I haven’t done an Elmo post in ages, so here he is, watching a truck from the office window. I haven’t seen much of him recently, as he’s usually out enjoying the summer weather. It always feels weird to wish for cooler weather when you live in England, but I’m looking forward to him being at home more. The writer’s life can be a lonely one (plays smallest violin, gets back to decadent life of sitting around working at home).
When we’re writing stories, we often expect the characters’ motives and decision making to be all about the big stuff. Their doomed romance, their grand ambitions, their quest to save the world. But sometimes little things are just as important.
Take me. My cat Elmo recently had an injury. Nothing serious, but it got infected and he was grooming it too much, which stopped it healing. There wasn’t much I could do about it except take him to the vet and then feed him his medicine, but for two weeks it affected everything I did. I arranged my schedule around vet visits. I was extra cautious leaving the house so he couldn’t get out. I lost sleep because he was waking me in the night instead of going out hunting. Even when I wasn’t directly dealing with him, his health was constantly in the back of my mind, shaving away a fraction of my emotional processing power.
When you ask “why did someone act that way?”, you can always provide a big issue answer. But the reality is that there are often little things too, and they can make the difference.
Of course, writing isn’t just about presenting reality. We want our characters to mostly be concerned with the grand issues and big emotions. But it’s worth putting in those petty little factors from time to time, the things that distract us from the big cause or put a little extra strain on our brains. They can make characters more convincing and give you an excuse to vary their behaviour.
After all, even evil overlords must worry about their cats.
Merry Christmas from Chez Knighton! I hope you’re having at least as much fun as Elmo is having with his Christmas collar.
Having reviewed my own achievements this year, I feel that my writing assistant, Elmo the cat, deserves the same treatment. So, his achievements this year…
He’s learnt to catch mice, which is good, as it turned out some were living in the kitchen.
He’s made friends with other cats in the street, which is a relief after the fights and face-offs at our last house.
He’s calmed the f**k down, which makes my life easier. Now he can entertain himself by running around the allotments, he hardly ever ambushes me on the stairs or wakes me up to play at three in the morning. I almost miss those crazy days.
So well done Elmo. Treats all round. And maybe next year you can learn that the sink and the toilet aren’t good places for you to drink from.
It’s his notebook now.
It seems I’m not the only artist in the house…
It’s been a while since I’ve written an update on where I am writing-wise. So, for those who are interested, and to keep myself honest, here it is.
As I mentioned around the start of the year, life descended into chaos in the last few months of 2015, and I fell way behind where I wanted to be. Now that I’m back on top of life, I’m trying to crack on with self-publishing again.
I hope to put out a new e-book of some sort roughly every two months. A Mosaic of Stars was meant to be the February release, but ended up being a few days late. I’m aiming to put out a short story set in medieval England as a free e-book in April – all that’s needed at this point is the edits. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to writing the long-delayed parts four and five of the Epiphany Club steampunk series, the next two releases. I have plans beyond that, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Meanwhile, I’ve started submitting short stories to websites and magazines again. I’ve had one accepted for an anthology from the publishers of Avast! Ye Airships. Hopefully more will follow – watch this space.
I have enough work to live off for the next few months, and it’s all interesting. Some ghost written fiction, some writing about writing, and a load of military history. Writing things I enjoy is very motivating.
Clients have started approaching me rather than me always chasing them. So far that’s mostly been with work I don’t want, but hey, it’s a step forward. The more experience and reputation I build up, the more work I get offered, and the better it is. Now I’m hitting my deadlines again, I can start to build up a financial buffer to take time off for my own writing.
I’m currently writing each week’s set of blog posts eight days before the first one will go out. That relieves the pressure I felt when I was writing each one the day it went out, or even writing a weekly batch just before the first one appeared. It makes the content a little less timely, but provides me with prepared posts in case something gets in the way of writing. And I can always juggle the schedule if something comes up I want to respond to quickly.
So again, things are going pretty well.
My able assistant Elmo the kitten is now six months old, and I’m not sure I can call him a kitten any more. Certainly not to his face. He still keeps trying to play with the keyboard, but doesn’t persist for long because he knows I’ll stop him. He’s a mad little beast, but is at least learning not to bring his claws out when we play.
That’s about it – the start of play for Andrew Knighton, writer, as of mid March 2016. Here’s hoping things keep on improving.