Writing


Global politics&News media&Self&Writing20 Feb 2006 10:51 am

I spend a small fortune on books as it is, but have just found another book I ‘need’: it is Steven Poole’s Unspeak, an analysis of the slippery language used by governments, media and pressure groups.

Did you know the term “climate change” (as a replacement for the more frightening “global warming”) was invented by a coalition of oil companies led by the US and Saudi Arabia to remove the catastrophic connotations in the original term? Stands to reason, I suppose. Always good to see these things pointed out though, lest we overlook such extraordinary rendition – ha – of language.

Red planet In other news: it would seem that my newborn novel project could loosely be considered science fiction. Not just that, but according to one person, some aspects of it could even be considered a bit science fantasy. Crikey. I’ve never read any so-called science fantasy in my life, to my knowledge. How does that work then? My subconscious mind is a stranger to me, truly.

Self&Writing17 Feb 2006 04:30 pm

As you know, I failed spectacularly at NaNoWriMo this year.

Actually, “spectacularly” makes it sound better than it was. I failed limply.

Old book Anyway, I’m starting again. Now. Here. Just me. No month-long time limit. No hourly word count. It’s a crazy idea but it might just work.

So what I’d really like from you is a virtual kick every now and then, to make sure I’m still on track and still writing for this project specifically. Otherwise I might be distracted by shiny things and flutter off, like the magpie I secretly am.

Would you do that for me?

In return, I promise not to drone about it too frequently on here. Maybe just once or twice a week… no, a month. No, occasionally. How’s that?

Thanks for your help. Have a great weekend, each and every one of you. You rock like plutonium-powered rocking horses on a gondola, and I wouldn’t say that to just anyone.

Quick, have Morrissey’s new video before the lawyers get all shirty and take it down.

Europe&Human rights&Writing16 Dec 2005 10:23 am

Today, a brilliant writer called Orhan Pamuk goes on trial in Turkey.

Orhan PamukHis novels include the astonishing My Name Is Red, Istanbul and The Black Book. He is undoubtedly the most internationally renowned living Turkish novelist.

Pamuk was prosecuted by the Turkish authorities because he mentioned in a media interview the slaughter of Armenians and Kurds by his own country.

According to Turkey, these deaths were not genocide and Pamuk has committed a crime by suggesting they were. The crime is classified in Turkish law as “insulting the country”.

Pamuk repeated his claims in October when collecting a German peace prize. His trial date was already in the court timetable by then. That “let them see” strategy drew European attention to the case and now an intense media scrutiny has fallen on Turkey and its attitude towards human rights.

The political background to this case is significant. Turkey wants desperately to join the European Union. Many sections of the existing EU feel it should not join. Some commentators think this unwelcoming behaviour is plain old anti-Islamic prejudice. Some blame Turkey’s poor human rights record for the chilly reception. It’s probably a combination of both.

Europeans are notoriously disapproving of what could be seen to be heavy-handed draconian tactics. So Orhan Pamuk’s trial in Turkey may well have a strong effect on European public opinion. The authorities may decide to be lenient to reduce resistance to the bigger economic prize of EU membership. Or they may decide to make a high profile example of him. It’s impossible to say. But it will have long lasting political implications, whichever way the judgment goes.

Outside the framework of social context, this is the story of one artist’s right to free speech. Those of us who support that cause will be with him all the way. Orhan Pamuk, stick to your guns. Turkey, think carefully. We will be watching.

UPDATE: The trial has just been suspended for the time being, minutes after starting. Turkey is buying time to find a way out of this PR disaster, perhaps…

Self&Writing30 Nov 2005 11:56 am

Asleep at the desk A huge CONGRATULATIONS to those who have successfully completed their 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. You’ve done us proud. We applaud you. We shower the ground before you with rose petals, as you sweep past in your gilded winners’ carriage. We make you literally three or four cups of tea in a row without complaining.

This fox is not among your triumphant number, partly due to slackness and partly due to starting again in the third week, which rather goes against the spirit of the thing, I know. If you add the two bursts of prose together, I’ve written about 30,000 words in total. Not nearly enough for a rosette. But I am going to carry on with version 2.0 of the novel and hope to finish it in time to join the winners in March for NaNoEdMo. (Don’t think about that now though, you poor exhausted things.)

Part 2 of the post below will appear above at exactly 2.16pm, due to pre-timeable cleverness… oh, how I love my WordPress software.

L8rz! (as The Kids, who all use predictive text now, no longer say anywhere outside BBC sitcoms)

Pop culture&Self&Writing22 Nov 2005 02:46 pm

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases Cough. Sniffle. Self-pitying whimper.

Yes, I am languishing indoors with a wobbly-leg-inducing, achy-headed, sleep-crazed cold virus. I find Victorian novels, naps and tea the only suitable remedies.

Please therefore excuse me from blog duties for the time being. I may nip over and read yours later, but I will take care not to spread the plague in your area.

Novel is going right down the pan. On the plus side, I have had an idea for one I actually want to write, using the same characters. On the minus side, I have only worked this out on day 22 of the 30 day challenge. Oopsadaisy.

Random thought of the day: I can’t normally bear Ralph Fiennes and his stiff upper lip officer-and-gentleman nonsense. But doesn’t he make a lovely serpentine Voldemort?

British politics&Pop culture&Writing11 Nov 2005 10:38 pm

Tube badge < << This is a badge I got last night at a Mark Thomas/Robert Newman gig. I quite like it.

Having been very irresponsible for most of the week, I need to catch up with my NaNo word count this weekend. Think I need to do about 10,000 words to get back on track. Yikes.

Still, last minute panic working is my normal modus operandi, so I won’t worry too much.

Hope you’re all having a marvellous weekend, and that your own novels (where applicable) are running like clockwork.

Writing07 Nov 2005 07:54 pm

I have nothing much to say, but can’t leave my blog looking the same for days on end. It’s just wrong.

Dante Alighieri, who is ace The novel is inching forwards, always just hovering around the minimum word count. Typical me, typical me, typical me… as Lord Moz would say.

I’ll get there in time, I think. But there will be no surging ahead à la Alecya or Mark. I’m just too darn slack for that.

My novel continues to surprise me. It does this by:

(a) Being a bit serious and sombre in tone; (Whuh? How’d that happen?)

(b) Having an element of spooky subject matter, quite by accident;

(c) Being in the third person, which is proving hellish as I have very little experience of the form;

(d) Having 8 characters, 4 of whom wandered in spontaneously on day 1 with fully-formed personalities and mannerisms (and that WAS scary);

(e) Being a lot duller than I’d hoped.

Nonetheless, I vow to continue.

I hope you are all enjoying yours.

Religion&South Asia&Writing03 Nov 2005 09:41 pm

Open the Kashmir border please, Indian government, for crying out loud. 73,000 dead is quite enough for one disaster zone. Let’s not wait until the harsh mountain winter arrives.

In honour of Eid, may I recommend this delicious Pakistani recipe to Lord Bargain, in which he might use his mercy chick peas.

Hope your novels are going well. I’m keeping up with the word count, just about, but am slightly alarmed by the direction in which my story is going. If all first novels can be read for deep autobiographical truths, I am in big trouble.

Religion&South Asia&Writing01 Nov 2005 09:22 pm

I have managed 1,956 words of my brand new novel so far. I might try and do a bit more tonight, or I might not.

Don’t forget to update your word count on your NaNoWriMo profile. How else am I to spy on you all? Er, I mean how else are we to foster community spirit?

I don’t know what they put in the water chez Alecya G, but at the time of writing this, she’d already swept past the 5,000 word mark. At this rate, she’ll have it done in less than a fortnight! Crivens.

Hope all Hindus (and Sikhs and Jains) are having a happy and peaceful Diwali, even if those of you in Delhi aren’t really up to celebrating much. May Lakshmi visit you first.

Writing30 Oct 2005 06:30 pm

I considered posting about Saturday’s Delhi bombs and the high accident rate on Indian railways, but I assured you my next post would be cheerful. And a promise is a promise.

So let’s retreat to made up worlds and flights of fancy. Yes folks, I’m harping on about NaNoWriMo again.

Victorian writer Here’s my deal: my plot is still fairly shapeless, but at least has a few characters ready to go. The real difficulty for me is finding one strong idea and sticking to it. When I’m pondering possible plots, I keep wandering off into different places, different genres, even different eras. This can’t be right.

It occurred to me today that I am probably amalgamating too many disparate, half-formed ideas. Having never actually written a novel before, I seem to be mashing together every plot that’s ever occurred to me, in the hope that some of it might work. That might turn out like a literary fruit salad, but it’s more likely to be the reading equivalent of emptying a four course dinner into a blender and then drinking the resulting sludge.

I need to be more selective.

Incidentally, the NaNoWriMo handbook is quite an amusing read. Best of all, it reassures you that plot points will leap into your head while you’re writing, and that this spontaneity is to be welcomed: “Even if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to fit those five ninjas into your courtroom drama, hey, they’ve arrived.”

So nuh-uh, I’m not going to worry about my plot. The path will reveal itself.

And I’m going to keep the blog going throughout too, because I’m a glutton for punishment.

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