Homo Fabula

Synaptic Misfirings of an unpublished author

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On Niceness

"The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place."
~Leo Durocher
I've had trouble with this quote (and others like it) in the past -  I always considered myself to be a 'nice guy'. I was (and indeed am) friendly, courteous, and I like to think a little chivalrous. Did that mean I was destined to be a failure, to finish in seventh?
I came to a deeper understanding of this not long ago, mainly owing to a childhood memory. One of my primary school teachers (I cannot remember which one, I'm afraid - all those years seem to blend into one in my mind) told us to never write the word 'nice' in a book report, because it's such a vague, nondescript word.
I think that's the point here - 'nice' does not simply mean chivalrous, courteous, and all those things above, but nondescript, satisfactory, agreeable. In a word, mediocre.

I started this post with a quote and I will end it with another quote:
"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something."
~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mirrormask review

I watched the DVD version of Mirrormask [Link: Mirrormask on Amazon] yesterday (alas I wasn't able to see it in the cinema), and I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of film I have ever seen.
The film is directed by Dave McKean and written by Neil Gaiman, which is a recipe for Pure Awesome. And it looks like it. The creatures look like Dave McKean drawings come to life [Link: some Dave McKean drawings], as do the environments. The film is wonderfully written, convincingly acted, and well paced (act three is a little slow to start off, but soon picks up, and looks so good that I for one really didn't mind). There are some interesting themes on childhood and family and loss in there (very nice quote from the evil princess Helena near the middle of act three that encompasses what I mean, but I won't spoil it here).
The virtual sets / actors on a blue screen look is not something I'd like to see for every movie, but when it's executed well it's absolutely beautiful - I've seen it done brilliantly both in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow [Link: Amazon DVD], as well as this film.
I'm not going to try to compare them, of course. They're in the same medium, but that doesn't meat they're really comparable. Sky Captain is a wonderful action/adventure tale, while Mirrormask is a charming childrens fantasy.
The DVD is competently put together and there are no spoilers in the menus. Spoilers in the menu irritate me no end. Over an hour of making of documentaries and interviews sit in there too, and are both illuminating and very, very funny. A disc I thoroughly recommend all in all.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


The Preamble
Got a rejection slip for a short story the other week.
It's the sort of thing I have attempted to prepare myself for, understanding that it doesn't mean the end of my writing career or that all of my work is invalid, but then I saw it there in cold hard ink and it... well, it all seemed a little hollow.
It didn't hit me at all intellectually, but I found afterwards that it became very hard to get myself writing, and that whatever I produced seemed... lacklustre. 
I'm over it now, but  this is a common thread I've had throughout my life - rejection doesn't really affect me on the surface, but emotionally I find it hard to reorient and remotivate myself. It implies a difference between understanding something intellectually and emotionally, a subject I find interesting.
So that's why I haven't been blogging much lately. It's not self-pity or depression, just a lack of motivation of the kind I can only get over by writing, and rediscovering the joy of it. 

Just do it
That's the bizarre thing about the subject of motivation for me: I can repeat motivational phrases and affirmations until I'm blue in the face, and though they help at least take the sting out of whatever I'm trying to do, the only way I can really get motivated and start to truly enjoy what I'm doing is if I ... well, do it.

Real Writers Block
This is true of Writers block as well - it's not a tiny demon sitting in your head running out of ink, it's not your inward scream as your body tumbles into the abyss of mediocrity, it's just a lack of motivation, one that can be overcome with work. There's a good book I know of full of prompts and hints, called funnily enough The Writer's Block.
And there's a little more to it than that as well. Writers block, art block, whatever, that doubt only comes from a realisation that your work can be improved and a way to make it better. It can cause a little depression, but only if you allow yourself to be shackled by the past - look to the future, see what truly amazing stuff you are capable of, and reach for it. Claim it, for though it's not you now, it's what you can be. Adaptation and advancement are things we should always strive for, as the second a person in the creative arts stops doing that, they die inside.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

On Reading and Coffee

I'm re-reading the Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Leguin at the moment. I say 're-reading', but it's really more like the first time - the last time I read it was so long ago that it's more like a half-remembered dream than a remembered story. I keep coming upon passages that I remember, but don't remember having read, that I thought products of my own imagination, or of an alien one that I am convinced squats within my skull.

Here's a passage I wropte in my Moleskine not long ago. 

It's amazing how much of an impact a simple taste can have.
Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop with a cappucino laced with a cinnamon shot. The cinnamon reminds me of so many things.
On a surface level it reminds me of Dune. Botht eh book and the film dripped so heavily in storytelling and atmosphere that you could practically taste the cinnamon texture that the spice of Arrakis possessed. And it reminds me of more, of a breakfast cereal many, many years ago that my father was fond of (he probably still is if we can find any of it). It was shaped like Nestle Shreddies [LINKY], but covered with an orange, cinnamon-y powder. I remember not liking it, and I also remember he didn;t mind. More for him, after all.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


originally uploaded by DarkHawke.
Here's one I took on a cold November day last year, to celebrate the mid-point of the year. An odd celebration, and to be honest it's more of a motivational thing. I'm over the see-saw of the year now, and soon it will be 2007.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


There's something about Tuesdays that don't sit well with me.
On the one hand, it's perfectly logical. Wheras on Mondays one has a long stretch of work ahead, a person can still look back and feel connected to the weekend. Wheras on Tuesdays one has nothing but work behind, and a yawning gulf of three days to the next weekend.
The problem with this theory is that, what with this being the summer, I only actually work  (work work - that is, work that I have no great interest in doing, as opposed to writing or learning CSS, which in my nerdily brain is actually fun) for two days in a row, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then only for five hours a day. This is enough to keep me financially comfortable, at least for a little while for the duration of my stay at home.
So what is it? Is it some bizarre, psychic maelstrom that affects Tuesday? Does Tyr just not like me?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I don't know why, but when writing I find that time seems to stretch out in all directions. This time dilation effect, whilst incredibly cool, can lead to me being incredibly tired when it feels like I've had a thirty-six hour day. And no, not the good kind.

Finished typing up the novel, and completed the low level edits (spelling, phrasing, passive voice, etc). After a week off to work on some short stories I'll read the thing in a sitting and see if there are any structural changes that I've missed. Hopefully not, I think I sorted them out in the first draft, but we shall see...