Tag Archives: writing

Input/Output: Feeding Creativity

11 Sep

I have a rule that I tend to follow a lot better than any other self-imposed restriction I place on my life. Its stuck just a little bit behind “brush your teeth every day, you mongrel” and is thankfully ignored far less than “no pints on weeknights”. It’s a simple rule, and one that may seem painstakingly obvious to anyone with a creative drive, but it works for me in so much as I truly believe that it helps to keep me engaged and aware (although it does nothing to further my quest for immortality) and it is this: Consume one piece of art every day.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and so far there has been only one instance when I have been dragged from a museum, wielding a knife and fork, and begging for my condiments to be returned to me. But I adapted, I said to myself, “Gavin, rather than literally ingesting the art – No, hear me out. Why don’t we try this in a more metaphorical sense?”

When I was finally released from the overnight lock-up, I walked to the nearest cinema and instead of running for the projection booth and feeding the roll of film up one of my nostrils, I bought a ticket and watched the film.

I try to do something like this every day. I watch a film, I read a short story or part of a novel, I visit a museum and look through the galleries (now avoiding one particular establishment not too far from my house, the bastards). Every day I feel more accomplished. Every day that I take something in, whether I like or not it, I can feel it change me. I feel my opinion of it form and this shapes another (albeit miniscule) part of my personality. It helps me to grow bit by bit.

When I talk about consuming art, I‘m not talking about the latest Summer Blockbuster or marathoning a season of your favourite TV show. Although I wouldn’t necessarily discount these. I mean something that challenges you, something that makes you question yourself or the world around you. By art I mean something that has been created out of passion. An honest expression, an insight into the mind of another person. Its too easy, for me anyway, to forget that something else exists outside the trawl of normal life. Something inspiring and awesome and just a tiny bit magical. Consuming art helps to curb my overwhelming desire to procrastinate meaninglessly, and it makes me want to create something myself.

I do this because, if I don’t, I find myself sitting in my pants watching the X-Files on Netflix and sucking cheese dust off my fingers while I fight the urge to open a fourth bag of wotsits. “There is nothing in there but cheese,” I tell myself, “and you still have plenty of that beneath your fingernails.”

This may seem like common sense (it is), but it is frighteningly easy to forget how much your creative input affects your creative output, so remind yourself often.

Gavin

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Ego

25 Aug

I sit here typing with my right hand, index finger dancing across the keys. Tap. Tap. Tap. My left hand is raised to my face, a hula hoop tightly hugging each finger. This only works with the big bags now, although I’m certain I remember a time when my delicate fingers fit the smaller ones with ease. I look like some sort of mad king, or perhaps a pimp, or perhaps even some sort of mad pimp king. ‘I should buy a sceptre,’ I say aloud, ‘A crown would do nothing for my hair.’

I shrug my fur-lined coat to the floor behind me and ignore the gasp and crash as someone, presumably a peasant of some description tumbles to the floor behind me. He probably uses public transport, I sneer as he yells something into my ear.

The more I write, the more certain things become devastatingly clear to me and some of these are just so fucking inconvenient for people like me. For a start, its hard work. Who’d have thought it, eh? Actually working at something and constantly trying to better yourself is difficult. It’s a mad world.

Aside from that, the more I write and the more I get absolute nowhere, the more I realise how important having an ego is. Picking up a pen and putting it to paper (or picking up a finger and putting it to keyboard) is relatively easy. Seriously, I could happily sit here for three hours and vomit (metaphorically) onto a piece of paper or keyboard (although who would want to pick the metaphorical bits out afterwords?) and once finished I’d have that lovely glow inside me that is the reward of anyone who likes arranging words in nice patterns. This is wonderful, and in many ways, the most satisfying part. But another part can be just as thrilling; having someone tell you how your words made them feel.

I’ve had people tell me my writing is utter bollocks and I’ve had people tell me that they adore it and either way is exciting. If I’m told that I’ve written something beautiful and eye-opening? Wonderful, my erection for myself just grew another inch. If I’m told my writing is shit? Fuck you, you worthless piece of trash.

Seriously though, it challenges me. It brings me down to earth, which is honestly just as beautiful as it is up there in the clouds sometimes. More importantly, it challenges my perception of myself. This is (so much more often than not) so much more useful than having someone tell you what a wonderfully literate chap you are. And this is when having an ego is important.

Finding praise and even criticism is astonishingly more difficult without the presence of an ego convincing you to force people to read what you have written because it is the best fucking shit ever, because they have no real reason to believe it if you don’t first tell them that it is. This is especially true in an era in which so many people are pushing so much bullshit down people’s throats simply because they have been given the tools to do so. Why should I be willing to look at what you’ve done if you can’t ask me to yourself? And besides all this, when you have been kicked down over and over again, it’s your ego that tells you to get back up and make something better.

Gavin

Organic Writing

1 Aug

I want to promote something I’ve been referring to as ‘organic writing’.  That term has probably already been coined  because, let’s face it, it’s not that clever. But I do feel that it is an appropriate name for what I want to talk about.

Reading around on various writing resources (among those Reddit’s r/writing) I’ve come across various threads, comments and blog posts (usually in the form of a terribly contrived top 10 list) dealing with things that “every writer should do” or “the key to writing as much as possible with the greatest quality”. I’m calling bullshit on all of them.

These lists and posts usually share a lot in common. Some of them are nothing but thinly veiled rewords of previous posts the creator has seen online and most of them don’t even bother with the inconvenience of disguising the fact that they are not original. The most common tips I see on these posts are the ones I loathe the most.

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The Issue With Being Idle

5 Oct

I think my biggest problem in life is probably inertia. Inertia is commonly defined as ‘ the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion.’ (Yep, straight from Wikipedia) If I’m lying in a stupor, playing Deus Ex for example, it’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort to change this. In terms of physics, for an actual particle, when this theory is being used correctly (and not being loosely thrown into some blog) an object’s inertia increases along with its mass. But I swear that’s not true for me. I have never been able to use my tit to wipe grease from my chin. You might think that that’s a pretty strange standard to determine how big someone is, but it works for me.

“I don’t have an unwillingness to move, it just makes it difficult to breathe.”

Whenever I set out to do something, anything, no matter how much I actually want to do it, I find myself putting it off and off. I’m not the only one with this crippling condition and I’m sure that someone can sympathise with me on this. It impedes your social life, the amount of work you get done, feeding yourself and generally prevents you from succeeding at anything. Let’s look at an example:

“I want to be a writer.”

“Then pick up a pen and write, you dumbass.” – I find it’s good to be firm with myself.

“I’ll just finish this game first, I’ll be too distracted otherwise.”

And that’s it. Maybe I’ll write for a while but eventually the inertia will set in. I’ll stop writing altogether and then a while later, a month, maybe half a year, I’ll begin the cycle anew. This is even true with simpler tasks:

“I’d fucking love to go see that new film, The Guard!”

“Then walk five minutes to the cinema you work at and see it for free, you fucking half-wit!”  – Because apparently ‘dumbass’ wasn’t harsh enough.

“Nah, I’ll just wait for a couple of months even though I have nothing better to do.”

That last conversation occurred around two months ago (not literally, I’m not insane) and now, at long last, I have seen The Guard. Simply put, it’s great. Brendan Gleeson’s character has to be one of the rudest, but ultimately extremely likeable, people I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch on-screen. He has no  social boundaries and doesn’t even abide by the law that he supposedly upholds (indulging in both narcotics and prostitutes during the film). The film itself is hysterical. It takes all the obscurity from real people and locations around Ireland and rams it into one small area for an hour and half and it works brilliantly. No part of the film dragged for me, it’s fast paced and by the time it’s over, you’re left wanting more. This might have something to do with the way the film ends, although I won’t say anything more about that in case there is someone reading this who has yet to see it.

“In other wordsh, go watch the fucking film, ye fucking daft cunt.”

If I was going to do a proper review of The Guard, I’d have to talk about a whole lot of other things like plot, other actors, (Don Cheadle, for example, who was also pretty great) cinematography, etc., but I’m not and this was never intended to be a review. Plus, it wouldn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense reviewing a film that has already been out for months.

The reason that I was so excited about The Guard is because of my favourite film, In Bruges. The writer and director of In Bruges, Martin McDonagh, is the brother of John Michael McDonagh who wrote and directed The Guard. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen In Bruges now but I think that finding out the number would probably appall me and lead to asking myself questions such as, “Just what the fuck are you doing with your life, you obsessive maniac?” I think the film is nearly perfect in execution. The acting is great, the plot and dialogue are fantastic and I could probably, quite literally, talk about it for hours. Comparing it to The Guard is extremely difficult, however. The films do share a lot of similarities, both have Gleeson in a leading role, they were written and directed by siblings and they both contain a lot of irish themes. Apart from these points, however, the films are very different.

The Guard takes humour down an entirely different route than that of In Bruges. It’s a lot less subtle. It gets laughs from racism, swearing and general ignorance and in a way so does In Bruges. But there is a difference. In Bruges whispers these jokes into your ear, letting you take what you want, whereas The Guard walks straight up to you, grabs your testicles through your trousers and laughs them right into your face. And it’s brilliant.

A few days ago I watched another film by Martin McDonagh called Six Shooter. I think that watching this was the final incentive that I needed to finally go and see The Guard. It was less than half an hour long and also starred Brendan Gleeson. Six Shooter is a lot closer to In Bruges than I was expecting it to be, I’d heard that it was funny but I had absolutely no idea what the film was about. In half an hour the film builds two extremely deep characters with complex backgrounds out of not a whole lot more than talking on a train and a short prelude. I won’t say any more because I can’t really. Talking about the film would take away from its impact so do yourself a favour, just watch it.

Unless, of course, you’re like me and spend all day complaining about ‘inertia’ because you’re far too proud to admit that you’re a lazy bastard like everyone else.

Gavin

The Long Wait

18 Sep

I think that one my least favourite things in life is waiting. But before I talk about that, I have other things on my mind, so you’ll have to wait.

“That joke was far too obvious.”

I want to be a writer and as any good writer will tell you, the two most important things a writer should do is read and write, a lot. You’ll never get better without practice and you’ll never know what is better if you don’t read. So I’ve been trying to read more and to read a greater variety of things. This is the part I find difficult. If I like an author I tend to stick with them, well within my comfort zone. So forcing myself to read new things is a bit of a chore. I carry a bag around with me a lot of the time and there’s always a book or two in there in case I have an opportunity to read.

It looks good AND you can put your shit in it!

Well, that’s what my initial reason was. At the minute I carry them around to guilt myself into reading them. It just doesn’t work, though. I’ll reach into my bag to take out my iPod or something to eat and my fingers will lightly brush the pages of whatever book I happen to be carrying with me. For a second I hesitate. ‘Maybe I’ll just read a chapter. I haven’t even opened this book yet.’ This thought is immediately followed by something along the lines of ‘Fuck that, I’ll just sit here and do nothing!’

It isn’t that I don’t like reading. I do. But now that I feel like I have to do it, a lot of the time it feels like a chore. I’ll finish Misery soon though. Definitely.

I think a part of the reason for this is the amount of music I listen to. When I’m on my own for any length of time, I’m usually listening to something and I can’t read when I listen to music as I’m just far too easily distracted. If I know a nice lyric is coming up I’ll more than likely completely forget that I was reading in the first place.

“How long have I been in this fucking library?”

Recently I’ve been listening to a few things. Over and over again. Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues is still my favourite album of the moment and it’s been out for months now. Other than that and the usual helpings of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Tom Waits, I’ve been listening to I Come To Shanghai. They’re an incredibly talented band and their new album Eternal Life Vol.1 is fantastic. It’s just great psychedelic pop and everyone should listen to it and give them lots of money.

So, all this waiting business that I talked about. I’m an extremely impatient person and I fucking hate waiting for anything. That’s it really. It doesn’t matter if I’m waiting for something good or bad, it’s still awful.

If I’m waiting for something good, like food that’s cooking, I get excited very easily and time stretches on and on. I’ll talk about what I’m waiting for. I’ll read about it. I’ll glance at the clock every five seconds with tears ready to burst from my eyes with anticipation.

“HURRY UP, CLOCK! I BOUGHT YOU AND YOU WILL DO MY BIDDING”

If I’m waiting for something terrible to happen, its equally as bad. I spend the entire time with my mind on nothing but whatever it is that’s about to happen to me. I dwell on it. I obsess over it and it drives me fucking crazy.

Things should just happen in a series of exciting events with no time lapse in between. In my perfect world there will be no queues. Everything will be instantaneous and no one will be bored. Heart attacks from too much excitement would be a problem, but with no waiting time for medical breakthroughs this won’t matter.

Unfortunately, that world isn’t real so if anyone is enjoying these posts, you’ll have to wait for another one.

Gavin