Good People

I was thinking this morning; I need to write a blog today, but I have nothing profound to talk about. Today is one of my days off, or at least mornings off and as part of my writing efforts I am trying to write a blog every one of these days off. This is why I’ve been missing since, Saturday I think it was (awesome gig by the way, my zombie Starfleet Ensign uniform looked…well, alright I suppose) because every day since then I have been working in the morning and by the time I’m finished or have the afternoon off, I really have not energy to sit here and write. I know, I know, I’m going to have to work on that if I want to become a writer and write regularly. But at the moment I’m building up gradually. If I can write one of these every morning that I have spare, then eventually that will become norm and I will be able to build everything else on these foundations.

So here I am, without anything interesting to say (I know what you’re thinking keep reading, it get’s better!) wondering what the hell I am going to write a blog about, then someone says this:

“Why is it always good people that bad things happen to?”

And this got me thinking. It’s something I’ve heard thrown around a few times recently, and something I’ve been thinking myself while feeling deeply sorry for myself. Why is it always the good people that bad things happen to? You go through life trying your hardest to be fair and understanding and treat people well. I was brought up to ‘treat people how you expect to be treated’. Then something will come along and really kick you in the teeth and make you think ‘why do I bother?’ and ‘maybe I should just give up, be horrible like everyone else and then maybe things won’t happen to me as much’.

Sure, I’m not saying I’m perfect. Nobody is. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re kids or teenagers because we don’t really understand how the world works yet. But I like to think I’m a pretty decent and nice person always willing to help others. I’m very lucky in many ways, don’t get me wrong. But I also suffer from something called ME, which during my teenage years made life pretty difficult. I was essentially bed ridden and couldn’t do a lot of things teenagers normally do. Which as I was very sporty and active beforehand was pretty devastating. I don’t talk about it much, because it’s one of those illnesses that people don’t really understand and I don’t like people to think I’m milking it for one reason or another. I try and get on with my life. The only time I do bring it out is when people call me lazy. This is one thing I am most definitely not, and I can take a joke, but I absolutely loathe being called lazy, because I would like to do everything that’s possibly with my time on this planet, but I simply cannot and it irks me. I’ve also been through some shit over the last year that I will not and cannot talk about.

I went slightly off topic there, please excuse my rant. Why does bad stuff happen to good people? Is it because when bad stuff happens we realise that most of us are essentially good people? Or is it the people that we go day to day thinking, they’re a good person. Then BAM something bad happens to them. Is there something more to it? Are the fates just cruel bastards? Sometimes I think they are. There definitely seems to be some correlation. The really good people seem to get all the shit in life, excuse my French, and those that just breeze through doing whatever the hell they like seem to get by scot free. It’s not fair I tell you! And I’ve had enough!

Still, as I said the other day. It’s difficult, but you can’t let things in life effect how you are as a person, unless it’s for the better. Oh, it’s so damn difficult…

Also, why do serious illnesses seem to happen to really intelligent people (not including myself here…I am incredibly simple at times…). Why do they always seem to be the ones that lose it? Is it because their brains are so powerful that eventually they overload and just explode? I was absolutely devastated when I heard that Sir Terry Pratchett had Alzheimer’s. He is an incredible man, complete genius and also one of the small list of authors that really made me love reading and stories. I couldn’t imagine a world where he was not exploring the Discworld universe and making us all laugh. He deserves better in life than to have his memories slowly fade away. I hope, as sad as it is, for his sake that it doesn’t come to that.

Also glad to I could recommend his work to people before he sadly stops producing more so that they have a chance to experience it too while he is still with us.

Well I think that’s enough profoundness for one day. Albeit it slightly ranty, I hope you have found it interesting.

I’m not sure if I will be posting samples of my stories any more. I think that I would like to have something finished before I show it to you guys, just in case it turns out that I wasn’t happy with what I had written in the end. Once it’s up it’s up and I can’t get rid of it, it’s been said, it’s happened, there it is. So I will be more careful.

In other news the 20th was H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. So I started work on a Lovecraftian story that I have been planning for ages. It’s set on the Isle of the Dead, otherwise known as Portland Island in Dorset. There is a reason for this setting, but I’ll keep you guessing for now. More on that soon.

Once again, thanks for reading.

Musicings

Today’s blog is about music in a way. D’ya like the title? Well I thought it was clever!

When I write I’ll listen to music. It’s much more conducive to work than say, putting on the telly or even the radio. Both of those are pretty distracting. (I still have Facebook open – why I could not tell you – an evil distraction in itself) but rather than say, stick an album of my favourite band on and attempt to write, I’ll listen to a soundtrack instead. I find the problem with putting a band on is that you get stuck in the music or the lyrics. If I’m trying to write a 40k piece while singing along to some Clapton, it doesn’t quite work. I also end up doing that horrible thing where you end up writing down what people say. Regular texters will know what I mean!

Soundtracks on the other hand are great. In essence they are designed not to detract from the film or series so make excellent background music. They can also instil a feeling of epicness, which is great when you’re writing. You can really get in the mood and feel every gunshot and explosion. My most recent soundtrack(s) of choice are from the Chris Nolan Batman films. I really love Hans Zimmer’s work and it really gets me in the mood for writing. I also love the films, but that’s a story for another day!

Today I put on the soundtrack from the film Moon, on recommendation from not one but two friends. Sitting here listening to it has made me think, wow, what a film! I can’t wait to watch it again (I have it in my pile of Blu-rays that need watching…) This soundtrack really puts you in the zone, just from listening to how the music is crafted you can really feel the suspense and intrigue, the feeling of not really being sure what is happening. For those of you who haven’t watched the film, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s pretty much classic science fiction, but that isn’t a bad thing, there are some nods to and a feel of 2001 in some parts. The story is about a guy who is working on a lunar facility, waiting to finish his 3 year (I think that’s right?) shift, so that he can go home and see his family. Although, not everything is how it seems and a series of accidents starts to unravel a horrible truth. If you like suspense and intrigue then go watch this film now! Plus the soundtrack is worth listening to in it’s own right.

Oh, on another music related note. A friend of mine linked me to ‘Meco – Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk‘ on Youtube. Please, for your sake go and check it out. It’s amazing, that’s all I need to say…

It is also a music related blog because my band (Lazarus Syndrome www.lazarus-syndrome.com) are playing a gig tonight. All the way in Southport and we’re not on till 11 so I’m going to need a lot more coffee between now and then! If you’re in the area come check us out at the Fox and Goose. If not, then go find us on Facebook and give us a like!

Right, I’m off to do some proper writing! Including rewriting some rather boring Music Business lectures that I’ve been meaning to do for, hmmm maybe a year?

Then listen to the Football! Woo, yeah it’s back. Come on you Gunners!

Ahem, excuse me…thanks for reading!

Antiheroes and Coffee

This is how I start my day, apart from the obvious shower and the rest; with a nice Pink Lady apple and a big cup of Coffee. I used to start my days when I wasn’t at my day job with a fry up (something including any of the following: Sausages, Bacon, Scrambled Egg & Hash Browns). Now that’s a lot for the body to take on in the morning and as soon as I’d eaten it, I was already feeling tired again. Now as part of my ‘trying to be healthy’ (yeah, right!) I’m trying to eat an apple a day. To keep the doctors away and all that. Though I’m pretty sure this apple elixir doesn’t work on those doctors that like to dish out straitjackets. Anyway, the only way I can guarantee myself doing this is by eating it first thing in the morning. To be honest with you it works pretty well, it’s just enough to fill the stomach while you’re working up to speed and has just enough sugar to perk you up.

Then I’ll whack on a film soundtrack (currently: Inception) and sit here and attempt to write something vaguely interesting. I don’t mean the blog, we all know this ain’t that special! But the stories which you will find in any blog that doesn’t come with the ‘musings’ title. Once I’ve done that, I’ll probably get on with the myriad of other jobs I need to do! Today, as it’s Friday, I will probably go grab a coffee from my favourite coffee place (more coffee? Yeah I know! Well I’m going mad anyway!) and make it last as long as possible while I read a book. You can’t beat reading while watching the world go by.

Anyway, as fascinating as you undoubtedly find all of that, on to the actual musings…

I was pretty dumbfounded this morning while conducting my usual ‘reading twitter before getting my arse out of this lovely warm bed’ ritual when I came across a competition by a certain store, ‘Forbidden Planet’. Now as most of you guys will know, they are purveyors of graphic novels, science fiction and general tv and film memorabilia. The competition was one of these ‘retweet while finishing the sentence’ things. And the sentence was ‘I WANT TO BE AN ANTIHERO BECAUSE…’.

The thing that dumbfounded me was that all the replies, as well as the general talk from the Forbidden Planet webmaster? tweetmaster? Twit? was that an antihero was the opposite to a hero, i.e. a villain. Most of them were saying things such as ‘because I can do what I want and get away with it’ <insert picard.jpg>. I can’t help but feel they have somehow missed the point of an antihero. An antihero isn’t simply a villain, they are not even the bad guy in most cases. An antihero is someone who is the protagonist in a story, the guy everyone follows and empathises with, but they have traits that set them apart from the usual hero. In that they aren’t squeaky clean and perfect.  Think ‘The Punisher’ he’s the good guy right? But he goes around killing his enemies and getting his vengeance, BAM! Antihero! You could even class Boromir in the Fellowship as a kind of antihero. Lets think about this, he’s definitely a good guy, I mean he’s human, he’s from Gondor, he fights on the side of good against the evil forces of Mordooooor. So, he’s a hero? Yes. But, he also wants to take the ring and return it to Gondor so he can use it’s power, all be it for good, to destroy Mordor. He wants this so much that it consumes him to the point that he almost steals it. Okay, you could argue that this is the rings power to corrupt driving him, but yes, you guessed it, he’s still a kind of antihero.

Right, I think I’ve made my point there. I could go on about various other antiheroes and I’m sure you have far better examples. I was just, to be kind of honest, shocked at what I was reading earlier.

I was last night also thinking about having a rant about not letting stuff dictate your life. I was in a pretty dark place, as of most nights these days. Something which this writing seems to help or alleviate at least, a distraction I guess. I wanted to say that people shouldn’t let the crap that life throws at you determine who you are. If things are bad, don’t become the bad guy. Nice guys finish last and all that. It’s often tempting to think, well, I’ll become horrible, then I might get somewhere. But you should always stay true to yourself. The only way you should let things affect you is in a way of positive improvement. If you get a lesson out of something bad happening and it helps you to do something better or encourages you to respect and appreciate things more, then good. But don’t let it destroy you.

I recently read the graphic novel ‘The Killing Joke’ and it’s an excellently crafted story about how one simple bad day brought about the character of ‘The Joker’, the great tragedy that crafted his insanity. The scary thing is that I could empathise with the story. Whether that was the genius of the craft or where my mind is at the moment I couldn’t tell you for sure. While reading, at times I just thought, stuff this world…It’s hard not to be too candid on a public space, sufficed to say you don’t want to hear about all my crap, and I don’t want to bear my heart on a plate for you. But I often feel like I’m hanging on to my sanity by a thread…

Right, enough of that. I am going to finish writing some stories. Then I plan to go and look at all the things I want for my new flat and that I can’t afford.

Once again, thanks for reading and I hope you found at least some of in interesting.

The Power of Music

No story today I’m afraid. But I was sitting here just now musing. Contemplating the power of music.

 

Music has to power to heal, a particular song or even feel of a song can make you feel better or help you get over hurt. I personally love certain guitar tones (being a guitarist) or a certain vibe. I can’t tell you what songs specifically make me feel better because they’re always changing or recycling. Strangely though, I find songs with sad lyrics are actually uplifting, in the way that it helps you realise other people have been through things too and are often far worse off than yourself.

But on the other side of the coin, songs also have to ability to hurt. To bring up an unwanted memory or elicit a certain uncomfortable feeling. This can be down to memory or even just from not really understanding what’s going on in the music. From a dischordant nature or abrasive lyrics.

Music can also bring people together or even indeed force people apart. In ever possible genre of music there is a community, sometimes these are welcoming. Often people with similar music tastes bond together in their mutual love of music. Other times, this love of a certain style can mean that people who like others are forced away. If you don’t like a certain type of music this can mean you are deemed ‘inferior’ to those who do. I’m not condoning this, each to their own. But it is definitely a noticeable trend in music circles. But on the plus, music can bring loads and loads of people together. Each year now in the summer here in the UK we are seeing thousands of people descending on music festivals of various genres and there are more each year. Now, some festival goers may go just for the party atmosphere and drinking, but music is very much at the core of any festival whether people realise or not.

There are also songs that can relate certain people to others. I have a couple of songs that remind me of some people. Sometimes they can be hard to hear and sometimes they can make you smile or sing at the top of your voice. One particular song means a hell of a lot to me, to the point I even did a version of it myself once. Every time I hear it now, it will always make me think.

That is exactly what music can do, how powerful it is. It can elicit such a range of emotions and ideas, inspiration and action. It can control some people and help people express things they couldn’t normally express.

It doesn’t even just have to be lyrics. Words of course are very powerful and the expert lyricist can write in a way that can be interpreted differently and mean different things to different people. But the music itself has a power of it’s own. A song doesn’t have to have lyrics to make you feel a certain way.

Take what you will from music. But I guarantee it will affect your life in some way at some point.

 

Thanks for reading.

Song Lyrics

I never really used to listen too much to song lyrics, being a guitarist/bass player in bands I was always drawn much more to the melodies and tunes of songs. But recently, with my idea to try and get more in to writing I have started to listen to and pay more attention to lyrics of songs and what they mean.

So that brings me to yesterday when I was listening to one of my favourite albums from last year, Anathema’s “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. Anathema are quite well known for their heartfelt, well-written lyrics. But the thing that actually stood out to me is a quote at the very end of the album which goes as follows:

“There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer. There is no disease that enough love cannot heal, No door that enough love will not open, No gulf that enough love will not bridge, and no war that enough love will not throw down. It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outcome, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. And if you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful person in the world.”

The main thing that made this stand out was the fact it’s so eloquently written. I only wish I could write something so meaningful and heartfelt as that, everything I write in comparison seems contrived and forced. Maybe I will learn one day, maybe I don’t need to try so hard. I had a brief look to see who had actually written it and it comes from a gentleman called Emmet Fox who was apparently a very well regarded religious writer at the turn of the previous century.

Now I wasn’t drawn to this quote for any religious connotations, don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-religious in any way, shape or form (even though I play in metal bands). I actually come from a very Christian family, CofE mother and a Catholic father. I have even done first holy communion myself. I also think it’s important for people to have faith or a belief. A belief in yourself and faith that if you want something, that you can achieve it. These two ideas are very important to our lives and also feature very heavily in religion. Some might argue, driving those ideas home is what religion is about. No, what I mean is that I don’t generally like the way religious content is written, I can’t really explain why. Maybe it is because it always seems as if you are being forced to do things rather than encouraged. Who knows.

I seem to have gone off at a tangent. I guess the main point of this blog was to give me something to write. From speaking to authors the one thing that was always very evident was that you should try to write at least something everyday. I’ve managed to write short passages in my notebook every day (except a couple of bad days I must admit!) since March, when I started trying to take this seriously. If you are interesting in writing yourselves, I would recommend reading “The Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey” by Chuck Wendig, this was actually recommended to me by Graham McNeill and it is a brilliant read. It’s hilarious and has some priceless advice.

Also I recommend having a listen to that Anathema album, great listening!

I will hopefully be back in a couple of days with some actual stories. Once again, thanks for reading!