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re-master

 

I really dislike remastered music.

Why do people tinker with classic music? It isn’t for the listener, and it doesn’t improve the record. Sure, it might render it even more hi-fidelity, but it doesn’t make it sound better.

As a lowly, independent writer, even I know that when you get to the point where editing is changing but not improving, it’s time to stop. As an advocate for lo-fi, I know that some of the world’s best music was recorded in mono, live, with a microphone. Music shouldn’t sound like diamond-cut glass.

If a musician is tempted to remaster their back-catalogue, perhaps instead, they should record something new. And if they’re no longer inspired to create, they should go do something else.

Just stop fiddling. It doesn’t make it any better.

gimme some…

I have a sweet tooth.

I’ll happily miss a meal in order to eat chocolate. Or biscuits. Or both. Make that two or three meals replaced with sweets. I’m good.

But sugar increases the rate and severity of the chronic migraines from which I suffer. It turns up the dial from a liveable 4 to an unliveable 11. There are also the other health issues related to excessive sugar and carb intake that are so obvious as to not require description.

A couple of years ago I cut out all sugar and most carbs, and the migraines almost went away, plus I lost about 30lb in weight, which was all good. Recently though, I’ve drifted into the sweet tooth thing again, so about ten days ago I took myself in hand and cut out the sugar and carbs. Still going through withdrawal, and getting about three or four migraines a day (up from two or three a week) but I know that will pass, and I’ll begin to feel better.

But.

It’s so boring!

tick…

 

I was searching for something online and accidentally found myself 0n TikTok, though it took me a few minutes to realise where I was.

By which time I’d watched about 30 short films.

A couple of hours later, and I can’t remember a single one.

 

cover

 

My failure to finish yet another generic-Netflix movie got me thinking. Last week, my girl Jas was watching an old 1940s musical movie on TV. I didn’t know what it was, but within moments I was hooked. I knew that I was in the hands of an actual movie maker, with a cast of performers who knew their trade.

You could not have called it realistic, people were singing and dancing art the drop of a hat (and yes, they all wore hats), but somehow it was more believable than most of the stuff I try to watch.

I think they used to call it entertainment.

 

 

As a random side note, the ancient verb ‘tain’ means to hold. Entertainment means the business of holding onto people who have arrived. And treating them well.

 

hit

I started watching The Hitman’s Apprentice on Netflix. It’s got Tim Roth so I’m like, why not?

I quickly began to note the references to a 1984 movie The Hit, which also starred Tim Roth, and this movie follows a similar path, except that in The Hit, Roth plays the junior partner to John Hurt’s experienced assassin. In this one Roth plays the older, grizzled killer.

It isn’t a copy as such, more of a riff based on a riff. Elements are similar; the mood; the dynamics between the killers; the road-trip-to-nowhere. Roth’s character even uses a similar gun in both movies, a nickel-plated snubby.

Instead of deserted, grimy, mittel-Spain, we’ve got deserted, grimy, northern England. And instead of the shock when Hurt’s character coldly kills the Roth character, we know from early on what is supposed to happen.

Someone, probably Netflix, changed the title from The Liability to The Hitman’s Apprentice. The movie is on pause right now.

I might finish it.

 

Note: I didn’t finish it.

dough

You come to a point after editing where you have to put away a story for a while. Then, when you got back to it, all the rough bits stand out, you excise them, maybe rearrange a few things, and it’s done.

It’s a bit like baking bread. You knead the dough and then you let it stand for a while. You do this a couple of times and it’s ready to go in the oven. I’ve got two stories going through the process of just standing, doing nothing, waiting, which means I have June and July free of the obligation to write.

Which gives me the two months to get on with actual life.

 

diverse

 

People are keen on being neuro-diverse right now.

I guess it’s part of an ongoing attempt to define ourselves against the world. My feeling, when I was a teacher, was that most of these diversities are just facets of what makes us us and, sure, you don’t want to be loaded down with a destructive personality disorder or condition, but up to a point they work for us, not against us.

My long-term walking pal, Wilson, is obsessive, and that’s fine, cos we never get lost and he brings all the kit. But to an extreme, it would be debilitating: I had a neighbour who was afflicted with OCD and she could barely function. She was fully sentient, very intelligent, but her condition trapped her in a maze of logic which ensured, for example, she could not take the medication that would have made her life bearable.

As a former teacher, I got to try out all the psychological tests on myself and, I’m happy to report, I’m not psychopathic, nor autistic.

But I do have ADD. And dyslexia.

Before I took those tests I used to just think I was messy and had a butterfly mind. And I always knew that general lack of structure, apart from making my WhatsApp conversations a bit random, is one of main the reasons why I write fiction, my imagination is pretty much unhindered – nothing is off the table: everything is possible*. It’s also why I have about forty unfinished books (despite my Rules of Writing #2 being “finish what you start”).

I can read though, it’s my favourite thing –  and if the letters float about, well, I got past that when I was three years old.

Another facet of my own disorderly mind is that I need to write a list of jobs every day, in order to properly function.  My good friend Ernie, who did have autism, though we didn’t know it back then, and I think we would have called it Asperger’s, told me he had to organise his life to the most minute degree, because otherwise everything fell to pieces. And when, one day, despite his efforts, his carefully structured life fell apart, so did he.

I’m not like that, I cut myself slack if I don’t tick every box, but I need the list as a scaffold, a guide, to my day.

I began writing this to say that, within reason, being special is not so special, it’s just a facet of being you. But then I listed two people, my next-door neighbour Helen and my good pal Ernie, whose lives were destroyed by their psychological ‘facets’. Maybe I’m being glib. Mental issues can be awful if they assert control, and while some facets of my behaviour can cause me difficulties, they’re part of me, and I embrace them.

Others struggle.

 

 

*Knowing that everything is possible is why I’m still scared of the dark, because, well, you can never be sure.

 

 

attack the space

 

Being left-handed means that the standard approach doesn’t work. You can’t just do it the same, but with the other hand. Ask a butcher if he’s ever tried using the bacon slicer with his left hand. Ask a boxer or a tennis player if they employ the same tactics as their dextrous opponents. The answer is an emphatic no. It doesn’t translate.

Living on the sinister side means finding your own path. Or not. When I was a teacher I found that lefties occupied a disproportionate number of seats in both the top and bottom sets. Very few were in the middle ground.

Whether by design or adaptation we’re naturally awkward. I think it’s why my approach to the literary industry is so counter-intuitive. I only have contact with an extremely limited number of people in the business, the less the better, and it works for me. It’s an adaptation of game theory, I guess.

Gary Lineker, one of England’s greatest goal-scorers had a technique for scoring goals. He said “attack the space”. Go where the ball is not, because if it does by some chance land at your feet, you’ll find yourself alone, with an open goal. American car racers talk about driving into the crash rather than avoiding it, because by the time you get there, the crash will have moved. From what I understand, Nassim Taleb based his trading approach on long-term, unlikely outcomes. They didn’t profit often, but when they did, they profited big.

I don’t think I have a choice in how I think, or write, or in my approach to life in general, but even if I did, I’d choose the path less traveled. I embrace it.

list

 

Was doing a bit of admin this morning  and I realised that there are only five more books that I need to write*. Writing interferes with my life. I spend a lot of time in my head, looking inwards when I should spend it in the world, looking out.

I feel a responsibility towards the characters in my stories, they have a right to be set free, a right to life, and that’s one of the reasons I write, but it’d be nice to not carry that burden.

 

 

*there are lots of other stories I could write but probably won’t.

 

 

 

I’m in the habit of reading from my kindle.

Tidying my shelves today I discovered about ten unread books on a lower shelf that that have been bought for me as presents over the last couple of years. I’d set them to one side to read and then forgotten about them.

Ten books!

I feel like a kid with the keys to the sweetshop.