Where are my quills?


If I was a real Elizabethan writer, and not an Elizabethan wannabe, then I’d be content to discard my dull goose feather and sharpen a new quill, then pull out a new sheet of parchment.

But Elizabeth II is on the throne and computers are more than just a quaint novelty. In fact, I’ve become addicted, whether for emails and accounts, or for writing. I can’t even throw the polyhedral dice to slay raiders without a computer.


However, I’m forced to scrawl the first draft of this post without the security of my desktop, relying on my pen not crashing. Yes, my hard drive crashed for the third time in two months. So I’m feeling very insecure – more than I did when the old year ended.

Back in December, the insecurity was just about my writing. Was it worth reading? Was it worth spending time on? Or was it best to spare the readers from what might well be dire? I know too many excellent writer friends to muddy the publishing water with my attempts.

I was thinking of having a New Year sale… of my unresolved ideas. But second-hand goods are hard to flog – I learnt that trying to re-publish my first novel; but then few people bothered with it when it first came out in 2013. Anyway, as I’m struggling with the new plots, they have little value.

Fortunately, or not, my desktop resolved the issue by dying upside down, falling to the dreaded blue screen of death. I couldn’t face asking my technically-proficient wife to install yet another hard drive, so I bought a new machine. Now, for the third time in two months, I’m re-installing all my favourite pieces of software, from Office to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

However, I still need to decide if I’m cut out to be a real writer, rather than a dabbler in ideas. Only then can I install something like Scrivener. Is that going to be my 2016 resolution?

Is there an answer in the following? (And who said it first?)

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”



The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are L.G. Keltner, Denise Covey, Sheri Larsen, J.Q. Rose, Chemist Ken, and Michelle Wallace!

Would YOU miss me?

From DeviantArt. For if one link in nature's chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal.

From DeviantArt. For if one link in nature’s chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal.

Or rather would you miss my weekly blog posts? I was trying to think of something worthwhile to blog about, but kept rejecting the crass ideas.

Who wants to read about “A World without Shakespeare”?

Why pose the question “What sort of heroine rules your mind?” in any genre?

What is the point of musing about “Autumn Fruitfulness” if it’s not the “Colours of Fall”?

My inspirational “The Difference between Critique and Beta Readers” will be next Wednesday’s IWSG monthly post.

So I reached the conclusion that I wouldn’t write anything, and then see whether anyone noticed. Shtako! I’ve written something after all.

But what next?

What lines set you alight?


I was going to blog about ‘A world without William Shakespeare’ but the prospect was too horrendous – even if Christopher Marlowe hadn’t been killed so young.

Did that line grab you, or turn you livid with anger?

How important to you is the first line of a book? I admit there have been some great ones. My favourites, and I read these decades ago, are:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. — C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984 (1949)


But such lists are open to debate, and trying to pick favorites can be a challenge.

Getting that opening right, finding the right words, choosing the moment to start that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer – that’s wrong, although as writers we can suffer.

At the moment, my mind is on openings, partly as I have taken on some beta reading, but also as I am struggling with my own opening line:

“Their eyes stared at Twyla without emotion and followed every move that she made up or down the stairs.”

The real question is – what makes you read on? The opening line or paragraph? The cover and blurb? Reviews?

I can remember days past when I went into a bricks & mortar bookshop and flicked through real books. Aah that smell. I started with the cover and blurb, then sampled the opening, and even flicked further on. Harder of course with e-books, but sampling is an option so I read as far as I can. To me a novel is more than a memorable first line.

Do we stop at “Who’s there?” or tarry longer with the Groundlings?

So what hooks you? What is your favourite opening? Can you envisage no Shakespeare?

Midnight Hamlet at The Globe by TheFella on Flickr

Midnight Hamlet at The Globe by TheFella on Flickr