Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Guy Fawkes and all that jazz

Well November 5th has come and gone and a few places have been blown up around the world this year, although more damaging in practical terms than the Gunpowder Plot in England a few centuries ago. The perpetrators were not then called terrorists but were convicted of Treason, as they were attempting to interfere and destroy with the status Quo of the English Parliament at the time. They no doubt would have called themselves Freedom Fighters and herein lies the difficulty of language. Around the world during most of humans existence there have been those who believe in something entirely different to the contemporary view of what a world order should be. Many wars have been and are still fought over them with millions of people being killed as a result. Who is right and who is wrong is always decided by those in power at the time. So, as the saying goes, one mans traitor is another man's freedom fighter. Lines have to be drawn. That goes without saying, almost. Yet in the reading of history (mostly written by the victors) it seems almost as if the words consensus, compassion and rational thought go missing. This is but a superficial interpretation because once history is delved into in greater depth there is almost always a closer relationship between making money, usually via big business and politics than should be morally acceptable. The Pirates that robbed other ships of their wealth under the auspices of Royalty is one example. The Dutch East India Company is another. The raping of other countries and their people, often followed by their cultural as well as physical conquest has been a recurring one.
Why is it that we humans cannot use the words we need to use when trying to fix problems but always raise our voices, our rhetoric and our violence when others do not agree with us.  Maybe we feel we deserve the freedom to choose words that satisfy our egos rather than our souls. Souls now that is another word that means different things to different people. A whole new world to explore.

Friday, 20 October 2017

A LITTLE BIT SAD



There are so many things in the world that make us exceedingly sad, the wars, the terrorism, the poverty, the disease, the low hosing affordability. I could go on and on. But then there are things that make us feel just a little bit sad, a sadness close to what used to be called melancholy. This word is one that can be better used to describe what makes us feel low, a bit down, one that does not drive us into the states of depression or anxiety so frequently diagnosed by the medical profession and drug companies alike.
No, the things that have recently made me feel a little bit sad are the following:

1. Hearing a designer of children's outdoor equipment state that 'We have to be more careful nowadays as with the old design children might fall a couple of metres and hurt themselves." This makes me sad that children have to be so protected. Learning about consequences was ,and should still be, a part of the growing up experience. Children need to take responsibility for their own actions. This includes not offending or hurting other people. If a risk is carelessly taken on a swing or a slide then you suffer the consequences. Simple. Risk taking and rationally assessing risk is part of  growing into a fully rounded human. We are taking away that humanity by making everything secure and safe. Imagination and the desire to challenge boundaries are being missed out by the young, as well as the absolute necessity to question and debate. Adventure is becoming an exclusive and expensive sport, whereas it used to be a natural part of growing up.
2. Next, I recently saw a person purposefully knock someone aside when they dared to query their place in a queue. Such a lack of courtesy and caring for someone else is sad.
3. When a bird flew hard against my window last week and fell to the ground I watched for a few moments as it struggled to get back to its upright position I felt more than a little sad. It died within minutes. I buried it. This creatures death was as a consequence of risk taking, flying against a glass object that was reflecting trees the bird expected to land in.  It was deceived of course by a man made structure.  Birds , while having sufficiently good brains for their own way of life,  do not have the same capacity as humans to judge risks and react accordingly.  Sad if humans become no better at learning about consequences than birds.

A very expressive word is sad.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

SNAKE OIL

Snake Oil. Now here is a word that means a lot to people of a certain age and not so much to others. I grew up watching movies about cowboys in the good old US of A and without doubt one of the characters in any film of this genre would be a man selling medicines of dubious quality and efficiency to people isolated in desert country,
or at least in a town far away from what was considered as civilization. What the liquid in the dark brown bottles consisted of was anybody's guess; sometimes alcohol, sometimes morphine or some such derivative, sometimes a chemical concoction that could kill rather than heal, sometimes plain old dirty water. Much faith was put in these snake oils simply because the vendor had a good sales pitch and often a damned good voice, the envy of many a preacher. We see this skill passed on to modern day CEO's of corporations in their 'talks' with governments or indeed to the politicians themselves. The concept is the same. Make a damned good case for a product (or a policy) , sell the idea as something good for the individual person, as if they are the only one that truly matters, and wham the pitch is swallowed holus bolus by sufficient people to make it a worth while enterprise. Of course, what all of these salesmen (and women) are doing is selling a dream and we all want our dreams to come true, no matter how far fetched or expensive it seems to be.
So when we ask what is in a word..well..the word is what sells the dream, or at least puts it up there with other desired offerings. The word is what spreads this desire, this grasping for what is desired as well as the pitch to sell it. The word, money, has a lot to answer for but then it is not the actual object (money) that is the problem it is the person using or abusing it. Money can bring lots of things, including happiness, or so I am told yet it has to be used correctly. Another word. A bit like snake oil that word correctly has many interpretations. Where did snake oil come from? A snake, I guess.
The last word must go to a friendly python passing through our garden on its way from its former home next door, disturbed by the cutting of grass, to a new home, which could be anywhere within a radius of ten kilometres.  Another word. Home. Oh what feelings that can arouse but I have already given the last word to a snake so I will close for this time. Let me know about any snake oils you know of. Just a few words will do..

Monday, 11 September 2017

I'M BACK AGAIN.


It has been some time since I was in this space but things have happened for the delay, namely the break down of my computer and the modem not working correctly and consequently my head in a haze and oh, a little travelling by me. So, now, I have a new modem, a brand new computer and, sigh, a new draft of my latest book to work on! Exciting and challenging at the same time. It's only words, as The Gibbs Brothers put it in one of their best songs but hey what a lot of time and energy and love goes into linking one word with another to make a story. It is odd to think of it in that light, one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time, one chapter at a time and eventually, with any luck, not only a complete story but a good one. I have completed lots of words, around 70,000 at the last count but I expect to change a lot of them as I do another draft. It is the thinking about what has been written that makes a writer reconsider not only what they have said but how they have said it. Writing for theatre, as I have done, it is much easier to decide on how much of the story is showing and how much is telling. The criteria of drama being to show and not to tell. In a narrative fiction this can be a little more difficult. How much do I describe in a garden setting? Does the reader really need to know how many pansies are secreted behind the rose bushes and what colour they are? Well, if the pansies become part of an investigation into the death of a character, then I guess it is an important detail. Those adjectives need to go in. Likewise, how much detail of the fabric of the curtains in a room is required? If the specific details tell the reader something about a character, such as he or she hates paisley patterns or is fearful of swirling shapes or wants only the best quality plain velvet in their house then this is something that tells the reader about that person. So each single word can alter the feeling or comprehension of a person or a scenario. So, it is only words that count and as a writer words are all I have (apologies to Barry Gibb) So, on with the telling and the showing in as much or as little detail as is necessary.
Note: I did not give the finer details of my new computer. Not necessary to explain my delay in writing this blog. 
I am now off to red the book of another writer I admire to motivate me to re write my work and to work towards making it better. The word for my current mood is 'good''. I hope it describes yours.








Saturday, 19 August 2017

New challenges

I have just returned from being on a panel discussing Fiction at the University where I completed my Masters Degree. It was challenging to be seated in front of a crowd all of whom wanted to know how we write fiction but also many who wanted to write a book themselves. Not many questions were asked of the panel from the audience yet there was much nodding of heads as a particular topic was raised, or frowning faces when another was discussed. Each of the five authors on the panel had so very different stories to tell and so many varied ways of going about it. It challenged me to consider my points of view on several matters but also how I approach the task of writing itself. I was alone in stating that there was no such thing as writer's block, serving up the belief that it is only a pause in the telling of a story that makes a writer temporarily stop and reconsider how the next sentence goes. My solution was simple; continue to write but something other than the novel they were working on. Write an email, a blog, a letter, a shopping list., or a sentence that describes what the next paragraph should be about. Or go for a walk or a swim or have a coffee while staring out at Nature or talking to a pet. All this is a distraction for the brain allowing it to recuperate and get back on track, to be fresh for the next sentence of the novel. The point being that it is only the pause of an idea that cannot be written down at that exact moment and not what is loudly proclaimed as writer's block. The other writers on the panel disagreed with my idea, which was a challenge for me, yet I still retain that belief. So while it is good to be challenged it does not mean we have to abandon our beliefs if they are based on rational thought.  This of course applies to many aspects of life, as well as in the fictional world of story telling. Passion in a topic can be instructive as well as destructive. It is for the mind to sieve out the irrational and be strengthened by the rational. My next challenge is to complete the next sentence of the novel I am working on!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The power of the Imagination

One of the things that a writer needs most is the skill to transform the imaginings that tumble around in the head into something concrete, like a story so well structured that other people can understand what the words convey.. The result can be powerful in both emotional and mental terms, it can draw a reader into wanting to know more about the topic, or it can be dismissed as too tough to read or is not written well enough.

This interpretation of an idea into something solid is not of course restricted to writers.  Inventors need a great deal of imagination. In their minds they conjure up an idea, whether that be how to build a bridge, or use the power of steam to drive a train, or how to enable words typed into a platform to be transmitted around the world, via space.  And what of those people who imagined they could send a man to the moon. Then what of the people who transferred that concept into practicality.

It is the fortunate disposition of  humans that over time evolution increased our capacity to imagine and so prove ourselves to become the most prolific animal on earth, as well as the most wonderful yet dangerous of creatures. So imagination can be used for good or for bad, depending on the interpretation.

I set myself a task. It is one you can perform.I wrote a few sentences as the opening to a story.

"The way he talked it was obvious there was not much in the top paddock. Not that it mattered for the job he was applying for. A wounded wombat could do it. Still, he was the only one who applied, which was strange, considering."

The task is to now imagine where that story can be taken. There must be a dozen, maybe even three dozen, stories that can sprout from this simple imagined scenario.  SO GO FOR IT. Just write a few hundred, or a few thousand words, to complete a story.  Every person would come up with a different one. Such is the power of the imagination. It is brilliant.

Monday, 3 July 2017

OVER THE RAINBOW

Checking my photos the other day I came across one of a rainbow, almost all of it, arching over my house. Now there is supposedly some good luck in this. or is it only the pot of gold at the rainbow's end? Has anyone ever found this pot of gold? There's the rub. Who is going to say if they do? Searching for that pot of gold is really akin to what a writer does. There is that ongoing search for an event, an idea, a character, something that can be bound into a story that is not only valuable but entertaining and interesting for the viewer/reader. It does not matter whether it is a novel, a film, a TV show, a stage play. They all have the same need, to enlighten other people with their dazzling colours, their confident structure, their overarching ideas, their desire to please.  So, being the eternal optimist, I intend to look at my rainbow every day and recall the dozen or more publishers who rejected the first Harry Potter book and think that maybe some day my pot of gold will arrive at my doorstep via a worldwide publisher who is a wizard at marketing my books. Watch this space! Tell me of your experiences with rainbows, pots of gold or anything else to do with creativity. Love to hear from you.             



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

LOOKING FOR 'STUFF.'

PURPLE IS A COLOUR THAT REPRESENTS JUSTICE, WHICH IS WHY US FEMINISTS LIKE TO USE IT BUT IT ALSO HOLDS OTHER MEANINGS.  IT'S A BIT LIKE HOW I DO MY RESEARCH. I GO LOOKING FOR WHAT I WISH TO DISCOVER AND THEN ON THE WAY COME ACROSS SO MANY THINGS I NEVER KNEW . THIS NEVER CEASES TO  AMAZE ME. 
FOR INSTANCE, I RECENTLY READ THAT THE SONG, 'WHEN YOU AND I WERE YOUNG, MAGGIE' WAS NOT WRITTEN BY AN IRISHMAN, AS I THOUGHT, ALONG WITH THOUSANDS/MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE. BOTH LYRICS AND MUSIC WERE WRITTEN BY TWO CANADIANS IN  1866. IF ASKED THIS QUESTION IN ONE OF THOSE TV SHOWS I WOULD CERTAINLY  NOT HAVE WON THE BIG PRIZE. 
ANOTHER THING I LEARNED WHEN DOING RESEARCH ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC WAS THAT THE MEN ON APOLLO 10 DID EVERYTHING THAT THE FAMED APOLLO 11 MEN DID, EXCEPT ACTUALLY LAND ON THE MOON. ALL THOSE APOLLO CREWS FORGED THE WAY FOR THE MOON LANDING, YET WE HEAR NOTHING OF THEM. 
AND SO IT GOES. I COULD QUOTE A HUNDRED FACTS I DISCOVER DURING RESEARCH FOR MY BOOKS, NONE OF WHICH I ACTUALLY USE IN MY WORK.  BUT THEN EVERY NEW DETAIL ABOUT PEOPLE AND THE WORLD  GIVES ME A BROADER PERSPECTIVE. WHO KNOWS, ONE DAY I MIGHT WRITE ABOUT A SPACE TRAVELER WHO WRITES FOLK SONGS?

I'VE ONLY JUST REALISED TOO THAT I HAVE WRITTEN THIS IN CAPITALS. I TOOK MY EYE OFF THE BALL FOR ONE MINUTE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. I MUST WATCH THE BALL CLOSER. BUT THEN I JUST MIGHT MISS SOMETHING.
ELSE.

Monday, 22 May 2017

NEVER STOP LEARNING

As a writer I am always researching. I ask a million questions every day. Not always getting answers I might add. I search not only online sites for a specific subject or in other people's works but just everyday things all around me. Just looking and listening is a kind of research, even if a little more abstract. How exactly does a bird flap its wings? What songs of a bird are specific to territory claims? Why is one wild wallaby happy to come close to me and stare as if really interested in what I am, while another bounces away at the first sight of me? Why has such and such a book sold millions when I, among many others, think it was pretty mediocre? And why does this best seller author get applauded by the industry so much? Is it that publishers pay for so much advertising and opinion that it rolls over like a stone gathering moss and so more and more people buy because it is apparently well accepted by the promotional companies? IS this a form of brainwashing? This last question leads to the one of why most humans are so easily brainwashed. Most of us have succumbed to commercial advertising for over a century. We buy far more products than we ever need, or, sadly we pay a lot more for them simply because they have a Brand name that has had millions spent on promoting it. Many more have succumbed to the belief systems of various creeds that promote their belief as the only true one, which in turn leads to dangerous results such as killing or injuring those who oppose your belief system. I write this on the day of such a killing in Manchester UK. Yet another attack against innocents, mostly young people who were simply enjoying music at a concert. It is a real tragedy, no matter who caused it and no mater what was put into their heads. No amount of research seems able to untangle how a thought can be turned into horrific action, which of course has been happening throughout the history of humankind. Us and them mentality seems to have existed since the year dot. Evolution hit upon a creed, survival of the fittest, while belief systems provide the stimulus. We are all flawed creatures to some degree and this is what writers write about. Writing about death and horror can ask questions yet sadly not provide answers. Back to the drawing board
.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

PENCIL VERSUS KEYBOARD


A recent event (floods) in my town means that not all shops, banks and offices are currently open for business. All will be open in the not too distant future but for the moment I am doing things a little differently. People's birthdays  remain on the same day and bills once received need to be paid. So, this week I have done something not done for ages. I actually wrote out cheques in my best hand, wrote carefully the addresses to which the letters must be sent, popped the cheques plus the butt of the invoice to be paid into an envelope,  slowly stroked my tongue along the sticky bit on the envelope, pressed the flap down, pressed on it, flipped over the envelope and placed a stamp in the correct right hand corner. This ritual was done for several bills due for payment. I had a nice collection of hand written envelopes. Strangely it gave me such a feeling of satisfaction that I grabbed some blank notelets out of my drawer, kept for unknowable emergencies and decided to actually write a letter to some of my family and friends. One was for a birthday coming up soon, one was just to check on the well being of a family member, one was a 'lets catch up on the gossip' type of communication and another were the basic facts about health and welfare of myself and family. Then I kept going until all ten of the notelets were used up. It was such a pleasant way to communicate. By writing in long hand I felt more in contact with the person I was writing to. Was it a much slower? process.  For me, not really, because although I type faster than I hand write I have always to go back and check my typing, and retype the errors, usually considerable. Whereas having lived with and loved words for so many years they not only come easily to me (years of learning spelling, grammar and vocabulary at school and Uni) but I can somehow pour emotion into them as well. I have to say placing my hands on a pen, then holding the notelet or bill in the other and passing on not only my words but my emotions is an incredibly intimate thing to do and I loved it. The result, a small but for me immensely personal pile of envelopes ready to be posted was a pleasant sight; bringing back the joy of receiving hand written Christmas and Birthday greetings, of receiving a letter from a lover or a friend, of being in touch with a grandmother who's letters were written with a nib pen and deep blue ink in a romantic scribbly almost Gothic style, with curls at the end of each letter. Each letter of the alphabet a work of art and  written with love. 
This might all sound like romantic rubbish, or nostalgic nonsense at least but I do find there is a great difference in writing by hand and by keyboard. I am trying to duplicate the intimate sense of communication in this keyboard blog. Let me know if I have achieved some semblance of it.
I also have to confess that the first draft of my short story collection, as well as my mystery thriller, were written in long hand before the second draft appeared on my screen via the keyboard. If asked to describe the difference for me I would say that I write with my heart with a pencil/pen and my head on the keyboard.  Both are important for any creative process so I think I will stick with this method. Most of my favourite writers do go straight to the keyboard and I bless them for their outputs. For them the keyboard wins every time. For me? Lets say fifty fifty.

Friday, 21 April 2017

THOSE TWO AMAZING WORDS- THE END


 Blog time again and as promised I am writing about those two wonderful yet ambiguous words; The End.
As a writer I love to write the two words that signify the completion of a work . They add satisfaction, relief, pride and a general sense of well being. This may  last for a few minutes to hours, day, even weeks. How long the sense of accomplishment lasts depends on how well the finished work is received, or not.
But, consider the differing contexts in which the same two words can promote an entirely different emotional state. The end can describe the finality of a relationship, a job, the age of innocence, the destruction of an icon, the disbanding of a group, the loss of a friend to someone else, and the least desired meaning, the death of a person.  While most of these events would initiate some kind of sadness or despair, there could, depending on the specific trauma be a release of relief or sheer joy, particularly if the end brought in a new, happier phase of a person;s life. We can all think of a situation where the leaving of someone or something, the ending of a relationship, can enhance our own sense of freedom and well being. So, the context is all.
Where does this lead? It leads to the confirmation of the wonders of language, particularly the English language, which has around a million different words, although most of us use only a few thousand on an everyday basis. Most writers are well aware of the possibilities of how just two words, can be used to signify almost anything if the context is correct. There is, I believe, a problem looming when technology defines language as having a less important role in explaining a concept or feeling. It is so easy to underestimate the power of words if they are reduced to a few letters and not put within the context and/or emotional state for which they are intended. This is not elitism, it is common sense, for language is primarily for communication, an exchange of thoughts, feelings, ideas and information. Images might entertain more effectively but words are what defines us as human beings. Other animals, birds, insects, fish use other senses to see, smell, touch and hear but only humans have the capacity for detailed language. It must not be lost.
A final note, the ending of the life of that incredible New Zealand born, Australian satirist John Clarke, whose brilliance made me laugh and cry at his every performance. His amazing use of language cannot be beaten. In a pithy ABC slot where he was 'interviewed' as a politician by his comrade Brian Dawe his response to the question what is Clean Coal was the short witty comment.."It's an example of alliteration." He turned the knife with a word, not a sword. Vale John Clarke, a man who knew how to use language for its optimum purpose, even if it only took a few words to say exactly what was needed to be said.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

READ OR LOOK



As a writer I of course love words. As a writer for the stage and screen I also appreciate the value of the visual. A picture can take the place of a thousand words, a few hundred at any rate.

Such was the case when watching a scene from that fabulous British TV show "The Vicar of Dibley".
Dawn French sat on the sofa staring at a bottle of whisky doing her best NOT to take a swig from the bottle. As a vicar she was being tempted. The way she spent between 60 and 90 seconds turning her head from the bottle to the picture of Jesus and back again, using her eyes, her lips, and body to emphasise the battle was a great lesson in comedic skill. Such a simple act and yet she made the whole process as funny as anything I have watched on TV. Not a word was needed to explain the conflict of her decision making. Of course the visual 'punch line' was that she gave in and gurgled the whisky straight from the bottle. I laughed and sighed with admiration for her and of course for the director.

This action would have been indicated in the script by the writer of course but it shows how an actor can add so much to the concept. It helps if a writer has been or can imagine being in the position in which they place a character or in a scenario in which they have been involved. Yet the fact that silence can add to a script is an important lesson for both actors and writers to remember early on in their career. So, while the audience would see the actions performed in silence, those actions would have been described in words. Dawn French, I love you. Words, I love you too. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

IT'S ONLY WORDS


What a few weeks since my last blog! Words are barely enough and yet here I go. 

I was writing to a deadline. A book to enter into a competition. The style was influenced by a novel who's title I could recall but not its author. How remiss of me. I went online. I got side tracked and spent hours looking into everything apart from what I was looking for. All extremely interesting though. I gave that up and went back to the writing of the last couple of chapters. It wasn't working out. I decided I needed a complete break. I took a five day break. No writing. Definitely no technology. And so it was. No emails. No blank screen beckoning me. No guilt trips over the looming deadline. No Fb friends telling me about their dogs and gardens and grandkids and holidays and, in some cases, their writing successes, the latter always giving me pleasure even if they are only friends via Facebook.

The days were a lovely mix of museums, art galleries, book launches, visiting friends (real ones), the spraying of every perfume from every counter in the Department Store, eating food not generally eaten, drinking coffee too often drank and simply loafing about, watching and listening to perfect strangers. Everything digested with gusto, for perhaps future use in a story.

Then a few hours drive home in the rain. The deadline meant picking up from where I'd left off. It was not easy. I had all this other stuff' now in my mind, none of it remotely attached to, or useful for, the story I was working on. The words came slowly. The clock ticked. The rains turned into floods. Roads impassable. I had to finish and send off the manuscript. Luckily it was to be emailed. But then gale force winds arrived with even heavier rain. There was talk on the radio of trees down, possible blackouts. How to email without power  to my computer! I worked into the night. The deadline grew closer. Will there be time. Will these last rushed chapters be good enough.

The river rose. The trees bent wildly in the growing wind. It was now or never. A decision had to be made. I opened my emails. I sent off the completed draft of the manuscript. An email was pinged back. The submission had been received. I more or less fell in a heap, feeling the need for another five day break. No way out. All roads out flooded. Time for coffee, an early Easter Bun and a big deep breathe. Words can't express totally how I felt. Good is pretty close.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Do Holidays Ever Go Away?


When I asked the question whether holidays ever go away a friend replied, "Which holidays?" A fair enough question when you consider how many of them there are. Not just the annual 2-4 weeks break from work but the others given as religious or national days, which somehow generally manage to include a long weekend. When I was younger and working full time those extra days of holiday were very welcome  and the 4 week break was a time of freedom from routine and sometimes the boredom of a regular job. Things have changed a fair bit over the past decade or so. Long weekend holidays are still enjoyed by most people , although the service industries we so rely on do sometimes miss out, but they become even more important for those who are expected to work ever longer hours, often for no extra pay, and for those with temporary or casual work who can spend  as much time travelling to and from work as the hours they get paid for.

So, as a writer, no longer having a 'normal' job I realise how lucky I am. I can spend weeks writing, without a break or I can take a big break whenever I want. Unless there is a specific time put aside related to my writing I can shut down the computer, hide my pencil and pad and even close my mind to anything related to what I am currently writing. When there is no deadline I can spread my work over days, weeks, months, even years, if it does not affect my income or my status. So yes, I am lucky to be at a stage where I can more or less take a holiday when I like. Mostly they are breaks of a few days but I could, if motivated, take more. I can simply end this sentence and not write another one until I feel I need to. This can be a few hours later or..whenever.

This is the theory! In practice my mind, my imagination, my need to tell the story, dominates my desire for holidays, in what ever form they come. If a character nags at me to get on with the story then I continue. If I am pushed into describing a scene that very moment then I must. If my heart prods my mind along to revisit a chapter then I do. Under these circumstances I continue working and a break goes off the radar. Yet, in spite of those 'pressures' I know that I can work at my own pace. I can select the times I work or do not.

So do my holidays ever go away? Certainly not. The ones I have had remain as memories to savour.   The ones I have to come are ones that excite me with the visions I have of where they will be and what they will be. Of course, they can also be a great source for the backdrop to a
story. Holidays need to be around forever. Otherwise we might all go stir crazy. There is a fundamental need for all  humans to refresh both body and mind. It makes us better people. Long may holidays reign, no matter what the global corporations or politicians, who receive very generous holidays, say!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE


I'm late, I'm late for a very important date. How often this comes to pass. No matter how well I seem to organise my time there never seems enough of it. So how do I get everything done that is required of me? In short I don't, not in the time frame allocated anyhow. Mostly this is because I get distracted. This is a curse for anyone who has a deadline. During my University years I not only was interested in the subject being researched but also in everything else that came along with that subject or linked to it in some way, often with no true links at all but it just sounded interesting information to discover. Ah, how this changes the focus as well as broadening the mind. This was all great for the expansion of knowledge but when I went off at each and every tangent it meant losing focus on whatever I was intending to research. This just about sums up my writing life. While it is good for a writer to have knowledge of and an interest in anything and everything it can be both time consuming and too much of a distraction.
Finding that right word or that correct description often means leaving the page and entering another world, one of information rather than creation. This is true whether gleaned from a plain old dictionary or from an extraordinary online conversation. This in turn leads to a myriad of interesting facts and pathways to follow and sometimes it is hours before I actually return to my page with the one exact word or description I required. It also often arouses in me a desire to return to a subject only just touched upon and then this can lead to a whole change of direction of a plot or a character's needs. In fact, a complete change of story can occur. It is unknowable until received by readers whether this turns out to be a good thing or a bad thing.
So, judging how well time is spent and whether that time was a good or a bad influence is something forever debatable. Like time itself, writing is when a thought is translated in a fleeting moment from one mind set to another.  For some lucky writers their words seem to last forever, for others they vanish seemingly into thin air in a matter of moments. The essence of either seems being in the right place at the right time to be noticed and approved of. Such is the stuff dreams are made of.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE


I have always felt with some pride that I have kept my prejudices to the lowest possible level that is humanly possible. Yes, I do quiver  whenever I hear someone sound the H at a beginning of a word where it should be silent. Yes I do tremble with slight disgust at the way some people eat their food and yes, I do think most women work more harmoniously together than do most men. The former two prejudices I deal with silently, the latter I talk loudly about but back it up with facts.

I recently watched an episode of the UK, TV series VERA and grew green with envy at the quality of the writing. It revealed prejudice in a subtle, yet honest way with clever story telling, leading me to think one way, and so exposing my own deep rooted prejudice, one I thought I did not possess, and then completely turning that path of the story on its head, making me see how wrong I was to jump to a certain conclusion. It pertained to a particular ethnic group and while my prejudicial thought was only a temporary moment in my life it shows how easily we can all be roused/led to think and feel and do the wrong thing. So I admire how clever are such contemporary TV shows that deal with such issues in a serious yet entertaining way. It begs the question of whether entertainment should be used more to flesh out ideals and prejudices, rather than dictatorial editorials and political clashes. The world might be a more harmonious place if it did.

This ties in with my belief that good comedy, whether stand up or situational, has always manged to make people laugh first and ponder on the issues later. A brilliant tool to break down barriers. Whether self pride can be broken down entirely is something we all have to deal with but as they say, pride comes before a fall. So I hope the next generation of writers,whether in novels or for  any other form of media have the skills to debate the darker side of human nature with honesty, factual evidence and yet in an interesting and entertaining way. Long live good writers.

๐Ÿ˜

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

CHOICES


Here we are, almost a month into 2017, a year that is undoubtedly going to ring in more changes than many of us desire. These are mainly due to political changes, that in turn will allow for increasing changes in the corporate power games that play out everywhere in the world. These changes could be said to have been brought about by choice, the choice of the voting public. The question now being asked is how deeply choices are made by manipulation of the emotions, above and beyond the already accepted one of the absolute power of a few media barons in the past. How much social engineering has been going on for decades, maybe centuries? Before IT even. In other words what really are free choices and what are those made by both internal and external pressures. Psychology is a strong motivational tool, as any cult leader can attest. 

Choices can be reversed as long as the damage done is not totally irreversible. (like a nuclear war) This thought is what keeps some of us optimistic and encourages us to go on working for a better world run by more thoughtful, less greedy people with a conscience, who care about their fellow humans and the world of Nature to which we are bound.  

It is this sense of caring for humanity that keeps me writing. I long to explore what other people feel as much as what they do. I cannot but hope that more people will read what I have written and discuss it, or share it, just for the fact that it's a differing perspective to their own. Maybe this is a dream of mine, that others will want to hear about what is my view on life. Yet, in the end, we all seem to wish for the same things; sufficient food, shelter, health and love, even if we all come to this via varying situations, and each journey is somewhat different. It is this knowledge ๐Ÿ˜that gives us writers the fodder to make and produce a huge range of stories. And long may it be so.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Over the Rainbow



Is there really a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Nice to think so. Like all dreams it is a myth that symbolises hope. As a writer I hope that other people will be interested in and entertained by what I write and publish, or in the case of stage plays that they enjoy seeing what I have written bought to life on stage. Artistic endeavours are generally meant for sharing. They are a way of other people seeing how other people live and think and feel and this only has to be a good thing.

I have just finished reading Raymond Carver's selection of short stories called "Please be quiet,please."  It is easy to understand why he is so well respected and while I admire his skill at creating the innermost thoughts and feelings of his characters and his insatiable interest in detail I did get somewhat irritated with each and every story having an open ending. It was as if the story is left dangling in the air. But then this says more of me than Carver I guess.

A book that is not at all ambiguous is the best seller GUT. It is a text book related like a story. Fascinating. I am only half way through but have already learned so much about the gut brain and the way it affects our health. And is has humour! Wonderful.

So I gaze at a rainbow and trust that my pot of gold is a collection of people who read my works and enjoy.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The New Year Awaits


The Festive Season is almost over and with it 2016, a strange and in some ways dreadful year in many parts of the world. I am hoping for a much better year with peace and love reigning over the world rather than fer and terror, though this is hard to imagine with the current state of the world. Though I trust in human nature to do the needed changes. 
On a personal level I am trying to focus on what my New Year's Resolutions will be and how many, if any, I will keep. Promises, to self or to other people, are sometimes tough to keep and probably means they were too optimistic in the first place. In light of this I am going to choose ones where there is a better chance of them being kept! I will not be letting anyone down then.
Some thoughts so far: 
Choose carefully and read more of the writers whose writing I admire and stories I respect.
Try to get more of my own voice into my own stories/novels.
Make sure I write something absolutely every day.
Try to improve my marketing techniques via social media and other sources. (A tough nut to crack for many writers)
Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. (a great way of saying it)
Donate a little more time to practically helping those in the community who need it.(Find the time!)
And I expect there will be many more 'wishes' before January 1st. Wishing everyone happy planning and executing with your New Year Resolutions.

Great to receive a photo from a fan who lives in Germany! A nice way to end this year and indeed, this blog.