The wisdom of fools

Every writer knows that ‘standing on the precipice’ moment, with the wind on your face and an open chasm below you as you stare at the waiting screen or page. It’s a moment of great courage and folly as you whisper to yourself, ‘I’m going to write something.’

All that stands between you and the finished piece is your desire to see it through, a truck load of personal baggage and everything that life can throw at you. But that magical and decisive first step, declaring that you are indeed a writer, is an immensely powerful one which can lead to the creation of something that might never otherwise have been.

In committing to a piece of work or a submission or an edit, we face not only our own internal critic but the imagined ridicule of others if our plan of action doesn’t work out. Or perhaps worse, we follow through on our intentions but it still doesn’t lead to print, publication or public acclaim.

Well, nuts to that! I invite you all, dear readers, to commit to the screen something which you intend to write / edit / submit in the next 8 months. Here’s my list for starters:

1. I’ll complete the high level edit of the first draft of Line of Sight.
2. I’ll write the synopsis and first three chapters of Scars & Stripes – Memoirs of a Failed American.
3. I’ll write four new short stories.

There now, didn’t hurt a bit. Join me in a little literary foolishness – the comments box awaits.


  1. narerozi says:

    I intend to post comments on your blog and that of other blogs I follow and that is about the extent of my writing. I am eagerly anticipating your book on life in America. If it comes even close to the blog about your last day there it should be a winner. That blog just exuded emotions that the reader could feel… and that's all this gal is writing for now.

  2. Derek says:

    Well, I appreciate being part of your writing discipline! As to Scars & Stripes, I have a collection of notes and rough chapter headings; I'm just working on the all important voice so that it can carry the comedy, drama and tragedy in the story. I'll put you on the reader list when we get there!

  3. ahab says:

    Oh, this takes me back – the kid who could never refuse a dare, and was consequently covered in Elastoplast, if nothing worse!
    Okay – by the end of the year I will:

    a. Have finished editing my novel 'The Mission' and submitted it to at least one agent or publisher

    b. Have finished my short story about Blackshirts in the 1930's (still no title), and either put it in the public arena or turned it into a chapter in my other novel, 'Thornley Chronicles'

    c. Submitted some of my other short stories to somewhere.

    There! And I didn't even have my fingers crossed behind my back! So lay in a stock of iodine and bandages!

  4. I intend to author a book on Opaque Dating. That's like blind dating, but instead of being completely blind you are dating someone who has posted a picture of themselves that is 15 years old but they claim is "fairly" recent. "Fairly" is their defense, as it can be a bit ambiguous. btw. if you go to my website,, I have posted a picture of myself on the "About" page for you single ladies. It's fairly recent.


  5. narerozi says:

    In regards to the all important voice, Derek, just go with the flow………..write from the heart. . .it'll work. Happy Easter, by the way 🙂

  6. Stefanie says:

    Hi Derek =)

    I want to start brainstorming ideas that I would like to turn into novels and, of course, start learning how to actually write a novel (I've been trying for the past few years and noticed it's not quite the same as writing a short story). I plan on reading a novel at least three times–once for the story, twice to analyze the story, and third to start dissecting it into parts to see how the novel is structured. Hopefully that will be fruitful =) Your thoughts?

    Happy Easter, by the way =)

  7. Stephen Roberts says:

    Hi Derek,

    1) I intend on visiting every bar that remains in the book – "The History & Stories of the Best Bars of New York"- no matter how painful it might be and write about every experience as my "Best Bar Wednesday Blog Series" continues- OH the AGONY…..
    2) I intend to finish Funk Thunder's 3rd CD as both a lyricist and singer- "Radio Control"- maybe even take a bi-plane trip.
    3) I intend to visit places of inspiration and experiences in life matters and explore them in blogs.
    4) I want to organize the materials of a third manuscript, and possibly finish a rough draft.
    5) Have my first manuscript on the way to a fictional publishing house- NO not an invisible one, but one that actually exists.
    6) Revamp my website at – and try and add all this stuff to the home page for interesting facts!

    I'm already feeling the pressure!

  8. Derek says:

    Stefanie, what really kicked off my novel writing in earnest was a summer school at our nearest university. We had a great tutor and we knew we were there to write. Three years on, some of us are still marking our progress together, offering an objective eye and supporting one another through the highs and lows. Reading a novel three times is an interesting approach – but what happens when it's War and Peace?!

    Stephen, it looks like you have a busy schedule ahead of you. Now all you need do is prioritise them! The biplane trip sounds terrific. The oldest thing I ever sat in the back of was a Dragon Rapide (1947, I think) – it reminded me of a Dakota.

    All things being equal, we'll come back to these creative goals by the end of the year.

  9. Stefanie says:

    Hi Derek =) First, thank you for responding to my post…I've been having too many long periods of dry spells where I don't write anything and it's only been in recent weeks that the blood in my writing veins have started flowing again…if I can't hold my attention long enough just to write a short story, how on earth am I going to be disciplined enough to work on a novel?

    I'm also happy to say the novel I'm using to more or less self-teach myself how to write a novel ISN'T War and Peace…but you do have a point =) I'm sure we have classes on how to write novels so that's something that is my responsibility to do. I still want to try this idea though and see how far it gets me. And it's only been in recent weeks that I've had anything close to a good tutor to help me write…for the past couple of years, it's just been other people commenting on my Writerscafe account and I've gotten to the point where it's just not enough anymore. I was so afraid for a long time that this indifference meant that I wasn't meant to be a writer. Now I think I'm finally ready to start moving forward with my writing and my life.

    Again, thank you for your response and I'll take it to heart =)

  10. Derek says:

    Hi again Stefanie,
    It seems to me that a novel is just a set of chapters and a chapter is a set of paragraphs. Each is composed of sentences. It's all small steps, like a trail of breadcrumbs to the finished piece. I think a novel requires a big idea that grabs you and won't let go – it's a quicksand octopus of urgency. Short stories are more like birds or insects, beautifully formed and wondrous to behold in their size and perfection. I think trying a self-teaching method like yours is a brilliant idea. And a writing community whether face-to-face or online (or both) helps keep the focus. Ultimately, the way to be a writer is to write; and to hell with the critics from within and without.

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