Thursday, 29 December 2011

A positively good idea

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

I mean, after all, it's not as if the news is full of uplifting stories, is it? Everywhere you look there is doom and despair. Nobody appears to have any money. Everyone is angry for one reason or another.

And that's before you even mention Simon Cowell.

But you expect that sort of thing from journalists. After all, good news doesn't sell newsprint. But what's worrying is that this approach seems to have had an effect on all of us. Have you seen Twitter or Facebook recently? Blimey, we're an angry, depressed bunch, aren't we?

This hadn't escaped my friend Mike. Those of you who've been reading this for any length of time may remember Mike. He wears red t-shirts and stands in front of road signs. But when he's not doing that he comes up with ideas.

And his latest one is jolly good indeed.

Basically, Mike has come up with Positive Upload Day. Wouldn't it be great if, he thought, for a 24 hour period, your Facebook wall or Twitter feed (or blog roll or whatever) was a collection of positive thoughts? Just small things, minor victories or simple pleasures. I met up with an old friend today. The sky this morning looked great. I heard my favourite song on the radio just now.

And so, for a day at a time, he's asking people to do the same. You can follow it all on Twitter or join the first Positive Upload Day (which is coming up on 1 January) on Facebook. I'd recommend you do both.

Because, when all's said and done, we make our own happiness, don't we? Why not give the process a little nudge?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas 2011: hints and tips

Every year it gets harder and harder to enjoy Christmas. The pressure to have the perfect Yuletide is ever-increasing. But fear not, gentle reader. I have been working long and hard to bring you help and guidance.

Well actually, I haven't been working in any lengthy or strenuous way. But here we go. Don't all thank me at once:

  1. When the calendar clicks around to April and the air starts to feel a little more warm, that's the time to put the sprouts on.
  2. Christmas parties are not normally the right environment to have lengthy in-depth work-related conversations with the boss. Unless you firmly believe "I really love you mate," qualifies as 360-degree feedback.
  3. Never forget the real meaning of Christmas; buying an unfeasibly large copy of Radio Times and then not looking at it for an entire fortnight.
  4. At this time of year it is better to give than receive, so they say. 'They' being people who don't mind receiving novelty underwear.
  5. Those people who say: "Really, don't bother. I don't need anything this year". They lie. Get them something or else they will treat you like a ginger step-child for the rest of your miserable existence.
  6. Avoid having to deal with Christmas morning arguments between your children by not having any.
  7. No, Noel Edmonds really does look like that these days. If you haven't been watching Deal Or No Deal throughout the year I can understand your confusion. A full 240 volts went into that hair, you know.
  8. Christmas lunch is the one time you can get away with puns involving the words 'breast' and 'stuffing'. This may not be 100% successful if you're having beef.
  9. It is a scientific fact that no-one has watched The Guns of Navarone while sobre since 1968. Do not be the first to upset the record.
  10. Not sure of the correct glass for dry sherry? It's a straight pint glass - handles are for wimps.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Did you miss me?

I'm sorry. No, really I am. Terribly terribly sorry. I am apologetic in ways that only a seriously-lapsed Catholic can ever be. And I am lapsed, trust me. I don't know my Ave Maria from my Vorsprung Durch Technik.

I'm only too aware that throughout the world people have been anxious. "What's happened to Make Lard History?" they've been asking. "Almost three weeks and no posts whatsoever. What's that all about?"

I wrote 60-odd thousand words last month. This month? Bupkis. Nada. Nowt. Sweet bugger-all. Oh, the irony. One of the things you're supposed to get out of NaBloPoMo is the habit of writing regularly. "Write every day," they say, "and hang the quality control." It's supposed to make you more prolific; if you're getting used to knocking off a few hundred words before breakfast every day, the theory goes, you should be able to carry this on when you're not up against a deadline.

Unfortunately, Real Life is what happens when you're busy making plans.

But I'm back. Earlier this evening a friend asked me to help him with something, which meant logging into my Blogger account. And as I looked at the piles of dust, the cobwebs and dead flies, I thought to myself, "You know, this place used to have some life to it."

So I'm back. Hold onto, um, whatever it is you're supposed to hold onto at times like this.

Friday, 2 December 2011

So that's that, then

Technically I am now a novelist. The fact that I just had to check how many times the letter 'l' should occur in the word doesn't fill me with much confidence. But the fact remains that I have sat down and written a novel - a book of long narrative of literary prose (thank you Wikipedia).

And I've done it. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It's called The Gentle Man and it topped out at just under 61,000 words. I wrote it as part of NaNoWriMo - which you probably know by now. And I've been raising money for a good cause. Which you might not have known, but now you do.

So what happens now? Well, I'm glad you asked, because I'm not entirely sure myself. I didn't write the thing with thoughts of getting it published. I did it for the fun of it, although whether sitting in my spare room wrangling sentences together with an aching backside probably doesn't count as fun.

I just re-read that last sentence and realise it looks as if I used my backside to wrangle the sentences. Clearly I didn't. I used Microsoft Word, which is pretty close.

But one thing I can say for the novel right now is this. It's pretty close to being unreadable. Oh, it's got all the novel-y things, like a plot, characters, setting, but it's really not pretty. Any novel you write in such a short space of time is going to lack any editing. And this one really does need going over once again. There are some gaps, too, things I thought about towards the end that would have been nice to have earlier on. So I'll go back and fill those in too. I reckon we'll be looking at 70,000 words in the end, which is still on the short side for a novel, these days.

Will I try and get it published? I don't know. Doesn't hurt to try, I suppose. But for the moment I'm leaving it well alone. We can enjoy more blog posts instead. Let joy be unconfined!


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