Category Archives: Writing Humour

It’s NaNoWriMo Time! How to Succeed for Beginners

nanowrimo

It’s that time of the year again: National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo (or NoNoMoreRymo if you’re dyslexic). The annual sprint to writing oblivion. The big prose cheese fest. The head honcho of writing achievement. The time when:

  • Authors and wannabes across our glorious planet suddenly decide they should write a whole novel in a month.
  • People all over the world randomly discover they are writers and that their lives, up to now, have been some mysterious prelude to a marvellous literary talent that hitherto has remained hidden.

It’s time to let the scribble hounds loose. Time to brush off that keyboard, power up the internet, put on dark glasses and pour a glass of wine as you reach out into the word ether and begin frantically pulling in ideas and pithy prose that will set the world alight.

Indie writers dream of getting published, changing the status quo with their dry, ironic wit, of becoming famous, giving up the day job, marrying their laptop, eschewing all human contact for ever and ever (delete where applicable).

New writers suddenly and happily decide to spend the rest of their miserable lives as angst-ridden, bleary eyed, introspective scribes who drink too much wine, think too much, spend too much time staring at walls and other inanimate objects, worthlessly spilling their recently discovered but long fermenting mental health issues onto clean, white pages that deserve better.

All this, and so much more, can be yours by the 31st November. If you’re not put off by the fact that what you are doing is essentially futile then simply follow The Feckless Guide for #NaNoWriMo success below:

Think Before you Begin

Are your fingers in shape? Is your brain in gear? Have you really, really thought this through? Writing a whole novel is a big undertaking. Before you start, meditate deeply on whether you want to start in the first place. Are you really going to finish? Is that what you really, really want? Careful consideration at this point could save you from wasting a whole month when you could be playing Assassin’s Creed every night or baking cupcakes for your nearest and dearest.

Name Your Lead

What’s your main character going to be called? Talula Poopdecker? George Facklebackle? Tristan Pissfoddle? Bohemian Bob? Barbara Bombstomper? Perhaps if you’re writing a PI style thriller it’s going to be something dynamic like Jake Trent, Cal Hooper or Fanny Fitzroy. Maybe you want something short and whimsical like Sophia, Perry or Lola. Choosing the right name for your lead characters is an important start if you want to be able to imagine them more deeply.

Map Out Your Story

Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, you’ll have far more chance of success with NaNoWriMo if you map everything out for the month. There are 30 days in November so that’s a pretty neat timeline over which to spread the creation of your novel, bite size pieces that all lead to a safe finish at the end of the month. You don’t want the plot piling up ahead of you, creating panic, when you only have a few days left. This is about discipline and getting all the way to end. As the saying goes: It’s best to have a plan, Stan.

Never Rewrite While You’re Writing

Stopping to rewrite is the surest way to put the kibosh on your NaNoWriMo efforts. Your aim is to finish the book in one fell swoop, the rewrites can come later. Yes, it’s tempting, but it will almost certainly meant that you fail to reach your target. Stopping to rewrite is a sinister form of procrastination. If you feel tempted, whack yourself on the head with a stick. Mumble ‘keep going, keep going’ every time you feel the need to look back. At the very least, it will scare the hell out of other members of the household.

Don’t Stop Your NaNoWriMo Half-Way Through

The biggest problem that NaNoWriMo’ers have is that they will suddenly stop, take a breath, get distracted by a shiny light across the way. Stopping is a bad thing. You have to keep going. The universe is full of half-written attempts to complete a novel in a month. There will be times when it is hard to sit down and write. Your brain is just not equipped to start that Friday evening, two weeks into the project. Force yourself to start again, scream at the writing gods if you have to, but begin, begin, begin…

It’s a First Draft Stupid

Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you are essentially writing here is a first draft. You are not going to produce the complete works of Tolstoy in one sitting. Your job is simply to get that story out onto digital paper and not worry about whether it works or not. NaNoWriMo success is not about being good, it’s about getting from beginning to end in 30 days or less. It’s about getting that stuff down.

Leave to Brew, Go Back to the Day Job

Your fingers bleeding, your brain a mix of alcoholic induced fog and paranoia, your family having left some days ago to begin a new life away from ‘that freak in the back room’, you reach the last day and finally type THE END. You’ve finished. You’ve completed your NaNoWriMo challenge.

For the moment.

Turn off your computer. Step away from the laptop. STEP AWAY FROM THE LAPTOP!

Go back to the day job. Re-engage with friends and family you may have lost contact with. Take a shower for Chrissakes! It’s time to leave your novel to sit and brew for a while. Don’t think about opening it up again before the end of January. In fact, forget you ever wrote it. Your first draft is finished and you need time to breath, reinvigorate yourself and return to normal society.

How to Feel Unjustifiably Proud of Yourself

Rejoice, for you have successfully completed your mission. You set a goal and you achieved it. You’re the big writing cheese. The towering new Hemingway of your street. You can call yourself a writer for you have completed the first draft of your novel. This is usually the time when depression sinks in. You wonder the streets at night whimpering like a half starved dog, gazing up at the dark sky and contemplating the futility of it all. Was it worth it?

Do not worry. This moment will pass. It’s part of the writing process.

The urge to scribble once more will return, stronger next time. It will build and build and scream in your ears and sear your bones until…around about November next year…when you thought it was safe to return to the laptop…you will suddenly decide that a sequel is on the cards.

Can you write it in just a month…sure you can. You’re a NaNoWriMo veteran. You know what to do.

10 Ways to Liberate Your Blog Writing

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Blog writing has a lot in common with a Chicagoinsane asylum

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Now that I’ve kicked off as a freelance writer and have actually landed some jobs, I’ve been thinking of how to optimize my blog so I can get more relevant traffic.

Eeeeekkk!! The world screeches to a halt. Heads bow. Random nobodies burst into fits of rage. Screams of ‘burn him, burn him!’

That’s a terrible word: ‘optimize’. See, I even spelled it the American way. It’s OPTIMISE, dummy. And don’t you forget it.

By the way, there are no ‘10’ ways to liberate your blog writing here either. That’s another one of those apocryphal marketing notions. Someone, somewhere, probably on a night of weird sex and cocaine, wrote that people like lists. And then someone else saw it and plagiarised it. And then others came along, saw that the world was a list and did the same.

And so on, until it became gospel.

Lists will not make your blog more popular.

So, how do you liberate your blog writing?

Simple. You write the stuff you want to write. Scribble it from the heart, dear friends, and damn the literary consquences. There are too many people out there following the rules of blogging. The truth is: THERE ARE NO RULES!

Write something interesting.

Write fast and furious.

Don’t stop until all your blood is left on that digital page.

And, above all, stop pretending there’s a blog writing formula.

You want to write a post about peanut allergies one day and the malaise that is British politics the next? Go right ahead. You’re a writer, aren’t you? You’re supposed to wax lyrical on a whole range of different subjects.

Forget about being popular

You weren’t put on this Earth to be liked. You are here to create, to challenge, to muse. You are an individual. You don’t have to follow the rules. Not anymore. That’s what They want you to do.

They?

The people who make up the rules.

Writing is about freedom, not constraint. If you want to rail against the growing tide of inhumanity, go rail. Scream. Shout. Blaspheme.

Tell Them you can’t be bound by their rules. They’ll moan and wail, say that it will hurt your traffic; just kick them in the literary nuts and move on.

They are not worth your time.

Did Hemmingway worry about traffic? Does Stephen King care about keyword selection? Why should you? It’s all a load of horse cack and that’s all you need to take with you as gospel. Most blog writing advice ain’t worth spit, anyway. You want a list?

I’ll give you a blog writing list!

  1. 98% of visitors won’t read your blog entry. They’ll scan it, pick their nose and trundle off. Why? Because it’s dull.
  2. If you want to grab someone’s attention, you’ve got to surprise them and that means saying something new.
  3. 70% of blog writing is just a rehash of something that has been written before.
  4. Cheese selection says a lot about a person.
  5. And rats have a 60% chance of dying in the first couple of days of life.

Okay, I made that last one up. I bet it’s original though. No? Oh, okay.

The point I’m making is this: We’re only here for a short while so make those words count. Write what you want to write, fill your web pages with truth and wonder and forget all that marketing rubbish. It’s insincere bullshit.

That’s how you liberate your blog writing, with courage and conviction…

…and maybe a little wine.

If you liked this post, then please take a moment to share it with your friends by clicking one of the buttons below. Or all of them…hell, knock yourself out!

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Tagged , , , , ,

Marketing: Is It Destroying the Internet?

marketing the garden of earthly delights

Once upon a time, the God of the Internet, let’s call him Frank, plugged in an Ethernet cable and said: Let there be…something…let there be stuff…and lots of it…so people can come and find stuff and this stuff will abound and travel up and down very thin wires and across airwaves to houses where it will…just be…there!

And Lo, it came to pass…the internet and stuff was born.

And it was cool. Very cool.

For about 10 seconds.

Until someone, let’s call him Paulie (a bit of wise guy, if truth be told, with slicked back hair,a kipper tie and bad looking teeth) wondered how he could exploit this new world for financial gain.

Thence he decided, along with his friends, who were also wise guys, that they would make up an acronym or two, the most venal and hideous being SEO, which originally stood for Spongy Emus Ovulate but soon became the much dreaded Search Engine Optimisation.

Because that’s what marketing people do…they twist fine concepts and make them into corrupt versions of their dried up and cynical, hopelessly dead-eyed and brain-damaged, dark and damned selves.

They meddle, my ignorant friends, these kipper tie loving dark fiends of the digital hinterland. Oh, they just kept on making up acronyms, one a day at first, then two or more…till the world was filled to busting with them…SEM followed, PPC, CTR, ROI…and more was to come…RTP, ATI, DMP, and WOMM. They began bastardising the English language by mating previously happily single words with others to make hybrid words that turned the entire universe into a putrid, sorry mess: super-automated, hyper-baltic, pimple-rendered, robotic-bunkums.

Oh, people, let’s do some bluuueee sky thinking…let’s think outta dat box…let’s send the spaniel up the flag pole and see if it squeals Momma!

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

There is a dark and insidious conspiracy going on, my friends. For marketing is not here to sell you things, it wasn’t born out of an altruistic desire to tell the world of the latest product that could enhance your sleazy and pointless lives. It isn’t here because we need or want it. It was created out of a blood soaked mire of twisted Bedlam inmates and malnourished penguin impersonators.

Marketing, my friends, was born simply to destroy the internet.

It is the devil’s work. Don’t believe me? Then read on, my friend. Read on and I shall tell you of the monstrosities committed in the name of digital marketing and why it has been allowed to flourish and bring mankind to the brink of destruction.

SEO

Spam

Repetition

More repetition

Automation

Repeat, delete, let’s develop a cloud strategy and piss on all the good people until we burn out their eyes with our rancid, ammonia ridden urine soaked…stuff!

Okay, so perhaps I’m going a tad overboard on this. Stevie needs to pull it back a little, take a breath, and maybe have a snifter or two of scotch to get his thinking straight.

Let’s get serious. I want to be serious, for a few moments at least.

Bad Pop-ups…the Devil’s automatic fecktards

It used to be, back in the days of yore, that pop-ups occurred when you’d not updated your virus checker (or didn’t have one at all) and just happened to go somewhere you shouldn’t or clicked a bad link. Then your desktop was plagued by everything from Big Tit Monthly to How To Get Rich By Having a Sex-Change.

Remember the good old days?

Then the God’s of the Internet developed programs that fought off these denizens of advertising evil and we all thought that was the last of it. We were safe. Weren’t we?

But pop-ups are returning. And no one seems to be bothered. I can’t go on a site nowadays without something popping up (forgive the innuendo) asking me to fill in a form or, worse still, subscribe with my e-mail address. Have marketing people forgotten how annoying these damn things are? Of course they haven’t; they JUST DON’T CARE.

Apparently, they’re not even called pop-ups anymore. It’s called ad bombing. According to Graham Charles on E-consultancy: “Poorly placed ads are spoiling the internet for millions of UK consumers, with 87% saying these messages regularly get in the way of what they are trying to view online.”

And it’s not just bad sites that are doing it. E-commerce sites for well-known brands have taken to it; even the Independent Newspaper has started doing it. It’s everywhere. And you know why? Because snug-fuggling-little-brain-dead marketing people are advising that it’s a good idea and that it will lead to more and better business. Because the little fecks have been checking the stats and…you know…it looks good.

On paper.

And we all know, stuff that’s on paper…well it’s not worth the…ummmmmm….

How marketing takes a good idea and turn it into dross

I’ve written previously on how marketing people got hold of guest blogging and turned it into a massive spam fest. If you want to read that less querulous rant you can find it here.

They’ve done the same with other things. You can buy a random selection of useless Twitter followers because marketing people think that it’s a good idea to have quantity and someone found a way to automate it and thus provide it cheap. Spam Bots too are the brainchild of some marketing retard somewhere out in the twat-o-sphere who decided it’s all a numbers game.

It is all a numbers game.

That’s the problem.

We have all ceased to be individuals and we have become statistics. We’ve become categorized and woefully pigeon-holed. It’s not merely the morally redundant who are up to it; it’s the big companies as well. How many algorithms does Amazon use to decide what we really want to buy? How does Microsoft know so much about us? Why does BT suddenly think we’d be interested in a new phone?

Why marketers are especially prone to bad habits

It’s a big, bad complex world out there and sometimes the poor marketing demons have trouble keeping up. Businesses do to. Then someone comes along with a spread sheet and then A N Other makes a “marketing tool” and suddenly everyone’s laughing and crying and joking.

The problem is that for marketers of all persuasions, the thing is just too damn big. What’s The Thing? Well it’s The THING. You know. Marketing. It’s just too damn big to keep up with. Things are always shifting. Ideas are changing. Markets are growing and then busting apart. And, on top of all that, there’s the Chinese.

Yes, the Chinese. You got to blame someone, right? Why not them?

I have this rather screwball narrow view of marketing people, thinking that they are all failed writers or failed artists or just, well, failures. A marketer will look enthusiastic, there will be a shine in his or her eyes when they begin to tell you how your SEO and STD can be all sorted with a few judicious tweaks here and there, or that they have put together this wonderful campaign that will see your DVL go viral…

But behind the eyes of any well dressed, immaculately presented, wise cracking and loveable marketing executive there is exactly this: NOTHING. They haven’t been there for a while, see. Not since they got that MBA in Social Media back in the day. Not since they put on that smart suit and had their teeth whitened.

Not since their damnable soul was sucked down into the bowels of hell and devoured by the Demon King of Marketing. Paulie. It’s all Paulie’s fault.

And there’s nothing we can do.

There really isn’t. Marketing will continue to destroy the internet and in the end all that will be left is a universe sized pile of steaming pooh that everyone will stare at and wonder how it all went wrong. Is there anything you can do?

Seriously, no, there isn’t. Marketing is the biggest most empowered force on the planet. It drives our daily lives and makes us happy with misery and it will not stop until we are all wearing plastic smiles and promotional t-shirts, stood in line for the coming apocalypse, a can of coke in one hand and an “I Love Wilkinson’s Nails” pennant in the other as we meekly shuffle off this mortal coil into the cold, endless dark.

On a brighter note, I leave you with a picture of a fluffy kitten…

Cute_fluffy_kitten
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Tagged , ,

Super Villain Eats Puppy

super villain

If you write novels and are racking your brains for a new super villain, you may think leaders of the free and not-so-free world make poor templates for future sons and daughters of anarchy.

But you’d be wrong.

Vladimir Putin: President of Russia

vladimir putinNarcissistic, creepy, Turkish bath loving Putin is so pumped full of Botox his face hasn’t moved in years. Taking every opportunity to whip off his shirt and flex his ageing pectorals, he is the epitome of evil in a world gone mad.

Putin has all the qualities you need for a super villain – an ex-KGB man, he’s a consummate manipulator who likes nothing more than oiling himself down and smothering hapless victims before a log fire inside his heavily guarded Kremlin state room.

Strengths: Has a crumbling superpower, vast resources of dirty money, and a history of subjugation behind him. He also eats puppies.

Weaknesses: Fluffy kittens and surgical stockings.

Henchmen: Several hunky men in ski-masks.

David Cameron: Prime Minister of the UK

david cameronPermanently paranoid puppet Cameron was genetically engineered by the Royal Family with the single aim of restoring the monarchy to its former glory. Cameron has an inbred fear of poor people and has tasked super villain in waiting Duncan The Terminator Smith to deliver a sophisticated pogrom against those he sees as inferior.

Cameron was born and raised in the hallowed grounds of a public school under the sea but is generally despised as a leader because of his plastic face and nylon Primark sweaters that reveal his man boobs.

Strengths: Tea making and embroidery.

Weaknesses: Anyone Scottish or who owns a pit bull.

Henchmen: Fluffy headed, fetish porn icon Boris Johnson and evil Chancellor of Whipping and Bondage Osborne the Glum.

Kim Jong-Un: Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

kim jong unPodgy super villain Kim inherited power from his father but looks more like a troubled teen with a gun rather than a ruthless dictator. Kim’s power lies in keeping his minions standing, clapping and smiling. He does this by shooting anyone who sits down in his presence.

Individuality is frowned upon in North Korea and the mountains and sky have been painted grey. Flowers are banned and all the goats have been imprisoned for excessive bleating. Kim spends most of his time trying to find a hat that fits and shining his buttons.

Strengths: Has no idea what the rest of the world looks like but can bend straws with his mind.

Weaknesses: Short legs and over-sized genitals make him walk funny.

Henchmen: Anyone bland and still alive.

Angela Merkel: Chancellor of Germany

angela merkelWith a penchant for horse meat and frog eye kebabs, washed down with the odd stein of German lager, Merkel is really long lost country singer Conway Twitty in a body suit. Merkel’s cold and calculating politics keep a fragile Europe from descending into chaos but this belies a more playful side that includes colourful knitwear and Jager Bombing.

Often to be heard singing “It’s only make believe” in the bath, Merkel secretly fathered the demon love child of earth bound succubus Silvio Berlosconi which left her with excessive nose hair and the power to walk through walls.

Strengths: She holds the purse strings of Europe.

Weaknesses: She spent it all on string, which was the real cause of the world financial crisis.

Henchmen: Francoise ‘I-Did-It-My-Way’ Hollande (Elvis in a body suit) and Barack Obama (Third Elf Lord of the Hidden Veil in a body suit).

Serious super villain stuff

Whether you are going for comic book or more serious, your super villain antagonist should have all these characteristics:

  1. Your super villain should have a great power – either political, financial, emotional or something other worldly.
  2. Your super villain should appear unbeatable and possess an aura of invulnerability.
  3. They should be larger than life, colourful, in 3D, and unstoppable.
  4. They should have henchmen, the scarier and far removed from mainstream humanity the better.
  5. They should all do very nasty things on a regular basis.
  6. Your super villain should have a fatal flaw, hidden away for the moment, an ultimate weakness that will bring about their doom.
  7. Finally, your super villain should have a nemesis. Someone heroic but flawed who likes crumpets and Chardonnay.

Whatever you decide when you create your super villain make sure you “go big”. No one remembers a third rate villain and if you are too timid with their creation you could be setting your book back before it’s even begun.

Be bold. Be fearless. Set your super villain free.

Let The Feckless Goblin know in the comments section below what characteristics you think make a great super villain. Who’s your favourite? Who’s your least favourite? Which other famous people would make good super villains?

5 reasons why you should write

should write

5 reasons why you should write:

  1. You should write if you have something to say
  2. You should write if you have something to say that’s important
  3. That means you have something to say that’s important that people actually want to listen to
  4. You have a modicum of writing ability that allows you to bring these points of view to the attention of the world
  5. You have something to say

20 reasons why you shouldn’t write:

  1. You’ve read Twilight and think you could do better
  2. You think vampires are real
  3. You think people will respect you at last
  4. You think if Dan Brown could do it, why can’t I?
  5. You have no friends
  6. You have no understanding of grammar or plot or what a capital letter is
  7. You pooped in your pants this morning
  8. You reread your first draft, giggled, stuck your fingers up your chaff and said “That works for me.”
  9. You have no friends
  10. You actually think the people around you are real
  11. You blew your nose and a plot emerged
  12. You realised your pants are far too small for your body
  13. You think vampires are really real
  14. You have no friends, really you don’t
  15. You think writing is easy
  16. Your chest has just exploded and Alexander Solsen…Solsenytch…Dumas has jumped out
  17. You don’t realise that what you have written is crap and you should be in a fucking mental asylum
  18. Did you poop in your pants this morning?
  19. Someone once told you that your handwriting is nice
  20. You don’t know the difference between they’re, their and there
Tagged ,

10 dumb writing facts for aspiring writers

writing
  1. If you put a 100 monkeys in a room with typewriters, the chances of one of them completing a copy of a Shakespeare play in its lifetime would be 1 in 6 million billion.
  2. If you took all the books that had ever been written, tore out their pages and placed these pages end to end, they would stretch to the moon and back 13.6 times.
  3. If you took all the books that had been read by more than a 100 people and did the same thing, then it would only just stretch into the upper atmosphere of our own planet.
  4. 37% of newly bought books spend 6 months on the shelf before they are actually read. 49% of these never actually get read.
  5. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco has been unofficially named as the most unreadable book on the planet, closely followed by Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
  6. You are statistically more likely to be injured by a falling toad than write the year’s number one bestseller. Whilst there is normally only one winner in the bestseller list, in 2010 17 people were injured by toads that “just fell out of the sky” following violent storms, including one fatality (figure from the NATSUSA).
  7. 18% of budding writers admit that they write because there is something lacking in their lives. 23% say that they write for money. Only 4% admit that they write because they don’t have any friends.
  8. Writers who write their books directly onto a PC/laptop, write their novels on average 36% quicker than writers who write the old fashioned pen and ink way and then transcribe onto a PC/laptop. However, writers who begin with pen and ink are 13% more likely to finish and publish their work than someone who writes directly onto a PC/laptop.
  9. Most grammar experts believe that the apostrophe will disappear from writing some time before the end of the next decade simply because of the evolution of language.
  10. 62% of writers will buy a boat of some description within 10 years of becoming successful. Of these boats, 84% will sink within the first 5 years.

Have you got a favourite writing statistic? If so, then add yours in the comments section below.

What kind of writer are you?

Deciding what kind of writer you are is perhaps the most important question we indie scribes need to ask ourselves.

I watched Battlefield: Los Angeles the other night.

It ticked all the boxes for the alien-invasion-taking-over-the-world-ain’t-life-full-of-fecking-heroes-shit scenario. It had a Staff Sergeant who had lost all his men in Iraq or Venezuela or some such place and had to earn the respect of his crew by shoving a grenade up the ass of a passing alien whilst playing the banjo (the Staff Sergeant, not the alien) and eating a pack of spicy Doritos. It had a uniformly distributed range of ethnicity to suit all film-goers and a suitably large CGI budget for blowing things to kingdom come.

The aliens were bog standard mindless drones and somewhere in the plot it transpired they were being controlled from a central source (believe it or not they were hiding in a hole nearby, as dumb-ass aliens tend to do) so there was a chance for Sergeant Fantastic to save the day and the human race in one fell swoop with the aid of his, by the end of the film, bloody faced men. These included black-man-whose-brother-you-got-killed-but-who-will-learn-to-love-a-white-man-who-just-wants-to-blow-shit-up, as well as those adoring follow-you-anywhere-die-hard, fuck-who-sucked-out-my-brain marines with equally stereotypical lives.

Yeeh-hah. Hell, no!

I have to admit, I quite enjoyed it.

It went well with my red wine, Chinese spare ribs and Char Sui rice.

I could write that shit. Sure I could. With my eyes closed, while shooting fecking aliens, playing the violin and sucking the dick of the nearest horse whilst singing dixie (me, not the horse).

To keep the war theme going, I’m also reading a book. Norman Mailer’s The Naked and The Dead. None of the characters in Mailer’s book are really like-able. Whereas the characters in Battlefield: Los Angeles stand up as cardboard cutouts, the one’s in Naked and The Dead are 3 dimensional, fleshy, warty, broken, twisted and human. It’s a long book. But it has depth.

The characters spew. And I don’t use that word lightly.

So I ask, while flicking peanuts at the cheese plant in the corner, do my own characters have depth? Do I have something to say about them or are they just cardboard alien-fighting-ethnically-correct cutouts, the same as a million other genre characters that pretend to have flesh but are just poor cutouts on a well-trodden stage (see what I did there, I did metaphor…or is that an analogy…I forget…).

Here’s the thing. Writing shit is easy.

Hey, but writing is just writing, yeah? You put pen to paper and get all that crap out and someone’s bound to like it. Who knows, maybe in a hundred years it’ll be seen as a seminal work of fiction and people will read me in schools, if they still have those things when we’re all underwater stroking our gills (look, I did a euphemism).

Am I proud that I finished the damn thing? Or am I proud because it was damn good?

Any dick brain can write and finish a book. They just have to sit at their PC long enough and drink enough. But the thing is, at the end of that hard long slog, it’s got to be worth something, hasn’t it?

I was having a conversation with an old work colleague of mine (she’s not old, we’ve known each other for a while, I mean). I like a bit of photography but have gone off it since I went to Chester Zoo and every one had a camera. Flicker is full of photos. I have a friend who can  actually call himself a photographer. But thinking about me, I have to have a reason to take photos. It’s easy to take good photographs nowadays. You just point and shoot. But your photos have to say something, and though I’m reasonably competent, I’ve never thought that mine said much. Got nice colour in there, nice posing, but hell, it’s just like everyone elses.

I have nothing to say photographically. I can point and shoot. But I ain’t doing much more.

Which brings me back to my writing. I know I overdo the angst bit on this blog, but it has a reason. Does what I write have any point? I asked my friend this and she countered with: but you’re a good writer.

There are a lot of good writers out there, there are a lot of good photographers out there. The point is what separates the best from the rest.

I’m not talking about the ones who write the most or the ones who sell the most. I’m talking about the ones that endure. The one’s, when we read them, we remember. Not only their name but also their characters and there plotlines. The one’s that are not just another book (or film or photo) but something that transcends, the one’s that stay with us.

So if you’re a writer think about this (and here I’m going to go back into metaphor or fecking analogy or some fecking stuff), what kind of hack are you: are you an alien drone dishing out the same old crap or are you the staff sergeant who’s going to blow-up the aliens sorry ass????

See what I did there, huh? See? And by “blow-up the aliens sorry ass” I mean with a grenade not mouth to ass…

Tagged , ,

The Feckless Goblin guide to surviving The Rapture

the rapture

In case you’ve been hidden away in a barn with your pet goat these last few weeks, you’ll be aware that Saturday 21st May marks Judgement Day with the onset of The Rapture. For all those who have been striving to make their careers as Indie Writers, this, of course, will be a bit of a bummer.

Stop writing now, kids. The Rapture is a coming.

My dad’s cat is looking forward to it. Yes it is. For quite a while, the cat has been trying to convince us that The Rapture will actually happen and that we should drop everything and open our hearts to the big JC.

Foolishly, we have ignored the cat. On Saturday, it will be able to say “told you so”, though we haven’t been able to get across to said mog that said Rapture doesn’t apply to dumb animals (or does it? You decide). It will meow in a Cheshire Cat kind of way. Then we may kick it to death.

What is The Rapture?

The day when all good people are beamed up to heaven while the rest of us poor sods suffer various catastrophes from Tsunamis to nuclear meltdowns as the world slowly implodes (be calm children of the apocalypse, apparently it’ll be finished by the middle of October).

Some right wing zealots believe that there will also be a Zombie Apocalypse but I think that may be a case of wishful thinking on the part of zombie lovers everywhere who have been wishing the end of the world on us for at least the last ten years.

Is The Rapture real?

Does the Pope have a glass eye? You know, a big part of me, in fact all of me, wants this to be real. Not the Pope thing. The Rapture thing. Now, in case you’re wondering, I’m not likely to be transported to the heavens come May 21st (and, let’s face it, neither are most Christians.

But, come on guys, wouldn’t it make for a more exciting world if it was all coming to an end?

Well, it is at some point, because people apparently die or some such stuff…begs the question that, if we all die at some point and get judged in some sky kingdom thing by a guy with a white beard anyway, then what would be the reason for The Rapture…or maybe God just got bored and thought: fuck it, let’s blow the whole place up and start again.

In which case none of us are gonna make it!

So, The Rapture is probably another fake, end-of-days fuck fest just like all the others. Sorry to disappoint you. The only guarantee is that someone, somewhere, is making money out of it.

7 ways to make the most of Rapture Day

  1. Have a Rapture Party. Make sure you’re all there at 6pm local time when The Rapture in your neighbourhood starts. Be sure to invite “good” people in the hope that one of them will be beamed up in front of you.
  2. Tell Christians who believe The Rapture that they should be at a local bus stop by 6pm. Be sure to film the queue.
  3. Invite Christians to your party and scare the hell out of them by pretending to be Raptured. This can be achieved with the help of a few good friends, some torches, a bit of heavenly music and some cupboards.
  4. In the run up to The Rapture, why not sell tickets on e-bay – that little bit of extra money might just get you through the ensuing Armageddon.
  5. As The Rapture also marks the return of Christ, why not purchase a fake beard and smock and walk around your neighbourhood looking suitably pious and asking people if they have repented yet. Better still, gatecrash a church service and shout “Daddy’s home!”
  6. Make more cash by convincing believers to sign over their worldly goods as a mark of their faith.
  7. Take some of your old clothes and shoes and leave them lying around the neighbourhood after 6pm. Alternatively, leave tiny mounds of your grandmas ashes in strategic places like your local supermarket. Even more alternatively, leave a pile of hot pooh with the note: “Have been taken up.”

Things to look forward to if The Rapture really does happen:

  • Less queuing at places like Alton Towers and the soup kitchen.
  • More homes for the homeless.
  • No one to tell you that what you’re doing “is just plain wrong.”
  • The fun that can be had taunting the ones who thought they were going to be taken up and didn’t get taken up.
  • Great photo ops for all those natural disasters.
  • No longer having to pretend that you’re good.

I was going to say that the one downside would be all those people saying: “I told you so.” But then they’ll be beamed up and the one’s left behind will be too desolated to say such a thing.

Next week I’ll be blogging on Post-Rapture Depression.

Or maybe I won’t…See you on the other side losers.

How will you be celebrating The Rapture. Let The Feckless Goblin know, as usual, in the comments section below…

Early morning thoughts…

It’s early morning, 5am to be precise, and my eyes ping open. I try to get back to sleep. I try to empty my mind. But it’s no use. My mind is full of junk.

First I’m thinking: Why did I buy that Kindle yesterday? I don’t really need it. I’ve got books on my iPhone and I haven’t read half of those. Then I’m thinking how I get the clothes my dad’s been wearing for the last four weeks (and which are beginning to really smel)l off him and into the washing machine.

I’m becoming a dab hand with a bottle of Febreeze. I spray it at the furniture like some fussy old maid, spray the carpet, even spray it at my dad, surreptitiously of course. Unfortunately, he needs more than a good spray. Maybe I could stand him outside for a while and let the natural breeze take away some of those odours. In the meantime, the cat looks at me like I’m an idiot and my father watches New 24 for more hours than is healthy for a human being.

The early hours are good for writing if I can’t sleep. Obviously, it’s not much good for writing if I am actually asleep. I might discover deep truths, or at least some fabulous lies. At the moment, though, I’m too busy obsessing over whether I should have bought the Kindle. My brain is saying: unnecessary expense. It says that a lot lately. Like a beeper going off. For instance, I have to buy a car soon. My brother-in-law has managed to purloin me an old Peugeot for not very much. Ideal for running around in, which is all I need.

But my brain has suddenly decided, after 40 odd years ofsublime indifference, that it suddenly likes cars and I’ve been looking at this red MG that looks kinda sexy…which I don’t need…not at all…but…mmmmmmm.

This has got me thinking, at five in the morning no less, that my life is full of junk. From the Kindle to the laptop I’m working on, to all the crap on my floor, including the electric toothbrush and the goddamn iPhone. It’s all junk. Realise this people, someone went out and actually invented Febreeze. Somehow, I’m not sure the Great Lord of Creation had that in mind when he zapped us with his creation stick.

And I hate to harken back to the old days, when life was simpler. But it was, wasn’t it?

When we lived in caves, all we had to worry about was getting food or keeping warm. Then, as if things weren’t just right, we had to go and do something stupid like evolve. Primarily, this involved finding new things to worry about. We started having conversations with our neighbours, actually talking to each other, building settlements, learning “new” skills, discovering art.

Cooking used to be about just getting stuff on a plate, now you have to create a masterpiece every time you go into your mass produced kitchen where pointless gadgets gleam and whisper: use me, use me, you never needed me before, but now that you have me, you need me, need me soooo much!

Here’s a crazy notion: Why don’t we stop evolving and producing useless crap that means nothing and go back to living in caves…

Why? Because it’s cold and damp and…yes, harsh. You don’t want to live in a cave. You want to lie in a nice warm bed with a nice laptop and a nice cup of tea in your nice house with your lovely two kids and cock-eyed spaniel that’s got a little snuffle and your fridge full of organically farmed beetroot and freshly laid eggs and meat cut into neat chunks by some faceless miscreant who, right this minute, is sitting up and wondering why he can’t get to sleep and what the point of life is…

Ah, five in the morning. A time to ramble about things inconsequential. A time to let all those thoughts out onto the page. A time rational human beings should be asleep.

Footnote: My dad has just got up to go to the toilet, farted loudly and gone back to bed. I bet he’s not thinking dumb things…

On Being a Writer by Adam J. Shardlow

The plus side of being a writer…

  1. Never having to wear a suit – As a writer you can wear whatever you like. Ageing shorts and t-shirt combo, distressed jeans coloured with last nights Chinese hoisin sauce, dressing gown that smells of sleep, Goofy slippers and bandanna. You can even do a Hemingway and go naked. This has the helpful economic advantage of keeping laundry bills to a minimum. Basically, you can wear whatever or as little as you like. No one will ever know.
  2. A short walk to work – You get up, breakfast, watch the news and then sit down to work. No having to step out into the wilds of the city streets, no having to deal with dawdlers and bus queue pushers, no having to spare change for the man with drool hanging from the corner of his mouth or avoid the water filled pot hole. You’re at work in seconds, dragging valuable time from the lack commuting that can be put into your current magnus opus. Valuable time that is yours to do with as you wish.
  3. At home during the day – You can order whatever you like and parcels will be delivered straight into your hands. No more worries that delivery companies will push those annoying little cards through your door telling your that you weren’t in (obviously) and your carton of brand new reading material has instead been left at a vast concrete hanger twenty five miles outside of town and you have two days to come and get it before it’s returned to sender.
  4. Time to yourself -You sit and reflect on your current work. You have the time to be creative, to move about your apartment deep in thought, playing creative mind games and dabbling with new forms of writing style and experimental artistic projects. Your time is your own to plumb the depth of creativity. You dictate what you work on and have the freedom to follow the creative flow.
  5. Your own space – You work at a desk in a book lined den. Your MacBook is set up and connected to the world. You have fresh coffee whenever you want it, warmed bagels for lunch. You can listen to your music, relax in your favourite chair and watch the sunset from the panoramic window before you, marvelling at its majesty, as your fingers tap away at those keys.
  6. Forging your own path – You write what you want to write. If you decide the world needs the first ever 1000 page fictional account of the life of a parasitic pinworm, then so be it. You can create works so challenging, so original, so daringly innovative, that your place in the literary canon will be secured for generations to come.
  7. Adoring fans – You have fans who visit your web page every day. They read your blog entries in minute detail and make insightful comments. They hang on your every Twitter and Facebook update, they send you gifts in the post. At signings the queue snakes around the block, each fan asking you in excited, nervous voices for your signature and photo. You give each fan as much time as possible, building your base, cementing sales and a world tour.
  8. Conventions – You get invited to writing conventions where you give inspirational speeches to the next generation, many of whom remember what you say and in turn become writers because of you. Being such a guru they ask you to write the introductions for their next book, your name and fame helping them to carve out lucrative careers.
  9. Agent lunches – Your agent takes you out for expensive lunches at fabulous London eateries to discuss your current work; how it will be marketed, showing you cover designs and giving you the tour details. All the bills are paid and they send you home first class.
  10. Film options – Hollywood, realising the golden egg that you are, beats a path to your door to option your entire back catalogue and turn them into blockbuster movies in which you have sensibly taken a percentage payment, meaning that you can afford to buy property in London, New York and Paris. This fame however, will never change you. You remain a dedicated artist, creating great works of literature.
However…
  1. Never having to wear a suit – You are sitting naked in front of a computer screen in the middle of the day and don’t give a damn.
  2. A short walk to work – You’re fat. You don’t get enough exercise. You barely leave the flat and have worn tracks into the carpet from using the office wheely chair as a convenient method of transport for getting to the kitchen.
  3. At home during the day – Morons and religious freaks, can rattlers and do-gooders, double glazing salesmen, drive tarmac-ing, collection agencies and pedlers. Each and everyone knocks on your door and expects you to answer and contribute.
  4. Time to yourself – You check Twitter, Facebook, web bookmarks, writing blogs and other sites less savoury to mention – normally every hour. You watch the news, then catch a comedy and remember that you recorded a film two weeks ago that needs to be seen. You do the washing, read a comic book, play the latest PSP release. You Skype, IM, text and take a long lunch. You do the ironing and clean the shower, make the bed and cook a meal for the evening and then wonder where the day has gone.
  5. Your own space – You haven’t seen anyone for two weeks. You could die and no one would know until your decaying body juices soaked through the floor into the flat below.
  6. Forging your own path – You haven’t been paid in six months. Your bank statements only come in the colour red.
  7. Adoring fans – Does your Mum count? Really?
  8. Conventions – You never get invited. You have to pay the entrance fee like everyone else and spend the entire weekend in the bar getting drunk.
  9. Agent lunches – You’re not convinced your agent knows your home telephone number and you’ve only met him once. You bought your own coffee.
  10. Film options – You have a Blockbusters membership card. That is as Hollywood as life ever gets.
More about Adam

Adam J. Shardlow is an author. He spends his day sitting in front of a computer making stuff up until his head hurts and he can longer see straight. Many say he writes works of fantasy, others say its science fiction, some shake their heads in irritation and give a long drawn out sigh before claiming the genre is in truth supernatural thriller, whilst one clearly mad individual with a long white beard and rolling eyes chants from a street corner that it is speculative fiction. Whatever it is, it’s his own style, and on these pages you can find some of his works. Others you will have to find in a bookshop. There is also a blog where he can bore you with all the mundanity and minutia of his life.

Visit Adam J Shardlow’s website.

Tagged , ,