Saturday Waffling (November 15th, 2014)
Well. It’s been a while since we’ve waffled, hasn’t it? I suppose that means I should give a sort of update on work. I’m most of the way through the next Last War in Albion chapter, and hoping to finish that in the next week or two. After that, the Secret Doctor Who Project will become my main focus until that’s done.
As for books, the Logopolis book is through the first round of copyediting, and I’m sitting down with those edits imminently. After that, I’ll start the Davison/Baker book.
So, what’ve you been up to?
November 15, 2014 @ 12:37 am
I'm currently collecting survey data on fans of the art-rock band The Residents, with questions such as your favourite albums from the group, your other favourite bands, your home country and age. With luck, I'll start to find correlations so that I can build a recommendation engine. Someone new to the group can say something such as "I like They Might Be Giants" and then the page can, with some confidence, say "you'd like The Commercial Album." And maybe it can work the other way too. You say you like "Meet The Residents" and the page can say "lots of people who like that album are also fan of Swans. Maybe you should check them out."
The survey was filled with open-ended text questions, so this weekend I am cleaning up the 1000+ responses to get everyone spelling their top albums and bands the same way, then I can see if there's anything useful in there (it could still turn out that regardless of your age or location or taste in music that the numbers will always point to Duck Stab).
November 15, 2014 @ 2:24 am
I'm getting ready to go to a wedding today, so hopefully that will go fantastic. Though it will also be the first time I've seen an ex-girlfriend since we broke up. Hope that goes well.
I've been spending a lot of time being disappointed with Doctor Who fans who are transphobic on tumblr, and honestly the less said about that the better at this point. UGH.
I had no idea how much I missed waffling! And waffles. I should make waffles.
My Kickstarter I've been running is in its last few hours, so if you like books, take a look (its all funded at this point):
November 15, 2014 @ 2:36 am
Once I get at it, today will mark the halfway point of my NaNoWriMo book. So that's been a thing I've been up to instead of waffling about Nintendo games.
November 15, 2014 @ 3:35 am
I'm also spending November trying to write more, although I'm not doing NaNoWriMo – I just don't have the time (or an idea). I'm also slowly working through my long list of things to watch.
Pen Name Pending
November 15, 2014 @ 5:32 am
I'm the same way; I started a new idea near the beginning of November so I created a NaNo account just to keep track of my progress, and surprisingly it's actually motivated me instead of stressing me out, even though I still only have less than 4,000 words total.
November 15, 2014 @ 5:44 am
I'm quite busy at the moment. I recently won the New Dramatists Club screenwriting competition, which means I am spending the next few months working with an established TV script editor to develop a series pilot. So what with that, my paid work and a weekly D&D 5e game, my schedule is pretty packed. I might not even have time to finish thi
Pen Name Pending
November 15, 2014 @ 6:04 am
I am embarking on yet another fruitless Googling session to find another blogger who critically examines YA literature in the context of the fact it may not always be "wonderful" and how it contributes to whatever the answer to the "What the heck is YA anyway?" question. I mean, understand that no one aside from me ever thought of doing the TARDIS Eruditorum of teen fiction (which I want to try eventually, in a brief version, because I just don't want to read every single bestseller), but as someone who never quite related to those stories as a teen, is a bit frustrated at the marketing and content of the genre as it is now, and gets annoyed every time a journalist calls Harry Potter "YA," I've got a lot to say. But all the critical blogs are all actual reviewers or otherwise are in love with this genre. And being in that stage in between starting a major project and building up to it because I don't have the time to start said major project is frustrating.
I'd be interested to see outsiders' perspectives of what YA is, actually, if anyone wants to comment. (The most frustrating thing is that, more often than I would, the marketing and preconceived notions about certain tropes are all-to-present.)
November 15, 2014 @ 6:13 am
Really busy at the moment running outdoor activity sessions for adults with Dementia and Alzheimer's, and working also at developing my storytelling practice into new areas to work with therapeutic Narrative practices for various client groups including children, adults with mental health difficulties and trainers.
November 15, 2014 @ 6:37 am
I've been extremely busy in my day job recently but some of the new things I've been doing for that have had the benefit of inspiring me to get back into writing. Among my first efforts is a write-up of last week's Doctor Who: Anatomy of a Hit event, here if anyone's interested: http://ombund.tumblr.com/post/102551900232/doctor-who-anatomy-of-a-hit. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up and do some more.
November 15, 2014 @ 8:43 am
I'm in chapter 3 of my second novel; a sequel to my first, which came out in July. You can find the first book here: http://www.amazon.com/Phineas-at-Bay-John-Wirenius/dp/1499177321/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
November 15, 2014 @ 9:38 am
I went to an excellent and chilling dramatic reading of two of Robert Aickman's 'strange stories' last night, namely 'The Hospice' and 'Wood'. It was at the Museum of Bath at Work, and the three performers and other punters were all really nice. Great venue.
I am now in the process of writing up some of my own strange, ghostly stories which I intend to print in a very small run and give to friends and family at Christmas, in black envelopes.
November 15, 2014 @ 10:24 am
My take on YA comes almost entirely filtered through my friendship with Claire Hennessy, so my impression is that it's basically soft porn only younger and everyone is worried. (In case she ever reads this, I KID, I KID)
November 15, 2014 @ 10:41 am
Since last time I have become a not-entirely-terrible electric bassist, which is partly method-writing for my nov in which one of the main characters plays the bass (not as well as I do, though, bless her). When I get back to writing it soon I will be able to add such authentic details as "it knackers your shoulders up far more than an electric guitar does" and "Rio by Duran Duran is bloody hard".
November 15, 2014 @ 11:26 am
Scanning some Public Domain comics to share and playing video games. Will watch episode 3 of The Time Warrior later as part of my episode a day viewing of all of Doctor Who. Enjoying the weekend, in other words.
November 15, 2014 @ 11:30 am
I have read a bit of YA, and my impression is that it is often very good, when it isn't full of irritating love triangles and teen stereotypes. Unfortunately, it's also hard to find stuff that doesn't have an abundance of sex scenes and swearing, neither of which I will read (or watch). But when it's done right, it's very compelling. The same goes for children's literature, except the issues there aren't sex and swearing (obviously), but instead letting quality slide because it's "just for kids."
What Happened To Robbie?
November 15, 2014 @ 12:24 pm
Am preparing to release a solo EP of jagged meditations on freedom, mysticism and art which takes inspiration from Sonny Sharrock, Derek Bailey & James Ulmer as well as Debussy, Messiaen, Albert Ayler & Ornette Coleman. If it goes the way of my last 2 EPs it will be listened to by about 10 people 🙂
If anyone's interested then here's a preview https://soundcloud.com/jacob-solstice/freedom-i-preview
Doctor Who wise I just bought all the 7th doctor stories I didn't have on DVD and am planning a McCoy binge. Am also tempted to watch all of the new series from Rose onwards as well.
November 15, 2014 @ 1:01 pm
Halfway through chapter 25 and on the final stretch of my children's fantasy novel The Changelings. Looking for somewhere to live. Thinking about some kind of drama performance next year. Not doing any teaching for a while.
November 15, 2014 @ 1:19 pm
That's funny. I've been waffling on about Nintendo games instead of working on my book. Though for me, it's not Novel Writing Month but Novel Rewriting Year. Every time I go over it, I find something I really don't like to the point where I've started procrastinating obscenely just to avoid that feeling. Not good considering it's intended to be a Christmas gift for my mother.
…I think I might get on that right now.
November 15, 2014 @ 2:03 pm
That sounds fascinating. I'm working at a rather lower level, one suspects, in trying to get a one-act play concept into a form that will appeal to a group specialising in pub theatre. And why not?
November 15, 2014 @ 2:25 pm
November 15, 2014 @ 2:40 pm
Why not indeed? Getting your stuff performed is great. There's a group in Cambridge called Write On that do new plays in a pub environment and who are always looking for new material – it might be worth looking them up.
November 15, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
I'm in San Diego, to lecture on Aristotelean ethics and left-libertarian anarchism at the Libertopia Festival.
November 15, 2014 @ 5:09 pm
I don't really understand what YA is for.
OK, I'm a 41 year old man, so it's not aimed at me and my opinions are basically irrelevant, but having gone on about how busy I am I am now drinking cider and listening to Black Sabbath, so I'm going to answer you anyway.
When I were a lad, there were children's books, and there were general books. The children's books included authors like Willard Price, Enid Blyton and my favourite at the time, Terrance Dicks. Some books of a kind that we would now call YA were just shelved with the general books, such as David Eddings, the early Heinlein novels, and so forth.
To an extent, pulling those books out and giving them a category of their own makes sense. However, I feel that it supposes a rather rigid model of how people progress in reading.
At the same time as I was reading these proto-YA books, I was also reading actual adult books by the likes of Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick, Douglas Adams, H G Wells, Robert Graves. I don't think I would have been well served by a category called Young Adult.
I think my problem with it is a fear that in creating such a category we are implicitly telling teenagers that proper adult books are not for them yet. That seems like a limiting thing. I was reading Dostoyevsky, Goethe and Nietzsche on the bus home from school. Would I really have been better off reading material that had been judged to be age appropriate?
November 15, 2014 @ 5:15 pm
If there's three things I hate in this world, they'd be Call of Duty, Mega Bloks, and Irony. I've started to collect Call of Duty Megabloks, namely the highly articulated and customizable "microfigures". I lie to myself and say it's because they're the perfect basis for d20 modern figures, but that's not true. They're all guys, and they're all military (except for the astronauts, which I'm also going to get as soon as they're in a five pack) so they'd make a pretty restricted party. Luckily, they're also making assassin's creed figures and improving their Halo figures to the same standard of quality, so there'll at least be some more variation. Yes, try as I might to justify it as an expenditure for my tabletop gaming group, these are basically just my new cocaine.
Speaking of cocaine, I've been working through Deadly Premonition. I love the atmosphere, and it has one of the most cohesive open world concepts I've seen in a game (a northwest town done at full scale with a high level of non-violent interactivity) but the tremendous gameplay deficits really bring it down. A full-speed collision with an oncoming car does the same damage as bumping against a traffic cone, and no matter how fast you're going, you'll never knock down a chain link fence. There's other obvious and much storied problems with the gameplay and general execution, but having just come off my second viewing of Twin Peaks, the chance to immerse myself in that world is too much to resist.
On something approaching blog topic, my custom War Doctor figure's improving. He's based on the Benjamin Hornigold figure released by McFarlane toys, with a bandolier from the same line's Blackbeard figure that I've stuffed with assorted useful tools. I tried to imagine how the War Doctor would have geared himself out at the height of the war. Given the character's usual beliefs, it seems like this is the only time that could justify him carrying an actual firearm, but even then with a Doctor-y twist. I've got him with a very neat little sonic screwdriver I made of headphone jack and some red transparent plastic, a ball-peen hammer, a fuse from a christmas light strand (it looks like some kind of bomb or giant battery, I think), a hunk of sprue that looks like a tuning fork (not strictly necessary with a sonic screwdriver, I suppose), a nailgun, a scarf, and a stupendous revolver that, in my mind, is loaded with paintballs. The last stage of the custom will be to get ahold of the official War Doctor toy's head and put it on this guy's body. Until then, he's probably just a Meanwhile duplicate made by the Could Have Been King, I figure.
Pen Name Pending
November 15, 2014 @ 5:47 pm
@Iain, that's exactly part of my problem with it. Now, my local library at least has the sense to shelve things in the teen (and even children's section) that they know kids those age might be looking for, such as including some things technically marketed at 12 and under in the teen section, some classics, and some adult books. You can find all of Douglas Adams' work in the YA section, as well as the adult section.
But bookstores aren't like this. You can only find Harry Potter in the children's section (which at my local B&N has a colorful carpet and short shelves and a sign that says "ages 8-12"). Huck Finn is in the literature section. It's just hard to know what to look for. I am coming at this from a different angle than you though, since I have a very strong nostalgia for good children's/middle grade fiction, but in that section now you only find series intent on hooking readers and the Newberry shelf. The books haven't changed much in the past few years, either. And these are the things that should be making young kids love reading.
There is also an increasing segregation between the two genres that pretty much ignores any protagonist who is 13 or 14 years old (I felt this hard; I just read the endless middle grade series when I was in middle school because I wasn't a fan of the teen themes, and got nothing out of reading again until high school), and that's sort of why I believe it's just so wrong to retcon anything written for younger people before 2005 (such as Harry Potter or The Giver) or so as "YA" because it wasn't written when the market was as it is now. And that's why YA to me is very much a new umbrella term for tropes (in some cases; the contemporary and historical ones are more diverse, but oh the tropes are there) of what appears to sell. This imposes a sense of sameness on the genre; I've seen advice that says "don't write about a 14 year old, either make them younger or older so they fit in." This is just very limiting and stifling to me.
I'd also argue that there are books written for children and teens and books just written about them. I like books with a purpose more than anything. But yeah, there are a lot of merits and a lot of issues with this. The rigid genre thing is what has always bothered me, especially as I try to figure out what I want to write, because being a writer is practically a business and marketing position these days.
November 15, 2014 @ 5:57 pm
It's odd to think of HG Wells as an "adult" author. I mean, I know on some level that he must be, but I was reading The Time Machine when I was… gosh, how old was I… 6 or 7, I think. I took a long time to read some of his longer works, admittedly, but that's more due to length and density than actual difficulty with the prose. Same with, say, Doyle or Bradbury. I did a big diorama book report on Fahrenheit 451 in 4th grade with a little silver-origami-and-pipe-cleaners representation of the fire hound. That same year our english teacher started reading Harry Potter for us, and I found it immensely similar to the ear to Roald Dahl's works, which she'd also been reading for us. In fact, it wasn't until Chamber of Secrets that I realized that it wasn't another Dahl book, since by-and-large he didn't do sequels.
Do you suppose there really is some quality to, say, The Time Machine or Fahrenheit 451 that makes them ideal for young children to read, or is that just my nostalgia filter kicking in?
November 15, 2014 @ 9:41 pm
A little late, but we spent my wife's 60th birthday doing a little 48-hr getaway to some small coastal towns on North Carolina's "inner banks" (Belhaven, Bath — the latter most famous as NC's first incorporated town and where Blackbeard married his 14th wife and took up residence). Also, a few hours spent at Lake Mattamuskeet to see migrating tundra swans.
Personally — helping a friend craft a series of his anecdotes for a speech he's giving in December and wondering why I don't have a creative project to soak my my spare cycles. I find those cycles turn on themselves and then on me when they don't have a problem to work on.
November 15, 2014 @ 11:10 pm
Pen Name Pending: "There is also an increasing segregation between the two genres that pretty much ignores any protagonist who is 13 or 14 years old"
I've really noticed this divide, because my first novel falls into this gap. I didn't take any account of the market when I wrote it, and it's one of the things that is making it hard to find an agent or publisher. (There are other things: the last agent who responded said she loved the characterisation but didn't like the "discover the rules of the world" aspect, which unfortunately is a significant strand.)
November 15, 2014 @ 11:23 pm
Iain, I still look in hopefully on your blog about science in Doctor Who. How is the 5th Edition working for your group? My own D&D campaign in Eberon still happens intermittently, still in the 4th Edition because none of us have the time to absorb a new set of rules.
November 15, 2014 @ 11:43 pm
I've been enjoying the fact that one of my short stories is now up on the Pan MacMillan website – you can read it here. Mine's about a third of the way down, credited to J. G. Wood.
I was one of ten winners – it's actually the first story I've written for a competition, so I was quite surprised – and we all got to go to a writing workshop, which was a lot of fun (if rather a push, physically).
In other writing news, I'm working my way through Michael Stackpole's 21 Days to Write a Novel in an attempt to set up my next book. This time I'm taking account of the market a bit by aiming at 8-12s rather than 11-14s and trying my hand at fantasy. Even if it doesn't work, I'm identifying the aspects that I find easy (characterful dialogue, individual scenes) and the ones I find hard (physical description, overarching plot), which is useful.
Incidentally, you writers might want to take check out the NaNoWriMo writers' humble bundle. It's quite possibly worth a punt at $15 – out of three books I've looked at so far, two have been useful to me, with plenty more to try.
November 16, 2014 @ 1:03 am
Hey, it's November. It's either that, or grow facial hair.
Pen Name Pending
November 16, 2014 @ 4:53 am
@elvwood: Right, me too in the first thing I wrote, which is why I'm investigating this 🙂
I read Wells and Bradbury in high school after first being introduced to them in class in eighth grade with The Time Machine and Fahrenheit. (Admittedly a couple of years before we had to read a few Bradbury stories in class because they were in our literature book, but those are never quite as hooking as Fahrenheit 451.) I think Fahrenheit at the very least would appeal to young readers because it's so easy to get hooked on, although like all books there are facets they might not realize the full implications of like the atomic war or the censorship. (Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction to the latest edition describing how each time he reread it as he grew up he found something new.) The Time Machine is also a great adventure story if kids nowadays aren't turned off by the first chapter…I understood the time explanation because I had been into time travel theories for a few years then (aka how I discovered Doctor Who), but there were a couple not so bright kids in our class who wasted an entire period because they didn't understand why something must also exist through time to exist. I had exhausted most of the classics my parents had bought me (like Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Little Women) by the end of fifth grade and did not quite know where to continue after that. Part of the reason is that the stories of Jules Verne and Jane Austen didn't appeal to me (it took until high school course reading for me to realize that I could really relate to books even if the concept didn't appeal to me, like Gatsby), as well as the sense that I would eventually be introduced to these stories anyway during school so I might as well read something else now. Also I tended to not want to read (or listen to) what my parents liked, although I did read some Agatha Christie. But yeah, I had a general lack of direction in the reading world for a while.
In an interview about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman said that even though the story is about a seven-year-old boy and there is really no adult content, he chose the adult market instead of children's because the ending is not too hopeful. Which I expect also explains how The Book Thief was in the adult market when it was released in Australia.
November 16, 2014 @ 5:17 am
I'm drafting a series of essays on the Final Fantasy series.
As I'm aiming for "the definite article", it's not going well. Plus there's a huge disparity between "the games I have something to say about", "the games which aren't exhaustively interesting or misunderstood" and "the games I won't touch with a six-foot katana"
November 16, 2014 @ 9:23 am
I'm enjoying finally being done with my birthday present to myself, Forty Records. I spent the days leading up to my 40th birthday writing about one album from every year I've been alive, and more often than not juxtaposing it with something that was going on in my life at the time. It was partially inspired by the desire to do some kind of quasi-autobiography that didn't get any more in-depth than I wanted to go or require a better memory than I actually have, and partially inspired, obviously, by the Eruditorum and the other blogs inspired by it. I really enjoyed spending that much time with the music I loved but good god am I glad to be done with it. Since I was memorizing and rehearsing a Halloween-themed sketch comedy show at the same time (and doing improv, and working my day job), it was kicking my ass.
Other than that, I'm still slowly working my way through TV shows other people have already seen (The Wire, Mad Men, Torchwood, soon probably Sapphire and Steel) and memorizing lines for The Tempest, which starts in December and goes up around the time Philip is projecting the end of the Eruditorum.
Oh, and I read Gareth Roberts' Only Human finally, over my vacation. It was really fantastic.
November 16, 2014 @ 9:29 am
@Iain thanks for the suggestion!
November 16, 2014 @ 11:16 am
I for one would yum this up. I have all sorts of controversial opinions about FF, but I wouldn't consider writing much about the series since my knowledge of pre-PS1 era is patchy, and I gather that "haven't played VI" is the equivalent of "haven't seen Hinchcliffe".
November 16, 2014 @ 12:51 pm
"since my knowledge of pre-PS1 era is patchy, and I gather that "haven't played VI" is the equivalent of "haven't seen Hinchcliffe"."
I'd say more "haven't seen Troughton" – or is that IV? Maybe IV is "haven't seen Troughton" and VI is "haven't heard of Tewence". Hmmm
You can't really top VII in the "haven't seen Hinchcliffe" stakes.
November 16, 2014 @ 3:30 pm
I disagree about Fahrenheit 451. My English class read it for school in 7th grade, and I was the only one who liked it. I definitely think that the YA genre is far to rigid. When I have to go all over the bookstore to find different books by the same author, just because of a slight difference in material, that get's irritating.
A good example of this in libraries (not so much bookstores) is Harry Potter. I have seen it in both the children's section and the teen's. I have even seen it split between the two, which in my opinion really takes rigid genres too far.
November 16, 2014 @ 3:55 pm
Also in the process of renovating an art studio that my partner and I are renting. It's pretty wonderful, as it is the old Gun Room of a large estate that seems to attract a lot of free-thinking folks, and is in a lovely courtyard with a friend's studio next door. It also has a turret and as an unusual feature also has in glass cabinets along one wall the estates collection of taxidermy. Probably will take us until early January to finish the work.
Pen Name Pending
November 16, 2014 @ 4:38 pm
I was one of only three in the class who chose to read Fahrenheit for a dystopia project so I can't exactly vouch for the others, although I know they didn't hate it. At any rate I think it's pretty easy to read.
My library also does the Harry Potter thing, with books 6 and 7 tending to show up in the teen section, although I think they can be found in both. But in that section I've also seen The Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Graveyard Book, The Giver, Percy Jackson, Stardust, The Things They Carried, The Golden Compass…all books not intended to be marketed at the teen age range, and all books where I believe other copies can be found in another section. So there is some fluidity. Bookstores tend to stick with the original age indicated by the publisher. (For the record there is a 10-14 age range; those books just tend to get lumped with the 8-12 "middle grade" range, at least according to the NYT bestseller list and what I've obvserved from snooping around bookstores.)
November 16, 2014 @ 6:52 pm
Mines a bit of a downer – just trying to make ends meet at the moment. Got lots of potential work lined up, but potential work doesn't pay the mortgage or feed the kids.
Creatively, working on our website to drum up some more business and – for fun – I've been posting to a certain UK-based image manipulation website of ill-repute sets of minimalist movie posters for the Carry On series… just because someone challenged me to do them off the back of my James Bond ones. I don't rate myself artistically much, but I do enjoy it.
November 16, 2014 @ 7:11 pm
it's quite hard coming up with funny quotes for the posters (as they each have one) – some of the Carry On films are not all that quotable except at greta length, and instead rely on the visuals. I probably thought Carry On Follow That Camel was hilarious back in the day, but skim-watching and searching for quotes revealed so very little. Phil Silvers was given nothing.
What is of note: this interview with obsessive Rick Farnworth is well worth a read. Quite amazing what he gets out of the films or listening to Sid James' signature laugh on an hours-long loop: http://www.carryon.org.uk/interview5.htm
November 16, 2014 @ 9:01 pm
Are your James Bond posters up somewhere? I'd quite like to see them.
November 17, 2014 @ 1:21 am
Oh, even though I'm late I should probably come in and mention my own little critical review blog.
It's about zombies. And politics.
November 18, 2014 @ 12:46 am
Connery / Lazenby
Craig (with two bonus posters below from highly contentious films)
November 18, 2014 @ 1:19 am
Dr No was a bit literal, but made me laugh at the time (what with the hands). There are a few jokes, such as Connery's grey hair in Never Say Never Again, and the numbers in Casino Royale's roulette wheel.
Oh, and none of them have the film's names on the actual image – but you can always check the filename.
My personal favourite is probably Octopussy – for the concept more than the execution, those dice are terrible for a start.
November 18, 2014 @ 6:28 am
Those are great! Thanks!
November 18, 2014 @ 9:10 pm
November 19, 2014 @ 12:35 pm
Thanks for posting that link.