Sunday, April 16, 2017

April

A little while ago I sat down at the laptop and wrote a couple of hundred words - the beginning of a new short story. Then I shut down the file without saving because it didn't feel right, effectively deleting what I'd just written.

I seem to be going through a weird phase at the minute where everything I write seems like it's derivative of something else I've already written. As if I'm unconsciously plagiarising myself. I feel like a copy of a copy. A ghost of a ghost.

I know this won't last, but it's...unsettling.

I suspect it's an aspect of the beginning of a minor change in direction. It's happened before and it'll no doubt happen again. Art is funny like that: it takes you where it wants to go, and all you can do is hang on and hope you survive the ride.

Friday, December 16, 2016

December

So, 2016. That was a bit of a mixed bag...

Brexit, Trump, and all the other political bullshit aside, for me, personally, it wasn't a bad year.

I read some good books, saw some good movies, and got to spend time with some good people. I returned to FantasyCon and Edge-Lit, and went to Sledge-Lit for the first time. It was good to be back attending events. I got to see my very good mate Simon Bestwick marry the love of his life.

Also in 2016 I had a landmark moment: last weekend I passed my first Dan in karate. I still can't believe that I'm a black belt. I've trained hard for five years to achieve it, though, and passing the grading was my proudest moment since having my first mass market novel published.

It's been a mixed year for my writing. The Grieving Stones was finally published. I managed to finish a few short stories, and made another appearance in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year, but that (very) good stuff was undercut by the fact that I still haven't written another novel. I plan to put that right in 2017. Now that the black belt is out of the way, I can simply focus on training hard and writing hard.

Anyway, I hope you all have a good Christmas, whatever your creed, and let's try to make 2017 a good one.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Telling Stories

I seem to be in a purple patch when it comes to writing short stories. After a lengthy fallow period, I've written three new first draft stories in a week.

These new stories, they seem to be pushing towards something, grasping beyond my usual boundaries. I think this is a good thing; I believe it marks a period of growth, or change, for me as an artist. Even the titles - Slam, Viewings, You Can Go Now - feel different from the usual kind of titles I use (but maybe that's just a false notion, informed by my recognition of the growth that's occuring).

Writing - and I'm guessing most types of art - is prone to these periods of change, and change is often painful. It's never easy; it always has a cost. But it's all part of the creative process, the journey (even though I hate to use that word) we take as an artist.

So I rush towards this new period of artistic expression with open arms. I just hope they don't get bitten off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October

In late December I started writing a short story inspired by the process of viewing houses prior to our big move. Last night I finally nailed down a 4,300-word first draft.
 
The story is provisionally titled The Viewings, and I think it has a lot of promise. It's creepy, has a neat little note of marital discord at its heart, and hopefully says something interesting and insightful about change and upheaval and the strain these things can place upon a relationship.
I have a few short stories I've promised to editors, so I'm hoping this one turns out well during the editing process so I can send it somewhere - it actually fits the theme of one or two of the markets I have in mind.
Eight months to do a first draft. Fucking hell. I remember the days when I could rattle off a finished story in a fortnight. But those days, it seems, are long dead. The ideas - the good ones; the ones that deserve the time and effort it takes to develop them into tales - don't come as often as they once did either. Everything is much more hard-earned these days.
 
  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Charles L. Grant

https://neilsnowdon.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/guest-post-gary-mcmahon-on-charles-l-grant/

I've done a guest blog on Neil Snowdon's site in honour of the late, great Charles L. Grant.

Click on the photo above and the link will take you there. Stick around and read some of the other Grant-related posts.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September 2016

I'm in a strange, reflective mood today - probably due to this current bout of insomnia - and have been thinking about how much art has brought to my life.

Books, films, paintings, sculptures, music, etc...without these things, I couldn't have made it this far. From a young, lonely northeastern kid sitting in a tiny council house bedroom reading the piles of books borrowed from the library or staying up late to watch the Hammer horrors or leafing through a book of Van Gogh prints, to a man who writes stories and sometimes gets them published and who desperately wants his son to value these things.

These precious things that saved him, and damaged him; these terrible and beautiful things that unmade him and then reformed him.

Art. It's an amazing, essential thing. In all its forms. Life without art would not be a life at all - not to me, anyway.


Friday, July 1, 2016

July 1st 2016

So this is me trying to add a post to the blog at least once a month. The 1st of the month seems like a sensible plan to me.

July was strange. Major upheavals in UK politics have seen me becoming obsessed with political shenanigans for perhaps the first time in my life. I suppose I need something to fill the void now that GAME OF THRONES has finished for another year.

Last week, taking me utterly by suprise, I started to write a new novel. It's called Edgeland and is the synthesis of three seperate ideas I had for short stories, none of which seemed to work entirely on their own. I've been researching Dachau concentration camp, 1940s sound recording technology, urban blight, an old folk song and various other bits and pieces. More importantly, I've written almost 7,000 words of first draft prose, a circumstance that pleases me greatly after suffering from a creative block for the best part of three years.

It's good to be writing regularly again.

I've decided to grade for Shodan (first dan black belt) in December and have started training like a motherfucker to give myself the best chance of passing. It's a life goal for me, something that has come to mean so much that I feel rather emotional even thinking about the prospect. The next few months are going to be tough, but I like to think I'm tough enough to get through it all and keep smiling.

My sensei always says that gains are made only when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, and I believe that too. In karate. In writing. In life.

Keep pushing. Keep gaining. Keep failing better. Inch by inch. Bit by bit. What else is there to do?