Blog Trends – May 2014

So I was interested in what types of posts on this site, that I’ve written so far this year, are popular; to perhaps learn where to focus my efforts. So, a few minutes with Google Analytics and Excel and the results are in!
2014 Stats May
I think we can safely say that the ups and downs of the narrative world of Hellblazer and John Constantine are probably only interesting to me! This is, of course, terrible news, but I shall try to resist the temptation to try to convince the readers otherwise with blanket coverage.

My interests and articles in the world of digital media distribution certainly seems to attract some interest, the most successful of which being Comixology and Frictionless Digital Consumption. I’m also very pleased that the reviews I’ve been putting up are doing reasonably well, though perhaps by stuffing the ballot box. The review of the short film The Voorman Problem was the one that garnered most interest.

What seems to be of special interest though are articles about tools for writers, from writing software to script structure or questions of language. I can understand that, everyone is looking for a light in the darkness, that small nugget of assistance that will lend polish to their work.

So, next steps will be to perhaps provide more articles with some utility, and perhaps shelve that list of John Constantine crossover TV show ideas. But first, I’m working on another review…

On Reality

I think that, to a greater or lesser extent, writers have a tenuous grasp on reality. In fictional worlds we create situations, people and places, but tinged by our own perspectives and experiences. Even in non-fiction, the worldview we put forward is a constructed, edited one, addressed at an audience and free from many of the contradictions of our inner minds.

I bring this up because, on the few times I actually remember my dreams, the barriers between dreamworld and ‘reality’ become so blurred for me, that even on waking I’m still not sure whether I’m still asleep. I had such a dream last night. In a semi-awake state I wrote the following in my journal:

It’s not the first time I’ve had dreams indistinguishable from the real world, whether realistic nightmares of masked loved ones, or dreams of a full day of work. This also tallies with my love of films that question what reality is, whether it be The Matrix, Existenz or, most appropriately, Inception. I wonder if my love of these films is because of the dreams, whether the dreams are because of the films, or because both are a symptom of my post-modern suspicions about the so-called absolute and irrefutable nature of reality.

The nature of reality is something I come back to a lot. I write a lot of urban fantasy, a modern, recognisable world where beneath the comforting veneer of the familiar lies the horror of the unknown. I wrote a non-fiction piece called Parallel Words for a comics website and a somewhat niche spoken word piece called Plato’s Cave. Anything to try and make sense of the desert of the real.

We use the word ‘real’ as if it’s solid, reliable, its stability a comfort. Reality is terror enough for some people, without adding the complication that it might not be quite as comfortingly immutable as they convince themselves it is. Malleable reality, inter-layered interlocked personal paradigms, these are the ephemeral things of dreams and nightmares, where nothing can be relied upon.

I recently read, and loved, Michael Marshall Smith’s Only Forward (review soon!) in which the protagonist says the following:

People always find it so frustrating that there’s no structure they can see, that they just have to follow the river downstream and see what they find. They want to know the plot so they can guess the end, because they’re afraid of what it might be. I can understand that, even though I know it’s not the way things work. I never know what the hell’s going to happen next, but I can live with that.

As writers we craft our realities, overlapping with those of others from time to time; we show them our rivers and will them to follow them downstream. If we’ve done our jobs well, they won’t know what the hell’s going to happen next, and we hope they can take aspects of what we’ve created for them and integrate it into their own realities.

Finally, in summary, I leave you with some words of wisdom from John Constantine:

John Constantine on Reality

Anatomy of a Party

A bit of a departure from my regular posts this morning. Last weekend I threw a party for a friend, themed around a 1920’s Speak Easy; an opportunity for people to meet up, get dressed up and get a little bit messed up.

Obviously there were two important components to start with: A 1920’s Playlist on Spotify and a Cocktail Menu. One thing I learned a little too late about cocktails at parties: Make big jugs of cocktails, and limit the cocktails like the Old Fashioned that take ages to make properly and need to be made one at a time, unless you never want to leave the bar all night! Saying that though, the Old Fashioneds were delicious, so it might be hard to keep to that rule!

To get everyone in the spirit of things, I adapted the rules of the party game Mafia to the setting of a speak easy and came up Prohibition! Sadly we only got to play one round through, but in future I can always wheel out the Christmas-themed version I wrote!

After the end of the game, to accompany a lot more drinks and perhaps not enough food, it was time for a more generic party playlist, again on Spotify. This then kept us entertained until the musical butchery of late-night, drunken Rock Band ensued!