A Writer’s Life

I often wonder how I might have gone on had I achieved my schoolboy ambition to become a journalist. It’s hard enough writing a new blog post every week but what if I’d have had to have written something for a newspaper every day? That would have been a pretty tall order.

I’ve got nothing in the pipeline for today’s post so I decided to just start writing and see where it gets me. Ok, here we go.

Despite having nothing in the pipeline, I’ve actually done a great deal of writing this week. I always have lots of ideas floating around in my head about all sorts of things and I make mental notes about them but converting those ideas into a novel is a pretty big undertaking.  A better idea I thought would be to perhaps make those ideas into short stories. I could even put together a book of short stories and poems and maybe even some selected blog posts.

As it happens, I was watching a documentary programme the other day about Ernest Hemingway and one of his first publications was a short collection of his stories and poems called not very imaginatively, Three Short Stories and Ten Poems. I’m not sure if it did particularly well but as every writing help blog that I’ve ever read tells us, anything that gets you writing is important.

I also find it well worthwhile to look back at other things I have written. For instance, ages ago I wrote a short script for a script competition. It was about a police officer who has a nightmare about being in an army firing squad. They are about to execute a soldier for some unknown transgression but when the victim is revealed, he is a young boy. Later, the officer comes across the boy in real life as part of his police work. It wasn’t brilliant and disappointingly, it didn’t win me any prizes but later I remade it, rewrote it I should say, as a short story.

Another story I wrote recently was one that combined a lot of my knowledge of France into a story of a young man who meets an interesting lady while travelling in France. I thought it was rather good. I did a bit of research and thought I’d found the perfect magazine to send it to. I checked their website; yes they were in the market for short stories and yes, they were happy to receive submissions. They wanted the stories as a word document. OK. They wanted no headers or footers in the document. OK, remove the headers and footers and finally they wanted the word count in the title of the document. OK, change Isabelle, my short story title to 6348 Isabelle. Happy days. I sent off my short story and only a few days later got a message back saying thanks for your story but it’s too long!

I had another scan through their submission guidelines and yes, they want stories of 2000 to 3000 words! I must have missed that bit. Another search and I found another magazine, this time an online one. They were happy with 6000 plus words but they wanted a £4 submission fee! Oh well, what’s £4 these days. I coughed up and sent off my short story but then thought perhaps that’s how they make their money, waiting for mugs like me to send off their hard earned four pounds!

Another thing I’ve done recently when I’m short of ideas is to take a look at my older blog posts, dust them off, merge them with one with either similar ideas or even think of some new additions, sort out some nice new shiny graphics and pictures and repost the whole thing as a new blog post. I actually thought I’d hit upon a new and revolutionary blogging idea but then I noticed a blog post on another site about repurposing old content! Yes, there’s nothing new under the sun.

One of my most read blog posts lately is this one, it’s called Manipulating The Image and in it, I talk about photo manipulation from Instagram glamour models to Lee Harvey Oswald and what he claimed were fake backyard photos showing him holding his infamous Italian made rifle. I spend a lot of time on my analytics page, both on WordPress and on YouTube and to be honest, I’m not sure any of that helps. Why is Manipulating the Image so popular? It’s great that my readership is booming and that more and more readers are exposed to the availability of Floating in Space, not that many of those potential buyers take advantage of that.

How can I replicate the success of that post though? It’s the same over on YouTube. A video about Manchester I took months working on and perfecting gets few viewers and another in which I walk about Manchester yakking into my camera held in front of me on a selfie stick and spent thirty minutes editing, gets a shed load of views. I don’t get it. Then again, perhaps I don’t need to get it. Maybe I should make more videos of me yakking into a camera or more blog posts about manipulating images. Of course integrity as a writer is important. Do I really care about getting more readers and more likes and better and better stats? Shouldn’t I care more about doing justice to myself as a writer and being true to myself?

Actually, I kind of like getting more readers and more likes.

Images are important to blog posts as well as social media posts. It’s a statistical fact that social media posts perform better with images and better still with video content. I tried the face app that I found when researching the Manipulating Images post but naturally, being the tightwad that I am, I declined to pay for the version that does the best effects. I tried another app recently, one that creates avatars for use in your social media pages. An avatar is essentially a picture, a stylised image that people use on the web. Sadly I found that once again, this new app required me to pay money which naturally, I wasn’t happy about. However, rather than subscribe to the app it was possible to pay a one time fee of £2.99 for 50 avatars. This required me to upload a shedload of pictures of myself, the minimum required was 15 so the app could give the best results. The results weren’t instant, I had to wait most of the afternoon for them to appear and some were a bit naff, in fact there was even a feminine version of myself but there were a couple that made me look like the real tough hombre that I’m actually not.

Yes, I might just start using those ones on my social media. Perhaps I might scare up a few new readers.

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3 responses to “A Writer’s Life

  1. Always good to read the thoughts of a fellow writer on the subject, Steve. Regarding Hemingway, have become interested in his iceberg theory where some of the story’s key information is held back (submerged?) to make the reader work a bit harder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. I like the idea of making the reader work harder, the result is usually more satisfaction for the reader. I read Hemingways Fiesta a while ago but wasn’t impressed. It seemed to me to be more style rather than substance. Perhaps I didn’t work hard enough as a reader!
      All the best Dave

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, he can often seem strangely inconsequential – you sometimes go, so what? His story ‘Big Two-Hearted River’ seems innocuous but apparently deals with war trauma, the war not mentioned once. Hence the iceberg idea, I suppose, this story the first time he tried it.

        Liked by 1 person

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