Tag Archives: statue

Becoming an ideas factory

Phil: Last week, Candice and I met up at Shakespeare’s birthplace to enjoy an over-priced jacket spud and pannini just across the road from where Willy S was born. Work on Book 2 has stalled and we need an infusion of imagination, inspiration and baked beans. The later came from the spud, the former from conversation. When we get together the ideas seem to flow so much more freely than when communication has to be by e-mail.

Maybe it’s just us, but while electronic chatter is good, it never seems to match the banter of face-to-face.

Anyway, the ideas we bashed around are for more short stories. We enjoyed writing Kate vs The Potter (have you read it yet, it’s free from the left hand side of this page !) and fancy honing our craft on a few more. Not just with the characters from the book either, the Grazzia story entry is going to be unearthed and re-worked considerably to be the tale we always wanted it to be. In other words, longer than the rules allowed. Hopefully this will allow it to breath a bit more. There are others too – I have what I think is a brilliant idea for a Dr Who episode – and since the look across the table wasn’t of the “you are mad Parker” variety, it might see the light of day.

Ideas are the writers stock in trade. Everyone who commits words to paper or screen needs to generate a constant stream of them. No ideas, no words, no work. That’s why we dread writers block.

The trouble is it’s either feast or famine. I write a column for a model-making magazine where each month I build something and illustrate the process step-by-step. This has been going on for nearly 3 years which means every month, without fail, I have to come up with a new project that fits the format. 6 weeks ago I was worried. I had run out of ideas. Without repeating myself I couldn’t think how to fill the pages. Then a chance find on a website, ironically of a photo I had taken, got me going again. A few days later I’d e-mailed my editor a list of possibles and since he sent me a parcel containing one of the raw materials I’d requested, I took this as an acceptance.

Elsewhere I was shocked to discover the similarly subjected blog I write was heading for its 2000th post. In 6 years, I’ve generated lots of words and possibly even some useful information. More importantly, it has kept my creative engine running whatever else I’ve been up to. On leaving a “proper” job I set myself the task of writing a post a day. That process forced me to be creative and more importantly, got me writing regularly. And if you’ve ever stared at the blank screen wondering what to say, you know that the best thing to do is bang the keys and see what happens. You might just be recreating the infinite number of monkeys writing Shakespeare experiment but who knows where it can lead ? The best thing about blog posts is they are supposed to be short and you can just check them on the Interweb without worrying too much.

So, my advice (if you want it) is, if you are struggling to become an ideas factory, get a blog. Title it up as an experiment or writing dump and then set yourself a target of 3 posts a week. Stick to this and you’ll find other ideas bursting out of your frontal lobes. Or at least enjoy the fooling around.


Filed under Phil, Writing

Dead bird in Solihull Library

A nice live blackbird

A nice live blackbird

Phil: Not all the work on this book has been carried out in cake shops. These are only suitable for talking about the work in hand, try to do some work and you’ll get a laptop full of crumbs. As someone who in a previous life used to work on a computer helpdesk, I know how disgusting that can be (Hint: Turn your keyboard upside down now and bang it’s bottom. See what fell out ? Horrible wasn’t it. Now imaging it’s someone else’s detritus…)

The subject of finding a suitable place to write has been discussed over at the Cakes, Tea and Dreams blog where everywhere from cafes to parks has been suggested. Sadly, those romantic aspirations are normally cast aside in favour of somewhere quiet with a table, which is why in an effort to find some conducive writing space we’ve been meeting up in Solihull Library. There’s a nice area for “Quiet Study” which has power points for laptops, desk space and none of that distracting Interweb.

A few months ago, we had finished our tea and cakes (excellent selection in the cafe downstairs by the way) and I grabbed the window seat because my eee PC has a cable long enough to reach half way around the building whereas the Nolan beast is a little stunted in this respect and the sockets are miles away. More important than electricity, I like to be able to gaze thoughtfully out at the passing world while working as I find it helps me think though problems. Or at least that’s what I tell my boss anyway. Outside, Christmas was getting into full swing and Santa was being followed by one of his elves on a fag break. In most versions of festive tales Santa’s helpers are supposed to be a bit on the short side but, unless there were two in the single costume standing on each others shoulders, then 6ft elves are perfectly acceptable nowadays. Presumably this is what the press calls “Polical Correctness gone mad”. At least he would be able to keep the kids under control I suppose.

When I wasn’t watching festive fun, Solihull Council had provided some statuary in the corner. Those enjoying some quiet study could look on, and presumably be inspired by, a 3ft high marble girl. “Lovely”, you are thinking except that she is cradling a dead blackbird in her skirts. Now, I don’t know a lot about art but can someone explain to me what makes you wake up in the morning, look at a block of stone and decide to carve a small child. Then to make it extra special, include a dead bird in the composition ?

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Filed under Phil, Writing