At last, I’m a published writer! It’s been a long journey with many bumps along the way.
I’ve ended up self-publishing, and I was extremely pleased to find the self-publishing platforms have healthily high standards, and so they should. Out of respect to prospective readers, any self-respecting author should always aim for the highest standards and give their audience the best, most polished end product they are capable of.
My debut novel was accepted by several self-publishing service companies before I chose to go down the entirely self-publish because it was the right path for me. If there are any budding writers reading this, I would urge caution when selecting a path to publication. Take your time and do your homework thoroughly.
I don’t mind admitting I hail from the ‘older’ generation, one of the many sometimes referred to as the ‘baby boomer’ generation. As a child, my parents taught me to respect the older generation and to help them if and as required. Adults, my parents among them, made sure I was respectful of both people and their property, to speak when spoken to and always remember to be polite at all times.
I went through the State educational system, attending the local comprehensive. ‘Big’ school turned everything my parents taught me on its head. Some contemporaries behaved as I did, but many more did not! They used coarse words I had never heard of, and misbehaved in ways I had never before seen.
The teachers, figures I considered ‘friendly’ at my previous (primary) school appeared more as goal wardens, than those tasked with ‘educating’ students. It was an eye-opening rude awakening!
Some events and incidents from that time have shaped and informed how and what I write. My books reflect the life I have seen and lived, and necessarily include some of the ‘grittier’ elements.
As a creative writer, I am ‘tuned’ to notice. Often (and in my case), observation does not equate to giving voice to what you see. I ‘people watch’ a lot – in fact, well before it became a ‘trend’ the young did at overly-expensive coffee shops. My version does not include a ‘political’ running commentary on the observed.
For several years now, one of the more worrying trends (for me at least) is the rise of an ‘entitled’ generation. I speak of a generation who seem adept (even highly skilled) at blame-shifting. They appear to feel their educational level equates to and entitles them to managerial status. They even demand it as a ‘right’. They have no intention of ‘climbing the workplace ladder’. They harbour the belief their ‘educated status’ entitles them to be ‘fast-tracked’ to at least middle-management. Some young people manage to make it. This is because they do have skills and the capability to ‘make it’ on their chosen trajectory. It is not always the case. When they fail, it gets much more interesting, because (of course), it isn’t their fault. They were badly advised, no-one told them or (once the best ‘favourite’ excuse) computer failure! In their eyes, someone else or something else is always to blame.
Creative writers (like me) always keep shockingly bad behaviour catalogued for future reference, because it makes compelling scenes.
A book would be very dull if it only described beautiful scenery with well-behaved, even tempered people. Creative stories need drama. Drama drives pace, and thrives on twists and changes. Friction, drama, high-tension all make more interesting reading.
In writing dramatic scenes, it is often necessary to describe painful or awful events, actions or behaviours including violence, arguments and intense interactions. When someone is accidently injured – a simple toe-stub, the ‘natural’ person emerges. It is these ‘snapshots of naturalistic behaviour’ the creative writer seeks to capture within their stories. At such times of tension, for example a heated argument between two characters, they are unlikely to reference each other in terms of endearment.
I have seen ‘real-life’ characters ‘clean up their act’ (it was the parents of two young children) and feign civilized disagreements. It backfired spectacularly when their children, squabbling as children do, explained patiently to their baffled parents who called who ‘darling’ first!
Dramatic scenes reveal character. It is the writer’s job to show them acting and talking as they would naturally act and speak. They’re my characters’ actions and words – not mine.
For the sake of clarity, I do not – ever – condone violence, swearing or horrible behaviour. I replicate (in my stories) behaviours I have observed in real people in real life.
As humans, we need to realize our actions and behaviour matter. They impact those around us. The way we treat others is the way we set an example to those within our sphere and capability to influence. We are responsible and must take responsibility for ourselves. Only by acknowledging the issue, being responsible for it, by changing, can we influence others to change with us.
One of the cruellest actions I have observed of late is the apparent acceptance that if a person has a terminal illness, their employment must terminate. Several high-profile figures have been ‘cancelled’ for terminal diagnosis. How is this fair? If the person is capable of doing the job on (say) Friday, then announces they are terminally ill on the following Monday, they haven’t developed over the weekend into a jabbering wreck unable to do what they did perfectly well only three days earlier! This is ethically wrong, surely?
In the above scenario, do others (wherever the terminally ill person worked) want to avoid unpleasantness? Do they want to avoid having to confront the person they worked with, because they don’t know what to say or how to behave towards them? Is the fact of their terminal illness something they find too uncomfortable to address face on? Do they feel in a strangely ignorant way they might ‘catch’ whatever terminal illness their dismissed colleague has?
Something to think about: it is one of the ‘aims’ of what I write. I hope to give readers something to think about. I want to challenge readers to consider and perhaps look at things in a different way.
Take care everyone; look after your loved ones. Give them a hug, a smile and tell them you love them. It doesn’t hurt. It might make their day or week a little lighter; bring a ray of happiness – and we all need a bit of that sometimes!
Monday, 23rd January 2023