Posts Tagged ‘…what?’
Okay. Fess up.
Who ate January?
It’s February now. I did not expect this to happen in another couple of months. But, as it is here one might as well make the best of it.
Her Ladyship has decamped from Base to go to Bristol, where two of our very closest and loveliest friends decided to go and get engaged*. She is in charge of giving hugs for the both of us – my work schedule and state of batteries did not allow for me to go traipse about having ‘fun’ and whatever you cool kids do.
Instead I’ve been burning the candle at both ends doing fun film stuff, writing outside school hours and generally bringing myself to a state of knackeredness that is by all accounts fairly epic – the flat is cold, there is a blanket next to me on the sofa but I am actually too tired/lazy to pull it over me – which has led me to today’s events.
See, there’s a closing down sale thing at our local Blockbusters, and while I am loath to add things I kinda but don’t quite want to own to the aggressively pruned collection… I did fall prey to the confluence of man-alone-in-house + cheap films.
I have rented Iron Sky and John Carter.
Expect a report on both.
The washing machine is humming, a repeat of the Big Bang Theory is running in the living room and I am ending the year as I begun – hung over. So what could be more apt than to take some time and sum up 2012? It’s been a doozy, that’s fer shure.
However, the hangover I had on January 1 was not nearly as nice or as sociable as my current mild and self-induced red-wine-and-good-company-related troubles. The New Year’s Day hangover was an epic, five-alarm, 2-hour-car-drive-with-vomit-kit-in-lap humdinger of a beast, due to quite prolifically excessive consumption at Hogmanay. To cut a long story short – Scots know how to party. The fact that me and the Lady had gotten engaged the day before did nothing to stem the flow of Cava (and about 8 other types of alcohol). But, y’know – in the words of our hosts, that party was a belter.
The rest of January was lovely – a fantastic trip to Paris with the Lady reclaimed that city for me, we spent four days walking, eating and never even seeing the Eiffel tower from a distance. I came away with a huge grin on my face and the spark of a new story, ready to tackle school and resume the hunt for a PGCE. Wedding planning also started happening.
Training to be a teacher? Harder than I thought. So are most things, which always catches me by surprise. Still the Good Ship Snorri sailed on; in my spare time I worked on a play for Smári Gunnarsson and Matthew Lloyd based on their idea ‘what if Federer and Murray had to share a sub-par dressing room before meeting in the Wimbledon finals?’. The working title? ‘Balls’. Because I’m mature like that.
Wedding planning, school and play writing. Spring also started springing, which is always welcome. I booked Zoe Lyons to play at Reykjavik Gay Pride, which surprised quite a lot of people.
As I limped into the break I got a rather quizzical text from my friend Steve saying he’d ‘mentioned me in despatches’ to someone ‘in film’ and that I should send them my stuff. I thought “…meh, whatever” and sent said film person snippets of what I’d been working on . I tried briefly to ‘get into film’ a couple of years back, and found the people I dealt with to be not to my taste, so I thought nothing of it.
However, this film person turned out to be different. Enfys Dickinson (for it was she) was polite, sharp and very interested in a story I wrote. Some very pleasant conversations later (which I now know are actually ‘negotiations’) we’d agreed on filming rights and that I would write the screenplay for said film. Paid writing gig, awesomeness happening, boost to confidence. Surely the life could not get any better?
A scary orb started appearing with some regularity in the sky. Temperatures rose; clouds dispersed. Natives talked of the apocalypse, but then our Elders said this was in fact called ‘summer’ and happened nearly once a year. Under said sun I laboured to get my last observations for the PGCE up to snuff and finished with a certain amount of aplomb, going from ‘mildly unsatisfactory’ to ‘good with elements of outstanding’ within a year. I finished another round of edits on Swords and sent it off to the Agent, who did her dark arts under the guise of being just a nice friendly lady who likes to talk about books.
The last residential visit to Buckingham University rolled around, the last chance to hang out with Rob and Erika and also the end of me qualifying as a teacher, which I did with flying colours. Go me! On the writing front, Balls got finished and handed over to the actors for showing in July. Plans being made included finalizing of agreement with Enfys, more wedding preparations (who knew? That stuff is endless) and plans to bring the Parents of the Lady to Iceland in July. Exciting times.
Summer holidays saw a relocation to Iceland with Lady and Clan. We spent a lovely week squiring her parents about, showing them the country, dunking them in the Blue Lagoon (seriously – go. If you haven’t been – just go. It’s quite something else) and generally having a whale/wail/veil of a time. I taught the Lady’s parents the Icelandic term for in-laws, which is Connected-Family – my Connected-Mother took to this and now uses it as her term of preference. I took the Lady out to the airport early one Thursday morn’, came back to my parents’ house intending to spend five days with them and my brother, speaking in our made-up hurdy-gurdy language – and that’s when I got The Email, shortly followed by The Phone Call.
There had been an offer on the book. And not only on the book, but on the two other ones that I totally hadn’t written.
And the offer was by none other than World Fantasy legend Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books.
It’s really tricky to explain how it works when something like that happens. It’s basically life-changing, but incredibly slowly.
The first person I got to tell was my Dad, which I was incredibly happy about. We did a little boogie in the kitchen – and then my brother pulled up in the driveway and I stormed out to tell him. According to him I looked so intense as I stomped out that his first instinct was ‘What have I done and why am I receiving a beating??’ – to this day I have no idea what was going on in my head.
The most agonizing thing was waiting for the Lady to get down from the skies so I should tell her. That was a memorable phone call, and it struck me as it rarely does how much we affect the people around us, the people who carry our burdens with us but don’t necessarily tell us that they do.
I spent the next 5 days kind of going hurbl burbl burbl at the family, who have been incredibly patient with my various outbursts – and getting to work, post-haste, on Book 2 about the Vikings. In the storm of it all, Balls also got shown at the International Youth Arts festival, to good acclaim.
After initial meetings, August was a contract-signing month. I got to go to Pinewood Studios and do a film contract (complete with champagne), meet my Executive Producer (a really clever chap), walk around in the footsteps of pretty much all the film world’s greats (and past Simon Pegg’s office – luckily it was the weekend so I didn’t wet myself, wave, go “…hi Simon” and walk into a door. Because that’s pretty much inevitable) and ruminate on the fact that my little story was liked by some very clever people indeed. I also got to go to a very shiny glass house in Central London to sign a publishing contract and meet the lovely Nicola Budd, assistant to Jo and all round Good Egg. She brought me along to my very first event – an author meet run by the esteemed gentlemen at Fantasy-Faction, who I got to really get my geek on with. Good times were had, along with many drinks. I was introduced to the sterling Tom Pollock and also got to meet and shake a bemused Joe Abercrombie’s hand.
There was also a minor sporting event in London, which I attended. I got to see some gymnasts, who were astounding and mindblowing in equal measure.
But time waits for no man, and the school year gently sidled up and smashed me in the face with the Cricket Bat of Day Job. And you know what? Kids are fun. I found myself in charge of three Drama classes containing a delightful cocktail of little nutters, doing a fair amount of Icelandic tutoring and also looking after my very own class of 8th graders. Good, if somewhat exhausting times. September was also a month of travel – I counted, and I spent 15 nights away from home. This was achieved by a) going on a school trip to deepest, darkest Devon, b) jetting over to Iceland to help my esteemed father defend his Ph.D (He did the smart talkin’, I glared at his opponents) and c) going to FantasyCon, my first ever such experience. My geek sensors were practically vibrating – I went and saw Abercrombie and Sarah Pinborough lead a quiz, met some more lovely Jo Fletcher authors (Stephanie Saulter and Naomi Foyle, along with Tom and Sarah), met new book nerd guys and generally had a jolly old time of it. I also rejoined Twitter, and tried not to make too much of a hash(tag) of it this time. @Snorrikristjans, if you’re that way inclined.
More writing, more teaching, more writing. Deadlines for the film people; internal deadlines for myself for the book. After all the whizz-bang of the previous three, it was kind of a bit of a head-down-and-plough-on type of month. I got the novel up to the 44k word mark at the end, and sent it off to two of my alpha-readers (my Dad and Brother) to be read. I also submitted a revised outline of the film thing to Enfys, as we both agreed that the story in its original form would need quite a lot of reworking.
I got summoned to the Lair of Enfys, treated to tea and offered some criticism on the outline I’d submitted. One thing I do love is watching proper professionals at work, and along with my tea and biscuits I got the benefit of notes from someone who has spent a deceptive amount of years slicing stories apart. Like with all good sessions of constructive criticism I spent about three seconds fuming that my genius had not been recognized and then the rest of the time going “Yes! Ah. Cool. Dammit. You’re right. See what you did there,” and so on. I came away from the session quite invigorated, and set about writing a screenplay.
Handed in the screenplay to Enfys after my sensei had gone over it and pointed at the most heinous mistakes. As the term was staggering towards the end and I now had two major bits of stuff out (three, if you count Book 1) I did what any sensible Snorri does – I set about creating more work for myself and started what has occasionally been mentioned as The Bone Book, the idea for which was born in January of this year. I’m about 6.000 words in and finding the process equally exhilarating and frustrating. Further work may have to wait until I push the finished manuscript for Book 2 out. I also did a radio interview for Icelandic Radio 1, which may or may not be available at that link depending on whether you’re reading this now or in 2098. The peak of self-promotion in 2012 came with me writing my own Facebook Author Page. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it, but y’know – here it is. Click and like, if you wish.
And then there was my 38th birthday, and then there was Christmas. The Family came over, the Lady cooked food that was incomprehensibly tasty, I got to see good theatre, good cinema and hang out with some lovely people, I got to see my beloved Arsenal thrash Newcastle 7-3 and now I am getting ready to go to Stevenage for a Hogmanay, bringing the year around full circle.
All I can say is:
I am not easily stunned into silence, as several people can attest to. I am usually quite quick to find a snappy comeback, a rapid retort or a merciless put-down*. Recently, though, I found my flabber absolutely gasted, my train of thought thoroughly derailed, my metaphorical gob well and truly smacked. So much so that I found myself compelled to pull out my trusty camera phone and take a picture.
I was reading a publication which shall not be named. In said publication there was an interview with an actor who shall also not be named – it was one of those 5-minute jobs you sometimes get to do if you’re promoting something. In that interview there was a question that flummoxed me totally. The question was this:
Let’s recap for the people sitting a bit further away from their screens**:
“You are famously very smart. How does that help in your career?”
It’s hard to know where to begin. My first reaction was one of general apoplexy, but after some discussion with a friend I managed to quantify what I think is wrong with this.
1) The word ‘famously’.
This implies that there are campfires throughout the land where normal folk sit and whisper this actor’s name with hushed reverence but strictly using very short words, possibly also grunts.
2) The phrase ‘very smart’.
Not just smart – but very smart. We wouldn’t want to use something like, say, ‘intelligent’ for fear of losing the knuckle-dragging campfire readers.
3) The question.
I think what finally pushes me over the edge and gleefully jumps on my fingers as I cling on to the last shreds of sanity is the question at the end. It is as if the journalist, having made good and escaped the campfire because he could etch his name on a stone without banging his thumb, has sat around wondering about what it would be really like to be one of them thurr book-learned folk.
I think what bothers me the most may be that the question makes the journalist*** sound like he/she thinks the reader is an idiot. And I do not like people who do that.
* None of this has anything to do with the fact that I like the sound of my own voice.
** None of this has anything to do with the iPhone 3g being relatively crap at photos.
*** Who may be a lovely person who is kind to old people and bakes a mean tiffin
“There was no way he could stop starting rolling down the hill.”
If you need me I’ll be over in the Corner of Shame, hitting my head repeatedly with a cheese grater.
Well, technically it’s probably more of a dirk, to be used off-hand while fighting with a rapier or falchion. It has an inscription on the hand guard – the letters ‘P’ and ‘M’. The hilt is black, with a diamond design on either side, and the pommel is circular with 12 dots set around a central ring. The letters on the blade say “Made in China”, and it looks suitable for a warrior standing about 4′ tall and not much over the age of six. It is made out of plastic. The point is rounded, because warriors of the size this weapon was obviously lovingly crafted for cannot be trusted not to try how far into one’s ear it goes. That being said, they might still have a go with this.
The blade itself incites to violence, as they say.
I think I might start sitting less on the sofa – it seems to be arming itself.
An officious hamster walks into a large room. It is plush and lusciously furnished. Other hamsters are lounging on sofas and bean bags, casually engaged in conversation or nibbling pensively on a carrot. The eye catches on several wheels scattered around the room without any visible rhyme or reason; they are mounted on A-frames and seem very suitable for hamsters to run in. They are labelled. One reads ‘New Book’, another reads ‘Teaching next semester’, a third reads ‘interesting things to do with vegetables’ and so forth. The hamster that entered the room clears his little hamster throat.
“Hello, everyone! I just wanted to say well done to those of you who got on the New Book Wheel last night and made that baby spin!” Mutters of assent ripple through the crowd; speaking hamster has their attention. “We’d kind of given up hope that we’d get there, but you guys took care of business! Well done!” Cheers bounce across the room. One enthusiastic hamster does a cartwheel, then eyes a small, broken and boarded-up wheel labelled ‘sugar’ longingly. “But I think we can do better, hamsters!” Officious hamster continues. “Let’s multi-task!”
As one, the hamsters leap into action. Two brownish hamsters with determination in their beady little eyes leap onto the New Book Wheel; another ties a Karate Kid headband onto his forehead, heads for the Monk Life wheel, stumbles, smacks his head and staggers to his feet. The others lounge, but in a focused fashion. The atmosphere is electric. Monk hamster finally gets going as the New Book hamsters build up speed.
“Great! Great work!” Officious Hamster shouts over the creaking of the wheels. “Ham-sters! Ham-sters!” He shouts, delirious with power. Hesitant at first, the other hamsters join in. No-one wishes to over-commit, but eventually hamster war cries ring out. “NOW!!” Officious Hamster screams. “MORE! MORE! We can do MORE! Because we’re HAMSTERS!” A squeaky roar of approval rises to the stars from a number of tiny throats. Drunk on synapses, Officious Hamster leaps up onto the bar and roars, “IT’S – TIME – TO – OMNI-TASK!!!!”
Within a fraction of a second, all the hamster wheels are creaking, sparks are flying and ideas come spewing forth. A chapter about viking vegetable stew! Teaching children how to analyse the correct amount of fizzy drink! Portable axes! If you call a friend who is a stockbroker and you’re both outside on your mobiles, is it still insider trading? How can you write a monologue that shouldn’t be memorized or structured but rather based on something existing, only better? Does the fiscal model of lending with interest actually work, or will we grow tired of this and figure out something else? Why does paprika? Who is a Bob? One of the sofas has caught fire; a spark from the Hope Wheel has hit it as a panicked hamster tapped too hard on the reality brake. Smoke rises from the expensive upholstery and spreads across the room, fanned by increasingly panicked hamsters. But Plan B is just like Plan A, only harder, so they pedal faster and faster. The ideas have no words now; they’re just electric flashes without colour or form but with a faintly metallic taste.
Coughing, sad and slouching like a career drunk that has seen yet another promising evening end in the same depressing night, the Officious Hamster slumps on the bar. “Slow down,” he mutters without conviction. “Slow down.” But it’s no use, and he knows it. He’s done his job, only too well and without any sense. Sliding off the counter he grabs an amber bottle and waddles off. He looks over his shoulder at the first hamster wheel slowing down, its runner doubled over with exhaustion, and sighs before closing the door and disappearing.
I seem to have hurt myself.
It has something to do with my left hip and it comes with mild discomfort when moving about. As an added bonus, it makes me feel ever-so-slightly like an Old Man. So how did this happen, I hear you ask very silently?
Last week my Lady was off on one of her random jaunts being responsible, clever and organized in a business that is in precious short supply of said qualities. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and subsequently did what I do best – I sat down. In fact I sat down for an awful amount of hours. I’m not proud of saying this, but I think I may have managed to mess up my hip while playing World of Warcraft.
As definitions go, that’s pretty far from ‘heroic’. In fact I suspect the skeleton of Ernest Hemingway is as we speak clawing through the dirt in Ketchum, Idaho to come over here and whup my behind.
Spam-person: “It really is my really very first time that i have a examine this web site. I ran across quite a few fascinating stuff in your web site most absolutely this web page. In the a number of responses in your articles, I assume I’m not the only one particular owning all of the pleasure right the following!”
Me: “I am not from your country.”
p.s. I feel so special.
I’m back from Edinburgh, which will be dealt with in a separate post.
For now, I’m going to raise a question: How long can it possibly take to renovate a flat? Roughly a month after we moved in here someone started drilling in the upstairs flat. That is, by my count, early June. Hammering followed, then sawing, then drilling with a drill that sounded like it must be physically bigger than the flat. For the best part of six weeks we were treated to a symphony of noise – I’m pretty sure there was a jackhammer and a zebra at some point – but then it stopped, mostly, early this month.
Now it sounds like someone has moved in upstairs (unless playing the film Star Wars at near-cinematic volume is qualified as refurnishing these days) and what’s the first thing I hear? More hammering.
It’s gotten to the point where I kind of want to break in just to confirm my suspicions and actually walk into the Tardis.
It is mighty tempting to think that my incisive and well thought out post on Hope Marketing has stirred a hornet’s nest and provoked the snake oil merchants to descend upon this humble webpage with their offers of saddles for my unicorn, an army of dish-washing gnomes at my command and a magical way to get paid for my blogs.
In reality it’s probably not like that, though.
Let’s invent a man named Simon. I’m not sure how this works, but here’s an educated guess: for some reason human trafficking or producing Celine Dion’s new album are not available to Simon as career options, so he decides to become a web marketer. Maybe he likes torturing kittens. Maybe someone slick named Rob invited him to a seminar at a conference hotel. I don’t know. Most likely Rob sells him a software package. Probably makes a joke involving the word ‘full’ as he does so. Software that will make Simon THOUSANDS. Every – single – month. It even comes with (I’m guessing) a way to buy access to lists of email addresses and/or websites with comment boards (such as this very one) for a very modest fee. Now Simon activates his software, leans back and waits for the millions to roll in.
Because Rob’s Package works on the grape shot methodology. If you send a message to a million people – and 1% of them give you a bit of their time and maybe click on a link, which is not unreasonable at all – that’s just one in a hundred – and you get 1p per link clickthrough out of Google AdWords or some such – that’s 100 pounds a month right there. Minimum. 2 million people – 200 pounds. Minimum. 10 million people – 1.000 pounds. Mi-ni-mum, baby. And hey – here’s the beauty – message sending can be automated. For a pay-once fee you can get this really nifty bit of kit that sprays your message all over the internet, and you can just lean back and watch the suckers give you money. No lose scenario, right?
Maybe that’s exactly how it happens. 1% of people goes “Oooh! What’s that? How’d they know I was in the market for a combine harvester? I’ll click!”, Harvesters-R-Us pays Google 2p, Google pays Simon 1p, everyone wins.
Or maybe another old saying holds true. Simon puts a lot more work into it. He pores over his message, he starts cruising innocent blogs of struggling writers (like this one) and gets really hurt when his pointless message about making money on the internet gets deleted by the admin (aforementioned struggling, but also evil, writer). Hurt enough to post a follow-up message with an extra two lines tacked onto the front: “Why did you delete my message? It had useful information unlike most of these other comments.” Because that’ll win the day. Going back to common sense – a fool and his gold are soon parted.
So. Dear money-for-blogs person. On the slim chance that you’re actually following my writing and not just letting Rob’s Package track who deletes your message and send whingey follow-ups that confusingly have randomized names and reply emails. With all due respect and with concern for your safety, health and well-being – go away. And for away I mean ‘off’. And for ‘go’ I mean something that rhymes with ‘duck’. I would end this by sharing what I think of you – it rhymes with what they used to do to foxes.