Friday, April 27, 2012

Get Out of Bed!

For the past three weeks, at the very least, I've been struggling to get out of bed in the morning. This comes as a result of the combination of late-night and early-morning, though most of the time I can't help either of those. Rarely have I stayed up late intentionally, and even more rarely have I wanted or needed to wake up especially early. It just happens.

While I wouldn't mind so much except that I have an inability to fall back asleep once I wake up in the morning, I tend not to do anything. Even when I've had a good sleep - not a common occurrence - I have this difficulty to get out of bed because I'll be comfortable, even if I know I have to do work. Or worse: go somewhere. I think I've only ever gotten out of bed for something that wasn't work or exams over the past three weeks for one person, and that was because I would be late for a much-needed catching-up session I had been hassling about. Other than that, I've been getting out of bed, wasting the morning still exhausted and entirely useless, when I could have been doing something with the day.

And that's the big thing: doing something. I've found that while getting out of bed for exams is difficult and annoying, it comes with the purpose I need to get ready for the day. So I need to just find something to do every day. Right?

This is, of course, much harder with exam season attacking me from every direction. I find that while I want to do something creative, the exams hinder my ability to do so. I feel a sense of guilt for not doing college work, and when I aim to begin I find myself inundated with a sense of procrastination. The time I need to study is wasted, and I don't accomplish anything.

Bummer, right?

This summer, I aim to change all that. If it means setting myself a task for the day, like four thousand words of a novel or a scene of a play or researching something to do with writing (I've been getting my books ready for that one!) then I will. I'll get out of bed to do something like that, because it's something I want to do.

I suppose I can't wait for the last week of exams just to have a week of getting up with intent. Sure, it will be exhausting, it will be annoying, but at least something will be done. Then I'll be busy writing away for three months.

I have a project I'll be undertaking, the details of which will come as soon as I'm ready to make them public. It'll be fun. It'll last a while. And it'll get me out of bed.

I guess I just don't want to waste my summer when I could be doing a trial-run for what could be the rest of my life. That would be weird, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Am in Misery

I will begin by stating this one fact: this is not a miserable lamentation for the things that are "wrong" in my first world life. This isn't me moaning about something not going my way.

No, what I'm to moan about I (essentially) signed up for: a horrible series of exams. Beginning this Thursday and lasting three weeks, I have my third year exams in college. Normally we're eased into them, and I suppose we are in terms of exams-per-week (two this week, two the week after, and the week after that, then four...), but we've got a nasty one to begin with.

The module was given the title Mystery of God, but given its ability to make the entire year dread entering the room, and given the history this module has, it received the tentative nickname Misery of God.

And boy is it miserable.

The lectures lasted three hours every week, and while the lecturer tried to make it interesting, the content was just dull. Well, mostly dull. There were some interesting things to look at it, albeit briefly, and a lot of the information went over our heads as a side-effect of the mundaneness of the subject matter. Attention spans waved significantly during those lectures, and I can't help but feel that it's the three hour thing that did it.

And probably the content. That probably had something to do with it.

While I did enjoy certain aspects of the class (such as attempting to answer to the best of our ability some of the questions that were the focus of the module), there was a lot I would have preferred not to suffer through for three hours in a row.

And now we have an exam in it. On Thursday. At ten in the morning.

It gets worse, though. The extent of our the pre-exam tips reached was to remind us what we studied each week - which we can't remember - and to tell us the basic structure of the exam. Not how the questions might be asked, not what we should focus upon. Nothing specifically useful. And this is the lecturer's first year with the module, so last year's exam papers are useless. Useless. Completely and utterly useless.

Hence: misery.

You may find me in a better mood come the weekend, when I'm struggling to get the last of my first chapter done for my research paper. The joys of continuous workloads, eh?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Like There's No Tomorrow

I have this habit of procrastinating when it comes to exams by writing a lot more. In this instance, with exams only a week away (it's time to panic, yes), I've been writing a lot of articles and reviews. Okay, maybe a lot is an exaggeration. It's been like eight or something like that. But for me it feels like a lot. I have this habit of not doing much when I get off college for an extended period of time.

But sure, it's all changing now. While I should be studying more - I can sort that out easily - I am doing work for my thesis. So that's fine.

When it comes to the articles, I suppose I'm trying to establish a routine for myself of actually doing something with my time. I enjoy reviewing books and comics and films, so it makes sense that I would do it as much as possible. It won't make me much money - or any, depending on how few people actually click on the advertisements in the posts - but it's good practice, I think, to produce something on a daily basis.

It's all preparation for the summer, and then the rest of my life when I get out of college.

The basic plan for this summer, with a two week teaching period in late August, is to do as the title says: write like there's no tomorrow. I don't have holiday plans (need money to have holiday plans), so I'm going to write books and articles and read and edit and basically spend my summer with words. I will probably make more of an effort to go outside when the weather is nice. If the weather is nice. Wasn't summer, like, four weeks ago at this stage?

The basic format for my published writing goes like this:

  • Reviews of recent comics and Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror films and books go to The Phantom Zone. It's a hired position, and I'd like to keep it.
  • Reviews of older comics, films and books go to Stories Once Told, my review site, alongside reaction posts to new episodes of my favourite shows. Those shows tend to chance from time to time, with the number of them going up and down as time goes by. Currently they are:
    - Touch
    - Game of Thrones
    - (And, if I like the Pilot tonight) Alphas
    - And possibly Glee. If I can be bothered.
  • Articles will be posts on my main site, though those are about writing, generally.
  • New issues of World War X will go up monthly on that section of my website. (Is it weird that that still feels weird to put into writing - my website?!)
As well as that, I've got the multitude of ideas for books, plays and screenplays to deal with. I only have three months, but if I write quick enough I can knock out quite a few first drafts. Those are the fun starts, and I can work with them when I can't write new material so much (you know, when I'm stuck teaching or writing essays for college).

I also plan on trying to get myself into the freelancing business. While I know most freelancers don't make a living from it, I also won't make a living working weekends in a bookshop. And I just don't feel ready to go into a teaching position. As if there are many of those. Sure, we'll see what happens with that. Still over a year before I'm qualified, which is a lot of time to develop my skills in the writing trade.

Trade? Sure, we'll go with that.

I do also plan on releasing more ebooks in the future. Again, not a massive money-making field, but for me it's about getting the stories out there. The money would just be the added bonus that lets me live.

This is almost a plan for life as it is a plan for the summer, isn't it? Well, I suppose that's just the way I'm feeling right now. I want to live a life like this, writing for a living and not giving a damn who knows that that's my dream. Because it is, you know? I don't want to work in an office or a classroom all my life. I'd like to see the world, to live a weird life and write the stories that have been going around in my head for the past seven or eight years.

And as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Whatever You Say About Glee

Let's make a point clear: I like Glee. Yes, the storyline is somewhat cliché and predictable, but it presents an enjoyable hour of television filled with covers of songs that don't always butcher the originals. Sometimes you can go a while without actually liking any of their covers, but aside from that they do a good job of actually singing them. Even if they ruin the effect of the song.

Whatever you say about Glee, though, you cannot deny the commercial success it brings to others. Ignoring the obvious example of bringing Journey back into the limelight for the current generation of music lovers, we have Fun.'s We Are Young. An indie single released in September 2011, it wasn't until Glee covered the song that the band reached commercial success with it.

And that's the power behind the show. Not it's ability to tell the same story we've been exposed to for years through shows under different guises, and not it's ability to sing a song in complete contrast to how the original artist wished it to be sung, but to ignite and reignite the flames that drive the music industry, albeit through cliché. The songs performed on the show have a history of doing well, not just the covers but the originals, too. While it may be something of a heresy for certain fans that Glee dare touch their favourite songs, the success that follows in many cases cannot be denied.

So while I recognise that they have butchered songs in the past, and will continue to do so in the future - for everybody hates to see their favourite songs altered and distorted - I must proclaim that the music industry does well from the revitalisation of songs performed by the show.

That and the humour one needs once a week as a pick-me-up is reason enough to continue watching the show. Though you won't find me rushing out to buy the merchandise, especially not at full price. (I'm guilty of buying cheap CDs, but that's about it.)

Next time you hate on Glee, just remember what it does for the songs they butcher: sometimes it can help. And sometimes that's enough.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back Into Writing

So, the weekend was fun. Actually, that's only mostly true. Work was a bitch and a half of boredom, but Saturday evening got me back on track in terms of writing. While my "output" will certainly decrease as the exams loom closer, I've gotten back into being able to think about stories and actually do something with them. I wrote eight thousand words over the Easter weekend, and I consider that something of a good start.

Those eight thousand words finished off what I call the Sooper Sekrit Project, called so because I don't want to reveal the intimate details of work that may or may not see the light of day. Ever. The public eye is so glaring and menacing sometimes, and I had to protect my fifteen thousand word baby. It's a novella, and a short one at that, and that's about as much of it as I can reveal without feeling like I'm holding it over a balcony.

With the Michael Jackson jokes out of the way, and the novella completed - first draft, anyway - I had to do something else. Not just a want, but a must. I can't just sit idle, and it still seems too early to get to studying like it's my job. It's not, nor will it ever be, my job to study. I might end up doing research for a book or an article at some stage in my life, but my job, for now, is to sell books. And I only do that at the weekends.

However, the study bug must bite eventually. For now, I'm putting it off by writing articles and planning a Young Adult Fantasy novel. I got my inspiration for it a couple of weeks ago while walking down to the cinema, listening to music. Specifically, I was listening to The Cake Sale, an album of Irish "indie" music, featuring the likes of Lisa Hannigan and Nina Person. It was the latter that lit the candle of inspiration under my fantasy novel, with her song Black Winged Bird. It's not so much that the novel has anything to do with a bird. In fact, as far as I know, I don't have any ideas for birds in the book at all. It's other things in the song that got my attention.

So, I've been planning the book. It has a title, but that's a secret from everyone but That Guy I Am, mainly because no one else is around who might take an interest. I don't even know if he cares, but he was within proximity, so I sprung it on him over a cup of tea. Five chapters of planning into the book, and working on getting other ideas around in my head into some sort of order, and I might be sorting myself out for books for the next few years. Or decades.

Now I just need a publishing contract.

But in all seriousness, this is just the beginning. I mean, you need to have a book or books to get published, not just the contract. Because no one will just publish your signature and sell it for 7.99 at your local bookshop and call it a work of literature. Unless you happen to be like Allah, with 99 names. Then it might be something special to watch how someone signs their name.

Did I just make a Muslim joke? I'm going to hell, aren't I?

Now, the writing bug has taken me, and it's time to put it to some use: I need to write the first chapter of my Research Paper. Still need to do research on that. It's going to be fun... Well, you know, some of it will be.

Friday, April 6, 2012

This Thing Called Sin

A little while ago, we received the first details of our Research Papers in college. This began with the systematic choosing of subjects, approaching moderators nervously and trying to get our heads around what to do in the space of a week.

Except for me. I've been thinking about this since about October or November. I've known for a long time what I wanted to do my Research Paper on: the Seven Deadly Sins. For the actual paper, it's boiled down to a single sin: Pride. And so, the theological, psychological and literary examinations of Pride began, with a bibliography of over thirty titles to get through. Of these, many are meant directly for the actual discussion of Pride in literature and popular media, but there are also articles and books about Sin, Pride, the Capital/Deadly Sins, Demons, Lucifer, the Devil... the list goes on.

What it has essentially done is make me look at certain things in the world in terms of Sin. It's a weird experience. I don't consider myself to be overtly religious. Yes, I have faith, but I never really thought I would look at people or their actions and consider the Sin they were committing. Don't ask me how it happened or what I think about, because if I ever knew (about the former), I've long since forgotten (in both cases).

I plan on using this research, of course. I'm getting an understanding of some of the basic principles the Church has been against for centuries, and the psychological sources and implications of the sins as I do my research. Essentially, I'm reading about what makes a person "bad".

It's the ultimate villain research.

The Research Paper will be examining a number of texts, from Doctor Faustus to Lord Sunday to Like a Rolling Stone. Yes, Marlowe, Nix and Dylan. I don't do subtlety, do I?

It will be fun, though. I love reading about this stuff. I've had ideas about how to use it all beforehand, and now I'll actually have some proper understanding of it. God, I'm turning into an adult, aren't I?

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Things No One Has Seen

I've got a friend. Okay, I have a few friends. A few brilliant friends. But this one friend wants to see things no one else has ever seen. And that got me thinking: I might be insane, but when I walk down the street, go to a concert or try to sleep, I see things no one else has ever seen.

My imagination is weird that way. I'm not unique; I think it comes with the self-imposed job description of Writer, seeing things that aren't there but not in a trippy I'm-losing-my-mind sort of way. Something simple, like the way the sun shines through a white cloud, can set something off in my head. I like the way the particular whiteness of the light makes everything seem extra-real, like walking through a dream. It's a weird experience that only lasts a few seconds, until the cloud has moved just that tiny bit.

I saw two birds flying through the sky, a seagull and a blackbird, and I see Yin and Yang. It makes me think about balance in the universe. A scale isn't balanced without both ends weighing the same, and those two birds set off that idea about the scale, about two opposing forces being necessary in the world. (And a note for writers: you don't get away with writing a story without an opposing force.)

I went to a concert in the O2. There was an impressive light show, lots of lasers and whatnot, and it made an idea in my head click. It was to do with the sequel to Bliss, the Sci-Fi novel I wrote last year. The concert was in no way Sci-Fi. It was just this connection, and in making that, I saw what the book would show the reader, a beauty I can't describe without the context of the story to unfold around it.

And I think, why would anyone need to go anywhere if they just change the way they look at the world. Seven or eight years ago, when I started to write the first book I ever completed, everything changed for me. I looked at different things in the world for inspiration, from old weapons to Biblical texts, at images of mythological creatures to the regular people who walk the streets of Dublin, trying to figure out the world I was writing. I wasn't very good at it, then, but I was young and only starting out.

The point is that I was opened up to the particular beauty of the world that can only be experienced when you stop worrying that people will think you're crazy. I doodle a lot in class, a lot of eyes and faces and monsters made of black spindly lines, and I jot down ideas and words in the back of my notebooks, and all that time the lecture could be talking about anything interesting or boring but I'm too caught up in the images in my head to pay too much attention.

That's what writing is all about: finding something in the world that matters more in that moment than anything else. No, there's more to it than that. It's about sharing that experience with other people. I don't mean like this, just telling you about that I do when I lose interest in a lecture for a few seconds to write down an idea - especially fun when the idea comes from two different lectures in a day and something about them just clicks.  Writing is about turning the experiences of writing down words and doodling into words that people can read to understand what you see in your mind.

That's why I write. Not just the things I plan on releasing into the world, but the stories I write that only one person in a dozen might get (a very particular dozen, too, though maybe that number is too big or too small.) I just want to share the sort of beauty I see in the world, even if it all comes across as being a bit weird. At the end of the day, I'm stuck in this city at least until I graduate college, and I get to see things no one has seen.

The world will be a crazy place when I finally get out to see it.