Tag Archives: bloggers block

Noted Name

The door to the internet opens, and Tinman creeps sheepishly back in. It’s been too easy over Christmas to find excuses not to write, but I finally went back to our Inksplinters Writers’ Group tonight. The prompt we were given was “Edward is asleep in his chair”, and I wrote two sentences to the prompt before my brain took over, which is never a good thing…

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Edward is asleep in his chair.

Most people don’t sleep in a chair-lift when it’s on its way to the upper slopes of Mont Thing (sorry, I’ve never been skiing, so can’t think of any resorts), but then most people aren’t Edward.

In fact, very few people are Edward – take out the female half of the population, the Chinese, people who are named after their Dad’s favourite soccer player, everyone called Darryl, Henry of the six wives and the seven Henrys who preceded him, pop-stars children with names like North, Moon Unit and Scent of the Gloaming, anyone named after the town in which they were conceived excepting of course the residents of Edward, Minnesota, people whose parents thought Edward sounds too posh, people whose parents thought Edward sounds too old, people who thought Edward sounds too much like Jedward, people whose parents had wanted a girl and who are therefore called Edwina, people whose parents think it’s hilarious to list their religion on a census form as “Jedi” and have called their son Ewok, all of Jermaine Jackson’s sons, aliens secretly visiting from the planet Xjrui, people christened Edward who have since opted for a sex-change, all of the members of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, He Who Must Not Be Named, people named after the Pope, Englebert Humperdink, Jude the Obscure, Robin the Rich, Given the Poor, all five of the Tracy brothers from Thunderbirds, a Man Called Horse,the Man With No Name, a Horse With No Name, people named after famous literary characters such as Holden, Yossarian and Tarzan, the Artist Formerly Known As Edward,and a boy named Sue, and you’re left with very few people who are Edward.

Who is asleep in his chair, by the way, and after reading this who could blame him.

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It’s nice to be back, by the way…

Not A Mused

Muses

Clio, Euterpe and Thalia

I haven’t posted anything for a week now. My Muse has obviously deserted me, which makes me wonder where she went…

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Thalia, Muse of Comedy, had been missing for over a week now.

The other Muses were worried about her, and had sent Clio, Muse of History, over to her temple to see if she was ok. Now Clio returned, alone.

“It’s just as we thought,” said Clio. “She’s got Muse’s Block.”

They all shuddered. Their job was to inspire humans to greatness, and if they couldn’t think of ideas then their protégés couldn’t either. If Thalia had Muse’s Block then comic writers all over the world were at this very moment sitting in front of computer screens typing “There was a young fellow called Chuck” over and over again.

“Are you sure?” asked Melpomene (Tragedy, and unpronouncable names).

“Pretty sure,” said Clio. “I was going to ring her doorbell when I had an idea. I leaned against the door and said “knock, knock”.

“What happened?” asked Urania (Astronomy).

She answered “who is it?”, said Clio.

“Wow,” said Polyhymnia (Muse of Hymns, and whose name had been simply Hymnia until the invention of stereo), “she’s really got it bad.”

“It happens to all of us sometimes,” said Clio.

“Well, not to you,” said Erato (Love Poetry), “since History just pretty well grows, day after day.”

“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” said Clio. “I have to try to stop it repeating itself.”

She was right, though. All of them had been through it.

Melpomene had once sat for two years with no ideas for a new tragedy, until in desperation she given a hundred typewriters to a hundred monkeys just to see what would happen.

Erato had accidently invented the Valentine card by when she was unable to think of any love poem that didn’t begin with “Roses are red, violets are blue”.

And Urania had been so unable to think of a name for the new planet she had discovered that she’d ended up naming it after her own arse.

“Let’s go see her,” said Euterpe (Music). “Cheer her up.”

“How?” asked Erato. “Tell her a joke?”

They found Thalia reclining on a couch. She looked as if she’d been wearing the same robes forever, though in fairness they all did, there is no mention anywhere that any of the Muses, nor indeed the Gods, ever felt the need for a change of outfit. As they walked into the room Polyhymnia stood on a banana skin.

Nothing happened. Thalia had placed it the wrong way up.

“See?” she wailed. “I’ve lost it.”

The others decided she needed a holiday. They sent her to Paris, since they had heard it was full of Museums and thought that they were for Muses, in the same way that Gymnasiums are for gymnasts, or tedium for people called Ted.

She came home a week later looking healthier, and the twinkle had returned to her eye.

“How did it go?” asked Clio.

“Really well,” said Thalia. “In a bar near the Gare de Lyon I was served by a waiter called Jean. I asked for a gin with an olive put in, and he ended up giving me one.”

The others smiled at each other. She was on the way back.

(The image, from Wikipedia, is by Eustache Le Sueur, though he probably doesn’t care if I credit him or not since he died in 1655)

Pick A Letter

Sorry about the last week, my brain just stopped working, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to write about. I’ve been driven in desperation to WordPress’s prompts, and to one which asks us to pick a letter, any letter, and start each sentence in a post with it. Well, maybe it’ll get me going…

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Begin each sentence with the same letter. Bloody hell. By the time I’d reached the second sentence I was stuck. Best if I choose some other letter, perhaps. But I can’t just give up so easily. Better writers than me probably would. Brainier ones, too. Bet Shakespeare didn’t spend his time doing this. Boswell either. Brown cows in a field would make a more exciting thing to write about than this. Bulls too. By gum, bulls and brown cows together, that would have possibilities. Butch Cassidy would have spend a lot of time around brown cows, because he was a cowboy. Brokeback Mountain – that had cowboys in it too. Bugger me if it didn’t. Balls of steel I’ll need if I decide to leave that joke in.

Pick a letter. Put it at the start of every sentence. Pretty simple? Possibly not. Perhaps I could pick a story topic that would help. Penguins could feature. Parrots too. Perched on their, well, perches. People might rather read a story about brown cows in a field. Pasture, really. Pasturised milk is what you’d get from them. Pathetic joke, I know. Prefer the one in the last paragraph? Paragraph was totally wasted there, I could have started a sentence with it.

Choose a letter and start each sentence with one. Cool. Can’t be too hard. Can it? Couldn’t I write about, say, animals? Cows, maybe. Could be brown ones. Corralled in a field. Clever, that. Cunning, even. Cowboys could also feature. Cassidy, the guy in the film. Cor, I can’t think of his first name just at the moment. Curious, isn‘t it?

Select a letter. Start each sentence with it. Sentences like this one. Sounds easy. Simple, really. See? (Silence). ‘Snot as easy as I thought, actually. Somehow ideas run out pretty quickly. Suppose I could write about animals. Sepia cows, in a field, maybe.

Tinman’s back. Terrible, isn’t it?

The Finished Posts of May

Since I started my run of posts for the last nine days of May with a post about how I was going to have a run of posts for the last nine days of May it seems only appropriate that I should end the sequence with a post about how I have now had a run of posts for the last nine days of May.

To those of you still here even though you now know how dull this post is going to be, or those of you still wading your way through that opening sentence (don’t worry, I’ll wait for you) all I can say is that the exercise taught me very little that I didn’t know before, but reminded me of things that I needed reminding of.

Firstly, you can’t beat a good vow. Promising to the world at large, even if the large part of the world at large isn’t listening, that you are going to post every day concentrates the mind wonderfully, or horribly if you like, forcing you into thinking of something, anything, to write about. Topics that you would normally dismiss with scorn, like for example walking upstairs, are viewed as having definite potential. Watch out for future posts about me using my bus ticket on the bus, the fact that the grass in my garden is green, and which leg I put into my trousers first.

What this reinforces is that writing causes writing. Starting a topic, no matter how mundane, will lead you in directions that you didn’t expect to go, grow jokes inside your head, give you sudden ideas for things you can put in which are actually not bad.

And, though again I knew this already, it reminded me that I have a group of loyal readers who are also now friends and who will come here and support me, even if my post consists of a Chinese take-away menu written backwards (watch out for it, there’s a joke about Pork Sour And Sweet that’s absolutely hilarious).

Most of all it’s reminded me that if writing makes you feel less depressed, then there is no sense in stopping writing because you are depressed.

So I’m looking forward to getting back into it, to hopefully thinking up stuff, to writing every day.

Though I might take tomorrow off.

The Darling Blogs Of May

I have come back to my blog, cleared the tumbleweed from the front lawn, thrown out the virtual milk delivered by my virtual milkman, and sneezed violently at the dust that has lightly carpeted my brain.

I’ve been away from it for a week now. It all began when I couldn’t think of anything for the Weekend Theme, went on when I couldn’t think of anything for the Photo Challenge, and then panic took over and I couldn’t think of anything at all.

I’ve just gone through my junk mail. People who would like to sell me extensions (not to my hair, nor to my house) have written more on my blog than I have. They tell me that rarely have they read insightful forthrightness so many, or that I am found this really useful.

Their stuff is better than anything I’ve written in the last week.

I’ve been stuck for ideas before, of course, everyone has. Shakespeare got so stuck after writing Henry IV that he was reduced to writing Henry IV, Part 2, thus inventing the sequel, so it is he who is responsible for Police Academy VII, though his stuff has better jokes. But I’ve always tried hard to fight through it, to write anything at all just to get me going. But sometime on Saturday I conceded that I just couldn’t, and went to the  pub instead to watch the European Rugby Cup Final, which featured two French teams that I know nothing at all about playing a sport that I‘ve no great interest in. That made it easier not to open the computer on Sunday, and after that Monday and yesterday were out too.

There are now nine days left in May, and I am vowing here that I will post something every day. This piece, where I tell you that I will post something everyday, counts as today’s. I know that this is cheating, it’s like counting the Table of Contents in a book as one of the pages, but you’ll have to allow me this one, I’ve got to start somewhere.

You can expect posts about how hard this is, about how surprisingly easy it is, about how many days I have left to go, about the weather and how you couldn’t possibly blog in this heat/cold/humidity/plague of frogs.

Somewhere along the way, though, I’m hoping that I will get some idea for some story, and that normal service will return.

I’ve missed it.

Booked Out

Whenever someone is missing from work for four whole days it is customary to give an explanation, such as that one had flu, or the dog ate one’s car, or that one was abducted by aliens.

If you abandon your internet friends for the same length of time than the same politeness should surely apply, so I feel that I owe you all an excuse for Monday to Thursday’s absenteeism. This excuse consists of two words, which for once are not Bone Idleness.

The words are “strumpet” and “city”.

I mentioned recently that some of us from my Writers Group have agreed to try to adapt the book Strumpet City for the stage. I also mentioned that I have never read the book, and felt that this might be an obstacle.

It turned out to be a very serious obstacle, because the tried and trusted method used by people on the way to a Book Club meeting – reading a summary of the story on Wikipedia – does not work here. Wikipedia’s entry for Strumpet City is one of its shortest about anything, ever. To pick something at random, the submarine from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea gets a longer entry.

Basically Wikipedia tells us that the book was written by James Plunkett and was made into a TV series by RTE. There is a link to a piece about the TV series, which tells us that it was based on a book written by James Plunkett.

It is Google’s equivalent of a piece of paper which has P.T.O. written on both sides.

There was only one other solution. I had to read the book, which seems to be more that Mr Wikipedia was able to bring himself to do.

Now, finer minds than mine have described this book as a classic, so I have no doubt that it is my own shallowness, and the fact that my own writing style tends to be crappy happy-clappy clap-trap (and that I am unashamed of having just used that phrase) rather than the gritty realism of this book, which have caused me to struggle. After three weeks I had read just 200 pages, so I steeled myself and stopped bringing my netbook on the bus, where I usually do my writing. With no way of writing and only Strumpet City to read, there could only be one outcome. Well, now that it’s too dark to stare out of the bus window, anyway.

So I have finished. One of the girls in the group said that when she had cried when she finished the book back in the 1980s. I know how she feels.

And ok, I did get more interested towards the end, and I am glad that I read it, if only so that I can warn others not to.

Now we have to turn it into something stageable, either by using a serious of extracts, or letting a narrator tell most of the story, or by getting a cast of about 12 members to play about 40 characters plus the angry mobs that turn up in quite a number of the scenes.

It’s going to be interesting.

Word Games

Bruce Holland Rogers (nah, me neither) wrote: “When fiction writers want to write to a fixed form, they often have to start by inventing the form. The constraints that they choose can be anything. They can specify word counts, sentence lengths or vocabulary requirements – no use of the letter e for example, or the story must contain 26 words, one for each letter of the alphabet, in alphabetical order.”

 

I’ve decided to try these, because they sound like an interesting intellectual exercise, and not in any way because I can’t think of anything else to write about:

The 26-word thing:

All Big Cats Die, Eventually, From Greedy Hunters, Insulting JK Lowling (Misprint, Naturally), Or Poison-Quilled Raccoons. Some Trampled Under XIII Young Zebras.  

The No ‘e’ thing:

I want to do a post that will not put a particular non-consonant in it. This will tax my brain, as it is most common of all. It’s a good job I chose not to do drugs (as a post, not as an addiction) as nobody swallows pills of D, F or JLS.

The sentence length thing

Each sentence will have six words. The first sentence has decided that. There’s not a lot to say. Not in just six words anyway. I’m counting “there’s” as one word. The same rule goes for “I’m”. Readers are thinking “he’s gone mad”. Others think “well, we knew that”. I may get unfollowed by many. This will hurt my pride, people. People is there as a sixth word. This is really not all that hard. Crap, don’t count last sentence’s words. I think that’s enough of this. Don’t you, question mark smiley face?

The Spotless Mind

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I have discovered over recent days that I have a readership that I never knew about.

Members of my family including my dad, my brother and my niece have started reading the blog, and while they probably don’t hang on my every word, at least they don’t hang the posts on a nail as toilet paper, though this may simply be because we no longer have outdoor loos in Ireland (you should all come here, we have street-lighting and stuff as well).

They have also told friends, who have told friends, who have told friends.

Using the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, Barrack Obama should be a keen fan by about next Tuesday.

Needless to say I am thrilled by this. And needless to say my brain has frozen, and not in a whole-tub-of-ice-cream-in-one-go type of way.

I am conscious that the friends told by the friends told by the friends will come here, see that I have started skipping days and that on the days that I do write I write riveting articles about my eyesight, and that I may soon be reduced to writing eye-catching articles about rivets.

Using the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, by about next Tuesday Barrack Obama will think that I am an idiot.

Around the Block

Dear God give me something to say.

I had no post yesterday nor the day before not because of time pressure or overwork, but because I couldn’t think of anything to write about. I’ve sat down here now and forced myself to write anyway, in the unlikely-to-be-fulfilled hope that what I produce, with absolutely no ideas in my head, will turn out to be brilliant.

I am effectively casting myself in the role of one hundred typewritered monkeys.

What far more likely is that what emerges will be the height of waffle, if “the height of” and “waffle” even belong in the same phrase. It may well be the lowth of waffle, and I apologise to Spellcheck for that word, I’m put it in deliberately to annoy it while its still trying to recover from the word “typewritered”.

Things are bad when you’re reduced to relieving your writer’s block by poking a spelling-aid with a stick.

I could write that Tingirl and Mrs Tin went to the stage show of Dirty Dancing on Thursday, but there you go, I’ve written it. I didn’t go so can’t say a lot, except that both of them arrived home with huge smiles on their faces, apparently it’s great fun.

I could write that I have spent the afternoon dividing copper coins into one, two and five-cent coins, part of the proceeds of a bag-pack that Tinson2 and his friends undertook, but that would probably be as tedious to read about as it was to do.

In the absence of daily WordPress prompts I could make up a typical one on their behalf (“today is January 21st, how do you feel about that?”) and then slag it.

Or I could just accept that I have temporarily lost my mojo, and will recover it again soon.

Once I find out what a mojo looks like.

Postamostadays

Sorry about yesterday, I went on strike.

I get 24 days holidays a year, with a day added each month if I have to work more than eight hours overtime during the first four days in which GoldenEyes and I are expected to produce a whole load of reports. As this happens most months I have the equivalent of over six weeks holidays a year.

Which I find it hard to get my head around. I was self-employed for 19 years and during that time I took a week off at Christmas. I started taking summer holidays only when we started going on family holidays abroad, 12 years into my self-employment (occasionally the reasons for my nervous breakdown become clearer and clearer). Other than that I would take the odd half-day off if a really close relative or friend was getting married or had a baby.

If they did both on the same day I might take the whole day off so that I could stand by with hot water and towels, which as everyone who has watched The Waltons knows is all you need to deliver children.

As we are not going away this year I made no attempt to book any days off. Thus at the start of June I had 29 days holidays left so GoldenEyes printed out a calendar and dragged me into a meeting room. We crossed out all the days at month-beginning and month-end that I just can’t take off, crossed out all the days she was taking off and she looked at what was left. Then for each of the months she just marked days here and there, saying now, you’re taking those days off.

This means that I have today and Monday off, a four-day break which should be a time of bliss, rest and the delicious pleasure of listening to your kids having to get up when you don’t. Yet all week I’ve found it hard to get excited about it, and even yesterday on the bus home I wasn’t especially looking forward to it. Then I suddenly realised why.

I would have to write a post every day, so I wasn’t really on holiday at all.

I love blogging and want to write as often as possible, but hadn’t realised how the much the pressure of having to write something every day because I’d signed up (mentally) for the Postaday 2011 was getting to me. So I decided that I would not turn on my computer last night. I splodged in front of the telly, watched half a football match (well done, Stoke City), a Yankees baseball game that wasn’t even live and the last two episodes of a series that I recorded weeks ago.

The world did not end (actually maybe it did, I haven’t left the house today), WordPress did not send goons around to beat me, nor did they remotely remove the “I’m Part Of Postaday2011” sign from my blog. I am still devoid of ideas for the rest of the weekend but do not care as much.

I will continue to stick to the Post a Day, but only when I feel like it, like a devout Catholic who takes the pill and eats meat on Fridays.