Making yourself write

I’ve decided to try a little something, an experiment, if you will. I was watching a video on YouTube the other day from a filmmaker whose work I enjoy a great deal – Khyan, seen here – who was talking about the dangers of “falling into a kind of pre-satisfaction” as a content-creator, in which telling everyone you’re about to produce some new work actually stops you doing it. Why? Because you’ve already had the buzz. The satisfaction of being told “Hey, that’s a great idea, can’t wait to see/read/hear it!” kills the desire to make it happen.

In his video, Khyan concluded the technique would, however, probably still be valuable if in failing to put out everything you promised, you still put out more than you otherwise would have. That is the spirit of this post: announce greatness; achieve more than nothing.

Anyway, I’ve got a new fantasy novel out (Right here, fans of quality and excitement). But how to attract audience? How to drink sweet, sweet nectar of popular acceptance? Do I write more? Market… somehow? (That’s an arcane art, and is it me or are there exactly equal numbers of people promoting certain approaches as there are issuing assurances that they don’t work?)

I know one thing, and that’s that a novel (even a mighty 500+ page meisterwerk) sitting all alone by itself is a sad thing. It needs a little brother. So, I’m going to write one, 1000 words at a time. And to prove to myself and the nonexistent audience of this blog that I can do it, I’m going to do 1000 words per day, and post it here each and every day for your delectation until it’s done. Then, after a week or two, I’ll have a little novella that I can put up alongside the novel. Genius. Watch this space.


The Cheesy Popularity Spike of 1880

Take a good, long look at this folks:


That’s a Google graph for usage of the word “cheesy” in digitised books over time. I’ve already forgotten why exactly I needed this data in the first place, but I’m glad I’ve got it now. Maybe there’s a perfectly normal explanation for why the 1870s were such an extraordinarily good decade for the word cheesy, but I like to image it’s solely down to a sudden cultural saturation of the phrase “It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy”, which has since been forgotten about by all but the most crusty, over-ripe philologists.

Almost as puzzling is the sudden drop-off that occurs around 1950 – You’d think the rise of fast food chains would have made the word practically de rigueur, but apparently not. The improved fortunes of cheesy in the 1990s are understandable, but the Matterhorn-esque profile in the centre board attests to a more than ten-fold increase in cheesy’s lexical real estate between 1860 and 1880. It lacks rind or reason.

Can anyone offer an explanation for this?

Accidental-On Purpose Kindle Purchases

Just last night I was thinking about the Oscars ceremony from a few days ago – not for the obvious reason that the best picture was mis-announced (oops!) – but because Denis Villeneuve’s film Arrival, based on the  story by acclaimed sci-fi writer Ted Chiang, picked up the award for best sound editing.

You’ve probably read about Arrival already, as it came out months ago, but of the fairly small number of films I watched in 2016, it was my favourite. Its appeal struck me from several directions, but I’d cite in particular the sympathetic and generally decent, human-like behaviour of its characters, the intelligence of both the science and fiction parts of science fiction, and the general sense of atmosphere that was conjured up on screen. In fact, I’d recommend it just for the first encounter between the main character and the alien creatures – it’s fantastically eerie and, well, alien-feeling, but there’s much more to recommend it. The message of the film is worth mentioning too, as it’s refreshingly positive without being in any way maudlin or cheesy.

Anyway, I didn’t need to buy the book, but ended up doing so completely on a whim, in the space of a few seconds, without having to take a single step in any direction.

My Kindle is by no means the latest thing; in fact it’s a 2010 model, the one with the clunky, awkward keyboard tacked on. And yet, I was able to interrupt my reading of the book I was actually pursuing at that moment (The Wretched of Muirwood, by Jeff Wheeler, which I’m so far enjoying very much), have a little peruse of the Kindle Storefront in strangely laggy, black and white raiment, and with a twitch of my thumb, wire £5-something in the direction of Chiang esq. and his esteemed colleagues.

The actual book is not called Arrival, but rather Stories of Your Life and Others (it being a collection of novellas, of which the source material, Stories of Your Life, is one). I’ve not finished it yet (nor read any of the other novellas the volume contains), but have already noticed some interesting differences between the writing and the film. I won’t say one is better or worse, but the stories are each clearly aware that they are being told through two different media. Perhaps most interestingly (and this is something that strikes you more when you read the book), although based on a very short piece of work I never got the impression of the film story having been stretched out or padded.

I’ll get back to you when I’ve consumed more of the book, as well as Jeff Wheeler’s work, but in the meantime I’m going to keep my Kindle’s wi-fi switched off. I didn’t need another book as it was, but the convenience of the purchase, along with not having to wonder where I’m going to put the thing, how long it’ll take in the post etc. etc. just make it a little too convenient.

Have you  ever lost your wits and succumbed to your Kindle’s convenience? What’s the most you’ve ever spent there without intending to?