Friday, 31 May 2019

It Can't Just Be Me

I wonder if I over-think these things sometimes, unable to switch my brain off and worrying away at things until I'm not sure which way is up. I seem incapable of making a decision and being content that I have made the correct one, going over and over things until I feel really despondent about everything.

Having decided what I was going to do with my manuscript I have had a few discussions with people and changed my mind about self publishing. So, traditional publishing it is then. Yes?

Well, if only it was that easy. I finally plucked up the courage to enter the Curtis Brown First Novel Contest and with only a few hours of procrastination I pressed 'Submit' and took a deep breath. Seconds later I was sure it was a mistake but it was done so no point worrying about it. Advice I failed to take and spent too much time obsessing about what I had done.

What was the problem? Imposter Syndrome of course!

I managed to convince myself that I had made a dreadful mistake, my manuscript was going to be laughed at and passed around at secret publishers meetings so everyone would know what a terrible writer I was and how dare I presume to submit that drivel to anyone. Coz that's how it works, right? There's a secret publishers cabal who spend their evenings cackling at the cheek of us deluded writers.

Anyway, back in the real world I worried that I had been premature sending the manuscript out when I had yet to hear back from my beta readers. But it is too late to worry about that so now I'm worrying about whether to send it out to agents before I hear from Curtis Brown. And down another rabbit hole I vanish …

So I'm trying to stay sane and balanced while my reptilian hind brain has kittens and gives me sleepless nights! Back to the short story I am writing for another contest and let the manuscript alone for a while or I'll scratch the scab off it.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Nominative Determinism

I've yet to meet a Miss Baker who turns out splendid cakes or a Mr Plummer who can fix a leak in a trice but I have always been fascinated by nominative determinism. You know, the phenomenon whereby a person's name fits their chosen path in life. So when a perfectly fabulous name crossed my path yesterday I knew he had to be the subject of a piece of fiction.

So here is a short piece about a character named Dangerous!

I tried so hard not to roll my eyes as the five millionth person asked the same question.
'So, are you strong and dangerous?'
This was the question everyone I had ever met had asked me and as I had done every time I was asked it I cursed my stupid family for landing me with the name Armstrong Dangerous.
If you're being picky about it I'm Armstrong Dangerous III but as I'm not from Miami I don't use the numbers. In the Midlands if you were to use numbers at the end of your name you'd spend the whole time explaining away the Chinese Burn marks or pulling your underwear from your arse. So I leave that part out until I know someone well enough for them not to snigger when saying my name.
Why my father decided to stick me with a name that had cursed his childhood years I have no idea. Maybe he thought as he'd had to suffer so should his eldest child. Yes, that's right. Even if I'd had the good fortune to be born a girl he was planning to land me with Armstrong. Possibly as a middle name according to my mother but I'm not sure I believe her. After all, she didn't stand up to him when he decided that I was to be called Armstrong without even a middle name to fall back on.
Anyway, back to the story.
I failed to avoid rolling my eyes and I think I even sighed dramatically when the hulking new boy asked if my name really was Armstrong Dangerous. I managed to get the first two syllables of my standard explanation out before his massive right fist forced all  the air out of my lungs and dropped me to my knees. I sucked air in, wiped the tears from my eyes and looked up into his lard face.
'Loser! My baby sister is more dangerous than you.'
He pushed an open ham hand onto my forehead and applied enough pressure to knock me onto my back. I lay on the grass, winded and humiliated and listened to the laughter. Another day, another set of bruises. Being called Dangerous is no fun when you aren't.

So there he is, my new friend Armstrong Dangerous, laying in the dirt and wishing he was called John Smith. I wonder is there are other adventures I can take him on?