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Archive for June, 2011

Dangerously close to not starting.

June 16, 2011 1 comment

So I’ve gone two weeks without posting anything up here. Old habits are hard to break. It’s horrible being lazy, but even worse when you know that you are lazy. It’s rock bottom when you start hoping you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome just to have an excuse for being so fucking lazy.

I’m trying not to let myself down this time. I’ve tried before to do blogs like this and I’ve started stories and scripts with huge intentions of writing something amazing and stopped after 500 words, thinking ‘right, quick cup of tea and an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and I’ll crack on with this story’. Of course it never happens.

I’ve also tried to start diets lately. I’ve started reading Men’s Health. That’s how seriously I’m taking this. I bought trainers and tracksuit bottoms and was serious about starting running. A few months ago after work one day I went out for a run in a nearby park. I must have ran for literally fifty seconds until my legs told me to fuck off and die. So I walked around the park. I was exhausted after twenty minutes and got the bus home. I tried again more recently and had more luck, actually going running twice in one week with every intention of doing it more. That was about six weeks ago. I haven’t even walked briskly since then. My belly and tits are growing.

What is it about me not finishing things that I start? Am I that lazy, fat and pathetic that I just can’t be bothered to get my life on track? If it weren’t for the deadlines and the thousands of pounds that I owe I’d say I wouldn’t have finished University.

I want to change my personality. Is that possible? I’ve been thinking about reading self help books and going on courses but I feel like that’s a bit pathetic as well. I’m not saying that people who do those things are pathetic, but I know that if I did do those things it would only temporarily make me feel like I was doing something about it. I have to just start doing shit. Finish what I start, and start with the intention of finishing. Or else what will I do when I run out of tea and sitcoms?

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Book Review: The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, by James Frey

James Frey is notorious. His memoirs, A Million Little Pieces, caused uproar when it was revealed that they were partly fabricated; he was dropped by publishers, sued by readers who felt they had been duped, and famously berated by Oprah Winfrey. Since then it seems that he enjoys skirting controversy. He started a book packaging firm called Full Fathom Five, in which he collaborates with young writers in creating commercial young adult novels and keeps most of the rights for himself, forcing the other author into anonymity with odd secrecy clauses. He’s even said that his goal is to be the most controversial author of his time. His latest novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, is another attempt at reaching this goal.

The book follows a man called Ben Zion in New York City, who may or may not be the second coming of Christ. He survives a horrendous accident, which afterwards causes him to have seizures. It is during these seizures that Ben claims to ‘speak to God’. He can also recite religious scripture he’s never read, can heal the sick, and ‘changes’ everyone that he meets, taking away their hardships and helping them let go of any grief. He gathers a group of followers, and is wanted by the FBI for being part of an armed ‘apocalyptic cult’. Loved by the people, hunted by the authorities. Sounds like Jesus to me.

Frey’s protagonist is not your everyday messiah however. He’s completely secular, and hates organised religion. He preaches a hippy-like and altogether very kitschy philosophy of ‘love will conquer all’, and slams the Bible. When challenged over his statement that God’s word is not to be found in books, Ben says that it is found ‘in love. In the laughter of children. In a gift given. In a life saved. In the quiet of the morning. In the dead of the night. In the sound of the ocean, or the sound of a car’. It struck me as odd that part of Ben being the messiah is the fact that he is able to recite any religious text without ever having even picked one up, and yet he considers them nothing but ‘historical curiosities’

The book has Frey’s unique style and is written from thirteen different points of view. Each voice is well defined and the story flows well despite the change in narrator every chapter. The tone, then, is obviously variable. It goes from a street-wise hooker to an Evangelist Pastor, a wise Rabbi to a homeless cult member. It all accumulates into a well-told and intriguing story. I didn’t lose interest and read it in a couple of days.

The only part that might have made me want to put the book down was the sappy message. There’s nothing new said here; James Frey is not breaking any new philosophical ground, and it’s all a bit too simplistic and cheesy. I’d like to believe that to solve all the world’s problems all we need to do is start loving each other and have mass orgies every night, as they do in the book, but every time I read a passage that preached this idea I was reminded of those kids in school who said that if every world leader sat around together smoking pot, they’d achieve world peace.

You get past this, however, with the help of Frey’s startling writing talent. His previous books as well as this invoked images and raw emotions within me that few other writers can. It’s obvious that he has an extraordinary gift for storytelling, and it is this that carries you through the book.

4/5

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On a serious note.

This is me taking shit seriously now. I’ve decided that I want to be a writer (as much as I cringe when I hear people, especially me, saying that). and so I’m doing whatever I can to break in to that. Specifically, I want to write sitcoms and novels. I want to be the next Ben Elton without being Ben Elton. I get embarrassed about telling people that I want to write sitcoms, because I’m not that funny a person to talk to in real life. I’m a nice guy and I might make the odd humorous observation, sure, but I’m not going to have you rolling on the floor. But I know that it’s what I really want to do. Being funny doesn’t mean you can always have your mates choking on their own laughter, but from observing the funny things that happen around you every day and writing them down. Sometimes I do make a forced effort to be funny and it always comes out as the most embarrassing shite (hence the post below).  But I love writing and I can’t help writing in an informal tone. My greatest sense of achievement often comes from making people laugh. I don’t do it that often, so it feels amazing when it does happen. I’ve always envied my best friends, who are the funniest people I know, for their abilities to make people laugh out loud. I don’t understand how they do it. How do they know to say these things, and at the right time? I am one of those people who will often come up with a witty riposte, but an hour or two later. When no one cares any more. Writing a sitcom is me re-writing those situations but inserting my funny line at the right time. This is how I am going to be funny. I hope.

Writing a novel is also something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve felt for the last couple of years that I have stories inside of me that I need to get down on paper. The stories I’ve written for the last three years in university never felt like anything that I wanted to get down. I might have liked the idea at the time and even still do now, but it doesn’t give me the sense of relief that I know I’m going to get when I write these other stories down. Two of my favourite authors are John Steinbeck and Gregory David Roberts, and it’s their style and tone that have influenced me the most I think. Another of my favourite authors, James Frey, taught me that it’s better to be the ‘new you’, rather than the ‘next one of them’. This is the reason for the name of this blog. There is irony, I know, in the fact that it’s not an original title buy hey, what are you gonna do. It’s the one I liked the most.

This blog is going to be like a portfolio of sorts, for potential agents or anyone looking to buy material. If I’m to be taken seriously then I need to sell myself. I’d like to act cool and just write whatever and think ‘hey if someone buys, then that’s cool, if they don’t then whatever’. But I’d like to make a living out of this so that’s not possible. Maybe I’ll write commercial teen fiction under a pseudonym to make some cash and only publish good things under my real name. That’s a good idea, actually.

So I’ll be posting anything here. Articles, fiction, excerpts from scripts and such, as well as any old shite I feel like talking about. Feedback from anyone (if anyone reads this, ha) would be great.

Much love.

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Hello again.

I’ve started many blogs in the past. Most of them were used just to vent my adolescent love angst and talk about music. They were not interesting to anybody but me. This time, I’m going to appeal to the masses. Well, I’ll try to be more appealing. I won’t chat shit about girls but rather chat shit about…anything else. Something that people might be interested in reading. Maybe I’ll take a sideways look at the weeks news. Everyone loves that, don’t they? Russel Howard couldn’t be more popular right now. Maybe I’ll write a scathing polemic on Obama, or Cameron, or Enda Kenny. I might write a heartbreaking story about some wife who’s been raped by bankers and had her daughter set on fire by priests who inject puppies with AIDS. Tearjerkers always sell. Or maybe I’ll write ironic, quasi-humourous posts about things that I should write, thinking that I’m being clever.

This has already descended into rubbish.

Check back for more! xx

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