Thursday, October 30, 2014
As swathes of 1/11ers prepare to do battle with their muses in the name of the novel, the written, and the uncustomarily evidenced, it’s time to silence the dreaded INNER EDITOR and flash about the burg the almost penis-like snake of all our OUTER HOSEPIPES OF WANK.
This is not to say that NANOWRIMO is baaaaaaad, or that everything that comes of it is a monumentally delusion-fuelled SHOWER OF PISS.
Even though it MAINLY IS.
But if (writers, writers) we are to afford ourselves the luxury of immersing our creative wherewithal in mammoth trunk sized squirts or urine, spraying upon ourselves the liquid of purest wank, burdening our wildest excesses of effuse with no condoms hewn of grammatically punctuated uberStrunk — then why insist on cramming it into one of the shittiest months of the year?
July is HOTTER.
May has, like, a hidden command in its only syllable: “I may, I might, I must”.
And for fuck’s sake, what else is going on in December other than allowing yourself to be robbed of every spare moment in exchange for things you never asked for, synapseslaving up a bunch of TV shows you’d never watch if you had the option of WRITING, and videoing a dessert the whole family is glad you incinerated?
So, bugger NaNoWriMo MONTH — it’s time we paid heed to THE OTHER ELEVEN thirtysomethings.
Our inner editors will (and must) catch up with us come December 1st, and outer editors beyond our control will muster degrees — worldes, calories — more scrutiny over our ejaculations LIKE OUR FEEBLE WORDS WERE CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS PRIMED TO FEED THEIR CARBONIZING WHIMS.
So, let it all hang out for a month (a month!) if you must.
What shibboleths fly unbidden from you the rest of the time, you wasters?
Monday, October 27, 2014
This morning, I offer up an old blog post once again, shackled as I am to distracting irritations du jour whose ability to keep me from generating original material is on a par with David Cameron's zeal for mid-morning lip-cellulite busting yodel workout regimes.
My one hope is that this regurgitation of yesteryear's Abysswinksbackery (October 2012, Time Stamp Buffs) thrusts wisdom in the face (or maybe adenoids) of every writer passing by this morning.
Nanowrimo is soon upon us!
But why wait till the 11th month of anything to act upon your "I've been whacked" insprirational zeal?
What about the other 11 months, you half-of-twelve-and-half-again-and-half-again-with-time-to-spare-wits?
WRINO the 11+1.
Meanwhile, let withered writing advice spill from my pen like blood from the gizzard of a hydra slain by Conan...
Nanowrimo is almost upon us once more — like an overenthusiastic grandma smothering a teenager with lipstick-splattered kisses as she presses a pillow to his face and cries from the second you were born I’ve dreamed of this moment, you offspring of the devil, you hell-child! — so I thought I’d take a minute to pass on my own Number 1 Writing Tip of Alle Tyme for those of you possessed by the urge to jot down 80,000 words over the course of November and proclaim yourself at the end of it all to be “The New Jilly Cooper” (perhaps) or “shagged to within a millilitre of my life-giving spunk” (most likely).
Advice on the use of unnecessarily numerous adjectives and equally abundant adverbs, you’ll find elsewhere on the internet (not to mention on every page of every classic novel on your bookshelf) so I won’t dredge those waters of wisdom with my ladle. Neither will I advise on story arcs or plot — such things are best left to Noah and estate agents, possibly even clued-up acrobats with a penchant for reciting fables.
Character, dialogue, genre, semicolons — these things also I’ll leave to other experts whose sage advice bulges from every browser window summoned by googling WRITER. You’ve visited the sites, you know what they all say, you’re aware of the ones who never shave their nasal hair, yadda heck dang hell heck yadda yadda
What I present for you today is my own personal secret. It won’t guarantee you success (such things are impossible for most of us anyhow — unless we’ve slept with Daniel Craig or licked ice cream from his back) and it won’t mean that your characters, plot and prose will sing like a trio of reformed harpies, but it WILL prevent you from making the one fatal mistake guaranteed to piss off your readers (some of whom could be literary agents or President Obama).
Then here it is, my sage nanowrimo advice.
Never, EVER, EVER
introduce, mention or describe a character called Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive.
To do so is FATAL, believe me.
If you’re writing a detective story, he’ll kill it. If you’re deep into romance or chick-lit territory, he’ll run your French kisses into the ground. Even sci-fi/fantasy-cum-punk/garage/grunge buckles before the march of his entropic marauding.
You want proof?
Consider how his presence would have ruined every book you’ve ever read and enjoyed till your heart melted like a lump of chocolate...
“I awoke in my own bed. If it be that I had not dreamt, the Count must have carried me here. I tried to satisfy myself on the subject, but could not arrive at any unquestionable result. To be sure, there were certain small evidences, such as that my clothes were folded and laid by in a manner which was not my habit, and the Count’s manservant, Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, danced and jigged at the foot of my bed, shrieking, ‘Woo, jugular boogie, babyyy!’”
“I was eleven when Aunt Fiona died; I remember feeling both peeved and cheated that I was thought to young to go to the funeral. So I telephoned the Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive Hotline and said, ‘here, mate — can you come and fix my bloody family with your stunning weaponry array? Maybe fire off a few lightning bolts? Impale some aunties and uncles on your spikes?’”
“Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father's pockets for the presents he had promised them. ‘You won’t find anything in there,’ said Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive. ‘I’ve sucked everything into my uniquely grotesque gizzard, all ready to regurgitate into the faces of the rich and pompous.’”
“In May 1945 the news spread around Jinzhou that Germany had surrendered and that the war in Europe was over. Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, came amongst us like the weirdest kind of Santa we’d ever seen, squirting lemonade from his anal funnel and juggling fairy cakes into our mouths.”
“Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman
of The Fallow Cloud Hive
doth his flabby stomach project
as the breasts of a comely witch
and I would flog him mercilessly
till his spleen, red raw, flyetheth from him.”
I rest my case.
Recognise the five excerpts of literature displayed here? Note your answers in the comments trail and I’ll send you a personal (and possibly stunning) useless badge for you to display on your blog (or chest, c/o a suitably qualified tattooist).
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Okay, so I'm hoovering up a few old blog posts this week because time to generate new ones is shorter than Tom Cruise standing in a hole dug to hide Richard Osman, but I hope this offering from June this year brightens your day more than anything I could write this morning.
The Christmas TV adverts have begun. They're not of the Full-on Tinsel and Rudolf's Fat Arse In Yer Face variety, but they're annoyingly premature nonetheless. What's especially annoying is that they pretend not to be Christmas ads at all. Instead of proclaiming CHRISTMAS IS HERE they whisper Christmas is coming, all in the name of subtlety I suppose. A bit like Jack Nicholson AT the door with his axe rather than THROUGH it and ALL OVER YOUR STOMACH in The Shining.
So, Merry Christmas, DFS Furniture. May you rot, and the vessels of your circulation clot.
Dear Mr & Mrs Greetings Card Shop,
have a Christmas card that just says
Click to enlarge.
Monday, October 20, 2014
As half term rumbles over the horizon alongside full metal jacket and half nelson, I break from my routine Monday blogger's generation of new material to regurgitate an old furball, all in the hope that excitement and fun may be brought to your day, dear reader, as I suffer horribly at the hands of fate.
To quote Emerson, "those who have nostrils will remember; those who owned pre-War wardrobes too tiny to host a pair of skinny jeans let alone a suit will clutch at throat and gasp for air."
I love it when Emerson played evocative instead of his usual brain hack poseur.
Anyhow, you'll be wanting your blog post, won't you?
Here's one from August 2011...
Weird things happen on crowded train journeys.
I never meant to make one yesterday; it was supposed to be a regular journey complete with space to stretch my legs and no requirement that I be breathed on from a distance of less than six inches by a fat woman whose ludicrous layers of slap somehow failed to disguise a Tolkienesque beard.
But so it goes with trains.
It only takes one points failure, one delayed connection, for an otherwise pleasant experience to be transformed into a weird kind of torture. Add to that a dead husky sled team on the line and you’re talking torture orchestrated by a sadist savant.
So as everyone is jockeying for space in the aisle — those fortunate enough to have bagged a seat pretending to be more disabled/ill/dead than those standing — this old black guy sidles up.
Actually, ‘guy’ is the wrong word — he’s more of a gent.
Struggling to hit 5' 6", he’s dressed in a smart jacket midway between lime and sage with a neatly folded handkerchief sitting elegantly in the top pocket. His trousers are pressed, his shoes are smart, and atop his head is a straw boater — all of which gives him the appearance of a man bound for Havana rather than Walsall.
He perches his slender backside on the edge of a table, somehow managing to maintain his poise and composure among the assembled throng of the twisted and stiff, and had it not been for his distinctive scent, my curiosity would have passed on to some other traveller, maybe flitting back to my mystery gent from time to time but certainly not remaining with him for most of the journey.
It was an odour I haven’t encountered for thirty-odd years — an unmistakable whiff from days gone by when football shorts were made of real cotton and chafed the insides of your thighs.
This smart little gent smelled of mothballs.
I’m tempted to ask what became of mothballs but I suppose the answer is obvious because they make your clothes stink. But it does beg the question: whatever happened to moths? Why did they stop inhabiting cupboards and wardrobes some time around 1977? Personally, I blame nylon underwear.
While my nostrils are busy processing this new old information, arranging it next to the ming of sweaty bra, bearded lady and inevitable egg and cress sandwich, Mr Havana takes out a book and proceeds to read, his hands cupping its hardback cover like a polished lecturn. It’s a book about trades and shares — a very ‘on the money’ topic given the number of world economies suddenly on the skids. Problem is, it looks like it’s been lifted from the dusty back shelf of a failing Oxfam where it’s resided for the past half a century between the 1911 Pears Cyclopaedia and a margerine carton full of ear wax bound for Ethiopia.
The remainder of my uncomfortable journey lasts another half an hour and I can’t take my eyes off this strange man. He doesn’t move and he doesn’t shuffle about but I can tell by the slight shrinkage of his jacket and the fixity of his knees that he’s working very hard to maintain this posture, poised on the edge of a table on a crowded train with book in hand. He reads it with a studious look on his face, like he’s weighing up these facts and figures of yesteryear and applying his new-found knowledge to today’s financial woes. There are graphs, which he traces with his finger like he was stroking a fluffy caterpillar prone to eczema, and he goes back to the words again and again as if re-evaluating their import in light of insights flashing beneath his boater.
All the way to Walsall, in a haze of mothballs, he reads
This out-of-date hardback book about trades and shares.
All the way from page 7 to page 7.
When the train finally groans its way into the station, I’m tempted to follow him, to see where he goes, but having been barred from the loo for the final part of my journey thanks to the crush, I badly need a wee.
Disappointed to let this curious chap slip away, I follow the bearded lady into the Gents...
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m no great fan of technology when it comes to the act of writing.
I don’t believe any arbitrarily designed software will help me to sort my material better than my own capacity to organise my thoughts and the links between them. Truth told, I think the people over at Scrivener ought to rename it Straitjacket.
As for hardware, I’m with the many philosophers, neuroscientists and discount horse meat vendors who assert that “the brain is the most complex piece of matter in the universe,” so I’m glad to trust the generations, associations and manipulations of my own grey matter over any amount of finite resources that the good folks from Apple seem hellbent on reconstituting as shiny, unaffordable wank.
And smartphones? Fine as long as you have no inclination to be forever declining (or being enslaved by) ALERT after ALERT for zilcho.
That said, there is one good thing to have come out of the populist technological advance now preparing the ground for cyborg-pumped Singularity Central — something that makes it easier to be a fully functioning writer out there in the wild.
Back in the day, it was impossible to innocently inhabit the corner of a pub (or a café or a park or maybe a shallow duck pond), equipped to the hilt with all you could ever need to help you morph thoughts into words, and NOT be assailed by The Dumbfounded.
“What are you doing?”
“What for? Is it a diary?”
“What are you doing?”
“About ME? It’s about me, isn’t it? Why are you writing ABOUT ME?”
Then The Dumbfounded would sit down, or ask to read what you’d written, or otherwise not fuck off and leave you the hell alone. No kidding, in my time I’ve been more surrounded by bodies than a busking hermaphrodite beating out Bohemian Rhapsody on a guitar with its zest-gorged undercarriage.
These days, everyone is more than familiar with the concept of people perfectly happy to ignore what’s going on around them — all thanks to the genius of the technoJobsworths who have shrunk horizons onto screens the size of a vain harlot’s compact mirror.
With their noses wedged between canyons of worthless gems, or their attention grabbed by some stranger-buddy’s cats giving birth in a newly redecorated kitchen on the other side of the globe, the Previously What For? Brigade flout all the rules of social conduct ever established by mankind, occasionally “levelling up” audibly or accidentally ordering ten grand’s worth of hamster bedding while ogling photos of naked acrobats.
For writers in public spaces intent on being left alone to write, this new development is a dream come true.
Glory, glory! The Dumbfounded have found New Dumb.
(As a bonus, shotguns and strangling equipment remain unpurchased; snug room lino plays host to no gallons of blood.)
And so I sit, unencumbered and unhindered, before the max brightness glare of my local ale hostelry, subjecting thoughts to paper with a view to spewking them out online a week from now.
How blissful it is not to be secreted at the edge or in the bowels — I hide here in plain sight, undigested by owls.
Monday, October 6, 2014
You’re familiar with mash-ups, right?
Armed wrestlers from the US State Department’s Overweight & Dangerous Special Reserve Squadron descend on your home and sit on your face till it turns to blancmange.
What’s weird about mash-ups is the way they sound like they’re amorphous and pulpy, when in reality what makes them work are the distinct edges between the ingredients mashed.
Given that you can theoretically mash anything with anything, the world will never run out of ideas.
It would probably take us till the end of time (or, at very least, 2483) to mash together everything we already have, ticking every combinatioral box for Anything 1 + Anything 2.
Then (assuming time really is infinite after all) we could take all of our newly created mash-ups — our new anythings — and start throwing those together, and so on.
Who knows — maybe then infinity would bow out and make way for the sequel.
So, next time you’re stuck on something, don’t imagine that you lack ideas (or the capacity to generate them).
As human beings, we’re born to +.
Everything hinges on the assemblage of anythings, and the purpose awaiting the eventual mash-up.
That’s where French mathematician Henri Poincaré had it right all those years ago when he grew a fine beard off the back of pondering the Combinatorial.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
In my youth, I watched political party conferences with the fervour of a born-again Christian knitting Cliff Richard dolls for the deaf.
Older and wiser now, I lounge in my recliner beside a bathtub brimming with peeled anchovies, firing tiny morsels of fish at my 48" HD screen with a 1/16 replica of a medieval catapult while I scream words chosen randomly from Gray’s Anatomy.
Yup, it’s called progress...