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Simon P. Clark blog posts

Writing Is Worth It

Eren

So, here we are. My book's being published this week and I finally get to irritate people by starting conversations with 'Well, as a published author...' 

It's easy to forget everything it took to get here. The late nights, typing away and getting frustrated at just how bad my story was, are easy to justify now I get to hold the book. Staying home while friends went out seems like an easy choice now I know it all worked out. At the time, though, they were immensely difficult decisions. I had low moments when I wanted to throw my laptop across the room and long periods when I didn't write a word because of course it was pointless, and of course I was rubbish, and obviously this stupid dream had to come to an end.

Those moments – ones that I know other writers are going through right now - are exactly why I wanted to write this post. I know what I needed to be told back then, and I know what I want to tell others right now: Don't give up, because it will be worth …

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The Vital Importance of the Adventurous Life

Travel

'The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.'


So said Michael Morpurgo when asked by The Guardian to lay out his rules for writing. He's a writer who knows what he's talking about, and this idea - that you have to live life in order to write well - is, I think, vitally important.

I've blogged before on the benefits of travel for writing fiction - emphasizing, I hope, that I mean travel in its broadest sense (that of going to new places and expanding your mind) and not just in an expensive, exclusive way. It's something I really believe - that adventure, the desire to move, to grow, to experience life outside your normal routine, gives your stories life in a way they couldn't have otherwise. Yes, writing takes place in solitude, hunched over a desk, sometimes late at night, but the things you're writing about - where do they come from? All fiction, in the end, …

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Should You Really be a Writer?

Typewriter

I am not in the business of discouraging writers. I don't think any authors are, actually. There's no worry about there being more competition, no Machiavellian desire to stop the young and the talented from making it (whatever 'it' is). Far more, the opposite is true - writers want there to be more stories, more books, and more people making art (and here let me point you in the direction of Zen Pencils' rendering of Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art speech. It is worth your time).

I read last week that the average income of writers who took the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey is £600. That is not enough to live on. It's not actually enough to pay my rent for one month.

The reality is that being a writer means not having a lot of money, and telling stories anyway. Writing not because of the income but in spite of it. Writing for the story's sake. That's the point I want to make: don't become a writer because you want to be a writer. That's a false dream and it …

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My NaNoWriMo: Simon P Clark

Simon P Clark

Writing 50,000 words in a month is a stupid thing to do. It's obviously ridiculous - and anyway, how good could those words be, all rushed and full or mistakes? 

The whole thing's best avoided. It's not writing, it's point scoring.

Except – of course – that it's not. It's magical. NaNoWriMo is one of those experiences, like running a marathon or skydiving (or having a child, maybe) that you can talk about all you wish, but you're not really qualified - you don't really know - until you've done it. 

My own NaNoWriMo journey began back in 2010. I was living in Japan, and dating a girl who lived two hours away. We met up when we could, both travelling an hour to a convenient location in between our respective cities. That location happened to be Tokyo - a city with an endless supply of things to do, but a limited number of them for free.

'Why don't we write together?' she asked, before pointing out that November was coming, and with it, NaNoWriMo. I'd never heard of such a …

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Writer, Tell Your Story

Van Gogh new painting discovered

Life can be a funny old thing, really. Sometimes stories, like busses, seem like they're hiding round the corner, only to come along in pairs. Last week, for me, it was Van Gogh.

In case you missed it, a new Van Gogh painting was discovered this month, leading to worldwide media coverage. Among the facts and figures thrown about in the endless stream of reports, I learned a lot. There was the number of visitors each year to the Van Gogh Museum (more than 1,600,000); the last time an original was discovered (1928 for a full-size canvas); the time it's taken to verify this new piece (over two years); and, perhaps most interesting, the number of paintings Van Gogh sold in his lifetime: one.

The second of this week’s Van Gogh stories involves an old acquaintance of mine who made contact recently, out of the blue, and reminded me of a specific night we spent, years ago now, in Tokyo. Did I remember, he asked, how we wandered around the mega-city, finding our way into …

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