As I write this the Triggerstreetlabs.com site (affectionately termed TSL) is still up and running, but by the end of January the site will be no more. TSL opened its doors in 2002. Its intention was to provide a platform for writers to post their work and get feedback from other writers. Help others, Help yourself was TSL’s original motto.
My association with TSL goes back to 2008. I was decorating and I had the radio on. Kevin Spacey was being interviewed about his latest film, but the interview strayed into other areas including TSL. Kevin made a fine pitch for the site so I put down the paint brush and scribbled down the site name. Back then I wanted to write but I knew next to nothing about the writing craft. Every time I tried to write anything I made little progress. I knew I needed help with writing and I had previously tried local writing circles but they just didn’t work for me. I kept going to look at the TSL site, and each time I’d walk away without having joined. Eventually I took the plunge. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Two months after joining I posted a story. The story was ok, but technically it was a mess. It was too slow, the format was all wrong, and there were grammar errors on every page. On the whole constructive criticism rolled in and helped me focus on the elements I needed to improve.
I never looked back. My second story wasn’t perfect but it was a huge step forward, and I continued to post and I continued to learn. I would never have managed to write stories to a standard worthy of publication without TSL.
TSL also taught me how to handle rejection. Not all reviews were constructive some were destructive. These reviews were hard to take, but they also toughened me up. It’s been a while since I’ve had a rejection but I generally just shrug my shoulders and carry on. Night Owls was originally rejected by one publication, so I found another potential market who did publish it.
I also made some great friends on TSL, and I was privileged to meet some very talented writers. So I’m pretty sad to see it go, but I don’t blame Trigger Street Productions for shutting it down. I don’t know why but over the last couple of years a lot of the writing talent on TSL has dwindled away. The standard of reviews and the quality of the writers has dropped significantly. I’m speaking in general terms as there are some incredibly talented writers on that site. It’s a shame but I guess all good things must come to an end. I’m just thankful for everything that the site gave to me. Its memory will be cherished.
If you check out Issue 3 of the Holdfast E-zine you’ll be able to read Night Owls. Night Owls is set in a broken world of endless night. Against this backdrop two men meet on a narrow trail. Neither can continue their journey without trusting the other to let them safely pass, but can they trust one another?
If you want to find out what happens you’ll have to head over to the Holdfast website where the story can be read for free. The link is at the end of this article.
All acceptances are greatly appreciated by any writer. This one is important to me as I’m a fan of Holdfast, and I’ve been tracking them since their first issue.
Holdfast deals with speculative fiction and each issue is themed. The theme for the Night Owls issue was Objects, Artefacts, & Talismans. The themes make the issues interesting, and ensure a varied range of stories across each issue.
As well as fiction you’ll find author interviews. These have so far included Margaret Atwood, Sarah Pinborough, and Frances Hardinge.
Then there’s the Bookshelf, a selection of recommended reading, which is updated each issue to tie in with the theme that I mentioned earlier.
Holdfast is just a great site so even if Night Owls doesn’t appeal to you, then please, check them out anyway. You’ll find work by other talented writers all accompanied by bespoke artwork specially commissioned for each story. My thanks goes out to the talented Mat Andrew for his Night Owls illustration, and to the Holdfast editors Laurel Sills & Lucy Smee.
Here’s the link: http://www.holdfastmagazine.com/fiction-issue3/4585059973
A writer friend once asked me where I get my inspiration from. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question; neither do I think there’s one answer to that question.
I’ve read a thousand times before that inspiration comes from the following:
Newspaper articles, podcasts, blogs, radio shows…
There’s this guy I once knew who…
I was walking down the street when I saw…
I had a mad drunken uncle who would…
The list of “inspirations” rolls ever on. But do they? And are they really moments of inspiration? I’m not sure. I prefer to think of the above examples as trigger points that unlock the writer’s real inspiration.
Fact: Writers carry emotional baggage. That baggage whether we like it or not swims around in our sub-conscious. That baggage is both positive and negative and that’s where the real inspiration lies. It sits there waiting for the right vehicle, the right trigger point to release it into the wild.
Take my story, Night Owls. I was reading a newspaper article about two historic events that caused the sun to darken over for about a year in 536AD and again in 1816AD. That’s interesting I thought, so I started writing. What became of that writing? Nothing, because it was interesting, but not inspiring. There’s a difference.
About a week later I was reading Steinbeck’s, “Of Mice and Men.” I love the beginning of that book. We meet these two characters on a woodland trail, they are obviously good friends, who trust one another but they are also very different.
I started thinking: What if these two characters didn’t trust one another, what if they’ve only just met?
I stopped reading Steinbeck’s novel there and then, and I still haven’t gone back to it. I started writing this story about two characters who meet on a narrow trial, on a bleak and desolate world of endless night. The trail is so narrow with natural obstacles all around them that they can’t walk around each other. They have to be able to trust one another to let the other by.
Was the inspiration Steinbeck or that newspaper article about a darkened Earth, or both? It was neither. The inspiration was Trust.
Trust is locked away in my own personal baggage. I believe in people, my friends and my family, and I trust them impeccably. I expect the same in return. I can be a bit reserved with people until I get to know them, until I feel I can trust them. Once I’ve let them inside I’m vulnerable, and that trust can and has been betrayed. It hurts!
That’s the inspiration for Night Owls. That baggage was sitting there on a shelf waiting to be used, and I didn’t know it. Some would call it theme, and I wouldn’t disagree. Night Owls is about trust and one or two other things, but it doesn’t mean that theme and inspiration can’t be aligned.
The point of the blog? Sometimes it’s a good thing to deliberately hide that story in a drawer for a good six months. When you go back to it ask yourself one question: What was the real underlying inspiration behind this piece? Not the trigger point, but the actual real source.
If you take that time to look deeper into your writer’s soul I can guarantee one thing: A really tight and focussed re-write.
Take care and good luck with your writing.
It has been a while since I did a post on Project 13 but rest assured this mammoth project roles ever onwards. All of the contributing writers have been busy reading and reviewing all of the stories in the collection.
I know I’m biased because ‘The Thirteenth Camera’ is one of those stories, but I have to say that the quality of the stories is high.
The collection itself will have something for everyone. There are stories that will make you laugh, cry, and ponder. There are stories that will take you to other worlds, Las Vegas, depression era America, you’ll meet assassins, ghosts, phobia driven characters, alcohol driven characters, sassy characters, and then there’s…no…that would be telling!
At the moment we have a graphic artist designing a cover. Once the covers available I’ll post it here.
Aside from Project 13 I’ve just finished a new story called ‘Night Owls’. I’m quite excited about this one. It’s a little bit different. I’m not certain it’s absolutely as good as it can be yet, which means I’ll post it on TriggerstreetLabs to see what the gang think. I’ve sent the story to my regular reader (every writer should have a regular reader) and their feedback was: Great story, great theme, different, original, but maybe XXXX. Note: One or two TSL members do check the blog so I’m not mentioning the point that was made in case it affects their view should they be actively reviewing. Interestingly the point made is one of the concerns I had.
While I’m waiting for reviews on ‘Night Owls’ to rain in I will be working on the final re-write of ‘The Thirteenth Camera’.
Once that’s done I’ll be working on a ‘Night Owls’ re-write.
Take care and to quote one of my fellow Project 13 contributors: “Keep the pen moving.”
M J Wolfson - That's me.