Sunday, 27 March 2016

Writing for Fun

Hello y'all; I realise my posting is getting spotty again lately but that's because I'm taking more time to devote to my studying and writing of fiction. Which, this week, led to a question that I wanted to throw out to you: is anyone else writing just for fun?

I'm currently reading a book on writing (The Writer's Way by Sara Maitland, to be more specific). In fact, I have a great hoard of books about writing, as reading them is one of the things that makes me feel fired up to hit the keyboard. But I'd noticed that many of them, unsurprisingly, have a slant towards marketing, publication, and otherwise making money from your work. Which is good and valid, and helpful to many people, myself included.

But. At one point a few years ago I was blogging two or three times a day, every day. Afterwards I took a long break, and during this break decided to get back into writing fiction. But after years of scarcely any writing except blogging and journalling and writing articles, I really struggled to think more imaginatively again. My mental landscape of dragons and pixies seemed to have been swept clean, and needed rebuilding. I was so rusty I was lucky if I could bash out a paragraph of fiction, let alone anything I might deem worthy of taking to an agent.

So I dropped all thought of publication for a while. I decided that I had to get right back to my writing roots; where I started in very early childhood - writing for fun. And from there, maybe I could rebuild my craft and my imagination from the ground up.

And that's still where I am. I write reams of fanfiction. I work on my NaNoWriMo novels, short stories and other projects - just for my own amusement. Occasionally I even vomit up a bad poem. One day, I may start thinking about getting something into print again. But at the moment, the most important thing to me is working on my craft and learning to find the joy in writing, in storytelling, just like when I was a child.

Last night, as I was reading The Writer's Way, I had what I thought was a brainwave and whipped out my phone to go on GoodReads. If there are so many books about writing for publication, I thought, there must be some books with brilliant ideas on writing for pure enjoyment. Well, it turns out, not so much. The only 'fun' I could turn up was always coupled with the suffix 'and profit'. So I turned to Google, where I had the same results. Even a Reddit thread where someone was asking if anyone else wrote 'just for fun' had turned into a discussion about how to get a publisher within four replies. (I wonder if the person who originated the thread is sat behind a screen somewhere going, "That was so not the question.")

So, my fellow writers - are any of you out there still writing for unadulterated enjoyment and pleasure? And if so, can you recommend me any books? ;)

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bucket List, Part Three

Part one is here, part two here.

106. Go to a movie premiere.
107. Be on a movie set. Not doing anything, just observing. (Or creeping. Whatever. Have it your way.)
108. Visit the town of Salem, MA.
109. Go on a stormchasing tour/trip.
110. Sleep in a hobbit hole.
111. Eat biscuits and gravy.
112. Have a past life regression. (I don't know if I believe in this or not. I'm just seriously curious.)
113. Go on a Ghost Bus tour.
114. Go to a cookie dough cafe.
115. Visit Tortuga (Tortuga Island or Tortuga Bay).
116. Spend a month minimum in London. Just walking the streets and looking at stuff. London fascinates me, I don't know why.
117. Sleep in a glass igloo.
118. Stay at the Snow Hotel.
119. Stroke a reindeer.
120. Stay at La Balade Des Gnomes.
121. Drink mead.
122. See the Pongua Falls in Vietnam.
123. Visit the Maldives.
124. Stay in the Montana Magica Lodge.
125. Visit the Harajuku district in Tokyo.
126. Also in Tokyo, stay at the Book and Bed 'Accomodation Bookshop'.
127. See the Black Forest.
128. Climb a mountain (I did go mountain-climbing in Wales but I was much younger and I'd like to do it again).
129. Go abseiling again (as before, something I did when I was very young and I'd like a refresher).
130. Go caving/potholing (have done this before too and loved it but frankly it'll be a whole new ballgame now that I have seen the film The Descent...).
131. Learn kickboxing.
132. Take a fencing class.
133. Go to a burlesque show.
134. Take an aerial silks class.
135. Ride in a hot rod.
136. Explore Chinatown.
137. Road trip the Amalfi Coast.
138. Meet a cowboy.
139. Go to a magic show.
140. Go to Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
141. See the Marble Mountains in Vietnam.
142. And the floating market at Ho Chi Minh City (I'm really big on Vietnam right now, can you tell? It fascinates me!).
143. See the Light Festival in Thailand.
144. See a lotus field.
145. Climb a waterfall.
146. Visit the bookshop under Waterloo Bridge (London).
147. See the Cloud Forest.
148. Go sandboarding in the Peruvian desert.
149. Ride in a rickshaw.
150. Visit Hobbiton.
151. Walk the Inca Trail.
152. Visit a bioluminescent beach.
153. Go to an ice cream restaurant.
154. Go to a silent disco.
155. Visit the Isle of Man.
156. Go to a pumpkin farm.

Friday, 11 March 2016

5 Fictional Characters That Secretly Inspire My Style

Is it normal that the majority of my current style inspiration comes from art, music and books rather than anything or anyone in the real world? I have no idea. Do I care? No, not really. Please be warned, I use the term 'style' very loosely nowadays - being a bit scruffy round the edges and really not obsessing too much has kinda become my shtick. So please don't expect too much from me on the sartorial front! Nevertheless, many of my heroes, in fashion and otherwise, are fictional, and these are a few of them.

1. Daria Parker from Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan

"Daria closed the notebook, snapped the cap back on her pen, returned both to the army-surplus knapsack lying on the concrete. She ignored the stares and sidelong glances from the secretaries in their ridiculous heels and the men in suits who looked at her suspiciously; dumpy, rumpled Daria Parker growing from their sidewalk like a monstrous fungus. Thrift-store cardigan beyond baggy, the shar-pei of cardigans, the unreal yellow of French's mustard, baggy white T-shirt underneath. Black jeans worn almost straight through the knees and ass. Her bass leaned against the wall next to her, the hulking rectangular case betraying no hint of the Fender's sleek Coke-bottle curves. The case was almost completely covered with stickers pushing local bands, a few goth and grrl groups, conflicting political slogans and Bob Dobbs and the Church of the Subgenius. [...] She kept her hair long, down past her shoulders and cut no particular way, bleached clean of any trace of its natural colour and dyed cherry-red with Kool-Aid. She glanced at her wrist, at the clunky silver dreadnought of a man's wristwatch she'd found a year or so ago, groundscore, lying in the road and obviously run over but still counting off the seconds on a liquid-crystal display the colour of dirty motor oil."

What I love about Daria's style is that it's unpretentious, un-self-conscious. Daria gives no fucks. A lot of people that are 'alternative' in the area where I live are more about style than substance - talking about being non-consumerist because they get their cosmetics from Lush, but spending £££ on the 'right' subcultural uniforms from brand name outlets. Daria appeals to me as the antithesis of that - she's not trying to create an image for herself; she's just living and doing. Her clothes have wear and tear from being lived in, worn in, used. She's more into her friendships and her music than thinking about how she looks. I find this really inspiring.

2. Delirium from The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

"I like airplanes. I like anywhere that isn't a proper place. I like in-betweens."

I wasn't sure whether to include Delirium or Death here as I love both, but I think that Delirium is more representative of the style I am moving towards now. Delirium has mismatched eyes - one blue, one green - and her hair and clothes continually change colour and style, though her clothes are usually mismatched and punk-ish and her hair multicoloured.

3. Kizzy from Goblin Fruit by Laini Taylor

"Kizzy was certainly blind to her own weird beauty: her heavy, spell-casting eyes, too-wide mouth, wild hair, and hips that could be wild too, if they learned how. [The thrift store was] where Kizzy always shopped instead of the mall, partly because her parents hardly gave her any money, and partly because it had a trifold changing screen of embossed, moth-eaten velvet that looked like a remnant from Marie Antoinette's boudoir. She loved to sling an armful of cheap dresses over it and try them on one by one, with mismatched gossamer scarves, platform boots and cat glasses."

I also love the character Karou from Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series - blue hair and tattoos are always going to be a big thing with me - but Karou is classically beautiful, whereas Kizzy is striking, quirky, unsure of herself, 'soul hanging out like an untucked shirt'. I love the rawness of her.

4. Zoey from Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

"Zoey [...] had arrived there wearing a pair of muddy tennis shoes, the left one ruined by wet cement that was rapidly drying to a crust. She wore too-long jeans that were frayed at the bottom, which were also too tight in the hips even though they hadn't been when she had bought them last summer. She was carrying her denim jacket and wearing a black cardigan she inherited from her mother over an orange T-shirt bearing the logo for a band called Awesome Possum. A grey wool stocking cap was hiding a rats' nest of black and blue hair. She was clutching an angry, smelly cat and was wearing half a pound of its shed fur all over her torso."

There's really nothing aspirational about my style. I want to be relaxed, cozy, covered in cat hair and eating pizza.

5. Maida and Zia, the crow girls, from Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint

"An odd-looking girl stood grinning down at her from the patch of light that spilled out from the hall beyond the doorway. She was small in height and slight in build, a skinny childlike figure with coffee-coloured skin and sharp features set in a triangular-shaped face. Her eyes were large, birdbright and dark, her hair an unruly lawn of blue-black spikes. Though the evening was cooling, she was barefoot, dressed only in black leggings and an oversized flannel shirt with the arms cut off." - Maida

"The small dark-haired girl dropped down onto the lawn and sauntered up the stairs. There was a wonderful mildness in her features, Kerry thought. [...] And she seemed so comfortable in her body, the way a child would be, perched on the porch railing in front of Kerry, her legs dangling, an easy smile on her lips." - Zia

In fact, ninety-nine per cent of de Lint's characters are pretty awesome, style-wise and otherwise. But I like the unpredictability and childlike wonder of the crow girls, although I have little to no idea of how to reflect such through wardrobe choices. The crow girls are twins, and a package deal, which is why I have included them as one of five.

I have referenced these books before, I have no doubt, and would of course highly recommend all of them. And as ever, recommendations for similar always welcome! But most of all, let me know your fictional style inspirations, if you have them!

Listening to: Quick Silver [Dancefloor Transformation] by The Cruxshadows

Friday, 4 March 2016

Things I Love, Errr, Friday

I meant to post this yesterday, but ended up doing other things instead and becoming incredibly distracted. However, I do find Things I Love Thursday posts very useful as they give me an at-a-glance way to discover what I've been prioritising - and if I struggle to think of what to write, it's a handy heads-up that I'm getting too much work and not enough play. So I decided not to let the fact that I let Thursday slip entirely by me become a hindrance.

  • First and most importantly, my partner Dan and I have started planning towards something we've always wanted to do. After my exams, which will hopefully take place in June next year, we're both freed up. Coupled with the fact that my mum wants to move out of my childhood home into a smaller place so I'm clearing out an awful lot of stuff anyway, it dawned on us that this was finally the best possible time to take a trip! Travelling more has been a priority for both of us for a long time, but we've been trying to untangle ourselves from work and home commitments. So now, we have finally started laying down the groundwork for taking a year-long backpacking tour in 2018. As newbie travellers we don't really know what on earth we are doing yet, so we're currently in the research stages, but it's very exciting to be working towards something that's such a huge deal to us, and it feels very liberating, as though the future is opening up. We don't know for sure where we're going yet, but some of the places on our hotlist are: Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Singapore, Peru, Chile, Fiji and Tahiti. (!)
  • Similarly, we were discussing what we intend to do when we come back again. A lot of our friends are getting towards the mortgage'n'marriage stage, and after much, much talking we've come to the conclusion that we don't want to settle down in the same small town where we've spent our whole lives thus far, and resign ourselves to a nine-to-five work week. So we've also been looking into off-grid and other alternative lifestyles, and instead of looking for an apartment when we get back home, we've decided to fulfill one of my childhood dreams and buy a camper van. 
  • On a smaller scale, my dad found a copy of Banksy's Wall and Piece, and when I got into the car to go out for lunch a while ago, greeted me with the words, "We're going on a crazy mayhem art spree." Which consisted of making some spoof signs and whacking them up in public places around our local area. My dad's great.
(c) Norman Townsend
  • Straight A's (so far) on my English Language course. Sadly I have a Maths test coming up soon, so I imagine that will tidily lower my average. Therefore, I celebrate this achievement whilst I have it.
  • Finding an old scrapbook from when I was about eleven years old. All that time I spent post-Goth, feeling like I had no sense of identity and not knowing what I liked and who I was... I really wish I could have come across this scrapbook then. It's filled with badass women, female musicians and skateboarders and snowboarders, open wastelands, back roads, ghost towns, certain slants of light, cool hair, painted caravans... I have gotten rid of a lot of my paper baggage, but I've kept this, and in fact I aim to grab some magazines with pretty ads and start filling in the spaces.

  • Getting rid of some of my old journals. Maybe this sounds counter-productive to you? The thought of binning any of my scribble-filled jotters was anathema to me for a very long time. But I found some in the spare room which were, well, pages and pages of me, in my early teens, being very miserable and unhappy. And I decided I didn't need to carry the reminder of that sad girl around with me for the rest of my life. Throwing out the things I didn't need any more or want to remember made me feel so much lighter in every way. And it was goodbye to a lot of bad poetry, too. 
  • Building a blanket fort in my room and hiding inside to watch UFO documentaries. A good reward for a day of studying.

Listening to: Liar by Emilie Autumn
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