Choices and Decisions

We must eat and drink simply to survive, and that, of course, is the most important decision we all make—if we are to exist. After making the choice to go on, the quality of our life is next and that is improved by shelter, and fulfilment, which may or may not include companionship, with due respect to Mr Maslow and his Theory

From the moment we wake up every day our life is filled with making decisions based on choices … selecting which direction to take.

When a creative writer develops an idea and produces the cast for a story, the entire process from those early ideas right through to the publication of the book is filled with choices. Within the story, each character must make decisions. Those are designed to produce the various incentives for the character and action to move forward, and to maintain the reader’s interest. If you’re still reading, my choices for this post are working, so far.

For an author, while the internet is a wonderful source of information, and a valuable marketing tool, it can be a distraction, cause laziness, and among other things, at worst, deplete self-confidence. In terms of ‘research’, we authors now have an incredible volume of information at our fingertips, but we must be wary and professional. Google, Wikipedia and suchlike, with respect, are not factual deposits of information on all that ever was, is, or will be. We must be prepared to make some effort (apart from producing our stories), by reading widely, and utilising multiple sources to corroborate and balance our information.

Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are addictive and harmful when overused. Social media too, is habit forming, and while we have the choice to join a site, a group, or actively partake in discussions, it is easy to be drawn in. ‘Click-bait’ is the phrase used to tease someone into reading an article, post, or whatever in media. We are all susceptible to being ‘caught’ and as we delve deeper into the article, the active thread of comments, or information, we invariably find ourselves going down a rabbit hole. Personally, I feel guilty and cheated in equal measure when I realise I’ve spent half an hour or more on social media … and gained nothing of any benefit.

Are you susceptible to the lure of a literary or graphic hook?

When you saw the title of this blog post, what was it that captured your interest?

Did you have concerns about how far you might read, and how much time might be spent on it?

Those are not trick questions. Any intelligent species naturally strives to explore, especially with the intention of improving understanding, or position within their group. It stems from a desire to benefit.

I’ve just returned from two weeks holiday in the Netherlands. My wife and I enjoyed a break in our caravan, based in an excellent campsite which unlike many, doesn’t have internet access. I don’t intend to detail our activities, but suffice to say, apart from booking our ferry crossings and our pitch, I had no need of internet. If we wanted access, a walk into the nearby small town to a cafe was all that was required of us.

Did I make any good decisions about my writing while away?

Earlier this year, I was having difficulty developing Crusader, my latest crime thriller, so I opted for working on Selena: Sea Nymph, my first sci-fi fantasy. Over recent months, apart from when on regular trips in our caravan, I’ve made progress with Selena, but I needed a break from the story. I arrived in the Netherlands having made the decision to only work on Crusader.

It was a good choice, and within a couple of days I was at peace, unlike many of the characters in my new crime story.

Did I make any other decisions related to writing while I was away?

Yes, and as I tend to do, I experiment with ideas and implement them without bells and whistles. In other words, unlike some folks, I don’t usually advertise my every intention on social media or elsewhere.

Over the past few months I’ve reduced the time (and energy) expended on social media. Apart from slowly withdrawing from the daily, mind-numbing frustration of some of the posts and comments (in a variety of internet locations), I’ve also left several groups.

Having made progress with my plan, in the coming months, I intend to reduce my ‘social’ media activity to the minimum. To aid me, I’ve already made my choices regarding websites, and groups on those sites, and it’s a short list. Within the sites and groups I will also be reducing my ‘friends’. I intend to remain a part of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (IASD), but will soon relinquish my admin role.

I haven’t lost faith in my ability to write, however, writing is a passion for me, so the stresses of marketing, monitoring sales, and reaching ‘targets’ are not concerns. Whether or not my work is selling is in the hands of those who see what I produce, and they will decide my level of success.

In a brief visit to Facebook on my return I was delighted to learn that not one, but two of my titles had received a Reader’s Choice Award in the Connections eMagazine, a superb platform for authors. Codename: Foxglove achieved a Silver in the Thriller/Suspense category, and Amsterdam Calling achieved a Bronze in the Romance category. In the time-honoured tradition, I’d like to thank … Melanie P. Smith for her tireless energy supporting fellow authors, and also all who voted for my work. Congratulations to all of you who were honoured by an award.

For many folks it takes a long time to find a balance, but in my case, pleasure and relaxation come before stress, and any personal fulfilment or success is derived from an occasional positive comment, or review. If I entertain one person with a story, I’ve been successful, and the level of my success is increased exponentially by the number of people entertained.

Is there a difference between choices and decisions?

I think of choices as the options we perceive on our journey in life, and our decisions create the ongoing route we take. A crossroads is often used to depict this but I chose a picture I took in woodland recently. Our options in life are not always clear-cut and definite as in a relatively simple crossroads. We must occasionally be prepared to venture along a route which is not staightforward.

Thank you for taking the time to read this brief distraction, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

My Writing Year – 2016

 

The updated catalogue:

first-twenty

As I did for 2015, I gave myself ten targets for 2016:

1.   Publication of A Life of Choice – Part One

2.   Production of Codename: Koki by Malcolm Beadle

3.   Revision of each of my novels.

4.   Publication of A Time for Courage: and other military stories

5.  Produce artwork to accompany Whisper Wood, my submission for the IASD Children’s anthology

6.   Produce a short story for the next themed IASD anthology

7.  Produce one of my present novels as a paperback using CreateSpace

8 Ongoing maintenance and improvement of the IASD website / blog

9.   Read and review more titles from the IASD catalogue

10. Support of the IASD members in whatever capacity I am able

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How did the reality match up to the good intentions?

publications-of-2016

In terms of writing it’s been a year of the series for me, and apart from those mentioned, I’ve been working on Beyond The Law: Consequences, which will bring the trilogy to a close. I found writing a sequel a daunting task, but the final part of the story is proving more of a challenge. I aim to produce the book in early 2017.

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1.  I created the artwork to accompany my poem Whisper Wood for the IASD Children’s anthology.

2.  I revised and heavily edited my published work which took between two to three weeks for each book.

3.  In conjunction with the other Admins, I made a few visits to the IASD blog/website to update and keep members abreast of our news. The Featured Author will be continuing in 2017.

4.  An unexpected occurrence was becoming the mentor for a newbie erotica author. I read the debut title and found the story and writing failed in several areas. The few public reviews were praising the story, but none were justified in my opinion. Instead of damning the book publicly I left a comment on another reader’s review.

The story author got in touch and was keen to know more. I told him I wasn’t an expert, but his work needed more substance. At his request I provided a critique of the story. He pulled the book from Amazon, reworked it and sent it to me for a second opinion. It was much improved and he’s now working on his next title.

5.  I was the beta reader for a couple of our IASD authors, and I read and reviewed several books by members.

barn-owl-96.  I’ve taken brief breaks by drawing and by updating my Tom Benson Author website and my Creative Writer and Artist website.snowy-owl-004

 

In certain areas I achieved more than I expected, but there were casualties in my battle-plan.

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1.  I spent two months revising and editing Codename Koki for Malcolm Beadle, but it appears my mix of honesty, integrity, and expectation were too much. I haven’t heard from Malcolm for a few months, but I’m sure he’s working on the story and other projects.

2.  I have yet to create a paperback, so perhaps 2017 will be the year for me to try CreateSpace.

Blogging A to Z 20164 . On the social scene I had a timely reminder I am not a blogger who writes, but a writer who blogs. I entered the 2016 A to Z Challenge with the best of intentions, but after a few days I abandoned the attempt. Having completed the challenge before, I recalled many hours spent responding and reviewing and in honesty, I couldn’t justify the time. I had difficulty maintaining an interest.

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5.  Among my aims I wanted to cut down on casual social networking, and concentrate on reading and writing. I’ve been true to my goals for most of the time. This year I’ve tried to strike a balance. Not many reviews will have been seen from me because I’ve dipped into my TBR, but I’ve also read from my large collection of paperbacks.

I have an allegiance to the Indie Author Support and Discussion group, and it will remain the exception to my personal rule about social media visits.

Exposure of my writing has been assisted by my monthly ‘Freebie’ weekends on Amazon. I’ll be continuing my monthly giveaways in the coming year.

What do I have planned for 2017?

Once again my year will be dominated by ‘series’ but I’ll give more detail in my first blog post of 2017. I have an ambitious number of titles lined up for completion. A lot of the groundwork is laid and I continue to work across titles simultaneously.bike-shots-plus-033

Retirement late in 2017 means I’ll devote more time to my passion, and to my renewed interest in cycling, which is where I do a lot of my thinking and scene setting.

As always, thank you for your time, and comments.

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