Do you watch Friends?

It’s a program that’s taken on almost mythical status by now and it seems to be on at any time of any day but the specifics of the show don’t really matter for this post.

In one of the episodes, The One with Joey’s Big Break, the characters use an interesting method of making a decision. Rather than working through the details of the issue at hand, weighing up all of the pros and cons to get them to a considered and reasoned outcome, they instead throw up two choices and have to make a snap decision immediately without putting even the slightest thought into it.

Now for the purpose of the episode it made for some amusing situations but should we ever try something like this in the real world?

Every one of us makes all kind of choices on any given day and we all make sure that we put in the requisite amount of consideration but should we always?

How many of us have considered, at times of great mental turmoil, that we could be over thinking any given situation? A choice which should be straightforward can become amazingly complex as we over analyse every possible scenario or outcome until we’ve wrapped ourselves up in all manner of knots. Wouldn’t it be better to just dive at it and go with your gut?

As I work on the different stories in my collections, I find it so simple to get myself tangled up inĀ  possible narrative threads and what could, and indeed should, have been a pretty simple choice can suddenly have me well and truly snookered. I move the pieces about in my head, and although I do have some success in my actions, far too often, I end up back to the original thought and the time and effort have been for nought.

What do you think?

Should there always be a deep and philosophical consideration for any and all choices we face or can we just throw caution to the wind and take the leap of faith that we don’t need to torture ourselves with more options?

I like both ideas but couldn’t just make snap choices, I need to make sure that I’m not falling on the wrong side of what I should be doing.

Or maybe I should?




For this post I only have a single point to make.

I feel that after the 2016 we’ve all witnessed, where division and anger seem to have exposed the gruesome heart of the human race to the light, I open my arms to everyone out there, regardless of all those defining characteristics we all cling so very tightly to, and which seem to be always pulling us apart, and say to each and every one of you,

“Let’s celebrate our humanity and do what we can to make the lives we touch every day a little bit better. Let’s make sure 2017 is the perfect antidote to what we’ll soon be leaving behind us.”

Have a good ‘un all.


Just to get the point out there, this isn’t about diesel or the like. Instead, this week I bring you the importance of always finding that fuel for the creative fires that always need to be fanned.

As a writer, I’m always working on ideas for future projects and all that work has to be driven by something. We could inject the fuel ourselves, just pushing at the ideas and turning them over and over as you go. We could read and read and read and keep the tanks topped up that way or we could watch all kinds of TV shows or movies and absorb the thoughts.

I’ve done all three of those and all kinds of others to boot but this past weekend, I was lucky enough to have a great time with great friends. We watched episodes of our favourite shows, talked on a very wide range of topics, had a drink or two and all together had a great time. And this weekend served as the most potent fuel I’ve had in some time.

Just picture it.

Over the last few months, trying to get anything done on the projects I’ve got under way has been proving to be tougher than I’d care to admit. I’ve not been crushed by the time element but more the lack of a driving force to keep the hammer down. And you know what? The last weekend was just what I needed. It just let me wallow in all of the ‘stuff’ that I loved within sci-fi and fantasy and just by listening to all the conversations which were going on, just letting the torrents of ideas and thoughts swirl all around me, gave me the most wonderful creative soup to digest.

I was able to drink in that energy and I’ve suddenly replenished a pool I wasn’t really sure was empty.

So I thank my friends, those who helped me remember what it was that I most loved about the genres I play with and topped up the almost sputtering engine on my car.

Now to get creative again.


Just how important is it to use big words?

Should I be judged on the size of my, ahem, vocabulary?

In the Friends episode referenced in the title, Joey is tasked with writing a letter but struggles with the concern that he may not be able to convey the appropriate message without embellishing or polishing what he says. His solution was to run every word of a letter through the thesaurus on a computer and trust that this would do the trick.

For those who haven’t seen the episode, it didn’t. (Don’t moan about spoilers, the program finished over a decade ago).

I’ve read books by China Mieville and I’ve been struck by the vast vocabulary that he has at his disposal but also the casually adept way he utilises it. He spins incredible tales that you have to practically bolt yourself to to keep up with as you acclimatise to how he writes. Trust me, it’s well worth it, with Embassytown being a particular highlight of what he does.

But should an author just bombard the reader with prose peppered with words that have them reaching for the dictionary every two minutes? If the reader can’t keep up with a tangled nonsense of the thesaurus taking over, the book fails. I could spruce up what I’ve written but it’s just a tiny little step before all I’d be left with is a collection of words rather than a story.

I need to do my best to avoid the mistakes of only relying on a limited stack of words but also not to swing too far the other way and just go nuts with all of the longest words I can find.

There are enough ‘heavy’ stories out there to show that people will read all of the stories at that end of the spectrum but also, there are a vast number of more ‘pulpy’ offerings at the other end so an easier read isn’t always to be overlooked. I suppose that it just means that the strength of the stories just come from the way the writer can stitch everything together.

In short, try too hard and any story I’d write with all the linguistic gymnastics included will end up a perfect copy of the letter from Friends.