Posted on Leave a comment

Need a Creative Holiday?

I’ve not long finished running a course in writing your own novel and amongst all the advice about planning, writing and editing a novel, I also spoke a bit about when things go pear shaped and then adapting. Currently I have quite a number of projects on the go, including making a zombie card game, oddly enough, and this week our plans were thrown to the wind by the unfortunate illness of a family member.

Without going into any personal details, it has caused me to take on board the words of advice I gave out during the course, namely that writing is there to support life and not the other way round. Not my original words either but a paraphrase of Stephen King. One of the difficult issues when you take on a love of your own such as writing, crafting or even zombie card games, and make it into a business, it is easy to find things becoming a slog or taking such importance that you can end up hating them for how they dominate your life.

I told my writing course that one of the most important processes to master is to separate your business self and your creative self, maintaining a tension between them. Your business head will always look for the money but it’s too easy for the writer to get forced out, become less creative, or to get stressed at producing stories they never wanted to in the first place.

From normal work we always take a holiday during the year to let ourselves recharge and wander off to new things. Sometimes I think we need to do this with our creative selves, let our imaginative processes just happen with no goals in mind for a while. While it might not produce something we can sell or market, it gives the creative a holiday when they can simply indulge in the joy of creating. For a writer, this can be the short story that’s been kicking at you over the weeks, or that character you wish to create that you don’t know if anyone will like, and frankly you don’t care!

Take a creative holiday when it all gets too much and let your art support life before it crushes it.

Posted on Leave a comment

Has Electronic Life wiped out Books?

I recently read an article about Jacqueline Wilson (link) and amongst the views attributed to her was that she believed that “Electronic life has wiped out books.” This seems like a strong statement but what is the truth behind it? According to the Washington Post (link) there has been over a 16% decline in adults who read at least one literary work per year from 1982 to 2015 from just under 57% to 43.1%. I find that quite shocking as the percentage in 1982 already seems low. 
Apparently there are more things to amuse us nowadays. With our smartphones we can surf the web or read our emails, play games or watch more television programs. I am a fan of television series and do watch a number of films and programs a week but one important thing I find with the cinematic art form is that while it may exercise your brain with issues brought to the fore, it doesn’t drive your imagination.

Surely imagination is the well spring for creativity. Without imagination our whole society would struggle to function. How would we develop, how would we grow without that capacity to think what would be and then working out how to get there? And surely books are the playground for that creativity.

I’m not saying that books are the only playground for any of the creative arts will do that. Sculpture, basket weaving, drama, embroidery, painting, etc.. are all pastimes that will drive the imagination. But when we simply hover over what I would call static detail, that which is fixed and cannot be changed, then our imagination will die.

I don’t think Jacqueline Wilson is totally right, well, not yet. But she certainly has hit the nail on the head with how things are heading.

Posted on 2 Comments

Location, Location, Location (Part 1 – Foreign Places)


One of the funnier things I find in my writing is the lengths I will go to to find a suitable location for my books. By that I mean each scene within my books. Every place mentioned usually has within it the building blocks of several real places if indeed it is not a real place itself. Because of this I am always on the lookout for different backdrops, whether it be from books, online searches, travel programs or anything else. My mind is constantly “location hunting”.

In my new book, “Crescendo!”, my intrepid duo Austerley and Kirkgordon, race around the world and I thought it would be interesting to see where the locations in the book come from in reality. The first location is Arkham, and more specifically the asylum there.

Due to the book’s tie-ins with Lovecraft mythology, Arkham was an obvious start point, the central town in the whole area of Lovecraft’s nightmares. I consulted fictional books and maps, checking the rivers and bridges and location of the asylum. But the building itself, or rather the scene, reminded me of a scene in “Porridge”, the classic British sitcom where Fletcher is let loose for a time. The sheer drabness and loneliness of a walk out of captivity with fanfares. The start of the Blues Brothers film has the same feel.


A trip to Russia then ensues and here was a major problem. At the current point in my writing career, ad hoc visits to far off countries are still beyond the budget. So thank goodness for the internet and those wonderful map programs where you can even place yourself in streets. I walked Russia’s alleyways, virtually, trying to see how my characters would perceive this place. Unfortunately the net doesn’t provide the smells and sounds and I had to think these into being (but I am meant to be a writer!). Pictures of a rather famous Russian café helped me in a little restaurant scene that occurs, giving me the feel of a past grandeur and a perfect backdrop to introduce Calandra, my Russian vamp.

It is funny how I have never been to any of these “foreign” places but felt able to find myself in their surroundings simply by a little application. I’m not here today to ponder on the finer pints of place description but rather as an encouragement to not limit yourself to places that you know when writing. With a little research, plenty of pictures, writings and a wee bit of imagination, you can make anywhere come alive. But yes, I would like the bigger budget, the private jet (now I am dreaming) to go and visit these places. But remember, places in the past or future, or those invisible except in the mythos of a person, cannot be reached. Well, except on the train of the mind and is that not our standard mode of transport as a writer anyway?


G R Jordan author, poet, and top Dad apparently!