The Cycle of Pain

If you were reading this blog at this time last year, then you probably know that revising for my exams has left me feeling incredibly unfulfilled. Working thanklessly for months only for a a little bit of that to pay off… I know it’s necessary (at least in our current system), but it’s frustrating and it makes me want to curl up into a little ball and sleep for a thousand years.

What I do like however, is writing. Only when I’m doing it recently I feel guilty for not using my time for revision, which makes me want to write – it’s a cycle of pain. Why couldn’t I be doing an entirely coursework-based degree? Damn you, science.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I put a fiction sample up on here, and seeing as every one I’ve done so far has been (in hindsight) a steaming turd with a smiley face painted on it, I’m going to hold back on that until I know it’s worth putting out there.

It pays to be your harshest critic sometimes.

Not that I’m not excited by what I’m doing, but I have no doubt that when I look over it again it will play out a little something like this:

Me: Well, I’ve left this alone for a month, time to do another draft.

Me again: Wow, I thought this was much better when I was doing it.

Still me: I’m a terrible writer.

Me after a week to think about it: Well, practice makes perfect.

*Does another draft/starts something new*

[REPEAT PROCESS AD INFINITUM]

And to think when I started this blog I was arrogant enough to think my first project would be published. Pffft, that one’s in a pile gathering virtual dust, as this one may end up if I haven’t improved enough to fix it in two years.

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On Length

While I may feel like I’ve been dragged through five hedges backwards my coursework deadline is approaching far too quickly for me to ignore the four hundred words I’ve still got to chip from it. If you would believe it, I’ve already rid myself of six hundred, so right now I’m trying to take off every unnecessary connective and qualifier I can. By the end of this process my whole report will sound like a robot trying to give a presentation.

I don’t want my style to be unnecessarily long, I like to think that if I make something a ridiculous number of words it’s because I had something worth saying, although this whole blog is a huge argument against that. My finished book’s going to be over 300 pages, I suspect, although a few of them are going to get cut when I go over them and realise they read like Nicki Minaj trying to write a sonnet.

I’ve never been sure how to make something both detailed and brief however. I tend to touch on some sort of detail and then cut off like some sort of informational cocktease or go into so many words the word count tips me afterwards and gives me a phone number.

That’s a big difference between writing in general and songwriting in particular, because I can feel when a verse should end, whereas I want to end a chapter on a pivotal shift, a section in a report when I’ve said all I can say, or a blog post when I bloody well feel like it.

On The Canvas

Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever be capable of emulating the greatest experiences in art, the ones that really stick in your mind afterwards. It’s not that I’m completely lacking confidence in my ability to write; a certain song I wrote a few years ago has given me enough positive feedback to realise that I’m capable of impressing people, if only once; rather, a really powerful bridge to a song, or a moment in a story that tugs on your heartstrings the way the end of The Amber Spyglass did to me… they define the artist, to some degree.

I suppose you guys will see when I’m done with this book, whether my concern over my abilities, or lack thereof, is justified, but I will tell you that whatever version you see, if you even ever get to see it, will be vetted through ridiculous amounts of editing.

I want to be able to go through and make sure there isn’t any point that doesn’t fit, isn’t enjoyable, or is just slow to read, and considering it’ll probably be at least 300 pages that’s going to be a long process. Hopefully it will be worth it, but time can only tell.

Wish me luck, I suppose.

There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as watching a world that previously only existed in your brain becoming a reality, for me of course, but I constantly remind myself of the odds of anything ever coming of it. I happily admit to that now, I learned my lesson about denying the chances of something going wrong when I was still playing in a band, and am all too aware of how unhealthy overlooking reality can be for someone who has their head in the clouds as much often as I do.

At this point I don’t even know if I’m fit to try to do this stuff, I only know that I love writing it and I want it to be an enjoyable read as well.

I’ll let you guys know when it’s done.

Have A Go

I wish that I could just write all day. I know it’s completely unrealistic of me to expect any reward for spending the majority of my free time spilling words onto a keyboard, but by God, if there’s a way to get an advance on a novel that probably won’t sell one of you has got to help me find one. It would make my life.

If only life was that easy, eh?

Unfortunately, in a world where there are established paths for getting into certain fields, you have to play the game, and in the game of writing, you either win or you die.

Wait, no, I was thinking of that other game.

As common as the game metaphor is in describing various acts, applications and CVs are probably the least suited to it, so that was probably a bad choice of words, which, incidentally, could be the same reason why I can’t currently spend my days getting money thrown at me while I pretend people give a shit about a story that came out of my brain and that pleases me to read.

Let’s hope every failure really is a lesson if that is the case, or even if it isn’t, because failing by definition sucks the big one. I’ve certainly found that failure can increase your drive and determination, depending on what it is; there’s always the danger however, that giving up is the option your brain settles on first. If you do lean that way, try to pretend you don’t, because no matter how much credit humans are given for intelligence, we’re very easy to be fooled; so good in fact, that you can do it to yourself.

How To Write An Essay

Sorry I’m late, if late’s a thing with these. I had duties to attend to, like playing the new Pokemon game and recovering from yesterday’s escapades.

I’m going to be diving headfirst into an essay after this (well, that’s the plan, I try not to bellyflop in education because then my chances of getting into an MRes course will probably be significantly lowered) so I need to get into the right mindset. How about a couple of dos and don’ts from my experiences doing this sort of thing.

DO:

– reference appropriate sources, although avoid Daddy’s sauce, it still counts as collusion.

– plan your essay beforehand, because planning it after just won’t help you at all.

– build on what you already know, although if that’s nothing you might need to install new foundations as well.

– proof-read when you’re done; this will help prove to you that you’ve actually finished so you can sleep at night.

– take a break when you’re stuck, struggling will only make the glue stronger.

DON’T:

– not do an essay; this may sound obvious, because it is.

– doodle on your essay, as representative of your argument a cock and balls might be.

– pretend you know what you’re talking about, because your essay will read like republican science standards.

– sign your paper ‘anonymous’, or the computer science guys will get credit for it.

Extra Time

The heavens are falling and as such I’m as wet as a fish at the moment. Let me dry off and talk to you for a while.

Now I’m semi-settled back into education I’ve been thinking about how difficult it is to fit in everything you want to do in your life. I often complain about how there aren’t enough hours in a day but I’m not willing to stay up until silly o’clock just so I can get partway through my coursework by the time morning comes around. I find it hard to imagine having a job on the side as well, and the fact that a lot of people do it really makes me feel a little silly for feeling so constrained by temporal limits. I can’t picture working a part time job and still finding enough time to do work, have friends and have fun. Then again, if I gave up the time I spent writing I’d probably have a few hours free every day. Sorry work schedule, that’s evidently not going to happen the way you’d like it to. Evidently I’m not the multitasker I thought I was a couple of years ago. It’s funny how suddenly you notice that you’re only actually paying attention to half of each task when you assume that you’ve got enough of an attention span to simulate doing a painting at the same time as writing an allegoric play.

That’s an extreme example, and I’m sure I’d be terrible at both of those things, but since they’re typed out now I’ll leave that, frankly, weird example in.

Don’t know where that came from.

Two Flavours Of Human

There’s a lot of criticism out there about the portrayal of women in fiction, and there is a reason for that, the way that characters are conjured from people’s minds can say a lot about the society of the day, the way the author’s sees certain types of people and just in general is a reflection on real life, at least in several cases.

For authors that have been complimented on the strength of their female characters, such as George R R Martin, who has been quoted as saying that he writes them just as he would write his male characters, there’s a semi-obvious perspective that (from a couple of interviews I have seen) certain writers don’t seem to share, and it’s only semi-obvious because some people apparently just don’t get it.

It seems to me that there are some that see males and females not as two variations on the same thing, but as two completely different animals, ones that can’t be understood from an outside perspective and one of which they feel they have to treat according to these differences, based on presumptions absorbed somewhat from the society around them and partially from their own untested assumptions.

But does this take away from fiction? Is there a certain point to which we can’t suspend our disbelief that in the world this person has created all women are a certain way and all men are a certain other way. Personally I haven’t read a book where I saw this happening, but perhaps I’ve been lucky, because when fiction does tell me something that I completely disagree with I do find myself cringing and I do have to force myself to carry on a little, even if the story is amazing. I assume that’s just part of human nature, after all, it’s easier for us to get along with people that agree with us, at least on some level, the same could be true of people that only exist in print.