Catching Up

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I’ve been offline for some time. Don’t worry, I’m back. The Internet may now resume. (The Internet stops when I’m offline, right?)

I was at a 21st on Saturday night. It was in Westmeath. For those of you who don’t know Irish geography, that’s some bit away from Dublin. Returning on the same night is not advised, unless someone remains sober to drive (yeah right!) or you have a pocket full of extra cash to get a cab. We’re students. We stayed the night.

Now, we didn’t exactly sleep on Saturday night. It was more like Sunday morning before people made their way to the tents. Me? I was in the kitchen at that point, where it was warm, and decided it was too much effort to go back outside. So I slept on an armchair. At this point, it was half seven in the morning.

I did not get a long sleep.

At nine, I was up and talking (barely) until breakfast at eleven. We left the house for the two o’clock bus, and when I arrived back home a couple of hours later, proceeded to shower (which was awesome) and then, when the dinner was on, watch Supernatural. I stayed watching television until eight, when I went upstairs. I think.

Evidently, I woke up at half three in the morning still fully dressed and lying on top of my duvet. I wasn’t comfortable. I got up, used the toilet, removed my tracksuit bottoms (classy bloke that I am) and got back into bed. I thought, I’ll probably just stay awake.

I woke up at eleven, dreary, and celebrated. “You can’t catch up on sleep.” Biology, I have conquered you. I managed to get two nights’ worth of sleep, having woken up in the middle of it all.

So, there you have it: I am awesome.

Right? Okay, maybe not. However, I can report more from that 21st. For a start, I got drunk. That’s always a plus, here in Ireland. I haven’t had occasion to drink all summer, so this was a chance for me at reacquaint myself with my good old friend Captain Morgan. We got along well, I must say, because not only did I not fall over, I didn’t get sick.

That’s a double-win. Even after the miscellany of alcohol finding its way to me (from Sex on the Beach to Vodka to Mickey Finns) I survived. I honestly expected to have some form of liver failure after drinking, properly, for the first time in that house.

A fun sidenote: it was the same house where I first tried alcohol. I won’t, for the sake of those involved, tell you what the drink was. I tell that story far too often as it is.

What can we conclude  from this post?

  1. Even after a weekend of sleeping and drinking, I can remember to write my weekly post.
  2. I can defy biology.
  3. The Irish can drink without falling all over the place.
  4. Westmeath is worth drinking in. Sometimes.
  5. It’s possible for an Irishman, even an Irish writer, to drink responsibly. Sometimes.

Next week, maybe I’ll have something to say that isn’t about drinking. But then, what more do you expect from we Irish?

PS I have a habit, usually forced, of telling people when I’m drunk. Just for good measure: I’m sober.

First I Was Afraid

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…then I was petrified. I spent a whole week on the camera without you by my side. Thought I’d always be alone, thought the book wouldn’t get done but I was wrong.

Actually, what’s wrong is that opening. Last week, I missed my spot. I said I would. I was tired, on the fifth day of putting together a book in a week. However, I managed to complete it. Balor Reborn is now published, after an exhausting week of writing, editing and whatnot.

You would think my summer activities would be complete after that, but no. I have a blog tour under-way this week with the other writing group I’m part of (yes, I’m two-timing the Den) and I’m in the midst of planning the sequels to Balor Reborn. Also, I’m getting ready to visit a haunted castle.

Actually, that’s non-specific. It’s actually the most haunted castle in the world, and I’m bringing brownies. You can tell that I’m clearly a professional paranormal investigator because I bring home-made brownies. We don’t expect to see much ghostly activity, but it should be fun, anyway. We also don’t expect to sleep. In fact, we’re banking on not sleeping. At all.

See how I managed to make that title specific to two things at once? Not bad for an outrageously tired writer. I’ve just come off three days’ working, almost two weeks’ writing and two hours baking. It’s close to midnight, and yes: I almost forgot to post today. These things do happen when life takes the turns it does.

Anyway, this is merely me writing for the sake of it. I have things going on, but I feel it’s always right to honour your obligations. Even if your eyeballs do hate you for it at the end of the day. Hopefully next week I’ll actually be able to do more than just spout out words.

Preparations

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For those of you who don’t follow little old me on Twitter, or who haven’t ‘liked’ my page on Facebook, or ‘circled’ me on Google+, you probably haven’t heard what madness I’m up to next. See, I like to write. I’d like to think I’m a little bit good at it. Stories are kind of a big deal for me.

So, I decided to write one in a week. A novella, in fact. On camera, live-streamed to the whole Internet. And then I’m publishing it, at the end of that week. Yes, I’m serious. I’m actually going to write and publish a novella in a week. It probably seems a bit mad. But hey, I’m not here to tell you all about that project. Not directly. You can read the press release for that here: http://paulcarrollwriter.com/balor-reborn-press-release/

What I want to talk about is the preparation stage of this project.

Let me be honest here: I don’t keep my room very tidy. I try to, but then I buy something (like a dozen books) and suddenly nothing fits anymore. So, everything ends up on the floor, and my beanbags end up in the middle of the room, and generally you need to step widely over everything. It’s a good thing I haven’t been out (drinking) much lately, or I’d probably be dead having tripped over something coming into the room.

In preparation for this ‘writing a book on camera’ stunt, I actually cleaned my room. There is literally nothing but a pair of shoes I plan on putting away that’s remotely in the way between the door and the bed. And it’s not even like it matters so much, because the camera will be pointing in such a way that no one will see any of that part of my room.

However, I’m a good little boy and I did it. My room is tidy. To make it even better, I got myself a new desk chair. It’s still in its box, because my dad wants to make sure it’s actually put together properly, instead of me falling and dying on camera in front of the whole Internet. Even if the fall didn’t kill me, I think I’d be the first person to literally die of embarrassment, whether it’s physiologically impossible or not!

So, that was another thing done. With the press release last Friday, that was Thing #3. I think I’m doing quite well. My parents are now making sure I have a kettle in the room, and an icebox for the milk, some water and my packed lunch. (Yes, I’m actually going to eat a meal-a-day on camera. The though frightens me, but not as much as losing the entire audience while I eat a sandwich.)

The last piece of preparation has been in running competitions. I’m giving away a copy of the book every day through my website. It’s fun, but it means checking in every few hours to make sure there are actually entries. I do enjoy reading them, though.

Want to enter? Please? You can see the list of them here. I’ve no idea when you’ll see this, but the current competition will be specified! http://paulcarrollwriter.com/balor/

So, four things, not counting everything my parents are doing for me. I’ve also already prepared the plan for the book – the only thing I’m allowed with me! The only other thing to do is to try organise a blog tour for post-publication, and excuse myself in advance if I don’t get to write a post next Monday. I’ll be busy, don’t you know!

Baking

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Today, I delved into the deep unknown of baking.

Lets be clear: my ability to cook anything goes as far as either putting it in the toaster, or putting it in the oven. The only thing I’ve ever made from scratch is a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Everything else is from a packet, or heating up a dinner my mum already made. I live at home. There doesn’t seem to be a need for me to learn to cook.

But dammit, that was not going to stop me!

While baking isn’t quite the same thing as cooking, it’s a step in the right direction. I took seven ingredients, several of the instruments my mum keeps scattered around the kitchen, and I made a mess.

I also made cookies. Just so you know.

What I discovered in the process, aside from baking lessons I expressed on my food blog about this, is that baking is extremely enjoyable. Sure, I was awful at a few things, but overall it felt good doing it. It didn’t feel like work. it was even better when the cookies actually came out the way they were supposed to. It’s the same sort of thrill I get in finishing a novel, except it only took an hour. (Guess who spent twice as long in the preparation step than the recipe said it would take!)

The end result was surprisingly delicious. My family like them, they haven’t killed anyone, and they taste like more. It’s definitely something I want to keep doing, especially if it means getting some time away from the laptop. Lets be fair, I spend a lot of time on my computer without accomplishing anything.

I need to decide what to bake next time. My options include chocolate brownies, iced cupcakes, or a different type of cookie (I need to get a new recipe for that, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.) Leave your vote in the comment below. While you do that, I’ll get the kettle on.

A Busy Writer

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Have you ever stopped and looked at your life? I don’t mean literally. I mean, looking at everything that you do, everything that happens in your life, the things you can control and the things you can’t. I do it a lot, especially when I can’t sleep, and I wonder about my life.

When my head’s in the game, I’m what I call a busy writer. Usually, I’m  too busy. This is a result of me taking on too many projects all at once, which usually results in a project overload. At the moment, I’ve got a few things going on:

1. I blog here, for a start. Okay, so I tend to miss my posts because of a bad memory, but this is one of the things I do every single week. I won’t even count the weekend job for this.

2. I maintain my own blog and website. Both need regular updating, and when things in my life don’t quite go according to plan, neither gets very much attention.

3. I’m writing a non-fiction book. I’ve only revealed details of it to a few select people, but it’s going to become quite time consuming once I get my head down and write.

4. I have a research paper to write for college. The actual writing isn’t a problem. It’s all the parts before it that are causing me some major delays. As in, I haven’t touched it all summer.

5. I have fictional works to write. Time consuming, and I’ve lost all motivation to do much of late. Once I get back into the game – and it’s all a mindset thing – I’ll be flying through them. Well, not literally. My laptop wouldn’t like that.

6. Learning. I made it quite clear on my blog that I like to learn. This month, I’m supposed to start cooking. So far, nothing, but I do have a fancy new cook book and blog. I just need to get the ingredients and the time to make something. Then I can officially say I’ve started.

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of anything right now. My point, though, is that when I’m actually in the right frame of mind, managing all these projects and tasks is actually possible. Sure, it involves jumping around from place to place, but seeing the end results really helps to keep up the motivation. When you take on a lot of work, be sure to plan your time to be sure you use it all accordingly. If you’re out of work or school, plan your day in such a way that you’re working from X-Y am/pm, and actually do the work.

Does that seem too hard?

It’s not, if you really care about what you’re doing. This doesn’t just apply to writing, of course, but my limited experience with other hobbies or businesses does hinder the examples I can give you. Just remind yourself that you have something important to do, and set that time in your day-planner to actually do it.

Me? I actually remembered to post this week. Now I need to find something else to do while you get your day planned and get some work done! Make the most of this and every day, and you’ll surprise yourself with how productive you can be!

The Den and Me

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Let’s make this short and sweet: this group was what made being a writer worth it in the early days. I was sixteen, only starting out, not that confident in what I could do, and nowhere near ready to really attempt writing all the time, for a living, or for any other reason.

What happened? I set up the Den back in the days when Bebo was cool and the Books section had just kicked off. I wanted us to be the place for writers to go to discuss their books. Unfortunately, Bebo sucked as a model, so a writer joined me in the running of the group and set up a forum. That forum became the centre for everything to happen in the Den. We had dozens of topics running at once, and we were really getting to know one another.

That was when someone suggested we do a book. An actual, for-sale, book. And we did. Five people volunteered to edit, with one taking the role as lead editor. Someone designed a cover, we all spread the word around, and within a year and a half of the group first appearing online, we had a book and we were connected to a charity in Yorkshire. I was seventeen years old, going into my final year in school, and from there things kicked off.

It was in the months that followed that I wrote the novel that stands out for me, Meet Sam. It’s not Fantasy or Science Fiction. It’s completely different to everything I’ve ever written. Friends who read it laughed out loud. That helped. That really did. It was written to be funny and light hearted, while hopefully engaging people with the life of the titular character. It was fun to write, and I did it in a month – my first attempt at NaNoWriMo.

When I joined Twitter in the March following, I was brave enough to declare in my username and bio that I was a writer. To this day, I still have that username and I openly tell people how many books I’ve written. If I hadn’t started this group, I wouldn’t have had that confidence. I reckon it was those little things about my Twitter profile that really got me a following.

Now, I have a writing job on an online magazine, I have a website, I’ve released an ebook and I’m set to release more this year. I’ve continued to meet new writers, and I feel I can actually engage in conversation with them.

And that’s the point of this post: I didn’t get all that confidence in being a writer from setting up the group. I got it from being part of the group. I learned to talk to other writers about the craft, and I’ve learned a lot from so many different people I couldn’t tell you how I know what I know. It’s the one bit of advice I would pass to new writers beyond “Just keep writing”. With a writing group behind you, you can engage with the people who have been at it longer than you, learn more about the craft and build up some confidence.

And who knows, if you join this group, you might even have a story in our next anthology.

I’ve made some real friends here, and I invite you to do the same. And in case you’re wondering if it really helps: it’s seven minutes to midnight as I write this sentence, having forgotten I had to write today. We’re just back to writing the blog, and look – now I’ve written something for the day. Admittedly this has been a rushed job, but at the end of the day this is what’s important, actually writing something.

What can you take from this post, then? Three things:

  1. Join a writing group. It’ll help. It really will. Join this one, even. We’re still looking for bloggers. Email me at literaryden @ gmail.com Simple as that.
  2. Write every day. It helps you to get into a good practice. Keep a blog on specific days is especially useful, because it forces you to write to a deadline.
  3. Everyone starts off small, but it’s possible to do things you didn’t think likely. Just write.

Happy writing, and I’ll see you next Monday. Maybe next time I’ll give myself more than eight minutes to write.