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Adrian Faulkner
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I write fantasy novels, I chase tornadoes & I fight with swords. Let's have an adventure!
I write fantasy novels, I chase tornadoes & I fight with swords. Let's have an adventure!

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The Countdown To Swordfish - The Climb #241

Tuesday 19th September 2017
The highlight of today was when I walked to the shops to get some fresh air and some supplies.  It nearly killed me and I needed to have two naps this afternoon as a result.
I’ve been really restless today.  Just sitting at my desk has somehow made my back ache, meaning that I need to get up and do… anything.  Mostly this has been going upstairs for a nap.
I played some Warcraft but even that couldn’t hold my interest for long so I’ve been dipping in and out, more out of having nothing else to do.
I had planned to go back to work tomorrow but I think I might give it one more day.  This cold seems to hit heavily on the chest, which probably explains how my boss got viral pneumonia.  I don’t want that and so have kept wrapped up warm.  It seems to have done the job of allowing me to shift any phlegm sitting on my chest.
I’ve also eaten pretty badly today.  I just needed some sugar inside me and so had chocolate.  After the Chinese on Sunday and the lack of exercise since, I probably now weigh a gazillion stone.  I figure that I’ll just have to go super, super strict once I’m well.  Given that I now seem to have found a bit more motivation, perhaps I’ll actually do it this time.
To be fair, I am still buzzing about my world ranking.  I got a card from my parents congratulating me on my medal, but that now seems so long ago.
It’s got me thinking about how my plans seem to be coming to fruition.  I’m now well inside the top 100.  Swordfish limits their initial tournament registrations to the top 100 because they consider them the premier fighters.  At number 57, I’m well inside that crowd.
But rather than feel relaxed about it, I feel hungry to step it up.  I want top 20.  I’m not going to do that this year as it’s going to get exponentially harder the higher I go.  So for now, my focus is to get inside the top 50.  Then I can worry about the top 40, then the top 30, and so on.  And sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take a step up so I expect it’ll be a bit of a rollercoaster.
Of course, I’m hardly in any state to start acting on it.  Perhaps that’s for the better.  I can enjoy the accomplishment before diving into the next.
I’ve also been thinking about some of those fighters who haven’t seemed to progress of late and have somehow plateaued.  I think back to what Chris said on Sunday.  Innate talent will only get you so far.  Perhaps the reason they’ve plateaued is because they need to now step up their training.  They might have done, I have no idea, and I’m not trying to accuse them.  Rather, it’s just acting as a reminder to myself that when things get tough and progress seems stagnant, then perhaps the answer is to step it up a little.  I’ve made a mental note to remember this in relation to my writing.
I certainly need to do that on my diet, and perhaps at some stage I’ll need to do it on my swordfighting as well (although hard core gym workouts and training three times a week mean that I’m probably a little way off).  That said, I could do with practising lunges every day.
Perhaps now I’m focused on Swordfish, I have 45 days in which to get myself into fantastic shape for the competition.  That means being super-strict with the diet, recording all my macros and the like.  I could also do some press ups or jogging each morning.
Getting in shape for Swordfish, feels like a mini-challenge and it’s one I’m keen to do.
However, first I need to get over this bloody cold and get back in the gym.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

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The Product Of Hard Work - The Climb #239

Sunday 17th September 2017
There was a time when I got excited about birthdays.  Now they just make me feel old.
I’d not really planned to do anything for my birthday today.  I’d figured I would be knackered from yesterday’s tournament and would want a quiet one.  I was, however, determined to make it to Sunday Sparring.
Maybe I was anticipating some frustration from the tournament, but I strongly believe that success is 90% showing up.  I think back to the time I went to Sunday Sparring to find no-one there.  That right there was what got me my silver medal yesterday, not because I learned anything, but because it showed I had the right mindset.
Likewise today, despite feeling full of flu and knackered from yesterday, I still went… because when I get my next medal, it’ll be today that won it for me.
Unlike last week, it was a slow session.  There were three of us – Chris and I both having fought yesterday – but we did a variety of weapons and had fun, so it was worth the trip.  I even got to do some dagger fighting which I’ve not done before and it was a lot of fun.
Chris and I went to the pub afterwards for a quick drink and he said something that resonated with me.  He talked about my progress and how he & James were talking about it in the car on the way home last night.
I’d not really thought about this, but a lot of the people in the school have combat backgrounds.  They’ve either done sports fencing, or some martial art.  Some of those have been incredibly successful in their various fields.
I, on the other hand, am a product of purely the school.  I have no martial arts background to fall back on.  And whilst it might take me a bit longer, I’ve made incredible progress.  Personally, I attribute my slow progress to just not being a sporty person – or at least I wasn’t.
But it’s true… my medal win was the product of the last couple of years, and most likely the last 18 months.  The fact that people are now seeing it means a lot to me.  As I said to Chris, I like impossible goals.  He gets it.  He knows that if I shoot for the stars and hit the moon, I’ve still hit the moon and will keep on going.
There are a lot of people I can think of who have natural talent for this.  They’ve started, had early success and then plateaued.  That’s because, as Chris said something along the lines of, hard works gets you where talent can’t.  Talent can only get you so far, and then you have to work.
I had absolutely no talent.  People thought I would quit, people didn’t think I’d improve, and yet I’ve put in the work, enjoyed the journey and look at where I now am.  And whilst my target of winning Swordfish is certainly the stars, I reckon I’m certainly close to hitting the moon now.  And who thought that was possible?
I say this, not to show two fingers to people who not so much doubted me as have been pleasantly surprised by my progress, but to demonstrate something more important.
Talent will only get you so far.  If you’re a good writer, that won’t make you a great writer.  Knuckling down and doing the and work, failing and picking yourself up… that’s what makes you successful.
People say to write lots, and it’s true.  Because no matter how naturally great you are, all that is is a rung further up the ladder.  Sooner or later your natural talent will plateau and you’ll need to work.  You need to shoot for the stars so you always stay hungry, so the goal is always so impossibly far.
If I have one talent, it’s becoming laser focused on that goal and working towards it.
Take book 2 for example.  I’ve had some ideas of some of the multibook story arcs, and have been doing some research for ideas on how to make it not just good but amazing.  At the moment, I have no idea how I’m going to write some of the scenes I want to write.  But I’ll figure it out.
Part of my research has been watching some very obscure TV with some amazing acting.  I finished it this afternoon.  And it was amazing that I was so sad to leave those characters.  I wanted their story to continue.  I wanted to know that they were OK.
And that’s what I want to do with mine.  I want the readers to be glued to certain characters and their arcs.  It’s going to be so fun to play out the events over the coming years.
I didn’t do much else for my birthday.  I didn’t even play a lot of Warcraft.  I felt ready to go to bed as soon as I got home, but instead ordered celebratory Chinese and did some web site updates for the Wessex League webpage and the School of the Sword website.
So most of my birthday was spent being ill, but that’s OK, because I had a good day, and I’ve had an even better weekend.
Plus, I’ve been thinking to myself that after my birthday I should start the work on planning what I want to change in the next draft of Book 2.  I want to start the actual writing come 1st October but need to do a lot of secondary character work.
That might have to wait a day or two as I don’t think I’ll be doing much other than laying in bed all day tomorrow.  I think there’s a good chance I’ll skip training, and take the day off work ill so I can rest and get better.  And yet, there’s part of me that thinks that I need to show up, because my next medal could depend on it.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

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Pre-Tournament Nerves - The Climb #237

Friday 15th September 2017
By the time you read this, I’ll be fighting, as I have a big tournament tomorrow.
I’ve been in an odd mood about this tournament.  Whereas I’ve known about Astolat and Fightcamp all year, the tournament tomorrow has only come about in the last few weeks.  And after doing better than expected at both of those competitions there’s part of me that feels like I’m overdue a disappointment.
As a result, I’ve spent the whole day trying to psyche myself up.  I feel ill and I’m not sure if it’s nerves or I’m coming down with something.  I remind myself that I got to the semi-finals at Fightcamp with heat stroke.  I remind myself that I’ve walked 26 miles with a 6” hole in my leg.  No matter how ill I am, I’ll still be able to fight.
However, I want to win it.  I want a medal.
The fighters who frighten me are my friends.  They know my moves, they know my weaknesses.  They can defeat me even when I’m at my best.
It’s also a different scoring system and so I’m a little worried that it’ll work against me.
And yet…
I train harder than all of them.  I’ve improved more than any of them.  I can keep going longer than any of them.  I know all their moves as well.  Fightcamp saw a number of people say they saw my fencing step up… and in sparring I’ve improved so much since that I’m getting consistent hits on the world’s best.
I’ve watched videos of the absolute best fighting rapier & dagger tonight.  They don’t look that scary.
The only thing holding me back is my confidence in myself.
Tomorrow evening will be the time for humility.  I will celebrate or commiserate with my friends.  But from now until then, it’s time for supreme confidence.
I will bring the fire, as I have done.  I will an absolute juggernaut of speed, power and technique.  I fight better under pressure.  Because I am a fighter at heart.  It took me years to realise it.  I’m going to show some people just how much.
I can’t get myself angry.  I can’t fight angry, it just clouds my head.  Instead, I fight something much more scary.  I fight calm.  I’ll control my breathing, I will not dance around.  I will go out into the ring and own it.  And should anyone be brave enough to step in there with me, we shall clash blades and sees which of us truly belongs in that ring.
I’m going to bed early, going to try and sweat any illness out of me… because tomorrow is judgement day.  Tomorrow I fight!
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

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Method Writing - The Climb #235

Wednesday 13th September 2017
You’ve probably heard of method acting.  This is where an actor is so mentally invested in a role that even when not playing them they take on some of the characteristics.  It’s considered by many to be a very in-depth form of acting.
I think I method write.  This occurred to me whilst researching something for future books.  I say researching, but in all honesty I’ve just been watching some obscure TV and it gave me an idea about how to play the relationship between two characters in future books.
There’s been not only some seriously good acting in the stuff I’ve been watching (actors who can play an entire scene with just their eyes) but the writing is very solid, with multi-layered plot and complex characters.
But at the centre of this story is a romance.  Now, I’m not really big on romance.  I think it’s good to have – they are perfect opportunities for character development, and throwing spanners in the works – but I’ve never been a big one for romance books or movies.  But what I like about this romance I’ve watched is how they have teased the audience.  There’s a lot of “Will they-Won’t They” as well as clever ways to add complexity to the relationship so that you’re never sure whether the characters will get together or not.  I find myself rooting for them.
So needless to say that I can think of a way that this could play into future novels.  It’s not something I really want to put front and centre but something I could ebb out over the course of a number of novels.  I didn’t think that was possible before, but now I have a very clear idea on how to do it, without it feeling like I’m trying to drag it out.
So my head has been filled with ideas of how the relationship would play out book to book, and driving this evening I was suddenly aware I was sighing.
Now I’ve had a stressful day, which I’ll come on to, but this was something else.  As I do, I pondered on it for some time before coming to the conclusion that I was feeling heartbroken. This is a little odd.   I’m not in a relationship at the moment and haven’t been for some time, so for someone as aromantic as me, it was a bit unexpected.
But I think I was so inside my main character’s head and in tune with their emotional state that somehow I’d taken on some of the characteristics.
I found it quite amusing… and a little odd, if I’m honest.
But I think back to Black as Knight and some of the scenes I’ve written and how I felt after writing them and I think there’s a little truth to the method writing idea.  Yes, I can look at all my characters and see elements of me in them.  I think that’s true for any writer.  It’s like we split our soul into a hundred different pieces and these characters are our horcruxes.  But there’s definitely points in the novel where my mood has changed based on the state of mind of the character I’m writing.
It’s probably why I find writing with other stresses going on so hard.  I realised I work hard to really get inside the mind of my characters and I hope that shows on the page.
But it was just as well I’m not writing today, because in the day job it’s been hell.  We’ve had the second of our three man team go down, leaving me all on my own.  There’s part of me that likes the fact that I’m the last man standing.  After all, I’ve been in need of a break for near to 6 weeks now which I’ve been unable to take due to illness and holidays.  Given the things that happened last year, I don’t want anyone to say that because of my various illnesses I’m not up to the job.  So I’ve been determined not to go down.  But now the other two have…  I’m not going to feel bad if I crash hard next week.
Still it meant for an exhausting and stressful day that resulted in the extra long drive where I made my revelation.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

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The Cool Kid - The Climb #234

Tuesday 12th September 2017
I was never a cool kid.  I was generally popular, but I was never part of the school social elite.
It never really bothered me.  My head was a little fucked up in my late teens and 20s, and I was too busy dealing with that to worry about being cool.  I wouldn’t say I liked myself.  I threw myself into creating Action-Figure as a bit of a way to escape that.
Moving into my 30s, I spent it overweight.  I didn’t feel attractive and it affected my self-image.   I don’t think I was as unhappy as I was in my 20s but the loss of a good friend to domestic violence made me retreat from the world.  I’d been let down by a lot of people in my 20’s and so I kept a small, close bunch of friends and just worked hard whether it was Action-Figure or my writing.
If I knew anything about myself back then, it was that I had tenacity, that I worked for the things I wanted, and wouldn’t stop until I got them.
But leggedon was a defining moment for me.  There were some days that were nearly as dark as those in my 20s, but it was at my lowest point that I made the metaphorical decision to fight.
As cliché as it might sound, it’s then that my life seemed to change.  Rather than just succumb to the pressures of every day life, I started punching back, taking each impossible hurdle and throwing years of anger at it.
With it came the decision to actually do some of the things on my bucket list.  I went tornado chasing, and I started swordfighting, as well as starting an experimental novel that I was sure no-one would ever love but me.
The reason I bring this up is because it was all brought into stark contrast today.  There was a person I dealt with when I ran Action-Figure.  He considered himself a bit of a rock star and was a bit aloof as a result.  He had mad talent, and had the arrogance to back it up.  He was one of the cool kids.  I wasn’t.
By that time, I’d learnt a very important lesson taught to me by my first ever fulltime boss.  We meet everyone again on the way back down.  I’ve never been much of an elitist, although I have been guilty of accidentally dissing people by ignoring them through shyness.  I want everyone to have a good time.  I want to entertain, for everyone to leave any encounter with me feeling better about themselves.  I guess, it’s partly why I write.
So whilst there was part of me that always wanted to be the cool kid, there’s a large part of me that’s always felt an outsider.  Neil Gaiman talks about finding your tribe, and you know… every time I think I have, something happens that makes me feel alone.
I’ve come to terms with it over the years.  The problem is me not feeling I fit in, rather than people excluding me.  I’ve always been the square peg in a round hole.   But as a result I’ve never felt cool, because I’ve never felt part of something to feel cool in.
I’ve stayed in rough contact with this guy from my Action-Figure days.  It’s a bit one sided.  I do my usual thing of congratulating and encouraging.  In return, I’m mostly ignored, and I’m totally fine with that.  I don’t do what I do for praise, it’s just my nature…  but I know I’m not cool.
Except I read his status of what he’s up to, and I realised something.  His successes have come and gone.  He’s still powering on, but he’s peaked.
I don’t say that to be mean.  He could go out and do something incredible tomorrow, and if he does, I’ll be happy for him.
But I realised something.  I’m now the cool kid.  I’m so much cooler than he is.
I also noticed that another person I know seems to copy a lot of the things I do.  I’ve been really annoyed by this for a while, but I realised that he’s not doing it to have a go.  I’m not sure if it’s envy, jealousy or something a bit kinder, but I’ve made the decision to be a bit kinder towards them… because one day maybe my star will wane as their rises.
I think back to 17 year old me struggling with a lot of shit.  I think what he’d say if I went back in time and told him what would happen in 27 years.  He’d think me the coolest person he’d ever met.
Now I’m under no illusion that no-one other than that 17 year old would agree.  I’m OK with that, because I realised today that the approval of that troubled 17 year old is all that matters.
I wish I could go back and tell him that, whilst it might take some time, everything was going to be OK.  But maybe not just yet… there’s still a few things in the wings waiting to happen.
If I think about all what I’ve endured, all the mountains I’ve climbed, all the ones I’ve not yet scaled… it’s for that 17 year old.  That’s what drives me, that’s where my fire was forged.
It’s so easy to let your new-found coolness go to your head, to use it to push your social circle forward, to leave others behind.  But I don’t want to be like that guy.  As guilty as I am of sometimes seeking the approval of others (and God, through my 20s, it’s all I lived for), the fact that I’m in a tribe of one, shows that perhaps I don’t really want the approval of others.
What I want is the approval of the 17 year old me.  And you know what?  I think I have it.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

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Missing That Fire - The Climb #232

Sunday 10th September 2017
OK, I’m so ready for my writing vacation to be over.  I’ve been so bored this evening, not knowing what to do with myself.  At least some friends have been in the eyewall of Hurricane Irma so Facebook has been entertaining if nothing else.
In less than a week I have my next tournament.  It’s the start of a new league and as I said to someone today, my aim is to win it.  Not saying that I will, but that’s the aim at least.
Except…I just don’t seem so fired up about it.  I’m far too calm.
It’s something I’ve noticed of late.  I seem far too contempt with things.
I was so certain that Astolat and Fightcamp would be complete disasters that my placing in the quarter and semi-finals came as a bit of a surprise.  Yet I feel that instead of building on that, I feel content to say I’ve proved myself.
With my weight, I’m steady but I could do with losing about a stone.  It’s stopping me fitting into my fencing britches so I have more reasons than just the aesthetic ones.  And yet, whilst I’m really, really good with my diet,  I don’t feel I’m as perfect as I was.  I’m not counting every macro, I’m not logging my food every day.  Some of this is because I have the same diet every week, but I need to drop calories if I want to drop weight… and if I’m not monitoring that I can’t.
At least with the writing, I’ve not compromised on quality.  But once these changes get accepted am I going to try and take it easier on the next book when this is the exact moment when I should be stepping things up?
It’s a point of serious worry at the moment that I don’t seem to have that fire in my belly for things.  I’m still turning up, I’m doing the work, but I don’t seem as hungry as I once was.
Perhaps, it’s just that I know the hard work is paying off and that I’m just knuckling down and getting on with it.  Or it could be that I am indeed knackered and need some rest.  Or it could just be that having accomplished something my body has lost interest.
It was on my mind at sparring today.  We did some really high intensity training today and I think it went well.  We were certainly all sweating by the end of it.  Except, despite the endurance battle at the end, I didn’t feel tired.  I felt I could have kept going for an additional 5 minutes.  Perhaps I paced myself.
I have been really worried that my cardio seems lacking, and yet today proved I have it.  I’m certainly moving around more as a fighter.
When I lost a load of weight, I had a load of people ask me if I felt better for it.  I have to be honest and say I didn’t notice any change.  I was certainly lighter, but I didn’t feel the weight loss made me faster or more agile.  It’s only now, when I’m wanting to pull off some amazing moves that I notice the weight.  I wonder if it needed my cardio to be at a certain level before it would make any difference.  I feel I’m at that level now.
I fought well.  I feel strong, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to win.  Perhaps the fire and frustration has been replaced with a calm focus and resolve.  But I know I perform better when I’m the underdog.  I need that fire to make me push to make me step up, and it’s just not there at the moment.
I never want to get too comfortable whether it be in my health, my fighting or indeed my writing, but that requires me to have more ambition and drive than I’m feeling right now.  Perhaps I should wait a bit longer before ending my writing vacation.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

Past Issues: 231 | 230 | 229 | 228 | 227 | 226 | 225 | 224 | 223 | 222 | 221

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Missing That Fire - The Climb #232

Sunday 10th September 2017
OK, I’m so ready for my writing vacation to be over.  I’ve been so bored this evening, not knowing what to do with myself.  At least some friends have been in the eyewall of Hurricane Irma so Facebook has been entertaining if nothing else.
In less than a week I have my next tournament.  It’s the start of a new league and as I said to someone today, my aim is to win it.  Not saying that I will, but that’s the aim at least.
Except…I just don’t seem so fired up about it.  I’m far too calm.
It’s something I’ve noticed of late.  I seem far too contempt with things.
I was so certain that Astolat and Fightcamp would be complete disasters that my placing in the quarter and semi-finals came as a bit of a surprise.  Yet I feel that instead of building on that, I feel content to say I’ve proved myself.
With my weight, I’m steady but I could do with losing about a stone.  It’s stopping me fitting into my fencing britches so I have more reasons than just the aesthetic ones.  And yet, whilst I’m really, really good with my diet,  I don’t feel I’m as perfect as I was.  I’m not counting every macro, I’m not logging my food every day.  Some of this is because I have the same diet every week, but I need to drop calories if I want to drop weight… and if I’m not monitoring that I can’t.
At least with the writing, I’ve not compromised on quality.  But once these changes get accepted am I going to try and take it easier on the next book when this is the exact moment when I should be stepping things up?
It’s a point of serious worry at the moment that I don’t seem to have that fire in my belly for things.  I’m still turning up, I’m doing the work, but I don’t seem as hungry as I once was.
Perhaps, it’s just that I know the hard work is paying off and that I’m just knuckling down and getting on with it.  Or it could be that I am indeed knackered and need some rest.  Or it could just be that having accomplished something my body has lost interest.
It was on my mind at sparring today.  We did some really high intensity training today and I think it went well.  We were certainly all sweating by the end of it.  Except, despite the endurance battle at the end, I didn’t feel tired.  I felt I could have kept going for an additional 5 minutes.  Perhaps I paced myself.
I have been really worried that my cardio seems lacking, and yet today proved I have it.  I’m certainly moving around more as a fighter.
When I lost a load of weight, I had a load of people ask me if I felt better for it.  I have to be honest and say I didn’t notice any change.  I was certainly lighter, but I didn’t feel the weight loss made me faster or more agile.  It’s only now, when I’m wanting to pull off some amazing moves that I notice the weight.  I wonder if it needed my cardio to be at a certain level before it would make any difference.  I feel I’m at that level now.
I fought well.  I feel strong, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to win.  Perhaps the fire and frustration has been replaced with a calm focus and resolve.  But I know I perform better when I’m the underdog.  I need that fire to make me push to make me step up, and it’s just not there at the moment.
I never want to get too comfortable whether it be in my health, my fighting or indeed my writing, but that requires me to have more ambition and drive than I’m feeling right now.  Perhaps I should wait a bit longer before ending my writing vacation.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

Past Issues: 231 | 230 | 229 | 228 | 227 | 226 | 225 | 224 | 223 | 222 | 221

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Turning Art Into A Profession - The Climb #231

Saturday 9th September 2017
Today was a gaming day.  Given I have to be up early on Sundays and that I’m often behind on sleep come the end of the week I like to try and get a lay in on Saturday.  It rarely goes beyond 9am no matter how hard I try.
I got up and did some admin work, before diving into some more Warcraft.  My original plan was to go into town to return some broken headphones, but after much “is it on?”  “Is it today?” on Facebook it was confirmed that our boardgaming night was indeed on and I needed to leave the house by 5pm.
Given that by the time I ate brunch it was 2pm and I had some other things to do, I decided to get those done and use the spare time to use invasions to get a couple of my alts to a higher level in Warcraft.
This evening we played Shadows of Brimstone.  I love this game.  It’s a dungeon crawler of a boardgame that plays like an RPG.  It’s got a Weird West feel and the basic premise is that you venture down mines, find portals to other worlds and then kill a big bad.  What’s unusual is that your XP and items carries over, and you actually level your character up over games.
It also has a ton of expansions with even more on the way.  Different worlds, different bad guys.  There’s even an expansion that expands on the town at the start of the game where you buy and sell items ready for the adventure ahead.
But it does a really good job of throwing a seemingly impossible situation at you, and then just makes it worse.  Yet somehow, we always seem to just pull through.
But it is quite nihilistic in nature.  You take a card and wonder if it’s a bad thing or a really bad thing.  Case in point we needed to travel to the store outside town so we had to roll for an event.  What happens?  We roll a number that on the incident chart, basically sees the store explode and get swallowed up by a demonic portals and leave a load of flailing tentacles in its place.  And this is before the adventure has even started.  Other characters have spent a night in a hotel only for a tornado to suck them out in their sleep and kill them.
But the constant feeling of “Oh shit we’re going to die”  makes the game a lot of fun and I really enjoy playing it, even if I’ve missed a load of sessions of late due to novel work.
Something that came out of conversation this evening was the fact that my friend believes it’s next to impossible to make money out of art.  His wife is an incredibly talented artist and I made the point that no-one would have thought it was possible to be a successful graphiti artist until Banksy came along.  He’s counter to this is whether I can name another successful graphiti artist.
I thought a bit about this.  Because on one hand I get what he’s saying.  Making art professionally is hard and you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment.  So I wondered what it is that makes a commercial artist, be it drawing, painting or even writing or music.
Again, I think it’s the game of contrasts.  On one hand, I think you should make the art you want to.  It’s not necessary to know the trend of the day or even being able to somehow foretell it.  I think instead, it’s about knowing your own tastes and doubling down on those.  So if Zombie Steampunk Elves is your thing, then you should stick to your guns to some extent and just write the best Zombie Steampunk Elves you can.
But at the same time, you can’t ignore market and have at least a partial commercial head on your shoulders.  It’s almost as if every way you differ from the norm deducts 10% off some score where 100% is completely generic.  If you hit 100% you’ll just be bland and like everyone else.  Differ in too many ways, and you’ll hit around 30% and it’ll be too different for anyone to pick up.  But at around 80%, that’s the commercial sweet spot.  That’s when you are similar enough for publishers and booksellers to know where to place you, but different enough to get the reader’s interest.
So sure, you can write a book about Zombie Space Elves, but it needs to be more conformist in other ways.
And so if your talent is good, but there’s nothing unique about it, then you’ll be unlikely to succeed.  In which case, that’s when you need to find a hook.  But if you’re too out there, it’s unlikely that people will connect to you on mass.  Banksy might use graphitti but his visuals are very accessible, and even the political commentary that comes from them is easily understandable.
It’ll be interesting to see whether my opinion on this changes years down the line, but I do hate it when people discourage others (even if it’s with the best of intentions).  Instead I’d rather they tell them just how much hard work it’s going to be.  One of the reasons for starting The Climb was to show just how much work it takes.
However, that said, I am still on ‘vacation’, and spent the whole day playing games, so perhaps I’m not the best example right now.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

Past Issues: 230 | 229 | 228 | 227 | 226 | 225 | 224 | 223 | 222 | 221

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Time Is The Enemy - The Climb #230

Friday 8th September 2017
It’s tempting to think that whilst I’m sat here playing World of Warcraft and tracking friends who are chasing Hurricane Irma, that nothing is going on with the writing career.
But the fact is that whilst I try and recharge, the manuscript is currently with my agent.  I got an update that it’s currently being read, and tried to act totally chill and nonchalant about it.
One of two things will happen:  either it will come back in need of further revisions, or it will go out on submission.  Of course, in my head there’s always the third option that it is so terrible, I’ll be dropped, but that fear has lessened over time.
Am I thinking about it?  Constantly.  I stress that this is where I find out what all that hard work has been worth.  I think my biggest fear is that changes in the day job and a tough year last year means I feel slow.  I feel I should be editing faster, that I should be writing faster, that the fact that the last round of edits took 3 months instead of 3 weeks makes me less commercially attractive, will make it more impossible to make a living out of this thing.
I’m very proud that my commitment to quality means that this very real stress doesn’t result in me rushing things… but oh do I wish I could work faster.
In reality, changes in the day job have really slowed me down.  I’ve never pushed my career so I have the mental energy to come home and write, but in the last eighteen months things have got a lot busier, and as a result, I’m not working at my best come the evening.
I’ve been wanting to take a writing break for a couple of months now, but due to projects and other people’s holidays I’ve been unable to.  I can’t really complain as I manage to get time off for tournaments (and to go storm chasing) but I know that when I’ve had writing breaks before, I’ve done as much in a week as a month.
So the current stress is that if (and it’s not going to happen) I got enough of an advance to write full-time, I could turn out books a lot faster.
But, maybe some of this panic is unwarranted.  After all, I already have a first draft of the next novel done, and plan to start a second draft in October.  I am ahead of myself.  I just still feel so slow.
Which is why having a break for September is probably a good idea.  After edits, first draft of second novel, and then more edits, I’m a little ragged.
Warcraft has proved a good distraction, and I had a good time this evening, getting a PUG group to go and do the Mythic Hellfire Citadel raid.  It was a really chill group and I totally enjoyed the experience.  I also managed to complete a mining quest as well as get some achievements and transmog items.  I then went and tried soloing Mythic Siege of Ogrimaar.  It’s a big raid and so it takes a long time, but I got a long way before I ran out of time.
I’m now at that stage in playing Warcraft where I’m running out of things to do.  I tend to do the same things over and over and then burn out.  Part of me wants to start working on the second draft already, but I’m going to force myself to not even look at the planning before the middle of the month.
I just have to keep reminding myself that just because I’m not doing anything on the manuscript, doesn’t mean it isn’t progressing.
Time is my greatest enemy.  I have so much I want to do and forcing myself to rest is a huge challenge.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

Past Issues: 229 | 228 | 227 | 226 | 225 | 224 | 223 | 222 | 221

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Guild Master - The Climb #227

Tuesday 5th September 2017
So I appear to have a new World of Warcraft guild.  And by that I don’t mean I’ve joined a new guild.
You see, I joined my guild back in the days of Wrath of the Lich King when Ulduar was the current raid.  We had some great times, including 9-manning Morchok on opening week, but by the time it came to the Warlords of Dreanor expansion, our server was dead.
So we decided to move.  We changed faction as well.  Most moved their characters over, but given that my Death Knight main’s race is part of their identity and I’d also spent many years moving all my horde characters (and one alliance character I faction changed) to that same server, I decided to roll a new character.
This I did, but as much as I liked my Worgen Death Knight… it really didn’t have the same appeal.  Some people dropped off as we got into the Legio expansion last year, and I became Guild master of the alliance guild
We didn’t have enough people to get a raid team together for Legion and soon most people stopped playing.  I was a bit irregular, given the swordfighting and the edits, but I was online fairly often.  So with no-one around I went back to my horde characters.
With my alts, I made a load of guilds so I could amass a ton of auction mats and make my millions.  I’m currently about 25k gold off my first million, even though I’ve not played a whole bunch this year.
But I kept my main in the old guild, simply because of nostalgia.
This week, the few that do still play have said they’ve gone off and joined other raiding guilds.  I can’t blame them.  I’ve been around but I’ve not been on the alliance server, and other people have come on to say that they are probably taking a break.  It’s a shame, but totally understandable.
But I’d hate to lose the old Horde guild and mentioned this to find out that I’ve already been made guild master of that too.
And so I’ve become guild master of the guild I joined 8 years ago.  I’ll be honest and say that if I lost the Alliance guild I wouldn’t worry that much, but the horde guild has a lot of nostalgia for me.  So there’s part of me that would like to rebuild it.  Although, I tried that with the alliance guild and didn’t get far.
But still…
I’m sad to see so many old friends drop out the game.  We still chat on Facebook, and who knows, perhaps they might come back.  Yet, I’m glad that we haven’t lost the old horde guild in the process.
I spent this evening editing / critting a story for Kate.  She wanted the full “Russian Feedback” so I really went to town, taking the skills I’ve picked up over the last few months and applying them to her short story.
My aim, isn’t to be ultra harsh, or try and prove any point.  I just want to use my experience to make it the best short it can be.  That means, calling out characters and plot points that don’t seem to work as well as tightening the prose.
I’ll be interested to see her reaction, as I ended up deleting a third of her prose, and making some 300+ changes / comments. And the frightening thing, is that as short stories go, I think it’s pretty good.  Six months ago, I’d write something of the same quality and feel very proud about it.
It actually shows me how far I’ve come as a writer, especially in the last few months.  I re-read the changed version just to make sure I wasn’t just being stupid, but it does read tighter and I was quite proud of the work I did.  Of course, the writer is free to agree / disagree with those changes as they see fit, but it does make me excited to start to go over some short stories and see what I can craft.
My problem with short stories is always plot.  All the plots I ever come up with are novel length, and trying to come up with one for a short story is the hardest thing for me in terms of short stories.
But I enjoyed doing critting Kate’s story.  I promised her I would do a deep edit, and I think I definitely did that.
So all-in-all I feel like I’ve had quite a productive day today.  Even though I still feel like I have a ton more things to do!
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Twitter: @figures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/ Instagram: AdrianFaulkner Snapchat: adrianauthor

Past Issues: 226 | 225 | 224 | 223 | 222 | 221

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