Blog on the Bus pt 27 (can someone remove that obstacle please?)

Ah, hello there dear friend, thanks for dropping by. Are you aware this is the 27th week of the Blog on the Bus? That’s 6 months’ worth of bus travel with me as your co-passenger…and yet still you come back for more. Are you a glutton for punishment?

Today’s subject of discussion is a bit taboo (no, not sex again). There is a two-word phrase that cuts into the deepest recesses of every writers’ soul and scars them like a child picking at chicken pox. It’s a phrase that should only ever be whispered amongst literary folk for fear it will cast despair over the work of whomever uttered those immortal words.

Some have compared it to the urban legend of that Billy Shakespeare play that no-one speaketh of…1st syllable sounds like a fast food chain and 2nd syllable is a shortened version of our Majesty’s first name (this isn’t a preview of Dan Brown’s next book, it’s a game of charades!) No, I didn’t mean BurgerLizzie, what kind of play would that be? I was referring to the Scottish play: the one where the Queen does her husband in to claim his throne (only in Scotland, right?).

Anyway, back to my point.

My name is Stephen…and I’m…suffering with writer’s block (the gasps across the room are audible).

There, I’ve said it.

I’ve admitted the truth.

For the past week I have been unable to focus my vivid (and sometimes uncontrollable) imagination on the task of writing Dead Drop. The first 30k words fell out of me faster than heavy diarrhoea (wrong metaphor? Sorry. Hope you weren’t eating). But this last 10k words have been a real struggle, particularly as I’m trying to avoid all kinds of padding. It’s been a stressful few months one way and another and my creativity feels sapped.

Then the answer came to me just now…

We bought a new toaster yesterday (stay with me on this, the end is near) and this morning was my first use of the stainless steel 4-slice beast. Everyone has a favourite toast setting, ranging from barely crisp to burnt-to-buggary and each toast taster will know what setting on their beast will achieve the desired output. But what happens when you replace your toaster? How do you know which digit on the dial will cook to the suitable standard? (that was a rhetorical question, the driver doesn’t care how you like your toast)

The answer is, you go back to scratch and play around with the settings until you find what works for you.

So, what I need to do is return to my plot and adjust it until I’m happy. The starting step (bread = first 30k words) will be the same and the output (perfectly crisp toast = the thrilling conclusion and the end of a popular character) is the same; it’s just how one becomes the other that will be adjusted.

I’m sure the analogies these blogs throw out either amaze, baffle or bore you and yet you keep coming back!

Anyway, my stop is just around the corner so it’s time to ring the bell and thank the driver. I will re-work the plot today and let you know how I get on.

Until next time, thanks for listening and happy reading,

Stephen

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2 responses to “Blog on the Bus pt 27 (can someone remove that obstacle please?)

  1. Hi Stephen, great and very funny post. Have you read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King? It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever read on writing advice & not at all macabre like his brilliant works of fiction. When I had finished my first draft – which I drove through not stopping to edit, even on those drivel writing days we all have, I downloaded it to my Kindle, read it as a book, shared it with a couple of beta readers then had a massive crisis of confidence. Wow! There were astonishing holes in the plot & one of my readers laughingly told me my grammar was terrible. Another pointed out that I – how do you say it – overuse elipses. Then, an editor friend who cheers on what he calls my ‘unique, stream of conscious writing style’ told me to take a break and read ‘On Writing.’ Which I did. And now I know writing a less than perfect first draft is normal, as is my crisis of confidence and that there are many ways to skin a cat. Oh sorry, last bit referred to a bit of his fiction 😉 I heartily recommend it – it breathed new life into my rewrites and is quite short. Take a break and have look. Nice to meet you in the bloggy sense! Good luck x

    • Thanks for the positive feedback and the follow. I tend to blog once a week so shouldn’t flood your inbox too much.

      Thanks also for the book recommendation. I’ll hunt it down and give it a go. I’m game for anything that can make writing better / easier.

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