Blog on the Bus pt 63 (I write, therefore I am)

Welcome aboard the world’s first (and possibly only bus blog) on what is yet another wet and windy day in Southampton. You know winter is approaching when you wake to condensation on the windows and your wife wearing a dressing gown to bed (well, I’m not made of money y’know!) I hope that you are sat somewhere warm, dry and comfortable for this morning’s insight into my depraved mind…

As I attempted to count sheep last night my mind wandered to my alleged writing career (I say alleged as it feels in a bit of a rut at the moment). There is an explosion of talent decimating the writing industry and I must admit it’s difficult to get one’s literary voice heard above the crowd. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you understand; for the reader it opens up avenues, plots and genres that would otherwise have remained unseen. What is currently occurring in the written world is what happened in the music industry a decade ago.

Do you remember when MySpace launched and suddenly potential performers (or would-be warblers) were suddenly given a platform to share their music with the world? The Arctic Monkeys were the trailblazers managing to secure a massive recording contract for their work when their single (I Bet You a Look Good on the Dance-floor) went to number-1. Other acts followed including Lily Allen. It opened up the music industry and stopped the big record companies from dictating what we should listen to. It has only been good for music. I mean, where would we be without this period in history? Probably stuck listening to Simon Cowell’s latest manufactured outfit (I’m not referring to his loud trousers).

Since Amazon opened its ebook doors to wannabe writers, all and sundry have come forward clamouring “read my book!” There are literally millions of books for readers to choose from (heck, 9 of them are mine!). No longer do potential authors need to send dozens of unsolicited manuscripts to literary agents, praying that the pimply work experience kid working in the mail room passes it on. Now it’s as easy as a few clicks of the mouse buttons and whoosh (!) you’re a published author.

I can’t deny publishing your first novel is a truly amazing experience and something that all writers should be proud of. In fact, I still get a warm feeling when I publish subsequent stories. But what sort of author am I? I mean, am I any good?

I don’t know.

I’ll probably never know!

In my three years writing, I’ve published 5 novels, 4 short stories and had work included in 2 short story anthologies (not bad for someone who works full time, has a wife, a daughter and a dog to care for). I’ve had some twenty thousand downloads in that time, which feels pretty good, but to date my work has received only 88 reviews (some good, some bad, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time). It leaves me still wondering: am I any good or should I pack it in?

It was this thought last night that had me thinking: what’s the difference between an Arsenal player and one who plays for Accrington Stanley (remember those milk ads in the eighties? Showing your age!)? They are both football players doing what they love. They both turn out for their team each week and give 100%. They are both thankful for the skills God gave them.

What’s the difference then?

One has honed their skills and now plays to a global audience. The other doesn’t.

The analogy won’t have escaped any indie authors on the bus today.

I’m not JK Rowling, John Grisham or Dan Brown.

I don’t receive an enormous fee from a publishing company to write.

I haven’t appeared on the NY Times bestsellers list (though I have been on Amazon’s twice!) and I’ve never been considered for the Booker Prize.

I am a writer though.

It’s a fact.

I have written books and published them. These books have been bought, read and enjoyed by many. I love writing and when I write I give 100%. I am thankful for the creativity I was born with.

I’m not in the Premier League of writers (well, not yet anyway!) but I am proud to call myself a writer.

Am I any good? As I said: I’ll probably never know. I am trying, however.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen.

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. His novel Trespass is due out on 01 December. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Advertisements

Blog on the Bus pt 61 (in the shadows, does that make me the new Hank Marvin?)

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once…

You find me dear reader, on this chilly Tuesday, hiding in a dark cupboard under a staircase. I’m not pretending to be Harry Potter, I’m keeping what we in the criminal-underworld refer to as “a low profile”. For those of you who caught my last blog some 14 long days ago (read it here if you missed it), you will know that there is a lot of political pressure on my shoulders. The local council are labelling me as public enemy number one or “PEN-1” (a rather ironic nickname for a writer I’m sure you’ll agree) as they hold me personally responsible for a dip in the year’s tourism. They seem oblivious to the financial slump the country is in!

Anyway, since we last spoke I’ve been ducking down in dark ditches, hiding in hollow holes and cowering in cold corners, doing anything I can to keep out of sight. I’ve even gone so far as to temporarily move in with my in-laws (safest place to hide, I mean, who in their right mind would voluntarily move in with their in-laws; they’ll never find me!) they are after me, I tell you, after me! The reason: my novels paint a vivid image of Southampton as a violent and unsavoury city.

They’re right of course: I’m guilty of the crimes I’m charged with. That doesn’t mean I want to be publicly flogged in the streets like a nineteenth century urchin. Imagine the humiliation!

So worried am I about the long arm of the law that I’ve bought a new house! Well, let me rephrase, I’ve bought a shell building that I’ve spent the last two weeks painting, priming, plastering and picking carpets. It’s been hard work! Hopefully it might even resemble an adequate living space by the weekend.

I was building a flat pack table on Sunday night and it struck me how so many small and insignificant parts, when carefully constructed, can form such a practical and solid solution.

“If only writing were so easy,” I said to myself and then realised I must be mad for talking to myself!

And then I realised: writing can be that easy!

Imagine taking 8 or 9 well-written short stories by vibrant, yet different, authors. On their own these stories are small and insignificant, yet when they are brought together, and glued in place by the wonder of digital means, they form a masterpiece.

20131029-080239.jpg

Introducing ‘Death Toll 2’ (from the authors who brought you ‘Death Toll’).

The new anthology will be out on Kindle on Friday 01 November featuring stories from Stephen Leather, Alex Shaw, Liam Saville, Matt Hilton, Harlan Wolff, José Bogran, Milton Gray, Scott Lewis and some author formerly known as Stephen Edger (he’s quite good, according to the council in Southampton).

All those stories from that fabulous fiction fraternity make this an anthology not to miss. We’ve even sent the links to Saint Nick so you can add it to your Christmas list without fear of the Elves misunderstanding what you have requested.

Do you hear that knocking? I think I might have been rumbled. I need to go. If you don’t hear from me again, order ‘Death Toll 2’ as it might be my last work…

Happy reading, Stephen.

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)