Monday, July 21, 2014

On The Couch With Sock Monkey




SM:  Huh.  What’s summoned you from your gutter this morning?

WO:  Maybe the same thing that prompted you to open up shop again?

SM: Hey — it’s not my fault my last client was a flip-flop sporting weirdo.  Besides, I made a promise to myself when I was a baby monkey that I’d spend some time in the Bahamas one day.  Only ‘one day’ ran to over three years...

WO: Okay, I’ll buy it.

SM: So, what do you want, Big Nose?

WO:  I need to do something to boost my online platform.

SM:  Beats penile enhancement I suppose.  But, go on...

WO: I have a modest blog, a few Twitter friends and a little Facebook activity — but nothing that’s ever going to turn me into a stellar household name to rival Johnny Depp or any of those viral YouTube celebrities.

SM:  Why don’t you try shooting yourself?  That’ll make the news for a few minutes.

WO: Nah.  Shooting myself doesn’t suit my temperament.  I’m more of a shoot other people kind of a guy.

SM: Well, then — there you have it.  Why not forget this A-Bus-Wanks-Broth cookery website of yours and carve yourself an online niche as a cunning assassin or brutal murderer?

WO: Hey, Abysswinksback is a writing site, not a cookery site.  I offer modest writing advice and post cartoons and maybe some writing and occasionally some fantasies and horoscopes and everything.

SM: That’s hardly ‘niche’.

WO: So you’re saying I should trim down?  Drop some of the cartoons and bloggerly celebrations in favour of...of what? The writing adviceStories?

SM:  I’m saying GO KILL A FEW PEOPLE AND THEN WRITE ABOUT IT.

WO:

SM: Shoot videos, post photos, DESCRIBE.  You could still incorporate a few recipes if you went the whole hog and multiclassed as a psychopath/cannibal.

WO: With my fridge freezer?  There’s barely enough room for cheese and vegetables, let alone mutilated corpses.

SM: A purist would argue that cheese and vegetables ARE mutilated corpses.  Having some guy’s skull sitting alongside your courgettes and your Emmental would be like levelling up.

WO: Okay, so let’s assume I go with your plan.  How long before the police come knocking at my door?

SM: They won’t.  You’re a psychopath/cannibal on the run.  Killing incognito.  Feasting only at night.  Always moving on.

WO: With a fridge freezer?

SM: Buy a jeep.

WO: Jeeps are hardly incognito-friendly.  Especially in Midlandio-sur-Mer.

SM: Okay then, buy a white van.

WO: Actually, that’s not a bad idea.  If I set myself up as a mobile fishmonger I can combine the whole incognito deal with solving the fridge freezer problem.

SM: I have a better solution.  You’re already multitasking as a psychopath/cannibal, so why not double up on the van also?

WO: Shoot.

SM
: How about you masquerade as a mobile fishmonger cum mobile poodle pamperer?

WO: It’s a winner!

SM: Then get out there right away! No fee today.  Get on it.

WO: Right.  Okay.  Brilliant...

[Door to Sock Monkey’s counselling suite cum sucker magnet closes.]

SM: I thank you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Heat


    My Rowan tree hangs heavy with berries like the undercarriage of a suckling sow.

    Notice is served that the tail-end of summer has sprouted from the butt-end of its beginning.

    Soon there will be blackberries, browning leaves and tinsel, but for now we bask in the glow of summer's pulsating sunbeat.

    Tis a time of glory, a time of WASP ATTACK — so let us cherish it.

    Let us also use it as an opportunity to RE-TREAD AN OLD BLOG POST!


 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Writers Rolleth In Moolah


    Things are looking bad for authors right now.

    According to this Bookseller article, unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman, chances are that your authoring superheroics are increasingly reliant on some other kind of heroics for their poorly rewarded parasitic existence.

    If you’re merely a writer presumably things are much, much worse.

    Here’s an example of how worthless writers are currently deemed to be.

    Coming up is a job post from a freelance site popular amongst writers.  It’s not the first one like this that I’ve seen, nor I suspect will it be the last.

    The post itself ran to a single wodge of impenetrable text that ate my 1650 x 1050 monitor whole.

    So here’s the gist:

    “We require a 12,000 to 15,000 article on mindfulness meditation, plus a brief 500 word summary — and we’re willing to pay $25 tops.”

    Ready for the maths?

    Okay, but first, a little rule-bending.

    Let’s dispense with these notions of ‘article’ and ‘subject  matter’, and toss into the hat any need for research, structure, grammar, punctuation — and all those other skills writers provide.

    Let’s just make this a MECHANICAL EXERCISE — an opportunity for typing out the word CHEESE the required number of times.  For $25.

    I make the average word count here 13,500 — plus 500 —  which makes for a nice round 14,000.

    According to most of the reliable searches I’ve made since breakfast, the average typing speed is forty words per minute.

    But, hey — aren’t professional writers supposed to be experts at this kind of thing?

    Let’s say the writer who shows up to do this work can hit SIXTY.

    Ha!  That’ll show ‘em!

    Maths time again.

    14,000 words (all CHEESE) at sixty words per minute should see this task sorted in 233 minutes.

    With no time wasted for coffee breaks, tea breaks or pee breaks, this makes approximately four hours.

    Under normal circumstances (normal, at least, for writing out the word CHEESE 14,000 times)  the rate of pay for this job post comes in at 25 ÷ 4 = $6.25 per hour.

    But wait!

    The freelancing site demands 8% for the privilege of placing opportunities like this before writers in the first place.

    So, maths again.

    6.25 x 0.92 = $5.75 per hour.

    I’m no expert with dollars, hailing as I do from the isle the Americans foolishly turned their backs on when they declared independence, so let me convert this figure to Sterling.

    More maths.  Huh — what kind of writing site is this?

    5.75 x 0.584365 = £3.36 per hour.

    For CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE (and so on) at sixty words per minute till a roulade of meaningless Chaumes rolls through the 14,000 barrier.

    All mechanical keyboard hacking.  No thought, no skill, no breaks.

    I don’t know about you, but this gets me very hot under the collar indeed.

    Even if we take the minimum wage into account, we’re still talking a derisory sum when we figure in the factor of yanno the actual fucking writing.

    The only solution is for writers to stop offering discounts, especially for the benefit of any industry that demands they write “for the love of it”.

    Remember: computer generated garbage and trained chimpanzees aside, no words ever get written without there being a writer of some kind to write them.

    As things stand, the worth of writers (and therefore of words) is being wilfully devalued.

    Mayhap it is time for writers to smite evil.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why You Want To Procrastinate


    Procrastination!  What a swine!

    I’d slip in a definition here, only I can’t be arsed.

    In any case, we all know what procrastination is, don’t we?

    You badly WANT to write but you’re doing EVERYTHING IN YOU POWER to NOT WRITE.

    Cleaning, laundry, hoovering, DIY, shaving, walking around, making coffee, making tea, ironing, cleaning windows, fixing your hair, chewing your nails, looking out of the window, MORE cleaning...

    The list goes on.

    Instead of doing THE THING YOU WANT, you spend — no, waste — hours of precious time on idle donkey work in which you’d never willingly invest so much energy unless you weren’t NOT WRITING.

    So what’s the solution to this conundrum?

    Let’s think about spiders for a moment.

    They crawl, they bite, they spin webs.

    Now, THERE’S an analogy for your next Nanowrimo session:  "I’m spinning a web of words!"

    Problem is, writing isn’t an activity for which humans have evolved any kind of innate or hardwired brainy/body-y functionality in quite the same way that webspinning just...HAPPENS when you’re a spider.

    As with any skill, you have to take yourself through the process of writing a sufficient number of times before you have something you can reproduce.

    The good news is that writing (in this respect, at least) is exactly the same as cleaning, laundry, hoovering, DIY, shaving, walking around, making coffee, making tea, ironing, cleaning windows, fixing your hair, chewing your nails, looking out of the window, MORE cleaning...

    It’s a learned activity that you havehappen when so you choose.

    So why all the procrastination?

    Why force yourself to do something you DON’T WANT that prevents you from doing what you DO WANT?  The thing you’d CHOOSE, if only you didn’t WANT TO FOLD ALL THESE TEA TOWELS?

    The answer is: A FEELING.


    I can’t tell you what this FEELING is, because it differs from person to person and moment to moment, and if I knew, I couldn’t tell you anyhow.  How do you describe a feeling accurately in such a way that anyone else can understand exactly what you mean?

    It may even be that the FEELING accompanying the procrastination is so familiar to you that you don’t register it as a feeling at all.

    Or maybe it’s simply the MEMORY of a feeling.

    A FEELING!  Blocking the desire to WRITE, and firing up the (weaker, weaker, weaker) desire to NOT WRITE.

    Unless you really have taken leave of your writerly senses (in conjunction with developing a sudden interest in pairing socks), nine times out of ten, the REASON for your procrastination will be a FEELING.

    If you can identify the FEELING (you can do this without trying to DESCRIBE it if you sit for a few moments and actively TAKE IN INFORMATION) then you have three options:

    1) Stop generating the FEELING.
    2) Write in spite of the FEELING.
    3) Become an expert in pairing socks.

   
    On all of which maybe I’ll say more in future blog posts...





Monday, July 7, 2014

Kill Your Babies In The Attic


    Attics are where old futures go to die.

    Heaped in the dust between the rafters, suitcases full of clothes vie with broken gadgets and tins of dried paint for a final moment in the broken roof tile spotlight.

    In their day, these abandoned knick-knacks were the latest thing, adorning your present moment dreams like balloons on a carnival float: the dress you would wear for your summer holiday, the DVD player for the kitchen TV, the bold yellow glow for the bathroom.

    Now they await their ultimate demise.

    As the dining room’s sulky green bundles through the attic door along with half a hoover, and later, more old pots and pans are piled on top of curtains, toys and partial dinner devices, the available space in the triangular tomb between your life and the sky diminishes.

    And so you must choose.

    Which old futures are the least resurrectable?

    What new futures are suggested by the choices you make?

    Every time you throw away a pair of flared trousers to clear space for a broken Finding Nemo eggcup you are saying maybe in the future I won’t make it as a ballet supremo after all but if I sit for a week with a tube of superglue perhaps I can get back into the fun boiled egg thing again.

    As writers we are told to “kill our babies” — an act of prudent sifting and sorting that shares space on the same metaphorical futon as clearing out your attic.

    What’s in?  Now?  What’s out?  Now?

    When you pluck work-in-progress material from your drawer for a rewrite or edit — stuff you drafted or channelled from the spirits of the dead weeks or months ago, then left to marinade, like a good boy or girl — how do you know which paragraphs or phrases are babies and which are merely bathwater?

    Like the clothes and gadgets and paint in the attic, these words you wrote were once fresh and vibrant.  When the tip of your pen-brain blazed across the paper, the shapes they made glowed like sparkler trails.

    Now, maybe all is dust.  Spent gunpowder.

    So do you stick with the words forged in the fire of zest? Or are these precisely the phrases and lines to cut to the slick?  The ones whose adrenaline ink deluded you?

    All I know is, there is no Golden Rule.

    No THIS OUT or THIS IN that applies to every piece of writing, every writer.

    The only things you have to go when you pluck material from your drawer are:

    1) the passage of time,

    and

    2) your relationship to your inner triangular tomb.

    You put all the stuff up there in that dusty nowhere space, in fits and starts and dribs and drabs and every shade of gadget-pantery — and now it’s time for a clear out based on what you believe must happen next.

    As I see this stage in the process, talk of slaying infants simply doesn’t figure.

    So I proffer the image of an attic from the comfort of my metaphorical futon.

    Could be a “kill your babies” killer.


Note: My advice also aplies to "darlings" — but this was less easy on the comedy illo.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why I'm Not Blogging Today




   If only everything was upside down.

    Instead, I have side to side, every which way but loose, and piled high to the ceiling in box after box after box.

    And it’s interrupting the regularity of my blogging like a rectum-bound army of King Kong-alikes.

    I hate it when a small job that should take no more than a few minutes spawns a weekend-eating monster of DIY and tectonic plate shifting.

    All I wanted was a new place for the screwdrivers but what began as a modest relocation of the odd Philips has grown into a project to redesign the scullery from inside to top and bottom to out, complete with the need to deploy Polyfilla, an electric sander, and more satin finish canard oeuf bleu than it would take to photoshop for real the peculiar hue of a Winton or a...that awful bloke who used to do Bargain Hunt.

    My one consolation?

    When a similar need to redecorate the entire first floor of the house arose from the discovery of a dicky plug socket in 2010, the prevailing weather was Mediterranean in the extreme and Girly of Whirly and I lost half our body weight in sweat.

    THIS TIME, at least it’s PISSING IT DOWN.

    So, imagine my joy about THAT...