one of those days…

Today has been a weird day. I have been trying to write something – more specifically, a poem – all day. When I read over what I’ve written so far, this is what happens  (emotionally):

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be not afraid of greatness

Stumbled across a really big opportunity today – a traineeship advertised by the European Commission. I have no idea if I could do it, but I’d be able to use my languages. And it would be for the EC… Thing is, it doesn’t seem accessible and I think it’s way beyond me.  What shot does a trans guy with a heart machine who is currently unable to travel have at attending a traineeship in March next year?

Still, it’s gnawing away at me. I want to apply, even if I can’t actually go (as if they’d call me up anyway!). It just seems like too big an opportunity to miss. Sure, there’s always next year, but who’s to know where I’ll be then?

But if it’s such a big chance, then why am I hesitating so much? 

 

 

illusions of control: Michael Herr on war #amreading

As a fantasy and ancient history enthusiast, I’ve only recently started getting into reading about modern history; to be honest, I only really started properly caring about the First and Second World War after I studied them as part of a distance-learning course on theatre. So I decided to start reading Michael Herr’s Dispatches, a book on war that I’d actually heard about (I can’t remember where, but I remember reading it was a book that reinvented war reporting).

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Image of the cover from the Picador website

After struggling a bit with the language (took me a while to get used to reading about ‘gooks’ and ‘spooks’ and ‘grunts’, as well as the ‘VC’, ‘DMZ’, and the ‘NVA’), I really started getting into it. Reading about war reported in such a way that doesn’t glorify it – without getting too lost in the political details either – made me realise how little the human race has changed over the centuries. Of course, this isn’t news for anyone who’s read a bit of history: it stretches back all the way to classical Greece and beyond. Even then, wars were fought for all the known reasons: political control, gain, and of course to cultivate and/or protect certain people’s ‘interests’ (that is, to keep feeding the fat cats and warmongers).

That’s not to say the human race hasn’t created wondrous things- like art – but there is so much room for improvement… anyway, I’m probably not the first (or the last) to realise or say something like this (and, let’s be honest, many people before me have expressed themselves much more aptly), so let’s skip straight to what prompted me to write this post today.

In the section I’m reading right now (titled ‘Breathing In’), right at the end of the 3rd chapter, Herr starts to discuss things like when the Vietnam war actually began, whether certain killings are considered part of the war or not, how the authorities (in America) had claimed it was going to be a short war, and so on. In this part of the book, he describes something that (for me) strikes a terrifying resemblance with what’s going on in the world today. Some people, if they could draw a line from the Vietnam war to today, might even go so far as to point out that ‘the war’ has never really stopped.

Question is, what do we do about it?

 

That fall, all the Mission talked about was control: arms control, information control, resources control, psycho-political control, population control, control of the almost supernatural inflation, control of terrain through the Strategy of the Periphery. But when the talk had passed, the only thing left standing up that looked true was your sense of how out of control things really were. Year after year, season after season, wet and dry, using up options faster than rounds on a machine-gun belt, we called it right and righteous, viable and even almost won, and it still only went on the way it went on.

Dispatches, Michael Herr

#CampNaNoWriMo July 2016: status report 5

Currently at around 32000words (just above, if I’m not mistaken). After being interrupted so often over the past few days, it’s been taking a while to get back into the swing of things. But I’m close – in terms of words, the bulk of it is done. Storywise, I’m not sure anymore… Quite sure I’m close to wrapping it up, but it still needs work – maybe more than 18000 words or however many I have left.

Argh, come onnnnnnn, Muses! Forget invocations, I’m just going to yell till they pay attention…

Admittedly, the ideas have kept flowing, I just haven’t written them down yet. I’ve taken notes, though, in my little red book… It will have to be replaced soon!

How are y’all doing with Camp NaNoWriMo?

In other news, the Open University UK has sent me the official acceptance email! Yes, that’s right, you are looking at a postgraduate on the distance-learning Creative Writing Master’s course! I actually can’t wait! 🙂

Also, got my first proper translation and editing gig – it’s paid (and not by someone in my family!). Yay! 🙂 Might be doing another translation for a friend for script development funding, but that remains to be seen! Exciting news either way!

Squee!

#CampNaNoWriMo July 2016 : status report 4

I know, I know, I’ve not kept up with the status reports daily. Bad Wolf!

Aside from falling behind with my word count, new scenes and ideas have emerged that are forcing me to rejig the plot a lot. I told myself I’d keep tip-tapping away at the keyboard without looking back at my inconsistencies, which seems to be working so far. I have managed to ignore that voice saying ‘go back and rewrite it NOW’ for a while – I have no idea how much longer I can fight it for.

Anyway, I realised that my characters are a bit all over the place. I’ve got them in two different time periods – classical and modern – and the modern plot is crawling along in comparison to the classical one. Also, I have no idea how the modern plot is going to end! The reason for this, I think, lies in the fact that the classical plot is basically Medea’s story – could be a waste of space at the moment (probably too much backstory but I won’t worry about that right now) – so I know more or less where I’m going with it, even though I’ve made up a lot of things about her (it’s fiction and myth, after all!).

Without spoiling it too much, I can safely say that she’s not turned out as evil as the dominant mythology has portrayed her. I’m not entirely sure why, though. After reading stuff around her for months, she hasn’t yet become the embodiment of Evil in my writing (of course, this might change in future drafts). More a tragic/misunderstood figure…

This doubt I have about Medea’s character has led me to one big question: does she kill her children or not? The rational side of me is saying that I’m the writer, so I have control over the story. Another part of me is saying that the jury is still out on this one. Because not knowing such a ‘vital’ element of her has been bothering me quite a bit, I spent this morning trying to tackle the murder scene.

So, of course, I looked up ‘painless ways to kill someone’ (I know, writer’s browsing history…). I figured that if she did kill them, then surely she’d try and do it quickly/painlessly, since though being a child-murderer, she was still a mother – their mother (writer logic!). I found a forum that provided lots of ideas and ways to kill someone (the original question posted involved a character being killed mercifully during a battle) but none of the ways they offered seemed to appeal to me (or well.. to Medea). However, what did help greatly came from something the writer-poster had said: they planned to write out different versions of the scene and see which fit best. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner! I’ve already been doing it sort of without realising it – my current draft has piles of scenes that conflict with other scenes because I changed my mind about a character or a plot point a few pages later. But that’s what first drafts are for, right?

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that Medea herself will do her bit as well and nudge me in the ‘right’ direction. (fingers crossed!)

As for the modern side, I have no idea where I’m going with it yet. It’s taken on a life of its own and is moving at snail speed. It’s become a weird cross between a mystery story, the Godfather, conspiracy theory and an epic journey (like Lord of the Rings). Trust me, even I don’t know how that happened. I think I know how it’s supposed to end but I don’t know how to get there yet. I suppose I shall have to keep writing and see!

May the Muses and the Goddess help us all!

(Disclaimer: I’m not religious/spiritual in any way, but hey, I’m not about to turn down help if they offer it!)

 

#CampNaNoWriMo July 2016 : status report 3

Argh, so annoyed with myself. I fell a bit behind today (day 3). My  5000 words didn’t start flowing till late in the afternoon – when I took a break, I was about 3100 words into today’s word count.

Admittedly, writing that scene between Medea and Jason today was incredibly satisfying.

Alas, as my desk is in the open-plan living room, I kept getting interrupted – mainly by my parents. To be fair, they mean well, they’re only trying to let me know they care (I think). At random points throughout the day, they asked me what I was writing about, and what word count I was on. Then there’s my dad – who gets very fidgety when he sits around doing nothing for too long. He kept asking me whether I want to go for a walk or a drive. I wanted to get ahead with my words first, before I actually take time away from the computer. We only went for a drive after 3000+ words.

Aside from the interruptions, a friend I’ve not seen in 2 months came to visit and left about an hour ago. After she left, I sat down to plonk out a few more words,  just so I don’t feel so lazy.

After an hour of writing, I’m just 900 words shy of my daily, which isn’t too bad. Hopefully, I can make up for it tomorrow. That means hitting almost 6000 words in one day. It remains to be seen…

Current official (total) word count: 14136.