GIVE IT A GO

What genre of books would you say was your favourite?

Who is your favourite author?

Are you a fan of the horror of Stephen King? Does the fantasy of Tolkien tickle your pickle? The crime writings of Patricia Cornwell or James Patterson?

We all have our areas of passion and artists of all kinds are no different but could you imagine a book written for 5 year olds by Clive Barker or HP Lovecraft? What if Tolkien had written about the BDSM scene? Imagine in cinema, a ‘tweeny’ film directed by Quentin Tarantino?

Now I’m not saying that these people wouldn’t be able to do amazing things but they have shown an affinity for a certain part of the literary spectrum and have remained there, happily pumping out tale after tale for us happy readers to devour. But why not try something different?

I like the thought of doing something different.

The thought of testing myself, to see if I can do a thing, is a big driving force in who I am so staying in one area when it comes to my writing isn’t going happen. I have my current fantasy series I’m working on but I also have a YA book in the works as well, which is more science fiction than fantasy. Add to that another book about an alien invasion which will be more akin to The Walking Dead and a short story which has the potential to become a novella dealing in very dark horror, and I’m doing my best to try and keep things moving in different directions when I’m creative.

I like having a bash at new things and the thought of being stuck rigidly in the same place for all time makes me want to look in new locations. I think that it keeps my mind busy in different ways which can only help when I write, regardless of the topic.

Besides, if all I do is work in exactly the same location, and give no thought to doing anything differently, there’s always going to be the risk that I just get stale doing the same thing.

Change is good, well some is anyway.

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SYSTEMS OF RULE

In everything that we do, see and experience in every day of our lives, there are systems at play which allow the world we live in to continue to turn. From the mightiest form of government to the smallest one way sign we’re all surrounded, protected and controlled by all kinds of systems.

So why does there seem to be an inherent distrust of these systems as if they’re all out to get us?

We all know someone who thinks the government is out to get us. Who thinks that their job is biased or that the particular order of traffic lights at the end of their road never let them out. Every day there’s yet another example of something getting in their way and their determination to always hold the systems as being guilty seems be taking far more energy than would really be wise. What can they possibly be getting from the huge outlay of effort just to be blaming all kinds of problems on anything and everything around them as being a part of a major conspiracy? They just generate the same kind of dismissive expression from everyone they vent their feelings to. “Here we go again”, “I wish they’d have a day off.” We all know that there isn’t the big monster out to us and we all know that it’s only those with an axe to grind who make these claims. Those who want to abdicate some responsibility for some kind of failure by blaming a stacked deck in life. The systems we live with are all set up to help us.

Aren’t they?

Aren’t they?

What if they’re not?

As the US election circus gathers momentum there’s all the claim and counter claim that each party is aligning itself with different groups who then go on to have preferential treatment. This isn’t specific to the US, it happens everywhere, and there’ll be some kind of deck stacking going on. In business, the same rules don’t get applied evenly and I’m sure that the bankers who crashed the economy must have been glad they didn’t get held to the same standards as others when the talk turned to prison time.

So why would these issues arise?

Why is it, when confronted with the fact of the uneven systems which exist, all possible steps to redress the balance aren’t taken?

When did we move from having all of these systems in place to service the people to all of the people being there to service the system? When businesses just churn through people with the plan of work people as hard as possible for two years then change the staff to always ensure fresh hunger for reaching targets rather than making they’re product as strong as possible it does make you think that we are all here to fit into the machine.

I’m an optimist and want to believe the best in everyone. Seeing examples of injustice makes me angry but seeing that they can often be shrugged off as being the correct outcome because the system said so is even worse. Is it just that the human element within every system can be open to someone trying to gain an advantage over another which thereby takes away any impartiality? Shouldn’t the human element of empathy should be the emotion we inject rather than any form of greed?

Surely systems built to advance all rather than just a handful will help the whole. We can’t afford to leave the vast majority of the human race behind just because the systems say so.

GO DEEP

I studied English Literature as an A-Level. Twenty plus years ago I was sat running through the details of various books, doing my best to decipher the hidden meanings behind the choice of words the author decided to employ.

When they said the sky was a deep blue were they referring to an intensity of feeling in the character voicing the opinion? Is it a way of showing the sadness inherent in the world? Did the author wish that the clarity of the colour could be used for a similie to the clarity of thought from a character? Did they just mean the sky was a deep blue?

When we read through all of the millions of words in all the books we’ve ever come into contact with, are we doing the right thing when we read the words at just the surface meaning or should we always be looking for a wider or deeper meaning from the writer?

I’ll admit that I was very focused on dealing with the details as I presented them but I did chuck in the odd nugget of veiled info.

But why do that?

Why should there be any need to say anything more than the most direct point?

We all know the reason to this. In the real world the purest example of this is ‘I’m fine’. The simple banality which covers so much. The ringing cry for help. The callous brush off. The description of being OK. We see it on a day to day basis out there in the real world, people saying one thing but really meaning another, people disguising what they really wish to say for all kinds of reasons. We could be unwilling to reveal the truth for all kinds of reasons but we’re still screaming the meaning from behind words which mean something totally different.

As with every ‘trick’, we can’t use this all of the time or it’ll lose it’s power, but we see it that way in the real.

I know that everyone reads the words on the page as written but like one of those magic eye puzzles, we do our best to see that which is behind the presented picture. I suppose we should always keep in mind to not look too deeply for something which the author never intended to include.

Happy delving.

WHAT OTHERS SEE

This weekend, as part of the ongoing festivities of my wife’s up coming birthday, we drove to London to see the latest stage show of The Rocky Horror Show. We stayed in London for the night and had a tremendous time. If you’ve never seen the show or the film, you have to give it a go, it’s a first class ride and happily doesn’t want to fit comfortably into any one box.

I’ve seen the stage show five or six times, and like every long running performance, the cast has gone through a whole host of changes over the years. I’ve seen Jason Donovan as Frank, Jonathan Wilkes as well, but this latest incarnation had David Badella in the role. He’s an amazing Frank and owned every inch of the stage but the latest combination of actors wasn’t the biggest point. This time, playing the role of the Narrator, was the shows creator and original Riff Raff in the film, Richard O’Brien.

He was amazing, as were all of the cast, but seeing him in action directly in the centre of his work made me think.

What has he thought of the various versions and interpretations of the story over the years and did he ever want to give some pointers if a performance was drifting too far from the original plan he’d had in his mind?

Creating a story, no matter what it could be about, is a very personal journey. All the people involved in the action as it unfolds are doing what we want them to. All of the feelings and emotions that all of these people have are the product of our mind and, I certainly found, are an incredible bonding agent.

I’ve started to feel very protective of all of my characters so I reckon that it’s a fair bet that other writers go through the same.

Watching the action on the stage, I just had a wonder if the creator of The Rocky Horror Show was happy with the way that his work was being portrayed.

Would I be able to let go of my characters if someone else was going to create a different version of them, say on film?

I’d like to say that I’d be able to let go easily but I guess that there’s little chance of me having to confront that worry at the moment. I’m very protective of all my people so I’d probably be on edge every second that someone else was playing with them. I’d probably have to insert myself into the middle of everything just to make sure that things were going the way I thought they should, the control freak in me just running wild.

I wonder if Richard O’Brien was able to just let the production flow as it would have done had he not been there? He’s probably had more than long enough to be happy with the various versions of the show so he’s most likely just watching on like a proud parent as his baby has grown over the years.

Who knows? In 40 years, The Circle of Fire could be all kinds of things.

IS CHANGE GOOD?

Awkward isn’t it? You start out on any project, you’ve completed all of the planning phase despite wanting to get stuck in, you’ve made sure that everything is set in the way you want and you’re confident that the open road of creativity is clear and straight ahead.

And then it isn’t.

The wheels have been turning smoothly for a while when the once straight road starts to bend just a little as the previously well crafted plan gets nudged ever so gently by a new bolt of inspiration. “Instead of making the driver of the car his father, how about his mother instead? Would make the choice later of where they should eat a whole lot more interesting” etc.

So simple a thought but all of a sudden that idea grows another limb, then another head, a third face and pretty soon the demon spawn of Frankensteins bum hole has reared it’s head, your efforts to control the beast next to the route you started out on have crumbled and the confidence you had to start with ran off to join the French Foreign Legion.

The story I started out with ended up being quite some distance away from where I finished. It did indeed start out planned to travel a set route but as described above, the slightest hint of an idea and off I went.just adding fuel to the fire, most of which being the shredded pages of my planning.

But surely that’s a good thing? Surely you have to go with the inspiration rather than just stick with an idea because it happened to be your first? Right?

Wrong.

I did grab onto that crazy bucking beast of inspiration on more than one occasion only to be thrown painfully off and have dust kicked in my face as it laughed its way into the distance. I’d started writing along a new tangent but hadn’t given it enough thought as to how to stitch it into the main narrative. I’d fallen prey to the ‘short term gain, long term load of crap’. Sometimes the ideas made sense and were able to fit into the wider story and they sit happily on the page forever but the tough bit is working out which is which.

As I’ve said in a post on here before, I hate the planning bit. I just want to get stuck in and write. It tends to be though that when I dive in with the wildest abandon, the problems seem to crop up. It’s all about the balance.

Changing what you’re doing mid stride has the chance to deliver the greatest results, therefore change is indeed a good thing, but it also has the power to make an absolute mess of things if you let it, so, also a bad thing.

With so many things in life, you need to strike that careful balance between the methodical crafting of future events or just running off with every new idea just because you can. Just make sure any changes are well thought through or you wind up face in the dust and at least ten chapters further away from finishing.