Tag Archives: writing

Set Fire To The Night

15 Mar

Hello!

I’m sorry I’ve not been around much. Between the music, novel, and various other things I’ve not been able to write much by way of blog posts.

But, here’s a quick update. The novel is going incredibly well, and I’ve had some excellent feedback on what I have so far. There will be more on that in the future. I’m also recording an acoustic album this summer, which I am incredibly excited about.

Most importantly, though, is this. Titans & Kings, my rock band, has just released a music video. You can see it, exclusive from OurZone, here.

The song is called Set Fire To The Night. It’s set for release on the 24th March from all good online distributors, and we’re very, very excited about it. Give it a listen, and get ready to have a bit of a dance. It’s the musical equivalent of an 80s movie montage and you’re going to love it.

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Original Form: The Project

1 Feb

Yesterday, I made a decision. I was going to start work on the project. You know, THE project. Everyone has one, some kind of equivalent. The idea, the goal that manifests in a moment of absolute clarity. Something brilliant, life-affirming, something that speaks for who you are.

Conversely, it’s the project, the concept that’s just too much to comprehend. So far from completion that you’ll happily come up with reasons to put it off. You’ll keep it in the back of your mind, but go no further, just because of the sheer magnitude of work involved in its formation, let alone its creation. And every time you think of it, you’ll hate yourself for not following through. But you’ll still delay, delay, delay.

For me, I’ve had the plan ready for over a year, but I’ve been unable to put any words to the page. And I’ve had many reasons for why I’ve been able to procrastinate.

HEYY

Watching He-Man sing “What’s Going On?” doesn’t count as procrastination, mind.

This idea is an old one. I came up with it back in 2010, an idea for my Master’s dissertation that came to me too late, too much work already done on my eventual piece. That piece was called The Crossing, and it was a mystery, a horror about dark wishes and lost family that was fairly well received.

But you know what? It wasn’t right for me. I knew it as I was finishing it, my head lost in a painful, post-break-up blur. I should have shelved it, started from scratch, and damned the work already done, damned the bureaucracy of vague plot elements given in as preliminary paperwork. Damned the final mark. It wouldn’t have been important. Because even as I handed in my finished script, even as I saw my grade for it when the marking had been finished, I didn’t feel anything. I felt like a fraud, a cynic. I had used my last free time, my last moments in the creative hub of the university system, those last months with the catalyst of those talented people I shared lessons with, to finish a project I didn’t truly believe in.

Well, at least I didn’t believe in it as much. Back then, Original Form was nameless, just a thin concept, a half-paragraph. But it had that much more impact than the ninety minutes of film script, the hundreds of man hours that I handed in, back in September 2010.

anchorman reference the crossing

That said, I’m still proud of getting an Anchorman reference in.

I didn’t forget about it. But I moved on. It was more important for me to work. So I did. And my spare time had to be filled with getting fit, healthy, getting into a good frame of mind. So I did. I found other work. I moved into a flat with a friend, a stranger, and a mouse. I fell seriously ill. I spent my energy getting better, trying to find other work when I was able to, spending time on other projects, the countless musical acts, the short stories, the failed NaNoWriMo attempts, working on novels that were never going to be as good as this one.

And I kept telling myself that I would do this. It would just have to wait until the time was right. So I applied for PhDs with the project, got a lot of positive feedback, got an offer but no funding, and the time passed. So I told myself I would come back to it, when the time was even better. And I kept working, and writing other things, and playing other music, and starting podcasts, and watching, reading, listening to anything I could grasp, a cultural sponge. And truth be told, that has been my worst flaw. The time spent waiting for .gifs to load, the time spent waiting for YouTube videos to buffer, the time spent reading pages titled things like “You Won’t Believe What These Ten Cats Think About ObamaCare!”

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Some things I don’t regret spending time on. The short stories I have written, I believe, have pushed me to this point, made me ready for taking on Original Form, the labyrinthine plot map, the shifting sands of its narrative voice.  The bands I have played in may not have satisfied all my creative urges, that bizarre mixture of the substance addiction of creation and vain self-aggrandisement, but it sure as hell has been a lot of fun. I don’t regret writing for this blog either, even though the most steady hit-machine is still a throwaway post about dinosaurs in the frickin’ nineties.

But at the end of the day, this has always been calling to me. And it’s time to do something about it. I wish I could tell you more about Original Form. But I’m keeping it close to my chest, for now. A few of you have already heard all about it, but here’s something for the rest of you. It’s about a man who works in a video store. VHS. It involves the end of the world. Not the apocalypse, but the end, a finite point where the universe just…stops. It involves a black-and-white woman. At some point it may involve singing and dancing. It may also involve monsters, a dark void, and it involves the Original Form itself. I’ll let you think about what that might be.

So screw it. Here’s to lost evenings, writing until sleep comes at three in the morning. Here’s to sitting on the train, typing away, collecting funny looks from other commuters. Here’s to realising nine months in that one of the characters really adds nothing to the plot and will cause complications within the story arc later on, and painstakingly removing any trace of them from existence. Here’s to stopping and starting, creative fatigue, the mood swings, the frustration of trying to get the project as perfect as it can possibly be.

Here’s to doing something for the sheer love of it.

One Hour Stories and Half Hour Shows

26 Oct

I’ve got news! It’s time for another update on what I’ve been doing with my silly life, and it’s time to make excuses for why there may not be too many blog posts for the next month and a bit.

First up, I have a big announcement. I’ve started a podcast! Alongside my wonderfully talented friends Paddy Johnston and Rob Sherman, I run a podcast called One Hour Stories. The rules are simple: for each podcast, we are given a theme. We then have one hour to write a short story based on that topic. No editing is allowed, and after sixty minutes it’s pencils down. It’s a very fun challenge, and the first episode went really well. You can give it a listen here.

Meanwhile, you can find it on iTunes here, YouTube here, Facebook here, and PodOmatic here.

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Secondly, I’m off on frickin’ tour! As of tomorrow, Titans & Kings are hitting the road as part of a rotating headline tour with Speaking in Shadows and Autumn Ruin. We’re playing the Camden Barfly in London tomorrow, then hitting up Dry Live in Manchester on the 28th, The Bodega in Nottingham on the 29th, and finishing off with The Flapper in Birmingham on the 30th. If you’re free, please come on down, we’ll all massively appreciate it.

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Finally, it’s the start of NaNoWriMo on Friday. Even though I am stupidly busy with other things, I’ve decided to give it another go. My novel is divided up into small, bite-sized chunks written from a variety of perspectives, which hopefully will mean that I am able to get through it without it feeling like too much of a chore! If you’re taking part as well, drop me an add here.

I think that’s everything! Hopefully see you at a gig very soon!

Titans, Tumbleweed and Temporary Employment

22 May

I’ve not been around much, and for that I apologise. EyesAreOut has been accumulating dust at an alarming rate, but I swear it’s not a permanent thing. Anyway, I have some news!

First up, Titans & Kings are set to release our debut EP! It’s called Hold Your Tongue, and it looks a little something like this:

holdyourtonguecover

Plus, it sounds a little something like this:

 

If you like the sound of it, then it’ll be available on Amazon MP3, iTunes, off our Bandcamp page and also available in a limited edition CD print. Get them while they’re hot! It’s set for release on the 27th May, but you can order a physical copy from our BigCartel page and order the MP3s over here on Amazon on the day.

Not only that, but recording for my other project, White Birches, is going well. Just heard back one of the finished songs, and it’s sounding rather darn lush, mainly thanks to the wonderful production that Paddy Johnston has added, as well as some lovely work from Rob Sherman. Three songs have been recorded, with three more to go. It’s going to be all very nice and chilled, too, which makes a change from my usual grumpy solo stuff.

It's coming, and it hopefully will be good.

It’s coming, and it hopefully will be good.

That’s pretty much all I’ve had time for recently. I’ve been working a temporary contract earning sweet, sweet cashola. The work is not the most glamorous – cleaning cameras and data units that were used as part of the 2012 Olympic games, repackaging them and databasing them for storage and whoever uses them next – but it is strangely satisfying. I’m also working with one of my bestest best friends, which means there is always an opportunity to argue over which Indiana Jones movie is the best one.

There is, however, one major flaw to the job: the storage crates we’re working out of are full of gosh darn poisonous spiders. Us Brits aren’t used to things that definitely look like they’re meant to hurt us. The closest we get to dangerous wildlife in this country is the odd mythological beastie and the occasional angry badger or daddy long legs. The crates, though, appear to have come from abroad, and are full of eight-legged monsters that just look mean. Having wikipedia’ed our nemeses, some of them are definitely dangerous – although thankfully none are fatal. That said, we’re still double-checking our hard hats and jackets before putting them on and incurring the wrath of any spider taking a snooze.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Haven’t done much writing as I haven’t had a permanent base of operations for about two months, but there is more of that to come soon. Looking at my list of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m doing pretty well on them so far – although Porkins here still needs to lose a bit of weight.

‘Til next time!
(PS – here is MY suggestion for the Titans & Kings artwork. I wonder why nobody liked it…)

titans and kings ep 2

Update! Or, An Apology for Why I Haven’t Been Posting More Blogs about Dinosaurs

8 Feb

Crikey, it’s been a while. Sorry folks! I’ve been extremely busy recently. So what have I been up to?

For one thing, I’ve been in the studio with the band, recording our debut EP. I can’t tell you much: the name, the artwork, or anything like that. But I can tell you this: it’s going to sound lush. We’ve recorded with the absolutely ruddy fantastic Antonio Hanna at Freefall Studios. He’s based out of the old Fortress complex by Old Street and is monstrously talented. I’ll be sure to share around the EP when it’s finished, but it’s safe to say that it puts all our other recordings to shame.

Notice the fear in my eyes. Tor is just out of view with a shotgun aimed at my face.

Notice the fear in my eyes. Tor is just out of view with a shotgun aimed at my face.

I always enjoy going into the studio. For one thing, it makes me feel like a proper musician, as opposed to playing onstage where I think to myself ‘if I shake my hips a bit then people will ignore the bum notes I’m hitting’. There’s something so unbelievably satisfying about it as well, particularly when you’ve done a clean take, or beasted an awkward breakdown section.

Bass it up a notch.

Bass it up a notch.

There were plenty of slow moments, though. My bass was done within an hour and a bit one morning, and aside from that all I had to contribute was some backing vocals (being the mooching, unimportant bass player that I am). So I kept myself busy by working on my writing projects. Well, I say that, but I forgot my laptop for the first day so instead spent a frankly obscene amount of time working my way through Scribblenauts.

The short story collection is, thankfully, going fairly well. I foolishly decided, in one of my bouts of punching above my limited ability as an author, to write a timeline-jumping, strangely-structured post-apocalyptic short story and it has taken far too long to complete a first draft. I am now leaving it for a while, sickened by the sight of its bloated paragraphs and awkward emotional moments. It needs a good streamline, but for now I want to write something a little more in my comfort zone, so I’m back to writing internet community-themed horror. After only a few hours of concentrated scrawling I’m already 3000 words in and I suspect the new story is going to be completed very easily. There will be an extract up online fairly soon.

So, what else? More gigs, working out another musical project (I am a band whore and I am proud) as well as putting the groundwork in for my own solo EP, potentially sorting out some interesting stuff for March and April (secrets! Ooooh!) and, unfortunately, not playing much of the huge stack of videogames I got for Christmas.

Anyway, more blog posts soon, I promise! I’ll actually write something, I swear!

New Year’s Resolutions for 2013

11 Jan

Hello, everybody!

I hope that your 2013 is going excellently. I don’t know about you, but I love a good resolution or two. 2012, all things considered, was a bit of a terrible year, and I am very glad to see the back of it. I’m determined that 2013 is going to be ruddy excellent, however. So I’ve made a list of my resolutions for the coming year.

 

Get back in shape

Let me explain. I was ill for a stupidly long amount of 2012, my energy totally sapped. To be honest, I’ve become fat and I need to lose my new-found love handles. I want to get back into the shape I was in before my illness, back in 2011. This isn’t for my health, or for goodness in general. It’s entirely for my own vanity.

 

Release at least two EPs

I have three EPs in the pipeline this year. Titans & Kings, the hard rock band where I play bass, have studio time booked for the end of January. The release of that EP is a given. We’re looking to tour post-release and already have a nifty video out:

Then there’s Paddy Johnston & The Love Explosion. We really want to get an EP done this year and it looks very likely to happen. We have a truckload of songs and it would be amazing to get something permanent down.

Finally, my little project White Birches. I have a nice-sounding EP in mind, with lots of ambient layering and lush harmonies – if I find the time to record it. I also have plans for a fantastic video and a great, stripped-down live band. We’ll see what happens with those but I would love to share my own musical creativity – and by that I mean shove it down the throats of anyone within shouting distance.

I want all three EPs released, ideally. However, I will consider 2013 a success if I get two of the three completed.

 

Release an e-book

Here’s a tricky one. I am about a third of the way through my debut short story collection, loosely themed around the ideas of perception and reality. I would love to finish it and put it up online. You can see snippets here and there on the blog.

But there’s another project I have in mind. A couple of years ago, I had another blog where I shared a secret about myself a day. It wasn’t always interesting, but it gained a regular following and was therapeutic to do. I’ve been told many times that I should edit and rewrite it, by people I trust (and whose opinions I count on more than even my own). It’s something I am finally willing to do. I’m also toying with the idea of transforming it into some kind of semi-autobiographical narrative, but that’s a very young idea and one I am planning to keep very close to my chest.

So, one of the two. I want to make it happen even if very few people read the damn thing.

 

Send some short stories to magazines and webzines

Leading on from my last resolution, I want to send some of my short stories to publications – whether electronic or print. I have a few ideas already, particularly for the more genre-heavy ones. It doesn’t matter if I succeed and they publish, although obviously that would be preferable, but it’s important to take the step to try and make my writing actually accessible by someone other than my friends and lovely blogger buddies.

 

Be happy!

Finally, and most importantly, I want to be happy. It’s been a long time since I felt comfortable with my life and who I am. I want to get that back, gosh darn it. This one resolution, I don’t have a plan for, but we’ll see what happens.

 

So, those are all the major resolutions for this coming year. There are some minor ones – finally doing more Retro Reviews for Retr0mance, making a short horror movie, beating my friends Paddy and Rob at Scrabble, and applying for the television show Pointless with my Dad (we’d make a hell of a team).

Am I overreaching? We’ll see. But what the hey. Let’s make 2013 a year to remember.

Goodbye London, Hello Nightclub

17 Feb

I am currently perched with one buttock on the side of my bed. The rest of my bed is taken up by my worldly possessions, neatly packed into cardboard boxes. Well, except my books. I haven’t found space for them yet and am currently thinking of the sacrilege of chucking some of them in a duffel bag.

After seven months of life in London, I’m moving back home. It’s a complicated tale that can basically be summed up by a) a mysterious illness and b) having no money. Unsurprisingly, this has put me in a foul mood. Although that may also be down the fact I’ve been listening to far too much Lana Del Rey and am slowly becoming a teenage girl.

Quite simply, I feel like a failure. I moved out of home, making the big, post-graduate steps to becoming a fully functioning human being. I apparently then tripped over my shoelaces and broke my nose.

Anyway, I am moving most of my belongings home this Sunday, leaving me with one last week in London to do London-y things. I will, most likely, be staying in my room and seeing my friends.

If any of you London-ites want to come say goodbye, then I am playing a gig with Paddy Johnston and the Love Explosion on the 21st. It’s at the Monarch, Camden, is free entry, and info can be found here.

I’ll be back to London. I don’t know when. When I get better, which could take some time. There are a few things that are keeping me sane about moving back home. I will be near countryside again. I will be near the sea again. My family are awesome. My dog is even more awesome. My friends back home are even more awesome than my dog, which is saying something since my dog is the cutest and funniest being in the universe. She’s like Ross Noble with less hair.

I will also, hopefully, be doing one or more of the following things:

Writing a short story collection. It’ll be sci-fi based, like everything good.

Getting on with White Birches, my new music project. It will sound nice, in general.

Putting together a boss PhD proposal.

Starting up an online video series.

Putting up a podcast play.

It’s difficult to say that the future is bright, because it isn’t. Not yet. But I’ve been through worse, and I’m going to try and use this time as positively as I can.

Finally, here are some tunes I’ve been listening to. I’ve shamelessly nicked this off my old pal Paddy, but hey, what haven’t I stolen off someone else?

Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

Sóley – The Sun Is Going Down II

Purity Ring – Lofticries

Hardly Wait – Juliet Lewis

Is Your Love Strong Enough? – How To Destroy Angels