The devil made me do it…

Some would have you believe that audio books are the future… and to an extent they are right, at least for some people. Indeed one of the most common questions I get asked by a certain section of friends and readers is, “Is there going to be an audio book edition?”

Myself, I am more your classic bibliophile. For me the only thing better than the feel of a fresh unopened book with all its texture, feel and the glorious new book smell, is a battered old paperback, its spine cracked from multiple readings… While I have a kindle and a fair old collection of ebooks, nothing beats paper for me. I will however admit it is hard to read a paperback while cruising down the motorway, or walking the dog, or peddling the exercise cycle or… well you get the point there I am sure, audio books have there place, and I can understand the attraction, but I personally don’t listen to many.

So if I am honest, I would prefer my readers actually read my books, rather than listened to them. But that said I would also prefer they read the paperback editions than read the ebook version. Ostensibly the print and ebook editions are the same apart from the typesetting and the graphic art of the chapter headings in the print versions. But if asked my preference it would be that they enjoyed the books it that tactile bliss that is the paper form. But my own preferences aside, what I want more is for people to enjoy my books no matter what format they partake of them. Be that paper, ebook or for that matter if it was a simple thing to do, on audio.

The problem with audio, however, is that it’s not easy to do on an independent writers budget. It’s expensive to hire professional audio-book readers, and while in an ideal world books read by the actual writer are great when your Stephen Fry, ironic as it may seem writers are not all that often the best readers of there own work. Reading novel aloud into microphones is its own skills set, and you are seldom the best voice for your own work. It is also, frankly, my personal nightmare. I do not read aloud…

There are other options, you can enter into a half and half arrangement with a audio artist where rather than a upfront fee, they get half the royalties. This is a good deal for both if the book is successful. But there are recording fees and other costs and so its a gamble for the voice actor. If the book doesn’t do well they end up losing money. As such half and half deals tend only to be attractive to them if the writer has a large following or if the voice actor is just starting out and wants to build a reputation in the industry so is willing to take a punt.

With the best will in the world, while my books sell well within the genre, I don’t have a large enough following to justify a professional time. Frankly I have no idea how well audio versions will sell and I am not prepared to lie to someone about that in order to get them to record one of my books.

Finally there is another consideration, these books are like my children, and when you hand your children over to someone you have to be able to trust them. I frankly would not want just any old voice artist, I would want someone I know, and someone who knows me. Someone I can be honest with and who can be honest in return. What I need in order to hand over my books to record is therefore someone in whom I have faith, faith that they will put there all into the project and faith that they care about it.

So all considered my answer to “Is there going to be an audio book edition?” has always been a somewhat frustrated “No”.

However, and here the tale takes a turn, my close personal friend Mark Adams, a man of many talents, pod cast host, wrestling announcer and  humanist celebrant among them, also used to give up his time once a fortnight to read newspapers for the blind. Literally recording newspapers… I’ve known Mark for going on twenty five years, I’ve gotten drunk with him, share a tent with him, had late night phone calls trying to fix the universe on more than one occasion when one of us is having a crisis of come kind. There are few, if any, people I trust more, and so it occurred to me that if I could get anyone to record my books it would be him (unless Sir Patrick Stewart is available, or possibly Brian Blessed…) So, I ask if he would like to give it a go…

As a tester, and since we intend to do my novella ‘A Scar of Avarice’ first for reasons, we agreed he should start by recording one of the short bonus stories at the back of the novella, to see how it goes. And because, well… it occurred to us perhaps the most obvious one to do was this one, and because, well, maybe because…


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Writing around COVID

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The escapism of fiction is essential in our world right now, but for many authors COVID-19 has caused something of a headache.

I’m not talking about the closure of bookshops and the postponement of events where we were intending to publicise our latest works. That is a real challenge, of course, and those of us whose launches turned into damp squibs value your love and support. To help in these trying times you can pick up copies of the latest Harvey Duckman Presents anthologies, my recent non-fiction work Blockchain Hurricane, and new books by Hayes, Hallam, Hatton and others on Amazon.


It’s not a Legal firm…

I’m talking about a very real dilemma in writing. Do you include this pandemic in your plot, or is it Too Soon?

One of the wonderful things about writing science fiction is the freedom to take any wild idea you have and “make it so”, as a legendary captain once said. When, as Mark Hayes does, you are building a steampunk future vision where Victoria is still on the throne and airships fill the skies, reality can take a running jump. I count myself lucky that I included a plotline about a tricky virus in my last SimCavaliernovel and mentioned an imaginary 2020s global pandemic in the backstory. I can firmly dismiss any nagging thoughts about whether to refer to the current situation and as a bonus I have set myself up as something of a visionary.

Authors whose work is anchored in the present day have reportedly been removing key dates from their final drafts before publication, taking the reader back to a world before lockdown and disruption. This can mess with carefully constructed timelines over a series of books, of course, but there is very little alternative. Our world has changed, and with it the hopes, fears and habits of our characters.

The changes in science fiction will be subtle but noticeable, regardless of the time or the world in which our stories play out. We draw our readers into a tale by giving them enough of an anchor to empathise, and we show the strangeness of a new setting by contrasting with the familiar. Have you ever wondered why Doctor Who has human companions? They are our window onto the alien universe. Thanks to COVID-19 our anchors and our assumptions have been changed for good. When we look back at decades-old classic fiction, we are often amused by the outdated attitudes and customs. Will face to face meetings and world travel become as anachronistic as telegrams and carriages? On the flip side, writers of fiction set in our past may find themselves hunting for ways to reflect a new normal. The creators of Stranger Things gave their characters walkie talkies, unable to work around the concept of a time without mobile phones. The old behaviours – waiting on the corner for your mates, being home when it got dark – are unthinkable in our modern society. Will our characters (in any time setting) now have stricter controls on their movement, or be more cautious about infections?

We also need to revise our assumptions about the way the authorities react in a dystopian future. As the makers of 2011 film Contagion explained recently, they were faithful to all the models of a pandemic, but they did not envisage the fragmented and contradictory responses from governments around the globe, or the speed with which PPE ran out. We tend to assume that the zombie apocalypse will be taken seriously by well-prepared leaders. We may have been wrong.

I’m heading back to a partly complete manuscript now. I wonder how many simple interactions I will edit to make it palatable to the post-COVID audience? I won’t be mentioning the elephant in the room, though. It’s definitely Too Soon.

About Kate Baucherel (by Mark)

kateKate Baucherel is a digital strategist, a writer of both non-fiction books that explain technology while making you laugh, cyber-crime sci-fi (her third SimCaviler novel is much anticipated this year), and short stories for the Harvey Duckman Presentsseries (her Christmas tale was particularity compelling). She is also an internationally renown expert on Blockchain, an occasional guest lecturer at universities, as well as a panellist and speaker at technology conferences around the world. More importantly Jackie Carlton once bought her a drink and she has been known to dress up as Han Solo at Halloween (or whenever else she can get away with it probably). If that is not intimidating enough, she is also is a black-belt in several martial arts including Karate, octopus catapults, parenting and the internet …

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POV matters… it does

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One of the writing issues we encounter most in the manuscripts we receive here at Sixth Element is POV (point of view). Whether from new writers or some of the most experienced published authors, it doesn’t matter… POV is still tricky.

POV is not just deciding if you’re writing first person or third. And that, I think, is where most people go wrong.

Writing first person is easy. It’s fun. You’re the ‘I’ and that’s it. Be that character, play being that character, be a girl or a boy, be a mage or a barbarian. You’re it and you can thunder your way through the story as you like, because you’re telling it. You can only see what you see, you only know what you know. Just a word of caution… be aware of where ‘you’ are when you’re telling the story. There are two ways to approach first person – right now, where you are telling the story as it happens, not necessarily present tense but it can be – or, my favourite, sitting by the fire at some point in the future, looking back. It doesn’t have to be a fireplace. It can be a ship drifting in deep space, waiting for aliens to catch up to you and attack… but it is firmly anchored at some point in the future and ‘you’ are looking back and telling your story to a specific audience right there with you at that future place. This is especially fun because you then have a second story running in the present, and you can make reference to both… the ‘if I’d known then what I know now’ delicacies of intrigue. I like first person, can you tell? I like writing it (that’s why I like writing little LC so much) and I do like it when we get a book that lands on our desk with a strong first person main character (like Mark’s Hannibal Smyth novels)… usually it’s a sign that the writer has found themselves and is having fun with a character and a world they feel at home in.

Writing third person is different. It’s easy to get wrong. Writing close or deep (limited) third person is awesome. Your connection as a writer, and the reader’s connection with that character, is as close as it gets. You are right there with that character, going through thick and thin with them. You only know what they know, right then, and you can only see what they see, think what they think. I love close third person and that’s what I use for my big books. But… and it’s a big but (why does my husband always laugh when I say that?)… this is tricky if you have more than one main character. I cheat and only ever have one main character per book. When I read a book, I hook into one character and that’s the character I want to stay with, hang out with, root for. So when I write, I keep to one character and go through every twist and turn with that one character. I only switch when I switch to a different book.

When you have a cast of several main POV characters within one book, it’s more difficult to get that deep connection. Don’t have too many POV mains and don’t ‘head hop’. Don’t do it. It’s superficial and it’s not the same as omniscient (see later). As the writer of your story, you have to consider who is important enough to deserve a POV. Who has star status on your panto poster? They’re your mains. If it’s a minor character, no matter how much fun you might have had writing them, how much of a ‘darling’ you might have invested in them, if they’re not a main, don’t give them a POV, especially not for just one scene for them never to appear again. That’s confusing and irritating. Be respectful to your reader. As soon as you give a character POV, you are signposting them as important. If they’re not that important, don’t give them POV (don’t even give them a name). Let the reader get to know them through the eyes and mind of your main POV characters, the ones you and we all know are the important ones we should care about.

Omniscient is different again. And this is where we usually see writers who haven’t considered POV leaping about and having a whole host of characters that sometimes have POV and sometimes don’t. Truly omniscient writing has an amazingly charismatic narrator telling the story, commenting on the vast cast of characters with a voice of their own, someone you enjoy spending time with, someone you trust to tell the whole story from every angle, including all those bits some of the characters can’t even see… the ‘meanwhile on the other side of town, little did they know…’ It can be fun, but it does have to be handled carefully. I must admit I’m not keen on omniscient. But it can be done well. One of our writers has a great style that has you imagining Judy Dench sitting there in her regency gown and bonnet, china tea cup to hand, just itching to tell you what happened. The biggie is that the narrator needs to be consistent. Don’t switch to close third randomly for no reason. That’s a fast way to knock your reader out of the story. Establish early in your story which you’re writing, and stick to it.

I think the only way you get to find out how you truly want to write, how you find your ‘voice’ as a writer, is to write. Try each. Try writing different tense, different POVs and different characters. Have fun. We love throwing the rules out of the window. But some rules… and POV is one of them… are there for a reason.


About CG Hatton (by Mark)

61VbC-6hVrL._SY600_CG Hatton is the author of the fast-paced, military science fiction books set in the high-tech Thieves’ Guild universe of galactic war, knife-edge intrigue, alien invasion, thieves, assassins, bounty hunters and pirates.
She has a PhD in geology and a background in journalism. She loves meringue and football (supports Tottenham Hotspur), drinks spiced rum and listens to Linkin Park, has climbed active volcanoes, walked on the Great Wall of China, and been mugged in Brazil.

Gillie is also the beating heart behind Sixth Element Publishing (with her business partner Graham)

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Sixth Element is the home of the Harvey Duckman Presents anthologies and so much more, and I can not recommend them enough to any writer, whether you just go to them for a little advice to start with or want to publish through them.

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Strange connections

No Science Fiction writer ever changed the world…

Or… perhaps they did, as a wonder through some strange connections on the internet will tell you…

Star Trek: Voyager was not the best Star Trek franchise show ever, and was struggling after its first three seasons. Needing to find a way to reinvigorate the show the writers came up with the idea of having a new character join the crew. A human who had been taken by the borg as a child, but is freed from the collective by the voyager crew. That character did indeed reinvigorate the show, though that may have been much to do with the inspired casting of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine. Who went on to be one of the most successful and well loved characters across the whole franchise, which is why the character of Seven and Jeri were brought back to the franchise by the producers of the latest Trek show, Picard…


But going back to that first casting…

Not long after joining the cast Jeri moved to LA permanently, her marriage to husband Jack which had already been struggling collapsed and later that year they divorced. The details of the divorce were considered private at the time, as the divorce of a then mostly unknown TV actress and her then unknown husband were not of great interest to anyone but the couple and frankly were no ones business.

A few years pass. Seven of Nine was a huge success, Voyager is saved for four more seasons, fan boys and girls love the character and the actress. Even those trek fans who disliked Voyager (of which there were plenty) loved and continue to love Seven of Nine.

Several years later ex husband, Jack, with a really strong resume and a lot of money, announced a Senate campaign in the state of Illinois in 2004 as a republican candidate. His entry in the race is enough that many consider it a toss up between him and the democratic candidate. But in announcing his campaign he becomes a much more public figure, a public figure with a famous ex-wife. As such it was only a matter of time before a journalist pushed for their divorce records to be released… Neither Jeri nor Jack wanted them released, while they had split, they shared custody of there son and were still on reasonably good terms, but a legal case was brought by the newspaper in question and a judge ruled (somewhat controversially) in the newspapers favour and the records were released.

While there were multiple reasons cited, including the strain of Jeri’s acting jobs causing the couple to often be apart, the divorce was amicable in many respects. However one relatively minor factor in their split which was also cited was Jack’s desire to have sex in public locations… And as newspapers are want to do much was made of this…

Because of these revelations Jack Ryan eventually dropped out of the senate race and the GOP struggled to find a replacement which had the standing and charisma to take on the democratic candidate for the seat. So in the end this led to an overwhelming victory from the Democratic challenge.

That challenger was a then little known Illinois political figure called Barack Obama. Who, you may recall, later used the platform of his senate seat and experience of office, to launch a campaign for the presidency of the United States.

So, it is arguable that the entire Obama presidency existed because some writers in the 90’s decided what they needed to revitalise their scifi show was a Borg girl…


So, in conclusion, if your a writer of Science Fiction don’t let anyone tell you that nothing you write will ever change the world…

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Sinneport 1


Indie April gust post By Nils Nisse Visser, and with a little help from his friends

Not long ago I had a rather wordy guest blog on The Passing Place called ‘Creative Osmosis’. I listed a number of inspirations and wild plans to make work of this. We’re half a year on and some writing has been done but other things have been achieved as well.

One of the potential settings described in that guest blog concerned the small town of Rye at the eastern tip of Sussex, on the edge of the infamous smuggler’s country of Romney Marsh.

Rye has been explored at length over the last six months, first in writing, with the town as setting for both the short story ‘Wages of Sin –A Tale of the Dark Design’ and the novel-in-progress Fair Night for Foul Folk.

In these stories I’ve renamed Rye ‘Sinneport’, in honour of two local authors, namely John Ryan’s ‘Sinkport’ in Rye-based Captain Pugwash and the Great Reward, and Russell Thorndike’s Dr Syn stories.

Moreover, a friend convinced me to contact some crucial locations in Rye, the Ypres Tower managed by Rye Museum and The Mermaid Inn. I attempted to explain what Smugglepunk was and hesitantly asked—

—the answer from all was a hearty ‘yarr, let’s do this’. Which is how it came to be that mid-March, a week before Lockdown, I descended on Rye in the company of a dozen steampunks and pirates, as well as two photographers. Our aim was twofold. The first was to recreate the flavour of the Hawkhurst Gang, who used the Mermaid Inn as their local headquarters in the 18th century, carousing in the taproom with their weapons openly on the table according to temporary accounts. The seconds to recreate aspects of my fictional ‘Sinneport’.

It was truly surreal to be partake in the photo-shoot, participating in some of my own scenes. Surreal and humbling. I’m very grateful to Rye Museum, the Mermaid Inn, the participants and the two photographers Corin Spinks and Craig Neesom.

They’ve all made it possible for me to offer you a visual tour of Sinneport and let the pictures do most of the talking.

So, welcome to Sinneport.

Sinneport 2 by Geff

View of Rye, Geff, CC-by-20

Sinneport is perched on an outcrop of higher ground at the confluence of three rivers at the edge of Romney Marsh.

On 31 October 1871, Alice Kittyhawk entered Sinneport through the Land Gate, uncertain as to whether she was a captive or a guest…

Sinneport 3

Image Land Gate author’s own, portrait Alice by Heijo van de Werf, licensed by Dreamstime

…and uncertain about whom she might meet in this hive of villainy.

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image Craig Neesom from the Rye Shoot

On her way to the Mairemaid Inn, Alice passed Wipers Tower, the medieval castle that was now the town jail.

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image Ypres Tower Rye, Matthew Hartley CC-by-20, Jailer by Corin Spinks (Rye Shoot)

A prison brimming with vile scum – or pure innocents, depending on whom you ask.

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Images by Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Sinneport 7

Images by Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Sinneport 8

Image by Corin Spinks, RyeShoot (author modelling)

Plenty of innocent smugglers languished unfairly behind bars here, but mayhap it was also the scene of daring prison breaks.

Sinneport 9

Images by Corin Spinks from the Rye Shoot

First impressions underlined the old saying…

Sinneport 10

Image by Craig Neesam, Rye Shoot

Sinneport 10b

Image by VSJax, CC-by-20

Moving along Sinneport’s ancient streets, shadowy movements in twittens (alleyways) a reminder not to go peeking into twittens.

Sinneport 11

Images by Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Alice’s destination is the Mairemaid Inn.

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Image Nils Visser

Sinneport 13

Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

The Mairemaid’s chambers and corridors are laden with echoes of the past. The Inn also has fake wall panels, a secret staircase, secret corridors, and extensive cellars with tunnel entrances.

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Images Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

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Images. Left, Corin Spinks. Right, Craig Neesam. Rye Shoot

When Alice arrives the Mairemaid is owned and run by Tess and Nellie Hawkhurst, and as of old it’s a centre of Free Trade activities, the headquarters of Scylla the Mairemaid’s Mudlarks Gang.

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Images. Left, Corin Spinks. Right, Craig Neesam. Rye Shoot

Sinneport 17

Image by Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

It’s here that Free Traders can rest and devise new cunning plans.

Sinneport 18

Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Although Sinneport seems a town lost in time, and in many way is, it’s not entirely devoid of modern influences.

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Images Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

For Free Traders here too have taken to the sky in airships, and modern technology is much in demand.

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Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Sinneport 21

Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Some are characters from Fair Night for Foul Folk, like Mademoiselle Adele de Drivitte and Professor Gorlassar von Windbeutel depicted here.

Sinneport 22

Image by Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Theodore Pilkington-Rhubarb is a brave and intrepid reporter from the British Steampunk Broadcasting Co-operation – looking for a good story.

Sinneport 23

Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

Sinneport 24

Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

These worlds, casually thrown together, make up the world of Sussex Smugglepunk.

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Image Corin Spinks, Rye Shoot

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of Sinneport and also understand why I find these locations so inspiring for my re-invention of Sussex smuggler’s tales.

Now for the stories. ‘Wages of Sin’ has appeared in The Dark Design Anthology The Tale of the Red Queen and Other Stories, and it would be wrong of me not to tell you that Professor Elemental has called this book ‘bloody marvellous’.

Sinneport Conclusion 1 (1)

‘Wages of Sin’ takes place on the night of 31 October 1871, and the story overlaps with that of Alice’s in Fair Night for Foul Folk. Both can be read separately, but readers of both will note the overlap. I’m still writing Fair Night for Foul Folk but as a Lockdown Special I’m publishing it as a serial online, and the first seven chapters or so are up and can be found here:

Last-but-not-least, a further story is also available as a Lockdown Special, featuring a slightly younger Alice and suitable for adults and suitable for young readers (although their parents might not wholly approve as it’s filled with stuff kids actually like (breaking the rules, morbid fascinations, speeding on an electrical trike, etc.).

Sinneport Conclusion 2 (1)

Sinneport Conclusion 3 (1)

About Nils Nisse Visser (by Mark)

nilNils is a free-lance writer, occasional poet, archer, Homelessness activist, who was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1970 (which was the best year ever to be born *Mark), he grew up in the Netherlands, Thailand, Nepal, Oklahoma, Tanzania, England, Egypt and France. Taught English at various Dutch secondary schools for 18 years, but his firm belief that education is most effective when it is fun raised a few eyebrows. Having been told too often that he lived in his imagination, he took the hint and moved there on a full-time basis. He currently lives in Brighton in the county of Sussex in England. 

Rather confusingly he sometimes writes as Nils Visser, Nisse Visser or Nils Nisse Visser. For which he apologies.

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Indie April#6: Boston Metaphysics

As it is once more Indie April I am rebloging the original Indie April posts from last year over the coming month, as well as as a series of guest posts from various writers and creatives. Not all information will be entirely update on the re-blogs, but all the links will still work and its always a joy to blog a little of the indieverse … there are a great many fine writers and artists out there to discover. And of course you can always buy my books as well… But putting mine on one side for a moment…
Here then is last Aprils piece on writer of comics, kick-starter queen and novelist Madeleine Holly-Rosing who is hopefully busy with a sequal to last years novel, because I want to read it, as well as every thing else she is doubtless doing…

The Passing Place

It’s Indie April, a celebration of all things Indie, be it novels, movies, music or art. The idea being to encourage interaction between indie creatives, and that most elusive of beasties the wider audience, and it is a time to celebrate all those wonderful indie creatives and their work.  As a writer, my focus (yes, okay, I know, but I have to write this bit…) is on bringing indie writers to your attention. So for the rest of the month, I will be periodically featuring some of the best the independent scene has to offer. Some of these will be names familiar to those who read my blog, some will be new, but all of them are undoubtedly wonderful and deserving of a wider audience. So take the plunge and invest in some indie goodness, give an indie writer a try, I guarantee you’ll not regret it.

The Boston Metaphysical…

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Hipster Crisis


As I sit here watching the cursor blink at me relentlessly, I find myself struck once again by the possibility that my own personal hell will be an empty word document and an incessantly blinking cursor, forever blinking…*blink*…*blink*…*BLINK*.

Is there anything more torturous than an empty page? So cripplingly full of possibilities?

When Mark mentioned he was looking for guest bloggers, as I promised yet again (Sorry Mark!) to try to make good on my intentions, I could already hear my brain screaming two questions…

  1. What exactly is a blog?
  2. What the hell can I possibly say that hasn’t been said before, more eloquently?

Sidestepping the former in favour of hurling myself at the latter, in what is an entirely self-serving search for truth, I find myself trying to accept the unpopular answer of “nothing”. Not a damned thing.

Originality is over.

So often I find myself dismissing a project before I’ve even started it because it must have been done before. Or worse, I find myself dismissing a project partway through following this conversation, which I have at least three times a year:

“Oh, you’re a writer? What are you writing?”

(This question, whilst well-intentioned, tends to throw me immediately into total confusion as I’m not the most organised writer and summarising something when I don’t know myself yet what it is can present a bit of challenge. Not that I don’t appreciate the interest but nothing makes you feel less like a writer than being unable to express a basic concept in a coherent sentence!)

“[insert incredible but unoriginal idea here]”

“Oh great! Like [such and such]?”

Within about 30 seconds I have usually dismissed my entire project as unoriginal and therefore unworkable but the truth is, on some level of course, they’re right. It probably is  “like such and such”. It will have been done before.

It takes my fellow writers (specifically Mark Hayes and Amy Wilson most frequently, usually of a Thursday night, along with the other Writers’ Group ne’er-do-wells) to remind me that that is, in fact, okay.

There really isn’t any originality left to be had; in all the history of humankind it would be a little arrogant of me to even imagine I could possibly come up with an entirely original thought.

Say it with me,

“You are not original”.

I find this difficult to accept as a seeker of quirkiness – I’ve done the “I’m so original” goth phase, the emo phase, the hippy student phase, the young professional phase, the brief 1950s phase and have arrived, to the eyes of the world or even just in my own estimation, at my authentic self. That, I am told repeatedly by others wiser than I, is the key…authenticity.

My next question being of course, what’s the difference?

A subtle but important one; there are a huge but finite set of components that can be combined to produce a story. Any one of those, or likely any combination of those, one can most likely cry to the unrelenting and uncaring sky “HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE”. (See also: “monkeys” and “Shakespeare”).

Authenticity rests not in the content, but the voice of telling, the interpretation, the personal flair, the expression. And that is wherein lies the beauty of writing. It doesn’t have to be an entirely original story and the sooner one learns to accept that, the sooner one can get on with writing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all run out and start unashamedly plagiarising anything and everything – intentionally paraphrasing someone else’s story would be unsatisfying at best.

But what I am saying is…What am I saying?

Don’t get stressed out about it! Chances are you don’t have something entirely original – but what can’t be taken from you nor copied convincingly unintentionally or otherwise from elsewhere, is your authenticity as a writer, that is to say your voice. And the only way that voice will be heard is if you stop worrying about the originality of the thing and simply write it.

In conclusion, allow me embrace my unoriginality by reiterating the one piece of advice I hear again and again…the only way to be a writer is to write (this piece of wisdom brought to you by CG Hatton).

To quote my wise friends, it’s about authenticity, not originality, so just write it!

Your authenticity will shine through – let that be enough.

About J L Walton (by Mark)

jo headJ L Walton is ‘a colourfully maned animal lover with formal degrees in French, History and ridiculous fashion choices…’  She is also the author of the short stories ‘Automatic Update’ and ‘Guttersnipe’ in the Harvey Duckman Presents anthologies. The first of which received the ‘Hayes‘ award for ‘making the reader never dare to play Sim’s again‘ and the second received the award for the category ‘She should turn that into the first chapter of a novella , if not a full novel, how dare she leave it hanging there, damn her, damn her I say…‘ …. 

In between playing piano, gaming, collecting odd cats, and reading anything she can get her hands on provided people never want the books back in once piece, and being badgered by writers to Beta read their novels, she is working on something…

We have no idea what this something is….  

We look forward to it immensely…


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