Hopping Blogs

So, there I was, casually strolling through the blogosphere, when a ruthless predator pounced on me. He claimed that he wasn’t pouncing, but hopping, and that it was actually a good thing, and now I have to pounce hop on other people as well. I tried to explain that I don’t hop, only hit stuff with hammers, but he just giggled like a maniac and hopped further, oblivious to the mayhem and destruction left in his wake.

So now I have to hop; blog-hop, that is. As today is Heritage Day in South Africa, I suppose it’s only proper that I tip the hat to my countryman, 23thorns, for conning nominating me to participate in what’s apparently called a World Blog Hop. This one specifically is for creative types (didn’t know I was one of those), and 23thorns has no shortage of creativity. Not many people, for example, can write a thoughtful post on parenting inspired by Jeremih’s song Birthday Sex (I very nearly used that song for the Song Title Challenge birthday edition) that also has you rolling on the floor from laughter.

As is customary with these things, there are questions that need be answered:

1. Include a quote that you like.

The pen is mightier than the sword

Okay, okay. That’s way too easy, isn’t it? Actually my favourite writing-related quote is from the novel Snuff by Mr Terry Pratchett:

…and one day I thought, how hard can writing be? After all, most of the words are going to be and, the and I and it, and so on, and there’s a huge number to choose from, so a lot of the work has already been done for you.

Whenever I consider quitting this writing thing, I read this one and remind myself it’s not really that hard. It’s not as if I need to invent new words, do I? On the other hand, it’s not like you can just pick words from the dictionary and it magically becomes a novel. I’m finding it to be rather hard work.

Which brings us to the next question:

2. Why do I create what I do?

Cause seriously, writing is hard. I’m finding it near-impossible at present, so why do it? I have two passions that are stronger than all other passions and interests: stories and music. I can spend all day every day just immersing myself in good music and good stories, be they on paper or on a screen. And while I do have some musical ability I don’t have the raw talent that’s required to ever be a great musician, but I just might have it in me to tell a decent story; maybe even a really good one.

I’m just starting out, really. I didn’t study literature and don’t hold any language degree. I did teach English for a few years, but that might have done more harm than good as far as creativity goes.

For now, I’m throwing words at the screen. For the most part I still don’t know what I’m doing, but once in a while the words actually behave and do what I want them to do (and the wife is a terrible critic who simply loves everything I write, even total rubbish like Spoonman, which at least helps with the confidence). I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m creating yet. More fiddling around. But I’m getting there.

White Kangaroo
A White Kangaroo.
Kangaroo…blog hop. Get it?

3. How does my creative process work?

It doesn’t.

As I just said, I mostly just chuck words at the screen and hope something sticks (much like a Jackson Pollock painting, except no one wants to pay me thousands of dollars for it, yet). When it comes to the blog (and my weekly flash fiction in particular) I usually walk around ruminating for a couple of days on whatever it is that prompted the coming post. At around 7PM on the day I want the post to go up I realise I should probably start writing something, and then by some miracle usually manage to hit the publish button an hour or so after the wife had already turned in for the night.

With the two attempts at a first novel thus far I followed pretty much the same approach. It’s mostly due to the fruits of those two attempts that I say my creative process doesn’t work. I need a new one.

4. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. I’m trying (for now at least) to write urban/contemporary fantasy. I think what probably distinguishes my work from most of the genre is that I’m not planning to write any trilogies or series. If I find a story that works, and that naturally lends itself to a sequel, and I actually have a good idea for a sequel, then I’ll most definitely do it.

My currently-stuck work-in-progress is also entirely set in South Africa. There are not many urban fantasy novels that can claim that. Time will tell if that particular gamble will pay off.

5. What am I presently working on?

Just yesterday I started planning a new novel. Last year’s NaNoWriMo novel has been gathering dust ever since and I decided to start fresh with something new for this year’s writing campaign for insane people and then use the momentum from that to launch me into the much-needed rewrite of last year’s project.

I’ve been toying with the idea for the new novel (working title, The Source) for most of this year. Yesterday I started brainstorming what the story will actually be about and jotting down some basics regarding character and world building. Over the next few weeks I plan to develop it into some decent character profiles and a plot outline. Last year I winged it, leading to a first draft requiring such a significant rewrite that I’ve been completely demotivated with doing it. This year, I’m outlining. We’ll see if it makes any difference.

What’s it about? A British-American doctor who’s also a self-taught wizard, a South African-Indian woman who is not entirely truthful about why she’s asking for his help, and a magical artefact of immeasurable power that must not fall into the wrong hands. Does that make you curious? Me too. As I said, I only started planning yesterday 😀

Victims Nominees

My least favourite part of these things (and the main reason I don’t do award posts anymore) is where I have to nominate a few other suckers bloggers to keep the chain letter going carry on the torch.

My first nominee calls himself The Parasite Guy. He’s writing a novel featuring alien parasites. Thus the name. He’s also doing a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He’s a constant source of guilt to me, considering that I’m also trying to study and write at the same time, and not succeeding nearly as well as him at it. On his blog you’ll find his thoughts about writing and also regular reviews of both mainstream and indie books.

My second nominee is Kokkelien. In case you were wondering about the similarities in our names, she is, in fact, my significant other. The name, however, was her mother’s pet name for her years before we even knew of each other’s existence. She draws (you may have noticed some of her drawing gracing recent posts here), and this year specifically she has been working on a project called the Gratitude Calendar where she draws a picture every day of something for which she is thankful. She’s running a bit behind at the moment, as she’s also studying for her exams in a couple of weeks, making me feel even more guilty at my own poor progress.


Image courtesy of MemoryCatcher at Pixabay.com

8 thoughts on “Hopping Blogs

  1. Music and writing, eh? I happen to follow that particular combination too :D. Though, the “music” side of things has really suffered in recent years, to the point where I almost never play anymore. I’ve been meaning to sort that out for some time now, but…well.

    Also, “chuck words at the screen and hope something sticks” sounds like a pretty apt description of the writing process in general. Will see if I can remember that one.

    Thanks again for the nomination. I’m quite looking forward to answering these, I must say. I’m still not sure what many of those answers are actually going to be, but still…

    1. I also don’t play very much these days. I did get a ukelele for my birthday, so that has renewed my interest in making music some.

      I’m looking forward to see what you make of this 🙂

  2. Stories and music? You sure you’re not my doppelganger? 🙂 Splatter-painting writing is good! It’s what Jack Kerouac did. No question that writing is hard – incredibly hard. Hemingway (one of the best writers who ever lived) summed it up ‘you sit down at the typewriter and bleed’. Everyone is an apprentice. And their own worst critic – but that’s a virtue, because writers who complacently think what they’ve written is ‘good’ usually don’t know what ‘good’ actually constitutes. My thought? Turn self-doubt into a virtue – always question! Always self-doubt the material – because it’s where the understanding to improve it comes from, once mixed with the three key words… Do. Not. Quit. I say this for myself, too. I can kind of ‘do’ non-fiction, but right now, I have a novel sitting in the metaphorical drawer after about 38 re-writes of Chapter 1. I started it in 1993. No, I am not kidding… and the irony is that my writing training was all about fiction – not what I actually ended up writing. The novel’s seriously jammed. I may have to borrow your hammer to get it going again with some percussive assistance…

    1. I don’t think I’m your doppelganger – I think people who enjoy Math are weird 😉

      Self-doubt comes naturally – I did take piano lessons at school, after all. It’s not quitting that’s the problem as much as starting. I’m an expert at self-sabotage. I can convince myself not to start something very effectively. Once I do start, however, I can keep going on momentum alone. My mistake with the last novel was to take a break when NaNo was over. It taught me something. I should not take breaks.

      Sounds to me like you might have to chuck that chapter 1 and start from scratch…

  3. I have a confession to make Mr H.K. you see…I fear it is my fault that you had to participate in this hop. I nominated someone who nominated someone who nominated Mr 23Thorns who obviously dropped you RIGHT in it. Sorry…
    I am a great devotee of Mr T Pratchett. His literary genius graces my bookshelves (albeit in paperback form but what’s a penniless student hippy to do eh? Hardback is a middle class phenomenon 😉 ).
    I have never understood the act of “writing”. I don’t write. I just let my internal colony of muses do their literary version of spatter painting. I think I inherited some particularly grumpy muses from some quite interesting writers. They only come out to play when I don’t need them. When I am going through the long dark teatime of the soul and need to pull literary genius out of my inner being they are away playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts. Story of my life…

    Thar be dragons in South Africa?! We share a problem. No-one wants to read about the Mokoi, our local Aussie Aboriginal spirits who kidnapped kids. They all want vampires and dragons. Hard to sell fantasy if the market is transfixed on scales and fangs. Trying to fit fantasy into Australia is like putting a nappy on a dog. Not difficult to do but WTF?!

    So it would seem we are all studying. Stevie-boy and I are penniless student middle aged hippies. If you live in Tasmania Australia there are 4 jobs TOTAL. You either study, or you fall into the frowned upon “unemployed” genre and have to slave down the gulag mines. We prefer to stuff our brains with new (and usually brain draining) skills than work in a local thrift shop sorting clothes. No doubt you and Mrs H.K’s study endeavours are much more practical and are actually aimed in a particular direction. One thing we all share is a rapidly approaching end of year period where we need to pull magic out of our minds and hope, beyond hope, that something that we have crammed in there sticks. Good luck to you both and see you out the other side ;).

    1. There’s actually a mountain range here called the Drakensberge (Dragons’ Mountains), so you might be onto something there. I’ll be sure to mention you in the acknowledgements if if ever evolves into a story 😉

      The wife’s studies are quite practical, but I sometimes wonder about mine… Luckily I’m doing research, so don’t have exams to worry about. On the other hand the total lack of deadlines are very bad for productivity. The fact that there’s no real career prospects once I’m done also doesn’t help. That’s why I desperately need to figure out this writing thing, as it will hopefully supplement the income, even if it won’t bring in the actual bacon.

      1. We are incredibly lucky here. My grumpy curmudgeon of a dad decided to leave me his 4 acre property on the river in Tasmania in far flung antipodean Australia. I thought he hated me. Turns out I was right…4 acres is frigging hard work! I am assured, by Mr 23Thorns, that Australia is just an outer suburb of Africa and after studying horticulture, and seeing how similar our plant life is and our growing conditions, I am inclined to agree. We don’t have to slave down the gulags in order to pay off a mortgage and we get to pretend that we are permaculturalists planting out edible food forests and going about wholesome hippy type activities in order to make life simpler and better. Truth be known, we are battling a hoard of native animals for our plants, our own (TRAITOR) chooks (chickens) are just as bad as the natives and living on 4 acres out in the shrubbery has been so much more than an eye opener, I could actually write that book I have been meaning to write since I was about 8 with the life lessons that I have garnered since we moved here. If I wasn’t so disorganised, lazy (and scared of my muses) I would write that book. At the moment I am assisting Stevie-boy to build a big BIG fence. Not South African big but still big and it is keeping me wandering around fetching nails and pointing drills and well away from my studies where I should most probably be. Isn’t it amazing the lengths that we will go to in order to avoid that study deadline? 😉 Best way to avoid having to bring home the bacon is to stop eating it ;).

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