I guess blogging, like with anything, there’s a time to know when to break the rules. Today, I am rambling just like I used to.
For starters, sorry again for the gap. Birthday + nasty cough = letting things slide. Not that the cough and the birthday were at the same time, thank goodness. I had one, then the other. And talking of my birthday, see photo below!
The Doctor Who decorations and cake kit were a bit of a surprise from my mother. It certainly added a little something to my party, which consisted of four friends and two brothers coming over and all of us stuffing ourselves with pizza then talking geeky stuff until … uh, quite late. Late in my book, anyway. I’m no night owl.
The cough hasn’t been nice. Usually I can stave off colds with what I call my “magic tea”–it’s not magic, just a Chinese herbal tea called Xiasangju Keli. I just have a cup or two when I start getting the sniffles and it clears up–much better than First Defence, which I’ve never liked. I’ve never got a full-on cold since I began drinking it (the time I forgot to drink it aside), though sore throats seem to be something else. Either that or I just didn’t drink enough. Anyway, I’m just coming out of my lack-of-sleep haze enough to be able to write something coherent and hopefully interesting. I’ve spent most of the last few days watching House of Anubis (series two, second time!) and reading Percy Jackson–finished the first series for the second time, and just finished the first in the second, for the first. The two combined have given me some strange dreams and story ideas. I’m itching to write something with weird puzzles and time travel.
Today, for only the second time ever, I did an entry at 750words.com. It would be a very useful site if I remembered to use it more often. I wish I had the gumption to do it every day, but when I look at the little link in my toolbar I think, I dunno what I would write/I feel dry/my brain’s not up to the task, etc. But I managed to get my fingers moving on the keyboard again and spurt out a load of random stuff, some of which I have just re-written for this paragraph! I’m hoping using it will get me back into blogging, and give me more randomness to offer the world.
I’m changing the subject back to the cupcakes, but only because I didn’t want to put this earlier for formatting purposes:
Nothing says “I love you in all your geekiness” like #Dalek cupcakes from Mum on my birthday.
— Alex Harlequin (@aharlequin) January 26, 2014
My copy of You is For University, in which “Nutshell” is published, is in the post! Finally I can see my name in print for the first time. And in my final bit of news, I received an offer for someone to translate some of my Doctor Who fanfiction into Russian! I actually got the request a while ago but I’ve just said yes (I thought I had already for ages). I’ve already had a Harry Potter drabble posted in French … does this make my work trilingual? Okay, probably not, since I’m not doing the translating. But still!
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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.
A Who-ish Season
I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).
I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.
A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.
I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:
It unscrews the other way”
or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:
… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”
(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)
Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.
All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.
In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).
Joke of the Week
(Told to me at Christmas.)
It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.
“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”
He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”
The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.
The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.
Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”
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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).
To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.
Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.
Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.
For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).
What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.
So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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