Tag Archives: inspiration

The List At The End Of The Universe

Blame it on getting past the halfway marker on the book but I’ve been thinking a whole lot about endings recently. A chain of thought that led from the ending of the book and spanned further outwards into how everything ends, eventually stopping in one form or another. Then I began to think about ideas and projects of my own.

It’s said that Stanley Kubrick only made one film of each genre. Whilst I’ve had a look at his filmography and that statement isn’t completely accurate there is a tendency to regard his main cannon of movies cornerstones in their particular field. His Science fiction movie was 2001, his horror The Shining, his comedy Dr Strangelove and hell knows what Eyes Wide Shut was going to be.

I have no idea if this will be the only book I ever write. For something that I felt like doing just to give it a go it’s going fairly well. Any thought that I’d have it done by the time the clocks go back has pretty much faded right now though. If it is the first and last book I ever write then at least I can say I’ve written one.

This in turn got me thinking about all the small, one time projects I could do and then never make another one of that particular type again. Then I got down to writing a list.

1X Short Film.

When I was in college one of my tutors encouraged us to write a list at the start of each week with what you hoped to achieve. He added that he always put something at the top that either you’d already done or were close to doing so you could cross it off straight away and have a psychological boost right off the bat. This would be mine. Already done, made and screened. One day I’ll stop banging on about it.

1X Feature Film

Still working on this one, script have been done but nothing picked up yet.

1X Book

Currently in progress.

1X Comic Book.

I’ve always had a few ideas kicking about for a comic book actually but I cannot draw to save my life so I’d need somebody who could.

1X Album

Once again I cannot play any musical instruments at all but about a year ago I went round to a friend’s house who certainly can. We had a system running where I hummed stuff and he translated it into guitar and drums. It was a really fun day and we had something akin to a song by the time we were done. The idea of just making one album or strange bleeps and bloops, never playing it life in any way and only producing about three physical copies of it just appeals to me.

1X Radio Play.

Something creepy with sound. Quite doable on a really low budget, at home with decent microphones too.

1X Published Short Story.

In a magazine or something along those lines.

1X Video game.

Probably something with a bit of story to it especially as I’m really only able to make text adventures right now.

1X Any of the above but under the banner of Doctor Who

Because the day I get to write ‘TARDIS lands’ I will truly have to stop myself from flipping out.

Working through this list I feel I could die a happy man. Probably quite poor but still happy.

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Good People Making Cool Things

The more I’ve got into writing this book the more I’ve began to appreciate and be inspired by others online who are trying to get their dreams and ideas into reality. I’ve usually never met these people (but would certainly try and say hello if I ever did) but their individual stories do remind me that, when ploughing through another thousand words or so, there might just be something really special at the end of all of this. For the last few weeks I’ve been thoroughly addicted to watching Games As Lit 101 on YouTube in which Samuel Gronseth casts a critical eye over interactive media. I’d been watching a lot of his videos (drawn in mostly be his remarkable analysis of Bioshock) when his latest video describing his personal circumstances landed.

Rather than waffle on about it myself I’ll just put the video right here.

Once again I’ve never met Samuel nor ever spoken to him but I wanted to go right ahead and sign up to his Patreon because I really enjoy what he’s doing and want to help him advance it to the stage that he obviously reckons he can. There have been so many times whilst watching his videos that he’s introduced completely new ideas regarding games I long since thought I knew everything about.

I’ve signed up to $4 a month which isn’t a huge amount (does four bucks buy you a coffee and doughnut over that side of the Atlantic these days?) but I hope it goes some way to getting to his target. If you like video games and don’t just regard them as junk, throw away entertainment then I’d certainly recommend chucking Samuel some money so he can expand his show and bring his ideas to life.

Also, he likes cats so that’s an automatic thumbs up from me.

Now I need to go and write more words.

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All Things Legendary

I went for lunch with a work colleague yesterday and happened upon this poster in the bookshop we passed by.

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I’ve never been to Fisher Street Galleries before yet I know where Fisher Street is so that’s not a big problem. I work during the day most Mondays in Carlisle so it would be fairly easy to just take a change of clothes, grab something to eat somewhere and pitch up at 7pm. My car parking permit runs 24 hours so that’s not really a problem either.

The £35 is affordable.

I’m not sure if they’d want me turning up with half a novel written and a few notes though. I’m liking it from the perspective of meeting other writers for a five weeks spell. The last time I did something similar to this was when I was in school years ago (I think I was about 17-18) and it was something of a disaster. Obviously I’m a grizzled 36 year old now with stubble and everything.

I’m currently mulling this one over.

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Tree Surgery In The Sun

Yes, I’d say knocking off the Facebook and Twitter links on my taskbar after many months of them being there has certainly been a very positive step. The problem I had was that I would probably get a tiny chunk of 100 words done, find it really easy to snap back to Chrome, click on Facebook, watch a video of a cat trying to balance on a dog’s head, go onto Twitter and find that people are moaning about Doctor Who again before going back to repeat this process a few times over. I’d usually finally give up once 500 words had been put down of an evening.

Social media is a fine thing but it doesn’t half suck up time and kill productivity. Part of me is considering leaving both of them alone for a while. At least with Instagram I need to be on my phone for it so I’m usually out and about anyway when I need to open that.

As a result of knocking this on the head I’ve managed to get 2000 words done today. Yes, two thousand! This might not seem like much to most but it’s actually the most productive day as far as word count goes on this book I’ve had since starting the whole thing in early March.

I have hit a little bit of a crossroads for today though. Part of me wants to carry on and maybe even make it 3000. The other half of me wants to jack it in for the day and watch some wrestling tonight and not feel guilty about doing so.

It’s 5:30pm here now, my dinner is in the oven so I’ll probably have to make a call on that soon.

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Thank You Eddie

All writers have faced some kind of struggle as they face getting book, script, poem, play or comic off the ground. The process of making an idea in the head into something an audience can see, read or hear is littered with many obstacles. As the saying goes, if it were easy then everybody would do it.

If you haven’t been reading this blog for long then you might be unaware of a couple of details. Firstly, I am not a professional writer. At no point have I made a dime out of writing despite that being the aim for the future. I have written a short film that was shown in festivals around Europe, I have written feature film scripts that were never picked up and I have penned a play that was performed locally. At no point during any of this has any cash come my way.  I am not after multi millions pouring into the account every month. I have no desire to drive a flash car or have a swimming pool. If I could make a comfortable living just making stuff up with words then I’d be a happy man. Currently though I’m in the position when the day job of working in an opticians gains me a pay cheque at the end of the month. Writing is, at this moment in time, something I do for kicks.

On very odd occasions I often think about just jacking in this whole process of piling up word counts and just get on with ‘real life’. A certain sensation of all this being a monumental waste of time starts eating at me.

Then I usually get something brought to my attention that completely reminds me of why I’m still trying to do this. My interest in professional wrestling meant that this video of Eddie Dennis popped up in my timeline when it was released onto the internet a couple of weeks back. Until then Eddie was a headteacher for the most part and a part time wrestler. Now he’s making the brave decision to quit teaching and become a wrestler full time.

Here’s the video in full so you can see what it’s all about.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen Eddie Dennis wrestle (although I’m looking to change that soon) but I instantly found a common theme in this video. Even if you have no interest in wrestling at all the story of one man leaving behind his usual job for a shot at something he’s been dreaming about for years still has an impact.

So a quick thank you to Eddie Dennis. You might not have realised it but a wrestler from Wales has certainly provided help and inspiration to a writer from the South of Scotland.

You can actually read all about Eddie’s journey over on his own WordPress blog right here.

I wish him the very best of luck.

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Support Good People Doing Good Things

Nothing good ever comes easy.

This includes ideas.

It’s one thing to have an idea, to mull it over in the mind and keep refining it but the hard part is going through the process to take it from a single thought all the way to an actual ‘thing’ that people can watch, read or listen to. It takes a hell of a lot of effort in all cases and I strongly admire anybody who gets to their own individual finish line.

One such example happened a couple of weeks ago when I attended The Source Cafe in Carlisle for the double album launch from two local bands The Unsung and We Are Quasars. I’ll have to add some disclosure here and say that I’ve worked with Craig from The Unsung for a good few years now. Both bands actually had a gig at The Old Fire Station in Carlisle back in November. I was at that one too and both were sounding really good back then but the albums were still being worked on and tweaked at that stage. Tonight they were ready to go as evidenced by the pile of CDs on the merch table on the way in.

You should buy both albums. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m bound to say that because I know The Unsung. The truth is that I was always going to buy their album and We Are Quasars as well because I enjoyed listening to them so much back in November. The added bit to all this is the fact that both albums are brilliant and are well worth your time and money even if you’re not from Carlisle and don’t know anybody in either band. They stand solid in their own right. The Unsung make melodic music with a certain darker edge. They remind me a lot of Interpol and I mean that as a surefire complement. because I love Interpol. We Are Quasars sound a little bit like Muse before they became too concerned with how much stadium they could fit into their stadium rock. There’s a vein of anger floating through their songs. Not all out firing rage but the calculated, fine needle type.

You can listen to The Unsung here and We Are Quasars here. I suggest you do.

Why am I telling you all of this is a blog about writing? Well here’s the crossover. As I stood listening to both bands in a room which seemed to be getting hotter and hotter with each passing minute (the insulation is good for soundproofing but maybe not so great for getting any air into the place) a thought smashed into my head. Here’s two groups of people who have taken sounds that were raw and incomplete, put them together, arranged them and recorded them. Here they were, a few months later, playing the final versions and selling the physical result. Forget turning lead into gold, this is alchemy.

I was having a bit of a tough time with the book. The flow wasn’t quite there and nothing was really coming together. Not only was the music good, the company fantastic but it was also an evening when inspiration walked up to me and smacked me in the head the friendly kind of way. This collection of strange goings on and stranger people can be blended together and eventually there will be a final result for people to read. Regardless of the format it’s a very similar process behind it. If you’ve made an idea exist for everybody else to see then you deserve all the credit.

‘Support good people making good things’.

So I get back to the book.

 

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Cooling

Over the last couple of days I’ve pretty much been writing in 500 words chunks. I’d like to be able to be the type of guy who blasts out 5000 words a day but with work, family and needing to have some free time to do stuff to chill out it’s probably much better this way. I’ve added another 500 words today which has taken me to the end of Chapter 1!

Cue small fireworks display.

It still reads a little bit too jokey at the moment but I’m not sure if I’ll tone it down. There’s a final line which brings us right back to the ground with a bump as it reveals the reason why my main character has gone back to her home town after a decade of absence. I’ve spent a lot of the time beforehand describing the terribly ran Bed and Breakfast house she finds herself staying in. The taxi driver who brings her there and the owner of the house are almost comedy characters who won’t really be taking much more of a part in the grand scheme of things than this so perhaps it’ll be fine. It just seems odd to be talking about the broken grandfather clock in the hall one moment and then mentioning the fact her daughter went missing and never returned in the town ten years before. Maybe it’s a little too much of a culture shift, maybe it sets a nice contrast.

You may also have noticed I’m updating this blog a bit more as a result. I’m mainly using it for cooling down after having an hour’s blast at the book. It’s working quite well at the moment I think.

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Uprooting The Tree

I went with a prologue. It’s fairly garbage at the moment and it might get cut entirely in the final run but it’s there for now. When I planned the book it felt like I was starting with a fairly realistic, domestic setting whilst suddenly introducing beings from other planets later on. I’m thinking at the moment that this might be a little bit too much of a culture shock. The prologue leads into the strangeness that’s on the way so it may be a little easier to swallow.

The better news though is that I’ve now started the book. No longer is it a blank file. I’ve spent the last few days tackling the question of the opening of chapter one. What should the first sentence be? Famous examples include 1984’s ‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen’ which is fantastic as it takes something normal and then twists it right at the end. I really wanted something similar.

One of my main characters in the book is returning back to her small town Scottish home after a decade away. Thankfully I grew up and still live in what can be described as small town Scotland. I started to think about any strange local legends that come up around these parts. Opposite my parent’s house there’s a graveyard with a large tree. When I was a kid the local word was that this was the ‘Devil Tree’. If the moon was full and shone through the belltower onto it then Lucifer himself would appear in the branches. Obviously complete rubbish looking back but certainly a bit scary when you’re seven.

Therefore I’m ‘uprooting’ the Devil Tree and transporting it into my fictional Scottish harbour town. This character begins the chapter by being driven from the train station in a taxi to the place she’s staying in town. She’s looking out of the window and seeing the things she remembers from years ago (and some new stuff she doesn’t). She’ll remember the Devil Tree no doubt, how could you forget?

So the opening line then? Currently I’m going with..

‘The years may have passed but the Devil Tree still stood’.

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The Glass Jarred Dust Of All That Remained

The occasion has arisen when, whilst writing one script, I feel that the idea was possibly stronger and better for another one that I was just planning out. Then that thought process carries on to thinking if that better idea would be better still if it wasn’t a film script at all but a book. A straightforward book when the costs of locations for filming could be jettisoned out of the window at great speed and shatter on the pavement below.

One great thing in the positive marker for this would be the fact that text would be complete with only me working on it. It wouldn’t need another person to agree to it after reading, making sure it was worth putting on screen and taking the time and the money to gather everything needed and go forth and make the thing. The idea would be there, it would only take me to get something readable.

But then I’ve never written a full scale book before and I probably think very visually anyway so delving into such a different craft is probably not something that would come off well. Also, putting some changes into a ninety page script is fine but I can only imagine the pain of having to change paragraph after paragraph of pure text.

Yet, I still want to see what it would be like.

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What Is Toothache?

There are occasional moments that inspire you when you least expect it. I sat down in front of my Lovefilm player (other streaming movie sites are available) two nights ago and ended up watching ‘Man On Wire’, the 2008 documentary on Philippe Petit’s wire walk across the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974. The film itself is rather good but one bit stood out amongst all the others for me and proved that sometimes the best stories aren’t the ones we make up.

There’s a small section in the film when Philippe describes the moment he saw a picture of the towers (then unfinished) in a magazine whilst waiting in a French dentist for his appointment. He took a pencil, drew a line from one point to the next to cross the gap and then had his eureka moment. He stuffs the magazine under his arm and runs out of the waiting room to plan how he was going to do this seemingly crazy stunt. At the end of this section he simply says…

“Of course I then had toothache for a week but what is toothache when you have seen your dream?”

That went in the notebook pretty much straight away.

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