Happy New Year

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Happy New Year from The Equiatic Bind! My New Year’s resolution is to finish my book and spend the second half of the year being a great husband…I’m getting married halfway through the year in case any of you were thinking that I would spend the first half being a shit husband.

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IMG_2129So what have been people’s highlights of the year in terms of books, films and music?

Don’t worry if its something that didn’t come out this year as one of my book highlights was reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace which took me the first half of the year to complete.

For me my films were Dark Knight Rises (also going the cinema to watch the complete trilogy with Fiona), Looper, Life of Pi, Moonrise Kingdom, Cabin in the Woods,  re-watching all the Alien movies with my fiancée, Skyfall, Taken (but not Taken 2), Animal Kingdom and 50/50.

Books is a hard one because after spending 200 days of the year reading Infinite Jest I went through a phase of trying to read everything I could as quickly as possible until I had to remind myself to take my time and enjoy my reading. A recent good one was The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Also The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman , a buttload of comic books (Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman being the standout and the ever-awesome Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai). Its been a slow reading year for me this year but at the moment I am reading Anno Dracula by Kim Newman which is shaping up to be very, very good.

And for music, this year I discovered Mumford and Sons, Little Dragon, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Lana Del Rey. Old favourites that I’ve returned to have been Big Boi, Childish Gambino, Bowie, The Cure, The Smiths and (since this never gets deleted from my music collection) Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

How about you guys? Any surprises? Any disappointments (I.e. the movie Prometheus)?

Leave me a comment because I’m always on the look out for new movies, music and books and since you guys follow my blog I know you’ve got good taste.

Advice from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman

I recently got to the half way point in my book. I was aiming for this to be about 80-90 thousand words long and I crossed the 40 thousand mark. For those of you not in the know my book is about an English journalist joining the campaign of Robert Kennedy in 1968. The premise is actually a wee bit more complicated than that but I’m keeping that under my hat until the book’s finished and have boiled it down to that sentence (my elevator pitch – sort of).

However upon reaching that halfway point I became crippled with doubt and self-loathing. I was starting the think the book was getting boring and the more I thought this the more bored and panicked I became. The thing with writing historical fiction is that it can veer into extreme dryness as you try to make sure the reader is caught up historically. It’s helpful that my protagonist is a young Englishman with no knowledge of US politics (“Then why was he sent to cover the election?” I hear you cry – Trust me, it’ll all make sense when the book is done) so he can ask my reader’s questions for me. 

6a00d8341c562c53ef0168e498a893970c-800wiAs a side note one of the best pieces of writing about writing is Stephen King’s book On Writing. For a mega-star writer King knows how to break the writing down into it basics ideas and from him I took one of the main rules I follow when I’m writing my book which is that you write the first draft with the door closed and the second draft with it open. Basically the first draft can contain everything. Every bad joke, every pointless tangent, every nothing subplot. Whatever you want to write it can go in because that first draft is all for you, no one else need see it. However once that draft’s finished you need to open the door and realise that as much fun as it was for you to write a sequence where your main characters stop  fighting and play a rousing game of putt putt golf it’s probably not going to be great for your reader. While writing this book I have to constantly keep reminding myself of this. The door is closed, the door is closed. A mantra I have running through my head. It reminds me not to worry because Future Sean (that fiend!) will fix all the problems when its second draft time, all Present Sean (that lovable cad) has to do is get the book finished.

But anyway this past few weeks doubt and self-loathing had gotten hold of me and each time I approached the keyboard it was like trying to make conversation with your girlfriend’s parents the first time you meet them. Every word that I managed to type came out with the ease of pulling out my own teeth.

neilgaimanThen I remembered something I had read from another writer I like, respect and want the career of (he writes for comics and Dr Who), Neil Gaiman.

For National Novel Writing Month he wrote this as a pep talk to writers:

Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.

That’s how novels get written.

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The rest of this can be found here.

I re-read that last night and it reminded me that what I’m going through is natural. It’s okay to feel a bit bored and defeated and its okay to get disheartened.

But it is not okay to quit.

So its back to the keyboard – one word after another until its done.

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Five: Knock Out

4075950874_b704165dc6‘A punch to the face?’ Said Max. ‘Or alcohol? That usually knocks people out.’

‘Won’t work here. We’re cutting open her abdominal wall. We’re gonna need painkillers and something to stop her twitching around. Also I don’t wanna punch a little girl in the face,’ said Peg.

‘Ether?’

‘Do you have any?’

Max frowned, ‘What about morphine? Don’t the soldiers have any?’

‘Oli’s gone to see Butler to ask.’

‘What are we going to do if we can’t get anything?’

Peg rubbed her eyes, ‘Strap her down so she can’t move and hope she passes out from the first cut.’

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Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Friday Fictioneers: Holy Coffee

coffee_in_mirror_02-1‘All glory to the sacred beans,’ Father Costa of the Church of the Enlightened Caffeine held his hands together in prayer. ‘Let us pray.’

His congregation sat on their wooden chairs. They had all drank of the sacramental latte and taken a bite of the holy panini (roasted tomato and mozzarella) . In front of them were their blessed laptops and well-thumbed copies of Infinite Jest and Twilight.

‘Our father, who art in Seattle. Roasted be thy name. You are my beans and my hot water and with you my coffee pot boileth over. In Starbuck’s name we pray. Amen’

‘Amen.’

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Some Friday Fictioneers for you with the prompt coming from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

If you enjoy the writing here head on over to TheIstanbulletin.com – The blog I co-write about living and working in Turkey (It’s mostly about eating though)

Procrastination and how I beat it (sort of)

moleskineh-1_4The future Mrs Equiatic Bind (or Mrs Snakesonaplane Fallon) recently set me one of her challenges. Write 12,000 words of the book by the end of this year. I did some calculations and from when she set this challenge to the end of the year was 20 something days and through the magic of maths I found I could reach my goal by writing 400 and something words a day.

Easy.

And yet life did that annoying thing it does of getting in the way of my plans and goals.

Now I’m a young man (28) with a full-time job but also no kids and my nearest family member lives 4,000 km away. I have no real obligations outside of work and yet the time to sit and write kept alluding me. It would be so close and then suddenly it would be gone in a haze of me getting the flu for a week. Yeah, it was hard to type when my fingers hurt. And then I had to visit the doctor about my aching knee which turned into five appointments and an MRI. It turned out I had runner’s knee and have to do nearly an hour of knee exercises each night.

Time, no, come back, don’t go.

Anyway long story short work kept getting in the way then the flu then the knee then Christmas shopping and so on and so on until last Friday when the government closed my school because of the snow.

This snow day could be the day that I will break the back of my work, I declared that morning as my fiancee slept and I painfully tensed my knees loads and loads of times.

And then it started happening again. I wrote some words that morning and then just stopped and found my mind was blank.

It suddenly became frightfully important that I check my Facebook and my Tumblr and the stats on my blog and The AV Club and Pinterest and so on and so on.

Now sometimes a bit of procrastination can be good. If you decide that you cannot write in a dirty house and clean your house from top to bottom then, yes, you haven’t written anything but at least your house is clean. Sitting in front of your laptop reading Captain America comics and scratching your ass is less good.

In the end though I managed to write 1,200 words that afternoon and the trick was to make my character procrastinate. Luckily for me I had come to a point where my hero, James Darling, needed to write an article for his paper. Originally I had the idea that he would sit at his typewriter and knock out a really terrible article as quick as possible. Instead I incorporated my suffering into his story. I gave him my distracted mind and then amped it up by a thousand.

If I was feeling paranoid and a little afraid of failing then James was staring himself down in mirrors and hearing his father’s voice admonish his failures and having to claw his way out of an abyss of doubt and fear. If I couldn’t stop internet browsing then James couldn’t stop counting the steps it took to cross his hotel room or how many cigarettes he had smoked.

In the end when he does write a terrible article (that was always going to happen) its after he has had to force himself to the page and really poured all of his effort into it  so when it is terrible the heartbreak and embarrassment is upped considerably.

I wrote this little piece for my own benefit really. If it can help anyone or anyone can offer some other tips for dealing with procrastination then I am all ears.

Actually I will say one more thing. If you are using Chrome as your browser download Stayfocusd, its a extension that blocks certain websites. The appealing thing for me is that it gives you a time limit on how long you can browse those sites before they get blocked (I usually give myself ten minutes) and that way you can give yourself a treat between paragraphs but can’t get lost in a website because the clock is ticking. There is also the Go Nuclear option which blocks your chosen blocked websites for a predetermined amount of time leaving you to work in peace.

Thanks for listening.

Oh and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Four: The OR

CaptureThey had thrown a cloth across a table and laid Jen down upon it. Her mother stroked her hair and cooed nothings to her.

Peg looked at her operating room. They had grabbed every torch, lantern and glow stick they could find and lit the giftshop up as much as possible and they had found a head lamp for the doctor to wear.

Butler’s men had once featured a medic who had killed himself but they retained his pack which they gave to Peg so she had the equipment to operate. The only issue was how to knock Jen out.

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Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Friday Fictioneers: Lasercat

copyright-scott-l-vannatter‘Arrange the decorations as I requested, William,’ Its eyes glowed with malice and harmful intent.

I moved the baubles around with shaking hands, ‘Yes, Lasercat, whatever you say.’

‘Do you fear me, William?’ The cat smiled a cat’s smile, false and cruel.

I nodded quickly, my eyes averted.

‘You reek of fear, William. It coats you. You need a bath,’ Lasercat’s tongue flicked out against its black lips.

‘Please…’

‘Bathe yourself, William,’ the eyes glowed yellow then orange then red, powering up.

I slowly raised my arm and ran my tongue along it as the cat meowed with spiteful glee.

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Some Friday Fictioneers for you with the prompt coming from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

One of the easiest stories I’ve written for this blog and the most fun I think.

If you enjoy the writing here head on over to TheIstanbulletin.com – The blog I co-write about living and working in Turkey (It’s mostly about eating though)

Wanna tell me about 1968?

Robert-Kennedy-9363052-1-402Hi,

As some of you know I’m currently neck deep in my novel about Robert Kennedy. My stance on research has always been to get enough together in my head to create a setting for the characters and then focus mostly on plot and characterisation. It’s too easy to get bogged down in learning everything about the period you’re writing in and it’s also a very convenient excuse for procrastination (‘No I haven’t written anything today but did you know that the fashion of the time was to wear teal socks?’)

At this point I am half way through my first draft and getting into the road trip portion of the book as the election kicks into high gear, dragging my characters along for the ride.

To supplement my research from books and the internet I’ve been asking friends and friends of friends about their recollections of the time (A great advantage of being a TEFL teacher in Turkey is that I know a lot of Americans with chatty parents).

So for all my followers present and followers future I have some questions.

  1. To anyone who lived in Seattle in 1968: Can you give me the name of a sleazy bar, swanky hotel and crappy motel?
  2. Anyone who lived in Indiana in 1968: The name of a park, a tailor and anything you can recall about Kennedy campaigning there.
  3. Anyone who lived in America in 1968: What was the most popular TV show? What beer did people drink state to state? What cigarettes did people smoke?

If I get a good response to this I promise there shall be more questions in the future and thank you in advance for your help.

Friday Fictioneers: Praisebook

photo-15God logged onto Praisebook. After looking at His news feed He updated His status: Hey guys, just made the Earth but forgot to add colour LOL.

He frowned at the black and white Earth stuck in His bin.

His laptop pinged and He saw that Odin had commented, ‘One world? How cute! #9WorldsForTheWin.’

God considered liking the comment just to show He was a good sport even though He was furious. The laptop pinged again. Hades had commented, ‘No colour!? Laaaaaaaaaaaaaame!!!!1!!’

God sighed, He would delete His Praisebook but then how would He know what was going in the world.

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Some Friday Fictioneers for you with the prompt coming from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Three: Location, Location

CapturePeg stood outside of the tent looking around. The snow was falling more heavily now and the sky was dark with fat grey clouds.

Oli appeared next to her, ‘Where we gonna do it?’

‘Not in a tent. Not outside.’

‘Are we gonna have enough light?’

‘We’ll do it by flashlight. These clouds don’t look about to clear any time soon.’

‘We could wait until the morning.’

‘She can’t.  We’ll do it in the giftshop. Run over there and tell Tim what’s happening.’

Oli nodded her head and ran away.

Peg took a long deep breath and thought of Kat.

——————————————————————————————————–

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Two: Diagnosis

CapturePeg knelt down next to Jen.

The girl smiled at the doctor but her face was pale and the smile weak.

‘Where does it hurt, Jen?’

The girl pointed to her stomach, near her navel. Peg moved the girl’s hand and saw that there was swelling at the spot she had indicated.

Jen’s mother spoke from behind her, ‘She’s been vomiting and had a fever. I thought it was The Lady at first but she kept saying she had a real bad tummy ache and I didn’t-’

‘It’s appendicitis,’ said Peg . ‘She could rupture soon. We need to operate.’

——————————————————————————————————–

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-One: Nurses

CaptureAlthough Peg was the only doctor in the Fort there were two nurses, Max and Oli, who helped out. While Peg made her rounds the nurses did the same helping out with minor injuries and ailments while Peg focused on anything major.

Peg found them that afternoon talking with the mother of a little girl called Jen who lay behind them on a sleeping bag clutching her stomach.

‘What’s happening?’ Said Peg, silhouetted in the entrance-way to the tent.

Oli walked over and whispered, ‘We think she’s got appendicitis.’

‘If she does you know what that means?’

Oli nodded, ‘Surgery.’

——————————————————————————————————–

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Friday Fictioneers: Real Estate

100_7262-1And each room has an en-suite bathroom as standard. So if you’ll follow me down here I can show you the nightmare corridor. Each door leads to a room containing one of your biggest fears. Okay moving on I can show you the lovely terrace.

What’s that? Oh, the nightmare corridor? Yes it’s all the rage at the moment.

How does it know your fears? Because its always known them Mr. Wade. The house has always existed and always will. The house simply remembers what you’re afraid of. Now down here is the kitchen with a lovely flow for entertaining.

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Some belated Friday Fictioneers action for ya.

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty: Doing the Rounds

CapturePeg was strategizing as she did her rounds of the camp. She had been tempted to chase after Kat when her wife had stormed out of the meeting but that wasn’t her style.

No, she would carry on business as usual, while slowly forming the perfect argument. That way  she could rock back into the tent tonight and before Kat could speak she would lay out her bullet-pointed reasons for voting yes in such an eloquent, thought-out way that Kat would simply have no reply.

And then they would have no need to fight because Peg would have already won.

——————————————————————————————————–

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

The 100 Word Novel – Nineteen: Watching

CaptureJoe leaned against a tree staring at the restroom.

He looked at his watch. An hour had passed since he had seen Viv go in there after Private Park. At first he was worried that Private Park was snooping around in there and would find his Collection under the floor boards.

He had waited for Park behind the tree and weighed a rock in his hand. He had never done a person before. Would it be harder than a cat or a bird?

He had clenched the rock until his fingers bled and then Viv appeared and broke his heart.

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Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen