Sunday 23 February 2014

Slight Progress

Holy fucking christ I actually did some work this week. Nobody was more shocked than me this Tuesday evening, when I sat down with my laptop, opened up all my many notes on the book, and while once again staring blankly at a load of incoherent babble of clever stuff to try and hide inside a nice little story, I thought “Fuck this, I shall just write some of it”. And so I did, I briefly outlined the second chapter so I had no excuse to stare at the fire and get distracted, and then wrote.

Ok, so it was only about 45 minutes, and I only managed a page and a half before I got bored, and started drinking, but hey, progress is progress, and I deserved that drink.

Obviously, the rest of the week was a lot less productive, I only worked two days, and had no band rehearsals, but I did spend two evenings learning very difficult songs for a dep gig, that was then suddenly cancelled. Which is always helpful, in its own marvellous way. I had a couple of lovely days out with the wife, and the dog, and some friends who were down from surrey. I also had a bona fide gig on Thursday night, so all that time was not wasted, and no procrastination was involved.

I also got a new microphone, and a bunch of stands and leads for the studio, and thus spent a fair chunk of time fiddling about with them to see how they work. They work fine, I have tomorrow off work as well, and will be attempting to record some music rather than do any writing.

Rest of the week is interesting, I think I have two rehearsals with two different bands, I am trying to write a bunch of new songs as well for another recording project. Hopefully there will be a bit of time to scrawl some stuff down in the midst of all this. Oh, and I just remembered that app-writing course starts tomorrow as well. I may be screwed here.

My obsessive planning idea was clearly a dumb move, and far too gargantuan an idea to have ever attempted, so I may continue as I did on Tuesday, knocking out the odd page when I have a minute or two to kill, and only lightly planning any of it. There are still a couple of hours to go until it becomes wine o'clock, so I might get some more done today. Course I might just start drinking earlier, seeing as I'm not at work tomorrow.

I am still aware that none of this is of any interest to anyone other than me, but I will continue to document this blindingly dull information every week. Sorry.

Sunday 16 February 2014

I shall quit everything else and be more productive then?

Yes, this week my oldest enemies have returned to me. I have started to persuade myself that I don't need to do any thing useful, as long as I am relatively chirpy and have enough free time to go out and have lovely fun times with my wife, catch up with people in the pub, play a few gigs, go wandering with the dog and sit around watching telly and drinking then everything will be fine. I almost believed myself again. It's an age old attitude of mine, that if something is causing me stress and anxiety, I shall ignore it and hope it goes away. And generally, my creative endeavours do.

 However, I remember it was this attitude that meant the 5th Plastic Squirrel album took me 4 years to finish. And yes it was good and worth the wait, but had I not spent so much time “waiting for inspiration to strike” it would have been finished a lot quicker. Especially since inspiration had bugger all to do with it, and I got most of it done in the last 3 months of working on it when I got sick of having not done it.

I have also started to think that if I left every single band I am involved in, and just played music at home and in the studio for fun, then I could get more work done, be happier, and spend more time with the family, a total win win. Except that I remembered I tend to be really very annoying, and quite miserable if I'm not in any bands. Mind you, the general attitude of "all other people who do music are rubbish, and disorganised slack twats" has also popped back up, and every gig I see advertised, and every song I hear on the radio had me tutting in disgust at how shite they all are these days. Again, the other Dave in the back of my head is kicking me and telling me not to be such a dick over such inconsequential bollocks. He is right, most of it's pretty good stuff. Though I am still tempted to quit playing with other people again.

So, has this launched me into a frenzy of work you ask? No. No it hasn't. I was going to, but I needed to learn a bunch of songs for a dep gig (I haven't done that either) and I had a couple of rehearsals for proper bands as well. Then I bought a new guitar, and spent far too much time playing it and thinking how pretty it sounds. Am wanting to do that again right now in fact. But I realised that I am already 3 days late in writing this blog entry. Irony strikes again.

I had yesterday afternoon pencilled in to do some proper writing, but then I had to go and do the shopping so we could eat. And on the way home I noticed that the pub in town which had been closed for ages had reopened, so I persuaded Netty to pop down for one and see what it was like. Unfortunately it was pretty good, so we didn't get home for a good 3 hours, and I was in no state for writing by then, and had agreed to cook a marvellous feast for our tea. Managed the cooking (only a bit burnt) but no work done. Which was fine, I knew I had today free to do some anyway. Enter a very long walk with the dog, quick visit to the car boot sale, cleaning up the kitchen after some drunk twat had burnt all the pans in there last night, popping down the road to catch up with some friends, and a few cups of tea, and here we are. Half an hour away from Top Gear and wine o'clock, and nothing doing (still haven't learned those songs either).

Have some time off work this week so might get something done, admittedly, I also have plans with the wife, some friends coming down from london and a couple of gigs to fit in. And that guitar is still new, and still sounds lovely. I suspect that even this blog might get neglected. However, I will not listen to me when I say that it's ok not to bother, and that another year of getting nothing done is ok. Mind you, there's one more track to finish for the next Plastic Squirrel EP, so that might get in the way a bit as well. If only they'd stop putting programmes on the telly, I might fit some stuff in of an evening. We can but hope, particularly as my wife keeps asking me if I'm still writing that book, and if she can have a read of it soon. I don't think Netty reads this, otherwise she'd know the answer to that question.

Right, lets have a go at these songs then.....

Sunday 9 February 2014

An Angry Round Thing Enters The Room

By angry round thing, I mean vicious circle, the usual one, it has returned in its usual guise and posed its constant question. Am I thoroughly miserable because I can't manage to get any writing done, or am I unable to get any writing done because I am thoroughly miserable? Now given that there is really nothing else in my life to make me thoroughly miserable, I am going to plump for the former. This has been going on for years, I decide to do something useful (say record some lovely music, or write a book) and then get hit dead centre with a foul case of writers block. Obviously it has happened again, and when I manage to find half an hour or so to get some work done, I stare blankly at the screen, devoid of ideas before telling the computer to go fuck itself, turning it off and doing something else instead, in the vain hope that inspiration will strike. It invariably doesn't. Hey ho.

Anyhow, for this weeks procrastination, I spent a goodly long time justifying the existence of this blog to myself after it was pointed out to me that there is no good reason for anyone else to give a flying fuck about my inability to write myself out of employment. This is entirely true, but as I seem to remember setting out in the first instalment of this essentially futile gesture, it may serve to ensure I do some work if an entirely fictitious audience is tutting disapprovingly at me online as I document my failures. The dog's scathing looks are no longer enough to push me into working.

So last weekend, I set up in my summerhouse, turned on the laptop, and suddenly discovered I had a really good wifi signal out there, and scrolled through twitter for an hour or so, before remembering why I was out there. I then dug up a load of old short stories I wrote many years ago in another fit of trying to exercise my mental muscles, and read them as well. Then it got cold, so I went inside and watched telly in front of the fire with the dog. Much nicer.

This week, I have been learning a bunch of songs for a dep gig, which is less procrastination, and more productive, so I feel justified in that. I also had 2 rehearsal sessions with 2 bands I am actually in, so that was ok as well. Less easy to balance is the evening I spent with my guitar and a bunch of amusing Nick Drake tunings seeing if I could come up with some interesting musical ideas to play about with and maybe write some new songs. It ended just as badly, not a single idea (well I've got 3 lines of lyrics to play with and no music to go with it) and with the usual listening to records and drinking cider.

Even this blog of procrastination is late this week, as I was finding other ways to do things that were more fun. Yesterday I jumped at the chance to do some modelling for my Wife's photography project, and didn't attempt to hurry her along (as I normally would) even as the 2nd hour of coldness and cramp rolled around. I took on a really, really difficult photoshop project from someone at work who asked me for a favour, and rather than saying “Oh no, I am far too busy to do that” or even doing it at work rather than working, I spent 3 hours carefully stitching pictures of other people's family together in attractive and interesting ways.

Procrastination is still very much alive, and in case any of you have not been following this properly, I have not written a word, or even managed to come up with the extra sub-plots I need to finish the full plotting of the thing, since I first started this blog 3 weeks ago. Fairly impressive isn't it? I am now about to open my notes and try and finish some of it ready to get some work done. I fully expect that in less than half an hour, I will have wandered off to my temporary studio, and will be playing Angus Young riffs on my SG and claiming that this is a useful way to spend my sunday afternoon. Let it be known that it is not, and never will be. Though it is fun.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Welcome to the Procrastination Station

Hello again, I am rigidly sticking to my resolve to update this blog once a week. Which is more then can be said for my resolve to work hard and write this book. Still, here is the tale of how well I have done in my attempts to beat the procrastination fairies this week.

I realised that all help is going to be good help, and signed up for a future learn course in beginning creative writing after receiving an email from them. I had already signed up to one of their courses in programming apps for february, in another fit of “oh woe is me, what can I do with my life that will be fun and slightly profitable?” The writing one starts immediately off the back of that one, so I shall be busy in the springtime. This will afford all new excuses for not writing what I am supposed to. It is of course a stretch for someone with such a massive superiority complex as myself to admit that a “beginning” course is something I should ever need, my ego tells me I have been doing this for over 25 years. Luckily the other half of my brain has pointed out to me that “beginning” is the only part of it I can ever do, but sadly they don't do a “Getting on with it and finishing the bloody thing” creative writing course, so there you go, I'll have to do this one instead.

I also managed, straight off the back of my last blog, to agree to a dep gig with a band I saw a month or so ago, which will involve me learning an entire set of original material that I have never heard, from scratchy mp3 recordings that you can't hear the bass on. This is on top of the dep gigs I already have lined up this month which I have not yet learned the new songs for, and the new band I'm putting together, and the band I'm already in, and of course my burgeoning lack of career with PlasticSquirrel.

I did indeed manage to clear out the summer house into the old leaky studio shed. I also ripped out the sodden carpets from said shed, and snapped the legs off my sideboard in the process. Still, managed to prop it up again, so it'll be fine. Had I bothered to empty it and take the draws out before trying to single-handedly throw it around over the carpet as it came out, it would still be in one piece. As it is, I had to do some clever stuff with a car jack, and ask Netty to come out and help me to sort that one out.

Having cleared it out, I then decided it needed some road-testing, unfortunately that involved a 4-pack of Guinness and my Grandfather's old copy of The Screwtape Letters that I didn't know I had. That was an enjoyable hour or so, though not so productive. Obviously I then had to put the studio together in its new temporary home in my neighbour's barn conversion. Which took care of Sunday afternoon fairly nicely. And Friday night and Saturday night, are Friday night and Saturday night, and therefore sacred, no work, plenty of drinks.

Last Thursday I came close to getting some work done, but I wrote the first part of this blog instead, and then listened to Zoot Allures by Frank Zappa for inspiration. There's been a lot of that. I've always been a firm believer that to write interesting stories you need to do your research, which helpfully involves reading other peoples stories while listening to records and drinking wine. Other lovely methods include watching movies and TV shows while drinking wine (or cider). I have been doing a lot of research over the last week, it has been good.

This research involved 2 J.K. Rowling books this week, and I came to the conclusion (when I was about 3 quarters of the way through The Cuckoo's Calling) that she had clearly written The Casual Vacancy as a smokescreen to keep people off the scent of Robert Galbraith. What with it being a bit humdrum run of the mill and riddled with stereotypes I figured that she just chucked any old thing out there so people wouldn't be nosing after her next good book. Sadly, by the end of The Cuckoo's Calling I realised that she had in fact lost it a bit. It is a really good book up until the explanations of what happened come out, and then it's predictably unpredictable bollocks.

Anyhow, the long and the short of it is I have not plotted any more of this book in the last week, and tonight is the first bit of time I have had to sit down and do any work. But I am writing this instead. I remain lord high procrastinator of the Shires of Devon, and I challenge anyone to steal this title from me.

(I have also resolved to use italics more, I hope you enjoyed them).

Thursday 23 January 2014

A beginning of unbridled lack of possibilities

So, once again a new year rolls in, and as I blearily get up for work every morning I think to myself “There has to be a better way to live than this”, and once again I try and think of a way to use my not inconsiderable talents to make money and be happier.

And once again, I think I should write something. This year however, I have a distinct advantage. I had a look at my laptop, and apparently in last years desire to do something worthwhile I managed to knock out yet another opening chapter of yet another novel (the number of currently unfinished novels I have on hard drives and bits of paper round my house seems to number 6 or 7, the number which have more than the opening chapter currently stands at 2).

So, in an attempt to prove my 1st year english teacher (Mr Beavis) correct in his assumption that I had “a real gift for creative writing”, and my 6th form history teacher (Mrs Fursman) right that I had “an ear for the felicitous phrase”, I intend to actually follow through and finish this one.

This blog will now become a document of procrastinatory fun for me, as I can write this to tell the world how badly I am getting on with doing any real work, instead of doing any real work. Having generally always got stuck after the 1st chapter (I'm very good at setting the scene, just no idea what the actual scene is afterwards usually) I have a plan.

This time, I am plotting, rather than trying to let it unfold in front of me. I am not 17 anymore, and the ideas come at me in dribs and drabs now, rather than fully formed in hallucinogenic visions. Probably because I had so many of them back in the day. So I am spending my evenings writing endless character back stories, so I know what they will do before they do it, and hellishly intricate plot ideas, before screwing them all together into one big mash of fun. It is a whole new form of procrastination, which me and Rizla enjoy a lot. Rizla enjoys it because the best way to think of good ideas is to walk for hours on the moors, and she, being a dog, enjoys that kind of thing. I being a very forgetful bloke, enjoy it less, as I've normally forgotten all those good ideas by the time we get back home again.

This weekends plan is to clear out the summer house into the old leaky studio shed, so I have somewhere nice to work, as it has a lovely view over the moors, and a very comfy chair. Very enjoyable procrastination indeed.

So wish me luck, I might manage it this time, and then I can watch as it fails as badly as all my musical endeavours to date have managed to.

Chin up.