One thing I would really love to do is perpetrate a literary hoax. I see it as the ultimate in creativity, pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible and, for a while, even those with a little more sense. The conundrum of a literary hoax is that you must be discovered in order to become famous for perpetrating it. That seems to be the less fun part though. But for those watching from a little distance, the people involved and the lengths they go to are fascinating.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck, interview with Robert van Gelder in April 1947 as quoted in John Steinbeck: A Biography (1994) by Jay Parini
This is the fifth piece in my Project… series (and the title chapter in my next book about writing). For anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in this series or the relevant posts on my blog, here’s a refresher for you:
*Project October is all about intensive writing.
*Project November is all about rewriting, polishing and finalising.
*Project December is all about publishing.
*Project January is all about starting all over again.
So what is Project June? For the purposes of this series, there had to be another Project… piece. I toyed with the idea of Project February, mostly because February comes after January. But I didn’t know what Project February was. I still don’t.
Eventually, I realised that the advice that I wanted to give and the month that went with it was all about the middle. I’d addressed the start, the sprint to the faux finish and the actual finish; the only thing left was the part in between.
I was recently reading an article about the biggest fiction sellers going back over the last one hundred years and how so few of the biggest sellers at the time are still read all these years later. One name kept jumping out at me. Zane Grey. I’d never heard of him. But he wrote the bestselling book of 1918. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1919. He wrote the bestselling book of 1920. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1921. He wrote the ninth bestselling book of 1922. He wrote the eighth bestselling book of 1923. He wrote the sixth bestselling book of 1924. From 1917 to 1926, he was in the top ten of the list of bestselling books nine times. According to Wikipedia, he was one of the first millionaire authors.
To me, there is nothing scarier than a fictional serial killer. Yes, real serial killers are terrifying but most people are very unlikely to ever come across one and know this. Fictional serial killers, however, are everywhere: there are more book, film and TV show serial killers than there will ever be real ones (thank God).
I’ve come to realise that there seems to be a bit of a formula for writing a serial killer story. It’s not compulsory, of course, just a set of common steps that run through quite a few of them. The steps don’t always occur in exactly the same order. The steps don’t always occur in isolation; sometimes multiple steps are happening at the same time. And the steps are abstract enough that despite appearing in almost all serial killer movies, the stories are still distinct because of the details of each different serial killer, their methods, their victims and the people trying to track them down.Continue reading
I was reading my dictionary as I sometimes do and came across some lovely underused (possibly widely unknown) words. I’m always a bit iffy about actually including these sorts of words in my writing because most people will just go, “Huh?” and have to look up their meaning (and that’s in the very unlikely event that they can be bothered).
So instead I will just leave them here to be admired in isolation. Enjoy.Continue reading
About a year ago, I began seeing a specialist to look into some medical issues I was having, primarily joint swelling and pain and allergy-like symptoms. With a family history of autoimmune diseases, the likelihood was that it was just my turn.
I had blood tests and an MRI. No sign of osteoarthritis. The specialist suspected fibromyalgia (the diagnosis often given when doctors can’t figure out what’s actually wrong). I was put on medication that didn’t do anything but give me blood noses.Continue reading