music, women

My Favourite Things – Music.

These are a selection of albums I love and listen to. For disclosure, if you buy through the given links, I get a few pennies thrown my way as I have an affiliate account because writing doesn’t pay well at the moment and prostitution is a tough market to crack, even when you’re as handsome as I am.

 

It’s a lovely album I missed the first time around, a raw and angry record awash with a frank and gut-level sexuality which never forgets the appeal of a solid riff and melody. Ah, 90’s guitar albums are a large part of my psychosphere and this is a great album. My favourite song is Johnny Sunshine.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LZ5D7UT/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B01LZ5D7UT&linkId=79a731618accd5e93639d03f79e4092b

 

History is cyclical, and I found this album dense and less immediate than Voodoo, but in turn it was less immediate than his first album. D’Angelo is a living archive of black American music, from the helium croon of Wonder and Gaye through to the dense polyrhythms of Parliament and Sly and The Family Stone. I love the challenge of an album like this as repeated listens reveal new nuances and pleasures. My favourite tracks are The Charade and Ain’t That Easy.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QR7ZN16/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00QR7ZN16&linkId=cb45eeb362de8d6fb7a396ada5d8ced6

 

Everyone loves Purple Rain but this is the album which best represents the glacial, inventive genius of the man. The Revolution did not have the detailed jazz-fusion chops of later line ups, but they could groove with a fearless invention and gave this album the fluid grooves and gorgeous soundscapes which he wouldn’t explore in the same way again. It also has Kiss, which everyone knows, or should know. I can lip sync to it like a boss. Sometimes It Snows In April was a song I played on repeat after the loss of a close relative, walking around with my dog and crying my

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000002L9B/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B000002L9B&linkId=0622d595a1f55a00b0be92cca444189b

 

Beneath the slabs of noise and dissonance there are beautiful, complex symphonies at work within the music of Nine Inch Nails. This album is a masterpiece, including the song covered by Johnny Cash ‘Hurt’ and March of The Pigs which enlivened many an indie disco in my youth. It’s an album which speaks to me during dark times of rejection and discontent without falling prey to accusations of adolescence.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0000262Q8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B0000262Q8&linkId=0302623d21bbbfe1834b30f3162e62ac

 

People think jazz is insular and elitist, but I appreciate the intricacy and beauty of it, how it underpins so much of musical progression and history. This album is three hours of intricate, gorgeous music which demands your attention through its virtuosity and passion but also allows you the privacy of your own head, as all good instrumental music does.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00UVIR4G4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00UVIR4G4&linkId=7fb53d4d436433989e44759b4c77e2ff

 

Some albums, and it feels quaint to think of music in those terms these days, define a band. Here you have Dave Grohl drumming like his life depended on it alongside Josh Homme at his most impassioned and inventive, set on a bed of monolithic riffs, sensual vocal melodies and punch the air choruses. Songs For The Deaf is fifteen years old and it feels utterly timeless.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00006IJXT/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00006IJXT&linkId=8b8b2d2949e586b1fae4cd60f3091928

Next I will be selecting some of my favourite film and television shows, then more books and albums. Please share your favourites with me below and thank you for reading.

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television, Uncategorized, writing

Silence,I’m Watching Television

Game of Thrones – season 7, episode 1.

I have been thinking about my youth and how I was mocked for my love of comics and pop culture, pilgrimages to Norwich and Abstract Sprocket (where i had a pull list every month), permanent residence in the fantasy, science fiction and horror sections of the library. I was happy and remain so, but it’s odd to see how such things as Game of Thrones, the MCU and DCU dominate the media now.

No, this isn’t me grumbling because what was cool and exclusive, is now worn by everyone and it’s lovely. Sure, I wish there was as much focus on original, non-superhero content but they’re our mythology now and sometimes we need to tap into it. Stories are how we figure things out, a storehouse for knowledge we don’t need to carry inside our heads but find useful to learn from.

In a thousand years, will people be arguing over the one true Spider-Man?

Anyway, Game of Thrones is fantastic television. It’s been six years since the last book, and no, I am not hassling GRRM for another one, he’s enjoying himself and life, like art is about enjoyment. I wouldn’t be putting so much into this if I didn’t and he’s been doing it far longer than I have.

Hannibal – Seasons 1 to 3.

Mads Mikkelsen is the perfect Hannibal. I also want his tailor’s number. Bryan Fuller makes shows which are gorgeous, disturbing and chilled to perfection and although this was cancelled, the hope of a return stirs my bones a little. I want to see Clarice Starling again, although Jodie Foster and Hopkins are only a dvd away, but Fuller’s take on it would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

True Detective, season 1.

There was no season 2. It was a cheese-fuelled hallucination and too ambitious for it’s own good. The first season was brutal, elegiac and unafraid of getting up close and personal with the roots of masculine duty and identity. I wrote so much crime fiction inspired by it which seldom saw the light of day as it was too obviously influenced by it.

Rick and Morty. Season 1 – 2.

It’s an instant pick me up, scabrous, clever and humane at the most surprising junctures, plus it’s Dan Harmon, what can you say?

Preacher season 1 -2

The comic book is one of my favourite series. Ever. Sod your JLA, I will choose the panel where Jesse has tears down his cheeks and says ‘sweet lord, don’t let me be dreaming’ because there’s been women I’ve thought that about. I am enjoying the tv show.

American Gods season 1.

It’s Bryan Fuller’s adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book, with Ian McShane and Gillian Andersen, why wouldn’t I watch it?

I still have Love, House of Cards and a queue on Netflix which makes me question my enthusiasm, but yes documentaries count as research, so there.

Now, I read more than I watch and I suppose I should post what I am reading. I try not to think about it because it frightens me haha.

 

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beauty, blogging, books, craft, creative writing, love, women

Writing Update 09/04/17

I hit 40 pages on the first draft today. It’s been a progression apparent to myself, in terms of what I am writing about, but not who I write for. I know what works for me as a practice, which cuts down on the amount of time spent being indecisive, I guess.

Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

I also changed the title, which is common for me to do. I have a predilection for fancy titles that sit on the axis between awkward and cool, and eventually something in me signs and suggests something better which I stick with until my agent tells me they don’t like it and I have to scrabble to find something else instead.

I have been reading Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey which is a great book, useful for me as I have a bit of knowledge about C G Jung and Joseph Campbell, the two major influences on Vogler’s work. It is pragmatic and I’ve made plenty of notes two chapters into it, just to clarify and cement my own understanding.

I study the craft of writing and storytelling, in order to forget it when I write. If something screams ‘CROSSING THE THRESHOLD’ I know I have fucked up somewhere along the line. I don’t resist structure or archetype in the slightest, but I do like to make it invisible and seamless. I read for pleasure as much as craft and writing at this volume means that I become more comfortable with the work I am doing, less prone to the mistakes or making new ones, which still represents growth to me.

It gets done. I don’t wait for inspiration but instead she turns up, smiles, gropes me somewhere inappropriate and then flies off again. I love that woman because she’s flighty and constantly changing, not in spite of it.

Being British means a reluctance to talk about ambition but I do push myself towards my goals, just not in a way that invites open ridicule. Closed ridicule, on the other hand, more than welcome.

If you were kind enough to buy or read the latest issue of Infernal Ink and you liked my story, please leave a review as it helps Hydra’s profile in terms of the magazine and, of course, mine. It was a seamless experience and surreal to look at my own work outside of the blue frame of the blog page editor. I want more of it, and it has renewed my enthusiasm beyond my fierce ambition and dedication.

I really appreciate the likes that my work generates. A writer wants to be read, even if sometimes the anticipation lends itself to anxiety of one kind or another. People come and go, disappoint and injure but the page is the page and I love pretty much everything about it

So, forgive the rambling, but wanted to peek from behind the curtain and say hello to you all. Thank you for your support and appreciation, there are over 900 of you now, which is a good sized crowd for a gig, I feel. If you really like anything I’ve done, please share it with others.

Take care, we have to be our own heroes out there now.

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beauty, books, creative writing, purpose, writing

The Process And Updates(Writing)

I have reached the second act of Lawful Evil, some 115 pages of edited work and have lost roughly 10% of the first draft along the way. The beauty of an exploratory draft is that you just play on the page, go on tangents and empty yourself of every idea in relation to the idea itself. With this project, there was the first conscious use of the story grid, and I am pleased to find that it has added utility in determining where the obligatory scenes should go and what needs to be discarded.
To quote Bruce Lee, you use what is necessary and discard the rest.
Experience and focused practice has allowed for less bloat in the exploratory draft so editing later is both easier and more difficult in that there are scenes that read well, but don’t serve the story. The second draft is leaner, it moves faster and the underlying emotions and themes become apparent on the page. It is a matter of confidence to trust that the reader gets it, and to allow for such information as to avoid being too ambiguous, to parse exposition to use as ammunition rather than having it dropped like a stone because it is too heavy and awkward to break down. I would not say I possess any special aptitude beyond an ability to focus and do the work necessary to advance my work.
Until She Sings is with several agents at the moment. I cannot agonise over its status, so I concentrate on the things I can control, which is the work. Say prayers and send blessings for its success.
I have several future projects in various stages. Strange Lights is sat in longhand, exploratory draft waiting for me to go in and build it up to a second draft. Another project has been fitted into a story grid, there are the serials Sir 2.0, Asra and A Bridge For The Furies ongoing here as well as the poetry. I am also putting notes towards two other projects and looking ahead.
I am reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry which is lengthy, exquisite and moving. It is a hymn to the American dream, awash with struggle, beauty and horror and all of it dressed in elegant, beautiful language. After that, I will be reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas then rereading The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. I try to absorb the good work, not necessarily in one genre and guided by an unconscious instinct for the stuff that will inspire and educate me.
There is a joy in the process, it sustains me no matter what my circumstances and serves as an expression of my solidity. I am not calcified in that, simply that I have a course, a path and I follow it by determination, a willingness to change up without losing sight of the prize.
The man I look at in the mirror each morning.
Thank you for reading, and hi to recent followers. Please feel free to comment and share the work that you like. What’s the point of being a writer if you aren’t being read?

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ambition, beauty, blogging, book reviews, books, craft, creative writing, creativity, drafting, editing, experience, fiction, inspiration, masculinity, passion, process, purpose, reading, social media, Uncategorized, wisdom, writing

Two Pages (05/11/16)

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I shifted to a lower gear this morning, five pages against the previous sessions of ten, although I might get back into it this evening.  I’m now into the second act, which is where I really start to put my protagonist through the wringer. We test our characters because in adversity, we find out who they are.

You can get away with any number of sins, if you avoid boring the reader. I read a great deal, and if I find myself starting to drift into the dance of my words, I take a step back and look at the grid, see if there’s something missing that can drive it forward. When I used to write from a single idea, then I would, if stuck, look back and see if there was something unresolved that can generate tension in the work.

So, I’m 54 pages into Strange Lights now, and it’s a challenge, a balancing act between trying to capture what I like about the culture and aesthetics without it feeling too blunt and curated. It’s fiction, not based in anything other than an idea about the culture, allied to a strong story. I hope. We can never tell whether anything we’ve written is any good.

I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s short fiction books, which is always an education and a revelation. There’s fantastic imagery and ideas, but they’re always welded to a knowing, melancholy awareness of people. I’ve said before that in terms of fiction, monster can be metaphor, and Gaiman does that better than a lot of other writers in the genre.

I’ve got another collection of Joyce Carol Oates to enjoy, and a bunch of fiction to plough through. After Pynchon, everything feels faster than normal, but I will ramp up my interest. I read so often because it feeds the writing, grants a courage and eloquence that can easily get lost in the focus on task. I haven’t heard back from the agent about Until She Sings but as soon as I do, I will let people know. I’m ahead of the curve in terms of my workload but that’s part of my whole approach, to have work to show people who are interested in it. I work at my own pace, but it’s constant and consistent.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

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beauty, blogging, book reviews, books, craft, creative writing, creativity, editing, emotion, experience, fiction, plot, process, purpose, Uncategorized, wisdom, work, writing

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This morning’s pages went deep into the supernatural/spiritual element of the book. It also allowed me to do a small measure of foreshadowing and make some connection to events that will pay off later in the book. There was a great degree of poetic license, sensory information and I aimed to capture the emotional power of such a change in perceptions rather than make it like a destination that could be reached with a stout walk and a nod to Google maps.

I understand enough about magic to see that it’s about changing your perceptions. Arthur C Clarke once said that any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  We can talk to people who might be thousands of miles and hours apart on devices that fit in our pockets, yet we are still unsatisfied. Perhaps it’s because we cannot truly say what we feel, sometimes, but still I think about these things especially when I write about such things, tangentially or otherwise.

It made for a dense two pages, and I was pleased with the execution of it. It will continue into tomorrow, I think, but it’s a palate cleanser, a sign that we are not in the world that we know, but somewhere else. Whether that is a good or a bad place depends upon the perception of the reader and the needs of the story. I did some research on vision quests, and found that the anecdotal accounts lack something, so I placed the writer’s caveat of ‘make it all up’ on the issue and found my way into it like that.

I finished Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon yesterday. It was an intense, powerful book that managed to be arousing, melancholic, shocking and disturbing whilst maintaining a lovely phrasing and energy throughout. Someone commented that they had read it twice, and still not understood it, and I came away with more of an impression that it touches on themes rather than says ‘this is this.’ It was a beautiful book and it provoked some interesting thoughts and ideas for me to explore, personally and creatively.

As a bit of a palate cleanser, I read Attica Locke’s Pleasantville, which is the third book to feature her lawyer protagonist Jay Porter. I had not read the previous books, but I enjoyed it, as it took an approach similar to The Wire, in that it shows the interplay between ambition, public image and personal passion whilst hanging on a murder charge that did not take as much of the book up as I had expected. There were some interesting choices here, it is chockful of internal details and in Porter, there is a wounded protagonist who is doing the right thing, at some personal cost. I enjoyed it because it was solid, made it’s points and did not cheat me, as a reader, out of any visceral experiences contained therein.

Thank you for reading.

 

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blogging, book reviews, books, craft, creative writing, editing, emotion, experience, fiction, inspiration, plot, process, psychology, reading, Uncategorized, wisdom, work, writing

Two Pages (27/10/16)

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I wrote another two pages of the new book this morning. Yesterday, I worked on the structure of it, using Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid so I know where the beats and obligatory scenes are. I also did quite a bit of reading for research purposes. It’s not historically accurate but I like to work in some nods to the culture, and where it doesn’t work, I just make it up. I’m aiming for plausibility rather than accuracy with this, atmosphere and also working in an entirely different setting without some of the touchstones that have informed earlier books.

Technology, essentially. Although, as Arthur C Clarke said, any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, so it’s all the same thing, just portrayed in different ways. The language I am using is different, still english, still hopefully in my voice but it’s meant to evoke different effects and another sort of atmosphere.  I am making overtures towards finishing off The Ogden Review, as we’re deep into the third act and it’s a bittersweet experience because I’ve enjoyed writing them.

I finished a couple of books yesterday in addition to the research material, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, which was gorgeous and moving, Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook, which was a different experience on the page versus the (very enjoyable) film, which is always present with adaptations. I also finished Spark by John Twelve Hawks and Night Music by John Connolly. I also took a lovely long walk with the dog as well, went out into the marshes and just took everything in.

Thank you for reading.

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