fate

I recently had my copy of Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” returned to me by somebody I’d lent it to ( *Gasp!* somebody actually returned a book!!! ). I suspect this person didn’t actually read it. When I asked them what they thought of it they were vague, saying only: “Some people just think too much”.

Really? That’s all you got from it? This is Carl Jung we’re talking about. I’d say it’s a feckin’ great thing that he “thought too much”. I can think of worse thoughts than the ones that sprang from his brain, for Christ’s sake. But anyway…. There was a piece of paper in the back on which I’d written something. The book is full of interesting and profound insights – I remember placing bookmarks in the thing at such points. This resulted in pieces of paper falling out onto the floor like confetti every time I picked the damn thing up, so eventually I just gave up and had to accept that the entire book was chock full of brilliance.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes: the thing I’d written, which somehow had managed to cling to the inside cover for all these years, was a quote which seems more relevant to me now than ever ( just replace the word “man” with “woman” and he’s describing me) :

It may be that for sufficient reasons a man feels he must set out on his own feet along the road to wider realms. It may be that in all the garbs, shapes, forms, modes and manners of life offered to him, he does not find what is peculiarly necessary for him. He will go alone and be his own company. He will serve as his own group, consisting of a variety of opinions and tendencies- which need not necessarily be marching in the same direction. In fact, he will be at odds with himself, and will find great difficulty in uniting his own multiplicity for purposes of common action”

Carl Jung- Memories, Dreams, Reflections

And then this little extra: “Nothing so promotes the growth of consciousness as this inner confrontation of opposites”. Well, fuck. That’s at least validating. How is it, though, that I don’t really feel that I’m growing, but just going around in circles? Maybe ol’ Carl would be able to tell me were he still alive.

My moods are erratic lately. (I mean, when are they not, really?) . One minute I’m inspired and ambitious; the next I’m overwhelmed with a sense of futility. But this always happens when I get back onto the meditation horse. The blender brain stills itself and all the crap that was whirring around in it floats up to the surface. All the issues come up. But it feels a bit deeper than that this time. There are certain realities that I’ve been sweeping under the carpet regarding the people I’m surrounded with at the moment . I do not belong with them, and no amount of meditation or mushrooms or walks alone through the hills will make that any less true. I’m a human being, and all human beings need a place to belong, and people to belong with.

I’m fast running out of hope that such things will be possible for me, however. I’m not getting any younger. And when I think of all the lovely things that have happened lately, barely any of them feature human beings. How is it that I managed to befriend a Butterfly, an Echidna and a Kookaburra so easily over the last few months, but when it comes to humans it’s just one endless fucking struggle? Why is it that people are only too happy to stop their cars to tell me how much they love my outfit but nobody seems to think the human soul within the outfit is worth knowing? Why is it that people can’t see past the eccentricity? I mean, I appreciate that they’re kind about it, but I’m more than a novelty. I’m more than an accessory. I do have some fucking depth, actually. Maybe somebody would see that if they bothered talking to me for more than five minutes per year, and about something other than my funny hairstyle.

Why am I writing this? I’m not even articulate enough to be able to effectively express what I’m feeling. I suppose this is why I’ve always been more drawn to music and art as modes of self expression than the written word. They are better vehicles for such undertakings. I need them. They’re my voice. It’s why creative blocks make me feel so frustrated and lost.

I think I’ll leave it there. I already know I’m talking to myself. But perhaps somebody will like the scenery I’ve posted photos of here. I posted them because I miss this particular location dearly, and am at the point where if I had to choose being alone somewhere like this and persevering where I am in the vain hope that I’ll eventually “find my tribe”, the first option is looking more appealing by the day. Maybe some of us belong to tribes that just happen to be scattered all over the world; made up of similar solo beings who will never actually meet one another in the flesh. Maybe it’s time to accept this lonely fate.

Adventures in felting ( and swearing )

Having done a spot of needle felting before ( needle felting is the craft of sculpting small things out of wool rovings using a tiny, very sharp, fish-hook type needle which is very painful to accidentally stab into your finger), I decided it was high time that I acquainted myself with its watery, messy, backbreaking, frustrating, time consuming, foul language inducing cousin, Wet Felting.

“Why?” you may ask, having been given that brief but unflattering introduction to the nature of wet felting. My answer is: I don’t know. But long had I heard ( and..felt…*boom-tsssk*) the call of the wet felt, and could no longer resist its Siren Song. After all, you can make some really great things with the technique. And I sure do like the idea of making ( and wearing ) some great things. And maybe selling them to people who are that magical combination of artsy dressers and cashed up.

What follows now is the documentation of my first attempt at making a felted scarf. I realise this is a line which probably won’t inspire people to keep reading. But never fear! I shall attempt to pepper this post with entertaining tidbits of humour ( or attempts at it. Let’s just say this entire post will be about attempting things) and failure, which is something that’s always fun to see other people doing.

Being a fancy bitch, I wanted to make a scarf that was a bit frilled and flouncy around the outside, so, armed with a table, some upcycled packaging materials, wool rovings, a rolling pin and the info bestowed upon me by the 3 tutorials I’d read, I set the scene for some felting funzies.

( I should point out that most instructions also call for the use of a bamboo stick blind. This is used for relentlessly rolling the flat, felt creation into matted submission. Dutifully, I ordered one – ie the cheapest one- from Bunnings. The blind arrived in record time, but was not the blind I’d paid for. A SLAT BLIND IS NOT A STICK BLIND, BUNNINGS! Pissed off, and $25 poorer, I had to improvise with the rolling pin, upcycled bubble wrap and some strategically positioned sushi mats. Not my best idea to date, but necessity is the mother of terrible compromises.)

Step 1:

Set everything up and lay out your woolly bits ( not a euphemism ) .

At this point, it’s looking like the pelt of some exotic, fantastical creature; a psychedelic muppet worm from another dimension, or a big, cuddly, disco caterpillar, perhaps. Bearing in mind the fact that this would shrink about 25% after the felting process, I was sure to make it wider than I wanted. Alas, the length is limited by the length of my table. I could have circumvented this limitation by getting down on the floor and setting everything up there…..but for reasons that will become obvious, I’m glad that I didn’t.

Step 2:

Saturate your strange new pet in water, cover it with bubble wrap, then begin agitating its fur through the bubble wrap with your hands as if giving it some sort of luxurious but slightly indecent massage, then roll it all up- equipment, table and all ( but not really the table )- like a giant piece of intergalactic sushi. After this, tie it up with a long piece of string and begin the rolling process.

pic taken after the rolling was halfway done- with unintentional falling apart process beginning…

Step 3:

The Rolling Process*. This involves- you guessed it- rolling the intergalactic sushi back and forth on the table. Do this about three thousand times ( or until your back gives out- whichever comes first ). During this process you’ll be glad you covered your working space with a plastic party tablecloth. (Mine had polka dots on it to give the misleading impression that fun times were about to be had). But you’ll also be sorry that you didn’t wrap the entire room in plastic, Christo style ( or Dexter style, depending on your personal preference) or wear wellies and a raincoat, because water will go EVERYWHERE.

Are you still reading? Are you bored? If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, you may like to peruse this completely unrelated thing I did whilst procrastinating writing this post/ a bunch of important adult responsibilities. Here:

P.S. I can’t stand Dr Phil!

Ok, back to reality ( sort of). Pay attention now; you’ll be tested on this later!

Step 4:

Unroll your space sushi ( not a euphemism ) then realise that the water you’d saturated your creation in was devoid of the soap it was supposed to be mixed with ( which helps it to become properly felted so you don’t have to spend an extra 3 hours on this project) .

FFS!

Fortunately, your creation passes the “pinch test” nonetheless ( wherein you pinch the felt and lift it a little to see if it holds together like fabric). But it still looks more woolly-fluffy than matted- felty. This is initially a tad disappointing, but you use the situation as an opportunity to further embellish your not-yet scarf with some needle felted decoration ( piccies later )

Yes, your back and shoulders are in absolute agony, but, as they say: no pain; no gain.

Step 5:

Do the rest of it.

I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of how I got to The End, but let’s just say I cheated. A bathtub was involved, as was dishwashing liquid, alternating hot and cold water, and foot stomping which would give the most furious wine maker a run for her money.

Step 5.5:

Dry it ( this takes at least a day) and realise that it still isn’t felted as much as you’d like. Do all the bathtub stuff AGAIN. Basically a shortcut to next door that takes you 3 galaxies away. Not exactly strategic in terms of cheating, but hey, you’re an enigma. A strange, mysterious, sexy being who doesn’t have to justify a damn thing!

After about 3 hours and some inventive swearing, you have yourself a completed but damp scarf.

Are you still reading? Yes? I’m impressed. Let me reward you with this photato of the finished product ( which finally dried after a day and a half, creative use of gas ducted heating , and a hairdryer).

It’s less a scarf and more some sort of collar thingy. It does up with two big buttons that you can’t quite see.

Woohoo! Not bad for a first attempt. I like the organic texture and shape. Now I can stay warm in style! ( Obviously I use the word “style” loosely. Or specifically- in this case meaning to look like a land dwelling Nudibranch** that went too hard too soon at an outdoor rave. I’m personally ok with this. It’s “my look”.)

Will I do this again? Yes, actually. I’m that insane. I want to get quite good at it ( the felting, not the insanity. I’ve got that down-pat). I’ve got ideas. I’m feeling the urgency to make as much of my own stuff as possible. I’ve even decided to learn how to knit properly. Also on my list is preserving and pickling food; getting more serious about growing the food that will be pickled and preserved; building my own furniture ( and Tiny House ), making natural dyes…and the list goes on. It’s hard to do some of that when you don’t own land, and impossible to do any of it when you don’t have the funds, but goddamnit I need to not waste any more of my life. Goodbye, shallow, materialistic, phony, meaningless conventional BS; hello meaningful lifestyle full of as much self sufficiency, creativity, authenticity and connection to nature as possible. I can only do what I can with what I have, but being creative = being resourceful and a good problem solver, so I have that going for me at least, and for this I’m truly grateful.

You’re still reading? Hey, thanks for sticking around! You now get a lollipop. Join me next time for something completely different!

* Let’s start a band called that. Not even a Rolling Stones tribute band, either. We’ll do psychedelic prog-rock and doom metal played exclusively on cigar box guitars, just to mess with people. We’ll all wear felted clothes on stage. It’ll be fun!

** Am I the only person who thinks this is a funny word?

In which I shave off your New-Age beard, nail it to a frisbee, and fling it over a rainbow.

If there’s something I’ve noticed in recent years, it’s that New-Age spiritual circles are some of the most toxic spaces on Earth. They are peppered by narcissists ( and some downright certifiable psychopaths), bulked out by reality dodgers and lost souls who don’t trust themselves enough to make their own discoveries (these latter two types soon fall victim to the former two) and sparsely dotted with a handful of curious people who just want to see what it’s all about (but who soon get the hell out of there because of all the horrible, HORRIBLE toxic dynamics and overall bullshit).

“Ooh”, you’re thinking. “That’s a bit harsh, innit?”

No. It’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dabbled in Yoga and meditation ( I’m meditating again, actually) and can attest to the health benefits of both. There is nothing wrong with these things. I’ve had an “Energy Healing” and found it to be ok ( not miraculous, but ok). I own two books about Reiki. I don’t have a problem with any of these things in and of themselves. I don’t have a problem with spirituality in general. But what I DO have a problem with is people who use spirituality as a way to bypass their own BS, or, more specifically, to gloss over their lack of capacity for basic human empathy, compassion and sensitivity; essentially painting rainbows and butterflies on what are actual narcissistic traits in an attempt to package them as some sort of spiritual achievement- or worse: as spiritual ( and general) superiority.

Those types of people can FUCK OFF. I don’t give a rat’s balls if saying that means you won’t be able to see me as a “spiritual person”. Or that you’ll think I’m “low- vibrational” or “full of negative energy, maaaan”. I. DON’T. CARE. I couldn’t be less invested in having you see me as some sort of unwavering vessel of Love and Light. Because I’m NOT an unwavering vessel of Love and Light. NOBODY IS!

As much as I enjoy feelings of peace, calm, and stillness when I do experience them, I can’t actually see the appeal of being that way 24/7. Apart from the fact that it’s a literal impossibility ( especially when living the way most of us do), I can’t understand what the benefit of killing off the ego for good would be. Your ego is the source of your personality ( without which you’d have no quirks; sense of humour; opinions; preferences, etc.) and your desires ( without which you’d have no ambitions, aspirations, ability to form goals, etc.). Sorry, but if you have any intention of living in society in some capacity ( and most of you do ), you need that thing! If your main aspiration in life is having no personality, drive, or strong emotions, just get a fucking frontal lobotomy and be done with it. (And what a fun, interesting person you’ll be for it…)

The simple fact is that we are ALL human. Yes, even you with your Lumerian Quartz crystal healing pendant that “repels all negativity” ( Sigh ) . Even the Dalai Lama is human ( Gasp! Am I allowed to say that?!). And he’s only the Dalai Lama because he’s living a life conducive to being- one might even say tailor made to being- the feckin’ Dalai Lama. Are you? If not, stop pretending that you are.

And this is my main beef with the New Age scene. It’s SO damn full of PRETENCE. Sorry, hippies, but pretending to be happy all the time isn’t the same thing as being happy. ( If you really understand Eastern spirituality the way you claim to, you’ll be well acquainted with the concepts of impermanence and non-attachment, yes? So why the fucking panic regarding emotions, hmm? They do end. Ah, but those messier ones won’t make you look cool, so I can see why you don’t want anyone to know you ever experience them. It’ll mess with your ultra spiritual Yogi-like image. Except- wait- you’ve transcended your ego, right? You’re way too cool to care about image! What am I missing here?! ) .

Pretending to be happy doesn’t actually make you happy. All it’s going to do- apart from cheapen actual happiness when you do experience it ( which will also be a temporary state, so don’t go getting too attached to that, either) – is ensure that you NEVER get in touch with your real feelings; that you never get to know- let alone allow anyone else to know- your authentic self. Because you’re so terrified of your shadow- which is a significant and NORMAL part of any human being- you will automatically project this fear onto every person you meet.

This debilitating fear will prevent you from experiencing authentic connection. Your fear of anything raw and honest will ensure that you have only the most superficial connections with others. How can you have a deep connection with someone you only acknowledge one half of? You will never connect with your own truth because you’re too fucking scared of it. And if you can’t even be honest with yourself about that, how the hell are you going to be honest with anyone else? How can I trust you? Why would I? Only other pretenders and delusion wizards will seek your company, because you validate their own pretence and delusion. And vice versa. Your life will be full of pretence and delusion and you’ll wonder why you feel so fucking empty.

I see this shallowness all the time in New-Agey scenes. For all the superficial warmth; all the hugging; the “Hey, sister”/ “Hey, soul brother” stuff, there’s often little substance behind it. It’s like an Easter egg: all shiny and sparkly on the outside, but hollow in the middle. That’s on the less sinister side of things, anyway. When you get a full blown malignant narcissist or psychopath in the form of a self styled guru things start looking more like an Easter egg full of poison. ( Or a cake full of dog poo and knives*). Read/ listen to any account of escaped cult members for examples of this.

Personally, I prefer to keep my spiritual side largely to myself. I don’t need a cheer squad to validate my beliefs. I’m not so insecure about my spiritual practice that I feel the need to enlist club members. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. I’ll respect yours so long as you respect mine. And, just to be clear: respecting my beliefs never involves you ramming yours down my throat. Ok? Ok.

The thing is, there are thousands of different spiritual beliefs and practices out there. Is yours the only correct one? Are you, Mr. Vegan Crystaldick, just that brilliant that you’ve got it all figured out and EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD, EVER with a different perspective than yours is wrong? What about the agnostics? Are they wrong for saying “maybe” or for refusing to adhere to dogma? Or do their chakras just need a good clearing? ( By you, of course, for the totally reasonable fee of $500).

In my opinion ( and it is only an opinion ) all spiritual belief systems are essentially branches of the same tree. If there is such a thing as a Higher Intelligence/ Higher Consciousness/ Universal Consciousness ( choose your own label ) , then surely it’d make sense that if it chose to reveal an aspect of itself to you it would do so in a language that you understand, ie. through images; visions; symbols and experiences that make sense to you. If I were some sort of all-knowing oracle that spoke every language in the world and you came to me asking questions in Japanese, I wouldn’t give the answers in French, would I? Not unless I was a tricksy bastard.

You may be wondering what inspired this rant today. In truth, it’s one that I’ve engaged in before many times. I’m certain that others have expressed similar sentiments too. But sometimes you just encounter one-too-many twatsandals in the same week and you just need to get things off your chest. So this is what I’ve done. And I DO feel better! Unlike the twatsandals I’ve been bitching about, I am NOT afraid of nor ashamed of my feelings. Same goes for my authenticity. I WILL express myself. If that makes you uncomfortable, then that is your limitation, not mine! Own your bullshit. Go away and become a clinically perfect and enlightened, all-knowing, infallible oracle of truth. Then- and only then- feel free to come back and tell me how it fucking is. Until then, go and sit on your base chakra in the lotus position and just be quiet.

/End.

*A prize will be given for the first person who gets that reference.

A few new Fae Folk frolic into the fird* dimension

*ie. “third”, if it wasn’t feckin’ obvious. I remain loyal to alliteration for life ’cause I like it a lot.

This one is my favourite of all the l’il critters I’ve made to date. I’m taking more time with them and am noticing improvements- for which I feel I can’t take full credit, as the Fae are assisting 😉 ( not due to any altruistic reasons, mind. They just figure that if I’m going to create physical representations of them, they’d prefer those representations to look cool rather than like an action figure that’s been chewed regularly and with gusto by a Golden Retriever puppy ). This wee one will be going to a new home soon, so I wanted to show some piccies first. Unfortunately the weather is too wet to photograph him/her/them outside in Nature without damage to the paintwork and materials, so you get these indoor shots instead.

I don’t have a lot of insight into this one’s personality, apart from that fact that it’s quite secretive. Oh, and that it dislikes shoes. This was inconvenient for me, as I suck at making feet, so generally opt to do the cheaty sneaky thing by making tiny little felt shoes instead of actual feet. But, no. That wouldn’t cut it this time. “Well,” said I, “If you don’t want your feet to look like badly sliced sourdough bread, you’re going to have to help me, aren’t you?” Luckily, the help I requested came through, and I made feet with relative ease for the first time ever.

The next one is a Pixie Shaman who asks me to refer to him as “The Collector”. He collects little trinkets that humans- and pets of humans- have lost, and uses them to adorn his person. He particularly enjoys bells which have fallen off cat collars. He’s also fond of Hawthorn berries and feathers.

When he’s not collecting things, he helps you find things you didn’t realise you were looking for. Other specialisations: Typical Pixie Shaman bizz; magick; storytelling; jokestering; book recommendations.

Doing a spot of book-sitting
Attempting to camouflage into a psychedelic artwork

More folk to come at a later date…..

How to be the best at EVERYTHING, EVER #1 : How to write ( Better than anyone else in the world, EVER)

TIGGER WARNING: The following post contains no characters from Winnie The Pooh whatsoever, and some readers may find this distressing. Also, there’s a fuckload of swearing in one part. I thought I’d better let you know, just in case you happen to be walking past this blog with Tigger. I don’t want him seeing it then going home and teaching Christopher Robin foul language. ( Eeyore does listen to a bit of thrash metal which oftentimes features a bit of effin’ and jeffin’, but it’s ok because the screamy vocals do something to disguise the actual lyrics).

If there’s one thing an aspiring writer needs most, it’s definitely a bunch of contradictory, opinionated, self congratulatory twatterism and personal bias thinly disguised as practical, applicable, unquestionably universally relevant advice. And what better place to seek such essential information than The Internet. More specifically, what better place than this- My Blawg- written by someone who can’t write, for people who probably can, but who will possibly never read these words. But it matters not, for this entire thing serves as an inside jokie-jape amongst me, myself, and the other one.

What to write? And more importantly, how to write? I posed this question to a handful of the world’s most successful and well regarded imaginary authors, who responded with their tried and true Top Ten Tips, which I’ve generously shared in the following section of this blog post- in list form for your easy digestion. Read on to locate aforementioned following section, which I mentioned earlier in this current section.

The first list is provided by the renowned and respected author, Lord Twattington-Spiff, who brought us the classic tome, “Why Ladies Shouldn’t Write”, an excerpt of which appears below.

Their flaps just get in the way”

– Why Ladies Shouldn’t Write- Lord Twattington- Spiff

Lord Twattington-Spiff’s Top Ten writing tips:

  1. Rise no later than the birds. Preferably before the little blighters. This way, one may enjoy the unadulterated silence- or if one is less hard of hearing as myself, the cacophony of yawning from the filthy mouths of lazy peasants as they toil idly in the fields. Walk the length of your estate- weather allowing or not! Walking ‘midst the hills and moors in inclement weather strengthens physical and mental fortitude, and stimulates the imagination. Indeed, the idea for my novel “My Balls” came to me amidst a blizzard, when I fell into an icy pond and struck my forehead against a frozen duck.
  2. Don’t let your woman write. My wife tried once, but the poor dear strained her arm trying to reach the writing materials due to her enormous funbags.
  3. My balls.
  4. Take on a mistress. Only between the hours of midnight and 3:00am, however, and watch her around the silverware.
  5. Use a typewriter, not a computer. Keeps the fingers robust. No respectable writer I know of ever typed words on anything but a sturdy antique Olivetti. No computer! No internet! (Even pornhub. Wank instead to antique erotica. If you’re going to deploy the troops to Towelsville, at least let the poor fellows die with some dignity, ie. at the hands of hands accustomed to handling dusty- and crusty- old postcards from 1920’s France)
  6. Balls!
  7. Only drink the finest whiskey and brandy. The best work is written under the influence of such things. It will need extra editing, yes, but that’s what The Help is for.
  8. Have a small notepad with you at all times so that should a brilliant idea come to you whilst fox hunting or pheasant shooting you’ve somewhere to note it down.
  9. Have a writing implement with you at all times, or the carrying of a notepad shall be rendered most impractical. I suggest a quill pen and a small bottle of the finest India Ink.
  10. For Christ’s sake, limit transitive verbs to a minimum of 8 per chapter. Any more than that and your work runs the risk of sounding like the diary of a whore, *guffaw guffaw*. In the first 80 years of my career, regrettably, I used them willy nilly. I shudder to look back at those days! * hortle chortle* But, one must shoulder one’s balls and trudge on. Pass that pork belly, will you, Floptington. There’s a lad. Mind my balls. Whizzo.
Hoorah! [image found online with no attribution. Anyone know who did it/ its origins??]

The second wheelbarrow of wisdom comes from award winning writer, Ameliah M. E. Leah, Author of the spellbinding and poetically rich “A Cascade of Crows”, the detailed inner monologue of ornithologist, Clara, who is on the cusp of proving her hypothesis that corvids are not only capable of graffiti, laughing, and swearing , but are the original masterminds behind them. Her experiments may lead her to amazing discoveries and fame, but also threaten to destroy her relationship with her prudish, insufferably judgemental neighbour, George, whom she loathes. Behold- an excerpt:

The birds sit upon the wire like music notes in a symphony score. They are the symphony; ‘piece for 300 nose oboes’ its name.

Nose…Nose…Nose! ‘Beaky’: that’s his name for me. Oh, how I loathe George! But I’ve just realised I’m actually really hungry. There was surely a pot noodle left in the cupboard. Hopefully not ‘beef’ flavour, though. That’s the most bland one. How am I going for toilet paper? Must get to the shops. I’ll have to get that hinge fixed, too. I wonder what’s on telly later…AAGGGH damnit! These undies are riding up my arse again. Maybe I should switch to boylegs. Oh look- a moth!”

-A Cascade of Crows- Ameliah M.E. Leah.

Ameliah M.E. Leah’s Top Ten Tips:

  1. Remember meter. Manipulate meter. Meter, meter, pumpkin eater.
  2. Disallow alliteration; no matter how alluring, alleviate; circumnavigate! Stop strained sequences of esses strung in ceaseless succession. And try not to rhyme too much; you’re a novelist, not P Diddy. I’m not knocking him, of course, but stay on your side of the street, sweet.
  3. I’m serious about meter. 3/4 timing; minimal rhyming. I’m reiterating on the alliterating, which you may find frustrating; addressing rhyme a second time, which may not seem of prim…ary importance to you, but it is, so take it on board, or forget fame; forget awards.
  4. Don’t write from a desire for fame or reward. Say what you need to say, unashamedly and unselfconsciously. Fuck the critics!
  5. Pick your target audience and cater to it. You are not an artist, you are a waiter in a literary restaurant. Remember this.
  6. Avoid contradiction. Decide what to say and say it with conviction. You’re not here as a waiter. You’re the head chef, in the kitchen. You may be slaving over a hot stove , but it was your soup that drew them in. And they’re hungry. Remember this. Also worth remembering: if some of the customers are pricks, you could hock up into into their soup before it’s served. They probably wouldn’t even notice.
  7. Never name chapters. Number them neatly. And in order.
  8. Learn to let go of your work. Once you’ve completed your novel, delete the files; rip up the documents; burn the manuscripts. Destroy it completely. Even if it’s fantastic, and took 6 years to write. Time is nothing. Time is nonexistent. Time is infinite. Time is what you make of it. Time is a Pink Floyd track. But time is also of the essence, so try not to waste it.
  9. Don’t just write. Think about it. Consider each sentence in order to minimise rewriting and editing later. Forget “flow”. Make every word immaculate. Now by this, I don’t mean to literally write the word “immaculate” over and over until you’ve written it enough times to fill a book. That would be plagiarism, as fans of my early conceptual work “Immaculate” would know. My point is, take the time to refine as you go. I personally don’t move on to the next sentence before the one I’m working on is the epitome of perfection. This is why my books are so fabulous.
  10. Just write. Don’t overthink it. Write and write until you’re done. THEN go back and edit and rewrite then edit again. Make it as good as you possibly can, but know that perfection is nonexistent. Be humble.

Next, some hard-hitting advice from the hard-hitting writer Max Damage, who brought us the hard-hitting autobiography “Fuck off and leave me to my super hard drugs, you massive fucking shitcunts” ( now a major motion picture directed by Roger Federer, starring John Revolver and Una Thermos).

  1. Fuck off
  2. And
  3. Leave
  4. Me
  5. To
  6. My
  7. Super
  8. Successful and cushy but also tough and edgy
  9. Career and lifestyle
  10. You massive fucking shitcunts.

And lastly, some sage words from the world’s most beloved Crime fiction writer- and personal friend of mine- A. K. Drusillacado, whose latest offering of psychological suspense “Before the milk turns” will be out any time now; probably when you least expect it. Extra thanks to Ms. Drusillacado for taking the time to give us these tips during the middle of the birth of her second child, Ochroma Pyramidale Applecart Oberon Titanium Mig-Welder Drusillacado. Congratulations to you and your wonderful family!

  1. Before starting your novel, write character outlines. Fill them in with texta. Interview these characters. Better still- interrogate them. If they don’t cough up the information, feed them to the fishes. Interrogate the fishes. If the fishes don’t cough up the information, fry them. Serve them with a home made tartare sauce and rustic potato wedges. Two, four, six eight- dig in; don’t wait.
  2. Make the reader feel like a detective. Engage them by hiding key pages around your city, leaving a trail of subtle but tantalising clues ( lime and black pepper crisps, for example).
  3. Make it plausible. In my initial brainstorming for “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” I’d envisioned the protagonist, Durian, as a school girl! As you know, she ended up as an 82 year old grandmother. Sometimes it’s necessary to tweak certain details- or remove them completely-in order to make them more believable. And in this case, everything seemed to come together more cohesively with an elderly woman as the main character instead of a young girl. Although I was still semi-attached to my original idea, in the end, it was simply more plausible to have a blind elderly lady bumping off her granddaughter’s evil rival soccer team one by one with an antique Stradivarius then disposing of them in an orchard than have a 6 year old do it. Which brings me to my next piece of advice:
  4. Don’t get too attached to your characters. It’s terribly needy. Be a total bastard. Cheat on them. Dis their clothing choices. Openly check out their hot sister- right in front of them. Leave the seat up, despite numerous polite requests not to. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen.
  5. Include at least ONE helicopter chase in each story. If you don’t, people will think you’re from the past, or a Victorian Revival Goth or something. “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” had five helicopter chases! So don’t hold back. (But also don’t copy my idea by having five. I will sue.)
  6. Consider how your writing will be affected if translated into languages very different from the one you generally use. You’re likely going to have to renumber the pages.
  7. Lacking inspiration? Remember, Real Life is the ultimate muse, and every experience is a potential writing prompt. I’d been suffering the worst case of writer’s block in my life after the launch of my debut novel, “To Slice a Watermelon”. I remember I was absentmindely pairing socks when I dropped a pair which rolled under the couch.When I reached under to grab it, to my surprise, I found an old skull under there. When I questioned my 7 year old, Semolina Jane, she admitted to grave-robbing. I was initially annoyed, but I couldn’t stay mad for long, because it was at that moment that the seed of “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” was planted. Anyway, darling, I might have to leave it there. I’m really pooped from this labour.
A.K. Drusillacado giving birth

Final notes for the patient reader: I initially wrote this several years ago, but it’s been languishing in a folder in a grey tracksuit since. I have recently rediscovered it, given it a manicure, flattering new cut ‘n’ colour and imitation Hermes scarf so as to make it presentable enough to appear on this certifiably* grand blog which everybody in the entire Universe definitely agrees is grand.

These fictional characters are not based on anybody in particular, and I am grateful for every bit of writing advice I’ve read over the years, both good and bad, for the good advice genuinely helps ( I’m always in need of more) and the bad advice is good fodder for the piss-take.

Artwork shown- apart from the first pic- was nabbed from Pixabay’s royalty free stock, then embellished by me. Badly. Deepest apollyloggies to the artists/ photographers whose name I forgot to note down in my state of insomniacal excitement/ delirium.

*My blog won last year’s inaugural “Best Blog in The Universe Ever According To Everyone” award, which was invented and presented by me some really cool people that you don’t know.

Well, what are you still here for ? This post is over. Off you go now to write your best selling novel! Never fear, there will certainly be more brilliant and useful advice coming soon- on all things. So check back sometime, eh? ( I mean, you don’t have to. Whatevs.)

I DO WHAT I WANT/ death to authoritarian biscuits

Fuck da system

I showed those bikkies. I showed ’em real good.

Or so I thought. Shortly after this photo was taken I was arrested by an Arnott’s Savoury Shape and taken to a large cardboard building ( well, I mean it was a biscuit box, and I couldn’t fit into it) and interrogated in the car park (kitchen counter top) by a jam doughnut. It was more surreal than scary, and I ended up eating Detective JD, but now I’m being haunted by her, which- again- isn’t scary so much as annoying…and weird (she sings to me from the other side of the door when I’m visiting the toilet. That is starting to get to me.)

There’s no moral to this story.

As you were. ( waves while driving off in a cardboard ferrari – a hot rock star gentleman friend in the passenger seat casually passing me a joint as we zoom into the sunset)

Some old artings by past iterations of Lady Noircotic

Here are some selected bits and bobs from my shady and not-so-shady past. If I’m honest, I’m just posting these because my blog is looking a wee bit boring and more than a wee bit shit. Additionally, if people enjoy these images it pressures me to put more effort into my creativity, (which I’m just beginning to delve back into*) and maybe even to this blog, which after beginning a year or so ago I promptly abandoned for almost a year, rendering it somewhat devoid of both quality AND quantity.

Anyway, I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy the goods ( or unenjoy the bads if you so prefer).

*To “redelve”, if you will. ( ‘Elve’ being the singular form of ‘Elves’, of course, just as ‘scarve’ is the singular form of ‘scarves’ and ‘Giralve’ the singular form of ‘Giraffes’**)

** Example of how to use the word “Giraffes” in a sentence:

Child: ” Mummy, I’m hungry”

Mum: ” Shhh! Be quiet, Sally- I’m trying to listen to the Giralves. I think they’re talking about me…”

Child: “But Giraffes can’t talk, Mummy..”

Mummy: “They can! And it’s ‘Giralves’, sweetie. We talked about this, didn’t we? One Giraffe, two Giralves. Now go and finish sweeping the lawn.”

Child: “Ok, but can I have a biscuit?”

Mummy: “SSHHHH!!!”

Child ( whispering inaudibly ): “The Giralves are hungry too, so I’m taking the whole tin…”

Mummy: “Ok, whatever, good girl- I’ll leave you a biscuit.”

Another curious creature…

Although I’m not sure what this little fella’s name is, I can tell you that he’s a Plant Guardian/ Telepathic Yodeller*. Also, Clover tends to grow in places where he’s walked. Sometimes though, it’s not clover, but any kind of plant with small yellow flowers. ( They must be yellow. He’s very adamant about that. Unless it’s clover he leaves behind. Then the yellow rule obviously does not apply. He won’t explain this inconsistency to me, despite my numerous requests for clarity on the issue).

*The kind of yodelling that you can only hear in your mind- and only if he wants you to hear it. Requests to hear his yodelling can be sent, of course, provided they are sent via telepathic means AND in the form of a yodel. If he deems your yodelled request worthy, he will frame it and place it somewhere within his home. But beware! If he does NOT deem it worthy, he will send you the Benny Hill theme tune- on repeat . Played on the kazoo.

[Boring “reality” details: He’s made out of polymer clay, wire, assorted fabric, wooden beads, found natural objects, wool roving, magick, paper and latex. I know I said I wanted to begin making more of an effort re; the photographing of these…unfortunately I won’t have the chance to do that with this little fella as he went to his new home late last year. Luckily, however, I’ve almost completed a new one, so I’ll try a bit harder to make the piccies of him look magickal…]

Wonderful thing I only just discovered but which everybody else has known about for years #7073: Erwin Saunders

Because I’m a part time recluse ( I’d be a full-time one if it were possible) and don’t use social media ( unless you count this blog plus watching things on TubeYou ) and – on top of that- also take frequent multiple-months-long breaks from The Internet, it seems there are certain things that I discover much later than others do. By “things” I mean fairly inconsequential stuff, like YouTube channels and TV series. There is a lot of shite on YouTube, and even more shite on TV ( I don’t own one for that reason) .

HOWEVER…..sometimes nuggets of gold can be discovered amongst the nuggets of smelly Not Gold, and I delight in stumbling upon them like the last drunk at a party stumbling over a coffee table. Notable mentions: ‘Adventure Time’ ( the amazing cartoon that a 26 year old stoner manchild convinced me to watch only a few years ago); ‘Stranger Things’ ( of mindblowing synthy-horror soundtrack and Dacre Montgomery aka the only person in the world who can look good with a non-ironic mullet), and ‘Sleepytime Gorilla Museum‘ ( Gobsmackingly brilliant band of ultra talented gorgeous people doing clever things…with their sense of humour intact all the way through) .

But now, fate has led me ( via THIS fascinating blog and then THIS lovely, equally fascinating YouTube channel) to a new discovery: Erwin Saunders. Let the brief but charming video below explain better than I can what he does:

In addition to “documenting” the Fae folk of the UK , Erwin also creates enchanting illustrations of these creatures, which you can buy!

All of this has got me thinking:

A) I should begin putting more effort into the photographing of the critters I make ( y’know, not just a lazy filter job in photoshop) and perhaps turn them into prints; cards, etc. I dunno. But I feel I should be making more of an effort.

B) The Faeries are trying to get my attention again.

C) How when I was a teenager- being fond of solo walks in the wilderness and having just discovered Brian Froud- I wished that somebody could make a Nature Documentary/ Mockumentary style show about different varieties of Faeries. I wanted to make it myself, but had no equipment, money for said equipment, or know-how as to the usage of said equipment. When I watched Erwin Saunders for the first time last night, I remembered this wish, for his videos are the exact thing I’d been thinking of all those years ago.

(As a side note, when I was a kid I also loved inventing my own secret codes and languages, and would write them down in exercise books, then write things in my languages so that only I could read and understand them. Because I also loved to draw, I had the idea to write a book in a “secret language” and to illustrate it. I never did it, but years later I would discover Luigi Serafini’s ‘Codex Seraphinianus‘, which is the exact type of thing I imagined in my mind’s eye as a child. This kind of thing always makes me wonder if ideas are never really yours alone, but are instead like strange butterflies floating around in the ether; if you see one that takes your fancy, you have to catch it straight away. If you don’t, somebody else will, and it will lay its fantastical eggs in their garden instead of yours. This is exciting, but also makes me panic that I’m not taking enough action on the bazillion ideas that are currently percolating in my brain.

This idea has been explored by others, of course, and most recently by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book “Big Magic”. The book has some interesting ideas, but I have to be brutally honest and say that I don’t like EG much. There’s just something about her that rubs me the wrong way. It might be her lack of empathy….I’m not sure. I just don’t like her. There’s something false and cold there. That’s just my current perception, anyway. Sorry to anyone reading this who happens to be a fan of hers. Hey- at least I mentioned the book!)

I’ve written much more than I’d planned….oh well. But please do check out Erwin Saunders’ channel, as it’s one of the more delightful, good humoured, wholesome-without-being-sickening things I’ve seen in ages. We all need a bit of feel-good in our lives sometimes. And even though I’ve discovered this a bit late, I feel that the timing has been perfect for me.

Brassic: A bingeworthy British comedy- drama worth losing sleep on.

some of the Brassic cast ( image is not mine. It was found HERE)

Question: In what kind of show will you see all of the following things ( and more ) :

  • A sex dungeon populated largely by middle aged men
  • Lovely rural Lancashire scenery
  • An underground weed bunker
  • An undertaker’s business named “Abra cadavera”, run by the most stylish undertaker you’ve ever seen
  • An honest, authentic portrayal of bipolar disorder, written with sensitivity and dignity
  • An overly competitive old farmer bitterly telling another old farmer that his Shetland pony is “a cunt”
  • Drama and suspense
  • Belly laughs
  • Alpacas in caravans
  • Scary underworld crime bosses
  • A doctor with a knee obsession

I’ll tell you where: in the kind of show that is named ‘Brassic‘.

Brassic stars- and is the brainchild of- the wonderful Joe Gilgun. Two weeks ago I had no idea who Joe Gilgun even was. ( Shame on me! ). Now? I’m a fan for life. Joe ( pictured above, first from the left ) is an absolute diamond, and pretty much my new hero. I’ll warn you: I’m completely starry eyed over Mr. Gilgun, so apologies in advance if I sound like a lovestruck teen throughout this post. Maybe have a bucket handy.

Gilgun is ( as I’ve come to discover through watching “Brassic” and then embarking on a campaign to watch anything and everything he’s ever been in) a gifted actor. He also has brilliant, original ideas churning around in that brain of his. And he’s managed to achieve what he has and do what he does despite severe dyslexia AND bipolar disorder. For obvious personal reasons, I instantly feel a certain affinity with my fellow bipolar bears- especially the creative ones. It’s inspiring to see someone I actually relate to doing well for themselves, particularly in such a competitive and demanding arena as the TV and film industry.

But the bipolar aspect was not my motivation for watching Brassic. When I first began watching it, I had no idea what the show was about. I only began watching it because my insomniacal state had led me yet again to the lure of online streaming services, where I scoured, bleary eyed, for something worth replacing sleep with. I hadn’t heard of Brassic, or the people in it, and to be honest I’d scrolled past it several times already during my “British Comedy” search, as it looked too “normal” in the thumbnail for my tastes. (Ha!) . Eventually, I relented, figuring that if it was going to be normal and boring, I might just fall asleep on the couch- so why not.

Fall asleep I did not. I binged on the first two seasons over two nights, all the while falling slowly but surely a little bit in love with the main character, Vinnie ( played by Gilgun).

To be fair, most of the main characters, despite being pretty much full time petty criminals are disarmingly adorable and loveable. Together the gang of big-hearted rogues get themselves into all sorts of ridiculous trouble ….and a few sorts of quite serious trouble. The scrapes they get into in their rural Lancashire hometown are based on- according to the few interviews I’ve seen with Joe Gilgun and writers Danny Brocklehurst and Alex Ganley- Joe’s actual experiences. Of course, these are embellished for effect, and Gilgun describes his character Vinnie as “a cooler version” of himself.

Like Joe, Vinnie lives with the challenge of bipolar disorder, and this is handled by actor and writers alike with an admirable blend of raw honesty and sensitivity. As mentioned already, I didn’t realise at the time of viewing that any of the show’s creators were actually bipolar, but the writing, along with the sheer authenticity of Gilgun’s performance made it obvious to me that either the actor or one of the writers definitely had experienced it firsthand. It takes one to know one, after all, and it’s genuinely refreshing to see an accurate portrayal of BD on screen. I applaud the creators for managing to balance this- as well as the drama element in general- so well with the comedy aspects of the show. Some of the things Vinnie expresses and experiences in regards to his bipolar are pretty close to home, and I found myself tearing up more than once.

As a person who dreams of someday building their own Tiny House and parking it somewhere peaceful, private and green, I also found myself envying Vinnie’s shack in the woods. Here he has a quiet refuge, which is a healthy contrast to the chaos of the hijinks he engages in with his mates.

I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t watched the series yet by going into too much more detail. But I will say that this show really has everything I want in series: Quality writing; originality; laughs; depth; strong, believable characters; pleasant rural scenery which reminds me of my youth; action and suspense, “bad boy but nice boy” characters to crush on, and crackin’ tunes all the way through ( including some long time personal favourites, which always makes me very excited: “Hey!” I say to my cat, who watches with me, “That’s ‘clap hands’ by Tom Waits, y’know. Brilliant!” )

Although I only currently have access to the first two series, apparently there is a third season ( woohoo!) and even a fourth coming ( double woohoo! ), but I haven’t been able to figure out where to watch those yet ( not so woohoo ).

My one and only concern when it comes to a new series that I love is that the writing quality will lapse; that key actors will leave and be replaced by inadequate successors; that the creators will run out of good ideas and won’t be able to let things run their natural course, inadvertently stretching it far past its ‘best before’ date. (Let’s be honest; this sort of thing DOES happen). Somehow though, with these guys at the helm, I don’t think that will be a problem. Gilgun is a ‘good ideas’ factory, and Brocklehurst and Ganley are skilled at bringing these ideas to life ( and, undoubtedly have some pretty good ideas of their own). What’s more, if at some point they did eventually begin to lose momentum, I’m confident that these men would be smart enough and honest enough to be able to recognise it. So I think it’s safe to not worry too much and just enjoy being excited instead.

I wholeheartedly endorse Brassic, and suggest that you watch it ASAP if you haven’t already.

Main cast: Joe Gilgun, Damien Molony, Michelle Keegan, Aaron Heffernan, Tom Hanson, Ryan Sampson, Parth Thakerar, Steve Evets, Dominic West, Ramon Tikaram

Created by: Joe Gilgun and Danny Brocklehurst

Written by: Danny Brocklehurst and Alex Ganley

Directed by: Daniel O’Hara, John Wright and Saul Metzstein.