Saturday, 13 September 2014

How I deal with my anger

I'm not good at being angry. Don't get me wrong, I do get annoyed, but it's never really a long term proposition. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

I just don't get outwardly angry in situations I know others would and so perhaps I don't react as you would expect. A simple example would be the other day, when I was driving home from work. The route I commonly take goes through some chicanes, and I had reached the second set where it was my right of way. The first car coming through had time to get through before I got there, the second car did not, yet he brazenly carried on driving. I had to completely stop to let him through. Now I know from being in cars with other people, and from what I have been told, that in similar situations, they have honked angrily or given the driver the finger. I just made a face, and then went through, grumbling mildly.By the time I was through the chicane I was over it, and didn't care a jot.

I've been in the car with adorable wife before and been cut-up or someone has done something stupid, and she's told me I should have honked. But I never think to do so. In that circumstance I'm usually more focused on dealing with the car than getting mad. I just don't see the point in getting all roiled up, and what is honking going to do? Will the other driver be, "oh thanks for honking, I have learned the error of my ways and will never do this again"? I don't think so. I suppose the only benefit is if they didn't realise they had caused an issue, and by you honking they were informed. But to be honest, when I have cocked up at a roundabout, or junction, I knew it, irrespective of whether someone honked or not. Don't worry, it hasn't happened that often!

And even if I do get mad, it usually dissipates within minutes. I'd say most of my anger stems from frustration, in situations when something is not functioning as it should, or someone has repeatedly done something wrong, or poorly. But even then my anger is usually directed at inanimate objects. When I was young, and I was still an avid video game player, I'd get frustrated with a game and throw the controller, or pluck the cartridge (yes, that's how old I am) from the console and fling it at the wall. I never lash out at other people, not then, and not now. 

I reckon it's all linked to my shyness, where my ability to express what's truly inside is suppressed when I'm in company. And this is where my thought about whether it is a good or bad thing. Because if you're holding emotions in, repressing the frustration and anger, it must be going somewhere. It's a simple transference of energy. I think that can affect you physically. Tire you out, or make you ill.

Not only that, suppression of emotion can mean it is unleashed later, when it is not appropriate. Is it better if the person who caused it, know it immediately, and you can then both deal with the issue at hand? 

Perhaps once I was affected by a repression of emotion. But I'm not sure if I am anymore. I think it's more that I genuinely don't harbour ill-will. I find that whatever the cause of my initial frustration, given a few minutes, I start to consider the other side of the story. 

What if I'm the one in the wrong? What if I have misunderstood? What if I could have done something differently? What if they're just having a bad day? 

Once you start to consider the issue from another perspective, it starts to devalue your own concerns. And even if you conclude that you did no wrong. That short time you were outside your own concerns, reduces the heightened emotional state anger places you in. Once you are in a calmer state, I find, the whole thing starts to appear somewhat meaningless. Does it matter if you were right? What is gained from proving so? If you manage to prove it, will the other person immediately reconsider their position, or will they simply feel aggrieved, not for the original reason, but for the steps you took to prove them wrong?

All this will have run through my mind within minutes, and by then, calm has returned. 

Other times, I also fail to identify why something could be perceived as upsetting. That as got me in trouble with adorable wife at least once recently. Because I didn't see something as a concern, i.e. if it had happened to me I wouldn't have registered it as an insult or personal attack, she felt I was not supportive. That was a particularly difficult issue to deal with, because as described above, my mind tried to put itself in the position of seeing how and why this situation would make me angry. It's actually harder when you're not angry, to try and make yourself angry! I suppose it's like tickling yourself, you can't really do it.

The reason I didn't really see the situation as adorable wife wanted me to, was because, even when directly faced with insults, or personal attacks, I don't really find it affects me. I can't take it seriously, because any personal attack is more likely reflecting an issue the attacker has, rather than an issue I have. Once someone has resorted to being personal, they have run out of any better options. I say this from years of experience in customer service, where people can get angry and lash out, and you genuinely start to let it wash over you. Sometimes they have a right to be angry about something, and even if they personalise it, I know it's not really personal. Perhaps that just means I've desensitised myself against attack. I don't care enough to rise to it. 

I also don't pick up on passive aggressive undertones that well, and what had happened with adorable wife was definitely passive aggressive. The problem with passive aggression is, it's often too subtle. I'm sure a lot of it flies around social media. I try not to make assumptions about what someone has said, or what a text meant, or an action that was taken, because we often only base our guesses on how we are feeling at the time, or how we would have written something. But that doesn't mean the other person has the same concept of that as you. You can assume something was directed at you, when actually it wasn't.

And really, what good does passive aggression do? What does seething over something someone did, or what you perceived they did, actually achieve? It's like they say, when you hate, the only person you hurt is yourself. The person your anger or hate is directed to is unscathed by your distant dislike. And if you externalise your hate or anger in a petty and non-confrontational way, do you not only validate their own reasons for being unkind? If you have an issue, either address it, or leave it. If the person does not want to bring it up with you directly, it really can't be that important, and therefore you shouldn't give it any stock.

I think I have historically been afraid of confrontations, and I think that means my instinct has been to leave something, rather than address it. Now I have built my confidence, I find I am more willing to speak out to the whoever has caused an issue, when it happens. And most of the time, that addresses the issue, I'm not storing up a glut of frustrations, and that maintains my calm equilibrium. It took a long time, and in some ways, a professional need to do so. I would not have been doing my job correctly as a manager in retail if I was afraid of telling the assistants the bad, as well as the good. And I would not be doing my current improvement role correctly. But of course, in a workplace, it's not about confrontations because you're angry, insomuch as feeding back, so there are positive ways of dealing with it. 

The simple fact is, sometimes I wish I did get more angry, because the concern is people will walk over you if you are a perceived soft touch. But overall, I prefer being the calm, controlled person I am. I think you can deal with a problem easier and better when you are in a calm state of mind.

I think it's healthier, and will lead to an easier life, if you don't let the world burn you out.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Reviewing the reviews of Clara Bow

It's an odd, and somewhat nerve-wracking experience looking at the reviews of Clara Bow and the Seal of Solomon on Amazon. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion and you can never please all the people all the time, so I have to remind myself that, good or bad, what someone has said is not personal, and not definitive.

Of course I hope for mostly positive reviews, or else I would feel like a failure, and it is hard to forge on in the face of negative responses. 

Fortunately, my book has an average of 4.1 out of 5 stars, from 25 reviews. Now, as an unknown, single novel, self-published novice, to reach 25 reviews is pleasing in itself. To have them average out to 4 out of 5, is as good as I could have hoped. And there are very positive reviews. 

There are also some seriously negative ones. 

And I find I have to be wary of both types. It's all too tempting to embrace the positive and dismiss the negative, especially when there is more of the former than the latter overall. But one should never believe their own hype, and should never take criticism to heart. 

I think I'm a little odd when it comes to these things. I have minor palpitations when loading up the screen, and so haven't done it for a long time. It's akin to suspecting you have overspent and fearing looking at your bank statements, and so  keep putting it off. I can't help it, it's a physical reaction that I feel under many circumstances, and do my best to disregard and forge on regardless. But when it is a simple matter of not looking at a page, it is all too easy to do.

However, I did force myself to look today, because sales have slowed to a near halt, and I wanted to check I hadn't received a swathe of poor reviews, knocking my average down. But that doesn't seem to be the case. The mix of good and bad are much as they had been before. I guess it's just the ebb and flow of sales. I never really knew how they picked up the first time, so I think it's just the nature of the open market. I feel I need to get the second one out, because for all the positive responses to the first, I could have probably sold the second, and start to build a mini following.

It's funny, when I read through the poor reviews I find my face flushing hot, my heart beating faster. It's the same feeling I get when embarrassed or when my innate shyness rears its ugly head. I don't know why it happens, because I'm on my own, reading something by a complete stranger, who meant nothing personal by their words. Indeed, they are being generous, having invested finance and time in my words, by offering their considered opinion of my work, so others can better judge whether to do the same. But there I am, sitting on the couch, no one pointing and laughing, feeling red-faced. It's not that I'm feeling defensive, quite the opposite. It's a sense of shame that I have disappointed someone. Daft right? Why does it matter to me? Even I don't know, but as with all my shyness, it's a physical reaction, to which my logical mind has to battle and overcome. 

The good thing is, I can learn from both types of reviews. 

The negatives commonly seem to be that the story is too slow, and too descriptive. I think that stems from the first half of the tale, where I was setting character and location and perhaps getting a little too focused on the minor details. There is definitely a mid-way point where the story kicks into high gear and is extremely fast paced. I would certainly hold my hands up and agree the overall pacing is therefore a little uneven. 

The positives focus on the relationship between Clara and Lisa, and the quirky twist on the adventure story. This was always my intention so it is extremely pleasing to find this has hit a nerve with many readers.

So I have learnt to keep the pacing consistent, and more like the second half of the novel than the first. Description is always required, but I realise that unless the information seems relevant it can be wearing and so should be used wisely and sparingly. The family unit and their dynamic is also the most successful and important element of the first book, so should be retained and built upon in the subsequent stories. 

The one-offs I have to brush off. The chap who didn't like the ending. Well, I love the ending, and I won't apologize for it! But sorry you feel that way.

And to the person who said it was more a fantasy than a thriller and gave it one star. Sorry! But if you read the description I have on Amazon, would you not realise it was a fantasy, not a thriller?

Have a look for yourself...

To sum up, reading reviews is scary. But if you can get through the sense of indignation at the bad, and avoid swollen-head syndrome from the good, you can learn how to improve your next novel. And that's surely worth a few palpitations.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Around my life in 100 blogs

Huzzah and hurrah! Salutations and greetings to this, the 100th entry to my blog. 

The first entry was on the 25th April 2011 and was titled "I'll never carry on". It was short, snappy and relatively pointless. It was also incorrect. I did carry on, albeit with some dramatic pauses for effect. 

So this blog is over 3 years old, but I was, ironically, procrastinating when that milestone came and went. Oh the delicious, syrupy irony. 

So what has happened in the 3 and a bit years since this here blogerooni (to give it the full, official title) was started to little pomp and no circumstance?

My most popular post is a relatively early one, entitled "It's Mulberry, crossed with Tod's and Prada", dating from the 5th of June 2011. I'm guessing that could be because it mentions large brand names, and so gets picked up in searches more often. It could because it's a masterclass in informative, creative blogging, that is overdue plaudits and free chocolate biscuits.

My least popular post is last week's, closely followed by the very first entry mentioned above. The lesson here is to write about up-market leather goods, rather than me. But sorry folks, this blog is called Adventures of a Procrastinator, not Adventures of a Handbag Purchaser. 

As far as life from entry 1 to 100, long suffering adorable wife has suffered (longly) through endometriosis, endured three surgeries, the last of which was blogged about on the 26th May 2013. Since that date, she has made slow, steady, impressive progress, to the stage that she is now the proud member of a local gym, which she attends three times a week. Energy is being regained, health re-built, and bod is being toned. All in all, a grand success story, and one for which we truly feel blessed. Not everyone is so lucky, and I still support Endometriosis UK via my modest book sales.

Ah yes, my book. The blog was started mainly as a way to force my novel writing into a public arena, and to that end, the result was a resounding success. Clara Bow and the Seal of Solomon was announced to the world on my birthday; the 22nd May 2012. I still feel proud of completing a whole novel, and getting it into the world at large.

After a shaky start, with sales being somewhat notable by their absence, Kindle editions started to be picked up, and now I do get a trickle of monthly income from the book. Currently I am trying hard to get writing done on the follow-up, Clara Bow and the Staff of Aaron. I wish I had managed to get it complete sooner, but come on guys, I have a full-time job, a wife, and friends, and I do need to spend a little of my life attending to those matters. As much as I would love to blitz a book out in a manner of a few months, which I reckon I could, were it my full time profession, it just isn't realistic.

In these three years I have also become more social. One of my first disastrous attempts at passing the socialising frontier was detailed in a blog from 23rd April 2012, entitled "A night to remember (and then forget)", which detailed my swift descent into alcohol-ingestion hell. 

But since that fateful day I have learned how to drink, and handle, my alcohol, and have a small, but high quality circle of friends who seem to enjoy my company, or at least tolerate my presence. Which is nice. I hasten to add alcohol is not always imbibed. Other, wholesome activities are enjoyed. 

What hasn't changed in these 100 blogs? My job for one. I am still doing the same thing as three years ago. Well, that's not strictly true. I am technically in the same role, but the nature of that role has evolved, and for the better I would say. If it had not, I may not have lasted as long as I have. If something becomes stagnant I inevitably crave a change. Lucky for me my job is challenging in the right ways, and has shifting parameters and hard to reach goals. That said, a few more bob in the pocket wouldn't go amiss... But I can't just do a job for the money now. I want to love what I do, or it will drive me nuts real quick!

Adorable wife hasn't changed. She's still adorable, and she's still my wife. And I love her more than ever. That will be the same in blog entry 1000, and entry 100,000. Though at my current blogging pace, I think that would make me about 3,333 years old at that point.

We still live in the same place. I think that will have to change soon. We're exploding out of this space, overflowing with stuff, in a residence that has no way to be expanded. Guess I do need that job that pays the extra bob if I want the place with more space...

100 blog entries isn't too shabby you know. It's two and a half a month on average, which, considering the mahoosive gap before, in true Hollywood style, I re-booted my franchise, must mean I had a pretty decent pace at one stage. Ah, the glory days. It's interesting casting a cursory glance over the historical entries, and seeing what 100 blogs say about me.

I notice a common theme with my blog is me vanishing, re-appearing, apologising, proclaiming I have cracked how to keep on top of my writing, then vanishing again! It is obvious I chose my blog title appropriately. But to be fair, every time I have returned. Now it is a beast of three plus years, it has taken on a life of its own. No longer does it lie in the cot screaming for my attention. It is picking itself up and staggering on wobbly, but determined legs, and I am having to run after it, and keep it under control. Stop it from poking Lego in its nose and so on.

Another frequent theme are my insecurities, the recent being the blog of the 15th August 2014, titled "I don't always understand who I am...", so navel gazing and introspection seems to be one of my proclivities. Sorry about that.

I have also just noticed that on the 8th of February I wrote a blog entry entitled "Why doesn't everyone use common sense?", a shocking similar title to recent entry on the 7th August entitled "What the heck is common sense?" Seems I really am on a Hollywood re-boot.

Thank you to those who have stuck with me through these last few years. Especially those of you who have always been there to push me to write, and keep pestering me for new material. You know who you are, and this is me telling you that it's greatly appreciated, more than I can ever say.

Here's to the next hundred pages of gibbering idiocy...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Getting my writing mojo back

My writing schedule is currently sitting perilously close to 60%. It started on the 28th July so we're nearly at the four week mark. I'm not sure whether that can be declared a success. But I do know more regular writing has been done in the last few weeks than I have managed for many months. That's proof that having a plan is vastly superior to trying to do it as and when. Very importantly, my stalled blog novel, As Bright as the Fading Ark, has now been revived. It was poor of me to let it lapse for as long as I did, both for anyone reading it, and for myself. 

What has surprised me is how quickly the voices of Ebbe and Anthony have returned to the tips of my fingers. Within minutes of continuing their adventures, I discovered they had simply been in stasis within my mind, and were quick to defrost, and get on with their lives.

The only issue I found was a frequent desire to type Clara, instead of Ebbe, for the first chapter! Both are so very different in their outlook and attitude, so I'm not in danger of mixing up characters, but Clara, being my primary focus is the name most frequently on my mind. 

But I am glad, so very glad, the story is back up and running. It doesn't matter how long it will take, it will continue, and that's what matters most. 

I'd say my Seal of Solomon follow up, The Staff of Aaron, is about half way through now. These past few weeks have provided a writing boost that has spurred the story to a definite turning point. I find that the moment I have written myself into a corner, is the moment the story takes a thrilling turn. That literally happened last night. Clara had, rather naughtily, decided to head home, much to my surprise. This had thrown the story in the opposite direction I had planned. Her actions swiftly drove me into a brick wall and I found myself uncertain how to turn back, or move forward. 

Eventually I admitted defeat and retired to bed. But in the shower it suddenly struck me why Clara had done what she had, and how the decision to return home proved the natural turning point for the story. Rather than having lost the plot, I now had the perfect opportunity to start to explain the mysteries that have been piling up, and to thrust the adventure precisely where I had planned all along. I had to make a choice, note the idea and continue to bed, or return to the laptop and add the elements required. It was too brilliant, too perfect to not use the burst of inspiration immediately. I ended up writing well past midnight, but the computer was re-shut with renewed enthusiasm. I could sleep easy knowing Clara, Lisa, Heather and the others were heading exactly where I had always planned after all.

How could I have doubted Clara's wisdom? I wanted her to be proactive in her new life, so I should not have been surprised she was making her own decisions, she won't even let her creator control her! 

A third project is something very different. It has been a slow-boil project with a friend, whereby we've been meeting most Tuesdays to discuss, plot and plan a short film. At least, it was originally meant to be a short, but after months of conceptualising, plotting and planning, it would seem to be closer to a feature length. Working on a joint story has been a very different and interesting experience. Unlike working alone, where all your ideas are king, and you write and write, and are unlikely to show the fruits of your labour until it is complete, or very advanced, working as a duo, you are frequently being challenged.

The story, and characters, have been carefully formed, by what was effectively a large amount of question and answer sessions. Why does this happen? What about that? Would this happen? How would they manage that? Is that a cliché? On and on, throwing ideas out there, merging some, ditching others, disagreeing, or offering solutions the other would never have considered. What all those months of meet-ups has borne is an extremely detailed background, a time-line of revelations and explanations; a character driven sci-fi drama. We are now at the stage a screenplay is needed, so the meet-ups are currently on hold. Characters were divvied out, so I am writing one set, and he is writing the others. This will be an interesting experiment because it should bring out very distinct voices. The danger when one person writes the entire script is all the characters starting to sound like the writer. 

Where this project will lead is anyone's guess. The aim is to shoot the film, edit it, and release it online. Clearly, it will be a work of extreme genius, and will launch us into the film world. Foregone conclusion.

This blog is technically my fourth writing project, but no less important than anything else. This is my voice, my thoughts, my interests. It is unapologetically random. Sometimes I have a subject, other times it's just a mind-spill, but no matter what, it is essential to keeping my mind active. The more I write, the better I write, the more I want to write, the more I tell naughty adorable wife not to distract me, and tell me to skive off and cooch up with her on the couch watching movies! Lastly, it is a sanity check, and a reality check. My last blog felt like a release, I spilled my neural guts somewhat, and afterwards, I'll tell you what, I felt like I needed to just get on and do things. By writing, I unleashed some extra confidence, a more fearless side. 

I'll look to bump by writing schedule back above 70% in the next week or so. I'd be more comfortable hovering around 80% rather than 60%. We shall just have to wait and see...

Friday, 15 August 2014

I don't always understand who I am...

Writing, film, art; it's all about trying to understand who, and what we are. As much as we think we know, be it about the nature of our world, about the science of the universe, about human nature, we never really seem to comprehend any of it fully. We're constantly seeking answers and asking new questions. 

I do things I don't understand, respond in ways I don't mean, react to something in a way that takes me by surprise. If I can't crack my own code, what chance do I have of deciphering the code of others? 

There's certainly no universal operators guide to be human. No multi-lingual instructions to refer to when things get confusing. It's why we are so fascinated with what it means to be 'human'. I think that this is the primary reason science-fiction and fantasy are so hugely popular, because they allow us to hold up a mirror, to question our reflection, and see what happens if we tinker with our human formula. What if we extract a human trait, or create species that only has one, or a being that has none. It's a way of assessing who, and what we are. A fictional filtration system.

We're certainly an odd species. We seem capable of emotionally connecting with complete strangers. Indeed, we can become deeply emotionally involved with characters we know are fictional. Yet, we can also see genuine suffering and tragedy, and isolate it emotionally, not allowing the horror to overwhelm our senses and prevent us from living our own lives. Why do we watch a TV show about long-lost relatives, and sob our eyes out, but watch the news with relative apathy? How can the death of a favourite character in a novel, or TV show, cause us heartbreak? 

It fascinates me. People fascinate me. I think they scare me too. There's a level of discomfort that comes from realising that the fellow creatures that surround you are unpredictable, irrational beings, just like you. Fellow beings whose thoughts could match yours to a degree that would shock you, or differ so greatly it would be hard for a non-human observer to believe we are the same. 

I have plenty of thoughts that I don't verbalise. Good, bad, ugly, amazing, wondrous, ridiculous, gruesome, perverse, idiotic, insane, clever, ingenious, pointless and more beyond. I can but assume that most others are the same. Certainly a dubious suggestion a person can fling at you, is that you never think about what you do, or what you say. The idea that anyone else can even comprehend what you may, or may not have thought, is back to the realms of science fiction. If I only verbalise 20% of what I think, can any one person even say they know me? I may speak differently to different people, and reveal different facets of my personality to each, but no one person has the whole. No one person even has enough of a portion to complete my jigsaw. That includes me. I am the biased of all when it comes to me. Surely we all are. The subject of the inner self is one of overwhelming prejudice. 

We can be our own best friend, but also our own worst enemy. We may congratulate ourselves for our achievements, but we may also focus on our flaws, our failings, our problems. Many of the latter three may not even exist. Many positives we believe we have may also not exist. Such concepts are arbitrary, conditional and impossible to truly measure when you are not subjective.

As someone who struggles with confidence, I like to imagine that even the most outwardly confident person has inner struggles. We only ever see the facade offered to us at the moment of interaction, but as I do not offer the sum of my parts all at once, I don't think anyone else does either. 

I think I often project confidence at work, and those who know me only from there may be surprised to learn I am extremely shy, and struggle against my innate desire to retreat, to not be seen, daily. It's a trait I fear often makes me seem rude to others, skewing both my perception and theirs. Because I'm fairly sure I'm not a rude person, but that means if I am ever rude, I may be blind to the fact at the time. And if I am rude by not replying to a social request, it was via procrastinating due to an irrational fear about saying yes, or no. But does that make me rude, or simply appear rude? And is there any difference?

Is the key to understanding yourself to actually look outwardly? To not be introspective, and ponder why you are what you are, but to instead see who others are, and try and understand them? Perhaps we can better judge ourselves when we have spent the time non-judgementally with others. Perhaps. 

There's no easy answer is there. I'll admit, I don't always understand who I am. I'll also admit I don't always like who I am.

Even now, writing this, I'm judging myself, concerned about what I've written, about whether I should mention something personal to me, or some current affairs, of being right, or wrong, or being judged. But not really being concerned. Just a feeling, a sensation,  a chemical reaction to an emotional existential quandary, forming a physical effect that I have to ignore. 

In that sense, art, my art, is my way of both being myself and fighting with who I am. Be myself, be better, don't worry, but don't become complacent. Art is selfish that way. I do it for my reasons, but once I have released it, what you see in it, is what you want. That's why some will like it and others won't. Some will see what I said, others will see what I didn't say. Both are right. 

At the very least, when I ask who I am, or if someone asks me, I should say I am a writer. Good, bad, mediocre. I don't think it matters. I put words to screen. That makes me a writer. That is my art. I use it to externalise parts of me that lie within. My characters are my good and my bad. They live the lives I cannot. They say the things I wish I could say. They're smarter than I could ever be, yet they are me. They are imperfect idiots. They're me in another world. They're me right now. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What the heck is common sense?

What the heck is common sense?

It's something we all seem to bash on about day in, day out. Someone is always saying "why didn't they use their common sense?", or something about a decision being common sense.

But what is it?

Looking at the dictionary, there are 22 definitions of the word 'common', and 25 definitions for the word 'sense'. That means hundreds of variant meanings of the two words in that particular order.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not daft. I understand that when it is said, the context is specifically referring to something being a logical choice.

But when you stop and think about it, when the same two words can have hundreds of permutations, and the meaning of those two words should really mean something else, what is common, or sensible about the phrase?

A common sense, in my mind, is sight. Most of us have it. Most animals have it. Thus it is common. The same applies to hearing, smell, and touch. These are all, I'm sure you'd agree, common senses.

Therefore, common sense, should really be when we can all smell the delicious Thai food wafting from the kitchen, using the same sense.

But we really mean, the choice was obvious. I suppose the meaning of sense here is number 10 in my dictionary - the recognition of something as incumbent or fitting: a sense of duty. 

Perhaps number 11 is fitting too - sound practical intelligence: He has no sense. 

But now I'm in this part of the dictionary, how about number 12? - something that is sensible or reasonable: to talk sense.

So we can have a sense of something (but not using our actual senses), have no sense (but still retain all our senses), or talk sense (but not necessarily about our senses). All of which don't make much sense. 

Let's say number 12 is actually the most accurate version of sense in the common context. I'm thinking of tying that with definition 4 for common - widespread; general; ordinary: common knowledge.

The latter example is very much in line with common sense, so I feel we are describing what we believe to be a widespread, ordinary something that is sensible or reasonable.

And herein lies my issue with the phrase. Who's definition of what is sensible or reasonable are you using? Only your own, surely? You are using your personal judgement as to what is sensible or reasonable. So how is it common? Are your personal thoughts widespread, general and ordinary? If you think so, how do you know? Can you truly declare that your thoughts are in line with more people than not. Because to be widespread, general and ordinary; to be common, isn't that what you need to know? That you are part of a collective of like-minded thinkers.

So, how many times have you been in a room of, say, twenty people, and agreed with them all? Just twenty people. I can honestly say I don't think I ever have. Frankly, you can be in a room with three people, and you can all still have different ideas about how something should be done. So how common can any commoninity ever be? Yes, I just made that word up, but it sounds nice to say. Try it! (Of course, some of you will disagree).

Also, by which social structure are you considering your sensible or reasonable actions? By your own culture? By the culture where you are now (if not your own)? By some idealised culture you read about in a book? By the Thuggee rulebook? Well, each one of those comes with its own preset ideals, prejudices, and social expectations. So not only do you have your own personal take on sense and reason, but it will be based on hundreds, possibly thousands of years of social indoctrination. 

I don't think we can truly huff at what someone else did, and ponder why they didn't use their common sense. Because they did. They used the sensible, reasonable ideas in their own mind. And those ideas may technically be more common than your own sensible, reasonable ideas. 

If 'bad' ideas are more common than 'good', then they become common sense. And then suggesting someone should use common sense would be a bad idea.

It would seem, to me, to be common sense not to kill. You may even say that the idea IS common sense because it's cited in laws, and religious texts the world over. But yet humans have been killing humans since year dot. In fact we got better, and more efficient at it with new technology. So even something that you would hope you could hold up as the bastion of common sense, falls down daily.

Therefore I return, full circle, to my original question; what the heck is common sense?

It is a myth. It is a legend. 

I think from now on it shall be thus in my mind:

Common dictionary definition 7. - of mediocre or inferior quality
Sense dictionary definition 8. - a more or less vague perception or impression.

So... A mediocre impression.

That way, when someone doesn't impress me much, I can just mention their common sense.

I only hope this blog didn't make a common sense to you...

Thursday, 31 July 2014

I have a plan!


I have a plan. In fact, I had a plan a long time ago, but have only now acted upon it. 

I've established a rota of writing and put into onto the calendar that shows on my phone and my tablet. That way the technology I look at always reminds me that I have better things to do than waste time browsing the Internet or Facebook. 

I do work well to deadlines and targets. So in addition I've created a spreadsheet that mirrors the calendar, which I need to fill in each day with a Y, or a N. It automatically counts the Ys and Ns and tells me how successful I am at hitting my writing targets. 

This blog is day four of my new calendar, and will make me remain on a 100% success rate. This day is the litmus test for my willpower and determination, because I am supposed to do this every Thursday. It is also the thing I have not done since October last year! That's nearly 10 months. If this was my job, I'd have lost it a long time ago! If it was my rent I'd have had a notice of eviction. 

Thursdays have become my one week on, one week off, primary social night, whereby I'll head out with friends for a drink and a laugh. So that makes this a double test. I did pop out after a full day of work, had a couple of pints, and am now back home, having fed and watered myself. 

The temptation, in this relaxed state was definitely to declare the night a relax and chill night. 

But I have a schedule, and a spreadsheet that will expose my slackness, and highlight my guilt. Sure it will only reveal it to me, as I am the one who completes it. But my own guilt, my own conscience is the only one I can rely on to truly forge forward and make a change.

And lo, the dread of waking tomorrow racked with guilt for abandoning my schedule so soon was enough to ensure the computer was opened and the dust was blown of my poor old blog. 

Day four is clearly too soon to declare 100% success is anything other than starters enthusiasm. Day forty will be more telling!

It is a flexible plan. The point is not to strictly enforce rules upon myself. It's more about getting writing done as a priority. I may have a day job, but this is my evening career and, just as my day job consists of a variety of subjects and tasks, so does my writing. 

So I have a screenplay in progress with a friend. I have this here neglected blog. I have my even greater neglected blog novel, As Bright as the Fading Ark. And I have Clara Bow, her adventures continuing in The Staff of Aaron. 

Clara is definitely my focus. I have set aside two nights and one weekend day to her. Not only is she my only current source of writing income, she is also the most labour intensive creation, needing to become a full fledged novel. 

But my brain does go off on tangents and the other projects help me refresh my mind and focus on other concepts that don't fit into her world. 

To account for fluctuations in creative thought processes, although the calendar is chiselled into digital stone, the speadsheet allows me to add a second task/achievement for the day, or to amend the sole task from one to another. In essence, writing of any sort is a success.

Perhaps I shouldn't need to set up such a structured guide. I love writing. I should just do it because I love it. I think it's just how my brain is wired. I know, the "I'll do it tomorrow" thought process is not unique to me. I'm positive that many declarations have been made akin to "as from tomorrow I am going to change and blah blah". And this is despite us all knowing that the only way it's going to actually happen is if we do it now, not tomorrow.

That's not to say I haven't been writing The Staff of Aaron. I have. But it has been sporadic and random. And any poor soul who subscribed to one, or both of my blogs has been only too aware that they have been neglected. I want to know what I can achieve when I have a defined agenda. 

At work I will start a project and it will seem as if the end is nowhere is sight. Yet, within a day or two, despite numerous interruptions and distractions, the task is completed. If that happens without me trying too hard at work, why should the same principles not apply to my writing? In some way I need the variety, the interruptions and the distractions to keep my mind whirring, to focus and refocus my thought process. It's how my mind works. There's chaos up there and I think I need to go with it, rather than try and fight it. 

So multiple projects, with a defined, but flexible schedule, allows form the chaos to remain chaotic, but active, and productive. It's validating my need to dip in and out of different projects, without the guilt that I should have written about Clara, ot whatever I deem to be my primary project of the time. Today is about writing whatever my brains feeds me as I type, without over thinking. This blog has never been a product aiming for a certain target. It was about me typing words, spilling my verbal guts onto the screen and publicising them. It's just me in written form, and if one person, or a million people read it, that's fine either way. I never want to be nervous to be a voice. If writing something publicly makes me nervous how can I ever expect to make a life out of it? Simply put, I can't! 

No promises my dears, but this is week one of 'The Plan'. Who's going to stay with me long enough to see me through to week forty? Or perhaps, more importantly, am I going to stay with you? Because you're not going anywhere are you! You never did. It was me who absconded. Silly me!