Wednesday, February 22, 2012


An unusual title for a blog as it's not how I feel, but it is how I write.

Blutacked to my desk, alongside many other little aides, is a small piece of paper with one word on it in green ink and large capitals: TRAPPED. Nearly all of my writing starts with that one word.

In 'A Stitch In Time', lots of people are trapped by their past, their present circumstances and their own minds and of the five main characters, only one doesn't escape from the entrapment...but she deserved it and I need her there for the next book.

In my short story 'Vehicles', two people manage to escape their pasts and join together to follow a different path.

It wasn't a conscious decision to write my stories this way, or my non-fiction for that matter, it was something I did without knowing it. When I realised I wrote the word down and stuck it on my desk.

Why do I write this way? It's not something I've thought about much until the radio interview on Sunday. During the show I talked about my past and it dawned on me that through all of it I was trapped. Not just by my own attitudes, but also by those of my ex-wife, the circumstances of my life up to that point and other reasons. I have now broken free of it and have started to escape.

Writers are always putting themselves into their work, which is one reason we can find it hard to take criticism and one reason why some people criticise us so harshly: to get a reaction and through that try and control us. It's a good reason to take a step back from our work and also why we should select critique partners that understand this aspect of writing.

What about you? What theme dominates your writing?


I know it's not Friday, but I thought I'd share these funny quotes about 'Paraprosdokian' which is a Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation. 'Where there's a will, I want to be in it,' is a type of Paraprosdokian.

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left..

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'

13. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

20. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

21. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

23. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

25. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

26. Where there's a will, there's relatives.

See you on Friday.


Lisa Shafer said...

I loved your 26 little tee shirt slogans there. So many of them are true!

And you always start your writing with a single word? Interesting. Is it usually a participle, as per your example?

Milo James Fowler said...

You are a brave soul, Martin; I don't know if I could be so forthcoming in an interview. And you're totally right about taking
"a step back from our work" -- I think it's necessary, but it sure ain't easy.

#6 is chilling.

Patti said...

Those quotes at the end were so funny.

DRC said...

Thanks for the quotes. They provided my daily giggle. And congratulations on an interview well done...

Martin Willoughby said...

Lisa: It's the idea that starts with a single rather than the writing itself.

Milo: Stepping back isn't easy, but it's one of those things that needs to be done or we'll go insane.

Patti: My favourite is number as it's how I feel sometimes.

DRC: I always make you laugh.

Caitlin said...

Love the quotes! But I really love how open you were in the interview. I think most people tend to safeguard those emotions even if they are a driving force to themes in our writing.

Martin Willoughby said...

Caitlin: There are somethings that I hide, but most things no longer have the power to hurt me as they used to.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Themes that dominate my writing are strong women, mystery, suspense and strong family ties. And I believe you're absolutely right about choosing your critique partners carefully, Martin. Sometimes it means stepping away from critiques completely and going with your gut. Every time I've taken the reins and listened to my gut, instead of the multitude of well-meaning voices, I've wound up with books that I sold and were subsequently published. Great post!

Martin Willoughby said...

Cindy: My gut has not let me down yet. (I just wish it was smaller)