Analysis, Close Reading, Egotism

IWSG: Lazy Reference Humour

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

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The suggested theme in this month’s edition is ‘pet peeves’.

One of my biggest peeves is writers using references in place of humour. Both Family Guy and The Big Bang Theory get stick for this – rightly in my opinion – but during the last week I’ve read an extract from the Ernest Cline novel Ready Player One which takes this to an incredible extreme.

There’s nothing wrong with fiction drawing on references to real life of course – in fact it’s a good thing, as it connects the fictional world to the wider real world, giving the fictional world a greater sense of depth and a broader range of material to draw jokes from.

One of my favourite examples of this kind of humour is from the second ever episode of Family Guy. After Stewie Griffin opines that television is evil because of its influence on Charles Manson, the show cuts away to Manson’s jail cell where he’s watching TV. Manson says “If I haven’t seen it, its new to me” – a slogan NBC were using at the time to promote their repeats. On the surface level this is (darkly) amusing because of the contrast between the very serious image of the mass murderer and the very silly idea of him repeating back an advertising slogan.

Thinking a bit more deeply, this is also a joke about the nature of advertising. By attempting to mould viewers’ desires to suit their own, advertisers are basically trying to do what Manson’s paranoia convinced him that The Beatles were doing.
Egotism

IWSG: The First Draft

This entry is part of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group – a group of writers helping each other deal with insecurities that are part of the writing process.

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A consistent problem that I’ve always had when writing is getting the rough draft of the story down on paper. I enjoy the research and world-building – for instance today I’ve been looking at animals that are able to control electricity for background to a science fiction idea. I also enjoy structuring stories – building a kind of scaffolding to outline the key events, how the characters are going to change and when the key pieces of information will be revealed to the reader. But I struggle when it comes to writing the first full version of the story.

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Egotism, Storytelling Geekery

IWSG: Keeping up Forward Momentum

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

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Being a perfectionist, ambitious, and having flickering self-confidence is not a great combination.
At times I feel that I’ve stumbled across a great idea, an idea for a novel or other form of fiction which no-one else is writing, and turning it into a major hit is just a matter of putting it down on paper. Unfortunately, turning a vague idea into a practical reality is a little trickier than that.

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Egotism

Relaunching the Blog

I first began blogging back in November 2011, as a way of giving myself small, accomplishable writing tasks to keep myself focused and motivated. The aim was also that it would eventually be a useful tool for self-promotion – once I had something worth promoting.

My use of the blog has waxed and waned, definitely more of the latter in recent years. I’ve written just five posts in the last thirty-one months – it’s fair to say that I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit. But I’ve got a few projects on the go that I’m enthusiastic and confident about, and I’ve learned a little about social media promotion in the five and a quarter years since I started doing this, so it makes sense to get the blog up and going again.

SONY DSC
Artistic.

I was aware when I started that it made sense to have a ‘brand name’ that would be distinctive and therefore easy to find online, but I probably made a bad choice in settling for ‘noonebutabloghead’. This was based on a Samuel Johnson quote that I sort of like but disagree with, that “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money”. I added in a really bad pun (BLOGhead, get it?) and misremembered the quote as ‘noone’ rather than ‘no man’. Yes, when I started this I really was so amateurish that I didn’t check the quote my blog was named for.

I’ve found over time that the name ‘scififootball’ – a play on fantasy football, as well as being two major interests of mine – is surprisingly underclaimed across various social media platforms. So I’ve called dibs on the name on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram. Please follow me. Or don’t, it’s a free world.

I’ve chosen a new design for the blog, will be trying to post more regularly, hopefully sort out some consistent branding that hopefully will be better than my current home-made logo, and checking links in old posts still work and updating my menu bars. A lot of that feels quite boring, so I’ll end up doing it in stages rather than all at once.

And as I do that, I’ll try to form any ideas that pop into my head and that I think are interesting into new blog posts.
Egotism, Read My Fiction

I’ve Gotten Through the Cracks

I’ve written a poem for the Teesside Literary Society’s collection of poetry and short fiction, ‘Through the Cracks’, which had its launch event last Friday at Teesside University in Middlesbrough,  as part of T-Junction, the Teesside International Poetry Festival.

Through the Cracks anthology
Through the Cracks anthology

The anthology has been published by Ek Zuban Press, a local publisher mainly of poetry collections, and should be available online soon. Although I’ve not had the chance to read the whole book yet, I particularly liked Cat Brown’s Undercurrent (a story of childhood loss), Chris Stewart’s Transporter Isometrics (drawing on the heritage of Teesside’s steel industry) and Caroline Harvey’s Teesside Princess (a defiant piece of local pride). (The ‘c’s are a total coincidence!)

My own entry – titled Kerrosin of Nevot – is slightly weirder, a science-fictiony, Jabberwocky type thing. I’ll probably put it up here at the blog at some point, and I’ll post an update when the collection’s available to buy online.

Looking back through the blog, I don’t think I’ve made any mention of my only other previously published fiction, in a collection named Home Tomorrow, so I’ll write a blog post about that soon as well.

Egotism

IWSG: A Writer’s Insecurities

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge 2016I have a complicated relationship with the writing process. I love to write. I love the creative process of playing around with fictional characters and scenarios, drawing on both the real world and other stories to create something original. I love using descriptive prose that has a sense of beauty all of its own, regardless of the purpose it’s used for. I love writing clever, sharp dialogue that I’m not quick enough to think of in the moment, or that only work because I provided a setup that the real world wasn’t kind enough to give me. Moving into non-fiction, writing helps me to make sense of my complex, messy, seemingly contradictory thoughts, whether of a personal nature, or just thoughts on a book or film I sort of love and hate simultaneously. There is a lot about the writing process I absolutely love.

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Egotism

IWSG: Back to Blogging

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s not quite the first Wednesday, but it’s close enough.

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s been a while since I last posted on this blog. Although I’ve had gaps in my blogging before, the 11 month gap between the last time I posted here and today is by far the biggest. I began the blog back in November 2011, with the intention being that it would be a place for me to write about writing, and to whet my readers’ appetite for the fiction I actually manage to get finished.
I seem to have a remarkable talent for losing faith in the projects I begin, and I tend to be indecisive about what to do with the rare short stories I actually finish, which pretty much cancels out any use this blog would have as an advertisement for my writing. I have, however, written various reviews, analyses and thoughts on various types of fiction, as well as links to my writing on other websites and publications. The things I’ve written aren’t totally without merit, and writing them has helped focus my mind when I’ve been lost in big, ambitious projects.

One of the main things distracting me this last year has been political activity, but with the election now over, this should take up a little less of my time. My political activity has included a little bit of writing – on a separate blog and on one other site.
I tend to think it’s fairly obnoxious to push your political opinions on an audience who haven’t signed up for that reason, so I’ll try and keep this blog politically neutral. My moral beliefs will probably bleed through and become slightly apparent in some of what I write, but I won’t make any overt arguments expressing my very strong and genuine belief in Northumbrian independence, or my support for the settlers betrayed by the Demilitarized Zone being handed to the Cardassians. Or any of the other things I absolutely, genuinely believe in.

Now that I’ve got a few of my distractions out of the way, I should be able to return to more regular blogging, and fiction writing, in the next few days. I’ve been looking over some old, half-finished or unsatisfactory stories, in order to collaborate with my past self. It’s actually quite exciting to look back on what I’ve written before, and see that it’s not entirely awful. So I’ll be working on something soon, plus a few half-formed ideas I’ve got locked away in my brain which should be worth writing.