Writing is hard!

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Jack Brewhouse, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    My writing is changing a lot as I go. My best friend from school since we were 11 is a pro editor in the non-fiction scene and is on board as my proof-editor. He's a dick. He cares nothing for insulting me so his advice has been harsh, critical and brutally honest. Without a doubt, he has been the most useful driving force in getting my work to the quality it is today. I'm lucky to have been able to work with him.
    Conventions are a non-starter for me. I'm in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I rode here by motorcycle from London (I also write motorcycle non-fiction) and the scene is a bit crap. I've met a lot of writers here but most are terrible. The one good one I met was really very good but was also a heroin addict. I'm trying to help him straighten out.
    I'll be honest, I don't believe in forums. For the most part they just leave me feeling angry. But I write constantly, teach English and regularly run analysis into narrative structure so I'm no stranger to that side of it.
    I've had three contracts sent to me in the last two weeks but my business-dude advised against signing after investigating the companies. I'm going ahead with the bike one anyway, just to get the name out there.
    I'm no stranger to graft but instead of forums, I prefer to read and study the form and structure.

    Thanks for the reply. Maybe I could send you something?
     
  2. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    I'm fairly remote here too so my conventions are limited :)

    Sadly I simply have too many commitments to take on any more reading! Apologies.
     
  3. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    No problem. I know exactly how you feel. When people hear I'm a writer they insist on sending me a sample of their work. Most of it is so bad that it's almost impossible to return any kind of constructive criticism. One person gave me fan fiction based on a vampire/Cats (the musical) crossover including gay furry sexual content. I literally had no idea how to respond. The grammar put me in mind of something that a chimpanzee with access to a really bad electric-typewriter and really good LSD might turn out. It was about 200 words long and she said she was developing it into a novel and expected it to be published on a first try. After all, she told me, she'd been writing for nearly 6 months now and had improved a lot. So yeah, I get it. No need to apologise.
    I had a bunch of shorts by a writer at work. I dumped them on my shelf and forgot about them. He finally talked me into reading them. I'd been avoiding it since I was worried that if they were bad, I'd have to deal with it at work. With a sigh, I read them. The first was about a pair of grandparents engaged in a toilet-related sex-act when at the moment of highest-tension (ahem) the grand-children walk in. It was meant to be shocking but was written before the days of the internet so it had lost a lot of the sheer force it might have had two decades ago. Still, the writing was top-notch and the story followed the children as the experience positively changed them in ways that just seemed perfect. He's got a severe drug abuse problem but I'm working with him to get his act together. The man is a walking blob of talent who never realised it until I pointed it out to him.
    I have some very short stories if you change your mind. I teach so I started writing short stories because I couldn't find anything that was useful for the classroom. It became quicker and easier to write them myself than to spend the evening on Google.
    I have been to writing meetings here but they're just lots of very drunk people reading the kind of poetry that makes you want to smash your brain out with a brick. That is not to imply that I have anything against very drunk people, poetry, brains or bricks.
     
  4. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    Having read some of what you sent me, your writing is not of a quality that will get published. The short stories are trite, like rejected Outer Limits episode concepts, and the Box spends too many pages on grossly unimportant description of its uninteresting characters using repetitive language and long, tired similes. It also just reads as dressed up Blade Runner, but written in the 1950s.

    Regardless of how celebrated your achievements in elementary school, you have zero reason to be angry that publishers aren't leaping at the chance to publish your hackneyed novelettes and nine page one-liners. You have slightly more control of language than a lot of people, but you are using it to create something that lacks anima, realism or new perspective.

    I think you have misunderstood praise intended as encouragement as positive criticism of your work. If you have any intention of continuing down this path, find some other sci-fi writers of reasonable talent and write something new for them to critique. All you're doing right now is navel gazing.
     
  5. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    Now, how come I knew you were going to say something like that? As soon as you used the term 'literary voice' incorrectly I knew you were waiting for a chance to do this. I thought I'd give you the benefit of the doubt.
    This is just a series of poorly worded insults, there's no constructive element at all so you just come across sounding like an angry little man with something to prove. A lot of people on the internet do, presumably you were bottle fed as a baby, child and, perhaps, adult? It's not my business to pry.
    What exactly it is you're trying to prove or how I've insulted you is open question. Why the people on this forum have taken such offence at this thread confuses me.
    I think it's best if I leave you all to it. I have no great desire to wallow in whatever misery seems to be driving you.

    Thanks for the laugh, Handy-pants.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  6. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    Well there you go. There was me wondering if I could make time for something short. And then I see your response to criticism (however robust.)

    Nope, nope and nope.

    You really need to step back and look at yourself. You have special snowflake written all over you. Someone takes time to read your stuff and feed back you say thanks. Even if you want to swing for them. Even if you disagree with everything they say.

    No one will touch you as a critique partner if this is how you respond. Which means you remain in the same vacuum of not knowing whether you CAN write because no one who could help you will leave themselves open to this sort of response.

    From my experience - no response from agents = there is something not working yet. No one but vanity or weak publishers offering = you're not there yet. Not wanting to go on critique forums = not wanting to truly develop. You want to throw out artistry as a reason why - but it's not. It can be a weak excuse.
     
  7. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    The thing is, I pretty much knew how it was going to go with you from your first post in this thread. You clearly think you are a special genius that no one has caught on to, yet. And you didn't disappoint. Here's the first line from one of your short "stories":

    Is this really a sentence you take pride in, and expect this kind of thing to keep an publisher to keep reading? Did someone teach you that having multiple redundancies in a sentence was arty? Across/opposite, measure/sum, another/other, each/each, trying/trying. Blah.

    They sat opposite, trying to get the other's measure.

    That is everything you said, but without the redundancies and unappealing style. The artful use of language is to break out of ordinary when it has impact, rather than just throwing words into every line. And it wasn't just that line, you go on and on in this vein.


    I paid you the compliment of understanding basic language structure, which most aspiring writers can't even claim. But you need to wake up to the fact that what you're writing is slow, pedantic and unoriginal. It reads like something written by someone who hasn't read SF broadly. The story named "Sphere" (aside from being a title of a Crichton SF novel), is based on a concept that is extremely common in SF and is now even in pop culture thanks to Elon Musk.

    The only thing that made me "angry" was your off putting OP. Woe is you. It is your choice to keep shopping around sloppy writing - it will never effect my life either way. You can take the advice to put your early efforts behind you and get serious, or keep fooling yourself that you're crafting something anyone wants to read. I've critiqued entire problematic novels before, but your writing tests my patience too much to break it down by line, paragraph or section.
     
  8. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    Yeah, and this was precisely the response I expected from you as well, judging on your previous replies. You see, he didn't offer a critique, he spewed insults at me so I laughed off his toxic comments and moved on.
    I'm not interested in the subjective opinion of a person whose mind was very, very clearly made up before he even saw a sample of my work.
    I'm done with this thread. Never fight with pigs, you end up dirty and the pigs enjoy it.
     
  9. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    You don't have to leave. Here's some more of your work for everyone to enjoy:

    Can anyone deny the pithiness of this succinct passage? Really brings home "old" for anyone unfamiliar with senescence.
     
  10. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    Ha! I can see why you don't do forums - half of them would have you banned in a week.

    Anyhow, based on the excepts here you have a significant gap between what you are writing and what is at market level. Not just in grammar (not my forte) but in storytelling and pacing.

    But, hey, ignore us as bitter and unappreciative of your genius. Publish it with whatever publisher you can get (who will most likely be a scammer, as genuine offers may be hard to come by) or self publish it. And when honest reviews come in, blame all that on the reviewers taste.

    Because the one thing it cannot mean is your writing needs to improve.
     
  11. Nick Reed

    Nick Reed New Member

    I agree with you that first you need to earn a reputation and your name, and then to form your own personal style...
     
  12. GwynHuddle

    GwynHuddle New Member

    Indeed, writing is not a simple thing. And it needs a lot of time, skills and knowledge.
     

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