Tag Archives: inspiration

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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