The Curse of the Muse

I first posted this about two years ago, but like many bits & bobs, it became lost in the never ending scroll of past posts. I guess that is a modern phenomenon we all have to come to terms with.

Anyway, on with the post…

 

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Tonight, I walked home along the same route as always, habitual, predictive.

As I turned the corner onto Star Street, I noticed at the entrance to the multi-story car park, next to the twenty-four-hour parking sign, an illuminated soda machine. My stride faltered, I paused, standing looking with curiosity.

I passed this way a hundred times, a thousand times without noticing the machines existence. How could that be? How could I not notice such a prominent fixture, a glowing block of red and white? The machine was designed to scream out ‘look at me’.

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Silhouetted against the glowing structure was a woman’s figure. She was standing still, totally immobile. The hair on each side of her head was like sharp shards radiating outwards. I wondered for a moment if she had been struck by lightning, or shocked by the machine.

I looked on, the woman remained immobile. It was then I noticed how quiet everything had become. Vaguely, in the background was the ever present rumble of city life, a cacophony of indistinguishable sounds, punctuated by the occasional siren.

But that was it.

Here, within the realms of my vision, all was still. No cars, no people, no movement. This is when my seventh sense kicked in, my writer’s sense. My mind started to ask me questions, sparks leapt from one neural pathway to another, reflection, consideration, conjecture meshed and melded into a fast flowing string.

Was this a frozen moment, a rift in the time-space continuum? What choices did I now have and what were the possible outcomes? Was I standing at an intersection of the multiverse? Was this the place where a thousand possibilities lay, invisible threads, a twisting mesh of crossing fortunes, a complex delta of potential and probability?

Would my next actions, or inactions, lay my out future, would they alter my destiny. Wealth, fortune, life, death. Choices. Or was all predestined? Was I merely following a predetermined path towards an inevitable future?

Did she, the silhouette, hold the key, the answers? Was the light surrounding her flooding from the soda fountain or emitting from her very being? Did she hold the secret?

My heart was pounding. I wanted to approach her, ask her. Yet something held me back. I do not think it was fear; apprehension maybe, or something undefinable, something there are no words to describe.

The woman moved. Walking forward towards the machine. I heard three coins drop. Saw a slender finger extended, pushing her selection. A rattle and thump as the can fell. Still not moving I watched as she stooped and retrieved the can.

A click, a hiss. The woman tilted her head back and drank thirstily. Gulping the contents. Lowering her head she drew a cuff across her mouth and casually tossed the empty can into a waste bin before turning and walking away.

Once she had been swallowed by the darkness. I found the ability to move. I sauntered over and looked into the bin. An excess of brown fluid was still dripping from a Dr Peppers can onto the waste below.

My imagination had not finished with me yet. Questions kept springing into my mind. Had she actually brought a can of Dr Peppers? Or did the fact I looked, that I observed, changed the very nature of this reality? Had my presence altered the state of things, transformed the material quality of being? After all, our actions, our existence is subject to the laws and principles of quantum physics, are they not?

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A car wound its way down the ramp, headlights blazing as it exited the car park. A group of people wandered around the corner, talking, joking, and laughing. Their voices seemingly activating an ‘on’ switch. Suddenly the city sounds became loud and clear. No longer the muffled white background noise they were a moment ago.

That was it.

The quantum gate had closed. The rift sealed. My chance to alter my destiny whipped away by an ethereal wind, stolen by inexorable march of time. Yet my writers mind still wrestles with the possibilities.

Maybe my thoughts, at least some of them, will find their way into a story, or become the premise of a future novel. Or maybe they shall just haunt me forever more?

Such is the curse of the muse.

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  © Paul White 2015


Have you read my Tales of Crime & Violence collection yet?

If not grab yourself volume one now at

http://amzn.to/2wdUHSS

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Seven indispensable sites no Author or Writer should be without.

writers-block As you will know, the normal style of my posts are to bumble away rather randomly about various topics or subjects which are playing on my mind at any given moment. This post is not one of those. I believe, at certain times there comes a point when a more direct approach serves better. This post is one of those! I hope you find it informative and useful. Please let me know, thank you, Paul. No matter how an experienced writer we are we always, I will say that again, ‘Always’ need help, assistance or guidance at some point during the writing, editing, publishing or marketing process. Over the years I have been writing I have amassed a collection of various sites which I find invaluable. I have mentioned some of these in a previous post, http://wp.me/p5nj7r-8h & have also shared Melanie Rockets blog http://wp.me/p5nj7r-86 which I hope you will take a look at as it contains so much useful information. I have not however, until now, shared other sites which I use on a frequent basis. These are a rather eclectic collection covering a wide range of topics, not all are directly connected to the actual act of writing, but all are indispensable as far as I am concerned.


So here they are, in no particular order!

How many syl-la-bles I enjoy this! It is primarily an educational site for teaching poetry, but take a look at all the helpful pages like the Syllable counter, syllable dictionary, English grammar, How to count syllables, poem workshop and teaching resources. I am certain you will find some things more than helpful and keep returning as I do. http://www.howmanysyllables.com/poem_syllable_counter_workshop/


Author It. For all with eBooks this is a great app. It creates a ‘short link’ from your books ‘ASIN’ so when a potential reader clicks on the link it takes them to an intermediate window which shows the national flags associated with each Amazon server. The reader just ‘clicks’ on the relevant flag and is directed to the correct countries Amazon site for purchasing your book. So no more searching and listing a whole host of links, this one does the lot! I recommend you check this out. Helpful Authl.it is brought to you in association with the Kindle Users Form. Authl.it is designed to make linking and promoting Kindle eBooks as easy as possible worldwide. With our system you can easily generate a single link to direct your readers to the Amazon store for their country or region. http://authl.it/


. Writing World. SO much I could say about this site, it is just a MASS of info. Apart from comprehensive info about writing, from beginners to experienced, this site has information on dealing with rejection, writers block, writer’s life, time management & so much more It also covers Genre writing, children’s writing, flash fiction, non-fiction writing, travel, memoires and more. There are inclusive articles on Syndication, freelancing columns, journalism and…..lots more too! Publishing, social media & reviews & releases. And that is just for starters! This is a MUST site. But do not just take my word go take a look yourself! http://www.writing-world.com/rights/rights.shtml


Freelance fees. What should you charge for an article in a magazine, or for public relations or maybe for digital media? Do you have any idea? What about cancelation charges or fees? Bet you have not thought about that. Well these folk at London Freelance have and it is all shared with you right here. http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?&section=Welcome&subsect=All&subsubs=All


Writers Workshop. Established in June 2005, The Writers’ Workshop is the world’s leading consultancy for first time writers. They offer professional feedback on your work, run courses, host events, provide a mass of free advice, and – when you’re ready – They can use their extensive connections to find the literary agent who is right for you. I need to say no more! http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/agents-advice.html


QR code generator. A bit of fun and another great way to get interactive with your potential readers, use the QR code on the back of your book to get readers to view the trailer for you next novel. Or simply link it to your website or author page. It is up to you. http://www.qrstuff.com/


Add this. A host of smart website tools for WordPress. Take a look and choose your weapons! https://wordpress.org/plugins/addthis/faq/


These are all sites that I use on a frequent or regular basis. I have found each one advantageous and effective for my needs, so you could say they are ‘tried & tested’ by Moi!


Thanks for reading, I am open to all feedback and comments. I welcome new followers so don’t be shy at pressing that ‘Follow’ button! Have a great day, Paul.

Understanding Black. (Notes for writers).

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Be it poetry, the opening scene of short story or an emotive section of a novel, the colour black is often utilised by writers to project or convey a ‘certain feeling’ to the reader.

But how many of us have actually considered why we perceive black in the way we do?

As one of the tools in our wordsmithing armoury should we not understand why the word black can be such a powerful device?

Generally black embodies the values of death, depression and evil. It can be used to describe something terrible or maybe a void.

But why do we identify black with badness, immorality or malevolent actions?

It is common in our society to use the word black as an exclusion, such as blacklist, black mark, or black sheep. We also apply it to people who we perceive of unpleasant actions, such as saying they have a black heart or black soul.

You may say it is because one wears black to a funeral, or it is the colour of mourning. But that is not necessarily so. In other cultures, such as China and India the traditional colour for mourning and reflecting death is white.

Not until Bollywood adopted and merged some western ideology into the Indian cinema, would you ever see anyone wearing anything but white sari at a funeral. In fact it would be considered impolite to wear black at any Hindu funeral.

Much of this form of the perception of black is a Christian/Western opinion based on ancient observation or teachings, much based on historical legend.

Ancient Greek myth has it that at the beginning there was just ‘Chaos’ or Khaos. (This does not mean ‘Disorder’ in the contemporary sense, but rather ‘Chasm’, in the sense of a dark, gaping space).

downloadKhaos gave birth to Erebus, the darkness of the Underworld and Nyx.

Nyx was the goddess of the night, one of the ancient Protogenoi (first-born elemental gods). In the cosmogony of Hesiod she was born of (Khaos) and breeding with Darkness (Erebos), produced Light (Aither) and Day (Hemera), first components of the primeval universe. Alone, she spawned a brood of dark spirits, including the fates, Sleep, Death, Strife and Pain.

Nyx was a primeval goddess usually represented as simply the substance of night: a dark veil of mist drawn forth from the underworld which blotted out the light of Aither (shining upper atmosphere).

Even in Nordic legend black has a prominence. The fire giant whose sparks made the universe.

Surt is the King of Fire in Norse mythology, the Lord of the Fire-Giants of the realm of Muspellheim.20a7f6c18823e6ed7d2cf7e4b25c4d4e

In the beginning, there was only the blackness of Ginnungagap, and then Surt appeared out of the blackness with his flaming sword and touched the land, it lit up and became the Realm of Fire.

Eventually it drew close enough to Niflheim, the primal Realm of Ice, that it warmed and melted the frozen earth, revealing Ymir the primal frost-giant and Audumhla the Great Cow. In this way, life was created from the meeting of fire and ice.

With these ancient wisdoms and beliefs being passed down the generations it is no wonder that darkness, that the deep black of night still has a resonance of anxiety and apprehension within us all.

Modern knowledge may have more acceptable theories such as the big bang, yet even here it is suggested that it was many thousand millennia after the bang before the first stars began to form, which is almost inconceivable to comprehend.

The thoughts of endless night, a total void of nothingness, a black hole encompassing the entire universe is frightening to most.

So it is not surprising that based on tradition, folklore, socially established conventions and custom that we westerners perceive black to hold the qualities of evil, depravity and immorality. Much of this is due to our cultural dread and fear of the unknown, the unseen and the minus light of darkness.

Now, add a touch of Hollywood movie conjoined with mass media and you have an ideal breading ground to spread rumour, fabrication, falsehood and fiction, all of which so easily becomes assimilated into the psyche of modern society.

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Suddenly black is the epitome of all evil, it is the quintessence of Goyan nightmares, of original sin, of death, of satanic rituals, black mass, sexual depravation and transgression.

Black becomes the cloak of darkness for vampires, the shadow where werewolves lurk, forests of malevolent spirits and the embodiment of evil itself.

Or does it?

Because there is another side to black, a lighter, brighter side to this deepest of darkness.

Fashion, glamour, opulence, style and desirability.

Black is the new black.

Here lies a social and perceptive disjuncture.

The sleek aesthetics of glossy black fashion, a world of sequins, leather of obsidian jet chic and metallic black Ferraris.

Here is a transgression from black’s authority of depression and nightmare.

This is a juncture where modern mindfulness separates the black associated with the natural world, the world of dark recesses and shadows of mystery and myth, from the brighter black of the contemporary, enlightened and progressive world of today.

The little black dress, appealing, sensual, hinting at naughtiness, suggestive of excitement. This is sexy black, the black of lacy underwear, of thin straps revealing rather than concealing, the offering of promise.

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Yet even here the evocative black is tinged with an inference of deprivation, of transgression from the acceptable. It is that, the allure of going beyond the boundaries, the immorality of wild or illicit acts which is attractive, which whets our carnal appetites.

The modern black, the black of this world is the white light black of Newton and Robert Boyle.

So be it.

Therefore to know, to understand which black to choose when weaving that spell in your novel of dark fantasy, or which black to spill across the pages of a bloody thriller is a most important element.

Select the modern black, the industrial manufactured black for seduction and pride, for sex and sheen.

Take hold of the natural, the organic, ancient, primordial black which seeps uncertainty, drips terror and dread for your dark scenes, your night horrors and death itself.

Choose your darkness well my friends, write admirably and when the shadows of sleep creep upon your wearied eyelids, shutting the out the light, sleep soundly in the comfort of the black night……If you dare.

© Paul White 2015

Website: http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

You may also enjoy reading some of my short stories at: https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

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Another great site all writers need

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You folks should know by now that I am always looking for great sites which will help improve our writing skills, or simply encourage us to continue when we feel down or have that thing some call ‘writers block’.

Another area I am always keen to explore is marketing, advertising and promotion because once we have written our books we want to share our stories with the world.

At least I do!


Over the past few weeks I have highlighted book promo sites:

PROMOCAVE http://promocave.com/

AUTHORSdb http://authorsdb.com/

and of course SNEAK PEEK https://takeasneakpeak.wordpress.com/

I have also blogged about MELANIE ROCKET’s wonderful, informative & useful website http://wp.me/p5 one which I would highly recommend you visit whether you are an experienced writer or just starting out.


There is yet one more fantastic site which offers all sorts of advice for writers along with direct help.xlogo.png.pagespeed.ic.HZT-ltPmGK

NOW NOVEL http://www.nownovel.com/

The ‘How to’ pages and blogs are excellent, like how to create tension-eight methods, or how to pace a crime novel, even six secrets to writing a series.

Furthermore you can submit a 500 word sample for criticism by other writers, or constructively criticise their 500 word samples. This is a wonderful way to get personalized feedback to give you direction, and support to improve your story.

ill-1One of my favourites from Now Novel is a process that gives you a blueprint for writing your novel. It’s guaranteed to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Now Novel is a structured method designed to help you finish your novel. The process is organised and easy to use, with helpful mentorship and consistent motivation to give you one essential thing: the blueprint for your novel.

Don’t just take my word for it, go check out Now Novel’s site yourself, mooch around and read. You will be glad you did.

I hope the above will help you, as they have me.

Keep tapping away!

Paul.

The Wind & the Sun

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  This is a story my father used to tell me as a young child.

  Way back then I had no idea that this story was his version of an Aesop’s fable.

  I loved listening to him regale it over and again; although I had heard this story many times, it was not until I was about seven that I began to understand how the moral of the tale, or at least the basic message it carried, related to life.

   My father has now been dead for over thirty five years, yet I still recall his voice when I think of the Wind & the Sun.

   Moreover I am still learning the true extent of how the simple and basic message this story carries can affect every part of our lives, in work, play, socially, and in our domestic and love life relationships.

   I will try my best to recount this tale as closely to my father’s recitation as I can recall, because I still prefer his version to that of Aesop!

   Maybe you would too, if you could hear his voice as clearly I still do.


One day the Wind and the Sun were looking down upon the earth when they saw a man walking along a footpath.

‘Look at that man’ said the Wind, ‘I bet I can get his jacket off him quicker than you ’.

‘You think you can?’ answered the Sun.

‘Of course’ the Wind replied ‘because I am strong and powerful’.

‘Go on then’ said the Sun ‘let me see what you can do’.

So the Wind began to blow. As the Wind blew the man’s jacket flapped in the breeze. The Wind blew harder, whipping up clouds of dust and blowing the leaves from the trees.

The man buttoned his jacket, turned up his collar, lowered his head and continued walking.

Displeased with his efforts so far the Wind let a howling gale bellow over the ground. It was so forceful that the man had to fold his arms across his chest to stop his jacket from being blown off.

The Wind saw what the man was doing took a huge puff and let loose a tempest.

The man clutched his jacket tighter to himself, holding it firm with both hands.

Again and again the Wind blew and blew. The harder the Wind blew the tighter the man clung to his Jacket.

Eventually the Wind had puffed so hard for so long that he blew himself out.

The sun laughed and said to the Wind ‘Now it is my turn to try and get this man’s jacket off’.

So the Sun smiled and shone his gentle rays of warm sunlight upon the earth and upon the man.

The man took his hands from his jacket.

The Sun continued to smile and spread his warmth.

The man unbuttoned his jacket and loosened his tie.

After a while the man, bathed in the glorious heat from the sun, removed his jacket, slung it over his shoulder and began to whistle as he walked.

‘You see, Wind’ said the Sun, ‘you can accomplish far more by being gentle and giving than you can with brute force alone’.

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I hope you enjoyed my father’s version of this story.


You can read more by visiting https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

Ex Libris legatum

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As we age we amass many life skills; some taught to us by teachers, lecturers, professors and our parents, some self-learned by patient practice and repetition, while most such lessons are thrust into our consciousness simply by the pure events of living life itself; births, love, passion, loss, hurt, pain, grief and death.

At some point during the period betwixt being born and gasping our last breath we have also, hopefully, gained some wisdom.

Although, only too often, such wisdom is realised and recognised far too late in life for us to use it in any true and meaningful way, such is the cruel nature of growing older.

However for those who manage to avoid a premature departure from this world, those who never got hit by lightning or run over by a trolley bus, become in some respect like a soggy sponge! Yes we droop and some often uncontrollably leak and dribble I am sure, but the analogy I was trying to draw was one of absorption and storage.

I know for a fact that I know more than I know I know, even if in that knowledge there is the realisation of knowing that one knows nothing.

With that stated clearly I will return to the train of thought which initiated my fingers to start tapping away today; that is, that within these southerly wilting, rather wrinkly, fading bodies which those ‘of a certain age’ seem to acquire, for the majority of us at least, are still our sprightly, lively young minds that have seldom aged beyond fifteen…or maybe (for legal reasons) that should read eighteen!

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Now….these minds of ours need a little control. You see they tend too often fool us by considering that whatever they think that we, (those of us who are over 40 something…{no not waist size}…years of being alive), still have the physical ability to achieve such things as skateboarding, zip-lining, mountaineering and even imbibing in a large amount of alcoholic beverages and awaking in the morning with a clear head….hummph….I wish.

The reason that our minds ignore our creaking joints, throbbing tendons, scar tissues that pull as taught as an elastic band every time we move like this…ouch….I should not have done that! Is that once-upon-a-time we have done all of those things, once –upon-a-time when that same mind was in its infancy and knew nothing of risk or fear, that mind which we (mostly) protected from going too far; well far too far, too often.

Now during all those life threatening adventures, (those naughty and dangerous liaisons, the arguments and battles, the fights and flights that our immature brains took us on), we collected lots and lots of information, comprehension, realisation, skills and familiarity.

In other words we gained awareness, understanding and experience, this is how we became educated and intelligent, and this is what gives us an erudition of life. This is what we loosely and casually refer to as wisdom and knowledge.

These are the life skills one collects in the only way possible, by living over a long period of time, or at least the longest period that time allows our weak and feeble bodies to function. Gladly, but tinged with some forms of sadly, mine is doing…..okay….at this moment.

You see I have out-lived many thousands of others over the years I have been walking upon this earth, (which I can still do….unaided). I am glad that I saw the sunrise this morning, the sad is that many did not.

Over the preceding years, many of those who never got to see the sunlight today are a whole host of friends and family, many older than I, many younger. Worst of all some had only minutes of life with which we could chart their age.

IMG_4424The fact is, that the number of people who are older than I is quickly diminishing. Now my mourning’s are frequently for those of my own generation, a generation who should use the life skills and knowledge that they have acquired to help and nurture those who are young enough and fortunate enough to have one of those minds which believes it is protected by an invincible body, such as our own did all those years past.

All that we have learned by events of life and living; those births we have witnessed, our loves, both lost and lasting. The passionate moments, some intimate, comprised of twisting limbs and thrusting loins, others of the soul; music, art, theater, dreams and scenes, vistas of natural beauty. The recollection of our times of loss, of hurt, of feeling pain; both physical and of the heart, not forgetting the grief and deaths.

This is our accumulated wisdom.

This is what we should share, what we should endeavour to teach our children and their children.

‘Ahh’, I hear you say, but children do not listen, do not take heed, so it is best to leave them to find their own way.

I do not disagree.

However, (which is a nicer way to say but, because there is always a but)! If we share our knowledge, leave it somewhere our future generations can discover it for themselves, then they will learn, or at least hopefully be guided by that which we have spent a lifetime accumulating.

This is why I believe I have a duty to leave my own thoughts behind me when I have gone, when I have shuffled from this mortal coil.

No one can teach from our personal experiences as we ourselves can.

This is why I choose to write. Even within the lines of my fiction, on the pages of my fantasies, are woven the truths of life and the facts of living.MagicBook

The words within my books and short stories are my bequest to the world, to a future I cannot be a part of, at least in person.

I chose to be a writer, not for monetary wealth or recognition, but to leave a legacy beyond the simplistic value of personal greed.

My wish is that my words are read by the generations yet to come.

Maybe then my life will not have been lived in vein.

Ex Libris legatum Paul White.


Thank you for reading this Rambling.

To find out about my Published Books & Short Stories please visit my web page, http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

© Paul White 2015

Amassing the Arsenal.

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Once again I have been motivated to write by something I heard on the radio, a passing comment made during a documentary about playing bass guitar.

While on the surface one might ask what has a guitar, or playing music, got to do with writing fiction, or writing anything for that matter?

I agree that it is a valid question, because when you play music you usually play in front of an audience. You may practice alone, or with a small group of musicians, but when it comes to getting your art ‘out there’ you seek an audience. It is a public performance.

Whereas, for us writers, we have a rather insular art form in comparison. We write alone, proofread alone, edit and re-write alone. Sometimes we may ask someone to read our work, to give feedback or to help proof it. But generally writing is a reclusive business. When our work is complete, and published, it is read by one person at a time.

Well, that is generally the case. The author may give sample readings, a few paragraphs, chapters, or a selected portion of their latest novel during a promotional tour, or at a book signing. Reading or writing clubs may share a session, as may students, to analyse and critique your work. But these are rare examples. It is not customary for authors to perform on stage, reading aloud to an audience.

So where, and how, I hear you ask, do I associate the comments in that radio broadcast about playing bass guitar to writing.

It is quite simple. The remarks were about perfecting ones art. The presenter spoke of how nice it is, and I quote, ‘To hear someone who knows what they are doing, doing the thing they do so well’. The presenter then said that when a musician ‘let’s rip in a one mad burst, it is a magnificent thing to behold’.

I shall not argue or decry those observations because I wholeheartedly agree. When a well-practised artist performs to the height of their ability it is a truly wonderful thing indeed.

But it is getting to that peek, reaching the level of talent and knowing when to use it to perform. That is the key to becoming excellent in your chosen field.

Before we can even consider getting up onto that stage, and baring our artistic soul to the world at large, we must have ascertained the required skills and built up the confidence to stand there and strut our stuff without the slightest doubt, without the possibility of making total fools out of ourselves.

To reach that objective we must practice, and all practice is, is building up your creative arsenal, amassing the skills and techniques that will make you a creative force to be reckoned with.

If you are new, or relatively new, to the world of writing and publishing it is wise to remember that it is a very lonely and frustrating world at times, at most times.

If you are planning or writing a novel, you are biting off a huge chunk of optimistic expectation, and while I do not want you to stop, or for my words to put you off writing, I do ask you this. Have you built up your arsenal of skills and talent to the level which you feel confident of standing before a crowd reading your work out aloud? Could you perform your work to an audience?

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I have been writing for some time, and I am working on another novel. Yet at this moment I do not have enough of it written to the standard that I would feel comfortable reading it out aloud, reading it to a critical group of spectators.

So, I carry on writing other works at the same time. I write poetry because that hones ones skills at manipulating words to create imagery.

I write Flash Fiction, I find it focuses the mind to explanation with the fewest words possible, challenges me to build quick twists and plots into a short paragraph or two.

I write Short Stories, sometimes these are expanded versions of my Flash Fictions or taken from the inspiration of a poem, either mine or someone else’s.

I also write Articles and Essays, which I suppose this ‘Rambling’ is. They also present their own ordeals and criteria. So everything and anything I write is practice. I am still amassing my techniques. I am continually building my own arsenal of experience and skill.

Watch out, because one day I shall unleash it all in that mad burst of artistic showmanship. But not just yet, because the whole point of a skill is knowing when to use it and when not to.

I am not yet quite ready to get up on that stage………. not quite, yet!

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Thank you for reading this Rambling.

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Have you read any of my short stories? You can find them at