I’ve not been especially productive this month, largely due to a bit of a mental health slump. However, I did write a poem (included at the foot of this blog, in both fancy graphic and plain text version) prompted by the death of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison, the anniversary of Chris Cornell’s passing and drawing on my own experience of depression.
I have had some positive news regarding a submission in recent days and seem to be back on track with writing new things, so that’s all steps in the right direction. Current projects in the works include something about a dragon, something about Vikings and something about the perils of space travel. Not all in the same story… but that’s not an awful idea.
If you want to support my writing on a regular basis, please check out my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/chrisnapier) or if you feel like helping out in a one-off sort of way, but me a coffee on on Ko-Fi (http://ko-fi.com/chriscrowing.)
Lost in Dark Waters
I have been lost in dark waters
and found safe harbour
in a timely dawn,
the light of a beacon
or a faithful pilot.
Lament for those lost in dark waters,
for whom the dawn did not break,
the beacon was not lit,
or the pilot did not appear in time.
I have been lost in dark waters,
and will be again.
let us build beacons,
and steer the lost safely to harbour.
© Christopher Napier, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christopher Napier with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I’ve spent the bulk of the past few days at GifCon2018* which is a fantasy conference organised by the staff and students of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt in Fantasy. This was a slightly daunting thing for me to go along to because of wholly personal concerns about being unqualified to receive such rarified wisdom.
* That stands for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, rather than being a conference about GIFs.
Yes, those imposter syndrome and gatekeeping mind gremlins are persistent but I ignored them and I had the most wonderful time. The keynotes and panels I attended taught me things, made me reconsider some preconceptions and illustrated new connections between and new perspectives on stories I knew and pointed me in the direction of more than a few that I should read (and some to avoid.)
The workshop on writing for escape with Elaine Gallagher kicked me into a new way of thinking about writing and world-building, especially with reference to both weird fiction and inclusion of marginalised groups.
I still have a great many thoughts about portal escapes, Celtic mythology, how to deal with AI in fiction, breaking rules, writing Westerns and creating empathy with monsters and so much more running around my head and it’s going to take a long time to process and implement.
All told, it was an engaging, inspiring experience in beautiful surroundings where I got to listen, talk to and meet lots of clever and lovely people. Same time next year?
As for my own writing adventures, they have been somewhat interrupted by work and mental health issues (mind gremlins again) but I have completed my #tenfor2018 story, written another science fiction short – possibly even flash – which I’ll continue to polish and finished one contemporary fantasy, almost literary piece which I’ve sent off for publishing if the Gods will it.
It’s been a difficult but productive month and I hope I can maintain this momentum through the distractions of sunny weather and a World Cup to come.
Looking ahead, I’ll soon have the next #tenfor2018 prompt, I’m planning on shining up some more shorts for submission and the germ of a new Big Project has been whispered in my ear by my ravens.
Now, it’s almost time for the fires of Beltane to banish the April showers and I bid you farewell.
PS – If you want to support my writing on a regular basis, please check out my Patreon or if you feel like helping out in a one-off sort of way, buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi.
Happy Easter. In this season of renewal, I’m minded to talk a little bit about wasted time, gatekeeping and being kind to yourself. Also, if you’re at FollyCon I am sick with envy.
I’m going through a wee spell of imposter syndrome at the moment. 36 years old, unpublished and with rejections piling up like breakfast orders in a greasy spoon, it’s easy to become disheartened.
The thing is, I have valid reasons for not concentrating on prose for more than a decade and acknowledge that I have some catching up and learning to do.
Is it daunting that I know and follow people whose publishing record, academic achievements, alongside a breadth of references and depth of insight into stories exceeds mine to such a degree?
Does it make me an imposter or mean I should give up?
Not in the slightest.
Gatekeeper thoughts and opinions are bobbins. They’re also harmful and exclusionary to folks whose health, financial or social situation or whatever didn’t allow them to concentrate on writing like others have.
You’re a writer if you have stories in your head and you spend what time you can attempting to evict them on to paper and then rearranging them into a more pleasing, comprehensible shape. You’re a writer if you love and want to create stories, no matter whether you spend an hour a week or 12 hours a day at your keyboard.
I know this, but I still tend to be hard on myself. Like so much else, I need to work on that.
This month I have been working on a few short stories, varying from a folklorish tale set in the North East of Scotland to a piece of moralistic sci-fi flash fiction as well as a piece inspired by Cat Hellisen’s #tenfor2018 prompts.
Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to say one of them is getting published somewhere.
I’ve also read the quite awesome Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I am awed and inspired by these works and recommend them both highly.
If you want to support my writing on a regular basis, please check out my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/chrisnapier) or if you feel like helping out in a one-off sort of way, but me a coffee on Ko-Fi (http://ko-fi.com/chriscrowing.)
February is a strange month, being of irregular length and in an awkward position in the year, stuck uncomfortably between what we tend to think of as winter and the start of what actually feels like spring. We feel it should be getting warmer but as often as not, we’re experiencing the coldest, harshest weather of the year.
January is always the longest month of the year with the hangover from the festive season combining with reliable rubbish weather (for those of us in the northern hemisphere anyway) to make everyone feel thoroughly awful.
However, I’ve tried to be productive this month and I’ve been working hard on one particular story, going through seven or so drafts, taking feedback from friends and even putting it up for criticism by my writer’s circle.
This is another level of craft for me, given my previous habits of having an idea, writing it down, maybe editing it once and then posting it up. I can feel myself developing as a writer and becoming someone who thinks about writing rather than just having ideas for stories. Development is difficult but so worth it.
In any case, I have an almost-finished story that’s evolved from an 800-word first draft in the week before the new year to an almost 6000-word final version. I’m pretty happy with that as a months work.
I’d also decided to consciously try and read more this year, given my much-reduced consumption since having kids. Once upon a time, I’d easily be knocking off a book a week and in a few places, I’ve pretty much cleaned out the local library’s stock of science fiction and fantasy books.
That rate slowed down immensely over recent years and that’s not good enough, especially if I’m working on becoming a proper writer.
So as of today, I have just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders which is a delightful collection of short stories and a few poems, with a few that genuinely moved me and a lot that tickled me nicely in a speculative place. Very recommended.
I’ve also tried an Audible trial so I can listen to books while doing chores, cooking or painting models and I\’ve just finished my first book – the Black Library title The Master of Mankind by Aaron Dembski-Bowden which I’d also recommend, but only really for extant fans of the Warhammer 40k universe.
So January’s score is one short story finished and two books read/listened to. not bad going, but I can do better.
Thanks for dropping by.
In which I look back at my 2017 and set some targets for 2018.
2017 has been a pretty tough year for me, bookended by bereavement and with a chunky filling of insecurity and confidence sapping disappointment. That has impacted on my ability and will to write – or indeed engage in any meaningful activity beyond the immediate demands of family life and paid employment.
I realise it’s been months since I actually posted a story in the open, so here is a piece of flash fiction I posted on my Patreon last month. It’s a ghost story. I hope you like it.
In which I enthuse about one of my favorite authors and talk about my plans for October. Continue reading
In which I ramble about Cassini, the Expanse and how I feel that hard science fiction and low fantasy can overlap. Continue reading