Disposable

So I’m really pissed off about two things right now: Silent Hills and Twin Peaks.

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After years of disappointing sequels, Silent Hills promised a return to form for the Silent Hill franchise, thanks to the involvement of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, who created a playable teaser for Silent Hills that was so innovative and brilliant that it blew everyone’s mind with only 20 minutes of very simple gameplay.

The Twin Peaks revival was supposed to give the series a chance to find closure after studio meddling left the second season in tatters. It was subsequently cancelled thanks to the sheer drop-off in quality.

But now the powers that be behind these two projects, Konami and Showtime, have decided that they don’t actually need the creators of these projects to bring these projects to fruition. Konami doesn’t need Kojima’s genius to make a game so scary that players will “shit their pants.” It’s not like the Silent Hill franchise was suffering from derivative gameplay and poor sales and slowly sliding into irrelevance, right?

And it’s not like Showtime actually needs the creator of Twin Peaks to create more Twin Peaks, right? They did fine without him last time didn’t they? You know, when the show got cancelled because it was so fucking terrible?

I hate this attitude. I hate this belief that that the actual creative talent behind a project is completely disposable. What could Lynch have possibly wanted that Showtime wouldn’t give him? Did he want to be paid in golden unicorns? Did they think he would do it for free in exchange for the exposure? And after the resounding success of PT, why the hell did Konami think they could recapture that brilliance without the person responsible for creating that brilliance?

People want people to make art, but they don’t want to actually value the artists. And so they toss the artists aside and then sit back and scratch their heads in dumb befuddlement as they wonder why all of a sudden the art fails.

So screw you, Showtime and Konami. If I wanted to play a half-assed Silent Hill game, I’d play one of the half-assed ones that already exists. And if I wanted to watch a Twin Peaks show without David Lynch, I’d just watch that Wayward Pines show that literally no one cares about.

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Pace

So I’ve had a chance to read through my manuscript now. I’m happy to say that it isn’t completely terrible! I mean, it’s certainly not great, but at least it isn’t so awful that I wanted to set my computer on fire and walk into the ocean.

I still have a LOT of work to do!

The process for writing this story has been completely different to how I wrote my first novel, so I’m still learning as I go. One thing that’s become apparent is just how messed up my pacing is. When I first write a scene, it feels like it’s progressing at a reasonable pace because my typing isn’t super fast. However, when I actually read it, I can see that things are moving much too quickly. Huge events are happening in a single paragraph. Characters are zooming from one scenario to another in the blink of an eye. I began with such a bare-bones draft that it’s still gaunt even after I’ve put some meat on it. Turns out I need a bit of fat on it too.

So I know what I have to do to make this story flourish. Of course, knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two very different things. Tomorrow I will commence fleshing things out and slowing things down. Hopefully I will have a strong manuscript at the end.

Also I think I’m going to change the title…


Turning Violet

I have a love/hate relationship with Lush Cosmetics. I love their products but I hate their salespeople. Being a somewhat socially anxious person, I find entering a Lush shop to be extremely stressful. If you so much as glance at a product, a salesperson will sidle up to you, creep into your personal space and talk at your face in an aggressively hip manner like some kind of Generation Y cyborg who does not know how to feel. I’ve almost been reduced to tears by their intense eye contact, trapped like a deer in the headlights as they dribble deadpan compliments at me about my hair while trying to tell me how “conceptual” their roll-on perfume is. One time I tried to outsmart them by sneaking in really fast, grabbing exactly what I wanted and running to the cash register. Nope. They still accosted me while I stood in line, blabbering at me about how great my choice was and how I simply must try this product as well and also this one and that one until all my resistance is washed away and I am dragged down into the sudsy hell where they keep their victims once they suck the essence from their soul and lock it in one of their recyclable pots.

So I decided to try and make my own bath bombs. I found a bath bomb making kit online, chose some fragrances (rose and violet, of course) and ordered it, undoubtedly putting myself onto some kind of government watch list in the process.

Everything seemed to be going very well. I mixed in all the ingredients, including a dash of purple colouring that came with the kit. The instructions didn’t specify how much colouring to put in, and it was a bit hard to mix it through, so I might have put in a little more than I needed. I didn’t think it would really matter, though. It made the bath bombs look super pretty!

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They even have little bits of lavender in them!

 

 

Much prettier than my attempt at a rainbow layer cake a few weeks back…

 

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Nailed it!

 

So I was super happy with how my first attempt at bath bombs worked out. All I had to do was wait for them to dry a little and then I could test one out.

In the evening, I sat in my bathtub, giddy with anticipation. I held the bath bomb aloft, thinking, “Take THAT, Lush! I don’t need you anymore. Never again will your terrifying salespeople attempt to rub lotions on me without my consent. I have won! I am my own Lush now! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I plunged that bath bomb into the water. Fizzing purple bubbles spewed forth. It worked! It fizzed and smelled pretty and did everything a bath bomb was supposed to do. But then I realised that the purple colour was not diluting in the water. It was clinging to my legs, to the walls of the bath tub. Just like poor Violet Beauregarde, I was turning violet.

I jumped out of the bath and ran to the shower to desperately scrub the stain from my skin, then I did the same to the bath tub. Despite this, both the tub and myself are still slightly purple. I don’t know if the tub will ever recover, and I guess the seven other bath bombs I made from the same batch are useless. Despite promising beginnings, my bath bomb venture ended in purple tears.

You win this round, Lush.

 


Second Draft Complete!

Second draft of the manuscript is now complete!

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I had hoped to finish my second draft before the end of 2014, so I’m only 18 days past my deadline. I still need at least another 10 thousand words to flesh it out, the pacing is all over the place, and my character arcs and their relationships need a lot of work.

But for now, I’m just gonna celebrate!

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Dragon Age: Pick-up Artist

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I’ve become a little bit obsessed with Dragon Age: Inquisition over the past few weeks. I haven’t played the first two games, but after thoroughly enjoying Shadow of Mordor I was in a bit of a high fantasy mood and so I decided to give Inquisition a go. It’s fantastic! The world is enormous and beautiful, full of thrilling battles and epic loot to collect. I’ve only walked off cliffs accidentally a couple of times.

A defining aspect of Bioware games like Dragon Age is the relationships you can form with the other characters. Your companions will have individual opinions about your decisions, you can have personal conversations with them, you can even form romantic relationships.

That last point is the one that has caused me a bit of a problem. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed of my behaviour in this game.

Inquisition has turned me into a sleazy, predatory pick-up artist.

No matter what I’m doing in this game, be it fighting demon hoards or negotiating political alliances, I have only one thing on my mind: which of these characters will I bone?

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I have tried to have a crack at every. single. character. ALL of them, regardless of gender, species or sexual orientation. No one is safe from my dialogue wheel of seduction. I’ve been hardcore flirting with characters I don’t even like, and ones who don’t even like me. I think I might have traumatized a few of them. Even this ugly brute isn’t safe from my elfin charms.

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One day, as I was running from one character to the next, looking to see who had new flirty dialogue options available, I suddenly had a worrying thought. Is this what it feels like to be a man in a bar, looking for a girl to take home? Is this what it feels like to view human beings as nothing but sexual prey? Just another notch on the bedpost, another lay to brag about to your mates? I may be acting like a knob in a video game, but there are people in real life who actually have this mentality all the time. These are people who pride themselves on being like this. They even have seminars for this bullshit.

Isn’t that sad?

I realised I don’t want to be one of those people, not even in a virtual world.

Which is why I’ve decided to settle down with Warden Blackwall, if he’ll have me ❤

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The Invisible Author

I just finished reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I made the mistake of reading it while waiting to get my hands on the final book in Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and my excitement for that book hindered my ability to fully commit to Atwood’s novel. It was still an excellent book and it was completely my fault that I didn’t love it more. It’s not you, Oryx and Crake, it’s me.

But one thing I did notice while reading Atwood’s book is how little I noticed Atwood while reading it. What I mean is there was not a single sentence that stood out among the others. All were weighted equally, all conveyed the precise information they were meant to and nothing more. In most books I will come across a slightly clunky sentence, or an overwrought metaphor, and in that moment I think about the author and see them stumble slightly. This never happened while reading Oryx and Crake. Atwood has succeeded in making herself invisible, leaving her work to stand completely on its own.

I think it’s important as a writer to remember it’s not about you. No one will be impressed by you if they can see you through the pages, trying desperately to be noticed. You don’t want the reader to be thinking about you at all, you want them to be absorbed in the story and the characters.

I know it’s easier said than done. Making something look effortless actually takes an absolute butt-load of effort. But I think invisibility is something worth striving for.

Edit: Oh I forgot to mention, I actually have a signed copy of Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale. I bought it for $7 at a second hand book store and didn’t even notice until I read it months later.


My favourite albums of 2014

2014 wasn’t a great year of music for me. There were quite a few albums that I liked but there was only four albums that really blew me away. Luckily, those four little albums blew me away completely.

 

Owen Pallett – In Conflict

This year, Owen Pallett dethroned Patrick Wolf as my favourite adorable pop violinist. In Conflict is a gorgeous album, full of the epic moments and theatrical flourishes that I’m always a sucker for. Pallett creates intricate loops of strings and beats to build around his voice, which he allows to soar above the music with more confidence and sincerity than ever before.

 

FKA Twigs – LP1

Everyone loved FKA Twigs this year, and with good reason. Her hypnotic music is like a stranger, more feminine James Blake. The lyrics are blatantly raunchy but underlined by such a delicate vulnerability that it never sounds crass. There is a real “girl power” vibe to the whole thing for me – a confident woman making music for herself an no one else. I’m very excited about seeing her when she tours here next year.

 

Zola Jesus – Taiga

I was nervous about this album. Zola Jesus had been so good for so long that I thought surely she was due for a slip-up. Surely she couldn’t keep surpassing every previous album. But when I first heard Taiga, my jaw literally dropped. This album is absolutely stunning. It’s the way epic pop music should be – beautiful, bombastic, powerful and empowering. This is the music that plays as kick-ass super hero girls walk away from an explosion.

 

Interpol – El Pintor

If you had told me a year ago that Interpol would release another album as good as their earlier work, I would have scoffed at you and then gone home to cry myself to sleep on my copies of Antics and Turn on the Bright Lights. But then El Pintor happened, and I was reduced to a squealing teenage fangirl once more. Interpol sound more sure of themselves than they have in years. They are still mopey of course, but there is a lightness to their darkness that had been missing from the last two albums. If you were to ignore Our Love to Admire and Self-Titled completely, El Pintor would sound like the perfect evolution of Antics. It sounds like the album they’ve been wanting to make for years and they’re finally in the right mindset to do it. I’m so happy to be in love with them again.

 

So that’s my top four albums of the year. I also made a Spotify playlist of my  top 14 songs of 1024 if you want to check it out.