Writing and backgammon

We’ve recently learned how to play backgammon, so now we can finally use the set that we bought in Turkey about 15 years ago. (I said we’d get there in the end.)
Like all dice games there is a great deal of luck in the game, although strategy and ‘reading the game’ play their parts too. Such is our competitiveness that we’ve both started practising online at http://www.247backgammon.org/ to sharpen our skills.
Naturally, I started on the beginner’s level and lately I’ve been practising almost exclusively on the expert level. And by practising I mean losing. It won’t surprise you to learn that the expert level seems to be far luckier with the dice than the lower settings, or me. And any mistakes I make are ruthlessly punished.
Why then do I play against the expert? Because, win or lose, that’s usually when I play at my best (although that’s cold comfort when I feel I’ve been cheated out of victory).
It seems to me that writing is a lot like backgammon. We can stick to the lower levels and enjoy the game without feeling too taxed. Stories will still get written, in their own time, and may even be shared. There’s no shame in that and we can derive a great deal of fulfilment from the creativity and feedback.
Or…we can turn things up a few notches and dare to try a game at expert level. We can work to a deadline and a plan, gather up our finished work and edit it until our fingers hurt, and then risk all by sending our writing to an agent, a publisher or a magazine editor.
We may feel that the odds are stacked against us and that the dice are rigged. The statistics certainly bear out that point of view.
But you know what?
Sometimes statistics don’t show the full story. Sometimes we gain far more, even if we ‘fail’, by pushing ourselves beyond our limits. Sometimes, instead of publication being solely a game we want to win, we can choose to see it as a journey and an experience we can learn from and grow from.
My trusty spreadsheet (see previous post) shows me all the times I’ve submitted material and the percentages of successes and failures. But more than that, it shows me how far I’ve come as a writer.
Speaking of which….coming soon!

CAUSE & EFFECT- my third novel published by Joffe Books this year.

A random attack on a child and a clinical assassination thrust Thomas Bladen into a dark conspiracy.
Thomas Bladen works in surveillance for a shadowy unit of the British government. But just when he thought things had settled down, his girlfriend Miranda’s father calls in a favour. Thomas must investigate an attack on the loved one of a drug dealer. As he delves deeper, he finds out the truth about Miranda’s past and his investigation takes him closer to the shadow state and endangers everyone Thomas cares about. 

Due out on 12th December 2015 and available for pre-order.


  1. David Brown says:

    Ellie has just taught me how to play, so I'm up for a challenge. One of us can be the master criminal, the other some James Bond type character.

  2. I'll be Thomas Bladen (although I suspect it's more Karl's game) and you can be Bob Peterson or Sir Peter Carroll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *