Monthly Archives: March 2010

Flying

This afternoon I go on holiday, but the relief at having a few days off is tempered by a familiar, nagging feeling of dread as the time approaches. As I get older, I’m becoming more worried about flying. I don’t know why – after all, it’s statistically more likely that Kerry Katona will marry John Major than my plane will crash. Nevertheless, when my flight’s taxiing onto the runway and the roar of the jet engines start to rise, my heart rate will go along with it.

This fear isn’t something that keeps me awake at night (yet) – it’s just something that I think about on the day. Maybe I get it from my mother, who is notorious for making friends with Mr Vodka before venturing onto a plane, such is her blind terror about flying. Maybe it’s just that I’m thinking a lot more about what could go wrong these days. “Oooh, that wing seems a bit flappy. Hmmm, those smears near the engine look a lot like… scorch marks.” Maybe it’s just the unnatural concept of man going so many thousands of feet up in the air that gives me pause.

Once the plane’s up, I’m fine. It’s just the waiting and the take-off that bother me. If there’s even the slightest vibration or dip during the climb, it’s “Ohmygodwe’regoingtodie” territory. Even though we usually don’t.

I just have to remind myself of the odds. See you if – when – I get back. Or before then, if I can get on the Internet at my hotel, sangria in hand.

Just in case I can’t, Happy Easter to all.

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Certainty

“Nothing like a deadline to bring out the best in people, eh John? Isn’t that what you always say?”

True, that line of dialogue is spoken by my main character Sebastian in my novel Certainty while he’s pointing a gun at the head of his ex-boss, but I still appreciate the sentiment. I get on a plane in 18 hours, and the massive edit is finally finished.

Well, I say finished, but only really in terms of getting to the end. There’s a nip here, a tuck there, and a terrible performance in Fantastic Four still to go. I lost 12,000 words down the back of the sofa during the process. How careless. The full book’s more than ready to be read by all and agenty, but there’s always further tightening that can be done. I’m happy with it, mind. Bits that I thought were strong, weren’t, and then suddenly were; while dodgier parts were rewritten and made far more interesting. Superfluous adjectives went the way of Labour’s death tax plans (bit of satire for you there, ladies and gents), while overlong sentences were distilled. Down. Into. William Shatner-esque. Delivery. But not that. Much. Honest. There’s some joke here about channelling my inner (Lee) Child, but I believe I’ll postpone.

“Escaping into the din of the Planet Telex nightclub seems like the perfect way for Sebastian Leonard to forget about being sacked and dumped on the very same day, but after blacking out while talking to the enigmatic Laura Anderson, he is further pulled out of the sleepwalk of his late twenties when he wakes to find a digital display in the corner of his vision, counting down from eight hours to his inevitable death. The condition’s name: Certainty.”

That’s the premise, but here’s the promise: Certainty is just the beginning.

I have a few relaxing days on holiday to figure out the extremely enjoyable, Blair-Witch-meets-Seven, found footage extravaganza: One of Six. This follows the story of a documentary crew filming a routine assignment for an obscure cable channel – a fly-on-the-wall borefest about a bunch of office cleaners – which quickly becomes a serial-killer-tastic psychological thriller. Talented directors, beware. This is going to spec up your inboxes before too long.

Of course, I may just play a lot of Infinite Space on the DS. That is a danger. Oh, and get drunk a lot. Could happen. Let’s just hope there isn’t a karaoke night. Whatever happens, I’ll come back with something.

As discussed in yesterday’s entry, I have no idea what internet access will be like in my hotel, but hopefully I’ll be able to sort something out.

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One a (Holi)Day

Crisis! On Wednesday I go to Majorca for six nights, for a cheapie break. I need it. I’m going to have lots to eat and drink, lie by the pool for a long while, read a lot, write a bit, and generally relax with my lovely wife. It’s been a stressful couple of months.

So what’s the problem? Everything’s great, right? Well, while I’m certainly very much looking forward to the holiday, there’s a minor snag. I’ve been writing at least one blog entry per day as part of this whole One A Day thing for the last two and a half months now, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that I’ll be able to get onto the Internet in my hotel. Potential disaster!

A policy therefore needs to be decided on, as it’s an issue we One A Dayers have kind of skirted around. Does being on holiday grant me a bye? Or do I have to make sure, by hook or by crook, that I get something down every single day while I’m overseas? (No doubt “exciting” entries about the weather, and beer, and how I don’t know any Spanish.) Why on Earth is this issue causing me to doubt the very premise of my well-deserved holiday? Truly, One A Day has sunk its teeth into me good and proper. Failure is not an option. And yes, queuing up six entries to post before I leave (I’ve thought about it, of course!) would be cheating, and against the spirit of the venture.

What’s acceptable, then? I’d love your opinions, whether you’re part of the One A Day network or simply a casual reader of this blog. But remember, fellow One A Dayers: any policy would then also apply for your own holidays later in the year, so decide carefully!

It’s over to you, then. Please comment underneath this post, or message me on Twitter. Majority vote carries. Democracy in action. Yes we can.

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STOP PRESS: Express Latest!


Image courtesy of enemiesofreason.co.uk

It’s Monday morning! It’s the Daily Express! So what’s on the front page?

IT’S DIANA TIME!!!

Go home, Chris Morris. Your time is up.

(May I remind the Express that Diana died in 1997. Over twelve years ago. Since then, they’ve printed over a hundred front pages about this utterly fucking delusional conspiracy bollocks. Beyond parody. Beyond a joke.)

EDIT: The Express moved the original article somewhere else on its website. Link updated.

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The Last Mile

The last mile of a marathon is the most difficult, so the saying goes. Bloody right it is, too. I’ve been sitting with two chapters to go in my mammoth edit for a few days now. It’s like I don’t want to finish, and it’s a familiar feeling for me. Rather than piling in to make sure something’s done, I have an unfortunate habit of getting distracted.

In short, I’m my own worst enemy.

But is my reluctance to finish simply because I’ve really enjoyed the editing process this time around, or is it because I’m afraid of the final two chapters? Maybe a little bit of both. Having so long to think about everything in the novel recently has brought about a few little changes to the big action sequence at the end, which have made me roll my eyes, thinking, “How the hell am I going to write this?” I can do it – I was just exaggerating to myself for effect – but the different conclusion to the chapter may have ramifications further down the line.

I tend to talk like this, and it’s a silly thing to think about at the moment, really. After all, if the book’s picked up, I’ll have ample opportunity to talk everything through with an editor and make a final decision. I know that. For now, though, it does feel important and – who knows? – this bit could be the difference between representation and non-representation (in fact, that’s been the paranoia about much of the new edit, but never mind). The original end to the chapter was pretty cool but also rather bleak. I was already thinking about the next book, and maybe went too “plot” with it. The new conclusion retains much of the flavour of the original, but goes far more for character. It feels like the culmination of Sebastian’s journey in a way that the original didn’t. But it also has implications for future stuff. I’m excited about them. Hopefully I’ve gone in the right direction.

As I come to the end, I’m left with the question of whether what I’ve done is good enough. It feels nice. But then again, even the first draft seemed great, only to later (with new eyes) look rubbish. Self-doubt strikes again. “Just do your best”, you’re told, “and that’s good enough.” Well, not for me. It’s not enough to be good. In order to make this work, I have to be great. And I have absolutely no idea where the truth of my writing ability lies. I read other people’s work, and it astonishes me how well it’s been constructed. Then I’ll read something else and wonder how the hell it was ever published. How much does success in this industry rely on raw talent, and how much is about being in the right place at the right time with the right material? I don’t know. I just have to hope that the stars align. It’s a good story. I just hope I’ve executed it well enough.

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Cinema

Bit of a disastrous night tonight. Went to see Kick Ass at the cinema (director’s lounge. Reserved, assigned seating) with my wife. The following things went horribly wrong:

1. Missed the bus.

2. Upon arrival at cinema, put bank card in to print out pre-reserved tickets. Printer failed. Staff didn’t know how to get the info on the seats we’d booked. Lady at counter asked which seats I’d booked. Gave best guess. Lady booked new reserve seats just in case. For some reason, she had no ability to see what I’d originally reserved. Suspicion from printout that card may have been charged again. Will check on Monday.

3. Went to screen to guess seats we’d booked. Couple came to sit in our first stab at seats. Moved. Another couple came to claim the seats we then moved to. Moved again. Clear by now that the seats we’d booked in the middle of the cinema (only sure of the general area) were now taken. Some twats had sat in seats which weren’t theirs. Noted with dismay that even our newly booked reserve seats were also being sat in. Finally found unoccupied aisle seats. Stress rising.

4. Adverts came and went. Film started. Not Kick Ass, though. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo instead. General laughter. Couple of people went to complain. Five minutes later, real film started.

Luckily, Kick Ass was amazing. Seriously amazing. Put in a complaint after the screening and outlined disaster. Free tickets get. So I suppose we’re kind of “up”, overall. But it was one of those nights when ineptness was an epidemic.

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Roger Boyes

The major news today (yesterday) wasn’t about Lewis Hamilton pretending to play Project Gotham Racing 2 in real life, or that the US and Russia are cutting 30% of their nuclear weapons arsenals.

Come on, this is 2010. The important stuff is spotted by the web. The real news, according to Twitter, was that a story about the “Vienna Boys’ Choir caught up in sex abuse scandals” was written by a journalist named Roger Boyes. Double entendre-tastic, no? However, what initially seemed to be a brilliant Private Eye-esque joke byline, is sadly a real person. Now immortalised in Wikipedia.

Inevitably, the story quickly shot to the top of The Times’ most read articles, once again proving how influential social networking can be in virally spreading entertaining rubbish. And that the spirit of the Carry On films is still alive in Britain today.

The other thing that Twitter encourages at the moment is amusing hashtag topics to get everyone’s satirical heads on. With the news of tax relief for UK videogame developers came the hashtag “#culturallybritishtaxbreakgames”, and a series of imaginative Tweets on the subject, the best of which have been collated here by Chris Schilling.

Investigation, controversy, satire, humour. Is there nothing Twitter can’t do? Apart from letting people have a proper conversation, of course.

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