Drowning in Yesterdays

There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, in fact it’s quite lovely and even fascinating. However, culturally we are drowning in nostalgia.

Nothing new there, there’s a reason the world is filled with classics of things – we naturally harken back to a time and to things we understand through years of process. From Bach to Shakespeare, and Enzo Ferrari to Orson Welles. It’s always been there.

Some nostalgia is cyclic, the 70’s dwelled in the 50’s, the 80’s in the 60’s, and the 90’s definitely had a kick for the 70’s. Some nostalgia as mentioned lingers for decades, even centuries crossing not just generational divides, but generational gulfs.

All that being said, the 2010’s seems to have gone nuts with nostalgia. Someone figured out it sells, and someone figured out the formulas to keep it selling. And it’s been fantastic frankly, oh the hits just kept rolling in and rolling in, movie franchises long since gone were resurrected, franchises that really should have been short and sweet rolled on and on, there were sequels to books ages past, bands and groups reformed and toured and put out new albums, and new artists gave new life to old songs.

Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Playlist 2014

At least once a year I write a playlist to write to during NaNoWroMo, and there’s a whole logic around my choices which amounts to a few key rules:

  • Music that matches my story, (Starfuckers, Inc just doesn’t put you in the right place for a tender love scene)
  • Has reasonable pacing, (I will write in time to the music, that can have interesting effects on my writing),
  • Is not distracting, (if you have to stop and pay attention to the music in the background that’s bad, it’s a loss of momentum)

Now this year I had this whole plan around have three playlists, so I could better match the music that I’m listening to to the parts of the story I’m writing. One of the playlists would be entirely general music, the other softer more sad or romance inclined, and the last one would be frenetic and angry and gory to inspire a bit of carnage in my writing.

It’s a really good plan, however, I’ve also chosen to change my cloud music provider. Previously I’d been using Amazon music, (£22 a year), and have had no real regrets, especially since their desktop player really took off – but there’s no streaming to ChromeCast, and while the tracks themselves can be picked up by other apps, the playlists can’t.

So I’ve settled on Google Play Music, which confused the hell out of me because I thought it was £10 a month, (£120 a year!), but that’s just if you want a more Spotify like service. I don’t, I have lots of music, of which I add to occasionally, Google will let me upload up to 25,000 tracks gratis. And I can do all the fun stuff like stream through ChromeCast, and stuff.

I did consider going back to Spotify, but I prefer the limited ownership that mp3 has, compared with no ownership offered by streaming only services.

Unfortunately, as Amazon Music playlists aren’t sharable, I’ve had to spend time recreating my major playlists, and rather than spending ages recreating three more, I’ve just done one playlist for NaNoWriMo 2014. I’ll have to wait until my next project to play around with the multiple playlists idea, and single playlists have always worked well enough in the past.

Beneath the cut is this year’s playlist, it’s not in any particular order as I’ll keep skipping the music as I write.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Playlist Continue reading

Writing Playlist Summer 2013

Well this is awkward, I wanted to post about my new writing playlist. In the past, I used Spotify and it wasn’t too bad export the list to make it postable, (words not the music itself – though sharing that on Spotify was easy too if someone had Spotify). Now I’ve switched to Amazon Cloud Player – all my tracks stored within easy reach of my phone and my laptop without the chaos of thousands of MP3’s loitering, in many cases with duplicates of duplicates.

However, Amazon don’t make it particularly easy to export the text of a playlist – so to show you mine it has to be a cut and paste job via Excel – took two copies and pastes to get the whole thing out. This is how dedicated I am to sharing.

This is actually my longest list thus far, and it’s just under half what it started off as. However I’m happy with it.

Music is, and always has been important to my writing process, for three reasons:

  1. It gaves me pacing and rhythm
  2. It focuses the mind, and it can distract the mind from over focusing
  3. It’s inspirational

For me to add it to a writing playlist it usually has to conform to three out of these four criteria:

  1. It requires no effort to ignore
  2. It doesn’t jar with the worlds I’m trying to create
  3. It fits with world’s I’m trying to create
  4. It eggs me on, exercise music for the brain

Of course there are always exceptions, and it’s entirely subjective, which it’s my list, and probably in it’s entirety only works for me. However, I share to compare and discuss, so feel free to comment with any suggestions.

My playist for Writing, Summer 2013

Continue reading

Aspiring.org Repatriated…

Well I’m back in sunnyfoggy Leeds once again. Prague was amazing, took a lot of pictures, saw a lot of sights, ate a lot of food, and drank a lot of beer. Perfect holiday. I also squeezed in two and a half chapters of Memoir of a Space Corsair.

I would thoroughly recommend Prague as a decent retreat, though there are plenty of distractions – the goulash is amazing, and the semi-dark beer is awesome.

Now I’m back, I want to focus a bit on my writing once more. I’m finally back ahead again with my current serial, having two and a half chapters currently unpublished onsite. However, I won’t be posting anything for a little while, I want to take down the first four chapters and do a thorough editing on them, cut out some of the extrenuous detail, close a few plot holes, and clarify some of the confusing elements. Unfortunately, though it was always my intent not to, very little editing was done on what I’ve posted. Just a spelling and grammar check. The idea was to just write – however having gone through the initial stories to compile a list of characters, character attributes, places, ships, and events (both covered and implied), I found far too many mistakes to just let it lie. So for the next few weeks, I will be concentrating on a thorough editing of the initial, and the unpublished chapters, to try and form a more coherent story.

It’s a good place to do it, the first unpublished chapter establishes Arsène Frassin into a different situation from before, where he has more control of his actions, the second removes most of the metaphysical shackles that bind him, and allow him to flourish as an individual, and not just someone trapped by circumstances (though, as there are no magic wands, some circumstances are still very much present, its the form that allows his freedom of action). This is where the story really begins, we’ve cleared the back story, and that is an excellent achievement.

There are other things I’ll be doing the next few weeks too –

  • I will be completing my notes on the story, which will help to avoid future plot holes, and blatant mistakes, (the worst of which is forgetting a character completely, and having him turn into a different character).
  • I’ll also get some of my notes written up, which is in the form of a writing diary, a kind of behind the scenes look (not that there’s much to see, but I’m sure there will be as the story really takes off).
  • I’m also going to plan out a few a chapters ahead, and give a rough gudie, for myself, as to where I’m going with this (read more of this further down)
  • Lastly, need to do my Autumn playlist in Spotify

Being a child of modern times, I spend a lot of time online, and one of my favourite sites is Ctrl+Alt+Del an online webcomic, which is updated regularly, and aimed at gaming, and gamers (though I’m not really one, I do play some games so get most of it). Tim that creates the comic, has recently just finished a storyline, where fans could email in their choice for the next action. A bit like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of years ago (one of which I have on my Kindle). Now he’s finished, he’s just done this post, in which he has a tree diagram of the choices that were made, and were possible. I’ve never done anything like this for a story (I’ve done story boarding and such, but its always a linear thing, and usually never in great detail). I quite fancy giving a similar diagram ago.

I would definately have decision paths, for my purposes though, I would literally fill loads of them with sample short adventures, which gives me the choice each time I write a new chapter to go one way, or the other, or stick to the core story. I think it would be a fantastic tool because it allows me to have both a plan, and an evolving story – as each sub adventure, in some way or form will add something to the core storyline, while also keeping to my main aim of a exploring as many different space adventures as possible. The great thing about writing in serial form is that if I don’t want to further the main story line for several issues, that’s okay, as long as it eventually ties back in.

So, writing wise, that’s my next few weeks sorted. It’ll give me a October to then squeeze some quality writing in, before I break off from existing projects and switch over to NaNoWriMo 2010.  Yes, its not far away at all now.

I think science will probably feature in my NaNoWriMo novel this year, purely because next week I’ll be at the Science Festival in Birmingham, absorbing lots of lovely science to be recycled into my writing.

[nocrosspost]

Then, soon enough it will be Christmas, and the year will draw to a close. It’s been an amazing year, and we’re only three quarters through so far. Why am I getting so far ahead? Just so I can mention that next year Aspiring.org will go international again (as in I’ll be holidaying across at least three different countries next year, go me). This last paragraph is of no relevance, but it makes me happy, so tough.

[/nocrosspost]

Writing Music Playlist Summer 2010

I’m a big fan of writing while listening to music, with the right music it can keep me going, and focused on the job. It was so effective last night I didn’t stop writing until 4am, which was nice. Fortunately I’m on a week off, (yes, I know I had one of those this time last month as well, my colleague likes to tell me that I’ve got “More holidays than Judith Chalmers”), so I’m free to write at all the odd hours. Its quite liberating waking up at 2pm, and writing until 4am – or whatever other time feels right.

So, yes writing with music really does help me. Of course it has to be the right music, it can’t be too exciting, or too catchy, and anything below three and a half minutes should be considered carefully – if the songs are changing too much you’ll pay more attention to the change. Or I would anyway, but I am easily distrac…

Ooooh Diet Coke, thanks.

Where was I? Oh yes, I’m easily distracted. Back last year, I had planned to do monthly ten song playlists – but I got distracted, I also got writers block, so it never really happened. What I’ve done this time, now I’m writing again, is to make a longer playlist, and call it a seasonal writing playlist.

I’ve got quite a mix of music in my summer version, it’s mostly easy listening, rock, and alternative, with a touch of pop – it works well as background music, while still giving pace to help put fire into the writing process.

If you other suggestions for a playlist for writing music, long or short, feel free to add them to the comments.

Since I got Spotify, it allows me to share my playlist with people – so if you want to have a listen to my summer playlist, just click here.

Click more to see the playlist without Spotify

Continue reading

Music to Write To

I’m always on a quest for the perfect playlist to write to – but damn it the writing music keeps changing.

I love poetry and writing, and their sibling the song is no different (storytelling is the parent to me), they’re all capable of evoking something within us. Sometimes they evoke the writer within, helping to unlock my core creativity.

I find that what music I’m listening to affects what I’m writing, I noticed this during last year’s NaNoWriMo, I was in one of those places where I was banging out a few hundred words an hour, and actually progressing towards target. When I read back over my words, there was a pattern, I’d had Pachelbel’s Canon in D on repeat, (equally a crap and great piece of music in one – perfect writing music though),  my writing had taken on that structure, from number of words per sentence,  to roughly where the capitals were placed, and as I read it through, you could kind of feel Canon behind it. You have to be careful though, I would imagine if you’re half way through  a 75,000 word novel, and feel of the writing suddenly changes, that’s going to make it seem disjointed.

Continue reading