The Start ‘N’ Stop Conundrum is what I’ve just now decided to call the writer’s block in which you have an idea, start to write, think it’s going well, and then can’t seem to continue.
As an example, today, whilst researching for my Gothic essay, I got inspiration for a potential story idea. I had the themes I was going to tackle, where I wanted it to start, a fairly kick-ass opener, and then after 54 words it stopped. The words weren’t there anymore. The characters that just a moment ago were so vivid, vanished like ghosts in snow.
But the worst bit, is the intent is still there. The bit of my brain that wants to write and wants to find interesting ways to talk about the issues is still alive and kicking. But the rest of my creative hemisphere has shut down. Hence the Start ‘N’ Stop. I started to write, my brain started to work, and then nothing. It’s so frustrating. This seems to happen all the time – no wonder I can never get a creative piece done. Somehow I’ve managed to write this post, but if I were to go back to those 54 words from earlier, I might as wells be staring at a blank screen for all the good it would do.
Today is a bad day for health. The trapped nerve I thought I had the other day is still here. Turning over in the night was a horrid ordeal as I could barely lift my head off the pillow from the pain in my neck. My left shoulder has been making uncomfortable – and unhealthy – popping sounds all day. I’ve also developed a pretty nasty sore throat. My Dad called me earlier and I discovered that today, I sound like a man. So then there’s that.
I’m also feeling sick and in a bit of pain from lack of eating today, but the thought of eating makes me feel sick. Is this a paradox in the making? If the stabbing pain in my gut ever stops, perhaps I’ll know whether it’s safe to try and consume food stuffs.
So to make myself feel better and to spread the love, not the lurgy, here are some fun things from t’internet:
100 Basic Training Movies at Nerd Academy – I scored 38. My friend got 61. Her boyfriend got 93. What’ll you score?
Thankyou, Internet, just for being you.
I’d take a nap now, but it hurts to lie down.
Just a short one today to share with you some quotes I’ve found and love:
“Lucy’s eyes in form and colour; but Lucy’s eyes unclean and full of hell-fire” – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
“[…] the white door opened just a crack. A face looked out at me. It was a small, wise face, as alert and poised as a question” – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History
“I lost hold of the fact that I wasn’t alone, must have briefly forgotten Avalyn and Patches and the cow beside me, because I started crying. I tried to hold it, but the sob broke like glass in my throat” Scott Heim’s Mysterious Skin
“If similes do their job well enough they turn into something else. We tell the truth best by telling lies” – China Mieville’s Embassytown
And just because I can, and because I think it’s such a beautiful passage, here is one final, albeit long quote, also from Embassytown. This is probably more touching once you read the book because the context of the situation is clearer so you can realise the significance of a lot of little things here, but I just wanted to share it with you – perhaps it will pique your interest and tempt you to read it (I cannot recommend it enough).
“More floors down I heard someone calling my name. I stopped. It was Cal, or Vin, in the entrance to the stairwell. He blocked my way and stared at me.
‘I heard you were around here,’ he said. He was alone. I frowned. His aloneness continued. He took my hands. It was months since we’d spoken. I kept looking around him and I kept frowning. ‘I don’t know where he is,’ he said. ‘Close, I’m sure. He’ll be here soon. I heard you were here.’ This was the one I’d meant to wake. He stared with a desperation that made me shudder. I looked down to avoid his eyes and saw something I could barely believe.
‘You turned off your link.’ I said. Its lights were off. I stared at it.
‘I was looking for you, because …’ He ran out of anything to say and his voice got to me. I touched his arm. He looked so suddenly needful that I couldn’t help pitying him.
‘What’s been happening to you? I said. Bad enough for me, but the Ambassadors had become abruptly nothing.
In the corridor behind him his doppel appeared. ‘You’re talking to her?’ he said. He tried to grab his brother, who didn’t take his eyes from me but shook his doppel off. ‘Come on‘.
They weren’t equalised. As with MagDa, I could see differences. They whispered an altercation and the newcomer backed away.
‘Cal.’ The first man, the half who had sought me out, said, looking at me. ‘Cal.’ He pointed at his brother, at the other end of the corridor. He prodded his own chest with his thumb. ‘Vin.’
I knew this look of longing wasn’t, or wasn’t just, for me. I met it. Vin walked backwards to join his brother, looking at me for several seconds before he turned.”
I cant help it, I just love that section. The Ambassadors in the novel are clones/doppels. Not quite twins, but CalVin are the only doppels who act like it. We never know throughout any of the novel which doppel is which. The one we here learn is called Vin is infatuated with Avice during the book, and this is the only time we see him reveal which one he is. This is quite a personal scene. Especially as his link is turned off. The link allows the doppels to keep track of where each other are, but for this private conversation, the only time Vin and Avice are alone in the book, he turns it off so that his brother doesn’t instantly know where his is. This is also the last time Vin and Avice ever see each other. Again I reiterate that context makes this scene more moving, which is why I practically beg you to invest in this. It will be worth your time and money.
What are some of your favourite quotes? Leave them in the comments if you have any to share!
Language. Made up, or existing, all the world is language.
Last night, I had a dream. And in this dream, a large number of events happened, however there is only one thing I remember clearly from it: half of it was in Russian. Now, I don’t speak Russian so I imagine my subconscious was merely yammering nonsense at itself, however the weird ‘dream knowledge’ that I had told me we were speaking Russian and I managed to follow the conversation.
Along a similar vein, I once had a dream in which I saw every little detail as it might appear on-screen. It was as follows:
We are in South America, probably Peru. A little girl, no more than eight, runs barefoot and filthy down a cobbled back alley, between two tall, equally dirty buildings. We don’t know where she’s going, but she does, so we follow her. We see into doorways along the way. In one room there is an old rabbit hutch that has been shelled out and used as a bed for a small child. Balanced on top of this is another – the hutches become like bunk-beds for the poor. Sawdust is strewn everywhere. The children here are also filthy. We hear a conversation between two children (Masi mu amari te? Kasu hijiuari mas). We don’t understand. This is because the language does not exist. My subconscious has created it for the purpose of this dream. We follow the girl further down the alley and we begin to hear jeering and shouting. She breaks out of the alley and there is a small ring of children between eight and fourteen years old. None of them have shoes. They all wear ripped and dirty shirts and shorts. In the centre of the group are two boys, probably aged twelve. One is on top of the other punching the other. More shouting in the invented language (Hua rihu kashiji umari ka) I don’t know how I still remember the words that were said – this dream occurred two years ago. The girl breaks through the crowd and shouts the name of the boy on the floor. His name I have forgotten, The crowd disperses, the winner of the fight spits at the boy and they walk away. There is sawdust in his hair and he is bleeding. He stands and walks with the girl – now revealed, with the same ‘dream knowledge’ as has revealed the other details, to be his sister – until they reach a grimy sewer grate. He leans against a large set of bars looking out to whatever lay beyond this town. The sewer’s interior is dark, slimy, cast in a blue light. The girl holds his hand and he says “Kashi uba. Larema yuka arebe”. One day. We’ll leave together. Again, I don’t know how I know the translation. I just do.
This dream came complete with a title and a cover. Dirty Boots. The cover shows a pair of mud-stained military boots, one lying on it’s side. When I woke up that morning I wrote for half an hour making sure I would remember these details. After two years this scene remains in my memory.
To branch off momentarily, I would like to mention Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem ‘Kubla Khan’. For anybody who doesn’t know, this poem was written in Coleridge’s dream. Admittedly, he was probably high on opium when he fell asleep, but the fact is the words to the first two thirds of this poem were constructed entirely in his dream state. This idea fascinates me. To fall asleep, construct a piece of writing in your subconscious and wake up with it in tact. ‘Kubla Khan’ went on to be one of Coleridge’s most famous works. And all because he dreamt the words and woke up to write them down.
The language that I created in my dream, I can see, may share qualities with Spanish/Portuguese. So I can understand where my (not quite) fluent knowledge of Spanish had an effect on it. However it is still not any exact language I know. This is what leads me to believe I invented it. This got me thinking about Tolkien and his invention of the Elven tongue. Did he, too, create this language in a dream? Or did it perhaps stem from a dream and then he created the rest of the language around it?
According to my research, this is not the case. The Elven language Quenya was developed from a mixture of Finnish, Italian, Latin and Greek influences. However, though the majority of the language was created based on influences from these other languages, I can’t help but let a piece of me believe it started from a dream. Even if the idea of inventing a language was the only element of said dream.
Language is so fascinating. It is what makes China Mieville’s Embassytown so intriguing. The idea of language being just a set of letters strung together to create a ‘word’ which is really just a symbol for an idea. It’s an interesting concept that language – whether created like in my dream, created like Tolkien with previous language as a guide, or already existing in the world – serves only in the end to express meaning. An idea. Something that words are only a way of conveying. The spoken and written language is just a social invention created in order to pass the ideas and messages between people.
And the fact that dreams can be used to help this process along baffles me. What did my ‘Russian dream’ and my ‘Dirty Boots’ dream have in common? Neither language had any way of being real. But I understood both of them as clearly as if they had been in English.
Perhaps I shall take this idea and develop it further. Maybe I’ll use dreams as a part of my university research. Maybe I’ll take the elements of my made up language and use it to create the rest of it so that, if I ever turn Dirty Boots into a real novel, I would have a way of transferring the images and ideas from my subconscious, to the real world.
Firstly, a big thanks to Matt over at The Little Engine that Couldn’t for this (and for helping figure out how this post should work).
1) Cats vs dogs?
Dogs. Every time dogs. I don’t mind kittens so much, but once they hit puberty they develop the evil gene. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of cats. I’ve crossed to the other side of the path to pass them before.
2) Favorite Harry Potter book?
I haven’t read the books in a long time so it’s hard to say. I definitely preferred the third film, so until I can read the series again to know for sure, I’ll say Prisoner of Azkaban.
3) Who is your favorite villain?
I always liked The Riddler and Poison Ivy from Batman. And if anyone has watched Bleach, Ulquiorra Cifer the arrancar was beautiful in an evil-bad-guy-that-I-wish-didn’t-die kind of way. And Loki’s cool too – but though he commits villainous acts, is he really a villain at heart?
4) What’s your least favorite book/movie that everyone else seems to love?
Admittedly I haven’t read/seen it so perhaps I would enjoy it more than I think, and I may have the idea of the story wrong (please correct me if I am) but I never liked the idea of ‘The Hunger Games’. I think this is because, in my mind, I always thought it was like the Japanese ‘Battle Royale’ which I watched – and loved – before ‘The Hunger Games’ came about. The plot of ‘The Hunger Games’ always sounded too much like ‘Battle Royale’ for me so I never read/watched it. If I’m wrong and it is indeed different then by all means correct me – maybe it’s worth me giving it a go.
5) How are you doing?
Not too bad, thank you for asking. Except that sleeping at home these last few days, and returning to my own bed last night, has caused me to potentially trap a nerve in my shoulder/neck. Movement today has been somewhat painful but I’m too lazy to register with the doctors to get it looked at. It’s better now than when I first woke up though, so here’s to hoping it’ll go away soon!
6) Who is your favorite side-villain?
I feel rather uncultured/uneducated with this question as I’m not actually aware of the names of any side villains.
*Goes to Google Search*
Google you suck. I did see Harlequin’s name come up, and though I have only ever seen pictures of this character, she look pretty badass. But on going through my DVD case I am ashamed to have not thought of this sooner. My favourite side-villain(s) are the minions of Despicable Me.
7) Why do you blog?
I wanted to get back into writing. I’ve loved writing since I was 12 but went through a period of two or three years where, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t write. At least not without great difficulty. I managed a Dante-inspired piece to get me a B in college, and just about managed to whip up some poetry and short stories for my creative writing uni course last year, but writing for fun had become a chore. So I decided to blog. I figured, if I couldn’t invent a character and a plot, I would be the character and write the plot as it happened in my own life.
8) Have you ever tried skiing?
I haven’t. Is it good? I have a slight fear of falling, so it’s put me off the idea of sliding uncontrollably down a snow-covered hill, but there is an indoor ski slope here in Plymouth. If enough people dare me to, perhaps I’ll try it.
9) What Hogwarts house are you?
10) Do you prefer 1st person POV or 3rd person POV?
I like reading both – I think they both have their own unique attributes that makes a story good in their separate ways. In terms of writing, my book is in first person which I like because I can get into the minds of my characters, so I guess I’d say I prefer this style. However I still appreciate the third person POV.
11) What is your favorite Christmas Special (for any TV show)?
I don’t actually know a great many Christmas specials but I would have to go with any of the Big Bang Theory Christmas episodes.
11 facts about me:
1. I can’t swallow tablets so for pain relief I have to use Calpol (the box says it’s for six year olds but I still think it works).
2. I just bought a dark green chequered shirt. It has a hood. I’m in love with it already.
3. I love drawing. Particularly people. I’m about half finished on a drawing of a poster for the anime Death Note.
4. I have two sisters (Heather who is 18 and Jacquiline who is 22) and a best friend who might as wells be a brother (Scott, also known to me as Eagle, Severin, Scottford and Captain).
6. My Dad spelt my sister’s name wrong on the birth certificate which is why it is spelt ‘Jacquiline’ and not Jacqueline’. I think my Dad’s way makes more sense anyway.
5. I’m already running out of things to say.
7. I do not watch Doctor Who. Please don’t hurt me.
8. Did you notice I put 5 and 6 the wrong way around? You probably did. I’m terrible at jokes.
9. I own over 20 hats including a number of fedoras, trilbys and beanies. I also have 3 ‘baker-boy’ caps, two cowboy hats and a cap I designed myself for a fake concert (an inside joke to Iron Maiden fans).
10. I somehow went just over two months without eating a single vegetable except for the tiny dried shreds of broccoli in the packet pasta meals I love.
11. I’m vegetarian.
1) Favourite blog post you’ve ever done?
2) What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?
3) What is your opinion on Christmas?
4) Your preferred means of writing? (I.e pen and paper, laptop, iPad)
5) One blogger you would recommend to others?
6) What is your guilty pleasure book/film?
7) Football (soccer) or rugby (American football)? Or something else?
8) The last book/film that made you cry?
9) Favourite meal and why?
10) Is there a form of writing you’ve never tried but would like to (i.e poetry, biography, travel writing)?
11) How does it feel knowing people all over the world are visiting, reading, and following your blog?
Edit: I’m aware that I didn’t understand how this award worked before I did this, and am annoyed at myself for forgetting to post the instructions to the people I nominated. So as an addition to the original post, here are the rules as told me by my nominator (is that a word?):
The rules for the Sunshine Blog Award are:
-You have to post a picture of the Sunshine award in the blog post.
-Post 11 random facts about yourself.
-Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
-Nominate 11 bloggers. If you can’t think of 11 bloggers, you could nominate a lower number.
-Write 11 questions for them to answer
-Let the nominated blogger know you have nominated them.
As your inbox’s may have noticed, I’ve been absent from this blog for a few days. However though AFK, I was with WP in spirit. As my spelling and grammar appear to be somewhat terrible as I’m writing this, I shall keep this fairly short for today and pick up, hopefully, with a more fluent (legible) post tomorrow.
This weekend I went home to Basingstoke. I’m back in Plymouth now, ready to return to uni tomorrow, but from Friday evening until this (Tuesday) morning I was at home with the family. This was somewhat of a double edged sword. Being here in Plymouth, I spend 9 hours in classes, 3 hours walking into/out of campus, and no more than 3 hours around the house in a week. The other several hours (I’m sorry, I do English, not maths) of my week I spend alone in my room with no more sound than a CD or an episode of the latest amazing anime. So imagine going from this intensely quiet living, to being in a house where the television is always on (and always turned right up), where people can’t have a conversation without yelling across the room to do so, and where every time you think you can get some peace you are asked another question about something that doesn’t matter until several months down the line. In short: it’s painful. My brain wanted to explode. As lovely as it was to see my family, it wasn’t easy getting through the bulk of the day without a headache.
It was not all pain and misery though. Saturday night I went to a concert with my parents and younger sister. 30 Seconds to Mars to be exact. Perhaps I shall do a post as a review of the concert at a later date but for now I’ll just say it was fantastic. The three 15 year old fangirls in front of us were infuriating, but once the music got going they faded into the background and it was a very enjoyable night.
I am also very pleased to announce (and I will be doing a proper post on this when my ability to write coherently has returned) that the wonderful Matt has nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award. I got very excited about this when I read the email and I don’t have the right words to pass on sufficient thanks to Matt for it. Though perhaps, before I do write a post for the award, now would be a good time to mention I have no idea how a blogging award/nomination works. As my past literature essays have proven (on several occasions) I am notoriously bad at research and so I have not yet been able to work out how the process works or what, in particular, the Sunshine Blog award nomination is for. Consider this my appeal to you for assistance in learning more about the correct procedure for, and meaning behind, this. Honestly any help would be greatly appreciated.
I’ve been thinking lately that trying to write my book in the same room that I eat, sleep and study in is potentially killing my creativity. To an extent this may be true. Because though for the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to focus on creative writing more than normal, I’m also finding that I can get creative to a point, and then it stabalises.
I’m a horrible person. I’m awfully mean to my characters, partly by accident and partly deliberately. This is one reason I felt like perhaps a change of scenery would help my writing. Being cooped up in the same room that I spend most of my time in might be limiting my ability to think ‘outside of the box’ so to speak. I needed to show the characters painful descent more gradually, so I added new chapters that showed their slower decline, detailing individual moments of torment that would, by the novel’s climaxing plotline, build up more effectively so that the events that take place might seem more realistic, rather than ‘okay to kinda bad to what-the-heck-happened-here?’. For example, I made Jess get bullied in a way that Scott could see, to make him get closer to her. But in publicly humiliating her, and making Scott care for her more, I accidentally gave him an anxiety disorder. No, I don’t now how that happened either. It just sort of … did.
Today I got a chance to test out my theory that a change of scenery might help. My landlord sent a man around this afternoon to clean the mould (ew) from the top of my ridiculously high bedroom wall. His exact words were: “I’m here to clean the mould? I can get it done in about ten minutes but you’ll have to stay out for half an hour because of the toxic fumes”. Toxic fumes? You’re spraying something toxic in my bedroom? While this alone was enough to make me worry for my health, I obliged and took my laptop downstairs. What better opportunity to change scenery than this? (Note: I returned two hours after he said it would be safe and ten minutes in my room gave me a migraine and made me want to vomit. And I have to sleep in there tonight. Great.)
It failed. Although everybody has been out and the room was quiet – how I prefer it to be when I write – I couldn’t think properly. Maybe I was too preoccupied with the thought that somebody might come in, ask me what I was doing and I’d have nothing to say to them because, in truth, I don’t know what I’m doing. I did manage to come up with a plan for the re-write to the worst chapter I have ever written and I managed to also organise the timeline for the initial events of the novel that kick-start the main plot. So I suppose that’s something at least. But my main intention failed. I thought that being in a different room would freshen my mind and allow me to think a little differently. Unfortunately, it seems not.
This makes me worry for the sake of my book. Maybe not for my entire ability to be creative. Maybe.
I hope I can get out of this rut – I was on a good run for a while there. Four new chapters, a new mature writing style that fits the tone of the book a lot better. One or two of these chapters I’m really quite proud of. But I’ve hit another hitch with this latest creative road-bump. Last time I had one of these I didn’t work on the book for nearly three years. I don’t think I can go another stint like that. Maybe I should try changing environment completely. And medium. Maybe going outside, next to the sea with pen and paper will do me some good. Next time the weather isn’t wet and bitterly cold, maybe I’ll try this. Maybe.