Tag Archives: The Never-Ending Story

Five Times Five

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Please find hereunder my version of this splendid post, which I saw for the first time on the blog of the marvellous Lady Rara Saur (who, in turn, snaffled it from here.) It asks one to detail one’s top five preferences in five different categories and so – me being me – I had to have a crack at it. I love making lists, particularly if they’re not lists of things I have to get done. (Having said that, I like making To-Do Lists, too, because I’m the type who likes to tick stuff off when it’s completed. But anyway.)

On with the show.

Tap-tap-tap Hello? Image: chazzw.wordpress.com

*Tap-tap-tap* Hello? Is this thing on?
Image: chazzw.wordpress.com

Five Things I Am Passionate About

1. Writing and Reading. I’m lumping these in together because, in my mind, you can’t have one without the other.

2. Child protection – whether that be on an individual, personal basis or a governmental/NGO/macro level. I want to live in a world where no child knows fear, or want, or hunger, or neglect. I want to be part of making that world.

3. Education – particularly literacy and numeracy. I’d love to see the fostering of a culture where education is seen as something to be striven for, and where people are encouraged to be proud of their own academic ambitions. The more widely read we are, the less likely we are to repeat the mistakes of our past, and the more likely we are to accept others for who they are.

4. Living ‘small’ – by which I don’t mean living a lesser life. I mean living a life wherein love, and family, and community, and togetherness, matter more than who has the biggest house or the most expensive car or the ‘best’ job. Whatever happened to happiness?

5. Equality. Peoples, races, nations, genders (all of ’em)… we’re all the same, beneath the skin. It amazes me how people think they’re different from, and therefore better than, people in other countries/other religious groups/other types of relationship. Why can’t we all just get a grip, and put the fear aside?

Five Things I Would Like To Do Before I Die

1. See my work published. I would love to see one of my books, battered and dog-eared and torn and cherished and loved and read to shreds, in the hands of a child. It might take the rest of my life, but hopefully it’ll happen someday.

2. Visit Iceland, and see the Northern Lights. Just – because.

Image: theguardian.com

Image: theguardian.com

3. Live in Paris, even if it’s only for a little while. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than slipping down the boulevard for a few pains au chocolat and slipping back home again, looking chic and nonchalant and exuding sangfroid, and actually locking your own front door behind you. Of course, knowing Paris, you’d have to walk up sixteen flights of stairs to a garret room for which you’d be paying through the nose in council tax, etc. – but it would be so worth it.

4. Repay my husband, my family and my friends for all the support – both practical and spiritual – they’ve given me all through my life, but particularly since I decided to follow my dream. I don’t think they’ll ever know how much it means.

5. Reach a moment of total mental satisfaction, knowing that I have done what I was put on earth to do and that I have done it as well as I possibly could, just once.

Five Things I Say A Lot

1. ‘Sorry!’ (I’m the kind of person who, when they walk into a door, will apologise to the door. Yup.)

2. ‘I forgotted.’ (This is the way I tell my husband that I have forgotten something. I try to make it sound cute, in order to cut through the irritation. Weirdly, when it comes to dates, anniversaries, phone numbers, birthdays, significant events and so on, I have a memory like a steel trap. For practicalities, I am useless. Go figure.)

3. ‘Ya big eejit’ (Irish for ‘You rather foolish person.’ Normally, this is self-directed, but it can also be used as a term of both abuse and affection to almost anyone.)

4. ‘Ah, no worries, I’ll be grand. I’m sure they can make something for me.’ (Usually recited when I’m about to go out for food, anywhere, and whoever I’m dining with starts fretting about whether or not my ‘dietary requirements’ will be catered for. As a vegetarian, I still get looked at like a space alien when I ask what a restaurant’s meat-free options are. ‘Well, we have salmon,’ I get told, a lot. ‘Salmon’s a living creature too, you know,’ doesn’t usually go down well as a response, FYI.)

5. ‘Feck!’ or some derivative thereof. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a vile swearword; it’s equivalent to ‘darn’ or ‘poppycock’, and is utterly inoffensive. I have a variety of colourful phrases which would be considered vile, but I’ll leave those to your imagination.

Five Books or Magazines I’ve Read Recently

1. Fire and Hemlock by the goddess that was Diana Wynne Jones (It’s a book.  It’s Awesome. Technically, this was a re-re-reread, but that hardly matters.)

2. An old copy of New Scientist (one of the benefits of being married to a nerdy-type.)

3. The Food supplement from the Guardian newspaper (I’m always on the hunt for recipes.)

4. ‘The Pardoner’s Prologue’ and ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’ from The Canterbury Tales. Someone was writing an essay on it and needed a bit of guidance, and it was nice to blow the dust off my PhD for a few hours.

5. The Skull in the Wood by Sandra Greaves. (It’s a book. It’s Awesome.)

Five Favourite Movies

1. The Princess Bride. Gotta be. ‘No more rhyming now, I mean it!/Anybody want a peanut?’ used to make me laugh to the point of puking when I was a kid. I also love Miracle Max and his ‘I’m not a witch! I’m your wife!’ But the main reason I love this movie can be summed up in two words: Inigo Montoya. My crush on Mandy Patinkin is alive and well to this day.

2. Willow. I’m really not sure what my favourite thing about this film is – the gorgeous baby who played Elora Dannan (who’s probably got babies of her own by now), the wonderful Ufgood family, the devil-may-care Madmartigan (for whom I may have had complicated feelings, looking back), or the scary-as-all-hell witch-queen Bavmorda who literally gave me the freaky collywobbles for years.

3. William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. This movie defined my teenage-hood. Claire Danes? Leo di Caprio? Rock music soundtrack? Hells, yes. It’s also the first movie I saw on my own in a cinema, which gives it extra significance.

4. Life is Beautiful. I have complicated feelings about this one, insofar as I loved it when I saw it, but I’d never be able to watch it again because my first viewing of it almost killed me. Suffice to say everyone should give it a go, but be aware that it will break your heart.

Image: snarksquad.com

Image: snarksquad.com

5. The Never-Ending Story. I watched this one again a couple of years ago and wept, not only because it’s still a gorgeous movie but because it reminded me of my childhood so much. The bit where Atreyu is on board Falcor and they fly around a piece of space-rubble and the Ivory Tower comes into view and the music just swells up… yeah. I generally get something in my eye around that point.

So! There you have it. If anyone wants to take part in this meme, be sure to link back to Benzeknees – and let me know, too! I’d love to read your answers to these questions. Adios!

 

Good Idea Bad Idea

If, having read the title of today’s blog post, you’re now thinking of the Animaniacs, all I can do is apologise. Or, I suppose, say ‘you’re welcome’, depending on your opinion of the aforementioned ‘lovable’ creatures. If you have no idea who or what the Animaniacs are, don’t worry. It shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of the post.

Anyway. On with the show!

Image: mysobersunday.wordpress.com

Image: mysobersunday.wordpress.com

So, me blogging about ideas is nothing new – have a look here if you’d like a blast from the past – but today I’d like to think about the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ideas, in the hope it’ll save someone, somewhere, a bit of time and energy.

Of course, I have to start out by saying it’s important to be constantly on the lookout for new ideas. I’m also now having second thoughts about whether it’s helpful to classify ideas into ‘good’ or ‘bad’; in essence, all ideas are ‘good’ ideas. Perhaps it’s better to describe them as ‘mobile’ or ‘stationary’ ideas, in other words ones you can do something with, and ones you cannot. For example, at the weekend I walked into a bookshop – not exactly unexpected – and was immediately struck by something weird. My attention was dragged away from the books, if you can imagine such a thing, by low, throbbing, strange-sounding music which sounded like a chant. I found it very soporific and quite bewitching, and immediately an idea began to slither into my mind. Just as I was about to grab my phone to start tapping notes into it, I realised a couple of things.

First, I realised that this idea I was having was a bad (or, perhaps, ‘stationary’) one. It was an idea which wasn’t going to go anywhere and wouldn’t ever become the basis for a strong story, and because of this, I put my phone away and let it fade. I also realised that the reason I knew this – that the idea wasn’t a usable one, I mean – was because it was based on a movie I’d seen, years ago. As I kept thinking about it, scenes from the movie actually started playing inside my head. I had forgotten the movie when I’d first heard the music in the bookshop, and the primal power of the idea behind it had grabbed my brain. When I’d thought about it, however, the truth became apparent – this idea wouldn’t work not because it was a ‘bad’ idea necessarily, but because it was a ‘stationary’ one; it had been used before, and not by me. I still remember the sensation of walking into the shop and feeling like I was walking into a spell because the music was so strange and enticing (it turned out to be Leonard Cohen, fact fans, just being played at such a low volume that I didn’t recognise it for several long minutes); that sensation, that feeling, may well end up being used in a story of mine. But the main idea – a boy being bewitched in a strange old bookshop and being sucked into a story and/or a story coming to life – is, I realised, somewhat of a cross between ‘The Never-Ending Story’ and ‘Inkheart.’ Unless something else occurs to me, something completely new and unique which I can weave into this basic idea, then this particular story seed is going to remain dormant.

I mean, come on. How would I ever top this? Image: sufirangga.blogspot.com

I mean, come on. How would I ever top this?
Image: sufirangga.blogspot.com

It’s important, I think, when you feel the rush of inspiration wash over you, not to always go with the first idea that comes to you. Chances are, you see, that the ‘idea’ is not your own. Our brains are filled with all the things we love, all the time – all our favourite books, movies and TV shows, the stories which have shaped our lives. They are at our fingerprints as readily as our memories are, and you mightn’t even realise that this is true until you start trying to map and keep track of your own ideas. If you don’t encourage your brain to have second and third and fourth thoughts about the inspirational things you encounter every day, you may run the risk of repeating ideas that have already been had, either by you or (more likely) someone else. There is so much newness and wonder out there, so many ideas ready to be discovered, that it would be a shame to use and re-use the same bunch time and time again.

It’s important to say, too (particularly in light of yesterday’s blog post), that every idea a person has is going to vary slightly from any idea that has gone before. Everyone will sprinkle a little newness over any idea they have, and that’s wonderful. Sometimes, however, you’re going to have an idea and you’ll be really enthusiastic about it and you’ll have a whole story arc planned out – and then it’ll strike you. ‘Oh yeah,’ you’ll say to yourself, sadly. ‘That’s the plot of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’, isn’t it? More or less?’ Then, you might have to take your story and chuck the whole thing out, and that would be a shame. Particularly if you’ve been working on it for a while and you have lots of words written.

Not that I know from personal experience, or anything. I’m just using my imagination here, trying to picture how it must feel to realise, too late, that an idea isn’t really yours. Of course.

'Oh, really? That sounds highly illogical to me.' Image: pipeschool.blogspot.com

‘Oh, really? That sounds highly illogical to me.’
Image: pipeschool.blogspot.com

If the idea of having an idea that’s inspired by another work of art doesn’t bother you too much – and perhaps it shouldn’t, really, because that’s what a culture is about, after all, works of art influencing and reflecting one another, to an extent – then think about this: if you always go with the first idea to strike you, then you might risk writing stories full of clichés and overused tropes. If it’s the first thing to strike you, chances are it’ll be the first thing to strike most people. And who wants to be just like everyone else?

One final caveat: this post is, like all my posts, based entirely on my own experience. I’d love to hear another take on this, particularly if you fancy telling me I’m talking a load of old rubbish. What are your thoughts about ideas, inspiration, and popular culture?