‘Milestones’

The last few days, I’ve been reading a few posts by writers who’ve passed some significant ‘milestones’ in their journey as people and writers. It’s caused me to stop and think about some of the ‘milestones’ along the way.

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Back ‘in the day’ a milestone was just that, a stone put at the side of a road that marked the distance between two cities. Simple, but they showed how far you’d travelled, and how far was left to go.

 

But here’s a thought we often forget, someone has to walk the road between the two so as to record the distance, literally to ‘mark’ out the milestones for others to follow. We often call those people ‘EXPLORERS’ or ‘PIONEERS’ or at least we call the first few to do it that.

 

But did you know, every few months or years someone walks those roads? Measuring wheel in hand they set off and measure out the route again, see the earth’s crust is constantly moving, and they have to, so that we know exactly how far it is to our destination! Here’s the thing, satellites can do it as well, but it takes someone actually ‘doing the hard yards’ to check they get it right!

 

Okay, where am I going with this? Well, I will pass a milestone in a couple of weeks, actually it’ll be two. One says I’ve been with the bus company five years, and am one of the ‘senior drivers’ and the other says it’s a year since my first book was published. Am I on course for where I want to be? From the signs others have left the answer is yes, but there are changes ahead.

Here’s the ‘Milestone’ I’m talking about

Some of those changes might take me into ‘unchartered territory’ so, I guess I better get ready with some milestones, so as others can see the way

The Workman, and his tools

“A bad workman ‘allus blames ‘ees tools”

That was a favourite saying of my Dad’s, I think it was probably passed down from him from my Granddad, but by the time I was old enough to remember it, it was Dad who used it, and it’s been a saying that’s always stuck with me for various reasons.

When I was a kid, I’d try and do a job, it didn’t always turn out the way I wanted, and it was so easy to say, “This brush isn’t good enough, the bristles aren’t strong enough for the job!”

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It might have been true, but Dad would always come back with that saying, and it drove me bonkers! I was convinced he had patches of dirt literally glued to his specs, he always found a patch of dirt, or a part of the pan I hadn’t cleaned properly!

Eventually I learnt that it’s not so much whether you ‘know’ how to do a job, but how well you know your tools!

Think about it for a minute, ever spent time with a tradie? What’s the first thing they do when they get their pay packet, especially when they’re just finishing the training. Pretty much the first thing they buy is a decent set of tools, the kind that’ll last a lifetime, then they set about learning how each tool performs.

Not just what it’s ‘supposed’ to do, ​but what, with a bit of practice, a real ‘artisan’ or craftsman can achieve!

You know, we writers often talk of our writing being a craft, we get out and we practice the craft, but what happens when we don’t get the results we think we should?

I know what happens with me. Dad’s words “A bad workman ‘allus blames ees tools” rings in my ears, and back to the learning how to use them I go.

So with that thought, I want to issue a challenge to all you writers out there, take time to learn more about your tools, and the best way to do that, is to use them, but use them in a way you haven’t done before, then you’ll get to see them in a new light!.

 

Leave a comment below, and let me know how you get on.

 

‘Finding the time Part 2’

Last week we talked a little about what I did to find the time to write my first Novel. To me, at the moment it sounds a bit as if I’m ‘blowing my own trumpet’ and I suppose I am, but the real reason I’m writing this way, is to try and show what “thinking outside the box” might look like.

Not the same for everyone I know, but truth is, if you have something you really want to make happen, then you’ll find a way right?

How badly do you want the dream?

So, the intent here, is to tell you what I did, and maybe then it’ll get you to thinking “what can I do differently?”

As I said before, I discovered that writing that early in the morning meant my ‘boy’ didn’t get a walk, and he was getting grumpy! Ever thought a dog could get grumpy? How about disobedient? It takes three or four attempts to get attention, and then it’s only given ‘grudgingly’! That was Barney.

As soon as the walks started again, and he realised they were going to be regular, the mood improved, but the writing didn’t!

 

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It’s amazing how ‘bossy’ they can be!

That had stopped, but then my beloved told me a bit about Google docs.

Before we go any further, I’ll point out Google docs is a free program you can load onto your computer and phone, it allows you to sit and write anywhere, at any time and stores the document in ‘The cloud’, it even ‘syncs’ your devices so that what you write on one is available on the other (password protected)

What about Privacy?

Okay, about now there’s a few of you beginning to rise out of the chair to start the ritual ‘Jumping up and down’ and going on about privacy and the fact that ‘online stuff’ isn’t all that ‘secure’ but the truth is, don’t put any stuff you don’t want shared on there! And if you do lose it, you can always ask the National Security Agency (or GCHQ if you’re British) for their copies!!!

Don’t laugh at that, I do know of one guy who did that with the KGB and got every email he’d ever sent, as well as every fax!!!

Here’s the Novel that was produced, take a look.

 

Anyway, the result is that it doesn’t matter where I am, as soon as I’ve got a break, out comes the phone, you know, the one I now use as a writing pad, and away I go, tapping away at the latest story!

The result was a 73,000 novel produced in just over nine months, I’ll let you be the judge of how good the story is.

That’s all for this week, but leave a comment, and let me know what you think.

Lawrence

 

‘Finding the time?’ Part 1

Finding time?

It’s interesting that I chose to start writing this post at the start of a week that’s been really busy and I didn’t actually have the time to sit and post the article, but I did find the time to actually write it!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll spend some time talking through some of the things I’ve done over the years to ‘find the time’ to write, and why it’s been important for me.

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Ask yourself, “What’s important to me? what, or whom do I need to find time for?”

It’s one thing I’ve always struggled with, so many things I want to do, so many projects I seem to start, but they fall by the wayside, usually killed off by one little thing, I run  out of time to do them!

Writing a book, any book is a pretty major commitment. I mean first you need an idea, then need to start working that idea out. Kind of developing the original into something you can work with.

Research is important, it’s no use having your characters doing things you have no idea what it involves, sorry but it’s gonna show!

All these things take time right?

So, if I’m working a full time job, how is that gonna happen? I mean job, family and stuff, where’s the time for the things I want to do?

That’s the struggle I had, a few times, actually more than a few, I’d start a manuscript in the holidays, get part way through, then have to go back to work, and before I realised it, six months had passed and I had no clue why I started the project!

Last year, I decided to change it a bit, I really wanted to write the story, and I’d just got a laptop, the only time I could write was early morning, around five am!!

Hey, if you want something had enough, you’ll find a way!

That’s what I did, half an hour every morning, maybe two hundred to two fifty words, pretty soon I had a 47,000 word novella that I’m proud of.

That took six months!

Here’s the result, take a look.

And I was bitten, but exhausted, also my dog Barney hadn’t had a walk for so long, it was time to change the way this was were done!

All it took was a little planning.

What that meant, you’ll have to tune in next week.

 

‘Inspiration, where do we get it from?’

How do we get ‘inspired’?

Hang around any writer for any length of time and you’ll start hearing them talk of their ‘Muse’ and whether the ‘Muse’ is working or not, meaning whether they’re feeling inspired to write or not.

It’s one thing that a lot of writers say they struggle with. Where to get the inspiration for their work?

Where can the inspiration for a good article, or story come from?

Ask any three writers, and you’ll get at least three answers, and that’s just if you give them a few minutes only.

I’ve got two novels out now (the second was published just a month ago) and the ideas for them came from different places.

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The first was a writing exercise a few years ago. I was doing a paper on creative writing and did a story about a guy stuck in a jail cell, okay the final story was very different, but that’s where it started!

Here’s the first

Sting of the Scorpion

The second was just having lunch by the lakeside in Rotorua, it just looked ‘right’ for a helicopter approaching at night, lights off, the rest you’re going to have to read the book for.

This one I’m really proud of

Scorpion’s Reach

Take a minute to think about your day, the people in the checkout at the grocery store, ever wondered what their day was like? How about the coffee shop?

Writer’s ‘block’ is real, and it does happen, but when it does there’s a few things we can do to ‘unblock’ those pipes. Anything from taking a walk to just picking up the newspaper and take a few minutes just to sit and think about what we just read, you’ll be amazed at the results.

How about this for a plot. A top secret establishment is hacked, in the hack a number of software files are stolen that then appear when they’re used to cripple thousands of companies and demand ransom, the plot is only foiled by a twenty something spotty, four eyed geek who’s still living with Mum and Dad sees the email and finds the ‘kill code’. What about that for a story? By the way, it happened this week! Just think where the story could go? Sadly I’m already working on another novel, but maybe I’ll hold that back and come back to it.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, all we need do is ‘open our eyes’ and see what they show us.

So let’s take a look around, and see where the inspiration leads.

One final thing, North Korea might actually be involved in the hacking scam…..

‘Gravity’

My wife and daughter were having a debate the other day, they were debating the meaning of the word ‘Gravity’.

One said “it’s the attractive force created when an object spins fast enough to pull things into itself” basically just like the earth does in spinning and keeping us ‘on Terra firma’

The other said it was a description of an emotion or response to a situation, like in ‘the gravity of the situation’ and the debate went from there.

Both were adamant, their view was right, according to the dictionary, and the other wasn’t!

I’m bringing this up as it’s something pretty important, not just regards writing, but with life in general. Two people, looking at the same information, seeing exactly the same thing, yet drawing a different meaning.

By the way, when we turned to the dictionary, both meanings were present, and given equal prominence, so, both were right, but not totally!

It’s the same with writing, look at a blank page, or computer screen, some will see a story of some kind, others see that article they’ve been wanting to write, others still, a poem, but it’s all writing, and it’s all creative in some way.

Writing is a great way of being creative, so let’s not worry so much about the ‘type’, let’s just get on And enjoy the craft.

Have a think on that one.

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Travails of a writer

Travails of a writer.

That’s what I think I’ll call this post! Part of the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of breaking into the world of being a writer.

Anyone who’s read my previous blogs here, know that at best, I’ve been sporadic in posting, and I wouldn’t blame you if you’re totally frustrated, but here we are again, a new plan, and new hope of making a go of it.

Actually, the reason for the ‘sporadic’ posts is simply being just too busy! Not sure I should admit that, as it probably has you thinking ‘writing, or blogging isn’t that important to him’ and heading for the electronic door.

But before you go, hold on a minute! See, I’m back, writing, posting, and with a plan. The ‘plan’ has kinda worked so far, in that I used this ‘plan’ to write my second novel!

Hey, I’m not gonna “tell you” just yet, I’ll see if you figure it out, but here’s a question. If I work a sixty hour week, in my regular job, when do I get time to write?

My Office!! (And she’s Brand new!)

For a clue, take a look at my ‘writing desk’. My guess is, it’s probably the most unusual one you’ll come across, yet I’ve used a similar one to write “Scorpion’s Reach”

 

Truth is, if something is important to you, you’ll find a way to do it, just like if someone is important to you you’ll find a way to make time for them!

Hey, that’s all for now, but let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Blessings

Lawrence

A pencil in God’s Hand

“I’m just a pencil in the hands of God”
This is a special week, a week when a life well lived was celebrated. Twenty years after the person departed this terrestrial ball, but a life that still impacts us today!
This week the Catholic Church celebrated Mother Theresa by ‘canonizing’ her and making her into a ‘Saint’
Think about it for a moment, one obscure nun living in a small convent in one of the slums of India, yet hers was a life that touched billions.
“I’m just a pencil in the hands of God” was often the way she’d describe herself.
Okay, apart from the reference to being a ‘pencil’ what’s it got to do with writing? Actually, for me, it’s got everything to do with it! It’s not just the love of writing, and the desire to be a ‘writer’ that keeps me going at this, but also the thought of ‘making a difference’ that really drives me.
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I want my writing not just to entertain, (that in itself is a great goal) but to encourage, to inspire and hopefully to motivate people to reach beyond themselves, to become ‘pencils in the hand of God’ and write his love on the hearts of those who need it, in other words, in on the hearts of all of us.
I actually started this blog nearly a week ago but it just didn’t seem the right time to post, but now, I’m sat here at the computer and it just seems the right time to finish off.
I suppose I’ve always been one of these ‘idealists’ that wanted their life to ‘make a difference’, to help shape the world we live in and leave it a better place than when I arrived, is that too much do you think?
Mother Theresa was so special because she believed in the dignity of every Human being, no matter how poor and destitute they were, to her they all had dignity.
I too want to be that ‘pencil in his hands’ and write the things that bring us closer to him as well as closer to each other.

The Writer’s ‘Job’

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn about love and fate, and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured!”
I would so like to claim those few sentences as my own, but they’re not. They are the opening lines in a book I’ve just started reading, the book is called “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts, and it’s a very challenging book about the time he spent in Bombay India.
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Actually the book is about the human ‘condition’ but what is that ‘human condition?’
If we asked a hundred people what it was I bet we’d get a hundred and one answers! Everyone would have their idea about it, but most come to some form of compromise they agree on, but it’s not what they truly think!
To me, that’s what writing is about, as writers we get, we create the opportunities to explore all the different emotions and feelings that make up what we think and feel.
We create the opportunities to take people ‘out of their comfort zone’. To explore “What it means to be Human”
Be it the adventure story that gives people a shot of adrenaline, or a love story that takes us on the journey that love and the sometime consequences of heartbreak, or the ‘happy ever after’ they’re all part of what makes us Human, and they’re all part of what we as writers get to explore, isn’t that exciting?

An interesting perspective

“Writing is like breathing”
I’ve been trying to come up with some ‘inspiring’ thought to share on my blog all weekend, and now, just as the weekend is coming to a close the ‘MUSE’ has finally shown up giving me an idea what to write!
Actually it’s because I’ve just watched an interview by one of the greats of New Zealand literature, Joy.Cowley. she’s 80 this year and still writing!
As she was speaking she was basically saying “a writer writes because they can’t not write” it’s like a Human needs oxygen to breathe and a writer needs to write, we can’t help it!
Another thing she said was “The person who said you only live once has never read a book!”
The idea behind that one was that as we read a book it’s as if we take on the ‘lives’ of the people in that book, and for a few brief moments, as we’re reading we ‘become them!’
So how about it, do you take people to another ‘level’ or realm with the writing? It’s a great thing to aim for.
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Just after the interview was another one about a young skateboarder making it big in the USA, she’s only 16 and although her Mum was terrified of some of the stunts etc Mum  said “it’s like a drug, she can’t go more than a couple of days without skating or she gets grouchy”
That got me thinking, “do I get grouchy if I don’t write?”
I know for me it starts to feel like a dam being blocked up, the sluice gates closed and pressure building, opening those gates gives life and power to a dry land, that’s what writing to me!
How about you?