Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year 2018! This year is the tenth year of this site, come 1 December 2018. It is going to be a clear year for re-assessment, and I need to take some time this year to work out my future in writing.  I have someone as mentioned before who is aninspiration, the excellent Tim Lebbon, but the important thing is that I know I have to find my own path, so I will make my own way forward.

You may have noticed that this site was quiet for a while, and so was I. I'm still here, still writing, but at times, it's hard. The last two years have not been easy, I'm gonna level with you. The whole of 2016 was a difficult year that found me coping with depression. I don't know why I was dealing with it, but eventually it went away. It contributed to different things, such as I couldn't write, and I found everything getting to me. I did not even take part in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition as I have done every year since 2011. The only thing I could write which turned into a sort of therapy were a few poems about the black dog. I will probably burn that notebook at some point, in some cathartic purge. Despite all the overtures about equality, we live in a very macho culture, and to admit that you may have problems is, to some, to admit that you are not worthy of being considered a real person in society. You have to hide it. I mostly hid it, and got through it. It was not easy, not easy at all, but I'm over it now.

2017 was a year of recovery, particularly for the first half of the year. I focused on my interest in languages mainly to keep me going. I also got back into Freemasonry to give me something to look forward to each month. It was a relief to discuss this year with a number of friends that they also had problems with the black dog; each of us felt all the better for knowing that we were not alone. I took part again in the 2017 Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition, but I felt I did not stand a real chance this year, so how I got to the final, I don't know. I turned up, had a few beers, read my poems, and clapped when the best poet Nina Lewis was announced. I've barely written for two years, but something is coming back to me. I gave NaNoWriMo a crack in November, but failed, but here's a good sign, this failure did not bother me. I got 8,000 more words that if I had not bothered at all.

In December 2017, it was back to 42 with the first fresh piece of writing that was worthy of performing for a long time. I love 42 in December. We never used to have a 42 night in December. However, I was so inspired by the idea of M.R. James having a Christmas gathering and reading ghost stories to his friends, that my suggestion was born that we do something similar, so we did. The problem with me writing again for the first time in ages, is that I was out of touch with what was quality and not in my own writing. I read my piece, and it seemed to get a good reception.

I sometimes worry I'm pushing myself too hard with my writing. I drew up a plan at the end of 2015 to write a novel every three months. I was inspired by the fantastic output by Lindsay Buroker and Zoe Saadia who seem to publish a new book every month, and they are brilliant for it. Unfortunately I don't have the time (due to a mortgage and having a full time job to pay it) or the energy to do that. Plus the black dog took care of any creative output for about a year, with another year of just being happy before I was properly writing once more. In effect my writing plan is, I confess, put back two years.

So what have I been doing of late, otherwise? I've been really focusing on understanding my craft of late, so perhaps in the next few weeks I can write some reviews of the great writing books I've been reading. I've also been getting back into just enjoying fiction, movies and books.

It's time to think about the future and look forward again. I've been working with poetry a lot the last few years, but it doesn't seem to have got me anywhere, I have sold sweet fuck all in the way of my poetry collections (links on the right if you want to buy them!) but then again poetry doesn't sell much anyway, so I'm going to focus more on prose again. Poetry is easier to read out at performance nights, but I know that I prefer writing prose, because I like writing and reading it more. It's new year, and an arbitrary number change on the calendar seems to be the right time to see about new goals, although I could set these goals at any time. Planning out one novel every three months was too much especially for 2016, so here's a goal: I will write AND publish two novels by the beginning of November. In November I will write a new novel and publish it in time for Christmas. The whole goal of becoming a full time writer within ten years of the start of this website hereby gets put back two years, and will be a goal to try to achieve by the start of December 2020.

I had better get writing now. I now have but one problem: I have a great opening line, but I don't know what happens next....

Saturday, 3 December 2016

42 Christmas Special

It is an absolute joy to return this December to 42, Worcester's premier genere fiction spoken word venue. On 28th December 2016, I will be reading again with a new story called "A Cottage by the Sea". As the theme is Christmas ghost stories, much in the vein of the classic writer M.R. James, prepare to be chilled! See you in Drummonds, New Street, Worcester, at 7pm.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Studying three act structure

I've recently been analysing story structure, particularly the three act structure. I decided to look into it in detail, and chose as my study example the first episode of "Serangoon Road", a HBO Asia production which was set in 1964 Singapore.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil it for you, but it's well planned and well written, with a clear structure fitting the classic model of Act 1 as the trigger or call to action, Act 2 where the bulk of the action lies with tension rising and the odds stacked against the main character, and Act 3 the resolution. It's worth heading over to this Wikipedia article to get more depth on this, but here's a brief analysis

Act 1: Although the action begins to minor characters with an incident in a bar, it starts off with the trigger moment for the main character Sam a little way into the episode, with Sam called into action by the widow of his friend, for one last job at a detective agency.

Act 2: The search begins for the suspect, and ends soon after with the suspect in police hands. Whilst watching the first episode I paused it, as the characters had solved the initial private detective mystery as the suspect was apprehended, but it appeared the suspect was actually innocent, but were now at the point of no return as they said "we can't let an innocent man be found guilty for this"; it was exactly where I thought it would be, precisely halfway through the show, and fits in neatly with the structure of story plotting, putting the point of no return half way through. Sam the main character faces a decision, and decides to help the innocent prisoner. 34 minutes into the 53 minute story, the character is told he faces insurmountable odds to assist the innocent prisoner.

Act 3: Then we move into the final act where the main character is forced to take action, and we move into the end game, where all seems lost for Sam the main character and the prisoner whom Sam is trying to save. What happens? Let's just say it fits into the three act structure with an interesting twist or two at the end. You'll have to watch it for yourself to find out, and enjoy it.

It's always interesting to watch shows or movies, or read books, and try to work out when one act ends and another begins, so why not try it the next time you read a book or watch something?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Poetry reading at Sight Concern, Worcester, 9 February 2016

Damon Lord, reading his poetry
Damon Lord, reading his poetry
Hi everyone! I would like to announce that I will be reading at Worcestershire Sight Concern, on Tuesday 9 February 2016, from 10 A.M. onwards, at the Bradbury Centre, Sansome Walk, Worcester. I am honoured to have been invited along to perform my poetry, along with Worcestershire Poet Laureate Emeritus, Maggie Doyle. It will be for Storytelling Week, and I'll be reading some of my best-loved poetry to their members.

It is truly a blessing to perform there, particularly as the people at Worcestershire sight Concern are so friendly and helpful. They particularly helped me greatly when my eyesight slipped way back in 2009, so it is great to give something back to their members.

Come along and enjoy!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Magna Carta Libertatum

Today is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

Last Friday I was a finalist with the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition, which was won by the fabulous Heather Wastie.

It is worth noting, King John, the monarch who was forced to put his seal to the Great Charter of Liberties, is entombed in Worcester's cathedral.

I got through to the final with my poem, Magna Carta Libertatum, and it is perhaps appropriate today that I share it below.

Magna Carta Libertatum

Dear John,
You may not be remembered well,
For you were weak, ill-advised, greedy.
But you gave us all a gift,
For which we thank you.

Dear John,
Cowering, fearful of rebellion,
You came to Runnymede
And submitted to the Great Charter of Liberties,
Sealing your place in history.
The divine right of kings was no more.
They knew kings could concede.
In time, kings would bleed.
Largely now repealed,
Still powerful.

Dear John,
Do you know your Great Charter was the foundation of
So, so many great,
Yet somehow lesser,
Charters that followed?
The cornerstone of liberty, which spread to so many lands.
The American Constitution, a symbolic embodiment of freedoms,
Draws inspiration from the vellum and wax symbol of your downfall,
So small, yet bearing such weight.

Dear John,
We truly thank you for your gift,
Even though you did not want to give it.
In your final resting place
Within Severn’s sweet vale,
In Worcester’s hallowed cathedral,
Sleep well.