THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Month: July 2011

What kind of writer are you: ‘Plotter’ or ‘Pantser’; Killer or Loon?

I came across several articles on the ‘net recently asking the question, “What type of writer are you?” Do you write by pre-planning the scenes and plot-lines within your story, i.e. are you a ‘plotter’?

Or, do you write by making-it-up-as-you-go-along, “By the seat of your pants,” i.e. are you a ‘pantser‘?

My instant response was, “WHAT?” I have the choice of being a subversive, probably sadistic, psychopathic author of nefarious conspiracy, or being named after a traditional British male undergarment*. Continue reading

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

The season of playing with shiny new website development tools has now come to a close, and my website is now up and running. I enjoyed trying something new, and although finicky at times the process was relatively straight forward for an internet newbie. So, what do you think? Just follow the link in the text above, and let me know if you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions for changes or new content. The site is still version one, after all.

Next, back to writing blog posts, and the next scene of my book.

Curiosity killed the book?

First the confession. I’ve become distracted, neglecting writing my book to give my love and attention to another new thing. I could blame J. K. Rowling, but that would hardly be fair. (No, I haven’t just seen the last Harry Potter movie, and I’m not repressing the irresistible urge to re-read the entire series of her books, although the film is on my ‘to watch’ list). I read about her new web venture, going fully public in October. Ah-ha! A website! A little research, and it seems all the good authors have their own websites, displaying their creations to the world, and sharing varying amounts of personal information; from their inside leg measurement, and the fact that they like Marmite; to multiple pseudonyms and a secret identity. Continue reading

Which is more deadly? Medicine or legalism?

In what is an obviously blatant simplification it seems to me that medicines can be divided into three types:

1) Vital but venomous: basically the stuff really isn’t good for you but you have to take it to prevent something worse happening, like death, for example. I have to admire the courage of all those choosing to undergo the necessary ordeal of chemotherapy. The side effects can be horrendous.

2) Standard pharmaceuticals: the things that are fine as long as you read the label like most headache pills, and creams for that itch you don’t want to tell anyone about. They are potentially dangerous, but basically have only minor side effects if used carefully.

3) The stuff that is about as deadly as a cheeseburger. Let’s face it, if you eat enough cheeseburgers then you could conceivably die from either choking, or a heart attack caused by the build up of cholesterol. My point is that you have to eat a lot of cheeseburgers to achieve any level of lethality.

So, how is this relevant to anything? I took my son to nursery today and I had to sign a medical consent form for a common cough medicine that’s got honey, glycerol, and liquid sugar (sucrose ) in it. That’s it. I will have to sign the same form, giving the same information, every single day it will benefit him to take it. How long do the regulations say he is permitted to take it? Three days, before I have to take him to see a doctor. My boy has a cough. He’s four. Children get coughs. There is no phlegm, fever, or anything indicating he isn’t going to make a perfectly normal recovery. His cough is likely to last five to six days. So that’s several days where the nursery staff are not allowed to give him anything to make him more comfortable and help him to regain lost sleep at nap time, until he has seen a doctor. So why not just take him to a doctor?  The doctor has patients who are really ill, and a limited number of appointments. Also, our son gets miserable and really really bored waiting for his allotted appointment time for about an hour. At least at nursery he has toys and other children to distract him from his symptoms. So, we either leave him in nursery with his cough (before I get flamed by irate parents, of course we bring him home when he is properly ill or suffering, poor mite), or we waste a doctor’s time, who will just tell him to take the same medicine anyway, and bore my son, literally, to tears.

So that was irritating. Just don’t get me onto the time when our boy went to nursery fit and well in the morning, then got such a high temperature that the nursery staff phoned me saying he was very upset, and advised I drive him to hospital. His temperature had been getting progressively worse for an hour before they called me. I asked whether they could give him something to bring it down. According to the regulations you have to sign a medical consent form. Even when his temperature is so high you are saying I should take him to A&E? Can you give him something now to help him, and I’ll sign the consent form when I get there in half an hour? According to the regulations you have to sign a medical consent form. We are not allowed to give him anything until after you have signed. So for an hour and a half he was given nothing to help with either his distress, or his rising temperature. The incident today with the cough mixture is irritating. That got me angry. (He turned out to be fine after a few days of TLC at home).

Rambling? Yes, but my point is this. I don’t blame the nursery staff who are all very diligent and caring. I do blame our over protective, agoraphobia inducing legal system which prevents teachers, parents, and carers responding to the specific, and individual needs of the vulnerable for fear of getting sued. Some things are quintessentially British. We still have cricket, tennis, cream teas, curries, and our weather, but we’re losing our good, old fashioned, British common sense.

Has any one had a similar experience? Any views or opinions? Please feel free to share them below.

N.B. Note on allergies: As our son had taken the medicines on several prior occasions with no ill effects, it seemed unlikely his head was suddenly going to explode. The only things he seems allergic to are raw eggs, some sun creams, and wearing long trousers and a jumper when it’s cold outside.

Starting to write? Prepare to embrace the surreal.

It occurred as I sat, slaving over a hot word processor, and going through the process of putting one of my characters to a gruesome and untimely end. ‘It’ was the realization that as my character went through sundry trials and agonies, and ultimately met an ignominious end, the whole tawdry tale of suffering and pain was accompanied by the sounds of hauntingly beautiful music. Perhaps my soul had been touched by the poignancy of my character’s fate. Perhaps the unfathomable biology of the human intestine was at work, but the dissonance between what I was putting on the page, and what my ears were hearing distracted me, and I was taken by the thought that writing can often be a surreal experience.

Indeed, writing itself seems a strange thing to do when I think about it logically. Writers can work long hours, often for little material reward, to produce work that may be read by only a handful of people. Yet we choose this way of spending our time over others. Why have I just started to write? I’m genuinely not sure, other than the process of creating something (hopefully) unique is fascinating, varied, and allows for the consumption of chocolate at the same time. When I have a more complete answer I may write about it, but until then (assuming anyone is reading this post) does anyone in Webland have an answer? Why do you write, even when given the option to do other things instead? What are your strangest experiences of the writing, or publishing process? I’d be interested to know.

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