Monday, March 31, 2014

Artist wobblies

let's be honest, I can't hope to sell paintings if I'm not confident about my work and happy with what I've created.  That's rule number one, I suppose.
Second, unlike back in the fourteenth century, leaving paintings lying strategically around your dwelling is no way to market them to potential art afficiandos.  Likewise, having them on my own  walls in my own space/house, kinda defeats the object of selling work.  It's like the old adage about winking in the dark, you know you're doing it, nobody else does.

Finding 'A Gallery' (yes, one would be good) who would be prepared, neigh, deign to display my  work, is proving way harder than I ever imagined it would be. I actually had more positive feedback in South Africa than I'm getting from the wealth of 'contemporary' galleries here in Norfolk.  Starting to make me feel as though I'm really wasting my time.  Despite the countless 'experts' on the subject of pitching to galleries, who all say that there is a gallery for every artist, it's just a slog to wade through them all 'til you can find your perfect fit.  Again, let's be honest here, I've only approached a handful of galleries that I knew before I started would not be the right place to display my art and again, my submission to them was not professional and poorly conceived. I say this in hindsight, after doing a bit more 'learnin'' off YouTube - I didn't pitch correctly and that's why I got a negative response. At least, I got a response - many people don't even get that.   

I am completely ignorant of the 'game' of selling/marketing art.  And it is a game.  It's a hydra - the rules (and God, there are a lot of them!) are inhibitive, frustrating and complex. We all know that I'm a lazy fuck and I am a novice when it comes to entering art competitions or submitting work for  open exhibitions. I realised this very painfully just now whilst surfing the 'Net and looking at the amount of competitions etc. that are advertised on the Norfolk Artists' Forum for example.  I don't have the confidence to even try to send my work to these competitions.  Well I found ONE out of about fifteen that I've looked at today (not from the NAF) but unfortunately for me, entries have closed already.   Yeah, I've read up, I've studied, I've watched countless YouTube videos but at the end of the day, I am lacking one major piece of currency - confidence.  And maybe a sound plan. I feel lost and don't know where to start, like I should be back at school re-learning all this shit.

I guess until I take control of this mess and actually stop feeling like a victim, I'm not going to achieve much in the art world at all.  Despite the incredibly positive feedback that I'm getting from WordPress bloggers (many of whom are established photographers, poets, writers, painters, ceramic artists), I feel like I'm stumbling along in a fog, blind to the potential I have.   It's a horrible place to be in as an artist.  Makes me just want to hide away in my garret*, waist deep in paint and muck.

Oh well, there's always car boot sales ... 

*I wish I had a garret!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New painting

A new abstract for end of March (also filed under the Lyrical Expressionism page, with a few more photos showing texture detail).

Autumn Texture

39" x 47" stretched canvas gallery wrap about 3" thick
Acrylic and mixed media.

World Wide Wubbish heap.

I've been a regular user of Google for many years  - I think from around 2000. When I first started using it, the search engine was relatively unknown (in South Africa at that time), most people would use Anansi.  Whenever I suggested Google, I was treated with a certain amount of awe. Remember, I was working in a media monitoring environment at that stage, having just come out of freelance journalism. Most of the information that I needed to get in a hurry, I would first try and get from Reuters and if it wasn't available there, then I'd get onto Google.

Website design and development was in its infancy during the early days of this century, many sites were very unsophisticated and extremely basic.  If a site was using Flash, for instance, it was presumed to be rather, er, cutting edge.  These days many corporate websites are architect designed mini-universes, crammed with tons of data, images, tags and of course, glitches.  This has created something of a monster.   The World Wide Web is now like a massive data-landfill, bursting at the seams with trash.   There are pockets of data floating about that should have been nuked, compressed, turned into compost many years ago but that data is still there, still running around clogging up the interweb.  There are millions of duplicate sites, spider sites, mirror sites et al.  Every person who 'designs' a website now (even bloggers, using this interface for example), are conscious of that magic, mythical term "Search Engine Optimisation".

In the 'old days' an internet search on Google brought up many hundreds of thousands of results but in general, the top ten would provide information that the user was looking for. Back then, SEO was a rude term that most people just ignored and couldn't be bothered with.  Now everybody is an SEO expert and that's NOT a good thing.   Anybody who does a quick online course in SEO, now thinks they know exactly where to put tags, what key words to use for each image, strings, links etc. to direct the most amount of traffic to their site.  There is Big Money in SEO - multi-million dollar corporations pay huge amounts of money to consultancies whose only function, is to optimise the web presence of these giant companies on the Interwebness.

A great many inexperienced web designers have lost sight of the fact that it's quality of visit you want, not quantity.  If people are constantly landing on a site and not getting the information they want, they will eventually completely ignore that site whenever they see it coming up on search results - even if it's one of the 'advertised/sponsored' sites on the right hand side (note, not left hand side) of the Google search results page.  People subconsciously block themselves from ever bothering to go onto a site again if they have been there two or three times in the past and it's been an unsatisfactory experience.   For example, I very rarely use any of the links to sites that are displayed on the right hand column of the Google home page, I treat all of them with suspicion and in most cases, rightly so.

Tracking visits to a website is no help at all, it doesn't in any way explain what the person was doing when they landed on your page.  You have no way of knowing (even if you have the referring URL) what their motive was, whether they were there by accident for example; or if they used specific search terms unique to them and their way of thinking (yes, you can see what search terms were used by a visitor to your site, that's not the point).  Statistics alone do not show a real picture of the traffic that comes to your site.  Some people are under the impression that seeing a hit on their stats from someone who is located in 'Mountainview California' means they have American friends!*

More and more I'm finding that the sites I visit from search criteria that I've carefully selected, do not have any content on their site that in any way relates to the initial search term.  This is an increasingly frustrating phenomenon and isn't going to get better, it's going to get much worse.  I have always considered myself to be rather good at gleaning information quickly and concisely from Google but as unscrupulous, uneducated or malevolent web designers continue to add more and more keywords to the lines of code on their websites, it will eventually implode upon itself and become totally impossible to decipher the garbage that comes up on your screen.  I predict that one day, you will put in a search term/phrase like "Hotels in Birmingham" and you will get a string of websites popping up in the search results that have absolutely nothing whatever to do with this topic at all.

At the moment, nobody is talking about an alternative to the Internet with any degree of meaningful narrative or thrust.  Google sure ain't going to rock the boat in leading the discussions because that would be like shooting themselves in the foot. But it's going to come and much sooner than it took us to get to where we are now. 

* In most cases, that's a Google spider crawling your data.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stand up ...

Wtf?  This old duck changed her entire life when she was well into her sixties and became a successful stand up comedienne - at over 77!  Brilliant article this (for all us oldies, long in the tooth, geriatric types ... cough ... I'm not talking about me, dumbass).

Reading this kind of article does tend to put a smile on yer face though, hey?  Shows that people have the ability to change whatever they do in life, all it takes is a lot of bravery and belief in self.  In a lot of cases, you don't even have to have the skills, you learn as you go along. That's what life is about, learning, growing, finding new stuff to keep your brain cells whirring about.  It keeps you happy, builds your personality.    So what have I always wanted to do (you have to start with some point of reference, don't you?)

a famous painter, selling work on a regular basis  (started with that, had some success, working on it, always will be)
a well-known writer, with many books published, movie deals, the whole schmuckle.  (got so far with that, have been published, didn't get the movie deal, working on it, always will be)
a hairdresser (really.  At 16 that's what I wanted to do. But parents refused to allow me to train because they believed I'd get bad eczema)
an astronomer (Shut up. You read right. Yes, I was insanely passionate about this as a career and started a course way back in 1970 but the Maths side of my brain let me down.)
Concert pianist (yep, I was well on my way, winning competitions, playing all over the show. Until my father sold our piano for new false teeth, we emigrated to South Africa and at 18 I trapped my left hand in a car door whilst out jolling with my friends.  Still I looked at doing a course to get me up to speed, so I could teach - but that was in South Africa.  I have started teaching my grand-daughter and she actually learnt stuff.  Hey! maybe that's what I should look at then.  Hmmm ... nah maybe not, too much of a schlep.
Yeah but none of these are really out of the box hey? nothing mind-blowingly crazy there. 

She's .... wait for it ...

Yep, our Kate sold out all 22 shows in under 15 minutes when booking opened at 0930 this morning - thanks ever so much Eventim for letting me know that the gates were open.  Yes, I'm being sarcastic. No fucking point at all putting an 'alarm' on that site, cos you don't get told diddly squat In Advance, when you need it.  Oh well, I'll just have to wait for the Before the Dawn DVD.  Sick thing is, half the people who will be going to see Mrs. Bush's show, wouldn't have been born when she hit her peak. 

And in other news.
Well I have paid a 'holding' deposit to the rental agents on a property that we saw last week on RightMove - the only one, in fact, that is big enough for us in this area.   Filled in a form, paid the money and now I'm told that we will be getting emails to complete relating to the 'referencing process' whatever the fuck that means.  I'm nervous, to be honest.  I will try to remain positive, because that's what the Tarot told me at 01.11 am this morning ... yes, I couldn't sleep so naturally took out the cards (as you do).  I am thinking that it's time I shook shit up hereabouts with my, er, career (or lack of it) and started to think in a completely different, new direction. To boldly go ... etcetera and so forth.    There's hope. There's always hope.

It's Friday, get off your arses and have yourselves a grand weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I was off my face ... and other true-isms ... all in the name of creativity. A bit of a personal note to Damon Albarn.

There may have been one or two things he's done that were good (Blur wasn't a bad band at all, hey?) but for the most part, as he's gone off on his tangents, it's all been one long whining boring recital and drudgery of miserable toons.  And this from a person (me) who thought this   ...

was the best song ever made.  (I'm entitled to change opinions as I get older and wiser ... har har)

Anyway Damon Albarn is off again, making controversial statements to garner publicity for his latest mediocre release and I'm fed up with all this shite.  Being productive, cos you're a heroin junkie and BECAUSE you're a heroin junkie is the most fucking ridiculous thing I've ever read in my life. Productivity does not equate to quality, dumbass.  Listen to half of Al Jourgensen's spin off industrial bands for testament to that fact.

The fact that you were off your face shooting it up all the time, thinking you were making wonderfully brilliant music is the same thing as a slob going into a pub, drinking two gallons' worth of beer and launching into song.  You might think you're singing is great, the rest of the world just know you're drunk as a skunk. Sober up. Get a grip. Take a long hard look at the 'productive' SHITE you produced when you were on your heroin hiatus, Damian and stop making publicity stunt marketing mileage out of it, pathetic.  I expected better of you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bits and bobs

When I feel a bit better (hopefully tomorrow), I'm going to try and take a walk out and grab some shots of the spring blossoms.  The trees are all decked out in their summer dresses - pink, white, yellow ... and there are daffodils everywhere.

The garage encounter for the MOT on my car wasn't painful at all - only 69 pounds and they fixed the driver's side mirror that had been smashed by a 'hit and run' driver last year. So all in all I was well chuffed with that. So the car is now legal and licensed for road use for another year.  Don't have anything to do to it either  - other than top up the oil and water from time to time. Grand little car this old Vauxhall of mine and who'd a thunk it?  I've never been much of a fan of Opel (same as Vauxhall in South Africa) but I'm starting to think differently about these cars.

The throat bug that has almost flattened our family, which I thought was the result of my tooth infection, is still not out of my system and I talk like I've got a mouth full of golf balls.  All the females in our household have it at the moment - although lady of the house bravely went to work yesterday and today, she seems to be getting better.

We are going to see a house on Wednesday evening, hopefully it's going to be okay for our brood. It's a bigger house and slightly more a month but worth it for the extra space. Also these specific landlords want long-term lessees, so that will suit us better.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Off the side of my head ... Ai! Ai! Babooshka

Oh what a treat for a Friday!  My all time favourite female artist is staging a series of live shows in London during August and September.  

Yeah okay, I doubt she'll be moving about quite like this anymore ... but what the heck:

It would be so grand if when ticketing opens, I could actually manage to get a couple of tickets for this show!  What a worthwhile event to take special chums to ...  well I've set a ticket alarm on Eventim, you never know.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

All change ...

Well our tenancy here at Spider's Web is coming to an end - 31st May is the end date of our lease. So sadly (and rather stressfully at the moment) we are looking to find pastures new for rent.  Our landlords want to sell this house.

Of course, we have to find something in our immediate area, as we are not in any way keen on the idea of moving kiddies to new schools, so that does tend to narrow down the searching parameters. Unlike when we were looking for a place to rent in the UK back in the third quarter of 2012 from the South African side, then I had free range to source accommodation basically anywhere we pleased. 

The positive thing (I hope), is that we won't be required to put down 6 month's rent up front. Negative thing is that man of the house doesn't have a new job yet and this could impact on our ability to qualify to rent any places that we find between now and end of May. 

We've found a place just round the corner from us - very large, almost brand new house, investment property, owners want long-term tenants ... we're hoping to go and see it tomorrow at 12noon. It's more expensive than the place we're in now.  So we have to cross fingers, if it's suitable, that they'll let us lease it. Otherwise, we're going to have to get a camper and park up the road in a field, traveller style. (Note to self: don't joke about these things).

I have made an appointment to take my car for its MOT tomorrow -not looking forward to that - mainly because I have 100% rip off experience history whenever the word 'garage' features in my life.  I spent an hour or so in the blustering gale force wind outside our house cleaning the floors and upholstery, the interior resembled a bio-hazard.  Lady of the house is also sicky-poo today (same throat thing I had at the beginning of this week), so she's taken the day off work. 

It could be worse ...

just to put things into perspective

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Open wide ... here I come.

I have been laying low for the past couple of days, due to a massive infection I got underneath one of my top teeth (which was eventually yanked out by a lovely German dentist who was fascinated by my South African accent*).  "Where did you live in South Africa?"  She asks, right at the point where she shoves a group of needles into my gum.   "Bjbhloaahshlaaassssblurphffssshh" I squeak.  She nods, sagely. "Ah yes, Johannesburg. I lived in Hillbrow for a while." 

I've always had a soft spot for dentists.  They are one of the few medical professionals who you can go to with an excrutiatingly bad pain and seconds later, it's gone!  Either drilled out or pulled, depends who you go and see.  I've had a few very, very good dentists in my time. My favourite was Doctor Tobiansky in Benoni (back in South Africa) who always kept my teeth in perfect working order, he didn't like to yank teeth out.   Then there were the brothers in Welkom who sorted out my skew teeth and put in wonderful (but, erm, pricey)  caps that are still going strong today, I saw them on the x-ray I had this week.

Unfortunately, during my dental wanderings, I suffered from a dry cavity in my lower jaw.  Believe me that is worse pain than giving birth to a child.  It drills its way into your ears, your brain, your neck, ears, throat. You can't think straight. Every time you take a step, the pain reverberates around your head like a mad demon.  I suffered the dry cavity one whole day and thought I would end up in a mental institution or dead.  I was booked into emergency surgery at a brand spanking new hospital in Benoni (different dentist to Tobiansky) and the offending cavity was cleaned out and fixed.  The anaesthetic was marvellous, I was tripping for a few days on pain killer bombs they gave me, it was worth every injection.  Left the hospital with absolutely no pain, no side effects (other than the psycho hallucinations and yummy mushy feeling of the anaesthetic). I seriously dig dentists.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Off the side of my head - Friday rant, yes really, kinda.

So we settled down to watch a recorded Jonathan Ross Show last night, which featured the ever brilliant (although she must resist the urge to smile at her own quips) Sue Perkins.   Half way into the conversation, the topic cropped up (as it is want to do these days with regular abandon) about her 'coming out', which must have happened quite a long time ago.  I'm sorry but I'm just bloody fed up with all this shite.  Why is it necessary to highlight a person's sexual persuasion and turn it into a reason for a conversation on national TV?  Why is it even necessary to bring up the topic at all!?  You don't see talk show hosts asking obviously 'straight' people when they decided to stay straight and what impact it's had on their lives, their parents.

Why are gay people being openly singled out and kind of put on a pedestal?  And it's normal and politically correct to do that?  I don't understand.*  I wish they'd stop. It makes me nauseous.  There is no merit at all in bringing the subject up.  Being gay doesn't affect your mental ability. It is purely and completely all to do with the fact that you prefer to have sex with people who have the same genital bits as you do.  That's it. So for god's sake can we please just stop drawing attention to it, like Gay people have got more rights than heterosexual people, or their sexual business is more important than a straight persons'. It isn't. It's not important. Stop doing it. Please. 

*NO, I'm not homophobic you blithering idiot, connect the goddam dots.

God in a spin

Video sequence on APOD (where I found it originally) and also on Kevin Gill's YouTube channel

Off the side of my head - Friday rant ... but this is a rose.

I am right properly impressed with  No, really, give credit where it's due.  Here's the saga, judge for yourself (timelines are estimates, can't remember what happened half an hour ago most of the time)

  • Was ironing daughter's blouse with the iron, the dodgy one that I normally use for fusing Tesco plastic bags. Bad idea. Iron is fucked. Iron burnt blouse. Big hole. 
  • What to do?  Felt right bad cos it were a pretty top, and all. 
  • Look at blouse and see it has a label on the back of the neck saying "Next"
  • Think, oh okay, let's check out website - any excuse to do some online shopping. 
  • Go onto Next or whatever it's called and after window shopping for a while, choose replacement top.  Not the same but it was worth having a go. 
  • Think that I'm purchasing top, send to cart, finish transaction, waiting for them to ask for my credit card details but then I get a screen that says the order is on its way (or something like that).  What?  I haven't paid for it guys!  Hello? You've made a big fucking mistake here. But thanks very much for sending me a free top ... spends rest of day grinning to herself. Thinks she's got one on the corporates.  Didn't read small print. 
  • Next day just after I'd had my coffee and marmalade toast a nice lady knocks on door with the Next bag.  Bloody hell, that was fast!  
  • There's the top. Still no bill, just a slip saying that I can return it within 10 days (or some such) and they won't be charging me for it.  If I don't return it, they will put it on my 'account' ... account?!?  Go to my account online and check out further information. 
  • I dutifully follow the instructions, like your average moron and low and behold they have given me 300 pounds credit, just sommer like that. No credit checks, no asking for my blood type. Impressed, I is. 
  • Anyhoo, daughter comes home. Absolutely hates top but is touched that her mum went to so much trouble.  
  • I hate the whole concept of returning clothes.  It is a bugbear in South Africa and very hard to do most times.  So I'm filled with a bit of trepidation ... oh fuck now I'm stuck with a top that A doesn't fit me and B I don't like now anyway but C is going to cost me money and I'm going to have to pay for it because returning stuff is the ants' bumhole. 
  • Look on slip that came with top and notice that all I have to do is put it back in the Next courier bag (that I kind of graunched when I opened it), stick on a supplied courier slip and I don't even have to phone them, I can just go to my account and select a day when nice courier lady can come and collect it back.  So I select one day hence into the future.  Repack the top into the courier bag, stick it all down with cellotape where I buggered it up previously. And put it on the sideboard near the door.  
  • Next day, Postman Pat from Royal Mail stops and bangs on my door - I open it and there is a very heavy box.  Inside it are two HARDCOVERED books - one a catalogue displaying the 2014 Spring collection of household items, furniture etc., second book is the Spring Next collection of clothing.  Bloody hell. These books would have cost in the region of 20 pounds to publish, they are substantial, printed on glossy paper! I got them for free. I love getting books for free.  Or did I?  Er ... go online and check out account.  Yep they are for free. 
  • Next day nice Courier Lady comes and collects parcel. 
  • Next day I get a lovely bulky envelope, inside is my account credit agreement, vouchers and what not. Just have to sign on the dotted line, return credit agreement in the reply paid envelope and I've got my credit.  Again, no intrusive personal questions. No asking for latest payslip, proof of residence, copy of my passport, six month's bank statements.  
  • Today I get an email saying they have received my returns and would I like to do some more shopping?. They've lopped off the price of the top (though I believe I will be responsible for the courier cost).  
  • This is service, folks and one of the reasons why newbies to the UK end up saying things like,  'Everything works!' Because it does most of the time. 
  • Forgot to mention that throughout the whole exercise, I've received regular email updates telling me where the consignment was, when I could expect delivery, what time the courier was going to arrive for the return and so on.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Analyse this ...

So our little man has got a very mild case of chicken pox ... he'll be going back to school on Monday.  Considering he's only four a half he's been very good this week - manages to keep himself amused for most of the day (sound effects and all).

Having the 'man of the house' home full day at the moment, while he looks for another job, can be a bit ... er, what's the word? cramp-inducing.   I have had such a strong yen to paint all of this week, I don't think I'm going to be able to resist the urge for much longer but it's really difficult painting when you know there is another person wandering around. I'm used to creating when there's nobody else about but me in the space, kind of my private little bit of idaho happening. I know MOTH will not encroach on my space and keep the F away but it's just the idea that there is someone else there - kind of makes one feel guilty, I suppose.

The enigma that is Thom Yorke

Watched another video last night on YouTube, from 2006 Mercury Prize awards ceremony of Thom Yorke doing "Analyse". I hadn't seen this before, so of course I have to put it on here now, don't I?  And speaking of analysing stuff, why does this man affect me so much?  It's not like he's drop dead gorgeous.  He's got a wonky eye, as we all know, that can sometimes make him look positively creepy. It's not his looks and it is his looks. It's his voice but then I'm not into whining voices and let's be honest, he does have a whining voice.  Yes, he's a brilliant musician. He plays the piano way better than most other contemporary musos but even though the music is technically different to most other pop/alternative/rock stuff and has interesting chord structures, it's NOT difficult music. It's still pretty easy, technically, to play - witness his hands that barely move from the middle register of the keyboard. No, that's not it.  It's a combination of a whole ton of stuff like:

  • Humility (he plays on an upright in this performance, he does that a lot - not a pretentious baby-grand in sight)
  • He doesn't stand around waiting for all the applause before or after performing. He just gets down to the business of making the sound. That's all he's concerned with, which can be ascribed to lack of ego or God complex - depending on your perspective. 
  • Juxtaposed with points one and two we have a complete paradox - he takes a moment to scan the audience, cool as fuck, just the whisper of a smile coaxes the side of his mouth. Has he decided to tease everyone?  Does he enjoy drawing it all out?  Does he feel sorry for all us plebs? 
  • This song is full and wide and grandiose. Even though it's only fragile little him, his scratchy, couldn't-care-less-but-I-get-the-notes-when-it-matters raw tones and the piano.  Something completely magic happens in this song, it goes places. Thom is vulnerable but supremely powerful, at the same time. You wonder if he'll get through it properly at the beginning, your heart goes into your mouth, it seems a bit faltering but then it gathers up its skirts and thunders along. It doesn't stand still. But it is, after all, just a pop song, with a beginning, a chorus and a bridge ... rinse and repeat.
I'll just have to say that he's a magician at what he does, I guess.  I love him to death.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wordpress versus Blogger

I've often dissed WP on this blog of mine.  Maybe it's because Blogger was the first blogging platform that I ever used and there is a degree of bias and favouritism towards this platform, as I've always found it to be the easiest to manipulate and use. It's very user friendly and that, maybe, is one of the reasons why it's not gaining as much ground as it used to.  It's no longer the cool kid on the block, due I suppose to its ease of operation - just about anyone can start a blog using this interface and that's not necessarily a good thing.  The proliferation of family blogs is now riddling Blogger and a lot of the 'content' is really inane drivel that should not be aimed at the mass market. Most blogs should delist from public search engines and keep themselves private, or unlisted. (No, not mine, don't be bloody stupid! mine's brilliant .... I have been told ... er cough).   My other blog is only viewable to family and close friends, it is not publicly listed, you can't search it and that's the way we will keep it for as long as there are images and information about our children thereupon.

Now about WordPress.  It's clunky as all hell.  No-one just sommer gets cracking on WP without doing a lot of tutorials. Things that should be 'there' are hidden away under 'here'.  Stuff that should be easy as pie to configure take a Degree in Systems Analytics to figure out.  Well, that's how I've always perceived it.     This week, I had a long hard look at one of my old (but existant) WP blogs that I only ever used for moaning on about family and life, that I didn't want family and life to read because they'd all get pissed off and disown me.  It was god awful and miserable as fuck.  So I got hold of all the posts and shoved them into the virtual trash-can.  Then I chose a very simplistic, minimalist (read White) theme and made one post ...

New Artwork for First quarter 2014

For Hayzel
Abstract #4
Large Acrylic Abstract
Large Acrylic Abstract – Lyrical Expressionism style.

That's it.

In the space of fifteen minutes after publishing this really un-content worthy post, I had three people (all in the Art community) LIKE the post and the blog.  I've had another two people LIKE the post today.  I'm a bit flummoxed and very surprised.  This has NEVER happened on Blogger - no matter what tags, labels, description, SEO shite I used.  So what to do?  I'm thinking that I need to capitalise on all this LIKE-y stuff and build up some kind of readership, maybe this may lead to sales of my work.  Any ideas, you worthy WordPressers?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Off the side of my head ... Friday rant.

To the lovely people at Anglian Home Improvements.
My daughter told me yesterday that we had to watch a programme on the telly last night, called something like, DIY SOS the Big Build ... because it would be featuring the folks from Anglian Home Improvements* helping with a big 'charity' renovation.    The programme is similar in concept to the American tv show, 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' but without the screaming and shouting of Ty Pennington.  
Well, from about five seconds in to the UK show, my daughter and I started crying and the bawling continued throughout the show varying between wailing, sniffing, sobbing or just looking like we'd been hit by a cyclone.    It was so SAD!

The poor man that everyone clubbed in to help on this show, had FIVE children (one was a stepson) and he'd lost his young wife about a year earlier.  She contracted cancer on her spine whilst she was pregnant with her fourth baby and was dead inside 8 months of being diagnosed. 
The whole family (little ones ranging from a baby to a boy of about 8 or 9 years of age) were living in a two bedroomed home.  No space, the dad had been sleeping on the couch for over a year.  He had given up his job (he owned a trucking company before all the misfortune hit his family) to care full-time for his children and give them his undivided attention - trying in his way to help them come to terms with the loss of their mum.   The dad, of course, hadn't had any chance to grieve, he just had to get on with it; yet he still found time to coach under 10 football.   

The teams of volunteers, contractors (and of course, the folks from Anglian Home Improvements, who weren't really credited that much in the film) came in and turned the house into a six-bedroomed, spacious home.  The massive back garden was transformed into a relaxation area, including a football pitch, Wendy house and activity/climbing area for the children.   It was a wonderful effort and by the end of it both my daughter and I had swollen eyes from all the weeping.

Thanks AHI, I think ...

*she works for these people

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's going on with GoT?

I'm not sure how other readers of the George RR Martin books (Game of Thrones) are feeling about the massive amounts of changes that have taken place to the TV version of the plot/sub-plots/characters/settings etc. etc.?

We bought the boxed set of Series III last week, to catch up (Yeah, I know Series IV is due for release in April) and as I've read all the books thus far printed by Mr. Martin (as far as Dance with Dragons), it's very frustrating to see just how many changes have and are being made as HBO thump along with the TV adaptations.  Some of the changes are pretty major.   

HBO must have felt it necessary, for copyright purposes, to list the differences between the TV series and the books over here   I'm beginning to wonder why I bothered to buy the books because the TV series I'm watching at the moment, bears scant resemblance to what I've read.  I feel sorry for people who maybe were inspired to get the books, after watching Series I and II on the telly - they must be as confused as all hell by now.   I feel, frankly, a bit cheated.  I was really looking forward to Series III and I can't see any reason at all for spending huge amounts of money in developing long, drawn out scenes between characters that Never Took Place In The Books. 

Yes, I'm fully aware that a certain amount of blunt editing and adaptation has to take place when filming an Epic - especially when the bloody series of books is still not finished. So fine. Edit. Cut away. Chop it up.  But why develope MORE scenes and ADD them to the ongoing saga of the 7 kingdoms?  Why change storylines that were perfectly polished and brilliantly realised in the book? 
I can't understand why, for instance, the TV producers/directors/writers thought it necessary to include scenes that NEVER HAPPENED in the books (and there are so many, I can't list them all here - go to the website and have a read).

 From what I've read on the interweb, Old George seems to be happy, for the most part, with the changes - I suppose he can't really say otherwise, can he?   I'm sure they've compensated him financially and he is probably getting loads of spin off deals resulting from all the plot/character changes.   Believe me, there are so many changes, they could make a TV series about this topic alone and that would also run into several episodes/series!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Writing update

So I am kind of pleased with myself that I actually managed to get a story completed - i.e. with beginning, middle and end - sufficient for my 8 (going 18) year old Grand-daughter to read on the plane when we went over to South Africa recently.  It ran to 36 pages and is in the region of 14,000 words.  So a small little story, written in reasonably good English (not too highbrow but not condescending either).  She cracked on through it, enjoyed it a lot, laughed in all the right places, got the characters and is now chomping at the bit to read the continuation.    

I have put it away (although it's actually printed out next to my bed) and will not look at it (I promise) for at least another month.  Then I will get stuck in with the editing, polishing, adding detail/richness, sorting out any obvious plot mistakes etc. etc.
Then I will let it ferment for another month or two and re-edit after that.

Once the editing, polishing is done so that I am happy enough with it (I'm never happy with my stuff, so this is a tall ask) ... I have to find someone to critique it, rip it apart, tear it to pieces and generally put me off writing for the rest of my life.  But who?  I can't ask friends or family to do this ... because I don't trust their critical eye.  I don't have a literary agent, I'm not part of any writing clubs/groups (scared shitless of those, to be honest) ... someone told me to submit it (anonymously) to an online writer's group but I'm terrified that my story will be stolen before I have chance to get it published (yeah, it's that good ... cough).

So anyone have any tips? Or better still, prepared to read it (bearing in mind that you have to put on the cap of an 8 to 10 year old?) All suggestions, no matter how rude, will be greatly appreciated.

i chi*

My favourite flower is the Daffodil.  My Chinese horoscope sign is the Dragon.  I have Welsh ancestors, my Granddad used to sing 'Land of My Fathers' to me in faltering Welsh and I cry every time I hear it.  Both my aunties live on the Welsh border.  I think I have more of a Welsh connection than an English or Scottish one ... so Happy St. David's Day. .

* for you.