Free Yourself

I mentioned it on Monday: Tuesday, it became inescapable.

The last time I attended any kind of convention was nearly twenty years ago, and it certainly had nothing to do with any kind of career move. When I took this change of direction, an awful lot of people made the point that to learn how stuff works, it’s not a bad idea to find people to teach you. There are courses to take online. Individuals will offer editing services or email critiques.

Or, you can decide to drive for four hours each way to a place halfway across the country based on your gut feeling. That’s why I picked Mslexicon: it’s the first time its happened, a writing-focused residential event and I’ll know absolutely nobody there. Judgement and preconceptions will therefore not exist, so they can’t derail me. What I get from the three days will roughly depend on what I choose to put in.

It is time to see if counselling really has altered my ability to be a grown up.

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I have a week to organise myself. It’s not like I’m not ready: this is what’s been planned for literally years. Going with an open mind plus determination to record everything I can, it will be an adventure. Frankly, it already is. If you want to follow my shonkily organised excursion, this is what Social media and Instagram were made for, right? I may not be willing to influence, but I do love to share.

Right, I‘d better start by updating my laptop…

Look out any Window

Sometimes, I can be a little jaded. Considering the number of submissions made since January, the amount of work that’s been outputted (and already rejected) it is probably no surprise there’s an element of ‘oh, I wonder what I’ll fail at this week’ in the mindset. Except, when I look closely at what’s been learnt in the first four months of this year, there is a phenomenal amount to be pleased and proud of.

Most of that shift involves improvements in organisation and presentation. Learning how to make things sound more seductive, enthusiastic, being able to plan and block time effectively are undoubted steps in the right direction. Add to this an increased determination not to do anything other than my absolute best work for everything, however small, is altering my outlook with each passing week. 

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There are other, more subtle changes too. Setting sensible time-frames to complete projects, beginning to learn how long things will take are all helpful. Crucially however, it is my problem solving skills which have seen the biggest leap forward since the start of the year. What do you do when a muse just won’t co-operate? How do you make something happen that patently isn’t taking place and you have a deadline looming?

The key, undoubtedly is being ahead of the game.

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Next month, a lot of things will happen differently to accommodate a project I’ve been working on for some time. The planning’s been underway since the end of March, and is now beginning to come to fruition. I’m insanely excited about what’s coming, and hope you’ll consider joining me on the journey as we enter an area of creativity as yet undiscovered. Trust me, it’s going to be awesome.

Why

To kick-start my Internet Month, it seemed like a good idea to start asking questions of the place in which we all live. I’ll be honest, it has begun better than could possibly have been expected.

Reading my feed today, someone made the comment that generalising about the bad in people seems to have become a fairly predictable means of guaranteeing retweets and follows, and I think he’s spot on. Outrage generally appears to be the order of the day for some, and responding to that fallout a predictable (and often just as pointless) upshot for many others. After one person’s made the point for you, there is no need to keep recycling moral indignation, yet that is exactly what happens. Looking for an antidote to this, I’ve decided for the next month to let the impetus out of my hands, trusting those around me to interact.

Then we see how many of that number are willing to have a discussion.

This message (and follow) today was as good a validation of the process that I could possibly have wished for. Sometimes, it isn’t simply about spewing random facts or ideas into the ether in the vain hope someone will be interested. What matters more is to find out what it is that motivates people away from the reasons they use Twitter in the first place, and to remind others that it is just as important to take part as to stand on the sidelines and watch.

Now all that has to happen is for me to provide the questions which will stimulate healthy debate and not start fights …

The Last Time

A particular movie has prompted a vast amount of reaction on my timeline in the last few weeks. I feel this is the right moment therefore to highlight some basic truths about art, entertainment and expectation to this very vocal selection of an audience who feel… well, somewhat aggrieved.

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A long-time contributor to my Twitter feed linked this man’s video into my timeline yesterday. Normally, I’d pay such stuff little mind (mostly because I’m one of six people who’ve still not seen the movie) but the You Tube screencap for the video made me literally spit out my tea:

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NOTHING WENT WRONG with this movie. At time of writing, it’s cleared the 1 BILLION DOLLARS made worldwide mark in less than three weeks. However, if you want to cash in on a huge commercial success, the current trend is not to acknowledge acceptance of how good something is, but to savagely rip off its genitalia and then wield it in the manner of a trophy. That, all told, is not good criticism. Saying something is fundamentally flawed is also not good criticism, but this video is, by its own admission, a ‘discussion starter.’ If this video had been titled ‘What I didn’t like about The Last Jedi’ it would be a vast improvement. But hey, that’s not nearly as snappy, and You Tube remains a pretty cutthroat marketplace.

There’s been an inherent problem with the Internet for a while now, and I’ve experienced it at first hand more times than I care to remember. Not liking something is totally fine, discussing that in a respectful and realistic fashion is also fine, but telling people they’re wrong and you’re right is not. That’s not how art works. It is not how cinema, or books, or TV works either. You are presented with something that is whole, made a certain way, and that’s it. This is not a video game where complaining at the design team will get your issues addressed. Art is what it is and if you don’t like it, that’s acceptable as part of the experience.

Just because you don’t like something does not make it fundamentally flawed. It means you don’t like what you saw.

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I’m making no comment on the content of this movie, because (as was stated at the top of the article) I’ve not seen it. However, there’s plenty to say on people who create an online petition to strip The Last Jedi from Star Wars canon. I get that outrage gets you click throughs and makes money, but seriously? All this kind of behaviour does is reinforce a stereotype that trust me you will not want to hold onto for much longer if 2018 goes the same way as 2017. Yes, you can object to a film if it ruins your idea of a canon, and that is totally fine. The fact remains that if the film-makers decide to take things in this particular direction, there’s a good chance in the second part of a trilogy it has been done for a damn good reason.

That’s the small issue I feel that’s been utterly overlooked by the vast majority of the haters. You’re dissing a piece of cinema that’s not even finished yet.

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I made a promise this year to be more tolerant of those people with whom I do not agree, and so there is just this post to remind myself that when somebody else spends millions of dollars on something and I don’t like it, letting that hate consume my existence or capitalising on it for my own financial gain is not the ethical way to react. As a result, I won’t watch that video, sorry. When this work of art is finally finished, feel free to tear everybody a new set, haters. I still won’t respect you, and that’s the bigger takeaway. However, if by the time we get to the next episode of this serialised content and you’ve learnt some humility? Perhaps we can talk.

It is one thing to disagree with someone’s motivations, but quite another to make money on the back of a wave of hatred.