The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Grahame Green Affair
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The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Graham Greene Affair continues to work well for me. Despite feeling like I have a head full of cotton wool, I’m somehow managing to keep pace, and am actually finding it more and more difficult to stop at 500 words. Last night I found myself awake at 1 am, Googling the name meaning of a new character, debating what superpower I would give them, and how it would affect the story if I did. Then I drifted off in a haze of, “I should definitely move that scene”, “Something else needs to go in between that and that”, “Maybe I should cut that in half and whack something in the middle.” Yes, this challenge is keeping me up at night, but honestly I’ve never been more pleased by a bout of insomnia. It’s the kind of sleeplessness you have as a kid the night before Christmas, or your birthday. It’s exciting.

Part of what has triggered this excitement is talking about Rimjhim in a pseudo-academic style again. I spent the better part of yesterday swapping notes with my friend Jo, who is joining me on this epic quest to finish a novel. I’ve got to say, I greatly appreciated the input, and it was good to hear that my writing was having the desired effect. As always, there were things that I loved that she didn’t, and there were things that I hated that she loved. In particular, there was a scene in which my protagonist, Alec, and his best friend sit down to catch-up. Personally it drives me crazy. I think it drags on, and I don’t like the way the Alec dithers over what to say. But Jo liked it, and thought it worked well. Obviously, I will probably still edit the scene to a point where I’m satisfied with it, but I don’t feel the need to hack half the scene away, as I was planning to do.

I would highly recommend finding a writing buddy if you’re thinking about trying this challenge, or even if you just want to get serious about your writing in general. While I’m a fairly solitary writer, I find that having a second set of eyes for redrafting is crucial, and it never hurts to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off. Yesterday, 90% of the questions we asked each other were about plot. Mine were mostly about the age of the characters, and whether I needed to age them up or down to fix the storyline. Jo’s were about character arcs, personality changes and possible relationships. I think we both came out of there with a better idea of where we were going.

Of course the best thing about having a writing buddy, is that, unlike your other friends (or family members), who are likely to tell you that your writing is amazing and they love it and that they can’t wait to read more, your writing buddy will know when to get a bit ruthless. They know the importance of brutal honesty, and what to look for. Jo pointed out that in one scene I had given Alec a phone with a battery life of over a month, and I had crammed about three major plot developments into another. The first was a mistake that I had completely missed, the second, a reoccurring issue (I get over excited sometimes, okay?) that I have picked up on in some places but not in others.

Discussing work like this can be difficult at first – believe me, if you’d asked me 4 years ago if I wanted someone to thoroughly critique my writing, I would have told you where to go – but the fact is, a novel is never just yours, not if you actually want it read. At some point you are going to receive negative criticism, and the sooner you learn to separate the constructive from the pure opinion, the better. You learn to take what’s useful, and disregard the rest, and so you improve. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without you, Jo!

Love,

Mort.

P.S. If anyone else would like to join us, you are still more than welcome. I’m sure I will be editing and discussing long after I’ve finished my first draft, so seriously, come on, my friend! Let’s do this!

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The Graham Greene Affair: Week 1

The Grahame Green Affair
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The Graham Greene Affair: Week 1

I am genuinely surprised by how well this is going. Even last night, when my face was on fire after an unpleasant trip to the dentist, I managed to crack out 500 words. I’ve discovered that 500 words really isn’t much for me, and I’ve actually overshot it a few times. I can usually crack it out in and hour or an hour and a half, and that’s when I’m mucking about on thinkbabynames.com, and researching penalties for Class A drugs. So what are the Pros and Cons I’ve found at the end of Week 1?

Pros

1. Making consistent progress – At the begining of this week, my novel was 11,000 words. It had taken me almost a year to write 5000 words. Rimjhim is now over 15000 words and counting. It feels so good to be making progress again.

2. Getting enthusiastic – By stopping in the middle of a scene, I cause myself to keep thinking about what comes next. I learn new things about my characters, and find myself acting out bits and pieces in my head, as I used to. I was so worried this story had gone stale, feeling that spark of enthusiasm again was a big relief.

3. Get’s you thinking – In order to knock out 500 words, you need to have some idea of where you’d like to go when you sit down to write. For me this is particularly difficult because I’m working on four time frames congruently, switching back and forth between time frames. While I was thinking out what I was going to write next, I realised that each of these time frames needs to tell it’s own story that lead to the same resolution. This solved so many pacing problems, you wouldn’t believe.

4. Dat regular writing pattern though – Writing frequently, will tell you a boat load about how you work best. And this is exactly what I needed. I’ve learnt that I work best with the deadline of  sleep looming over me. But my friend, who is joining me on this epic journey fits her 500 words in whenever, and wherever she can.

Cons

1. It’s time consuming – Of course it was always going to be, but I forgot to factor in editing time. I am one of those writers that likes to pick things apart as I’m going along, so while writing doesn’t take that long, I have already deleted 400 words.

2. Self-awareness overload – Earlier this week, I became hyper aware of how much dialogue I write, to the point where I was actually adding in unnecessary description. It took a long look through The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton (my favourite Sherlock Holmes story) to remind myself that when you have two characters with good chemistry, all you have to do is set up the scene, and then roll with it.

All in all, it’s been an interesting first week, and I’m impressed with my stamina. Writing everyday has caused some issues, but it’s reignited my love for Rimjhim. I’ve become one of those over-eager parents, desperate to see how my baby’s going to work out. Fingers crossed, I’ll be this happy next week.

Ciao,

Mort.

Tip Tuesday: How to be Smooth as Fudge

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How to be Smooth as Fudge

(Flirting tips for awkward folks.)

Up until fairly recently, I was completely incapable of flirting. When I was 19, I signaled to a person that I liked them by pufferfish kissing them, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs style. Then, just in case they didn’t get the message, the next time I saw them I kissed them on the lips and before running off to catch my bus. Fortunately, they found it cute, but in hindsight, if they hadn’t felt the same way, that would have been the creepiest thing I have ever done. However, since then I like to think I’ve got a handle on things. I’m still mahoosively awkward sometimes, but I’ve developed techniques to help keep me smooth as fudge, bae.

1.

I’m so awkward, I don’t even know how to flirt! How would you let someone know that you like them?

smooth as fudge

Address the above to the person that you like. Then not so subtly do what they suggest. If they’re as awkward as you, and so don’t flirt either, look up tips online, and act these out. The beauty of this is, that if they start to get uncomfortable, you can laugh it off as “practicing”, apologise, and then distract them with a question about what they’ve been watching/reading lately.

2.

Are you multiple sea creatures with tentacles, cuz girl, you octopi my thoughts.

smooth as fudge

Go ahead and learn some crazy pick-up lines, the weirder the better. You want them to be so strange, that no-one in their right mind will think you’re using them unironically. That way, whether the person likes you or not, you’ll get a laugh. Laughter is infectious, so even if you don’t get the girl/boy/other, you’ll feel better, and you’ll gain a reputation as a bit of a comedian. Who doesn’t want that?

3.

Hey the weather is nice today, by the way I like you, don’t you think that cloud looks like a lion?

smooth as fudge

Honestly, the best way of finding out if someone likes you, is to tell them how you feel. But of course, this can be terrifying. The trick is to keep it casual, to remind yourself that it’s really no big deal. My favourite way of doing this is to sandwich the words into an ordinary sentence (see above). It makes it seem like you’re just dropping a random fact into conversation. And when they inevitably respond with, “What did you say?!” you can say it again. It’s always easier the second time, because the words are already out there. Stay calm, and ask how they feel. If they feel the same, well then it’s time to get excited! And if they don’t, tell them it’s okay. Because it is okay. Sometimes people won’t like you back, but there will always be someone else.

Lines and techniques aside, however, the main reason I’m able to talk to people now, is because I’ve learnt how to be comfortable with who I am. I’ve learnt that being a nerd is amazing, that needing to be alone is perfectly fine, and that you can get away with doing all kinds of weird stuff (meowing, putting glitter on your flatmate’s nose, lying under the coffee table to think etc. etc.) in the right context. All you have to do is be brave, and remember that, love is not everything in life.

Mort out. xx

smooth as fudge

Tip Tuesday: How to Calm Your Tits

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How to Calm Your Tits

Calm your tits

-To calm down, thereby relaxing the heart beneath one’s chest. Also see: “de-stress your breasts” and “undo the calamity that is in your mammaries”.

I chose this subject knowing that I had an assessment morning today, from 9am to 1.30pm. I figured that this post would be an amusing way to unwind after a slightly stressful, but engaging morning. Then I woke up half an hour before I had to leave the house because my alarm failed to go off. Now this post will be one; an amusing way to unwind after an incredibly stressful morning, and two; a list of things that popped into my head as I tried to get a brush through my mane. Welcome to How to Calm Your Tits 101:

1. Only do what’s essential – In my case: stick on clothes, wash face, brush teeth and hair, slap on some eyeliner and wolf calm your titsdown a yoghurt. It normally takes me an hour to an hour and a half to get up. This morning I set a new record. If you need to get something done, but you don’t have enough time, then don’t panic. Doing the basics is better than nothing.

2. Sleepiness is your friend – On the morning of an interview, I’m usually that level of nervous where I can’t stop grinning, but calm your titsmy face muscles are beginning to twitch. This morning I practically fell out of bed and into my suit. It wasn’t until my first interview session that I felt the twitch of anxiety in my stomach. It was great!

3. Deep breath – It’s an oldie, but a goodie. I spent the first 25 minutes of being awake, running around like an idiot. When I got calm your titsinto my car, I paused, took a deep breath, and then drove to the venue. It’s like tapping on a brake, so that you can manoeuvre around a corner; absolutely essential if you don’t want to fly off the road all together.

4. Drink – WATER! Or tea, coffee, hot chocolate. Just drink something, and drink it slowly. Like the deep breath, it’ll help you calm your titsfind a nice relaxed pace. Plus, if you suffer with a touch of dry mouth, it’ll help in that respect too. However, it might be worth limiting yourself to a glass, particularly if you’re in situation where using the bathroom is an issue.

5. Promise yourself the earth (or part of it) – I will spend the afternoon writing and drinking decaf coffee. I will go for a nice walk onto campus and raid the free book shelf in the Mason calm your titsLounge. I will drive down to Sainsbury’s, buy myself a bottle of golden ale, and then spend the rest of the evening sitting in the bath, watching let’s plays. These are all things I promised myself this morning, and just the idea kept me relaxed. I certainly intend on doing at least two of the above, although I have yet to decide between the beer and the books.

And that’s it, my five quick tips for calming your tits! As a bonus, it also acts as a nice little library of calm your tits gifs to use, for all you Tumblr lovers out there. I hope it comes in handy. Now I’m off to make a cup of joe and hammer out a couple of hundred words.

Tip Tuesday: How to be a Nerd

be a nerd
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How to be a Nerd

AKA: The Life Cycle of a Nerd.

Stage One: A nerd, is usually born early on in life. Like an axolotl exposed to the right hormones can transform into a salamander, a human child exposed to the right fictive universes has a good be a nerdchance of becoming a nerd. For the 90’s child, these sources were likely Pokemon, Digimon, and in rare cases Beyblade, but may also have involved Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, or another literary source. While not effective in all cases, the exposure to such worlds often leads to compulsive habits; a need to watch, to read, to delve further into a fictional reality. These changes are subtle, but are usually accompanied by what some (certainly not this impartial observer) might call, an unhealthy enthusiasm for things and stuff.

Stage Two: It is as at the adolescent stage that the metamorphosis into a nerd becomes blatantly apparent. The common nerd may find it difficult to adjust to growing limbs, and be a nerdtake to their bedroom to spend extensive periods of time on the internet, or any gaming system available to them. Common nerds may have issues forming friendships and romantic partnerships, but when they do, it is often a bond for life (or at least for puberty). The lesser more confident nerd, is marked by its ability to recognise that being a nerd is actually several levels of awesome. They appreciate that they are surrounded by friends who are equally as passionate about things and stuff as they are, and know that titles such as “popular” are overrated constructs that will mean nothing once they’re and adult. They acknowledge that having good peopbe a nerdle, with similar interests in your life is important for their physical and mental well-being. For this reason, you will often find at least on lesser more confident nerd at the centre of any common nerd flock, if not more. With time, it is possible for all nerds to develop the feathers of a lesser more confident nerd, particularly upon reaching university, where most people are nerds and its INCREDIBLE.

Stage Three: Adulthood is a difficult time for a nerd. Gone is the bizarre universe of education, in which being a nerd was motivated by coursework deadlines and exams. Now there is a choice to be made; a choice between living life in a state of cryogenic sleep, only to wake up every two or so years for thebe a nerd new series of Sherlock and a mug of homemade butterbeer, or to stay awake, and nerd harder than you have ever nerded before. Life as an adult nerd is about perpetual self-motivation; finding new and interesting sources of entertainment and information, talking to new nerds whether online or irl, and keeping your mind active, as well as your body. Most people will tell you “Exercise more, and eat right.” A good nerd will tell you, “YOU HAVE TO PLAY MONKEY ISLAND. NO. NO. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! HIGHBRUGH THREEPSNOGGIN IS A PRECIOUS BAE, AND YOU NEED TO AT LEAST PLAY CURSE.” Or, you know, something like that.

I realise this is a bit different to my usual Tip Tuesday piece, but I fancied doing something a bit silly (and of course all silliness should be accompanied by John Green’s face covered in sharpie). I sort of went on a trip down memory lane, and now I really want to nerd-out over something. Has anyone got any good game suggestions? Preferably PC based. I need something to muck around with between novel editing and job applications. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this, and I’ll catch you later this week with a couple more posts. In the meantime you can riddle me this; HOW YOU BE A NERD?