Thursday, January 28, 2016

2: The Idea Unfolds

An experiment in mental flexibility.  That was one way of looking at it.  It was also a challenge to myself, because I'd dallied with writing before (as script writer to a post Neil Gaiman 'Black Orchid', a small footnote in the history of comics, back in the early 1990s) and become aware of certain weaknesses in my overall approach.  A key one was thinking of good stories.  Pretty essential in a writer, you may well surmise - though I can think of some who have managed without this skill.  I wasn't incapable of it, just too bloody slow!

So pretty much from the outset of the project, I decided I was going to write 50 entirely independent stories and that none of them were going to be more than 2,000 words long.  Get one down, tidy it up a bit and start another.  Again and again.

How do you generate 50 stories on the trot?  That's where the 'wilful misunderstandings' concept came in to play.  I'd written a story about ten years before called: 'The Panel Which Cannot Be Beaten'.  Cards on the table: I am not a 'Top Gear' kind of guy. I only learned to drive quite late in life, and became a car owner even later.  To this day, a car is a means to an end (quite a poor one, ecologically speaking) and of little interest to me per se.  But I had seen ads for 'panel beaters' and from the context I knew it was something to do with vehicles, though what exactly these people did I had no idea.

For some reason, those two words kind of stuck around in my head.  One day I was amusing myself by imagining what, if I divorced it from any realistic, practical context and let my imagination roam free, the process of 'panel beating' might be.  Next thing I knew, I was writing the above mentioned story.  It was a whimsical piece and a lot of fun to write and read over.  But by then a series of circumstances put me on a path that did not include writing for several years, and it was largely forgotten.

To cut this account to bare bones, the writing bug reclaimed me and - asked to produce some work for a friend's publication - I dug out 'The Panel...' and began to think that there was some potential mileage in the idea of misunderstanding other words, phrases or terminology.  It certainly seemed as good a way as any to generate those 50 stories.  'Wilful Misunderstandings' was under way.

Next time, I'll delve further into where the subsequent journey took me, and eventually I'll amble round to how it all relates back to the statements with which I opened this blog's first post.  

If anyone out there in the cyber realms is actually reading all this, may I first of all congratulate you on having some degree of attention span, then thank you for your interest and express the hope that you are enjoying what I have to say.  May your days be healthful and as happy as you want them to be.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1: Wilful Misunderstandings - the birth of an idea

Wilful Misunderstandings

Richard Foreman
Just what the world needs, eh?  Another blog by a writer seeking to promote his work through this wonderful and baffling medium.  

So what is a 'wilful misunderstanding'?  Google these words and you get a link, interestingly, to a page about climate change denial.  I guess that's a good one.  Take the words of a bunch of scientists who have gathered a bunch of generally convincing evidence that the Earth is heading for hell in a handbasket if we don't take some drastic measures right now, and twist them around some to make out that they are all tree hugging lefties and the evidence is by no means clear cut.  Big topic.  We'll leave it there for now.

The point I'm edging towards is that we make our own realities in so many ways, and one of them is by saying so.  Someone from within the UK National Health Service says: 'We are in crisis.  We are desperately short of money, we can barely cope with the demand and it's still increasing.'  One reality.  Someone from the government says: 'We are putting more money into the Health Service than ever before and cutting waiting times.'  Another reality.  The first, it could be said, is based on experience, the second on statistics - but each is real enough to the person who uttered those words.

How do we get out of these impasses?  I don't have a road map, but I reckon that some form of mental flexibility is part of the answer.  To that end, over the past 5 or 6 years, I've been experimenting with an exercise in mental flexibility. I don't expect it to change the world overnight, but from small seeds...

Next entry I write here, I'll take you into it and we'll go where it took me.  Til then, take it easy and be kind to one another.