This has been torture.

So what have I learned through all this reading? What have I managed to retain from constantly devoting my time to such pieces? Well…. I’ve retained next to nothing. All I can tell you about the aforementioned names is that I now despise each and every one of them with a passion that would lend brilliantly to any manuscript. But despite my new found loathing of literary theory, I have managed to learn two things.

The first is that out of all of my time devoted to understanding the works of Marx I have managed to find just one single snippet of his writings enjoyable. It’s something that I found quite inspiring, and after trawling through so much work on literary criticism and critical theory, unearthing this diamond in the rough that has made the experience worthwhile. The second thing I’ve learned however has been more of a self-realisation and awakening; a buy-product of time spent toiling away at my studies. I’ve learned that I could not care less about the critical theory behind what, and why I write. All I know is that I love to do so and that is all that will ever matter to me.

The edginess? The lack of sleep? Those are the foreshadowing’s that I’m operating under the charms of that slut called addiction. When I don’t find the time to write I become like a junkie searching desperately for his next fix. I grow irritable and the spill over of my frustrations becomes evident in other aspects of my life. I become short with my peers and can seem disinterested in the world around me as I withdraw into my own imagination. As I write this I’m staring down the barrel of my last week of study for this university semester. I have nine days until my final assessment for the study period will be submitted and I can dive back into the writing that fuels me, rather than the drab critical theory laden bullshit I produce to pass assessments. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas morning, when the wait of advent is over and the presents finally arrive. My present will be the ability to return to writing what I want to again, but with each passing day the agonising wait for this semester to end seems to drag on forever. I’m growing edgier and more unstable with every passing moment; all I want is to throw caution to the wind and start producing something creative again.

I’m desperately waiting to slip back into my manuscripts and continue the development of characters I’ve come to hold very close to my heart. But in the meantime I just have to push through and finish out this university semester and take solace in the fact that I have managed to find that little quote from Marx that makes it all worthwhile. So in closing today, I’d like to leave you all with that quote. Read it, and interpret it as you see fit. Maybe you will, like me, see the beauty in Marx’s words. Or maybe you’ll gain absolutely nothing from it. Regardless, if it wasn’t for this single phrase, I don’t think I would have been able to survive the hellacious thirteen weeks that has been this semester.

As always, I promise to be in touch soon.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.” – Karl Marx.

Year one: Creating a masterpiece from disaster

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost twelve months since I first ventured into the world of web-logging; peeling back the thin façade that I had been hiding behind and exposing my depression to the world. In that time so much has changed in my life that it’s almost impossible to track the winding path that I have trekked since then. Amongst other things, I’ve written manuscripts, completed university assessments, relapsed into depression, moved home twice, ventured overseas, destroyed friendships and forged new ones. Yet somehow along the way I’ve managed to hold myself together in an unprecedented fashion and actually learn a little bit about myself.

Last year when I started this blog I was just a boy struggling to fight off my own demons and establish myself as a writer. Now twelve months on so much has changed, yet my basic catalysts and compulsions remain the same. I am still that struggling author trying to establish himself as a man; yet now I have learnt to use my demons as motivation for success rather than the instigators of my own destruction. Although some of my posts have ventured away from my new found positivity and exposed the lingering inner demons that still plague my mind, I believe that this blog has helped me to better understand myself and forge a confident new writer and man. So while sometimes this page can read like the sound of animals fighting as those lingering demons battle it out with the better angels of my nature, I can’t deny the earth shattering effect this blog has had on me.

As I write this latest entry my manuscript for Midas is in the hands of a publishing company undergoing a final read through and some entry level marketability tests. It’s a stage that I have reached before with another manuscript; so while being beyond excited that my work has been deemed worthy of reaching this level of the publishing process, I’m still trying not to look too far into the opportunity just yet. The process could take another couple of months to complete, which in essence means that I am now destined to spend the next few months shitting myself every time I receive an email or a phone call from an unknown number. I am however, extremely honored that this particular company has bestowed this level of stress upon me. With the stress comes the possibility that my work will make it into print. And at the very least it’s a sign that everything I am doing as a writer is not in vain. It’s a sign that if I just keep plugging away at my craft I will eventually produce a manuscript that finds acclaim. That could very well be Midas, it could be my love story, or Renegade, or any one of the hundreds of ideas that I have in my head and scribbled down on various notepads hidden around my home. It’s all just a matter of time.

And that’s the thing; time is really on my side here. At just twenty four years of age I am still considered exceptionally young in the writing and publishing industry. Many authors spend decades honing their craft before they find critical acclaim or see their work in print. And many face constant rejection by those they aim to please; their eventual success is a result of their never say die attitude. So while sometimes it can be hard to pick yourself up off the floor after having the figurative shit kicked out of you and your script by an agent or publisher, that’s exactly what needs to be done in order to taste success.

But to me success isn’t selling a million books and becoming a household name. To me success is simply seeing my work in print and having the opportunity to affect just one person’s life through my words. Unfortunately for my beautiful partner writing is, and always will be my (other) soul mate; which means she will forever be battling to drag me away from my computer or to pull my nose out of a book. In the depths of my depression, when the light at the tunnel sounded like nothing more than a vicious lie designed to inspire hope, my passion for reading and writing became the catalyst for my change. My decision to reach for the stars came from my desire to write and create. This blog, Midas, and every manuscript I have ever produced became the very things that helped alter the course of my life, taking what would have undoubtedly ended in disaster and turning it into a masterpiece of triumph. To be afforded the opportunity to be the inspiration behind someone else’s journey towards their dreams, or even to create something that someone finds intriguing and engaging is how I will always view my success as a writer.

It will be months before I have a final decision on Midas from the publishing house currently testing it. And in that time I’m sure that I will become a racked with anxiety and feel sick every single time my I receive an email or phone call. But even if I don’t succeed, even if this is as far as I get this time, it will still be a success in my eyes. I’m still a better writer and a better man than I was one year ago when I started this very blog; and that’s all that I could have ever asked for.

There’s blood in the water….

And the sharks are circling. Or at least that’s what it feels like every time a writer of some notoriety brings out a new novel. This week will see the release of Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno; a novel that continues the story of his most famous character to date Robert Langdon. It’s a story that will capture the attention of the world and draw much needed attention to the world of creative writing and literature.

We live in a world where everything has an expiry date of five minutes and with each passing generation the onus and importance placed upon literature and knowledge diminishes. Mankind has grown lazy and the thought and effort required to enjoy the intricate world of words means that many choose to avoid the art forms of reading and writing in favour of watching. So as an avid reader and writer it fills me with a sense of excitement when a novel can capture the attention of the world and draw it back towards the industry that I love. On top of this I’m also a little bit of a Dan Brown fan. His novels aren’t the most technically savvy affairs, but their smooth flow and catchy storylines are always engaging and easy to devour.

But it seems that not everyone is as fond of his novels as I, and many others are. A few days ago I was scrolling through a Facebook advertisement for Brown’s novel and was a little shocked at some of the vicious remarks that had been left behind by a bunch of talentless fucks trolling the page. Trolls really are the scum of the earth aren’t they? They’re often sorry pieces of shit who are so bent out of shape by the fact that someone else has the talent and the balls to strive towards their dreams that they feel the need to attack and degrade them. I’ve been exposed to trolls before; as I am sure that everyone has. In this day and age of social media they are everywhere, spreading hate and animosity like wildfire from the safety and comfort of their keyboards. But nevertheless, I was still a little shocked that even my beloved world of literature was tarnished by a bunch of arseholes who need nothing more than for someone to kick their fucking teeth down their throat and teach them a little humility and respect.

The negative and scathing posts towards Brown’s body of work was extensive, ranging from comments about his style of writing to the more alarming personal attacks such as accusations of homosexuality. They were your stock standard slurs written by intellectually devoid knuckle-draggers that couldn’t construct a decent insult if their life depended upon it. But amongst the childish profanities and piss-weak taunts was one comment that caught my interest. It said…

‘This is a disgrace. I know REAL writers, STARVING writers who would be so upset by this.’

It got me thinking; what is a real writer? And by what instrument can we effectively measure whether or not someone stands up to the criteria of being real? Is it the man like Brown who has achieved success and now writes the novels that he wants and enjoys to create? Or is it the man toiling away at his manuscript so desperate for success that he is literally starving himself for his craft?

The truth is that a real writer can be both. A real writer is anyone who enjoys the process of creating something beautiful, ugly, dangerous, or extravagant with words. Every single man, woman, or child who puts pen to paper in the hopes of creating anything is a real writer; there’s no such thing as a false or pretend one. So where the fuck does some dead-shit troll get off accusing a man who has achieved his dreams of not being a real writer? And why would anyone else be upset by his success?

It was at this point that I started one of those long and in-depth conversations that I have with myself on a regular basis where I weigh up my opinions of mankind and decide whether or not I have lost all faith in humanity yet again. I debated the concept of real writers from both perspectives; that of Brown’s and that of the Troll’s. And in the end I came up with an idea for those negative pieces of shit who go out of their way to break down others via the internet or otherwise. And here it is: Shut the fuck up. To all the keyboard warriors out there I urge you to take your hands off of your keyboard and take a moment to reflect on just how much of a sad fucking prick you must be if you constantly feel the need to go out of your way to destroy others.

Take me for instance; as a twenty four year old male I wasn’t ever going to be a huge fan of novels like Twilight or Fifty Shades. I’m not their target audience and frankly the authors probably don’t care if someone of my description loves or loathes their work. And while I have no issue in stating that I’m not a fan to my friends during the course of conversation, I would never go out of my way to actively search for fan pages of these franchises and attack the authors for their hard work. So why do so many others feel a sense of entitlement to do so? In fact why do these people believe that anyone actually gives a fuck about their opinion in the first place?

Sadly the answer to these questions is this: these people troll because by doing so they feel better about the fact that their own lives are less than perfect. They troll artists like Brown because they believe that by doing so they will somehow feel better about themselves. Every time a writer puts pen to paper they open up their heart and allow it to pour into the ocean of critics waiting to judge them. They spill blood in the water and watch as the sharks start to circle in a vain attempt to eat them alive. For many the sharks do manage to sink their teeth into the writer and drag them beneath the surface, destroying their hopes and dreams with their vicious remarks. But for a few select writers of Brown’s caliber they somehow manage to tread water and fight off the sharks circling menacingly around them. They learn how to overcome their critics and transcend beyond the meaningless remarks of the jealous and misinformed.

As a writer I will always be my own toughest critic, I will always assess my strengths and weaknesses and force myself to work harder. Encourage myself to become better. Implore myself to grow. And hopefully by doing this, by constantly breaking myself down and reassessing every aspect of my work, I can instill a confidence within myself that allows me to overcome the jealous and misinformed trolls who will undoubtedly attack me when I succeed.

So to all of the trolls out there I will say this in parting: until you yourself have produced something of equal or greater quality to that which you are criticizing (as assessed by your peers), then you really need to learn to shut the fuck up. It’s better to be considered the fool than to open your mouth and prove it beyond all doubt.

A nostalgic look back at a young writer heading north.

It’s been a week or so since my last post, and unfortunately I’m still stuck in the same funk that saw me lose sight of myself and unleash a verbal attack on the publishing industry. My writer’s block is taking over my life, and I’m struggling with a severe case of apathy towards everything and everyone. As I’ve said before, the writing process is sempiternal and I am continuously moving in waves of highs and lows as I strive towards my eventual goal of having a novel published. But today for something different, I’ve decided that rather then fly into another bout of misguided rhetoric, I will take you back in time and present to you the piece of work that saw me win the 2011 Heading North Young Writers Competition.

The piece you are about to read is one that I never imagined would warrant the affirmation of my peers. The idea was conceived whilst standing at a reception counter at my work watching the sun rise at 5:30am through a thin window. I had been in a bad place for a few months and was wallowing in the depths of depression. At just twenty two years of age my body was exhausted from working and studying fulltime and my mind felt as though it were fracturing in two. I spent about half an hour creating the short-story, instead focusing all of my attention on an alternate piece that I submitted to university (and was slammed by my tutor for producing). Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this story would be first time that I ever saw my work in print… Nevertheless, I present to you Moonlight & Prison Bars…

The sliver of moonlight retracted slowly across the dusty floor of his cell, climbing walls covered in flaking grey paint before disappearing from sight. He had been waiting all night for this moment, watching the silver beam of light cast from the heavens as it filtered through the iron bars fastened across the window. This morning in the yard he had seen clouds on the horizon, felt the subtle south westerly breeze scaling the fence and blowing gently across his skin. He had known then that rain was coming; he could smell it in the air.

He craned his neck and caught sight of the clouds concealing the moon, their once greyed edges illuminated as the moon reflected light from its counterpart half a world away. He heard a soft tapping as the first raindrops splashed against the dried dirt of the yard. A drop landed near the windows and the mixture of dirt and water splashed against his face, startling him. He twisted his body and edged his shoulders through the bars, extending his arms out into the cool night air, pressing his face against the cold iron as the smattering of raindrops became a torrent. His arms were soaked in seconds, cool droplets cascading over his skin, wrapping around his sinewy fingers, muscles, and tendons before free falling to the earth below. His face was sprayed with continuous flecks of water, reminding him of the feel of the ocean spray blasting across his skin as he sat on a surfboard watching lumps of swell roll beneath him.

He closed his eyes and pressed harder against the bars, his cheekbones aching against the pressure. The constant spray against his skin felt magical, and he ran his tongue across his lips remembering the taste that the saltwater used to leave there. He could feel the pitch in the pit of his stomach as his board lurched over the lip of the wave and he rose to his feet, feeling his fins catch as he bottom turned and set his line for the barrel. The lip rose up over his head and he tucked his frame inside the wave and felt time slow. He could hear his heart beating above the sound of the wave smashing down against the shallow sandbank, his eyes constantly roaming the green wall of water ahead of him. The wave began to slow and he emerged from the barrel and sunk the rail of his board into its wall, sending a huge spray skyward before he whipped off the back.

Opening his eyes against the rain he felt his stomach sink. It had been so long since he had felt saltwater against his skin, but he could still remember it so vividly. Like it was yesterday. His mind raced away from him again, and he felt the warmth of his own tears grace his cheeks between the never ending torrent of raindrops. He had never been much of a drinker. Alcohol had never really held any prestige in his life.

Thinking back now he wasn’t sure why he had decided to drink and drive that night. He didn’t think. It was as simple as that. The image of the young woman bouncing off the bonnet of his truck as he mounted the curb played through his head almost as vividly as his memories of the ocean. He had pulled over and tried to help her, he had done everything that he could. But she had broken her back and had haemorrhaging on the brain. He looked at his hands again, soaked with rain, watching as the individual droplets lost their translucency and transformed into a scarlet red before falling to the earth. He pulled his face away from the bars and watched his bloodstained hands with horror, just like he had after an innocent bystander had died in his arms.

Moving away from the bars he sat down on the edge of his lumpy mattress, listening to the unending torrent of rain as he stared down at the dusty concrete where the slivers of moonlight had shined in the not too distant past. He belonged here. He knew that. And it was selfish of him to miss the ocean. It was selfish of him to feel as though he was the victim. He was a monster, and an idiot. His decisions had killed an innocent woman who had been waiting for the bus. His only solace was that she had been alone. He couldn’t remember how many times he had driven past that particular stop when it was standing room only.

He sat for hours, his eyes never once leaving the floor, his ears twitching in response to each raindrop as it fell against the earth outside. He watched and listened as morning arrived and the rain eased. He waited until the thin slivers of sunlight filtered between the bars, glistening off a pool of tears drying on the concrete before he lay down on the lumpy mattress and rested his eyes. Licking his lips as he drifted off to sleep he tasted not of the ocean, but the gritty taste of justice. He belonged here for what he had done. He had told the judge that himself. He had taken a life and this is what he deserved. Even so, as he drifted off the sleep in the morning light he imagined himself running down a grassy headland, leaping into the ice cold water and paddling towards the point.

So there you have it. An entry into a competition that saw me taste success before my writing journey careened off course and ground to a halt in a cacophony of personal shit. Now two years later I look back on what I created with a sense of nostalgia. In the past two years my writing has improved tenfold, so much so that I found it difficult presenting the piece as it was back then. Each time I put pen to paper my skills develop and I grow ever more confident in what I produce. Moonlight & Prison Bars was my first published work, but with a little bit of luck it won’t be my last.

King of the cinderblock

Sometimes no matter how hard you try and fight it, you just can’t seem to overcome that voice inside your head that wants you to tear down everything you’ve worked so hard to create and set it all ablaze. Relapses, anger and anxiety are common place for someone who has suffered the limitless lows of depression, and lately I’ve felt that all too familiar feeling of the devil crawling up my back to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Usually when you slip into a mindset like this you can grab the devil by the throat and throw him to the floor, but lately those little whispers have been resonating in a manner that they haven’t done for quite some time. Lately I’ve actually been considering setting everything ablaze for no other reason than to watch myself burn.

I’m not a hundred per cent sure how I got here again. When I wrote my last post I was in a good place; my writing was evolving and I felt like I was actually achieving something with everything that I was doing. But now I feel like the only thing that can quash my current mindset would be the familiar smell of smoke as I destroy everything that I have become as a writer. Maybe it’s just the perpetually slow industry I am trying to enter that’s making me feel like this, or maybe it’s just creative frustration at starting over once more. But what if it’s not? What if it’s me? I could just be overtired; the fact that I’m not sleeping again means that this could be a real possibility. Or maybe I’m histrionic, or a masochist; perhaps I am here again because I actually love to see myself fail. Whatever the reason, I’m stuck in a fucking rut and am struggling to clear my head of the negative bullshit that’s overwhelming my senses.

I’ve come a long way in the past twelve months, when I originally started this blog I was in a terrible state. I’d shed kilos, lost hours of sleep and decided that I pretty much hated the world and every single person in it. Now I can usually find solace and beauty in my surroundings, and can even more often than not see the good in people. But now it’s almost as though I have created this bubble of positivity around myself that prevents me from ever fully articulating my angst and frustrations. There are times in my life where I just want to scream from the rooftops, or call someone a cunt, but I can’t bring myself to do it for fear of shattering my own perception that I am no longer a negative person. – Take this post for example. I’m pissed off, I’m frustrated as hell, and I just want to burn every fucking thing I’ve ever written; yet rather than actually do that I resort to trying to create a logical argument and reason with myself as to why I am angry.

So why not just let go Chris? Why not open the flood gates and give in to the devil’s charm? Why not be that abrasive voice that tells someone just how fucking worthless they really are?… The answer isn’t always simple, but the truth is that it’s often just not worth it. Sometimes it’s better to let the lowest common denominator believe that they are something more and that you actually give a fuck about them than shatter their minds by telling them just what the devil is whispering in your ear.
I think the troubling thing in all of this is that as a student and an emerging writer, I am often considered to be the lowest common denominator by all the self-indulgent fuckwits within the writing and publishing industries. I received an email recently were a local poetry society were offering one lucky student the opportunity to work with them as an intern. It’s something that any young writer would jump at; the opportunity to work alongside those who have managed to break into the industry and build some wonderful contacts is tantalizing to any student sitting at the bottom of the industry’s proverbial slush pile. The only thing was the internship on offer was nothing more than cheap exploitation on behalf of some self-important cock that couldn’t be fucked giving anyone a real opportunity.

The internship was to be conducted by the successful candidate in their own time, at their own house, meaning they would never actually mingle with anyone other than their keyboard over the course of four months. The intern would be required to manage the poetry society’s Facebook/twitter accounts, write fortnightly newsletters, update blogs, and so on. After all their hard work over the four months this very (un)lucky intern would receive a beautiful letter of reference from the societies director that would see them considered favourably for any future internships… I mean honestly, what kind of fucked up logic is that? Is the industry that I so desperately want to enter so shallow that organizations will blatantly capitalize on someone’s desire to succeed and treat them like a leper? Because if it is then I will happily set fire to everything I have created and let it all burn to hell.

I’m an idealist and a realist all rolled into one. When I write I’m not trying to change the world; I’m just trying to have some fun and overcome my own demons. But I’m also not out to cut someone off at the knees and manipulate their dreams for my own personal gain. That’s not to say that the ability to do so isn’t in me. Once upon a time I would have been more than eager to screw someone over in the pursuit of glory, but thankfully I’ve grown a little since then. But sadly my chosen field seems to run riot with arrogant pricks that would are still willing to do so. My rut that I’m stuck in isn’t due entirely too pretentious dickheads like this, I’ve got more issues than a fucking psychiatric patient, but it can sometimes be hard to remain upbeat when you’ve constantly got those who have succeeded pissing down on you as though you are one of the great unwashed. Nothing stings more than the arrogant smirks and remarks of those deluded men and women who have forgotten where they came from and chose to look down their nose at the rest of us still trying desperately to make it.

Right now I’m angry, I’m irritable and I’m beyond fucking tired. My days follow the same basic design. I wake early to write, I work, and I come home and study while trying to keep my eyelids open. By the time the weekend rolls around I’m usually exhausted and struggle just to roll out of bed. Yet I do all of this in the hopes that I can break into the publishing industry and achieve something incredible. But if breaking into this industry means parading myself around like a king and treating those below me like a piece of shit than I’m not interested. I’d rather burn everything I have created to hell and be king of my own cinderblock than be just another pretentious cunt who can’t write to save himself yet looks down on others like they are the scum of the earth.

Hands on the table where I can see them…

There’s nothing quite like waking yourself up at the crack of dawn to write, only to find that your brain has decided to take the day off and left you struggling with a severe case of writer’s block. The empty page stares up at you from the computer screen, almost mocking you as you fail to fill it with anything of substance.

-That’s me today. I’m honestly struggling. For some reason unbeknownst to me, my head has decided that it just doesn’t want to write. So what do I do? Well my initial thought was to take the morning off and go back to bed, but then I thought, fuck it. I’ll just push a little harder and see what I come up with. Sometimes all you need to break out of a rut is to change tact and try and hit your problems from a new angle. So with that said, it’s time for one of those awkward put your hands on the table where I can see them while I press my linguistic gun to your head and spit my own misguided rhetoric at you moments…

Creativity is dead. Actually, let me retract that and try again. Creativity is a bloated aging whore that has been beaten and battered to the point of total exhaustion. She lies in a state of semi-consciousness on a threadbare mattress in a shit-fight of a room awaiting a knight in shining armour to come and cease her terrible suffering. As she lies with her ear propped against the wall, she can hear into the next room. Sounds of debauchery fill her ears as her younger counterpart uniformity is bent over and fucked by every so called artist vying to make it big.

Sounds vulgar doesn’t it? Well it should. For this is the state of our creative industries nowadays. Once upon a time artists were revered for their talents; they were praised for their abilities to weave intricate tales of romance and affection, ruin and woe. But now, in our ever¬-evolving society we have shifted our focus away from devouring and worshiping originality and focused instead on producing easily palatable artworks that fall in line with our preconceived idea that everything must have an expiry date of five minutes. We focus more intently on the misguided antics of the artist than what they are actually producing – and we do this because what they produce is more often than not mind-numbingly shit.

It really is a sad state of affairs, especially for someone like me, who is looking at breaking into the elusive world of publishing. A writer/artist used to strive to create a truly unique tale in order to secure a book deal or the likes, yet now it seems as though the key to finding success is to duplicate the works of your predecessors as closely as possible without being labelled a fraud. A long time ago a man by the name of Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch proposed the idea that there were only seven basic conflicts in literature. Quiller-Couch proposed that from these seven conflicts a talented writer would be able to construct an endless myriad of unique ideas and produce a story worthy of acclaim. The wordsmith’s conflicts were as follows:

1. Man against man.
2. Man against nature.
3. Man against himself.
4. Man against God.
5. Man against society.
6. Man caught in the middle.
7. Man and woman.

Yet somewhere along the way, literature and society lost its way and lost sight of the meaning behind Quiller-Couch’s list. The list was originally intended as a foundation upon which a writer can build, however more and more increasingly it seems as though writers are quite literally limiting themselves to the brief bullet points on this list. Imagination and creativity are no longer valuable commodities in our society.

We used to worship the new and unexpected. We used to praise an artist who was willing to push the boundaries of their craft in an effort to develop something truly unique. Now however, we seem content to consume second rate shit and scorn the notion of a truly beautiful, truly unique piece of work. Something needs to change. Writers need to stop patronising their readers and actually dig deep and create something worthwhile rather than continuing to spew forth the dribble filling bookstore shelves. And readers in turn need to stop being so willing to digest the bullshit flooding best seller’s lists and instead venture deeper into the world of literature and start sifting out those wondrous novels sitting dormant on shelves just waiting to be discovered.

And there we have it. Rant over, my negativity has been voiced and you are free to take your hands off the table. Stand up, stretch out your legs, and try just for one moment to take what I have said into account before you eventually come to the realisation that I’m nothing more than a narcissist suffering from delusions of grandeur. Try to read something new and exciting rather than reaching for the tried, true and downright fucking boring. I’ll be in touch again soon…

Resurrecting the Renegade

Today I’ve been hit by a crippling bout of nostalgia. I’m coming down with a curious temptation to return to a manuscript long left dormant and try and salvage what was very nearly my first published work. A few years ago I wrote a novel titled Renegade, a tale of murder and mayhem that almost drove me insane. The story was told from the duel perspectives of a killer and the police officer leading the hunt to find him, and was one of the most enjoyable pieces of work I have ever completed. Or at least it was, the first time I wrote it.

I was only about nineteen years old when I completed the first draft of Renegade, and with my youth came a state of naivety. I assumed that the first draft of my manuscript would be strong enough to navigate the proverbial slush pile of scripts saturating the desks of publishers and agents throughout the industry. But after a few knockbacks I took to rewriting the story and editing the absolute shit out of it. From there I started to see some improvements, and I started to progress ever so slowly through the initial stages of securing an agent for my work.

But with these minor successes came the need to edit again and again. The agency that I was in contact with asked for another rewrite on the manuscript and I begrudgingly obliged time and time again, until I found myself crying in the wardrobe one night and decided that enough was enough. Renegade was complete; I had edited the fucking thing to the point where I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. Thankfully my agency agreed that the editing side of things was complete. They were finally happy to take on the manuscript and present it to the world. Shortly after I received a contract from a publishing company and thought that I had finally made it as an author… Unfortunately the deal fell through and I was left right back where I started, without a publisher or an agent to represent my work.

From there I started approaching publishers direct, and nearly found a home for Renegade with an Australian publishing house, before failing to progress through the final stages of the selection process. My work was praised for its construction, but much to my dismay the publishing house suggested that I make a few edits; that I rewrite sections of the script to improve its overall marketability. And in my infinite stupidity I decided against following their suggestions and chose to simply abandon the script altogether.

It wasn’t until a few years later during a university lecture that I learned a very valuable lesson; publishers don’t often give out feedback on a script. And if they do, it means that they believe in the work and you should just make the fucking changes to please them. After all, they are the ones who are potentially financing your dreams.

So now years later, as I sit on my hands and await some feedback on the Midas script that is still half a world away, I have to contend with a case of nostalgia for the novel that never was. While I would love to devote the time and effort required to resurrect Renegade and see it put into print, I feel that right now I’m not in the right headspace to reopen Pandora’s Box just yet. Instead I’ll keep toiling away on the follow up to Midas and the love story that I have been trying to develop. I’ll eventually return to Renegade one day, and when I do I know that I will be able to turn what I have into something fantastic. But sadly, today is just not that day.

On a side note, I am involved in the 2013 Best Australian Blogs competition. If you would like to vote for me in the people’s choice awards, just click on the big button below. As always, I promise to be in touch very soon.

Playing with fire & a sneak peak at a labour of love.

Last week I took a gamble and sent a query letter detailing the plot points of my manuscript off to a company located halfway around the world in Brooklyn NY. In addition to a synopsis of my work, the letter also outlined my intent to become a published author and detailed what minor successes I have had to date. I chose the literary agent after a considerable amount of research as they came with the highest level of recommendation and boasted an impressive line-up of authors. In my eyes when I sent this letter off I was playing with fire. My manuscript has only been recently completed and is in the stages of being rewritten and edited, but I’ve been through the waiting game with agents and publishers before and know that it can take months for someone to respond to your work, if they respond at all. So imagine my elation/horror when two days later I receive a reply from the agent asking to view my entire manuscript!

For those of you who do work (or aspire to work) in the publishing industry you will know that an agent or publishing house will usually ask to see first 20-50 pages of a script they deem worthy of further review. So when the email arrived asking for the entire script my joy and excitement quickly gave way to angst and the crippling realisation that the script wasn’t anywhere near ready to view in its entirety. I sent what little I could to the agent with the promise of more to come, and have now spent so much of the past week reworking my script that I feel as though I am on the verge of growing to hate my labour of love once again. I played with fire by jumping the gun, never assuming that I would be burnt so quickly.

In any case, before I take a deep breath and delve back into the nightmarish stack of crisp white paper still waiting to be edited, I wanted to share with you all a little snippet from something that has been a few years in the making. I hope that you enjoy it…

The spring sun had set on Marseilles, France’s second largest city and its largest commercial port. The temperature was a mild eighteen degrees Celsius and the trade wind known as the Mistral blew through the valleys of the Rhone before finally unleashing their bitter assault on the city. The harshly-cold wind was an unwelcome change from the warm early spring days the city had experienced over the past week, and many residents had locked themselves indoors for the night. High above the city sat the Notre-Dame de la Garde, a huge basilica positioned on the city’s highest natural point, a limestone outcrop on the south side of the old port. The de la Garde looked grand against the moonlight, the cold winds lashing over its stone surface leaving a faint trace of limestone in the air. The basilica was a tourist mecca and a local place of worship for Marseilles’ religious population, but right now the holy building had been closed down for the night. The huge building had been abandoned, save for the four men standing on the limestone balcony that lined its edges.

The four men gazed out over the city below, lights glistened through windows and streets cut an intricate maze through buildings as far as the eye could see. To the south the Mediterranean Sea was visible, it’s usually calm surface rippled with small wind swell created by the Mistral. The moon’s light reflected off the deep blue surface, broken only by the small whitecaps rolling silently towards the shoreline. The four men were brothers by blood, but their appearances were startling different, even when concealed by their heavy robes designed to protect them against the cold night air. The eldest brother was tall, his features dark and handsome, his eyes an endless and deadly hazel. His body was lean, yet surprisingly muscular; his age indeterminable beneath his priest’s robes and hood. Concealed beneath his robes were two pearl white handguns held in pancake holsters against his ribs.

The second brother was huge. Taller and broader than his siblings, he physically dominated the foursome. His shoulders were wide and his chest shaped as though Da Vinci himself has chiselled it from the finest of stone. His hair was a dark brown and his eyes a fiery emerald green. He wore a beard, thick and woolly, poking out from within the hood of his robe. In his right hand he held a small flick knife, the blade three inches long and cast from a blood red metal. He spun the knife effortlessly between his fingers as he watched the skyline. To his left stood the third eldest of the brothers; the quiet one, his head cast down at the floor.

The quiet one was the meekest of the foursome, standing at an embarrassing five feet nine inches with thin, sinewy shoulders. But what he lacked in physical dominance he made up for with his mysticism. Many myths surrounded the quiet one, no one had ever seen his face; his brothers included. The quiet one was known for his bizarre dress patterns; full military Special Forces combat attire, all black. His face eternally covered by a black face mask, complete with breathing apparatus that could be seen right now hanging from beneath the hood that was pulled deep over his head; a slight hiss audible as oxygen passed through the device.

The youngest of the brothers stood apart from his siblings, his head turned high towards the moon above. The hood of his robe had been removed and draped across his shoulders and neck, revealing a beautifully hideous face to the world. His head was shaved smooth, his features made sharper by the pale green tattoos that covered his face. His entire skeletal system had been tattooed onto his skin. Cheekbones, ribs, phalanges and metatarsals were replicated in soft green ink. He was tall, six feet three inches, and his eyes were a translucent grey. Death incarnate.

And there you have it. A brief interlude to a work that has been years in the making. Stay tuned, I promise to post more very soon….

%d bloggers like this: