Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Defence of Charlie And Europe's Muslims Is The Same Thing

"The relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them."

-George Orwell, 'The Freedom Of The Park'

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The NAACP bombing and the Charlie Hebdo massacre are both attacks on our freedom. 

They are two heads of the same reactionary hydra angry at a changing world and opposed to progress and free inquiry. 

Resist it.

The Importance of Drawing Your Novel's Characters #2: In Technicolor!!!

A few posts ago I said I'd buy some pencil crayons. Colour really helps (and these days I've a camera on my phone so even if the results are poor I've still got the original pencil sketches: see earlier post)

I've tacked these scribbles above my writing desk. I try to avoid lunar-barren walls as I write. I don't like the wall in front of me to resemble the blank in my head when I get stuck.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Last Night I Dreamed...

...that I had to extract acclaimed SF author Charles Stross from the centre of a prison riot. He wasn't a prisoner and neither was I. I guess he'd been doing a reading there or something. For some reason the powers that be had decided I was the most qualified for the task. I guess they knew what they were doing, but support- any kind of support- would have been appreciated.

So there's me punching, shiving and shouting my way past dangerous men with nothing to lose and Stross doesn't seem to be phased at all, he just walks behind me with his hands in his pockets and smiling benevolently. 

He keeps asking me "Do you like me books? Which ones your favourite?"

I'm more concerned by the Molotov cocktails and bottles of piss being thrown down around us from the upper floor of the wing.

Eventually I relent and say "I don't fuckin' know, Chuck. Saturn's Children I guess. That was good. Happy now?"

"All you had to say," he replies and, with a cheery whistle, Stross goes completely Ninja on the prisoners. He beats seven bales of shit out of them he does- at one point using one of the smaller prisoners as a weapon- and I sheepishly follow his trail of destruction. I'm certain we got out.

I'm not sure if this dream had any significant meaning. Probably 'don't fuck with Charles Stross'.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Value of Drawing Your Novel's Characters.

Due to my work's nightshifts there are days when trying to write prose is a game not worth the antelope.

But I like to keep things pumping so, if I'm cranking out a novel draft, one of the things I'll do on a write-off day is draw stuff from said draft. And my first point of entry will be character portraits.

I'd recommend it to any writer, no matter your artistic ability (as you can see mine's so-so at best). Firstly, it keeps your brain on the ball manuscript-wise. Secondly, the process of drawing your characters brings you closer to them. It's an oddly intimate process:  you may think you 'see' your characters, but what is the stance of their frame, the arch of their neck? How, indeed, do your characters pose for a portrait?

The character portraits I make never--at least not quite--resemble the face I had in my mind. But that's not the point. In fact that might even render the whole exercise pointless. 

No, the greatest benefit I get from drawing characters is the slow reveal of a face I never expected. New layers of my characters' personalities are excavated in the drawing process. That can only help the manuscript. At the very least it can't harm.

I'll most likely do update posts as I draw more. I may even invest in some pencil crayons. 

Monday, 29 December 2014

Twitter I'm finding more like work than fun these days. If you're a 'creative' you're supposed to have a 'presence' there and so I try to keep my Tweet rate up but...

I dunno. The people I've made friends with there and my real life pals I've be-twittered are great, don't get me wrong. Most people are great there.
It's just the constant background radiation of aggression (and aggression untethered from consequence) that I find exhausting. 

The mobs, the dog piles, the follower-weaponised leaders, the invisible hierarchies, the passive-aggressive hashtags, the death threats, the rape threats, the attention seeking, the culture wars with no end in sight and no true wish for an end, the scorn, the mean sarcasm, the distain for nuance, the never-questioned certainties, the putrid little orthodoxies groping for our souls. 

I think writing a novel makes me see it that way. It's safer there, serene as the quiet Welsh hills. A year or so ago I was as much a Twittershit as anyone, desperate not to be drowned out in the mass. Now I just want to scribble and let someone else handle all that 'presence' stuff for me. But the 'creative' world just doesn't roll like that no more. We're all hucksters now, vaudevillians. And there's no going back.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

''There are a number of myths we live by. For instance, the myth of 'away,' as in 'I'll throw it away.' Where's that? There's no such place. It's going somewhere. Or the myth of 'my little bit won't hurt,' or the obvious myths of 'bigger is better' and 'more is better.' We have all these myths, and we believe in them without even recognizing that they're there. We just act on them – and that's liable to be our downfall.''

-Octavia Butler

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Found this amid my pile of old clothes. Not a clue. Any takers?

Anyhoo, for time being I'm using said thong as a bitchin' flag on my radio's antennae:

Adapt, adopt, improve. That's my motto, baby...