The Caitiff – Writing A Description?

I know, it’s a bit rambly but bleeeeh. I was up all night so I’m pretty shattered. In other news, I slipped on some icy cobblestones this morning and have a huge bruise down my back, I fell over a door step whilst carrying half a ridiculously heavy set of drawers and have taken the skin of my ankle and it is likely that I will need a root canal at some point in the near future so, y’know, yay for me!

I’ve been trying to write a description for The Caitiff; I figured I may as well have it all ready and raring to go by the time that I actually release it, unlike with Adjective Narcissism where I had absolutely no idea how to explain the miasma that that eBook was and spent hours staring at that description box slowly driving myself insane.

And here’s where I’ve been having trouble – I’m no good at marketing myself or my own work simply because I hesitate to offer it any title, genre, classification et cetera, et cetera – however, whilst I’ve been considering this I started thinking – what, exactly, would I classify myself as?

A liberal? – Perhaps, but I would describe it more as a generalised apathy – I do not wholly subscribe to a liberal ethos and I am far too angry to even attempt to classify myself as some post-generational hippie. Continue reading “The Caitiff – Writing A Description?”

Why I’m Never Going To Make It As A Self-Published Writer!

Although I didn’t think of it at the time, my obsession with front covers displaying dirty pub bathrooms can probably be counted as a contributing factor!

I think that there is one reason I’m never going to really ‘make it’ as a self-published writer; – if we ignore the facts that I still don’t really think of myself as a writer and that the writing I do is undeniably bleak and often comes across as pretentious, narcissistic and unpleasant – I’m terrible at self-promotion.

I don’t just mean that as I don’t have the personal confidence to walk up to a stranger and offer them a free copy of a book, though I have done a few things similar to that in the past, but that I look at my own writing and cannot understand why I find it appealing and, by extension, why anyone else should. My biggest problem, I’ve found, is that I can’t write descriptions of the things I write; a problem which has never been more obvious than my attempts to begin the thousand little things I still need to do for The Caitiff.

How can I write an accurate synopsis of the narrative when the narrative is, deliberately, thrown into the back seat to make room for bleak tone and striking imagery? And how can I list the topics I have attempted to filter through the narrator’s perspective without coming across as a monumental prat?

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I’ve got The Divine Comedy on the go, and I’m re-reading Age Of Reason when I’m on the bus or wherever – people are less likely to take the piss if it looks like you’re reading prose and not poetry, although any book I seem to read attracts vitriol from shaven-headed inbreds that think they own Wigan… You don’t think it could be me, do you?

Continue reading “Why I’m Never Going To Make It As A Self-Published Writer!”

The Caitiff – An Overlong Sentence?

When I was writing the Caitiff, I decided I needed to make the language a lot simpler and the structure a lot less convoluted if I wanted to be an actual narrative, rather than the kind of half experimental nature which rules my Broken Polemic series. So, I did, I cut sentences down, moved them around, split them and replaced words with shorter alternatives.

Suffice to say, I think the whole thing is somewhat stronger as a result, definitely easier to read, anyway.

However, there is one sentence, close to the end of the narrative which I have left a little too long. 423 words long, to be precise. Now, I like this sentence, though don’t ever ask me to repeat it verbatim, and I think it encourages a certain confusion, a quickening of the pace and an anger which matches that the character feels.

I think, one day, I would like to write a short story, or a novella, in only one sentence. Sure, I can use semicolons and hyphens and possibly even parenthesis, but I think it could be quite an exercise in the technical side of writing, even if that exercise can cost some of the emotion which is equally as important.

But, anyway, this is by far the longest sentence I have ever written and, I hope, it translates in the manner that I expect it to; whilst it may provide the right emotion within me, that might simply be because I attribute that emotion to those words and that quickened style.

Are We Too Guilty To Talk Of Our Influences?

Are We Too Guilty To Talk Of Our Influences?

As some of you will know, I’m currently doing a copywriting internship; no, it isn’t what I want to do with my life, but it is interesting seeing just how little some people care about their lives that there are willing to waste them away writing such drivel (admittedly, if they offered me a job I wouldn’t turn it down, the things I want to write are the things that nobody wants to read, though whether that is my own failure as a writer rather than the style I choose to take is another matter, but either way it is not the kind of thing I will be able to earn a living from) but I finally confided into the other copywriter that I wrote fiction.

She asked me what my influences were and I froze; I knew who I wanted to say, but I felt guilty saying them out load, answering her with a vague ‘Y’know, the usual’ rather than ploughing into the dedicated list of writer’s whose work I have read and has stuck with me.
What right do I have to say that anyone has influenced me? What right do I have to place that burden, however weak a burden it might be, on another person’s shoulders, living or dead? These writers that I come close to idolising the work of don’t deserve to be saddled with my writing as another mark against their name in the grand creative scheme of things.

Continue reading “Are We Too Guilty To Talk Of Our Influences?”

Am I An Elitist? And Is That A Bad Thing?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about literary elitism, particularly with regards to my own work-in-progress, The Caitiff. The trouble is, I can never be sure if the few responses I have received to the small snippets of work I have shown to others are a desire to keep me happy with my own work, an instantaneous reaction to the style or simple contempt at the sentence structure and often extraneous word choices I decide to use (you can probably count extraneous there as a prime example).

Though the down to earth part of me, the part that I tend to adopt most days and with people I don’t know too well, claims that such elitism is wrong and unnecessary and leads to the degree of pretension which many artistic circles suffer from, until all art is created only for the applause of other artists, the part of me which longs to adopt a literary lifestyle tells me that elitism is fantastic.

Continue reading “Am I An Elitist? And Is That A Bad Thing?”

Self-Review: Covering Image – Adjective Narcissism

This is a little bloggy-type thing, just giving you a little background into my debut self-published novella, Adjective Narcissism; the review of which you can find here (I don’t always link to this same review because it is the best one I recieved but, instead, because it is the only one I am aware of; believe me, I’d love to get a wider range of opinions on this thing, and I’ve even offered the thing for free in the past; I suppose that should probably tell me more about the quality of my drunken, experimental student madness than I want to believe, shouldn’t it?).

When I was a student, I didn’t really put as much effort into, well, anything, as I should have done; almost as I wish I had done now. I’ve suffered with something, not exactly a depression (at least, no worse than most people’s, though I was once prescribed tablets which I never ended up taking, cos’ I’m hardcore like that) but a miserable, disatisfied, borderline wrathful countenance.

It’s just, essentially, who I am and I don’t really see that there is a problem with it. The fact that I am incredibly rarely happy has made read more and, in the last year, write more; I’m constantly looking for some kind of contentment, even if only for short periods of time and that contententment manifests itself in simple things; an occassional beer, a lie-in, the ability to sit in silence for a time and just think; nothing too unusual.

When I started reading existentialism and novels which I really found myself relating to, for all that I might stretch that relation, I was also socialising more and more with other students on my university course. We used to have this final portfolio seminar on a friday morning, which ended at midday. Just as the nearby pub was opening, so a few of us would go there and talk about whatever, literature, music, they’d talk about sports whilst I went for a piss, we’d play pool and table football and try to keep each other entertained.

There was quite a lot of bitching, about other people’s work and personalities and, I have no doubt, they talked about mine and laughed at the low quality of it when I wasn’t there; I’d spend most of my time calling our tutor a bitch, for her resolute lak of creativity and her inability to comprehend any narrative which wasn’t either commerically viable or dictated by the existence of a few set rules. I’m just very lucky Rosemary Kay, the award-winning writer, took over for the next semester, otherwise I’d have probably failed, or come out with a third at most.

But, anyway, one afternoon me and this other guy got drunk, very drunk, so drunk that I think it was about eight o’clock by the time I hopped on the train back. I may have had to get off the train to throw up at some point, and when I got back to my hometown I realised I’d spent all the money I had on me, so I had to visit a cash machine and take out my last tenner.

I fell asleep on the bus, I threw up on the bus, I threw up into the heating system and over my hand and slept some more. I woke up several miles past my house, with very little money and a sudden alertness and sobriety.

And I knew how to write what I wanted to write.

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It was a strange transformation; I went from fantasy and Dystopian writing to a more cerebral, political, religious and secretive kind of writing. I don’t know what that night did to me, but I’m a very different person than I was before it happened. Maybe it was the realisation of how low I could be, if I let myself, that I was an animal and nothing more, that I had done such evil to myself, that it didn’t come from some unnamed enemy in the northern wastes or some demon from below the mountains.

I wrote Adjective Narcissism in a little under a month, and I kept it to myself long enough to submit it for half of my assessment and then to show it to Rosemary, who encouraged what I was trying to do.

The front cover is a picture of a toilet in Liverpool, I don’t remember where, but I took it when I went for a piss and the urinal was full. I remember hearing the drip of it against the sticky tled floor, hearing some scouser throw up into the next cubicle over and hearing ‘Oh, God’ in that guttural accent. I could have left the image in urine yellows, I could have used the wall instead, a blank canvas with the occassional imperfection, but no. Stark black against tainted grey, a foul image indeed. And I absolutely love it.

I don’t know why I took the picture, why it’s so ingrained in my skull, but I think it was perfect, it is perfect, for what Adjective Narcissism is. Of course, that’s only my opinion, I might be entirely wrong, Adjective Narcissism could be a nonsense, a great folly, an irritating tumour on literature’s inner thigh, but there it shall remain.

A (bleak and miserable) update!

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I’m reading the many, many things I’m working on and I know that being a bad writer doesn’t necessarily lead to being a good writer, and I know that I am pompous in my writing style, that I am an arrogant author and I, often, cannot look past my own narcissism to see points of view which might enable me to improve, I read some of the responses I’ve had to my work.

When I first started trying to seriously write, I put a small part of Adjective Narcissism up on Reddit, hoping that I’d get a few comments on how I could improve it, etc. Obviously, I knew even then that that was going to be a mistake, but I still held some vague kind of hope that there might have been someone willing to offer a little advice to a border-line alcoholic student trying to make sense of the thousand, thousand philosophies I had exposed myself to in the previous weeks.

Of course, the only response I got was ‘can’t believe I wasted 10 seconds of my time I hope you get some kind of cancer’ which, you know, was nice. I wrote it down on a post-it note and had it stuck to the side of my monitor whilst I was writing the rest of Adjective Narcissism and when I was typing up God Metaphor.

When I was writing GM, I posted some examples of Adjective Narcissism on various forums for self-published writers and the like; the one reply I distinctly remember said ‘this is why us real self-published authors have a bad name.’

Neither of these comments really angered me, I took them in, I’ve read them over and over again and thought about how bad I am, about how I don’t deserve to have access to a keyboard or a pen, about the world we live in which can create such worthless wannabe creatures as myself. I don’t know that I’m over it, exactly, but it has made me more likely to share the things I’m writing. I realised a few things which I’m going to save for other times like this, when it’s almost midnight and I have to leave for work in seven hours (unpaid work, mind, but still work).

But I have received two reviews which I think I am happy with, over at OnlineBookClub. Both Adjective Narcissism and God Metaphor seemed to have been quite well-received, no doubt better than I would have said they are, for all that I find them interesting (well, I would, I wrote the bloody things). I don’t know that they are exactly a confidence booster, but I read them too, occasionally, though not as often as the ones telling me to stop what I’m doing, to die in a hole or fuck myself.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this little update thing now, really. Maybe it’s because the first draft of the Caitiff is finished and I’m too exhausted to edit it. Maybe it’s because I secretly want more people to casually tell me to stop, and I can mask my narcissism with an intent to ‘show them’, like a young boy enthusing over a World War.

I’m not scared to try and submit the Caitiff to those few publishers who are likely to even give the thing a read, I’m apathetic. I’m the kind of man parts of the Caitiff rage against and I suppose, in a way, that is just another form of narcissism. Or maybe not; who cares?

Maybe I’m just tired, maybe my mental exhaustion is gaining on me, wearing me down like the oceans I long to dream of, but never quite manage to. Maybe I am what’s wrong with the self-publishing industry; maybe I’m trying to convince myself I’m an artist, even though I vehemently deny it to myself. I think I would be, if I was talented and tragic and lounging around Paris in black turtlenecks and a monotone filter; but I’m not. Maybe I’m just a figment of my own imagination.

It’s been a long day. Expect the irregular misery hidden behind the thin veil of joyous self-deprecation I tend to expound over the weekend. I’m going to bed.