Monday, December 6, 2010

This Christmas

Right, I'm slightly broke. The last two years, I gave out Christmas cards, and this year I don't think I can afford to actually buy enough cards for everyone. It may be that I only give cards to a small number of people, namely those I don't see very often and the person I have for my Chris Kindle in college, and that'd be it. This effectively means that I'm giving out *does quick math* seven cards. Seven.

I don't want to look cheap, but really - Paulie is broke. I still have to pay for all the family Christmas presents this year. And by that I mean I have to figure out what I'm getting people first. And yes, I know Christmas is only a few weeks away. This is why I am writing about it now. Now is the perfect time to panic.

See, I like to give people cards. I just can't. Not this year, anyway. I won't have enough money to buy cards for people until two days before Christmas, and sure I won't be able to write and post all those cards in everyone to get them before Christmas. If I had some other alternative, it'd be great... but it looks like only a small number of people will be getting cards this year. Bummer.

It's kind of my favourite part of Christmas - giving people cards and presents. So not having enough money to do it kind of makes Christmas less fun this year.


(That was a frustration "ah", not an I Have an Idea "ah". Okay, I might have an idea... but it is unrelated to the "ah" and I still need to figure out how to do it and whether it is worth it or not.)

Oh Christmas, why did you have to become so commercialised? Things would be so much easier if I just had to pray for everyone. Instead I've set myself a standard of sending them all a card. No! I can't do it this year. I have to get the family presents!

Sorry everyone who doesn't get a card from me... I have a very limited budget. (Painfully limited).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In Reality - A Poem

He wondered in through the foggy falling mist
Wearing a silly grin and an attitude that couldn't be matched,
Taking control of the situation and the lives of those he touched,
Carefully becoming a part of their whole.
That isn't to say he was the same for everyone.
He has two faces I've grown familiar with:
The cheery, smiling person who everyone loves,
Always there, always helpful, full of chatter;
And the angry, violent deviant,
A haunting figure with an evil stare.
One is to be missed,
And fear comes from losing him;
The other is to be dreaded,
And there's only fear surrounding him.
They look the same,
And I swear in reality they are the same person.
But truly
How do we tell who he really is?

Is he the mask of sorrow or the one of joy?
In reality, I don't know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Let me just start by saying - I know it's only December 4th. I know! It's a long way until the New Year still (okay, 4 weeks until New Year's Eve...) but that doesn't mean we don't have to think about the future. In case you haven't experienced this yet, the future has a way of sneaking up on us and becoming the present.

It's too easy to make up loads of stuff on New Year's Eve and think, "Yeah, I'll do that." But you know what..? It's not easy to go ahead with them. Want proof?

Below is my list from this year. I posted it 48 weeks ago. Did I do any of it..?
  • Spend at least five hours a week reading something that's not college related (unless the pressure of college mounts up and I have no choice) - Short answer, no. I get lazy. Reading takes time and I sometimes like to pretend I have none.
  • Spend at least five hours a week writing or editing my own work (unless college + pressure = no choice) - Eh... fail. I wrote a lot during the summer, but not five hours every week, and not during all the other months too.
  • Blog at least twice a week, because I've become very bad at that, and it really needs to change - Actually, yes! Aside from the points in year where I decided not to blog, I think I pulled this one off. Okay, not all the time, I'll admit. Probably not even twice a week. But I wrote quite a lot on the blog this year!
  • Review every book I read from now on, including some of the ones I've already read (this will work in conjunction with my YouTube channel, I think) - If memory serves me right, yes I did this one. I think... must have... maybe...
  • Start a bookclub on my YouTube channel - Uh huh! And it got people reading some books, too. So it was a success!
  • Start my autograph boook (or at least get more than one signature - thank you Jackie Kessler!) - Um... no. I didn't get another signature (yet). The problem, of course, is that the one time during the year that I met Darren Shan, I forgot the autograph book and my camera. And I didn't meet any other "famous" people other than that. Boo!
  • Finish Meet Sam - 2010 is my year, I know it. I can do this. I have to. Then I'll get my other work noticed, like The Jump and The Magical Emporium of Magical Things (I started that three days ago - nice title, eh? ^_^) - Would you believe, I actually did more work on Meet Sam, but it actually created more work as well. I got a lecturer (or two) to read it, and she suggested some things to improve on. So I found lots of areas that need more writing added to them... and that meant I was suddenly a bit overwhelmed by the book. I've added to it... just not enough. And then I need to edit it.
  • Complete NaNoWriMo for the third year running - I would say I tried... but to be honest I only really started. I gave up after 5000 words, but not because I didn't like the book. I just didn't have any time (too many assignments).
So there you have it - I failed at New Year. This year, I'm starting early. I want to do one thing and one thing only in 2011. I want to actually finish Meet Sam. When the Christmas break hits me (only one more week of college left!) I'm going to be dividing my time between Teaching Practice work, family & friends and Meet Sam. I hope to get it done by February and then submit it to a publisher. I already have one in mind, so that's a load off. I just need to master the art of writing a synopsis and a cover letter. (fun times...)

I'm saying this early on so I don't let myself get distracted in a week. This day next week I'm going to wake up (relatively) early, take out my Meet Sam files and get to work on the book. I have my work timetable already for the whole of December, so I can work all my other plans around that. I'll be working on that fairly soon, actually, getting a timetable together to plan everything perfectly. I have a couple of plans for during the Christmas break, but other than that I'm a free man.

So... New Year's Resolutions, anyone?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Full of the Right Ideas

"You can have a head full of the right ideas, but if you can't make the right moves in the world, they're worthless."

That line comes from The Education of Charlie Banks. This post isn't about it, but it's a great film. You should go watch it. I just thought: that's a really good mantra to live your life by. I know it certainly applies to a lot of the crap I managed to cause throughout my life. It's like, you think you know what's best, you think you have it all figured out, but really, really, when it comes down to acting on it you can't. You make the wrong decisions with all the right ideas.

It's too easy to ruin everything. It's far too easy to take your own life and the lives of others and set them alight like you're just living in some fictional world, like everything's a computer game, like the consequences don't matter and you don't have to believe what's happening, or you don't have to save so nothing you did matters. All the mistakes you make, you think you know what you're doing. I mean, most people my age have some experience with computer games, with getting something wrong in them and having the character die, but then coming back and thinking they know how to beat the Big Bad, only to die again. And in the games you can just retry it again and again and it doesn't matter. If you're like me, you figure out how to beat the Big Bad, but you don't know how you can do it. I was always better at telling That Guy I Am how to do it than do it myself.

So it's like the line - having the right ideas but not making the right moves. Except life isn't a game. We live in this messed up world where we can send a text or an email and a second later the person can have received it and then you deal with the consequences. You can bitch and you can moan and you can hit send and then it's too late, then you can't take it back. And I mean, it's easy to do something positive with texts and emails, but it's the wrong moves that come back and bite us in the ass.

I've made those mistakes too many times thinking I knew what was best. I made those mistakes because I didn't want to talk to somebody, I wanted to talk at somebody. You know those sort of relationships where one person does all the talking and it seems fine, except when the other person has something to say they can't because they don't know how that sort of thing works in the relationship? Like, you can't say something because it's not your job to say something when you're actually talking, and you can never find the right time to do it? And when you do say something, it's in an email or a text that's too long and convoluted to get the message across or it's too emotionally charged to make any constructive sense, and all it does is irritate?

Then the shorter messages come along and they can have the biggest impact because you didn't say something. You know you wanted to say something but you don't know how, so the person finally seeing those words instead of hearing them, instead of seeing you, gets the wrong impression.

And you say sorry, and it doesn't mean anything really, even if you mean it, because to the other person it's just one more apology and one more message - heard or seen - among the crap you created before. And there's this impression of you made - unforgivable, it seems - and no matter what you do you don't know how to fix it, because all your right ideas only led you to the point where your actions ruined everything until there are no more right ideas left, only the wrong ones, and you can't act anymore.

Relationships are very, very complicated and fragile things, sometimes. I want to convey that message in a way that will reach everyone, but I don't know how to do it except like this. I mean this in the most sincere way I can manage - don't mess up the relationships closest to you because you'll only hate yourself for it.

But - and I really have to say this - just because you think you've ruined something, don't assume it can't be put back together. You just have to find all the tie all the loose strings together again until you've got something that you looks remarkably similar to what you had before, even if you've had to replace some of the stuff you lost.

Best wishes,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Being a Teacher

People seem to underestimate the work involved in being a teacher. I can say this, without conviction, because I have been doing some of the work of a teacher. If you think it's just standing up in front of a class and talking for the day, you're wrong. At primary level, which I've been getting lessons together for, there's a lot of creative thought necessary.


Because children don't want to listen to someone drone on about everything day-in, day-out for eight years. They need activities, stimulation, colour, videos, music, and time away from being spoken at about all the subjects they don't care for.

So what does a teacher have to do?

Let's put this into context: I have three classes to teach in January - 2 Religion and 1 English, every day for two weeks. For each of these three classes and for each of the weeks, I need to prepare what's called a Scheme of Work. I normally like scheming. This involves so much more than just minute preparation and a lot of winging it, though. Each scheme needs to cover the AIMS of the week's lessons, CONCEPTS & DEFINITIONS involved in the lessons, RESOURCES that were used to prepare the lesson and a DESCRIPTION of each of the five lessons per class per week.

After that, there then has to be a Lesson Plan for each of the lessons in each of the classes for both weeks. For me, with only a fraction of the work of a fully-qualified primary school teacher, this is still a huge amount of work: 15 lesson plans per week! New teachers would use lesson plans for a while until they had everything more or less prepared for the duration of their time teaching a particular school year, only tweaking things when necessary. However, this means an estimated 8-9 lesson plans per day, which amounts to 40-45 per week, for 37 weeks of the year (I'm told). That's 1,480-1665 per year. Bare in mind that many teachers stay with the same class group for two years, so they don't repeat a year until after they've done the same workload again.

That's a LOT of preparation...

And it's only the beginning! Teachers still have to prepare worksheets and resources for all of these lessons, and... yes, you guessed it: they have to teach the lessons. But it's not over after that. There's also this thing children hate called HOMEWORK and it has to be collected. Fun times, yeah?

And this is what I've signed up for, only with secondary schools instead. This means less freedom for lessons, but less subjects to cover. That doesn't make it easier, it just means that I'd have to teach up to six years worth of material. Yeah, that's more lesson plans the first time around. And with the way the curriculum is in English, it'd mean having to change the plans every year for fifth and sixth class, based on what texts are on for their Leaving Cert exams.

That doesn't sound like fun... why are you doing this again?

I ask myself that every time I have to do the preparatory work. I guess I just want to teach. I want to pass on knowledge, maybe make a generation of people excited about books and reading and, if I'm lucky and good enough, half-way decent citizens. Religion teaching isn't just "Yay God and all that"; it's about encouraging pupils to make an educated choice about religion; it's about teaching morals and values that have real importance in the world; it's about promoting equality and understanding and removing all the presumptions about other religious faiths, which I find to be of high importance given South Park's attacks on Judaism and Islam, even they're meant to just be funny; and it's about helping pupils to progress in their faith development.


Faith development; it's part of Robert Fowler's study of what he calls the stages of faith. They're not specific to Christianity, though a lot of the work was done in a Christian context. The stages of faith present a stage of someone's life, allowing them to understand the world in different ways to others of different stages. It's generally accepted that there are very few stage six people who ever lived... one of them is Jesus, another is Mahatma Ghandi. See? Universal! And Religion in schools is about helping people with their faith development so that they can understand the world in new lights. It's all very fascinating, really.

And this is what being a teacher is about?

Well, this is an idea of what being a teacher is about. Contextually, this is really what being an English and Religion teacher is about. Maths and Science teachers wouldn't be as concerned with faith development, I wouldn't imagine! But the workload is the same. It's a lot to do and a lot to teach, and while it's not as easy as people think, so far it's been as fulfilling. And I haven't even taught my lessons, yet!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


You know, I seriously thought the postal service would be fecked because of the snow... but no. I posted something yesterday and received confirmation of its arrival earlier today. I didn't really that the Irish post was that good even with good weather! Next day delivery, like? Ha!

I received a German mail order catalogue, too... I don't know how to un-subscribe. All the instructions on how to do that are in German. (Note: I receive this because I bought a birthday present from them for my friend...) Thankfully it doesn't cost me anything to be subscribed. It's just a little annoying.

And why am I mentioning this?

Because my Robert Frost poetry book still hasn't arrived! Something came from GERMANY, and something was delivered in Ireland IN ONE DAY, but the book can't get here.

Efficient or what?

To make things more fun, the ironic weather is getting worse. God College was closed early today (I think people are forgetting to pray for the snow to go away). Among the shenanigans of the day are a giant snowball fight, a lecturer getting hit in the back of the head with snow and an hour and a half walk home in the snow. The buses were cancelled and it's a long enough journey as it is. To make things a little longer, one of the girls who shall remain nameless (for the benefit of people in college... she does music, she's short and she's always really cheery!) stopped to talk to a couple of friends of hers. It was all grand, though. We only got pelted with hail for a little while, and the snow had stopped long before we got home, so it's not like we were exposed to more than we ought to have been.

I think I actually became immune to the cold at some point. Curious...

Still... I want my Robert Frost poetry book!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Irony, Poetry Books and the Weather

Forgive me if I'm wrong about irony, but when I get snow instead of the Robert Frost poetry book I ordered, I wondered what was going on. I'm still waiting. I received half my order of books yesterday - half, being one book. It was an edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, using the original text. What I'm still waiting on is Poems by Robert Frost.

It's not that I have a need for these books of poetry, since they were on my course last semester; I just really liked them. I also have an Elizabeth Bishop poetry book, and when I can afford it from my online survey PayPal vouchers, I'll be getting a book of Tennyson poems. I kind of fell in love with the works of these poets last semester, and I could never find affordable editions of their works in book shops in Dublin (and I have yet to be anywhere with a decent bookshop otherwise... more on that at a later date). So, when I found them online, I jumped at the chance to buy them.

Buy Poetry Against Cancer here
I just wish the Frost book would arrive! I have a feeling the snow and ice here in Dublin is affecting the post... but that doesn't explain why the two halves of my order were sent separately! It doesn't make any sense, dammit!

Also, while I'm here, I'll give Poetry Against Cancer another mention; it's still on sale, and I really, really hope you'll support it. All the money, as I've said several times before, goes to St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital here in Dublin. The book is affordable and makes a great present for poetry fans!

Until next time, take care with this adverse weather! I hope it doesn't affect you too badly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Peculiar Inspiration

I have an odd habit of getting ideas for stories in college. It's not just with the people around me. Most of the time its actually what we're studying that triggers of the gears in my head off. I'm like a factory... only the physical products don't often get shipped off.

Lets take a few recent examples of this; I've mentioned my sin story. This came about during a lecture on Dr Faustus. The slight mention of the seven deadly sins kind of sorted that one out. (note to self: write more of that book!) Another idea came about during a cross-over between two lectures; there was a discussion about the plague to contextualise another of the tragedies we were studying, and then we had a lecture in Philosophy about a particular political philosophy. The mash-up of two lectures made a book. Today, I had the wonderful idea of a comedy story come into my head... We were looking at New Comedy in Rome (to show what Shakespeare did differently), and a single line in the PowerPoint got a fat man dance-walking into a town. Yeah, a fat guy. Deal with it.

This isn't the only stuff that happens. I had a recurring series of ideas all about a world built on Morals. That description does the idea no justice, but I don't want to give it all away. Other times, it's just something in someone's life that triggers an idea. Those ones are the risky ones to write; they get very personal. First drafts of them, even if I like how they turned out, have to be combed to remove references to real life. Usually there are a lot of references to real life.

Situations are strange for ideas. I have a strange memory-recall thing... if I go somewhere I've been before, I get sort of flashbacks of something that happened there (in my life, obviously...). All the significant people of the situation haunt the place in a very polite manner, some more than others, depending on how much I'm thinking about them. These flashbacks lead to stories coming into my head. I cannot help my memory-recall doing this. It's just less useful in exams when I can't remember the details that aren't already jotted down!

I don't quite know why I get ideas so easily in certain circumstances. It's not something I think could be taught to people. The best advice I can give is to just open yourself up to the world, let fiction and life cross over a subtle line that lets one work off the other. Reflecting on experiences that stick out also help, so keep a journal. I did find that one series of events that have inspired a story (that I haven't yet written) were fresh on my memory because I'd been looking over relevant journal entries about them before revisiting the places in which the events took place. This doesn't work for fiction that takes place in entirely fictional worlds, or in places we've never visited before, but it works wonders if you're setting a story somewhere that just looks or feels like the location of your memories.

And for crying out loud, don't be afraid to use your memories. As John Green puts it, "For me at least, fiction is the only way I can twist my lying memories into something true."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review - Erase This

Erase This [Deluxe Edition]It's been a while since I reviewed anything, and here we are - a DFTBA Records album called Erase This. The album is a projected by founder Alan Lastufka and one of DFTBA's prominent artists Luke Conard, with some cameo appearances from some other singers, including Kristina Horner. I happened to be lucky enough to see Lastufka announcing a give-away of the album on Thanksgivings Day last Thursday, so I swooped in and got a free download.

So what did you think of it?
In short - brilliant. Some of the tracks don't work alone, simply for the fact that there's a radio theme running through the album, but the songs within the tracks are still fantastic. Other tracks hold their own and really blew me away!

Wait, radio theme?
You read that right. The album has a DJ speaking every three or four tracks to introduce a song, making them seem like a radio track-list. It really was a great way of doing things, even if it's been done before (Queens of the Stone Age did it, right?).

Oh right... so, did any tracks stand out then?
A few; I have a weakness for Kristina Horner, so when she and Luke Conard sang  Mirror Song I fell in love with the song. Beforehand, I'd only been able to hear that version on YouTube. There's a solo version of the song, too, which is good but not my favourite of the two. Without making my list of Favourite Songs from the album too long, I'll just give one other song a mention - Forgiven. I'd heard a cover of this song on the EP Taking Leave (Alan Lastukfa and Tom Milsom), and the two versions are so different! I mean, they're barely recognisable as the same song. I'm still not sure which one I prefer!

Is the album recommended?
Well I liked it! If I had the money, I'd have bought it a long while ago, but my online purchases have been restricted to cheap books and birthday presents. The album is really catchy, though, works great a whole piece of music and it's full of great songs! Buy it and love it!

Welcome Back to Hysteria

Back to this wonderful thing we call the Internet, or the World Wide Web. I prefer the latter - it implies we're trapped. Damn Web... Grr!

This have been... interesting. I started a wonderful tale of sin and destruction... I really ought to get that checked out. My attraction to destroying things (which two people will see in the story...) is a bit odd. I think it's part of the world of fiction, having the power to create and destroy whatever you want. Yes, novelists get to play God. Deal with it. We're normally a lot more introvert in person.

I'm enjoying the sin story, though. I don't want to give too much away, because I'd like to keep the idea as original as possible, but it's fun to write. I get to bend reality a bit, fashioning a world in darkness.

Aside from that, I've been on a school visit, written an essay, done some lesson plans and gotten a few things on track. I had great big plans for something that I've been talked out of doing. I let myself get talked out of it, because I wasn't entirely sure what to do about it. Big thanks to Rebecca W for that; I needed to hear what she told me.

Once I have my stuff at least mostly ready for Teaching Practice in January, I'll be doing more work on Meet Sam. I didn't get much done on Love, Sam for NaNoWriMo, so I kind of lost. Not to worry.

Also, I appear to have forgotten how to write a blog post that's engaging. I feel like I'm reporting the news, and doing it poorly. Forgive me, it's been a long weekend (as in, it started on Friday... and I thought yesterday was Sunday...)

Anyway, I'm back. I may be on less than before, but I'll be online nonetheless. I'll leave you with an extract from a poem. 10 points to whoever knows the author without having to Google it.

‎"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Out of Service

For a while, this blog will be on a hiatus, along with my Twitter and Facebook accounts. This has nothing to do with anyone but myself - basically, I'm too busy to concern myself with social networks. Go figure.

Not sure when I'll be back, though. I've a lot of stuff coming up, soon. I might be back during the Christmas break. Or in February. I can't be too sure. Twitter will be revived with this blog, though. Facebook... maybe sooner. I don't know.

Until such time that I come back on the scene, I wish you all good health, etc. etc. and, if you can spare the cash, I encourage you to support Poetry Against Cancer, in aid of St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

Best wishes,

Buy Poetry Against Cancer here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Poetry For Christmas

Hi everyone,

I'm writing today to ask you to consider adding something to your Christmas list, for yourself or for other people: it's a poetry book I edited entitled Poetry Against Cancer, in aid of St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin. St John's is the Oncology and Haematology ward at Ireland's leading children's hospital.

We're not asking for much, here. The book costs €7.50 plus P&P. 100% of the revenue earned on the book - that's all the profit we make from it after the printing costs and the publisher's costs - will go to St John's.

If you order soon, the publisher can guarantee delivery before December 24th.

The book is available by clicking the following link:

We hope you will support the cause and please spread the word so that the hospital can benefit even during these tough economic times.

Thank you and God bless,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In My Experience

In my experience, the summer was wasted. I know, it's November so talking about summer seems odd, especially when I talk about it in the context of the summer to come, not the summer gone. Basically, I have come to the conclusion that rather than take full advantage of my time off - writing all the time, or reading more, rather than sitting around waiting for segmented conversations with a few individuals - then I might have gotten a whole lot more done. I could have arranged times to talk to people, or I could have done without it for some time.

Of course, during the summer gone I did not think along these lines. I was almost desperate for conversation with a few people who I didn't see very much. Recent experiences of not talking to these people very much - not necessarily talking to many people very much, actually, but not in an attempt to avoid them, just being overly busy most of the time - has brought me to a stage whereby I should be able to survive the coming summer break. Yes, it's a long time away, but due to particular, inconclusive circumstances, I have begun measures to ensure that I do not become that same desperately lonely person again.

That wasn't healthy for me, and it wasn't healthy for them, and when the summer months were over, things weren't exactly great again. Nothing was quite as I had expected it. It was a horrible, biting few weeks, and now that I have taken these measures, purposely not talking to someone - not because we're fighting, but because of changed circumstances, some of them still unsure, I had to be sure I could go for any length of time not talking to him, and other people too, before that same condition of isolation could be forced upon me again - I feel that I might survive the summer.

Between now and then, I have to go to a school to teach (dreading it, because we've never had lessons so long as the ones we have to teach, but looking forward to actually getting to the school), I have to finish my modules this semester, do the entire second semester of college and sit my exams. However, adequately prepared for the isolation that comes when everyone goes home for the summer, I intend to do a lot of writing. Last summer gone, I wrote approximately 60,000 words in the space of a month. I have three and a half months off. I could write a whole lot more if I actually put my head down. Alternatively, if I had more hours in work I could earn more money that would see me through a lot more of the college year. There's also been talk of a holiday somewhere - the jury's still out on that, though.

The point of this, though, isn't to announce my summer plans. Rather, it's to express my potentiality to actually survive the summer. The process of preparing myself has already begun, so that I am not thrown into the deep end at the end of May. Because, in my experience, that's the worst thing that can happen to me in the summer.

Monday, November 8, 2010


A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about masks (which can be read here), and while I was perfectly happy with it, it didn't entirely sum up every thought in my head in the way that I wanted it to. I'm not one for changing blog posts unless they mention something that someone might not want said, so naturally I've kept it as it was first written, following a dinner with one of my very best friends during the summer. (The dinner was fine and had nothing to do with the masks).

And a few years ago, I wrote an imperfect story about a boy who wears masks all the time, until he loses his physical face in a fire and is forced to wear one all the time (sort of V for Vendetta stuff, now that I reflect on it, though I'm not sure I saw the movie before I wrote the story.) This story was meant to show the universality of the need to wear masks. It did not.

However, earlier today in college we received a version of Charles Finn's Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. The piece got to me, so I went to find a link to it... only to find the original version on a website set up by Finn's wife. This poem does full justice to my mask theory, and I wonder if maybe I read one of the many versions of it in circulation, many years ago.

I encourage you to read the poem (by clicking here). It's such a lovely piece and it does what I never could - it presents the theory, the truth, about masks, but it does so very simply. Here's my public thank you to Mr Finn for writing this wonderful poem. Kudos to you, sir!

Sunday, November 7, 2010



I have an outrageous amount of work to do today... and Mother of Mine wants to go to town to have me look for a jacket for Christmas (because I'd be too lazy to look for one myself... And she's already seen one...). So, basically, I'm setting up a DO NOT DISTURB thing... anyone who has a problem, needs to take a number and get in line.

The way things are looking, DND will last until Tuesday's tutorial. I'll be running away from people all day Monday and Tuesday to get work done and submitted on time (all for the wonderful thing we call Prayer and Prophecy in Israel - God College is fun!). And, actually, I'll probably still be running away from people between now and... well, pretty much all semester, unless I get ahead of my workload.

I do hope no one gets offended when I appear to ignore them in college. With all the work I have to do (and being several thousand words behind in NaNoWriMo) I really don't have any chances to talk to people for very long outside of lectures. This does propose a problem, of course, because of a particularly difficult situation in with someone and the belief that I'll actually have time to talk. Not for at least three weeks, I'm afraid. Actually, I'd hope at most three weeks, but with me you can never be sure what sort of trouble I'm going to get in to with my workload. The more I have to do... the less motivated I am. Well, not entirely true. The more work I have from several directions seems a fairer assessment. So with college work and novel work and people work... Paulie is busy.

So I apologise in advance to everyone who thinks I'm being an ass. I'm not doing it on purpose, I just have an awful lot of stuff crashing down on top of me, a big wave of words in their thousands trying to drown me. (Oh I like that... I'm going to use that again).

I best be off... I'm supposed to be motivating myself towards a better future. Or something like that.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unintentional Hiatus

Okay, the blog died again. Not. My. Fault. I mean, okay - I was out last night until the early hours of the morning. But that has nothing to do with it. My Internet at home was down. Also, I had a test to study for. It was a load of nonsense.

So, in the time since I last posted, I haven't written very much. I'm over four thousand words behind in NaNoWriMo - this has never happened to me before, so I'm a little worried I might not finish. On the other hand, I do also have the matter of college work, which has priority to writing a novel at high speed. I know what I want to write, it's just getting the time to do it (and yet... I'm blogging.)

Anyway, I haven't really got much more time or energy to write on this blog today but readers - those of you who aren't in my college - I am not dead. I have not quit my blog. I am just busy with a copious amount of essays and, you know, that night out. Three and a half hours sleep, laddles and jellyspoons. So going to a lecture on Descartes asking me to suspend my belief in everything is just difficult.

See, I have some things I believe in no matter what. Like sleep. And my bed. I don't care if they're not real, I like them! Why, oh why, is it only one in the afternoon? And why, oh why, do I have to do things in my life and not be entirely sure if they're happening at all..? (Okay, that was mostly unrelated to everything I've spoken about in this blog post... mad egg syndrome, that's all...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day One of NaNoWriMo 2010

Currently my word count stands at 1552 words, all written today on my iPod Touch, though not all of it on the bus. My protagonist, Sam, has been re-introduced to the reader, his predicament has been made clear, and he's on his way, already, to fixing it. Apparently. I mean, it's apparent to the reader, but I know the longer version of that story.

I wasn't sure I'd get into the swing of things so easily. Okay, so I have to write a bit more - 115 words - to reach my daily target to stay on track for the finish, but I'm enjoying the story. I didn't like my novel last year, The Wedding Singer, so I didn't finish it. I filled in far too much with stuff that wasn't important, I didn't like the main character and I didn't believe the story was worth finishing. This time is different, because I'm filling the story with things that (a) are relevant to the plot, (b) are in-keeping with the style of the novel and (c) are entertaining to write. I like the main character, possibly because he's a mash-up of me and several other people, though I couldn't tell you who they are even if I wanted to. And I think the story is worth finishing, because the plot is sustainable... or at least what I have planned is!

NaNo is a tough ol' challenge this year, because I have so much more work to do. I'm tired already and it's not even half seven on day one. Also, I didn't stay up past midnight to write this year, because I had college today and I knew I'd be Too Tired to Function if I stayed up. I've seen a friend has over 4000 words done. I am insanely jealous. Though she didn't finish the last couple of years... maybe this year?

I should be able to get stuff written, anyway. I'm not entirely hopeless at this writing thing! I have a little bit of practice (three novels and three novellas...) to keep me going. But, eh... this blog post has to end or I'll get nowhere! Wish me luck as I attempt to write a book while making sure I don't fail several modules in college!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let's Get Ready to Wrimo!

In about twelve hours, NaNoWriMo begins. Yes, twelve hours. In that space of time, I need to get lots of college work done, in between the regular stuff for the day like showering and eating. I plan on doing my tutorial work ASAP, then getting to work on the reading for my essay from the books I have from the library. I have approximately one quarter of my plot planned for my novel. Whether or not this will equate to 12,500 words in the first week, I have no idea. Hopefully it'll be more than that, so I can write more than 50,000 words for this book.

So, very little time left. Anyone reading this who's mad enough to attempt NaNoWriMo, here's my advice for the month ahead:
  • Plan in advance. Maybe not the whole thing, but at least know where you're going to start, where you hope to end, and a couple of things you want to happen in the middle of the novel.
  • Stock up on snacks. This doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune, and it doesn't mean it has to be all unhealthy stuff, but you'll need to have something beside you for when you get hungry; if you can rely on someone else to cook the dinners but you have to wait a few hours, nibble on something while you write. And while you're at it have plenty of tea/coffee/water and allow for toilet breaks when you need to go - you won't be able to write on a full bladder, because you'll be moving around in the chair too much.
  • Plan your time. I, for one, have a busy month ahead of me. I've got about three birthdays to attend to, three essays due in this month, three pieces of tutorial work, and stuff to do for December that I should make a start on. My drama workshops will probably take place in November, too, following the unfortunate postponements a couple of weeks ago. I'll be writing on the bus, doing college work at lunch time and whichever one I have time for and need of will occupy any free evenings.
  • Don't assume you need to write for hours on end. What this means is that you can write in ten minute segments throughout the day if you have to. Once you get your average of 1667 words a day, you'll be fine! If you're in school and have weekends off, try get your homework done quickly, and add a chunk of words to your novel to compensate for missing out during the week - this will happen at some stage.
  • Remember: quantity over quality. NaNoWriMo isn't a test of your ability to write brilliantly; it's a way to get you to write a lot. Write as much as you can, even if it's not all good. You have plenty of time later to edit the novel and make it good. In case you didn't realise, this is more or less what every book you've read has been like - very rarely is the first draft so excellent it's publishable.
  • Have fun. NaNoWriMo isn't about driving you crazy - we're human, so we're perfectly capable of doing that to ourselves anyway. NaNo is about having fun while you write, getting the words done that you might not convince yourself to do otherwise, and doing something that so many people put off for so long. You know those people who say "I could write a book but I don't have the time"? Well, you can turn around to them and say "I made the time and had fun doing it."
It's one month, people. If you can't do something for one month, then how do you think you can do it for the rest of your life? Believe me when I tell you, the NaNoWriMo experience is about finding yourself as a writer; I wrote a lot over the summer because I was used to writing a lot in a short period of time. You can do it, too.

Best of luck, everyone! And hey, add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo site and we'll keep track of how each other are doing!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cross-Genred Freak!

That title's funny because genred - while being a made up word - is an anagram of gender!

It has occurred to me that, should I ever get published, and should all my books eventually reach publication, that I will be some sort of cross-genred freak of a writer. I mean, most people will probably get used to the idea of me writing books like Meet Sam, and my novellas, which aren't always as funny or dark in the same measures, are close enough to have the same audience. But, what about the other stuff I write? I mean, the first book I wrote was a young adult fantasy. I wrote a Sci-Fi book, too. And a couple of variations of that same idea, most notably The Jump, which isn't technically complete. And I started writing a Fantasy book called The Magical Emporium of Magical Things, which was similar in style to Terry Pratchett. And just now I've started a story - maybe just a short story, possibly a novel - that's a cross between mainstream and Sci-Fi; semblances of super powers in it, but with a focus on the human aspect of the story.

What in the hell?

I don't know why I write like this. I mean, I love writing, and I love these stories... but why do I write such different stories? I mean, it makes no sense from a "business" point of view. What use is it to have two genres of stories, if I don't even have one publishing contract? Yeah, it keeps my options open, but it also means that if I get published in one genre, it'll be a little difficult to arrange a second book of a different genre.

And if I got it? If I had two publishers..?

That means I'd have two groups of people looking for work from me. Yeah... that'd get complicated and difficult. I'd end up like Darren Shan, releasing two books a year, or something like that. And what if I ended up with children's books, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and mainstream fiction? Well, for a start that would be a lot of different books, a huge market and a lot of people coming to me for work... But it'd also be the coolest thing ever. I mean, I sort of like that idea. I have an almost pathological need to be busy. I've a friend who can testify that I get very, very annoying when I'm not busy, because I tend to forget that other people aren't in the same situation as me.

Yes, I notice what this means for me: it's sort of like the thing where children think the world revolved around them... only it's more like I'm getting thrown around the world really, really quickly, so it just looks like it's going around me.

I have ideas, anyway. That's a good thing, right? Even if it means that I have to go to three different publishers to get my work out there? I'd like to think I could get stuff like The Jump published, as well as The Magical Emporium and this new one I'm writing that might still be a novel, and Meet Sam. The latter takes preference, being the only "finished" project I have that's anywhere close to being publishable. Seriously, I've seen the crap I wrote before that. The smell of fail...

Which reminds me: when I was fifteen, going on sixteen, I submitted my first book to a publisher, entirely delusional but very hopeful. I'll just come out and say it - Poolbeg did not accept my 121,000 debut novel, a Young Adult Fantasy, and they were right not to. It was poorly written. I still think the story was excellent, at its core, but it wasn't publishable. I'm saying this now, because in the four and a half years since I received my rejection letter - which didn't upset me as much as I thought it would - I learned a few things. Firstly, I went to the wrong publisher for a book of its type. Secondly, it's common courtesy to thank the publisher for even looking at the manuscript (and it's obvious they did!), and I did not do this. So, thank you, people at Poolbeg, for looking at my very first manuscript, and for the very kind words of encouragement that you put in the letter. Thirdly, I wasn't ready for publication. I mean, I'd probably tell myself now that I'm ready... but my books aren't. And that was true of my first book, too. It still isn't ready, because I haven't really touched it since then, but that was lack of interest on my part, not a disheartening as a result of the rejection.

And you know what else..? I also write poetry.

Now that's a cross-genred freak of a writer! Don't even get me started on all the confusion so many publishers would cause in my brain!

I am aware it looks like I expect to get all this stuff published... I am merely looking at the best possible scenario for my writing. You know, with me being a freak. As per usual. (And damn proud of it!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing as a Response

I tend to wonder about my writing... why do I bother? I mean, what really is the point of writing?

The only theory I have is that, despite people not really liking it, I write as a response to everything that happens in my life. I have all these silly little poems on my Facebook page, because something in my life sparked the writing part of my brain. I write the little poems and the stories, sometimes, because it means I can say something without having to say it directly to people.

The more I think about it, the more sense that makes. The first book I ever wrote was when I was in third year; no real friends, no one to talk to. So I make a book with interesting people who were my age, have them go on a wild adventure chasing destiny and meaning and purpose, trying to fight off this grand evil that's pushed away the powers of good into nothingness.

The second book I wrote follows a writer who's not entirely there all the time. His head is fairly messed up; he has mental and emotional health problems, insecurities beyond measure... I was in sixth year, knowing what I wanted to do, but not sure how to get there, or if I'd like it so much when I got there.

The third book I wrote was Sci-Fi, filled with characters with super powers. Anyone see the point here? I was different. I was in fifth year when I started but I didn't finish it until after the second book. My characters were all aimed at one place. I think, and I'm really only theorising, they were like parts of me, all coming together when the book was finished. But that's not really what happened. I mean, the pieces all fall apart, anyway. The characters don't stay together. Really, if I wanted to keep all the bits of me together I wouldn't have finished the last couple of chapters.

This summer I wrote three novellas, and each one of them examined different parts of my life. They were rather less subtle than the other things I wrote, so I won't go into too much detail on them.

All the poems I write seem to be in response to an event, or maybe just a stray thought I have.

And that's kind of the point of me writing, isn't it? I mean, what other reason would I be writing for? I don't make money from my writing, I don't have a legion of fans waiting to see what story I'm going to tell them next. I don't have anything but the need to respond to life when it does something to make me write. Sometimes it makes me happy, sometimes it doesn't, but all the time I'm saying something I never could say in this globally experiences phenomenon known as "real life".

And maybe that's the problem. I don't keep my responses private, so yes: I respond quite verbally to the people who do things to get to me. I don't think I can ever stop that. I can't just quit writing, because I'd probably just go even crazier than I am, now. And I can't just quit people, because even the friends that drive me up the wall are too important to me to give up.

So I'm writing this as a response to that, to all the doubts they give me about everything in my life.

I have a purpose, even if you can't see it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review - I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies)
Welcome to the wonderful world of John Smith; average teenager and... alien? That's the tale Pittacus Lore tells us in his debut novel I Am Number Four. Okay, so Pittacus Lore isn't his real name; he's a pseudonym, a combination of the minds of Jobie Hughes and James Frey. And as for the significance of the title - the cover of the book tells the very simply story behind that: there were nine aliens, three are dead, and John Smith is next.

What made you pick this up?
Well, there was this little thing in a free magazine that described this book as being Smallville meets Heroes. Um, yes please! I didn't quite get it at first, but the alien thing kind of does it. Also, working in a bookshop and seeing the delightful cover (the UK one is black with the same orange symbol as on the cover shown to the left, and gold writing for the cover and author - very cool!) every single day I was in work was too tempting. So I bought the book, after reading quite a bit of it in work to (a) fall in love with the story and (b) crease the spine a little bit.

How does this compare with other, similar books?
Okay, in terms of plot and the idea, I prefer this book. It's a lot stronger, because it doesn't leave a lot of doubt for everything happening - as in Gone, where you're not sure what's happening. However, the character's aren't as loveable as I've found people to be in other books, and I wasn't as fond of the style of writing, but there was technically nothing wrong with the writing, or the characters. It was just how I felt about them.

So... was it enjoyable?
Oh yes, very much so. I think if I had a choice about the matter, I wouldn't have stopped reading it at all. Only thing is I had to work... and eat... and sleep. And I think my family have this thing where I'm supposed to talk to them at least once every couple of hours. The book was almost too good to put down. But yeah, like I said, life goes on. Unfortunately.

What can we expect from this series?
Well, if you believe the rumours, five more books. And if you believe IMBD, a movie. Yes, a movie. It's in post-production, due out in February 2011 (as far as I know.) Staring Alex Pettyfer as John Smith and Dianna Agron as the delightful Sarah. (So there's a reason for the girls and a reason for the guys to go see it!) I recommend reading the book before the movie comes out, of course. I hate knowing the plot in adaptation mode before I read it, and now you have lots of notice! And who knows, there may be a whole load of popularity around this series after the movie - get there first!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yay Nerd Stuff!

Inspired by a video by the amazingly lovely Charlie McDonnell, AKA charlieissocoollike, who I once interviewed, I'm going to more or less list all the amazingly nerdy things in my life. Be prepared for nerd-overload.

  1. Doctor Who; it comes first on the list of nerdy things because
    a - I write (or at least wrote) a form of literature I dubbed Doctor Haik-Who; they are haiku about Doctor Who.
    b - I have a Doctor Who t-shirt
    c - I have a sonic screwdriver
    d - I have ten figurines based on the show, including the Face of Bo
    e - I dressed up as a Time Lord for my college Halloween party (right)
    f - I have a Doctor Who poster
    g - I have The Writer's Tale
    h - I listen to Trock
  2. Books; I know they aren't specifically nerdy... but when you read, mostly, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and children's books... I think you see my point. Very nerdy indeed.
  3. Writing; you might not think it's nerdy... but you don't also study it in your spare time. I have over a dozen books on writing - children's books, scripts, fiction, poetry - and on the book industry in general - that includes getting a job in publishing, marketing books, and a few editions of The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. Also, I tend to write across genres; I have lots of poetry, a children's book (and ideas for more), a sci-fi novel, mainstream fiction, and books that pose as mainstream fiction with some metaphysics thrown in.
  4. I study Religion... and like it. And not for the spiritual side of things either. It's actually just really interesting!
  5. Every now and then I pick up a new subject and read about it, ranging from Snark; Business books - marketing and financing; psychology, specifically the science of personality in Rita Carter's Multiplicity. Why? Because I find learning to be an enjoyable experience.
  6. I'm on the Internet... a lot! I use it for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, my blog (i.e. this), research (both for college and for a number of different things). Basically, I could spend a day on the Internet and not get bored. (note: I can still get lonely)
  7. I don't do well with social interactions; people in college might disagree, saying I'm usually so happy etc etc... except I never know what to say to people and generally I don't make physical or eye contact with other people. And I don't know why!
  8. I listen to music from DFTBA Records; don't know what that is? Exactly! They're incredibly indie. Not in the sense of being in that particular genre of music, really just in the sense that they're not mainstream and all their artists are from YouTube.
  9. My clothing; I've touched on this already with the Doctor Who t-shirt, but did I mention I also have four Family Guy t-shirts, two Mighty Boosh t-shirts, a Muse t-shirt, a James Morrison t-shirt, a Pink Floyd t-shirt and a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt? Basically, my wardrobe is filled with essences of pop culture.
  10. YouTube; I can spend several hours a day looking through old videos, particularly those of nerds such as the vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green; nerimon, Alex Day; charlieissocoollike, Charlie McDonnell and communitychannel, Natalie...something. I always forget her surname.
Does that seem nerdy enough to you? It seems nerdy enough to me... and I didn't even mention the fact that I watch all manners of shows on the SyFy channel, and learned a couple of short phrases in Japanese through the Heroes Magazine! Among other things! So nerdy...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So You're Writing a Book

So you're writing a book. Well done! That's takes some guts and a lot of patience. You want to know why? Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly: it takes a while to write a book unless you have a lot of free time on your hands and you write very quickly. I mean, it's easy to get a lot written very quickly, but you actually need to time to do it. Many people do not have this time, so it can take a long time to write the book even writing very quickly.

Secondly, the questions. Also thirdly, the questions, but I'll get back to those ones later. The first set of questions are the ones you need to ask yourself. And trust me, asking yourself questions that you then have to answer can make you seem like a crazy person. But you need to ask yourself: What is the plot of my novel? When is my novel set? Where does all the action take place? Who is my main character? Why is my character behaving in this way? How will my character resolve the predicament he/she is in? And many other questions revolving around the five Ws and the H. Basically, if you can't answer a question like that, your novel isn't making much sense to the reader.

BUT you have to remember something. First drafts don't have to be great. You can get away with writing a lot very quickly when writing a first draft if you don't stop to ask yourself questions about everything straight away. When it comes to challenges like NaNoWriMo, you need to avoid stalling like that. Just write like crazy. Ask the questions when you're editing, instead. Just make sure you can answer them, and fix everything up to make things work well as a whole.

Now, that second set of questions: the ones other people ask. The worst one, by far, is 'What's your book about?' Oh. My. God. This is by far the most annoying question; how is an author supposed to sum up his/her novel in the space of a few words, when in a writer's mind the book is a larger piece? Also, 'about'? A lecturer of mine despises that word regarding literature (and probably movies, too.) You know why? Because 'about' can make it too easy to summarise a piece incorrectly. Hamlet is about a prince out for revenge. Right? Yes, but it's also 'about' a prince whose father has been killed, who may or may not be feigning madness, who mistreats one of the most lovely characters, as well as being about the relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters, lovers, employers and employees, and about the concept of revenge outside of Hamlet's endeavours. So when a writer is asked what his/her novel is about... there is no easy answer. My book Meet Sam is about a writer with a narrator in his head. That's the 'Hamlet is about a prince out for revenge' explanation. Meet Sam is also about insecurities, relationships with various people, underlying depression, writing, a city and various significances that I don't have the time to go into right now. Can I say that to someone asking the question 'What's your book about?' No. No I cannot.

People refuse to accept the easy answer but they get bored with the longer one. And unfortunately for the aspiring author, many people also ask, 'Is it published?' Now, I could easily respond by saying, 'Have you heard of me before now?' or 'If I was published I would be trying to sell you the book, not trying to evade answering a thousand questions about it', but people generally don't respond well to things like that.

So... still writing that book? You should! Not every writer that wrote a book was patient all the time; personally, I'd rather not wait until NaNoWriMo started to do my novel for it, but I wouldn't be able to add on another 50000 words to whatever I write during my reading week. Also, I kind of have essays to prepare for, too. And as for the questions..? Well, you learn to get past them when all the people who care have asked them. I get them every now and then, but generally it's because one or two people were told and then others found out through them. I think it's just the idea of writing a book that people like, because not everyone does it. It's like when people have a high grade in a musical instrument; suddenly that person is very interesting, because not many people have high grades in an instrument.

And you know what else? Writing a book can be fun. If you're doing NaNoWriMo, just keep your head down, get your words for the day (and thensome, if you can manage), plan in advance (unless your style is to wing it!) and when it comes to people making plans, and school/college/work stuff coming up, arrange your writing time around it (so that you don't fail at school/college or lose your job/friends). If you find your motivation lacking (particularly around week 3), just remember to Power Through! It works, trust me. Just keep on going, keep on writing, and don't worry about quality. You can always edit the book when it's finished.

So you're writing a book; the plot bunnies are running free. Good luck!

Rhyming Thoughts

My head is weird. Fact. I mean, really, really weird. Sometimes I think in rhyme. Or I get a first line of a poem in my head and I have to find a way of finishing it (or else!)

The result of this is a few odd little rhymes. Mostly they're posted on Facebook, because my status updates are boring otherwise. Mostly they get ignored on Facebook, too, because not everyone likes poetry. And they're not great. That also attributes to it. Here's an example of my rhyming rubbish:

Too much time alone is never enough, 
And some people play this game; 
Suffer the silence and the lies; 
Nothing again will be the same.

Dreadful, eh? I can't stop them happening. I think I have a writing deficiency since college started back. It's making me do things like this, because finding the time to write is difficult. I suppose if I was bothered enough I could try type short pieces every evening, or on the bus on my iPod, but that requires more energy than I generally have.

And yet I'm blogging..?

Okay, someone needs to force me to write! NaNoWriMo is coming up. I could attempt that, but I don't know if I actually have the time to try it. Or the material.

I have a week to decide, anyway. And to read a lot for college. And to start writing more essays. And stuff like that. Busy busy busy. It's "Reading Week" now, so we've no lectures... but that doesn't make things any easier. And there are only four weekends in NaNoWriMo this year! Egad! We had five last year! And I'm probably working all the time, anyway!

Maybe the iPod idea will work. Short writing sessions, poor typing... all I'd have to do is email the pieces to myself every time I write them and voila - I'd have something written. If That Guy I Am continues to cycle rather than get the bus it means I have lots of time in the mornings to attempt writing a novel.

Did I just talk myself into actually doing this? I think I did. I'm a bad influence on myself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My head is weird. I tend to over-react to certain things and I don't really know when to shut up, so when I say something it affects people in ways that I don't intend. When it comes to assessing the pros and cons of the things I go to say, I tend to fail. So I'd like to extend an open apology to anyone I have offended or upset by the things I say; a particular lack of experience in the formative years of my life in this area are to blame.

Moving on swiftly... the workshops were cancelled! Boo! I'd been looking forward to them. But, like, there were good reasons for the cancellations. The people in charge of them didn't just decide not to do them, last minute. Also, they were free for people attending... we can't really complain. And I say cancelled... it's more like postponed. We're just awaiting the messages to say that the workshops are back on at such and such a time at such and such a place, hope you can make it.

In other news, I got my essay done. People on Twitter will have seen that I was going slightly mad with it... From what I can tell, I'm not the only one who can't wait to see the end of this Revelation and Christology essay. It's not exactly the most fun I've ever had. But it's done! (with the exception of the bibliography, the cover sheet and the footnotes...) I am now free from that essay! (mostly)

During my Psalms lecture today... well, lets just say that the Psalm seemed far too close to reality for comfort. Wasn't exactly the best thing since Christmas...

Best be off. I have madness to tame and it sometimes tries to fight back. Damn madness! Grr! *personifies madness*

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


As anyone who reads this blog will know, I attended the first part of a three part workshop on film last week; it was entirely free, which is always a plus. The workshop was meant to be an acting to camera workshop, which evidently became a whole 'working with a camera, lights, production' workshop. As a result of this change, I am now directing a short film that has no name, no dialogue and only two actors. There are only three of us working on the film, aside from the gentleman running the workshop, and one of us was acting last week. This week, in a matter of hours, both the girls will be on camera, and I'll have to shoot and direct the other footage.

Tomorrow, I get to do something very cool, too! We're talking more along the lines of writing - script writing, that is! A short workshop on writing screenplays, and details of a fun little competition being held in the college to see who can write the best screenplay, which will be turned into a film next semester. I hope to God we actually have actors for it! It should be good fun, anyway.

Besides, it's not like the workshop won't come in handy! I plan on writing a short film for a festival.. actually, I need to:
  1. write the screenplay
  2. steal some friends for an afternoon
  3. shoot the film
  4. edit the footage
  5. upload it to YouTube
All that, by November 30th. Fun times! So I may not be taking part in NaNoWriMo. I'm going to get as much experience as I can with films so that, maybe, over the summer I can do a few short films and submit them to festivals. It's an interesting turn of events, and one that I didn't really see coming. Screenplays and scripts have fascinated me for a while, now, but actually writing them has been beyond me. Time to change all that, I think, with some very cool short projects. And who knows, I might get lucky and actually win something. (side note: a man can dream, can't he?!)

So, that's it. Two workshops this week, and soon the editing workshop for the film to get it complete. Following that, a short film or two (yeah, two... the competition in college gives us three weeks to write the damn thing!) and the rest of my life.

Amateur productions for the win?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NaNo '10

There are two weeks to go until NaNoWriMo 2010, and I still don't know if I'll definitely be taking part. It would mean writing a lot of college stuff over the midterm break, which I am more than happy to do, and using lunch times that would otherwise go wasted on writing the novel and juggling all my other college work. It would mean using every last available minute writing the book, in between the nights out I am determined not to miss and the teaching practice material I have to put together... like 30 lessons and three schemes of work...

Aside from the whole 'having another first draft' thing, I have another motive for taking part - I need to get the voice of the narrator in Meet Sam back into my head, and the only way to do that is to write the second book in the trilogy, Love, Sam. So between now and November 1st I need to plot that book and write two essays of 1500-2000 words and two sets of tutorial work... fun times!

It can be done, though. I get off college at half four on Mondays. I can write for an hour or two without jeopardising my college work. On Tuesdays, I'm in until half five. Sometimes later. The nights are touch-and-go. I have a long lunch, though, so I could write then. Wednesdays I'm off at half four again, with a long lunch, too, and no one goes out on a Wednesday. Thursdays are strange: every second week I get off at half two, while the other weeks I get off at half four. I can write on the half two days, but the nights out are always on Thursdays. Fridays are touch-and-go; I don't know, as of yet, whether or not I have work every Friday after college. I get off at twelve, though, so I could spend time writing then - a few hours' work and a few thousand words. Saturdays I work, usually for six hours. I also do my tutorial work on Saturdays... But that shouldn't stop me doing work on the novel. Sundays I have four to six hours, too, in work, and again I can do work before and after.

However, I have to do a lot of reading for college, too. I need to read a tragic play and write an essay on it, and write a coursework journal based on the films we watch on the late Tuesdays. I have three essays due in in November - one of which I would want to write most of during the October break - and I have four tutorials to prepare work for during the month, too. And, again, my schemes of work. Fun... I need to do work for those, too. I need to read for three essays and three schemes of work. It may kill me.

But what about the book? Okay, if I use Write or Die I can get about 400 words done every ten minutes. So in an hour I can get - roughly - 2400 words done. If I wrote for one hour - like this - every day in November, I would get 72000 words done in the month. This is more than enough. I will most likely write less. I imagine it will turn out closer to 55000 words, because even if I wrote like this all the time, I would not write every day.

Do I have a plot..? Not exactly. I have a general idea but nothing too substantial. Which is bad, for me. For a book of this length and for such a short period of high-stress time, I need a plan. I will probably work on this during the week - likely before my next drama workshop. I have my characters already, anyway. I have written about them on this blog, previously. I can come up with a story that fits them all in that doesn't avoid the direction I want the book to take. This will, hopefully, have some of the same humour as Meet Sam while also getting down into this really dark level of the human psyche, which was my intention for this book all those months ago when I first thought of it.

I suppose, though, with my idea I have somewhere to aim for. I have thought processes that need to be explored, places that need to be visited narratively, and people that need to influence the mind and emotions of Samuel Emily Richards.

Am I excited? Oh God yes. Lets get ready to WriMo!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

So, on Tuesday I went to this Drama workshop - acting in front of camera. It turned out that the workshop just became a "making a film" workshop, which works better for me. I wasn't up to acting, all that much. Anyway, we split into teams - 3 people in my team, 4 in the other - and we put together a scene. Each team has a similar scene, which was the basis of our plot, and following that we put together plans to shoot more footage next Tuesday.

I'm the director. It is crazy! I didn't expect this to happen. At all. We've got some really cool ideas for this short film; it'll be simple enough to shoot, and then we're on to editing it to make the simple footage look very awesome. I don't want to reveal too much, yet, but if I get a chance I'll put it online.

In other news... I'm way behind on essays (so why am I blogging?). I've to do loads of reading and loads of writing... and instead I'm going to a family party tonight. And I'm working tomorrow (I've been in work two days this week already - I actually have a proper job?). I'll be reading a lot before and after so I can start writing on Monday. And I have tutorial work to do... summer made me lazy. Also, missing friends and catching up for five weeks doesn't help...

Okay, I have to cut this disjointed garbling short so that I can have tea to stay awake. It might be a week before I blog again... Unless I get my essay done early enough to blog. Then I'll update you on the film and whatever else happens! Oh college life, you are so busy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Readers

To my dear readers,

It's been a while, hasn't it? A lot has happened. College has been going okay, though there have been a few setbacks in a few areas. I would prefer not to get into the details of that. I have work to do tonight for a tutorial tomorrow, so I shall not be here for very long.

I'm not doing Drama again, this year. In saying that, I will be taking part in an acting to camera workshop the next two Tuesdays, but that about covers it. I may be taking part in the film after Christmas, but I am as yet undecided. I just can't cope with Drama at the moment. I've too much of it in my own life without adding more to the mix.

I hope to blog more often in the future, but for now it'll be touch-and-go. When I get back on my feet after the past few weeks (again, I would prefer not to get into the details of this), I'll be writing a bit more. Following a phone call in the middle of the night on Saturday, I resolved to get my book finished and submitted to a publisher. The days still go by, no matter what happens.

I have a few other projects in mind. All of these will take precedence over NaNoWriMo this year, as I can't manage all that writing with all the work I have to do this semester. I have five essays to write - one on Revelation, Religious Education, Philosophy, Prayer and Prophecy in Israel and Tragedy - and a coursework journal, too. Throw in all my tutorial work and the preparation of lessons for teaching after Christmas, and I'll be very, very busy. But I need to write, too. A friend - my best friend - made me realise that. He didn't mean to. He was very angry at the time. And more than a little bit drunk. I was actually kind of scared when he called, but I survived the ordeal, anyway.

If you start worrying that something might be wrong, because that was why I left last time, please just let that go. I'll be fine. If I'm ever not going to be fine, I will make that knowledge public. I just need privacy in certain areas of my life, right now. Also, if I stop writing blog posts, it's probably because I'm very, very busy. I've said it once and I'll say it again, it's time to stop chasing dreams and start living them.

Take care, my dear readers.
Best wishes,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Photographic Memory #5

It's Tuesday; that makes it time for another Photographic Memory! This week, I bring you back to the magical land of Giant Inflatable Slides at God College. I'm sporting my increasingly more faded Heroes t-shirt. We've just gone rushing down the slide at this point when Hyper McHen caught a snapshot. Fantastic. The day was filled with banter and running up inflatable steps. I got one bad burn on my left elbow (which has still left a mark) after the very person in this photo with me attempted to throw me down the slide from the top. I was having none of it. So, while sitting down, him putting an arm behind my back and another until my legs (yes, he was literally going to throw me), I wrapped my arms around his knees. "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me." I went down. I pulled him down, too, but he happened to land on my arm. His entire weight was on my elbow. Hence the burn. Good times. So what that we had a test later that day?

We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time.

Lazy Day

So I woke up early because my dad was calling my brother to wake up for work. I got out of bed at a quarter past seven, had breakfast, showered and I was soon out the door, bible in bag, for day two of God College. On the bus, I had to make a wake-up call. I was threatened. It was funny.

Bad things happened, subsequently, so one of the key figures in resolving the Thing was late. He was also tired. I had to loan him a pen and give him some paper. He kept the pen. Literally, when I said 'Give me back the pen, you'll lose it,' he said, 'No, it's my pen now.' Yes, I just got mugged in God College.

There was a lot of lazing about after that. I think, in order it was: cigarette (not for me, but I was there), game of pool (I didn't play, because I suck) and a walk to the park. Three of us sat on a bench, talking about stuff like the Thing, stuff happening in our lives, etc. Some of it was upsetting because of the despair associated with the Thing, but there were a few laughs, too. We went to get lunch and invade a house for tea, later. We watched cartoons on the Internet and cigarettes were lit with a toaster.

Our lectures in the afternoon that we'd waited four and a half hours for were cancelled. It wasn't all that great, but we went to the computer room where there was a bit of banter and a lot of Facebook. Eventually we parted so a train could be gotten and I could get my bus. Two lectures in the whole day... part of me questions the point of it. This is the part that does not appreciate how good it was to spend the day with two of my very best friends. One of them, apparently, controls my life. That was fun to learn.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day Back and The Thing

So, the Thing has become a part of my blog. It is entirely secret, because it's not something newsworthy so much as life-altering. And it's none of your business... That might sound rude, but really, I can't spill the beans on anything.

So, first day back in college. Um, I'm tired! I didn't have any lectures, but I did have a few late-night calls. Four, to be exact. Between three in the morning and half three. They went something along the lines of the Drumree team chanting loudly in the background for the first two, and the second two being the drunken mumblings of a Mad Man.

The Mad Man was late for registry, though thanks to a technical hitch we were able to delay the process of handing over funds and money by a couple of hours. We had to finalise some forms and deal with a Battleaxe. Long story. But recent news - the Battleaxe cut deep. This is not good.

There was a lot of talk about the future and the Thing. Lots of fear and promises and doubts and all the usual stuff that comes with the micro-Apocalypse that is the Thing. It wasn't always fun, but... I don't know, I guess it was enjoyable in the sense that it wasn't bad and it was actually proper communication.

Aside from the Thing, the first day back consisted of catching up with lots of people, one of whom knew about the Thing when she shouldn't have known. News spread to a few people. It was not good. I almost cried at one point during the day, but I got a hug instead.

I also got to scare the life out of someone. Yup, I sneaked up on a friend of mine in the canteen and just loudly said to her, "Hi!" She screamed. It was very funny. It had made my morning.

Now, I'm knackered. Dealing with the thing and having been awake since three in the morning, unable to fall back asleep for the noise in the world around me, I was left pushed to my limits just to get things done. I also skipped lunch as a result of being busy with the Thing.

Day two is set to bring all the fun of God College right back to me... lectures begin. And the Thing has to be sorted a bit more. Hopefully the Battleaxe won't destroy it before it can be resolved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Last Remaining Hours

I've got about seventeen hours before I start college again. In this space of time, I need to pack my bag and sort out the Thing. Really, the Thing has to be sorted out before college starts tomorrow. It will be bad and difficult in equal portions without the Thing sorted. That's all I can say. It gets to me far too much to just leave it alone.

In these last remaining hours of mine, I have to get some sleep.

In these last remaining hours of peace, I may have to go to war.

In these last remaining hours of summer, the rest of my life may be mapped out distorted and cruel and filled with pain, with no solace. Bitterness, sour and devouring, may take me. I can taste it in my mouth already. I need to figure out how to stop that from happening, in these last remaining hours.

In these last remaining hours of boredom, I cannot write. Stories evade my grasp of words, so all that's left is an encapsulating logical mind-set. Logic, without emotion, sometimes. But when there's nothing for the logic to focus on, then there's only emotion, pure and unleashed on the world around me, trapped within these four walls, spinning and swirling and destroying everything.

In these last remaining hours, I have to learn to live.

In these last remaining hours, I need to stay alive.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adorable Puppy Mascot!

At work we do this Story Time thing, with a colouring competition related to one of the picture books chosen for the hour. Since Marley and the Kittens was one of the books, we went with a puppy colouring page. When all the children left and we still have half an hour to go, we decided to colour in puppies ourselves.

The end result? An Adorable Puppy Mascot for the Drumree hurling team, who are in the final tomorrow, Sunday 12th of September.

Original picture taken from here
I call him Drum. Isn't he the cutest thing ever? I think so, anyway. Not bad from a few minutes' work and some crayons. Yay puppy!

So, the point of the Adorable Puppy Mascot? To wish Drumree all the best of luck tomorrow in the final!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Friend #5

It's Friday; you know what that means! Friday Friend! *party poppers* This week, I open with a question. Do you know a Jedi? I do. The honourable Countess Rascal. She's in God College. She's very cool. She was one of the first people I spoke to (fourth day of the semester!) and she's helped me with lots of stuff, like copping on to myself. And she has two lightsabers.

She "borrowed" some priest robes at Halloween last year to dress up nice and fancy for the party. I must say, it was quite an outfit. I don't think anyone else put half as much effort into their costume as her (though there was a member of the Ghostbusters... and I was Dracula... and Ferris was a pikey - he's never dressed so poorly for as long as I've known him!). But anyway, no one went to the effort of actually getting something from a priest, wearing it backwards, putting on a big belt and big boots, electric blue make-up and doing their hair all mad like in the movies. While carrying a lightsaber.

All that, and there's still more. Between battling a love for Macaroon bars (well, they are delicious) and keeping up with her studies (okay, she's actually a genius and seems to do well with minimum effort), she put on a great show for Drama - Donalbain. I've mentioned the play before, I believe. But I didn't tell you she won an award for Best Director for it! Go Countess Rascal!

This is the part where I tell you what I like about the person in question, isn't it? Um... let's see... I like that she's perfectly happy being herself, and not just some idea of society as to what people should be like. I like that she always seems in control of herself. I like that she knows what to say to people who are upset. I like that she crashed my birthday party. I like that she has so much time for people who are just themselves.

Excuse the abruptness of that. It has been a long day. I will see the Countess on Monday, anyway. Use the force, Miss Rascal, and use it well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coping Mechanisms

Stuff's messed up. Let's leave it at that - vague and possibly interesting. It's not my place to go into this. Even if I get permission to start talking freely about this, I won't.

Basically, the Thing has come has quite a shock. Sort of emotionally crippling. That's just the way I am. So I have to find a way to cope. Normally I write, but I can't seem to find the words. They just don't seem to matter very much. All the fiction in the world doesn't seem to have as much importance as the Thing.

So I'm doing all I can to cope with this. This starts with Research. In this case, Research led me to a website that I had to do some thinking over. I have been called Detective Carroll before, and it is for stuff like this (and my ability to observe when something has happened... and those times when I state the obvious.) So I started joining the dots. I had to ask a few (too many) questions, but I have a better understanding of the Thing.

It still bothers me. It won't stop bothering me until the Thing becomes a Thing of the Past, and even then this is based on the outcome of the Coping Mechanism.

See, fiction isn't helping. Not this time. So I have to resort to facts. I'm beginning to see the Bigger Picture of the Thing. I can't do much to help with it, so I can only offer small insights into my understanding of the Thing. This might help. I really, really hope it helps. If it doesn't, I need to find a new Coping Mechanism for the Downside of the Aftermath of Failure.

I have a Plan. I obviously can't keep hanging about looking for a way to Cope with Nothing. So I need to build a Contingency Plan  that will go forth regardless of the Outcome of the Thing. No matter what happens with the Thing - which I believe can still come out Okay - I want to make sure everything else isn't destroyed.

So, that's what's happening. This is why I've been acting so weird. And yes, I am aware there is an annoying amount of capitalised words in this post. Deal with it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review - An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of KatherinesI'm don't think I've ever been more astounded at how an author can tell similar stories so differently. John Green, your Super Nerd status seems to be getting out of hand, but I think it is down to having Super Nerd friends, too. I am insanely jealous.

See, I just finished reading An Abundance of Katherines, Green's second published book. My friend gave me a loan of it on Sunday night while in a mutual friend's kitchen, over 80km from my house, which is a whole lot closer than the loaner's house. We stayed for the night, we left the next afternoon, and I started reading the book. It's Wednesday, now. I read the book between adverts on television last night. It was very hardcore stuff.

So, you've read the back catalogue of John Green; how does this compare to everything else by him?
(Dude, that was tame...) I won't lie; this was my least favourite of John Green's books. This may be attributed to how tired I am reading it. However, I will point out that "least favourite" does not mean that I did not love the book. In fact, I could barely put it down. I just found that I enjoyed the stories of Q and Pudge a whole lot more than Colin's story. It wasn't that I didn't like Colin, I just liked the ideas behind the other books better.

Eh... why?
Yeah, this kind of comes down to the fact that I found I was too much like Colin, sometimes. Okay, I'm not a prodigy child and I haven't dated nineteen Katherines (it's in the blurb, it's no big spoiler), but the whole word thing got to me. Okay, so he's more or less terrible at coming up with words in the right order; rearranging words is more his speciality. I write, but I can't anagram too well. And I'm quite bad at remembering new words.  That's just one of the things. I don't really want to get into the rest.

Very much so. But seeing similarities made it difficult, because I kept thinking of all these weird things in my life. Still, he was an interesting character. His anagramming and his learning and all the languages that are used in the book are all remarkable, and I'm certainly not capable of any of it.

So, what did you actually think of the book?
Brilliant. Simply brilliant. I loved the idea of a guy who only dates Katherines. And there was a road trip. I like road trips. John Green is great at them. There was also a wonderful scene that showed the power of dialogue, that I won't go into too much because you really have to read it. It's not exactly what was said that makes it a great scene, but how John Green writes it. You'll understand when you read the book (by the way, you have to read this book).

Will you keep on reading John Green's books?
Pope says yes. (Sorry, God College joke).* I have one more to read before his next book comes out at some stage in the future; it has a female protagonist, but that's all I know about it. Until then, I'm left to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and that'll be it for John Green. Then I'll have a sad. But anyway, that's a bit of a way to go. I have college in five days, so I may not have time for personal reading. But yes, I will continue reading John Green's books; just not immediately.

*Incidentally, John Green also studied Religion and English at college! I jumped around excitedly when I found that out. It was a fun coincidence, not a matter of choice; I hadn't even been watching John Green's videos on YouTube for very long (if at all) when I chose what course I was going to do in college. Also, Pope says yes is a twist on a joke, Pope says no, which Ferris Bueller came up with.