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More Preposterous Elitism

I’ll admit it.

I seem to be developing an urge to do something about the apparent amount of preposterous elitism that seems to perpetuate many, many aspects of the writing community.

In a drive to expand my horizons and help myself along with my writing I’ve been looking for local groups* as well as online ones.

I locate one, that along with its own facilities has courses, workshops, classes. The whole 9 yards – everything someone starting on the writing path, or further along it could want.

It’s not expensive to join. works out at about £5 a month. Not that  much in this day & age really.

However.

On looking at the how to join, I inferred a fair bit from these little bits below (I’ve edited out any identifying information) Highlights are mine. 

To join, fill in our Membership Application Form and send it to us along with a short sample of your writing.

Alternatively you can contact us with any questions at xxxxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx or on 99999 999 9999.

In order to join, you must:

  1. live in or be connected with xxxxx;
  2. demonstrate a commitment to developing your writing;
  3. demonstrate a commitment to reaching an audience with your work (e.g. through publication or production).

Membership is at the discretion of the xxxxx Board of Directors.

Now, from this I had a few questions.

  1. What if you were either only just starting out writing, or did not feel comfortable sharing your work with others (short or long-term)
  2. What if you didn’t want to be published, but just wanted to join and learn more purely for writing for fun

From this, I inferred that

  • You have to already have been writing before joining (No beginners here ,Thank You!)
  • If you haven’t been (or didn’t want) to be published or produced then you were not considered a real writer and as such, we don’t want anything to do with you.

These are further reinforced by the ‘members’ snapshot on the website – All published in one way or another.

Just to see if I’m alone in this and have completely lost the plot, or if it reads the same to others I’m inviting comments below as well.

I’ve also emailed the organisation concerned with a link to this to invite them to respond if they wish.

*This is quite a large step for me, having suffered from social phobia for many years

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Weekly Writing challenge: Dear Abbey

So, based on the challenge on: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/weekly-challenges/ I present:

The Monkey Ooks: Advice for your life:

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is “You never know what you can do until you try”, and the same person also said “With the proper motivation you can overcome anything”

Something that I can quite happily say has saved my life.

In an incident, which I now look back on with a good sense of humor and have a laugh about it, which (as you’ve probably seen coming) I’ll relate below.

Wind backwards in time mumble years to an 11-year-old me, plus one of my best buddies at the time, out in the fields around our home village.

In one field, all on its own we espy a bovine creature, happily munching on the grass, and being of an inquisitive nature launch into a good-natured argument about what it was:

“It’s a cow”

“No, it’s a bull, why would a cow be in a field on its own?”

“It’s a cow, I’m telling you. Look, you can see the udders dangling”

This went on in a light-hearted manner for a few minutes, until in our eleven year old brilliance we came up with THE PLAN*

THE PLAN

We would, using a long stick (For safety!) quietly approach the creature, contentedly chewing as it was and gently poke it in the dangly bit.

If it was a cow, it wouldn’t be fussed, and would probably barely feel it.

If it was a bull, it would be momentarily discomforted and go “Moo” **

So, armed with our stick *** we crept up behind the bovine, and gently, oh so gently prodded it in the dangly bits…..

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

“See it’s a cow!”

“Nah, we just didn’t prod it hard enough”

With this, the poor creature receive an almighty WHACK in the danglies.

The noise started deep down.

The bass rumble of pure, unadulterated surprise, mixed with anger, and as it turns out, and amazing resistance to the pain of a log in what turned out to be the Bulls testicles.

I’m pretty sure the bull turned on the spot. I’m not 100% on this as we’d already started running, after sharing an almost comical look at each other as the sheer depths of what we had just done sank in.

To the end of my days, I will never forget the thunder of the bulls hooves behind me as I ran for it. Far, far faster than I’ve ever done either before or since.

Part way through the panicked screaming and running we realised we were NOT heading towards the gate, but running pell-mell towards a lovely, solid 9 foot stone wall.

There was NO way I was going to be able to climb that normally.

Sheer terror must have propelled me up it, like a younger spiderman that had no wish to be trampled into a paste by a vengeful Bull From Hell****

So yeah….. even my rotund, unfit form can manage some amazing acts of speed and agility with the proper motivation.

I must admit to some surprise with just how fast the bull recovered from a log in the testicles. Any man out there who’s been whacked in them can attest to just how debilitating a solid whack can be.

*Yes, I know….. A plan in capitals is NEVER a good thing in the end.

** Shut-up. Just shut-up. It seemed a GREAT idea at the time.

*** well, 6 foot log would be more appropriate

**** Seriously, this is the best description of its expression as we looked from the relative safety of the wall top

Future of Storytelling: Week 1

In which I post my response to the creative task of the week for the Future of Storytelling Mooc:

The Task

Please think about which story you have read, seen, listened to, played or experienced has impressed you most in your life. … Which story can you still very well remember? Write down both, the summary of this story (what you remember of the story, not what Wikipedia says.. 🙂 and – on the other hand: – what made it so special to you that you can still remember it.


YOUR TASK IN DETAIL:

  1. Retell this story by giving a short summary of what you can remember of it. (in less than 400 words)
  2. Think about (try to remember) and write down what fascinated you most about this story. What can you remember best? What impressed you most? … Its characters? The locations? The plot? The style and voice of the story? Or maybe even the surroundings of how this story was told, maybe by your parents, grandparents, or maybe in your first self-read book? Tell us the story OF the story so-to-speak. (less than 500 words)

Your answer could be a simple text/essay … or maybe you prefer creating a story in itself, a poem, an info graphic,… about it. — Whatever suits you best!

For me, this is quite tricky. I don’t think there is any one story that has impressed me most. That said “In the mouth of madness” Is one story that I can always remember.

in the mouth of madness

In it, our protagonist, John Trent, an insurance claim investigator hired to locate the missing horror writer Sutter Kane who went missing while working on the manuscript for his next book (The titular “In the Mouth of Madness”).

This has caused massed riots around the globe as people cannot get enough of his works, even though rumors abound that they are affecting the “less stable” of his readers.

In his investigation Trent, accompanied by Styles ( a representative of the publishing house that hired him) tracks Kane down to the town of Hobbs End – a supposedly fictional town in which all of Kane’s novels were set. It further reveals that the inhabitants of this town know they have no control over their own actions, only that “thay are being written this way”. Implying that Kane is influencing their actions in the world by his writing.

Trent confronts Kane in his sanctum (A huge church, supposedly built on the site of dark rituals) to discover that he is only there because Kane wrote it, and his role in the new novel is to deliver the finished manuscript. It isalso revealed that it is not his writing, he is a conduit between this world, and Eldritch Horrors from beyond (A nod and reference to the work of H.P Lovecraft) and that the more people that read his work, the weaker the barrier between our world and that of the horrors becomes. Kane then proceeds to tear open a rift in space to the abyss beyond, and with Styles reading the book describing Trents actions exactly he flees from the creatures with the manuscript.

Trent then destroys what he believes to be the only manuscript and reports back to the publishing house, much to their surprise as they state he delivered the manuscript to them 3 months before and that the movie is due out next month for those who don’t read the book.

On finding a poster for the movie featuring himself, Trent finally snaps and murders a fan of Kanes as he is coming out of the bookshop. A crime for which he is committed – The movie itself starts with him being committed and we see it through the medium of him recounting the story to a psychologist as, in his words “It’s getting worse out there” as the barriers weaken and people mutate as the horrors pass through and take over our reality. The final scene is set after Trent is able to escape the asylum following something involving the creatures and the asylum – a scene where we hear rather than see the action.

The final scene is Trent in an empty cinema, watching the movie of the book, which starts off exactly as the movie we are watching did and essentially, is the movie we have just scene. Implying that the entire thing was created to complete the transition of the creatures and the end of the world.

What fascinated me about the story wasn’t the gore, or the monsters (You barely see them in fact), but the way it was told. From the point of view of the character inside it, who knew he wasn’t insane, but knew that no-one would believe him as the story was so preposterous and outside of the realms of ‘Normality’. It also, in my opinion is the best film that can claim to be an adaptation/influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, as up to that point Hollywood had taken his stories and turned them into standard horror/slasher schlock. Which misses the psychological point entirely. Examples of other H.P. Lovecraft sories that have been translated very, very badly to film:

The Dunwich Horror:

Movie on Amazon:

Kindle edition of the story on Amazon:

Audiobook on youtube:

Herbert West: Re-animator

Movie on Amazon

Kindle edition:

Audiobook on Youtube

Part of the appeal for me, is likely what made it a bit of a flop at the box office – It’s not got a happy ending. In all the horror movies I’ve seen, the antagonists tend to be dumb almost to the point of being retarded and wanting to destroy themselves. In the mouth of madness has a much more feasible (I would say realistic, but I’m not sure that’s the best choice of words) outcome, especially when compare to something like ‘Scream’

Additionally, a lot of the creatures/events/things in the film are left to the viewers imagination. A rather nice touch to my mind as most people will be able to picture far worse creatures and scenes than even the most imaginative creature designer. It also means that it is a little more of personal experience and personal horror as the audience is required to actively participate in picturing what is not being shown. After all, how often have you seen a horror/mostor movie, only to be dissapointed when the mosters are finally revealed and it’s a rather disapointing rendition of a man in a rubber suit?

Chapter 2: On preposterous elistism

Well, module 2 of the course has come & gone, and I find myself disagreeing with the logic behind some of the thinking.

Already? Yep, already – I’m surprised as well, as I was expecting it to take a wee bit longer beforehand, but then I suppose it’s also good, as it encourages discussion (Or would, if I had joined the forum for the course, which I haven’t as I tend to avoid online forums)

It basically reads as:

What we’re suggesting here is you feed your writer brain with ‘health food’
just as you do the rest of your body. Again, mass paperbacks make good
money for authors and publishing houses. They are read by millions and
they can be enjoyed by very exceptional writers. But you must have a
balance in what you read.
By reading short stories or novels with a literary edge you’ll find that on a
subconscious level your writing will begin to improve. You’ll start to
examine things like characterization, plot, and probably most important,
theme, which is what most mass-market books seem to lack.
Even reading plays like A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman or
Macbeth can offer wonderful insight into characterization, which is a key
element in the short story.

To my mind, he information and reasoning behind this is essentially that if you don’t read “Literary classics” then you can’t be a good writer. I call that preposterous elitism (Or in my usual parlance: Pretentious Bollocks). I read what I enjoy. I try other authors etc on occasion, and if I like the story they craft then I’ll keep reading them.

A perfect example of this is Harry Turtledove.

Years ago I was in one of the book clubs, that send you a random book a month or so if you don’t order anything particular.

I opened one, and it was the first of  Turtledoves “World War” series. I loved it, the whole concept of it and the way he spins the stories. Since then I’ve got shelves full of Turtledoves works.

Is he considered a “Literary Classic”? Don’t know. And frankly, don’t care.

While I can understand the need for examples of story structure, pacing, characterization and overall storycraft, what I don’t like is the fact that they are somehow overall better than anything else.

But then, I have a similar ‘thing’ about most award ceremonies/awards etc like the Oscars, Bafta, and generally, anything that could be construed as essentially patting yourself on the back for no reason than because you can – I mean this as an industry thing, rather than individual.

I’m also not a fan of critics. After all, what they say is simply their opinion, and as such it cannot be right, or wrong. It’s simply an opinion formed from their own preconceived ideas, tastes and experiences. So why people listen to them when tastes differ I will never figure out.

Sometimes I think as a society we are becoming homogonised, and anything that is construed as different is viewed with mistrust, suspicion and downright fear in some cases.

Happy almost-birthday?

Almost a year.

Wow, even for me thats a cracking bit of procrastination.

Or is it? Well, not really.

I’ve not done anything I’ve deemed really worth putting on here. I’ve got myself painting more (See Warped Reality for more on that), and I’ve got myself working on some bits of writing.

Admittedly it’s been mostly for our groups WFRP campaign, and more outlining a setting that working on stories. After all there just wouldn’t be a point to writing a story for a roleplaying group – the players are meant to be the main characters and they are meant to be the ones that flesh out the details in the story.

Not that some of the group have quite grasped the concept, being a little stuck in the hack’n’slash mindset thanks to D&D & similar line ’em up & knock ’em down settings.

The main thing that has seen my return to 1m1k is actively getting on with working on my writing. This has recently (Ie last week) received a huge kick in the behind to get started thanks ironically, to Amazon Local offers.

I had the offer for a comprehensive writing course drop into my e-mailbox with a whacking 89% off! As it was payday, and I’ve been looking for something like that to kick-start me it would have been rude not to sign up for it. So I shelled out the requisite £39. Oddly, 2 days before a free open course on “The Future of Storytelling” has also appeared on the Radar, so I’ve signed for that too *.

The final piece I think has oddly been a new pair of glasses.

For a while now I’ve had problems reading. My tablet has been relatively fine as I can resize the text, but I’ve amassed a large wodge of material that I’ve just not been able to concentrate on.

So I’ve got myself a pair of reading glasses, as well as my regular ones. This was after a debate** with my optician, that I was too young to need reading glasses as I wasn’t 40 or over. (Heh. I love it when an average is used as an absolute value). So I did a bit of work myself (In Sainsburys pharmacy) to work out what lens worked for each eye and ordered a pair online.

I love ’em. They have helped my painting too, or at least the details.

Anyhow, I’m waffling again, probably becasue I’ve got the writing bug, and I’ll have to chopthis down in an edit like a hockey-mask wearing, machete wielding psychopath ‘edits’ teenagers…

There are other things that h ave hindered me writing this year, and painting, and doing a fair few things, and that has been my ongoing battle with depression and low self-image. It’s not been easy at all, but I’ve got a good support network. I may put some stuff on here regarding the challenges*** of writing with depression****

Anyway, time to be off. I’ve got to get myself sorted in time for the Black Library Weekender tommorrow.

 

 

* With the added bonus that the main lecturer on that looks like Deborah Anne Woll in “True Blood” *grin*

** Read: Argument

*** I refuse to call it a problem.

**** Yes, I know. Most people would suggest a pen, or a keyboard.

Opening words…

Me.. Hoom, well.. what to put, what to put…

I’m me. that’s who I am.

Yeah, ok – that doesn’t help much I suppose……

Gamer, Geek, wannabe writer, amateur Foamsmith and Larper, aging Goth, champion procrastinator and all round low-grade sociopath (apparently).

I’m planning to use this bog as somewhere to vent my spleen occasionally, actually kick myself in the backside to actually write, rather than keep procrastinating about it.

 

In the meantime.. Something that makes me chuckle

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