Hey guys I’m aspiring author Stephen Clarkson. I’m currently working full time as a Civil Engineer and write in any spare time I manage to find. I’m currently working on my first full length fantasy novel, which has an estimated finished word count of 130k words! While I work on this I always like to have a side project, typically a short story that I can switch between as the mood takes me. You can find all of my short stories on Wattpad.
The genre that I love to read and write is Fantasy! Though I like to deviate a little for instance the next side project I’m outlining will be a crime/paranormal novella!
My first publication on Wattpad was ‘Manor Dark’, It started as a 1000 word flash fiction but close friends demanded more so I turned it into an 8000 word short story! It’s a fantasy story that’s pretty dark – there’s lots of violence, blood and death, so not for the faint of heart!
“The windowless Manor sits in solitude high above the village. It’s Lord is a cruel and ruthless man, he is never seen yet the people fear him like no other. He is the cause of countless deaths with no apparent reason. It is time for change and for the fear to end.”
Social media: Twitter
1) When did you start writing and what gave you the inspiration to write?
Around 3 years ago I decided, on a whim, that I was going to write a zombie novel. I had done a little reading around the topic and thought it would be something I would enjoy. I did enjoy the writing but I had no plan or direction. At that point I had no idea about Outlining or any planning tools. Eventually I wrote myself into a corner and didn’t like the direction the novel had gone. I gave up at around 30k words in and never came back to it.
I thought about writing occasionally and knew it was something I enjoyed but never made the time for it. Then in mid November last year I was in Paris during the terror attacks, thankfully not near the attack sites. The attacks sparked something in my mind and I came to the realization that life is so fragile and easily expended that you have to make time to do the things that you love. I decided that I was going to write and that I was going to make a real go of it. I came up with an idea, which became an outline which is now my main work in progress.
It helps that I have read a great deal more books in that time. Reading the work of so many great writers in always a huge inspiration.
As a form of support and to get to know writers in the same boat as me I started joining writer groups on Facebook. A member on one of them mentioned a flash fiction on an app called Wattpad. I said I’d check it out for him and after reading it decided that it was something I’d like to try. I started Manor Dark as a one-shot flash fiction but it never felt like the story was done. Following comments and requests I decided to extend the piece to a short story and posted the whole thing on my very own Wattpad profile. I enjoyed the process so much I decided I’d always have a less intense side project while I write my main novel to keep pushing the creative part of my mind.
2) What is writing to you?
Writing to me is a great way to express your darkest fears and most joyous dreams. It is a way of expressing yourself in a creative way with no restrictions. Writing is all inclusive whether you are writing about your day in a journal or writing a multi-novel epic fantasy series, anyone can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write something that is their own. I think it’s a very personal process pouring yourself into a piece of writing and hoping that people will accept and enjoy it. I find it amazing that so many people have the courage to put their work out there in the public for people to read.
3) How do you handle negative reviews/comments?
I started posting my work publicly with the knowledge that my writing skills are less than refined. I approached people asking for their opinions ready to take on board all the criticism they had to throw at me. Fortunately I’ve had a great deal of great comments and reviews with very little negativity. I expect it will be a different story when posting work on Amazon, for example, in contrast to Wattpad where I believe that the majority of people want to be supportive and are probably more hesitant to point out your flaws.
4) What would you say is your pet peeve when reading someone’s story?
Poor grammar. I will try to overlook a lot of grammar mistakes and look to find the heart of the story and characters but sometimes the grammar or spellings can be so obtrusively poor that I can’t look beyond them.
5) What would you say was the biggest writing challenge for you?
Time. I work a full time job as a Civil Engineer and by the time I’ve done the commute, eaten and all the other necessities I sometimes find it difficult to make time to write. Some weeks are better than others.
I’ve not really had any long bouts of writer’s block. The closest I got was a scene in my book that I obsessively wouldn’t write as I didn’t believe the words I were coming up with were good enough. I think that can be attributed more to self doubt. I got to the stage where I decided whatever I wrote would work, I just needed to push the story forward. I may get round to the first set of edits and hate the scene but as I’ve seen so many people say – “You can’t edit a blank page.”
6) What keeps you motivated? Or better what motivates to the most, in order to keep writing?
Passion. I’m still early on in my writing career and the passion for writing is still burning strong. If I don’t write for a couple of days I feel myself getting frustrated that I’m not getting the story that’s rattling around in my brain out onto the page. It helps that in Facebook groups, on Twitter and on Wattpad I’m surrounded by literally hundreds of great writers. They are a constant source of inspiration and motivation.