AND THAT’S OUT

Over the last weeks, I think everyone would recognise if you’ve read my stuff in the past, I’ve been more philosophical. I’m a fan of comedy and making people smile is a wonderful thing, as I love to smile too but that hasn’t been to the fore.

In 2013, my dad was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a degenerative lung disease which has been slowly causing fibrous scarring to form throughout his lungs and has been robbing him of his ability to breathe.

It’s a topic of discussion which tends to crop up when we think about life with disease. Would you rather have ten years left but the final three be in ever growing pain or would you rather just have five good years and then pass on? It’s a question that we all have to consider for ourselves but the reality of that choice is so much worse than we tend to realise.

Could you live in crushing agony twenty four hours a day just to be alive for one more day?

IPF is a brutal disease that the British Lung Foundation is always looking for donations to help defeat. Please everyone, make the most of all the time you have with friends and family.

My dad died last week.

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VALUES

I’m not talking about right and wrong as such but more what it is that each of us finds valuable.

The value of something is governed by outside forces. The rarity of something means that it becomes more valuable. That said, I could draw a picture of my cat, making a truly one of a kind piece of art, but that would never mean that it would automatically become worth huge sums. The rarity of a thing is vital but in line with if other people want to possess it. If a great many people wish to posses a thing, it can mean the lengths that some will go to to actually get their hands on it will increase dramatically.

But that value of things spreads further than just being for things.

We’ve all seen comments in various media about the value of time with family, of how much good feeling comes from the warmth and love which is the family unit. What about the value of a child’s laugh? Or the silence of a quiet night on a camping holiday? All of these things are great under the right circumstances but as with the thoughts above, the rarity of these things and the number of people wanting them still drives a relative value.

But then there’s the understanding that the diamond the size of my head may be worth gazillions and gazillions but if I don’t like it, I’m going to view it as less valuable than someone who adores the aesthetic. But if I owned it but didn’t love it, the value of it would remain as it had, if it was in the possession of the huge fan.

How we value things, I think, therefore gives us a more reliable way of understanding where our choices come from. The rarity of something is still going to be important to understand why we place value where we do but so often, that rarity is down to just not being able to achieve it. The classic greetings card version of the family unit can become priceless to those who may never have had the experience as they grew up. The sound of a child’s laugh can take on more weight if you’re unable to have kids, and the desire to experience the calm silence of a night alone in a mountain retreat is utterly desirable if everything about your lifestyle is fast paced and loud.

We place value on different things, a great many of which we share with so many of the population but there will always be the individual things that set us all apart. Now the value of these things can also be driven by the accessibility we have to them. We reach out to chase the things we don’t or can’t have. We yearn for so many things that we don’t have in an attempt to fill that specifically shaped hole in ourselves. Should we be lucky enough to attain it, we savour and cherish it for the mighty value we placed on it.

And the same goes for things we may lose.

It’s only after a thing has been taken from us that we truly get to understand the value of it. Without it, we now identify it’s absence and only then realise just how valuable a thing it really was.

We all have things we value. We all have things that we perceive as the best or the most. We all exist on a continuum of value, running from the things we don’t have and we value highly as we strive after them, through to those things we already possess which we seem to only comprehend the value of once they’re no longer there.

Maybe we should all spend a bit more time appreciating rather than striving.

What do you think?

COOL?

I myself, am not cool.

I can happily admit that I’ve never been cool. Well, I can happily admit it now, as a middle aged old duffer anyway.

Cool is a concept far beyond the nature of a description of temperature. It’s a way of being. It represents to so many that which is the nebulous goal we should all be struggling for. Have a watch at the way Xander Harris in Buffy the Vampire Slayer debates the question.

To be cool is to be hot in some ways but not in others. But cool is also seen in cases of being very much not hot. But that doesn’t mean cold. And as cool doesn’t last, it also doesn’t mean you’ve become hot if you’re no longer cool. You don’t warm up or cool down.

Clear?

Cool as a relative state changes and grows every day but no-one can truly know what is cool until ‘it’ lands. If you could go back in time and suggest that the term ‘on fleek’ was going to be something which sweeps the world, entering our cultural lexicon as a marker of somethings relative coolness, I’m sure that whoever you spoke with would question your sanity. But nonetheless, here we are with that ridiculous phrase.

Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it that it makes no sense in terms of it’s cool? So if that’s the case, who needs to understand a thing to allow it to be considered for cool?

Cool is very often the focus of the younger of our population and there are armies of people working day and night to give them their fix for cool. But is it? Even as I write, I consider ‘proper’ grown-ups of my age or older and am forced to admit that the cool is there as well, just about different things. Parents seem to perpetually be comparing children. Their abilities, their achievements, anything. Not only will they be showing off that they are better than everyone else but there is that level of prestige which comes from going on the ‘right’ holidays, sending the kids to the ‘right’ schools, and the classic, driving the ‘right’ car. Don’t believe me? Watch the mighty Bruce Campbell and see what you think.

So does this mean that cool is nothing more than a manufactured construct which can be guided by the power brokers of the world by making sure that the right messages are being seen and repeated by the right people?

Yes and no.

Yes, the armies of people working on the next One Direction are following a plan of how to create this commodity and the members of the group themselves are a tool as well but on the reverse, aren’t they all labouring under the huge risk that their product isn’t deemed cool? No matter the amount of time and effort which goes into a project, ticking all the right boxes to make a big splash, there will always be the risk that it just fizzles out. That would leave huge numbers of people at risk, livelihoods crushed, business going under, families at risk.

I write the stories I write, not in an attempt to be cool, to be ‘on fleek’, but to be a writer of those stories. I wanted to read them so I wrote them. I’ve given up hunting down the elusive cool because it just doesn’t make sense.

Shouldn’t we do things because they make us happy rather than just because it’s cool?

IT’S ART YOU KNOW

What is art?

For many, art is sculpture and painting which lives in galleries and is to be marveled at in awed silence. For others, art is a more vibrant and modern affair, any and all things that the creator could get their hands on to get their point across.

For so many, the accuracy of sculpting and paintings of days gone by allowed us to admire the skill of the artist in their rendition of a facsimile of the model in whatever medium they so chose. We looked upon the deft brush strokes or the assured moulding and recognise the skill and talent that must have been at play to make the materials bend to their wishes.

In the land of ‘modern’ art, the rigid adherence to the ways of the old are pushed aside and experimentation and wider expression come to the fore. Rather than seeing the work as a direct rendition of the subject, the request is to now look through the physical to examine the true meaning behind the piece. What was it the artist was attempting to say? We look at Tracey Emin and her unmade bed as a great example of the meaning being beyond the bounds of the piece itself.

Now this can mean that there are more areas where there can be disagreement in terms of the value or skill on display.

I could look at a given piece of work and see something very different as the message compared to almost anyone else. Even knowing what the artist was trying to say may not remove the stumbling blocks.

So I ask again. What is art?

Art is an expression of a theme. An idea given form. It doesn’t matter what materiel that may be, paint, clay, light, ice, sound or all of the above and none, art is that most beautiful of things that allows the thoughts, feelings and experience of another to reach out and touch you. We can all glimpse inside the mind of another through the myriad portals that are offered for all to experience. Paintings and sculpture. Music and Film. Fireworks and architecture. And literature too.

My books do just that. They give the reader the chance to experience a tale where the characters go about their lives but it’s there to give everyone a snippet of me too. The pages hold a message that I want to convey which is beyond just the words. They hold my hopes and dreams for the narrative but years of hard work as well. Effort and desire coming together to create a whole that I wanted to share with the world.

There’s an artist in all of us and the ability to draw a convincing nose doesn’t always have to come into it.

It’s just trying to be heard.

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.

HAVING A CHAT

Friday last week saw another first for me.

I was interviewed as part of the Speculative Fiction Cantina on BlogTalk Radio by S Evan Townsend. A relaxing chat about my books and why I write was shared with another author, Aran Jane, and all in all, I had a blast just chewing the fat.

I encourage everyone to have a listen and enjoy.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writestream/2017/02/10/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-owen-elgie-and-aran-jane

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ALMOST OVER

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.