Of Musings and Wonderings

{July 19, 2012}   A Love/Hate Realtionship

A few days ago, I updated my fantasy novel on Fictionpress. Dulce Bellum Inexpertis is not my first attempt at fantasy, though it’s my most, I’d suppose you’d call it ‘typical’ fantasy. Currently, I have twenty chapters up on Fictionpress. Previous attempts at the genre are on there, too, including ‘Fallen Leaves’, my NaNoWriMo 2010. Then again, I suppose you could say a lot of my stuff on there is fantasy….it all depends, of course, on how you define fantasy.

But that aside, writing something like DBI has been fun, but hard. I find myself having to keep constant notes on the characters and their relationships, their roles, what I have planned for them etc, as well as jotting down the different place names. It’s not something I mind, but not something I’m really used to. I am not a planner. Every time I’ve tried to plan a novel, I spend ages writing about characters and places and possible scenes and then I sit down and can’t write anything. Planning doesn’t work for me. And I don’t really plan anything for DBI, either – I have ideas I want to get in, scenes that I know need to be there at some point, but that’s about it. But so far, I have more extensive notes on the novel than I have on anything else I’ve written.

One of the things I love about writing something like DBI is the freedom. A lot of my stuff is set in or around Cardiff, mainly because I know the place and I enjoy changing it or destroying it or even writing about it through the eyes of my characters. But DBI is set in a totally different kind of world. I have the freedom to do what I like with it; there’s a herb which heals, but also releases latent magical powers in the right person smoking it, and in this world, it makes sense. There’s two immortals, one of which has blue skin and the other green. Again, in this world, it makes sense. That’s part of the joy for me, the world-building and the ability to have things in there that I just wouldn’t get away with in, say, a romance novel set purely in the realistic present. But, at the same time, it means I really have to focus. It means I need to at least mentally map out where the various places are, to know that from Tarka, you have to take a boat to reach the lands of the Shaylae Priests, but from Sharn or the desert you can reach it by land. I have to constantly be aware of how my characters are travelling and the kind of terrain they might be moving through.

Like I said, it’s a lot of work. But it’s fun.

Speaking of fantasy, I’ve almost finished watching series two of Game of Thrones. Plus, I’ve got the second A Song of Fire and Ice heading my way, which I’m excited to read. Although I wonder if George R. R. Martin purposefully sets out to make you really, really like a character before he kills them. And hate the characters that simply won’t die. Seriously, I’m starting to think that my best course of action would be just to become completely indifferent to all of them. I stopped watching Lost a few episodes after they killed off my favourite character, but with Game of Thrones I guess many of them are going to die. But, really, it gets annoying when one episode I’m thinking how much I really, really like a character, only to watch them die in the next episode.

I’m going to have to read the third book before the series comes out next year; save myself any surprises.

On that note, when it comes to genres are there any you really love writing, yet find yourself, for some reason, disliking it at times for some reason? And do you know any decent TV shows? Because with no Supernatural, Game of Thrones and with True Blood only once a week, I’m going to be at a loss for what to watch.


ITV’s Superstar, Saturdays & Sundays

Andrew Lloyd Webber is doing it again – he’s getting the British public to decide on the next star of one of his musicals. This time, it’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and rather than being on the good old BBC, it’s on ITV. Not that I have anything really against ITV, but due to the fact that BBC get more money (I think) and don’t have adverts, the quality on there does tend to be a tad better. Saying that, maybe being on ITV will make the whole thing a bit more lighthearted. It feels it, already. It started last weekend, but due to being away for my Graduation (did I mention I’ve graduated yet?), I missed it. So, Thursday night, I caught up on the two episodes so far.

Now, before I go further, I should mention that I am a huge fan of musicals. One of the biggest annoyances of this year has been that I haven’t been able to go see Rock of Ages in the cinema. But, anyway, yeah, I love the genre. And Jesus Christ Superstar is one I’ve always wanted to see on stage. Well, I have seen it on stage – they did a production of it at my school. My school which, I should point out, were really, really good at putting on musicals. My best friend and I still refer to the guy who stared in the school production as ‘Jesus’, so I’m going to be looking for someone who is, well, better than the guy I personally call ‘Jesus’. (Pushing aside the religious

JC, Rock Star

implications of that, anyway.)  What I mean by always wanting to see it on stage is that I’ve always wanted to see a full production of it – a tour or in the West End or something. And with Superstar,they’re doing a Rock Arena Tour. Exciting, right? Well…no. But I’ll come back to that later.

So, the show itself. The first episode focused on the auditions. Standard reality TV stuff. The main problem was that they didn’t really focus on any of them. They showed a few snippets, spoke a bit about some of the guys – and the women who went through the initial auditions – but as they were showing the first rounds and the call backs, it just felt like they were trying to cram too much in. As a result, I found myself only remembering one or two of the guys going through. If the next episode had been this week rather than last Sunday, I don’t think many people would have tuned in again. But at least there was a lack of the sort of sob stories they like to exploit on things like X Factor. The second episode was set on ‘Superstar Island’, a part of line accessible only when the tide went down. The guys were put through their paces, attending Vocal, Acting and Dance classes, before they were put into groups to do ‘What’s The Buzz’. Now, I can’t remember many of their names, so I’ll do what I can to mention a few of them. First, that guy from G4. I was pretty indifferent to G4, until this. That guy was a prick. For starters, he was willing to let down the audience for another show he was supposed to be in to get a better part. Secondly, during the classes, he had to counter every criticism he had, causing Jason Donovan and Mel C to pull him aside and mention how he should, maybe, tone it down a bit.

Thankfully, he was soon gone. As were a few of the others that clearly weren’t going to get that far. Next task was to produce a music video, and unlike the What’s The Buzz task, you actually got to see a fair bit of the groups working together and a decent amount of each of their videos. Most of them were quite good. As for the guys who I think are going to go further, well, I reckon it’ll be the ones that stick out the most. For me, that’s the-guy-who-played-Simba-in-the-West-End, Thor (he really does look like Thor) and another whose name I actually remembered, Niall. Personally, I’d put a bet on Niall – he’s got the looks, he’s got the seemingly nice personality and, judging by the music video his group put together, he’s got a sense of humour. Plus there’s his Irish accent. And he was the only one not to get criticised during the acting class. Then again, you have Ross. But I can’t imagine him getting too far. He’s really good-looking, seems like he has the talent for it but, as Mel C & Jason pointed out, he’s vain. Mind you, you could most likely tell that just by looking at him. Just have to wait and see I suppose.

Personally, I’m rooting for Niall. And the guy who was wearing a Welsh Rugby shirt and looks like he could be in the Welsh rugby team. Didn’t get to see much of him, but patriotic duty requires me to root for the Welsh guy.

Now, the tour…The Voice UKrecently cancelled their UK tour, set for October, due to a lack of ticket sales. £40 each. In all fairness, I would have loved to go. The talent on that was really good, and I would have liked to have seen all the finalists live. Value for money, maybe, but in this economy people just can’t afford it. So what makes Andrew Lloyd Webber thing people would pay £70 (minimum) to see a musical? The Rock Arena tour is a great idea, but not if you’re going to charge that much. And yeah, as a tour, I don’t think they’re going to sell the seats across the UK, especially as the tour is set for September. By the time people realise it’s on, they’re not going to be able to get the money together. In my humble opinion, anyway. Just have to wait and see, I suppose.

{July 13, 2012}   Sinbad The Not-Yet-Sailor

I may end up doing another post tomorrow; mainly because I ended up watching two very different TV shows last night, and I kind of want to talk about both of them. Anyway, since I got back from University, I’ve ended up watching a lot of TV. With no job (fingers crossed that changes soon) there’s not much else for me to do. Plus, well, with my parent’s awesome TV, plus Virgin Media (with all those catch-up things available, too) it would be silly to waste its presence. Even if, half the time, there is nothing on – even with a huge amount of channels and the On Demand service, I rarely find something to get totally caught up in. I usually end up watching whatever my parents have on – Hell on Wheels or Once Upon a Time, which I’ve seen but it’s good enough that I find myself eager to re watch some episodes.

Anyway, both my parents were eagerly looking forward to Sky One’s Sinbad. I think they were imaging a kind of Arabian Tales Spartacuson-the-high-seas, until they realised it was on at 8pm and therefore would lack the swearing and sex present in the modern retelling of Spartacus. Still, we sat down to watch it and, to be fair, it wasn’t half-bad. Part one of a mini-series, the first episode shows Sinbad and his brother, in (I think they said) Basra, scamming people and stealing. They’re street rats. No one ever actually says ‘street rat’, instead they skirt around those words and say things like ‘vermin’, refer to them as rats and mention how they live on the streets but for some reason, don’t say street rats. So, anyway, we have Sinbad and his brother the street rats, and stuff happens and then theguards arrive and a rooftop chase is conducted above Agrabah…sorry, I mean Basra. But really, by this point I was starting to feel a sense of deja vu.

Of course, there are going to be similarities. Both come from the Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights stories, which I have tried to read in the past, have on my bookshelf at the moment but got no further than the introduction. (Reading for pleasure had to take a backseat which I was at Uni.)  But I felt like some parts of Sinbad could have been lifted from Disney’s Aladdin. Notably, the rooftop chase and, before that, a scene where Aladdin Sinbad and his brother are looking out over the city, commenting on how great a view it is and how one day they’re going to live in a big house like that one, at which point it zooms in on a large house that looks like the palace in the Disney film.

We’re in 2012, so why are women still portrayed as evil or victims? It’s the whole whore/virgin thing that seems to have persisted, despite what women have achieved in the last few years. On the screen, we’re evil or damsels in distress.

And in Sinbad, you have a woman who is somehow magical, but in the dark arts sense rather than, say, granting wishes from a lamp. Then, on the ship Sinbad joins, he ends up saving not one but two women within the space of ten minutes. The most annoying thing is that both of them had the potential to be strong female characters, but one little mishap and they’re both helpless and weak, almost to the extent that they’re actually annoying in the way they need to be saved. The one is trapped, so yeah, I can understand that she needs a little help, but did she really need to be so pathetic about it?

I for one reckon it’s worth a watch, anyway. So, dear readers, what about you? Any TV shows you think are worth a watch? Or even anything that gave you that weird ‘it’s new but I feel like I’ve kind of seen it before’ feeling?

{July 10, 2012}   Am I An Adult Yet?

As of yesterday, I am officially a graduate. I’ve got a certificate to prove it and even a fancy new pen, with my University written across it, as a present from my parents. I have to admit, I did think the graduation ceremony was going to be lengthy and boring. It wasn’t. I got to see many of my good friends, swap congratulations and gush over how good we all looked in our robes. I got official photos taken with my parents, had a few more taken with friends, my grandparents and, outside the City Hall where the graduation took place, with many of the others who also graduated that day. My hat disappeared and I ended up with one too small after throwing them in the air. During the ceremony itself (before the hat throwing) we were treated to a couple of very inspiring speeches – admittedly, more inspiring if you’re a woman.

One thing was made clear throughout the day. In the current climate, many people are losing faith in the value of a degree. So many people have them, so many are able to reach the same stage I’m at that it’s no longer seen as something worth going for. Students are seen as a bunch of kids just putting off going into the real world, putting off growing up. But yesterday, we were really made to feel that, whatever anyone else says, we have done something great. We have achieved something that, for some, is quite difficult. We went from students to graduands to graduates and Alumni. I think many people don’t quite realise how hard it is to get to that stage and, for whatever reason, they want students to think those three years were pointless.

They really weren’t.

Not for me, anyway.

I understand that University isn’t for everyone. I’ve known people drop out because they realise they won’t get anything out of it. I’ve known others who just didn’t go because, for whatever reason, they didn’t see the point. I get that. It’s three years of hard work, of being skint, of getting into more and more debt and coming out of it with nothing more than a certificate. But the people who see it as just that are, I think, missing the point. The truth is, going to University resulted in the best and worst three years of my life. Halfway through second year I seriously considered dropping out or deferring until the following September. I was struggling – not with work, but with my living situation. I came home unhappy, remained unhappy at home and, when my parents dropped me off after Christmas, my mum asked me, “Are you sure you want to stay?” I said yes. In reality I wanted to say no, I wanted to pack my stuff back up, bung it in the car and return home with my parents.

Now, I am so unbelievably happy I stayed. During the year and a half since, I have met some amazing people, solidified friendships, got closer to others and realised how strong I really can be. I moved to a place that is roughly five hours by car and six hours by train away from home. I proved to myself I could do that, that I could get through anything without running back to my parents every time I was upset or hurt. I became more independent. And I worked damn hard.

I have come out of University with a 2:1. Writing my name, I could now, if I wanted, put BA at the end. But the last three years were about so much more than that. I couldn’t have done it alone but I’ve learnt new things about myself, I’ve learnt what type of people are worth my time and who isn’t. I’ve done. I’ve graduated University and no matter what anyone says, that’s something no one can take away from me.

Now it’s time to enter the real world, to get a job and start focusing on the future and a career and all that adult stuff you’re supposed to do when you grow up. The only problem is, I don’t want to grow up yet. I really don’t feel like an adult. But I guess that’s something that may or may not come in the future. Right now, I’m not going to worry. I’m just going to focus on the fact that I’ve achieved something and that the last three years, whatever I went through, really were worth it.

{July 3, 2012}   Tweet Tweet

So, I am now on Twitter. I avoided it like the plague for, well, since it’s come out. Mainly because I wasn’t sure about it. But I joined today (@gracebunting, for anyone who’s interested). A friend suggested I do it, explaining it was a good way to get some attention on me. Not that I’m an attention seeker (most of the time, anyway). But seeing as I’m going to be self-publishing on the Kindle in the near future, I need as much internet publicity as I can get. The self-publishing thing was the main reason I got this blog, too. Anyway, as of right now, I am following 17 people, including comedians, actors (because I couldn’t not follow Neil Patrick Harris) and a few book related things, too. I also have one follower. I think my must have clicked on my name by accident, seeing as I currently do not have any tweets up.

Which brings me to another point. What the hell do I write as my first tweet? I find it hard to condense my thoughts anyway, how do I write something significant (as it is my first) in 140 characters? I can imagine myself writing out line after line after line, perfecting it and redrafting it and trying so hard to write something that will make people think I’m worth following. And I don’t want to fall into the trap of simply saying “I had a lovely curry for tea with my dad. #Delicious #Spicy” (which I totally did. My mouth is still burning.)

Maybe I’ll just settle for the first line of the novel…but then I’ll most likely end up writing and rewriting that again and again, too.

It’s difficult. So what do I do? Right now, I think I’m just going to go watch Eastenders and come back to it later. Let me know if you’re on Twitter and, if you are…what did you put for your first tweet? (I really need some inspiration here!)

et cetera