Seeing as it’s most of the way through February, I figure it’s about time to post an update here. Try to keep things somewhat regular in terms of posting on here.
At the start of the year I was mulling things over regarding writing, particularly with a view to doing posts for here or Irish Comic News. My main focus was to try and find things to read to try and improve the writing, be it websites, magazines or books.
As luck would have it a non-fiction book featuring such names as Warren Ellis and Alan Moore appeared on my radar (cover pictured below). It was an instant purchase for me, both as a fan of some of the writers involved and as a possible source for learning more about writing non-fiction.
The book was a wonderful read. It will definitely be one of those books I frequently re-read. It has a great variety of voices and styles. There are twelve pieces in total examining the ‘spirit of places’.
What quickly became apparent (from a learning point of view) was what each writer discussed, as well as the details they focussed on in their respective contribution. It emphasised the idea of the writer bringing something to a topic that only they can bring to it. Something to make it unique from a piece that another writer would have written.
Another thing was the almost conversational language used in the various pieices. It generally felt as if I was sat at a table listening to the writer tell their story. Which is close to what I’d like to get to with the reviews and blog posts. Definitely would like to avoid dry and stuffy writing which would just put people off. I want to try have the writing read much like what it is to listen to me chat about comics. That’s ethusiastic, interested and probably a bit giddy for those that I’ve not chatted to!
It’s an excellent book that I really recommend to people if you want to read some good non-fiction.
I’ve a couple of other non-fiction books in the pile but I’ll fill you in on them once I get a proper read of them.
On the art side of things, I managed to get back into the swing of doing some drawings during the week. I’ve included the most recent drawings I did below. That’s all for now.
I’d started to get back into the swing of some writing and drawing and that competition was just the sort of motivation/goal to aim for. It’ll give a bit of focus to things. If nothing else, I’d (all going well) have a four page comic done. That in itself would be a good result.
In another comic related note, I’m very much looking forward to the Image 25 year celebration organised by Big Bang Comics. Should be fun!
August was the month that finally put me in a venue with Tesseract. They are a band that I have really wanted to see live since my brother gave me a listen to one of their albums. The band are a metal band that have a strong emphasis on the melodic side of metal. Their songs sweep and surge until you are dragged into the undertow. As you can guess, I was a fan shortly after hearing the album.
The band were in town as support to Lamb of God. Their set was fantastic with the sound system in the venue doing the band justice. All of the melodic parts and heavier parts were there in their aural beauty. If there is any justice in the world Tesseract will soon be huge in the metal music scene. I’ve embedded one of their songs below for any of you that are interested.
I decided this month to try and fit in more comic reading into my week. Thankfully I have a nice selection of graphic novels to help achieve this goal. The first series I decided to re-read was Y: the Last Man.
I read it about two years ago and remember really enjoying it. The main reason I chose it as the first comic to read this time was the lack of superpowered or supernatural characters. All characters are pretty much human, secret agents and ninjas notwithstanding of course.
The premise is a simple one, and you’ve no doubt guess by the title, what would happen to the last man on Earth? Would the Earth become a utopia free of war and conflict once men all die off or would things be much the same as before?
I’m enjoying the second reading of the series and finding it to be funnier in parts than I remember. It’s a good series if you’re looking for a comic to check out.
August was also the month a wookie came to town in a luxury car. The cannonball run passed by neck of the woods early one Sunday morning in August. A rolling convoy of expensive cars with the passengers and drivers in fancy dress. There were a variety of costumes in the group but naturally the wookie was the highlight of the bunch. It was great to see so many people taking part and the large number of people that showed up to support it also.
I had originally planned to make a concerted effort at NaNoWriMo in July. The first few days went pretty well. The wordcount was a little on the light side but I was still making progress. Then the heatwave hit. I was convinced that I was going to evaporate at one stage during the month. This of course made it very difficult for me to do some writing. Watching TV was as much as I could handle after a day in the office surrounded by computers.
That’s not to say that the month was a total write-off. The bit of the novel I did manage to type up has provided enough content to keep me interested in continuing the story. It needs a lot of work but I think I might be able to make something of it.
I managed to see a couple of good movies during the month. The first one was Hedgehog. A wonderful French film (which I later realised I had an English copy of the novel on my ‘to-read’ pile). It’s set in an apartment building in Paris. There couldn’t have been more than twenty characters in the movie and it was entirely set in the building but it was a joy to watch. It’s a film I’d highly recommend to anyone that is looking for something different.
The other movies were Brave and Robot & Frank. Brave was an enjoyable movie but I’m probably a little biased as I’ve not seen a Pixar movie that I didn’t like.
Robot & Frank was another film I really liked. Frank is an ex-jewel thief living by himself and suffering with problems with his memory. His son arrives to his house one day and gifts him with a robot aid. As you can guess by the title of the movie, it is the unfolding relationship between Frank and the robot that is the focus of the movie.
Myself and the brother managed to get down to Cork to see West Ham play Cork City in a friendly at Turners Cross. I hadn’t seen much of any Irish soccer teams playing before, and what I had seen was less than inspiring to watch. But the match was actually a good game of soccer. Cork played a good game but were outclassed by the Hammers with the final score being 6-2 to the visitors. After the match, we took the “long” way back (i.e. stopped for a beer in most of the pubs we found on the way back to the city centre). A good way to spend a weekend in Cork. It’s a city I never fail to have a good time in.
July was also noteworthy as it was my dads 60th birthday. Unfortunately he was out of the country on the actual day of his 60th. That didn’t stop my siblings and relatives from throwing a successful surprise party for him when he returned. Myself and my siblings had planned to bring him for a few beers before the actual party. We planned to keep him on the opposite side of the town from the party venue.
My dad almost managed to throw a spanner in the works by coming into to town much earlier than he normally would when going for beer. We had to try and keep him in town as he normally only has a few beers and then is in a taxi before we know what is going on. Things went to plan in the end. He didn’t have a clue the party was happening and was delighted to see family and close friends waiting for him to celebrate his birthday. Needless to say, we had a struggle getting him to get in the taxi at the end of the night. He was in flying form.
I’m cutting it a bit close this month but I’ve managed to get the blog post in before the end of the month.
The first piece of news is that I have finished my latest module. I passed the four assignments and just need to get a pass in the exam to get a passing grade. It was the first time in almost ten years that I had to go to an exam centre. Thankfully the exam itself seem to go well enough. I was writing up answers right up to the end of the allotted time. Hopefully that’ll be a good omen for the result of the exam.
With this being the first month without study obligations to fulfill, I managed to get a nice amount of reading done over the month. The study can tire a person out at times. This means that I wouldn’t have much energy for reading some evenings. That was not to be the case this month. And because I had so much more free time, I was able to vary the reading material. I picked up some books that would be introductary reading on philosophy, ethics and logic. Some of it was tough at times but it was worthwhile. It’s an area that I have been wanting to read more about and I finally managed to make a start on it this month.
The extra free time in the evenings also means more time has been used to write. It has been generally been going well. With the increased frequency in writing, it has also become more obvious where the problems are with my writing. The biggest being that I seem to lack focus. I start writing a story and it goes well for maybe a thousand words. Then it just fizzles out. I have managed to be talked into taking part in NaNoWriMo next month (July). If last November is anything to go by, this will be a great excercise to train myself to focus. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge!
I’ll leave you with a video of a song by Venna. I discovered them during the month when I was going through my new music purchases. The album is outside the type of music I would buy regularly but it has been a welcome change. The video is of them performing “Quitting Contest”. That is the song that jumped out at me on the first listen. It has managed to infiltrate the back of my mind and set up a bed there. I hope you enjoy it also.
It seems like I missed April entirely. Time seemed to just whizz past and before I know it, we’re most of the way through May.
The studies required extra time so the writing had to take a back seat for most of the month. I did manage to get some reading done, including my recently purchased copy of Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman. I had seen the video around the time it had been orginally uploaded to the web.
It was just the sort of speech that made a person want to just start painting, writing or any other kind of art. The speech had the type of message that I really like, essentially telling everyone to make good art. We can all draw inspiration for various moments in our life and use it to create our art.
The book arrived at a good time to keep the spark of creativity going in spite of all the time given over to the coursework. I did manage to make some notes for some story ideas and I’m hoping that once mid-July comes round that I’ll be able to make use of them.
I’ll leave you with the video of the speech by Mr. Gaiman. I highly recommend it for anyone that wants to do something creative.
The adventures in writing are still continuing. This time the hurdle is characters, more specifically, a lack of personality with most of the characters.
The characters are only fulfilling their requirement to any given scene in a story. They generally don’t seem like actual people, which will make it somewhat difficult for a reader to care about what happens to them in a story. One of the books suggests doing an imaginary interview with a character to get a better feel for the character. It’s actually quite fun, so much so that I’ve managed to spend a bit more time on this exercise that I probably needed. But I’m not on a schedule for any writing, so I can afford to indulge myself a little.
It has been fun since the last blog post doing the tasks. It has just reinforced the need for good characters in a story. As a result, I’ve been paying more attention to any reading I’m doing to see how the characters are developed. I’m trying to get an idea of what I like/dislike and trying to understand if there are good reasons why the writer went the way he/she did with a character.
The plan is to try and write a same piece but have some good character development in it. Even if it’s only two people chatting in a queue at the local supermarket.
Come in, come in! The weather outside isn’t fit for man nor beast. I’m half expecting to need a canoe to get to work in the morning if the downpour continues through the night.
The writing is continuing to go well. I think part of this is down to the new fitness routine. It has me in a good mood more often than not. Which is a great help for having a more positive attitude to any new tasks I’m trying out.
I managed to get a nice number of pages done for a story. The only problem is that it reads like it is trying to be something out of the Wheel of Time series. I’m very happy I managed to get it down on paper, even if it isn’t something distinctly mine.
I’ve started to appreciate that I need to work at the writing. I expect that as I do more, it will begin to read more like my writing and less like the sum of my influences. Focusing on doing the writing in little steps is definitely helping the motivation. The next task is to have more focus when I sit down to do some writing.
Thanks for stopping by. You can warm yourself by the fire until the storm passes.
Hello again. I know I’ve been remiss in not posting more frequently. But if it’s any consolation, I had a great blog post done but then the neighbours giraffee at it.
Anywho, I’ve managed to keep up with the regular writing excercises. I’m still enjoying them but I really want to be more focused and produce a finished short story. It’s very hard to judge where the writing is at if I don’t have anything finished to see what level it’s at. Well at the very least, it should provide some motivation over the coming month to get at least one short story done.
The books are still providing some useful tasks to do in an effort to hone the writing skills. There are also quite a few interesting quotes from successful writers that go some way to demystifying the process.
Outside of the writing, I’ve managed to make a decent dent in my “to read” pile. This is good as I’ll be back studying in September, and that’ll mean a lot less reading time will be available to me.
So that’s the lay of the land currently with regards to the writing. Thanks for stopping by and see you again soon.
The blog has now passed the first month, and wheels have come off of it yet. It’s also the first month of making a serious effort at the writing. I’ve managed to grab some time each day to scribble down some imaginings that spring to mind, as well as do some free-writing also.
I’m really growing to like the free-writing excercise. Mainly because it gets me into a mode where I’m able to capture the ideas on paper. The notebook is also filling up with some nice surprises that could be potentially good stories as a result of the free writing.
The books that I’m reading about writing are quite helpful with suggesting excercises and avenues of thought to explore in the writing. It’s good to have suggestions of topics that I probably wouldn’t try out if left to my own devices.
It’s been an excellent first month. Getting a bit more confident and motivated with the writing, and also realised how much I missed it. SO here’s to another fun month of writing.