Sunday, 1 November 2009

Titles and stuff

I’m lousy at titles. That’s why this blog has such a lazy name. I imagine strangers browsing blog titles to see if anything catches their fancy and (assuming that they’re not looking for specialist material such as ‘Lesbian Kangaroos and their Soft Furnishing Preferences’) quickly passing over the shapeless ‘livingwritingandotherstuff’ to click on grab-you-by-the-throat tags such as ‘GET PUBLISHED’ or ‘WRITE RIGHT, RIGHT? RIGHT’ and perhaps ‘SATAN’S SHOELACE’. (Apologies to any bloggers who may actually have already chosen such gems for their musings.)

On the other hand, making a title specific does commit you to stick to the point. So if you make your point ‘living’, then add ‘writing’, and cover other eventualities with a generic term – ‘stuff’, you’ve created a broad, non-committal context in which to chronicle your torpor or the paucity of noteworthy events in your daily trudge. (And that’s exactly the sort of sentence Elmore Leonard would delete as he re-read it because it ‘sounds like writing’. I’m always reminded of a play in the 70s – I think – which was a hit and starred Albert Finney. One of his lines was something like ‘lurching [or maybe stumbling] from one derelict sunset to the next’. Great words, but not the sort of thing you hear people saying to one another at the check-out.)

But what prompted me to start writing about this? Well, with the focus having been so exclusively on getting the recent book written, I realise that living and writing (and other stuff for that matter) are quite often all the same thing for me. Maybe that’s why Linda chided me for my girlie tendency to analyse – for a lot of the time, I live in my head with my characters. It’s easier to interact with them. I know who they are. I (mostly) know what they’re going to say and do (although, of course, they’re constantly surprising me). But when you’re dealing with real people, who the hell knows what’s going on in their heads? I may have mentioned this before, but it’s one of the reasons why writers find their fiction more real than reality.

So (apart from when I get Facebook messages from a granddaughter telling me I look like a monkey but she loves me anyway), most of my milestones relate to writing. And at last I’m getting to the point because I wanted to tie up a couple of leitmotifs which seem to crop up here (too) frequently – first, another plug for me and second, my laziness.

The plug.
Next year is looking promising. I’ve already mentioned the publication of my historical crime novel, The Figurehead. That’ll be in May. The book I’ve just finished should be ready by the Spring. And I learned recently that one of my short stories has been chosen for the annual anthology Best British Crime Stories edited by Maxim Jacubowski. That should be out in March. I've also got a sci-fi short story (my first) being published in the anthology Maybe Tomorrow by Mythica Publishing.

The laziness.
So, with two books and a story due to appear, I can relax and indulge myself in the usual fantasies of fame and wealth. Add to that the fact that I have two more Jack Carston novels completed and ready for submission, plus a black comedy which sends up the crime genre so that should keep things ticking over. Now, if any publisher were shrewd enough to buy the unpublished ones, it would mean that I could sit back and do bugger all for the whole of 2010.


  1. I don't normally leave a comment unless I have something to say. This time, I just have not said anything for a while, so I thought I would just let you know I am back, and have enjoyed this posting, as usual. even if I have nothing to say. :))) Oh, and I wish you all the wealth and fame you are fantasizing about.

  2. Hi Scary. After being such a sporadic blogger, I'm lucky any of the folks who read this bother to come back. Thanks for your patience and for the usual positive remarks. Good to hear from you again.

  3. Congrats on all your soon-to-be-pubbed works for 2010! LOVE the word "paucity" and am impressed you were able to use it so nonchalantly in your musings. And keep up all that analyzing - that's probably why I like you so much: we have something in common!

  4. Thanks, Linda. As for words such as 'paucity', I realised at an early age that if you could convey an impression of being learned it would save you the trouble of actually learning anything. I used to encourage my students to get a vocabulary. I did it in a relatively jokey way, suggesting that they didn't necessarily have to know what the words meant, but underneath the levity was my belief that expanding your vocabulary literally expands your capacity to think.

  5. Congratulations on your upcoming releases, Bill. I hope the short stories are available across the pond. As for expanding your vocabulary, I looked for the appropriate word to use for you on my new website. Settled on erudite. ;D It fits.

  6. Thanks Marley.

    But erudite? You've destroyed my already tenuous street credibility with a single word. I must remember to say 'like' every other word and gasp 'awesome' as frequently as possible, maybe that'll restore the balance.

  7. Congratulations! For someone who claims to be lazy, you've broken the mold with all your writing projects. As for titles, you're right, Bill. My "Mysterious People" blog pulls in many more visitors than "Writing Advice & Good Books," which sounds rather dull. I've changed the title three times and will probably let it go the way of Father Time by the end of the year.


  8. Thanks Jean. You're right. This posting seems to contradict my claims of indolence but I stick to them (not with any pride, but simply because I know they're true).