Tag: Writing

I’m sorry, this blog is no more.

(this is my last bold-faced, bracketed subheading)

Sorry for the silence.

I won’t go into detail here because this blog is now dead. It’ll remain online for people to check up on that Geographical Pickup Lines post, but there won’t be anything new here.

Instead, I’d encourage you to check out my new blog, with its own fancy domain!

Hope you see you there,

Casey

See you in a month

(I don’t always take a break, but when I do…)

Long story short I can’t be doing this blog at the moment. I’m not doing so well currently, and am basically in the process of stripping down my life and rebuilding it somewhat from scratch. And if I’m gonna do a cold reboot of my life, I don’t want something like this blog bridging the gap, stopping me from moving on from my old, shitty way of doing things to a newer, less shitty method.

So I’ll see you again at the start of December.

I need reading week

(much like I need oxygen or the excitable voice of Superjeenius as he plays Phoenix Wright blind)

I know that medics, lawyers and anyone doing a degree slightly more employable than a BTec in remedial knitting will take reading week as just another seven-day span of revision, stress and underappreciation that mirrors about 98% of adult employment, but for a special creative snowflake such as myself, I need this bloody week.

It’s not that I’ll be noticeably freer over these seven days; I visit uni less frequently than one uses Kanji as a party member in Persona 4. And my writing and society responsibilities aren’t going to bugger off into the either just because some administrative bigwig at UCL arbitrarily circled this upcoming stretch of days as ‘days off’. It’s just the concept of ‘no classes’ that sings to me, like a siren dragging me towards evenings of Football Manager, Doritos and sandwiching my feet under my desk between two pillows like giant monolithic slippers.

Often, I feel that stress only has an impact on your life if you define yourself as ‘stressed’. I’ve worked through the hell of A-levels, which is objectively the busiest few months of my life, but never felt strained or stretched as I didn’t think that I was getting stressed, only that I was getting work done. Similarly, hammering out a dozen articles a day can feel rather easy if I don’t think about the scale of work I have to do, and instead focus on that work. Without context, stress ceases to exist, as one’s to-do list becomes nothing more than a series of individual tasks.

Yet recently, I’ve had to contextualise my actions. Whenever I’m reading a piece in Old English, I’m aware that my work counts towards my degree, and immediately start questioning if this degree is worth the tear-inducing debt I’ve racked up to pay for it. When I write for The Game Shelf, I’m not just thinking about the article in question, but how that article feeds into the broader identity and appeal of the magazine, it being the project I’m most serious about pushing to a profitable state (at least on a part-time basis). As my life becomes more real life, it becomes harder to focus on tasks and distance them from their scary, stressy contexts, and panic and fatigue quickly sets in.

The best part, however, is that there isn’t really a solution as far as I can see. I can’t be oblivious to the broader consequences of my actions, because they’re more real than ever before; if I don’t take paying my bills seriously, I won’t have a home; and if I don’t take my degree seriously, I won’t have a job. I’m aware that I’m defining a lot of my future in the negative, but that’s just how responsibility makes you think. Instead of doing task for benefit y, you’re doing it to avoid consequence z. Equally, I’m not going to let off on any of my activities, because they’re all engaging and fun and I’d honestly struggle to justify dropping one instead of another based on arbitrary and subjective definitions of ‘usefulness’ (apart from my addiction to Persona 3; I’m pretty sure I’ll only get better grades if I cut down on that). So in the absence of an answer, I’ve stuck it out, to wait for a temporary reprieve from the madness and fear. This seems to be the default response for a lot of people my age, and until I graduate, and have time to consider my experience, qualifications, interests and dreams, that’ll have to do.

Of course, by then it’ll all be too late, and I’ll have to give up, become a secondary school English teacher and get a cat to keep me company.

If you say ‘LOL’ in real life, I’ll kill you in your sleep

(and I don’t mean ‘LoL’)

You suck. You are a failure. You are, in many ways, what is wrong with our culture. Not all the time, and not in every aspect of your life, but in one particular facet you are despicable. You say ‘LOL’, the abbreviation of ‘laugh out loud’ in normal conversation.

Now I’m not gonna be that head-up-my-own-arse English student who hates all textual abbreviations and uses semi-colons and Oxford commas in his texts; these aspects of language are awesome, serving useful purposes and allowing people forms of self-expression beyond more archaic language. My problem is with ‘LOL’ specifically.

‘LOL’ is mono-syllabic. ‘LOL’ is a heavy, finite sound. ‘LOL’ is, when said aloud, either a chirped, brief ‘LOL‘ or a drawn-out, droned ‘LAAAAWL’. All of these things are an affront to the emotion and noise ‘LOL’ actually stands for – a laugh. Laughs are boisterous and unpredictable, intangible and instinctive, reflecting a sudden and unorchestrated response to stimuli that is delightful. ‘LOL’s, however, are functional; they’re the collections of letters you put on a group chat when you don’t know what to say next but desperately want to continue a conversation.  They’re also abbreviations, a needless tightening of the meaning of a laugh into three characters, while the best laughs are rambling, hysterical and open-ended.

As well as being an affront to the very meaning of a laugh, a ‘LOL’ is fundamentally insincere. Instead of laughing at a joke, you are acknowledging that you understand its comedic intent, but that this intent was too poorly-delivered to deserve an actual laugh. Funny things are laughed at, not quipped away with meaningless leetspeak in quipped, mechanical tones.

A lot of people are worried that colloquialisms, derived from the Internet specifically, will uproot existing languages and replace them with their own, bastardised dialects; but this is the fate of all languages, to be twisted into new forms as new generations need them. However, while new words and phrases bloom to give substance to new thoughts, the shrinking of existing thoughts into crappier, dirtier versions isn’t just another ‘development of language’, it’s a complete 180. And if you’re saying ‘LOL’ in real life, you’re ruining the humble brilliance of a laugh because you’re too socially awkward to say ‘I see what you did there, but it’s not that funny.’

So stop being a pussy and using this shite non-word.

This part sucks

(*drums fingers impatiently*)

I sent off my essay today; it’s technically due tomorrow at 11am but I’m not going to get much out of slaving away for another twelve straight hours, just for the sake of using all the available time. The essay is done.

This opens up a myriad of problems. It being ‘done’, in terms of the work I shall put in, means I can’t improve upon it on my own; the opportunity for me to take the lessons learned from my previous mistakes, and my understanding of texts, and collate them into a single document affirming my grasp of these things, has passed. It’s over. Dead. Essays – or meritocratic projects in general – distill one’s interest for an expertise in a subject into a single tangible thing; there’s an obvious practical reason here, but this doesn’t get around the problem that learning is fluid, while essays are fixed.

Having an essay due every other week imposes an artificial fortnightly set of milestones on my learning, that I’m improving as a reader and a writer every 14 days; in reality, however, I’m progressing or regressing every day, every hour, and every minute if I’m writing something at the time. And that disconnect, between endless self-improvement stop-start academic improvement, is never more pronounced than now, the painful no-man’s land of having completed an essay but not yet got feedback on it.

That lack of feedback is the other reason this no-man’s land sucks; every sentence written is a sentence imperfectly written, and so an opportunity to improve. But now there’s a cooldown period, as my manic passion for the subject relents as time passes between now and my writing of the thing; it’s only a short period, but I was really into Alfred and his Preface to Gregory’s Pastoral Care a few hours ago, and won’t be come Tuesday morning. This might be a failing of my own enthusiasm for my degree, but I think that it’s just hard in general to maintain a passionate interest in any one thing for a period of time.

Ultimately, I need to ease off when it comes to my writing and its improvement; I’ve known this for ages, but still can’t feel comfortable without a new deadline rearing its head or a list of mistakes and errors to improve upon. I’m constantly afraid of plateauing, or coasting, to the point that I’ve been more stressed now that my essay is handed in yet unmarked than any point when I was writing the damn thing. I love to work, and love to improve; these 36 hours are the only time I can do neither.

The Blogger Recognition Award

(I’m certainly a blogger; not sure about being recognised though)

You know those boss battles where you’re down two party members, have run out of PP on your designated healer and your jack-of-all-trades protagonist is suddenly left isolated, their weaknesses exposed and their lack of specialisation hamstringing, as your HP dwindles yet you guard and physically attack for a desperate last few turns; and then you get three critical hits in a row out of nowhere, find a perfect recovery item in the lining of your knapsack to revive your heavy-hitting mage, and suddenly you’re launching fireballs like a pyromaniac on speed as the battle music picks up at an eerily appropriate time? Well, I had the blogging equivalent today; I couldn’t think of an idea for a post, only to stumble into the welcoming awarding arms of this cleverly-named blogger.

With that in mind, let’s get on with the award, shall we?

Select fifteen other people or blogs to give the award to

Fifteen!? Alright then.

  1. Dan Marino
  2. Littlekuriboh
  3. Joseph Stalin
  4. Noodle from Gorrilaz
  5. Egil Skallagrimsson
  6. NicePeter
  7. Gandhi
  8. God, as portrayed in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  9. Amen from Lordi
  10. Rick Astley
  11. Anton LaVey
  12. Nona from the awesome Bowling For Soup song
  13. King K. Rool
  14. Duck Dodgers
  15. Your mum

Write a post to show off your award

Nah, I’ll get to it next week.

Give a brief story of how your blog started

I’d been interested in writing since I was literate – seriously, my shed at home is 90% full of old exercise books I scrawled worlds and little stories into – and wanted to pursue writing as a career from when I was about fifteen or so. When I was seventeen, having written nothing but school essays, I decided to broaden my range of writing, and start writing things regularly that I liked. On the 5th of October 2013, I set up a WordPress account, on the two conditions that I’d write whatever I felt like, and would post every day, exams, hospitalisations and fatigue providing. I’m still here two years later, and while this blog isn’t my most important creative outlet any more, it’s been the springboard for almost all of my larger projects, and remains one of the closest projects to my heart.

Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers

Write for your ideal audience. Obviously, hearing people disagree with and suggest improvements to your work is a vital part of writing – and being creative in general – but it can’t all be criticism, criticism, criticism. Most of the ‘writing’ process consists of being bogged down on a miserable afternoon in February bashing your head against a laptop as rain clangs with a discordant crackle outside your window, and you feel like shit. Having a perfect reader, one who gets your references, likes your style of writing, and finds you the greatest of god’s creative gifts, really helps get over that hump.

Also, share your crap all over social media. You’ll feel like The Person Who’s Whoring Their Inane Shite Over Facebook for a bit, and this is certainly a part of your identity you’ll have to get used to, but presenting things for people to read, and broadening your pool of potential readers, is never a bad thing. Don’t headhunt people, asking them specifically if they’ve read your stuff, but remind people that you’re still artistically relevant, which is a big challenge for even ‘successful’ creators; look at Game of Thrones, which is struggling to still be entertaining and shocking five years into its run. This year, around 1/5 of all my views have come from my mates clicking on the links I post on Facebook every day.

Thank whoever nominated you and put a link to their blog

Thx m8 (y)

Attach the award to the post

‘Attach’? What is this, an email?

Crawling towards the finish line

(fuelled by vegan crisps and soya milk)

I have an essay due on Monday morning and it’s 99% done. Yesterday it was 98% done. The day before, about 94%. The day before that, more like 31%.

This is a pattern I’ve noticed over the last few essays, that as my workload dwindles, so does my motivation to do it. Today, all I had to do was a conclusion, critics and edit, and managed to tick off one of those things, knowing that I could spend all day Sunday plodding through the other two.

And I’m certainly motivated by large workloads; my gaming magazine The Game Shelf (which I’m so amazingly proud of and the people behind it) is going through a slight rough patch as one of our writers has lost literally all the free time in the world, and so can’t contribute for a few weeks. I’m taking over their slots, meaning my written workload – on that site at least – has doubled; but in spite of being exhausted, perilously busy and still a bit sick, I don’t want to do anything other than work on those pieces.

Even for this essay, I charged into its planning stage, reading eight or so books in two days to adequately prepare my mind for the task ahead; the annoying inevitability is that while my understanding is sound, I’ll get a shit mark because I’m devoting less time to the end of this process, the actual polishing of the essay.

Back in the day, I used to run at school. Not at a very high level, but well enough that I could point to ‘running’ as my particular athletic speciality; but my style was always to run hard at the start of races, power ahead of my rivals then try to cling on until the finish line. And I’m doing that with my writing; like a child, I go through brief periods of great eagerness for projects, especially at their inception, but my motivation flags as these projects near completion. This is why I’ve been able to stick to open-ended, intentionally indefinite projects like this blog and The Game Shelf, while I’ve struggled completing more time-based activities, like NaNoWriMo.

 I guess I don’t like completing things; I like throwing myself into things that I’ll always be able to throw myself into, plugging away at projects for the satisfaction of doing, as opposed for the satisfaction of having done. This might end up hamstringing any attempts to write finished novels in my future, but for the time being I’m crawling towards the finish line, with an eye always on the endless horizon.