Today has been so bloody hot again that I’ve done so little. I can’t focus on anything. I could easily have written this hours ago but, once again, we’re fast approaching the time at which I need to be asleep to function for my 7am start tomorrow and I’m finishing the damn thing. It’s not as if I can’t keep to a deadline I’m just in this hot weather haze where the idea of doing anything other than watch Netflix seems too taxing. I spent some time trying to organise my room and nearly fell off a step ladder earlier. It’s just one of those days. The thing I’ve done best at today is spent money on clothes that I really didn’t need. I mean I really really wanted them but I definitely didn’t need them. After that, I’ve been fairly successful at reading. It’s amazing how easy it’s become now I’m reading a book I actually want to pick up. His Bloody Project may be the only Man Booker Prize nominated book I’ve read but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be my favourite. Oh, what a difference it is to that End of Watch. I kind of wish I could get my time back from Stephen King after reading his Bill Hodges trilogy. You know, add up the minutes, take them off his life and put them onto mine. It only seems fair. That final book was ridiculous. Although, they kind of all were.
Either the realisation that I’m giving out weekly updates on my reading habits or the fact that I’m reading better/easier books has meant that I’m reading more at the moment than I have in ages. In the time between posting last week’s rundown and today I’ve nearly finished a new book. Consequently, I’m no further along with any of the other ones but I take victories where I can. I’m still buying books like I’ve got an unlimited bank balance, of course. I’m sure one day there’ll be a week where I have nothing to write under the “Recently Purchased” section but it won’t be whilst I’ve got fuck all self-control.
- Lexicon by Max Barry
I have absolutely devoured this book. I’ve wanted to read it for a couple of years and I’ve loved the basic premise. It’s not as clever as it wants to make out and it’s really obvious where the story is going. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped wanting to get there. My main problem is the fucking split perspective. Why do so many writers go down the alternating chapter structure? Rather than dragging out the suspense it’s just fucking annoying. A better writer would be able to keep narrative secrets without having to ignore a character for a few pages. Fucking stop it!
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I know I haven’t really given this much of a chance and I realise that it’s fucking childish to say I hate something this early on. However, I think I fucking hate this book. It’s so stupid. All the problems are so ridiculous and if anyone really thought about anything they’d realise how fucking stupid they’re all being. I’ve been in the position of starting University on my own and instantly wanting to go home. I’ve no problems admitting that I spent my first night away sobbing alone in my room. I quickly realised this was a fucking stupid path to go down and I went and made friends. It was tough because I’m a socially inept introvert but I did it because that’s life. Fangirl isn’t portraying real people. It’s showing us the fake Tumblr reality. I can’t fucking stand it.
- Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik
This month I signed up to NaNoWriMo because I’m a fucking idiot. I obviously haven’t written anything and I was obviously never going to. However, I like the toy with the idea of writing something. A friend and I wrote two stories about our work colleagues and presented them to a mutual friend for his wedding present. Yes, I know, we do sound like super cool people. It was a fucking stupid past time but I really enjoyed doing it. The problem is I’ve always felt self-conscious about seriously taking up creative writing. It’s the same reason I don’t tell people I know about this blog. I don’t like finding out how shit I am at things. So, I’ve started to read help guides for writers. My aim is to talk some sense into myself and try to work out a plot before next November.
- How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish
It’s not just novel writing that I’m trying to prepare for. I realise that my writing for this very blog is probably a little bipolar. For the most part I think I write like a student in their final piece of coursework but I also try and write as if I’m speaking with my friends. This means everything ends up sounding a bit shitter than I’d like. I love words. I love the fact that the correct combination of words can create something uniquely beautiful. Now that I’ve got my weekly schedule down it’s my goal to start focusing more on the way in which I write.
- Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh (Kindle version)
This isn’t exactly the kind of book that I would naturally rush to buy. This is not just a crime thriller but a crime thriller with a YA twist. Finally, somebody combined two of my least favourite genres. Fuck yeah! I mean something that is trying to sell itself as the new Gone Girl isn’t going to be much to someone who couldn’t be arsed finishing Gillian Flynn’s dull thriller. However, whenever I hear people criticising something for being too weird and creepy then my ears will always prick up a bit. I fucking love weird and creepy. I’ll probably hate this as much as I hate every crime thriller that gets a lot of attention. However, I’ll go in with an open mind.
- The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
This is turning into a familiar story. Murdocal is perusing the internet and comes across of list of ‘Must Read Books’. At least one stands out to her and she immediately purchases it from Amazon. I don’t even remember where I read about this one or what it’s about. Something about psychics; mothers and daughters: and women. It sounds weird and, as I’ve already said, I love weird.
- Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love and Die at the Movies by Tara Ison
This is another book I’ve wanted to read for a while. As you’re probably aware from this blog, films have played an important part in my life. I’d say that books and movies have had a major effect on the adult I’ve become. They’ve given me more than enough quotes to fire at people and reference points to use in general conversation. The connection runs deeper than that and the way I view the world has been shaped by what I grew up watching and reading. It’s something I plan to explore further in a separate post but, for now, I’m excited to read Ison’s essays.
- The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley
In keeping with my NaNoWriMon 2016 plan, I bought this book of writing exercise so I could push myself out of my comfort zone and get used to writing in a different manner. I have no problem getting down my many rants, reviews or general musings for this blog. The thought of writing a novel? It feels me with dread. Where would I start? I was the same when I did Music A Level. Put music in front of my and I’d happily start playing it. Ask me to compose something and I’d spend most of my time worrying about my lack of creativity. It’s not that I think I lack creativity: I just find the complete freedom to do whatever I want overwhelming. Does that make sense? Probably not.
- Doctor Who series 35, episode 10 – ‘Face the Raven’
Holy shit. I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t expect my soul to feel this broken.
Last night I attended Jay Rayner’s (the Observer’s food critic) discussion My Dining Hell at the Ilkley Literature Festival. It was a really good night and I can happily attest that he is as funny in person as he is in writing. The talk discussed our perverse obsession with negative reviews and that fucking awful compulsion we all have to take enjoyment from other people’s tales of woe. You know, that same mentality that drives you to stare at a car-crash or laugh when people fall over. As a not-so-secret bitch at heart, I’m always guilty of having a chuckle when someone does something embarrassing in public despite the fact I’m really fucking clumsy. Humanity has moved to a point where we get bored hearing about people’s happiness but can’t get enough of their misfortunes. Basically we’re all just terrible people.
You have to admit, there’s something comforting about being filled with murderous rage. Sharing tales of personal misfortune can bond people in a way that sharing good news just can’t. I don’t give a shit about how happy you are with your partner. I want to know how crappy your job is. Whether right or wrong, as a species we love to hate things. It’s the reason why I invested in a copy of Mama Mia. That film has to be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I can think of no redeeming features for it but that doesn’t stop me having a secret desire to watch it every now and then. It’s my film-based brush with masochism. I get a great deal of pleasure from subjecting myself to a film I truly detest. Fucking 50 Shades of Grey? Pah!
Deep down we’re all still just animals at heart. We share that love of conflict that is so rife in the animal kingdom even if we try our hardest to suppress it. Conflict comes down to power and the way we view ourselves. We take pleasure in negative reviews and awful films because we can feel better about ourselves in the process. Bad reviews let us bask in the warmth of someone else’s humiliation or unpleasant experience. One of my favourite film critics is Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian. He is a really talented writer and always manages to put his point across in an elegant manner. He’s a constant source of inspiration and incredible jealousy. His review of Savages, Oliver Stone’s 2012 crime thriller, is one of the best pieces of criticism I’ve ever read. It’s a vicious and unflinching attack that never lets up. It was a fucking joy to read. You see, you don’t remember the good reviews. There’s nothing really memorable about a critic telling you that an actor’s performance was good or a narrative was complex. Why would you remember the lyrical way in which someone praised the cinematography or the original score? No, it’s the hate-filled attacks that stick with you. All of us must have our favourite damning review from the inimitable Roger Ebert (it’s so hard to chose but mine would be a toss up between Godzilla or Armageddon). We love to see these people stick it to the man.
However, there must be more to it than that. From a purely creative point of view, negativity just has more potential than positivity. In terms of reviewing, writing about something you hate is always much better than writing about something you love. As someone who would describe themselves as a writer (probably only in my own head though), I’ve had much more fun writing about films and books that I’ve absolutely hated than about the films I love. Coming up with analogies to describe how fucking angry something made you is the gift that just keeps on giving. You can only take love so far before you sound over-effusive. There’s nothing worse than reading a writer’s endless, gushing praise for something; it can sound childish and, even worse, false. Maybe we’ve just become so jaded that we can’t believe anything that sounds too good to be true. If a writer is overly positive about something they’re reviewing then I’m sure there will be an endless stream of people shouting about foul play. Of course, on the opposite side, there is every chance that really hating something can turn into a petty tirade of hyperbole that can’t be taken seriously. However, we all have to be honest, reading reviews isn’t really about getting that one person’s opinion about something; it’s about the writing. Hearing a grown adult have a fucking tantrum over a meal, book or film they’ve consumed recently is one of the most entertaining things you can do with your spare time.
Maybe my out-of-control cynicism is getting the better of me again but there are so many more options with hate. When I love something I just let my myself get carried away. You’ve probably experienced some of my seemingly never-ending analyses of films I’ve loved. I just never fucking stop. Going on and on about every tiny detail that I enjoyed. Reliving the plot scene by scene. I hate some of my past reviews because of it. Hate just seems to keep me more focused. Maybe that should be a source of concern for me? It’s just easier to get your thoughts together and provide a coherent argument about something you didn’t like. It’s the reason I so rarely wrote my University essays on my favourite works. It’s easier to find things to say about something you aren’t emotionally invested in. Now I realise that I’m starting to sound like Emperor Palpatine here but, when it comes to my writing, my hatred really has made me powerful. Although, it’s not something I’d recommend embracing in all walks of life of course. Let’s never forget what Master Yoda taught us.