Nov 01

NaNoWriMo 2020

Hello everyone,

As the title of this post suggests, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. If you are unaware NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the purpose is to motivate writers to set and reach a target before the month ends, normally 50,000 words. If that sounds herculean, it might help if I said that you could cut that target down to 1600 words a day. If that still sounds outlandish you could divide that by three and write 533 words in three different sittings.

I’ve completed NaNoWriMo in both 2018 and 2019 but this year, like every other aspect of our daily lives, things will be different. Due to the pandemic there will be no physical events. Normally we would go to a cafe in London, I particularly favoured the Pret on Hanover Square and spend a good afternoon writing. We would also visit a famous city close to London (last year, we had a day trip to Oxford in which I managed 9000 words) and have an all night write in. All of these events have, understandably, been cancelled. Instead all physical sessions have been moved online and will vary across different platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Discord. I’ve downloaded everything I needed to, I’ve created my manuscript, mucked about with the formatting I’m penned my first two thousand words.

My manuscript’s working title is Gridlock. A father and son become trapped in gridlock on the Dartford Crossing (also known as the QE2 bridge) and realise there is a killer amongst them.

I plan to post a mid month update and second post at the end of my month evaluating my progress.

If anyone else is taking part, let me know and we can buddy up.

Until next time.

Oct 31

Five conspiracy theories that were proven true

There is little scarier in the world than a harsh truth…

We live in a world full of misinformation. You may have seen the conspiracy theory floating around online that claims 5G is responsible for the Coronavirus. I will admit that I don’t understand the difference between 3G or 4G on my phone or how it works but I do know that 5G is not linked to the pandemic. I know this because I watch the news. I’m sure if there was a link it would have been discovered by now and been plastered on front pages across the globe. What surprised me, and greatly worried me, was how many people were blindly sharing this theory online, including one of my old teachers! However, if you pardon the cliche, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Occasionally one conspiracy theory will be proven correct and send shockwaves across the globe.

I thought for halloween we could touch subjects that are truly horrifying. Here is a general trigger warning for this article.

Here are five examples of conspiracy theories that were proven true:

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Sep 20

How can you bring a dead actor back to life?

In 2013 the Walt Disney company produced a short film titled Get a Horse which was shown before Frozen in cinemas. In Get a Horse, Mickey Mouse attempts to save Minnie by traveling between the 2D 1940’s cartoon world and the modern day cinema. If you want to watch the film in question there is a recording below but the quality isn’t perfect. It’s about eight minutes long.

While Frozen was a runaway success, Get A Horse is notable in it’s own right. It was the first time Mickey Mouse was seen in a film of his own on the big screen since 1995, the film also featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit the original Disney mascot and finally the film marks the first time that Walt Disney supplied fresh lines of dialogue for the iconic character since his death.

That final fact may seem wrong at first glance. Walt Disney died in 1966 and Get a Horse was released in 2013, forty seven years after his death. While most of Mickey’s dialogue was re-used lines from his original cartoons the producers were unable to find a recording of Walt Disney saying the word “red” in Mickey’s voice. Mickey comments that his clothes are red when he transcends from the cartoon world to the real world for the first time and without this comment, producers felt this plot-beat would lose some of its impact.

This situation raises the question: How can you bring actors back from the dead… and should you?

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Sep 06

Top five most expensive versions of books

I have worked in many libraries and as such I have organised the books in my house into the duodecimal system. I have four drawers of books. The first drawers holds books between A-G, the second H-P, the third P-Z and the fourth holds stationery. I’m very happy (and can I say proud?) of this system. The only downside is that when I can’t find a book I know that it is because I no longer have it.

The other week I searched my collection for a book about ghost stories in Kent. Although I’d read the book once, and if I’m honest I didn’t enjoy it that much, I’d seen on Facebook that first editions of this book were now worth several hundred pounds. I pulled open the drawer, searched through my books only to find the it missing. Then I dimly remembered putting it in the pile for the charity shop several years ago. D’oh!

This got me thinking. What are some of the most expensive books out there? Here are those answers.

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Aug 17

Rant and Rambles: What happens when you can’t tell fact from fiction? 

I don’t like the term escapism. I think it sounds at worst patronising and cute at best. Although I don’t like the term, I do agree with it’s meaning. I love reading a book or watching a TV show and escaping from a real world to a fictional land if only for a few minutes. Needless to say, millions of other people across the world feel the same way but what happens when you you are unable to tell the difference between fiction and reality?

This rant and rambles post was inspired by an interview I saw with Lena Headey who played Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. When asked how she was greeted by fans Headey explained how she was once stopped on a street and called a “fucking ugly bitch”. In case you don’t know the character Cersei Lannister is a main antagonist in Game of Thrones and is guilty of mass murder, rape, insest and countless other crimes. Needless to say, Headey herself did not commit these crimes and the Game of Thrones TV show, despite being inspired by real historical figures and events, is fictional. The dragons are a dead give away. Headey later explained in the same interview that when she was at Comic Con with Peter Dinklage, fans would go out of their way to avoid her and ask Dinklage for his signature.  I was confused as to why not just one indivuial but several hundred would treat Headey this way.

Lena Headey

Left: Cersei Lannister. Right: Lena Headey

This isn’t an isolated case. There are countless examples of actors being mistaken for the characters they play. Some of these examples are quiet humorous, especially when the actors respond in character. When Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the original Star Trek, was approached by student scientists asking him to read their work Nimoy would take their paper, read through it for a couple of moments and say something along the lines on “I think you’re going along the right lines, keep going.”

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Aug 02

Rants and Rambles: The Muses

Sing to me, oh muse, and let thine inspiration run true. 

 

Is that how the Odyssey starts? Well it all depends on which translation you’ve read. I’ve just paraphrased several translations of the opening stanza and stuck them together to create a point. The Greek writers, when reciting their work to a crowd, would  pray to the nine muses asking for their favour. While things have been hard for me recently… I’m not that desperate.

Hello everyone and welcome back to my writing blog. After an unplanned hiatus of two and a half months, I’m back. Almost.

Writing has been difficult for me during the past couple of months. It isn’t Writer’s Block as I still have the itch to write but I’ve been lacking the mental energy (and the time!) for writing. The reason behind this is that that I am working from home full time and at the end of the day I feel drained. Although I have over ten articles in various states of completion, I have been unable to edit these. While this has been irritating and down right maddening for me (like many writers I rely on the act of writing to keep myself sane) there are obviously people around the world who are enduring much worse.

I have booked several days off this month in order to resume my craft. I will return to those articles,  complete them and then and continue posting until Christmas. I can’t promise that these articles will be released exactly two weeks apart but they will serve as something I can aim towards. As a quick side note, all my goals for 2020 have been scraped. Can you believe that one of those goals was “Explore more of England/The World”? No way that’s happening anytime soon.

While we’re here I want to touch upon a topic that is relevant to the above and a topic that I have wanted to discuss for some time on this website. The muses!

Muses

I wasn’t joking when I said ancient Greek writers would pray to the Muses before a public reading. The nine Muses (and the rest of the Greek Pantheon) were an accepted part of life to ancient wordsmiths. In Greek Mythology the Muses are the daughters of Mnemosyne (memory personified) and either Zeus or Apollo depending on which version you are reading. Each Muse had a certain genre or subject assigned to them.

Calliope – Epic poetry

Clio – History

Erato – Love poetry

Euterpe – Music, song and lyric poetry

Melpomene – Tragedy

Polyhymnia – Hymns

Terpsichore – Dance

Thalia – Comedy

Urania – Astronomy

Aside from delivering writers inspiration, the Muses also played a minor role in the Greek myths. They performed a singing contest at Mount Helicon which causes the Mountain to swell up with adoration. This resulted in Poseidon summoning Pegasus to trample the mountain back into shape. The Muses are also present at the singing contest between Pan and Apollo and witnesses to Apollo cursing King Midas with the ears of an ass. The Muses also had a darker side. In some versions they are responsible for the murder of Orpheus by ripping him limp from limp.

Donkey ears

Does anyone else think that Donkey’s ear are cute?

In the modern age the meaning of the word Muse has slightly changed. Now a Muse is normally a person who’s beauty inspires an artist, musician or writer. A Muse can also mean something that fills you with joy like a morning cup of tea. While I like the idea of nine beautiful Goddesses whispering ideas into my ear or drinking from the font of inspiration I don’t believe in either notion. Sorry. I can already hear the fictional Goddesses plotting their revenge.

I don’t know where my ideas come from but they don’t come from dancing Goddesses or magic potions. They’re just… there. In my head. I don’t know when they entered my head and I often don’t remember when I first started thinking about them. All I know is that suddenly, I’m turning over a new idea in my head looking at it from all angles, like I’m solving a rubik’s cube.

My mind is like a motorway, with ideas whizzing about.

Hopefully you’ll hear from me soon.

 

May 12

Five Year Website anniversary

Happy anniversary!

Hello everyone. I wish we could celebrate this milestone under better circumstances.  Five years ago today I created and published my first post on this website. I won’t go into too much detail about that moment because I spoke about it not that long ago in February when I celebrated by one hundred and fiftieth post. I will say that when I started this website I didn’t realise that it would still be running five years later.

If you have been watching and reading at any point in the past (quickly checks Google) 1826 days, I thank you.

I don’t have any new content to share at the moment but I can provide you with a quick update from myself.

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Apr 23

Rants and Rambles: Who was the real Shakespeare?

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing your best to stay healthy during these trying times.

It is currently week five of the UK quarantine. The death-toll from the Coronavirus in the UK has surpassed 18,000 people and globally over two million people have been infected. I don’t wish to make light of the situation but it does sound like the start of a dystopian novel.

quote-i-wish-it-need-not-have-happened-in-my-time-said-frodo-so-do-i-said-gandalf-and-so-do-j-r-r-tolkien-34-71-59

Last week I was meant to be on a writing retreat in the South Coast but this was cancelled due to obvious reasons. It is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. Instead I have been plotting out website posts and while doing so I noticed that noted that today is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.  As such I’ve decided to examine the Shakespeare Authorship Question. I hope you enjoy!

 

Today, four hundred and fifty six years ago, William Shakespeare was born. Or was he?

Shakespeare

I’ll admit that I never used to be a fan of the bard. I think the problem was I had been forced to study Shakespeare at school but when I choose which texts to read I found them more enjoyable. In particular I found Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth deliciously complicated. When you consider that the man we call Shakespeare wrote thirty seven plays and over one hundred and fifty sonnets that we know about, plus co-writing and contributing with various other writers, in an age where most of the population were illiterate, it is  remarkable. To capture such a wide range of human emotions perfectly, emotions that still resinate with the audience hundreds of years later. If the man existed, the man was a genius.

If. I’ll admit that I do believe that there once lived a man called William Shakespeare and that he did write all of his own work but I do find the Shakespeare Authorship Question fascinating. In this Rant and Rambles post I’ll be examining the question, who was the real William Shakespeare?

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Mar 22

Coronavirus Update

2020 is going well so far, isn’t it? World War Three was threatened at the start of the year, most of Australia was on fire and now the Coronavirus…

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars

Hello everyone, I hope you are keeping well in these difficult times. As you are no doubt aware, the world is currently in the middle of a health pandemic. The Coronavirus, also known as COVID 19, has at time of writing killed thirteen thousand people, over two hundred of which are in the UK.

The UK Government has taken drastic measure to slow down the spread of the virus.  Everyone is to either work at home or stop working for the foreseeable future, apart from key workers. All restaurants and businesses have shut aside from take out deliveries and supermarkets. Everyone is to practice social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and public transport. I think it is safe to say that everyone in the world has been effected in some way by the Coronavirus and everyone in the UK will know someone who has/will die from it.

I am working from home, for the foreseeable future. I am in good health as are my family and I have a good support network in my friends. The main impact on me at the moment is that I have canceled by writing retreat at Easter and that I currently have less time to write. I’ve also been less active on social media due to preparations for working at home. A small price to pay compared to others.

The purpose of this post is just to say that my future articles will be posted more sporadically. I have articles already written and many more planned but due to the on-going health crisis I don’t feel comfortable publishing them right now. When the Coronavirus has passed normal service shall resume.

I want to end this short post with a quick message. Listen to the Government and follow their guidelines. Don’t attend public gatherings. Don’t panic buy and keep an eye on each other. Although it seems like the world is a grim place when you read about people stealing toilet rolls, hoarding food for themselves and selling hand soaps for outrageous prices there is still light in it. Supermarkets in the UK have special shopping hours for key workers and the elderly. Businesses such as Netflix and Audible have made their shows and books free to help people in quarantine and self isolation. On our street the neighbours have started a traffic light system, giving us signs to place in your windows, to show if you need help or not.

 

This is one of my favourite quotes and it is now more apt than ever.

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough…”

– Lemony Snicket.

Mar 08

Spitfire Review: Doctor Who series 12

Last week Doctor Who series 12 finished broadcasting and the internet is riddled with reviews, fan theories and opinions. It was certainly a decisive series and I thought I’d add my voice to the mix.

Doctor Who

Generally I think that this series was more enjoyable than the previous one and I think a large part of this was to do with expectations. Series eleven had a lot of objectives. It had to introduce a new Doctor, new companions, a new TARDIS and a new dynamic and feel to the show. While series eleven met some of these goals (if you want to read my in depth review of series eleven click here) series twelve was not bound by restraints, the groundwork had already been set. You could also argue that series eleven left the bar low for series twelve to succeed.

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