Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Sulking Muse

It's mid-week, the working week (for me at least) is over half done - hooray! But the writing... not going so well. I've been trying to come up with something for more short stories but so far nothing. Nada. Zip. And don't even mention the novel. It sits and looks patiently at me, saying "Now what?" And I reply with a shrug of the shoulders...

It's not helped that I haven't done anything constructive since last week, falling into that whole "I'm too tired/don't have time/want a rest" mode and have ended up slouching in front of the TV like a zombie. I know full well you make time, not find it, but it's not always easy to follow your own advice. Think I've annoyed my inner Muse so much that it now just sits and sulks in the corner, telling me to bog off whenever I ask for an idea. So unhappy with the Muse and with myself I have been turning to for help. It's a website I found by complete accident last year and has been a great source of inspiration and constructive advice. And I've finally bought one of the "handbooks", Holly Lisle's Create A Plot Clinic. And I'm liking what I'm reading. Unlike a lot of advice out there to would be writers no punches are pulled and the methodology is purely practical. It reminds me a lot of Stephen King's advice in his book On Writing, with it's straight talking style and genuinely useful advice. I hasten to add I am not in any way affiliated with Ms. Lisle (or Mr. King for that matter!) and am recommending her purely based on my own experiences.

So I plan to work my way through the Create a Plot Clinic and hopefully it will help that damned story progress. If not... well I don't give up easy. I could always sneak up on my Muse with a baseball bat and see if that gets it talking.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The best and worst TV show endings

I've recently finished off Ugly Betty and got to thinking about other TV shows I've seen (or read about when I couldn't bare or didn't have time to watch them) where the endings were good, bad and just downright confusing. So here's my list of the best and the worst endings to TV shows. Needless to say there are major spoilers ahead so please do not read if you do not want to know. I won't be held responsible for any disappointments or unwanted revelations - you have been warned!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Things done and yet to be done

This past Monday was apparantly "Blue Monday" - the most depressing day of the year. Isn't that a cheery news story. Good to know the that the media will always be there to perk us up in the darkest of times...

My own blue Monday was more of a coughing endlessly Monday as I have once again fallen foul of a chest infection. But though I may be confined to quarters I've tried to get things done, with varying levels of success. The short story is done, and in the hands of a test reader. Fingers crossed she doesn't hate it. I might make some changes but overall I'm happy with how it turned out and will be submitting it to the Writers and Artists Handbook writing competition. Then I need to start working on another one for the Bridport prize in time for the 30th June closing date.

Then there's the novel... not been making as good progress on that but will carry on with it today. I've managed to put myself off by realising how much I need to change in order to continue but sooner started, sooner finished. Instead of writing I've been catching up on old TV shows I've had recorded for months but haven't got round to watching. Not frivolous stuff like Ugly Betty (haven't got round to that yet) but a programme called Ancient Worlds presented by Richard Miles. Turns out that it was Indo-Greeks (a bunch of Greeks that moved and settled in modern Pakistan) that designed and created the first human representations of the Buddha. I did not know that. Now of course I'm going to have to get some books about that period and area to get the whole story, as I can never just take what a TV show says at face value. It's a day well spent when you learn something you didn't know before.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Film Review: Catfish (2010)

"Don't talk about fight club". That's the best way to sum up filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost's documentary Catfish. For anything that's said about it will ultimately detract from the experience. This is one of the few films that loses a lot of it's power and effectiveness if you know what happens. So understandably this review will be short on detail on what happens during the film. But the first thing to say is that the way Catfish has been marketed as a reality thriller is very misleading. While some parts will have you on the edge of your seat it isn't from thrills or fear. More disbelief at what you're seeing and anticipation of what will happen next. But that isn't the overall experience with this documentary. Rather, it's a beautiful glimpse into the human condition and how modern technology has been used to give us choices we never had before, for good or ill.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Film Review: Tron - Legacy (2010)

To begin, a confession; I've never liked Disney's 1982 Tron. I remember very little of it but do recall avoiding it as a child and generally having no interest in it. Needless to say this did not give me high hopes for Tron - Legacy, as I pictured yet more dull characters in a world that, well, looks a bit silly. Perhaps the low expectations helped as I was very pleasantly surprised with this updated, action packed and visually stunning sequel. So much so I'm actually considering watching the 1982 film again to give it another chance - who knows, maybe this time I'll "get it".

If you're not familiar with the original fear not, there are plenty of reminders of what went before, though those that know the original story will likely get a lot more from the sight of a CGI young Bruce Boxleitner as the eponymous character and his interactions with a likewise young looking Jeff Bridges. In fact the CGI work is astounding on these two actors and while it isn't perfect is convincing enough to carry you along. Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, who has built the ultimate in virtual reality - a game world that feels entirely real. In this game world there are