Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pai Mei

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Douglas Adams

According to people who know about these things, yesterday was the most depressing day of the year. Don’t take my word for it, look here.

But I had a little treat yesterday that lifted my spirits in the most unexpected way. As usual, I’m getting ahead of myself…

To my mind, the worst ailment to afflict the freelance writer is insecurity. Any writer who says otherwise is, probably, a liar. We all work in a vacuum. And variations on the same thoughts flood our heads: “I’m not very good at this.” “I can’t do this.” “My old stuff was better.”

I think I know when I’ve written something good. I’m pretty sure I know when I’ve written something bad. But all creative types have moments when they are convinced that they suck.

Neil Gaiman once asked Will Eisner why he continued to write and draw and tell stories. Eisner answered that he had once seen a film where a jazz musician kept playing because he was still searching for the Note. That’s why Eisner kept working. He was striving for perfection, to finally create something that pleased him, hunting for that Note.

I guess we are all like that. Always looking for the Note, no matter how good or bad we are.

I’ve gone off on another tangent, I know. Bear with me.

In a moment of boredom, I Googled myself yesterday. I make no apologies for this. False modesty be damned! I bet ALL writers with work out in the world Google themselves occasionally.

I found out that a prestigious London university is using the two chapters I wrote for a lovely book that was published last year as course materials for one of their Film Studies degree modules.

Feels a bit weird. Just when I think, "I'm not very good at this writing thing", something happens to convince me otherwise. At least for a while.

Ironically, I could never get onto a Film Studies university degree course when I was younger, and years later, the students are turning to my texts for wisdom. Odd.

The never-was-a-student becomes the not-quite-a-teacher. Wax on, wax off.

Monday, January 17, 2005

All Time Low

The other day, I wrote about how little I have to do in my day job. I’ve finally tracked down the evidence to back this up. There’s a call logging system here, where I’m supposed to record the work I’ve done and the amount of time it’s taken. Obviously, I don’t log every single tiny thing I do, but this is a pretty good indicator. When looking at these figures, bear in mind that I’m at work for 7 and a half hours a day (not counting lunch breaks here), 5 days a week. Also, I started working in this job towards the end of August last year. And now, those figures in full:

August - 4.166833337 (Yes, that’s just over 4 hours. Just over half a day's work.)
September - 0.25 (I know. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s 15 MINUTES of work done in my first full calendar month working here. Scary.)
October - 14 (The highest monthly output so far. All the more impressive because I had two weeks paternity leave in October.)
November - 11.83333333
December - 11.16666667
January (so far) - 9.933333333

Which brings me to a total of 51.35016667 hours work done since I started in this place. Which is just under 7 days work in total. George Costanza would be proud.

So, when I say I’m bored, I’m not bullshitting you.

And a bit of site news: You may have noticed that the Links section on the right-hand side of the page has now been expanded from bloggers I know personally to include blogs I visit on a regular basis. I heartily recommend each and every one of them. Happy surfin’.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tic Tic Bang

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.” Red Smith

As part of my ongoing drive to become a Better Writer, here are some irritating writing tics I’ve identified in my work that I want to eradicate in 2005:

1. An annoying attachment to alliteration. Obscenely overused and unbelievably ubiquitous.
2. A stunning, towering and epic over-reliance on adjectives and superlatives.
3. I’ve never met a deadline I liked. Time to make friends with some of them.
4. Probably linked to my innate ability to procrastinate endlessly, but I seem to start a lot of things that get abandoned or left alone, never to be looked at again. Time to start wrapping up some loose threads.
5. Over-use of some dodgy metaphors and similes. I rely on them like a pimp on his stable of hos.

No doubt there are more unruly kinks that I need to violently pummel into submission, but I think this little lot will keep me busy for now.

Some links to read:

Why being anonymous on your blog can be a Good Thing, and why Waterstone’s have just bitten themselves in the ass.

The e-mail scammers get scammed. “When all above seems a great test, Get on down with the Holy Red Breast.”

Friday, January 07, 2005

No Static At All

What a week to start the year.

The whole tsunami thing is still blowing my mind. Utterly depressed to see Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake make the front page of The Sun today in lieu of actual news. You would have thought that everyone’s worldview would have shifted a little bit in the last week. You would have thought wrong.

The death of Will Eisner continues to make me sad. I know he was very old, and I never knew the man personally, but I’m taking it quite badly. Which is adding surprise to my sadness. Read The Will Eisner Reader the other night. Started Last Day In Vietnam yesterday. Determined to work my way through every Eisner book I have on my shelves in the coming weeks.

I can’t get Steely Dan’s FM out of my head at the moment. It’s been bopping around between my ears for days now, and no matter how many times I play it, I can’t seem to exorcise it. Not sure I want to, to be honest. I’m quite enjoying the feeling of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker jamming in my frontal lobe.

The wind has been screaming outside my office window all day. The BBC website says: “Gusts of 80 to 90 mph will uproot trees and cause structural damage to buildings. Driving will become extremely dangerous.” Treacherous wind.

Time to prepare for my evening. Got a press screening followed by beer and chat and ting.

And I’m exhausted. No change there, then.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Beef Jerky Time

Billy Ray Valentine: Merry New Year!
Clarence Beeks: That's "happy." In this country we say "Happy New Year."
Billy Ray Valentine: Oh, ho, ho, thank you for correcting my English which stinks!
(Trading Places)

Back to work. New Year, Same Ol’ Dickheads.

I had to get through the familiar seasonal refrain from the phalanx of fuckmooks for the first hour or two of the day. You know the one. It goes like this:

“Good Christmas?”
“Yeah, it was alright. You?”
“New Year?”

Repeat ad nauseam.

Meanwhile, here’s my first nominee for Utter Bastard of 2005.