Thursday, 7 February 2013

COMPULSION


Abemustwrite is the name of a blog that I enjoy reading. Especially because of its title. I find myself intrigued by the compulsion that drives the thing – the 'must'. That’s what gets me interested.

It’s a little bit like the way we love to watch reality TV shows about people who are awesomely fat, but who can’t seem to help themselves from eating their way through 3 Chinese take-aways every evening of the week. That’s compulsion.


And I think I am afflicted with it too. A compulsion. Though (thankfully) mine doesn’t involve consuming my weekly recommended calorie intake, in one meal.


My compulsion had me scrawling the first draft of this post on the back of a loose sheet of paper while standing on a breezy Finchley Road station platform. True story.


This compulsion. This drive. This desire to do this above every other option. I guess think that’s what makes me a writer. Well there’s that, plus the fact that I’m pretty damn good at it. That helps.


So what’s yours? And does it define you or defile you? Food for thought.


Thursday, 31 January 2013

SWEET DREAMS

Reality.

Interesting concept.

For me, it's almost a dirty word. Not because I have a problem with real life. Well actually, maybe it is.

Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment. Do you remember your last 'I wish I'd never wake up' dream? One of those dreams where you wake up thick with the tastes and voices and warmth of the place, still as distinct and real as the smell of freshly cut grass on an August afternoon.

Do you remember that dream? Of course you do.

Because it was amazing. And more poignantly, it was so amazing because it was so very much better than the reality that you eventually woke up to.

Now let me ground this a little before we all get carried away. I have a remarkably blessed life, for which I try to send up as many thanks as I can, as often as I remember to. And I'm sure if you forced yourself to, you could rattle off your own list of blessings and fortunes, including the many forms that these things come in (a warm home, the chair you're sat in right now, the food working its way along your digestive tract). Because it could always be so very much worse, no matter how dismal you think things might be.

So yes, I have a great life. And yes, things could always be infinitely worse. But I'd be no more than a miserable, dogged pessimist if I ignored the fact that things could also be much better. Much, much better. Case in point: that lick-your-lips-it-felt-so-good dream world.

Now, the smutty amongst you will no doubt have your minds sloshing around in the gutter right about now. But I'm really not thinking along such base terms (to make a change). I’m not talking about those dreams.

It's the dreams that are simple and light that are the most delicious. With easily conceivable plots set in a world not so different to this one. Close to reality, just without the shadows and haunts and harsh lines that The World Out There can't help but have.

Though I suppose reality shouldn't be blamed for how it looks in comparison to Nirvana / Shangri-La. After all, if we had nothing but nightmares when we closed our eyes, then reality would seem like heaven on Earth.

So perhaps next time I find myself chanting an incantation at my alarm clock for ripping me out of the arms of pure joy, maybe I should be a lil' pissed at my dream world instead. For being so damn good.

But let's be honest, it'd be like hating chocolate, or your favourite jumper, or Dragonball Z – generally impossible to do. They're just too damn good to hate.




Tuesday, 22 January 2013

TRIPLE THREAT

A few days ago I went to watch Les Mis̩rables in the cinema. I'd never seen it in the theatre so I actively avoided looking up the story line beforehand РI wanted maximum impact and blow-me-away-factor when I saw it for the first time.

And it happened - I was genuinely blown away. Keep in mind - this doesn't happen to me willy nilly. I'm not the kind of person who gets blown away by a Snickers bar. Yes, they are damn delicious, but they don't incite a very explosive reaction.

But Les Mis did blow me away. For a multitude of reasons – the amazing stories of individual characters, beautiful songs, cinematically interesting shooting and probably most notably, the amazing skills of the actors and actresses. Just ask the mob over at the Golden Globe decision makers committee.

I found myself thinking, 'What are the chances of there being people walking around that are fantastic actors, and great singers?' Mr Jackman and young (former) Miss Hathaway suddenly seemed like real gems of their era and industry.

Then I remembered what I was doing around this time last month – I saw Singin' in the Rain in the theatre. And, oh yeah, every single person on the stage (and there were a fair few) were fantastic singers and actors, and they could dance. Like, really dance. I'm not talking about throwing shapes on a Friday night in Electric Social. I'm talking trained dancers. Like tapping, shucking, jiving and diving through the air, all while singing 'Moses Supposes'.

Amazing.

And then I thought of the original movie. And then, hang on, what about every movie of that era. It was common place for actors to have the full package – triple threats all over the place.

Yet today, when Hugh Jackman moves me to tears, I'm momentarily gob-smacked that he managed this feat, with a perfect vibrato.

My point? Well I'll never want to take away from the skills of the actors that so moved me. But I can't help but wonder what happened to the standards of the art? Sixty years ago, you had to be able to sing and dance at the same time, while maintaining a convincing grin, in dress-shoes, to be even considered for a leading role. Whereas today, I'm shocked when I learn an actress can do more than cry on cue.

Same goes for 'traditional' art. I went to a photography exhibition recently and genuinely felt my big sister could've quite easily reproduced the images in the smart frames on the walls, if only I lent her a decent camera and looked after her two kids for an afternoon.

Have the standards of art declined? And have our expectations dropped on response? Curious.

Or perhaps this is just my plea to the ether to please produce some more musicals. I do enjoy them so.


Monday, 14 January 2013

JUST DO IT

It seems I’ve tried everything to work out how to get back in to the swing of writing. Reading a bunch of blogs. Buying an assortment of writers’ magazines. Reading over my past work.

And when I still came up empty, all that was really left to do, short of paying someone to do it for me (like this incredible chap), was a pretty unexciting, firework-less solution: to open up a blank document and just start writing.

And 'lo and behold, it worked.

So for your personal enjoyment, here is the living proof of one of the best bits of advice that I could give you, as well as the source of a pretty successful advertising campaign:

Just fxcking do it.

That’s it. Simples. Just take the next step.

It’s been months of mild heart palpitations and stressy internal monologues - all from just thinking of getting something down. And thinking about how long it’s been since my last brain wave. Or paragraph of non-work related copy for that matter (you may as well see where all my hard work’s been going).  And most rackingly, asking myself when exactly I planned on taking myself up on the title ‘Writer’ and seriously begin doing some actual writing.

And do you know what, dear readers? It’s been a waste of my sweet, Dragonball Z-loving time. Completely. Because all I needed to do was… do. In this case... write.

So if you find yourself bogged down with “writers'  block” or “photographers' block”, or any other kind of block that might be plaguing your journey – don't stress. Suspend the anxiety, pick a topic or concept that interests you, and start from there. That's it.

You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

And if you are, you can thank your favourite pensive buddha.