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Thursday 27 August 2009

A Night Out

Last night I went to the cinema - I only went due to Orange Wednesdays (might as well use the offer) and we chose the film with a coin; the outcome was The Time Traveller's Wife, so that's what we saw. OK, so I'd heard of it, I even had a very vague idea of what it was about but didn't really expect much and as it was late I certainly didn't expect the cinema to be completely jam-packed with people, only a few seats left. But it got me thinking. Perhaps the pastime of going to the pictures isn't as lost as I had thought. You can't blame me for thinking it. Most people have a DVD player and many have countless DVDs - it's no surprise with many of them cheaper than going to the cinema. But I can also see why it has stayed. Films are impressive and there's plenty of choice. It isn't that expensive (though certainly not as reasonably priced as when I was a kid), there's the atmosphere if you have the right audience and if you're like me you fill your stomach with rubbish - ie. popcorn (it has no calories if you're on a night out), and it gets you out of the house somewhere where you know you won't have to put too much exertion in - let's face it, it involves sitting down for 2-3 hours. But is it the only pastime that has stayed? I don't think so. We still play board games, when I was younger we played hopscotch and cats-cradle. I don't know what traditions have been lost, after all, they are lost, but I'm happy to keep to those we've kept and those we're now creating.

And yes, the film was quite enjoyable - had humour, sensitivity and a different kind of plot.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Names are important. Many parents pore over baby name books for hours trying to find the name that will suit who they think their child will be, some wait til the child is born to make sure that the name truly does suit. Writers are the same. I almost always know the character before I give them a name. When I say I know the character I'm not talking about how they look, or even what their favourite things are (actually this usually comes after the name) but how they speak, what they say, what they mean (yes these are completely different). The name completes the character and it is my personal belief that if the name is wrong then it won't work - something I'm currently experiencing with the main character of my novel in progress; I haven't got his name right and therefore I don't completely know him which leads to the fact that I can't write him, or the story, convincingly.

It is not just parents and writers who struggle with names. Names are important to everyone. When we hear a name, most of us immediately our own imaginations about that person. Not only that, but we are all trying to project the right image. The internet allows us to be who we want to be, and many of us use psydoenyms or screen names, which have taken possibly hours, days, weeks to create. Especially as we don't want someone else's name and so have to be more inventive and creative if we don't want to add long lists of numbers to them.

But why do we spend so much time deciding names for either ourselves, our children, our characters? I think it's all about perception. Even though we are constantly being told we can be who we want, that we shouldn't worry about what other people think of us, we are also being told the exact opposite. Media is constantly bombarding us with the 'ideal' person and so we choose to follow or react against them - either way, we are making a conscious choice about how we want to be viewed. And as I mentioned earlier, the name is the first thing that creates the image - people view the name and judge the name before the rest of the person is even considered. So what image are you projecting? What does your handle say about you?

Friday 14 August 2009


I often think to myself that I don't have any ideas for my writing - that's my blog, short stories, poetry, even my journal on bad days. I feel like my imagination is draining, that age is stealing all my childhood fantasies away, leaving me with little to write about. This, of course, is complete rubbish as the phrase 'write what you know' is still, I believe, the best source of anything worth reading, and therefore, writing. But working out what you know, that you would be able to turn into an interesting string of words, is harder than you would think. Try it now - think of something you know: a fact, a theory, what happened in Eastenders last night - now turn it into a idea. OK, so I've just disproved my point - I'm guessing you are full of ideas this very second. But was that because I prompted you - would you have been able to dig through everything you know and chosen something without them? So, the first point - write what you know (yes I know I'm repeating it), second point - everything you know can be converted into ideas if you can decide where to start. And my last point - if you can't decide what to use - find something new. Look around you, listen to conversations around you, watch how people move and I guarantee that you'll see something that sparks your interest. Remember that if it sparks your interest, the chances are, it'll spark someone else's as well.

So now all I have to do is follow my own advice. It's all very well to dish it out - and no doubt you're thinking this sounds very textbook - but it does work and it has worked for me, now I just have to get motivated enough to keep going and once those ideas role in, have enough motivation to keep writing and writing and writing. As without the words, nothing will be written.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Car booty

So I was at the car boot today - not because I particularly like them (though I have been known to procure some really great deals) but because they remind me of my childhood. When I was younger my dad would go to the car boot every weekend (at the moment he's going 2-4 times a week!) and so we would all pile in the car quite early (at least early for us) to spend our pocket money. As the years went on, less of us would accompany our dad, until it was just my brother who would get up for it.

Going today reminded me that many people I've met from elsewhere in the country have never been to a car boot. At this I've always responded with shock and disbelief that they've never visited something so traditional. But perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it isn't traditional for anyone else, it's a local thing and also a thing our family happened to do. This got me thinking about childhoods though. We all know how we were brought up, we all know what things were unique to our family, yet we never thought they were unique until we see the rest of the world and how they live their lives. Every family is different, every life is different, but we just assume (particularly when we're young) that everyone understands how we live our lives at home. I, personally, am very interested in other lives, the intricate details that no one talks about, the part that is hidden from me because it's so normal and natural to them that they don't even notice it is different from your own life.

Perhaps this fascination is what fuels my writing - I want to discover the differences and similiarities between individuals and highlight them through my characters. And that is the challenge - to write so everyone can relate (or as many people as possible) yet the characters have to be individual, not generic, and interesting. Else, who will want to read the words and listen to the tale being told?