What this? WordPress?

Well, I was prompted to write a new blog post after a random person discovered Nova Star Hunters and somehow tracked down this blog! That’s good to know, that past work is still discoverable online (mainly due to Mat posting the shows on YouTube).

I’m probably guilty of not trumpeting older work enough but if you’re not planning on doing more, pushing people towards it is sort of self-defeating, isn’t it? “Here, listen to this – a series which suddenly finishes with no resolution!” Mat would disagree, and I know he’s correct, but I still can’t bring myself to do it.

I rarely update this blog because working on new material seems like a better use of my time. So, although I’m failing in terms of WordPress, I have been busy writing and producing. Noisy Bark is now the place to go for anyone remotely interested in what I’m doing creatively. I’ve been learning new software as a way to produce material since I am sick to the back teeth of creating stuff that requires another person’s green light. I want to be able to take work from the page to finished product myself. Any interest or help from other people is then a bonus – rather than a requirement.

Since making this mental switch I am much happier about what I’m doing. I feel engaged and excited by the possibilities. I’m also in control of whether or not work reaches an audience through SEO and social media. It takes the neediness away. You know what I mean? If you’re a person who creates their own work you will be familiar with the feeling of sitting in someone’s office (a TV producer, a theatre manager,  an event organiser, whatever) and having that internal dialogue “I hope they like the script. I hope they like me. I don’t want to go away from this with nothing. I don’t want to be back to square one.”

Producing material online means I can apply that mental angst somewhere else. “Will the audience like this? Who am I targeting? How can I make sure people find the work?” These seem like better questions to me and I also have some influence over the answers.

So, that’s that. That’s where I’m at. Visit Noisy Bark if you fancy checking out some of my work. Otherwise, catch you later!

 

What or Who’s to Blame?

multiple-fingers-pointing-blame-at-man

1) Football
The other team (we didn’t play badly, they just played better)

2) Cricket
Unsportsmanlike tactics (like winning)

3) Tennis
The umpire

4) Cycling
Lance Armstrong

5) Government
The previous government (but never the one before that because that was probably them)

6) The NHS
Bedblockers (like the elderly and sick people)

7) Corporate
Institutionalized inefficiency (which we decided to accept rather than address)

8) Business
Foreign markets (what is this, a competition?)

10) The Board
The Shareholders.

11) The Shareholders
The Board.

12) Writers
Critics (without them no-one would’ve noticed)

13) Actors
A lack of motivation (because getting paid wasn’t enough)

14) Musicians
People don’t understand the music (because they’ve been corrupted by songs with a melody)

15) Comedians
It was the wrong audience (the right audience had tickets to see someone funny)

16) Christians
Evolution (because it makes far too much sense)

17) Scientists
Religion (because it tackles questions people actually care about)

18) Bloggers
Mainstream media (without it we might get some views)

19) The British Public
Immigrants (coming over here with their skills and strong work ethic)

20) Neighbours
Nosy neighbours (“Them at number 6 have got nothing better to do – he’s forever in front of the telly and if she’s dressed before midday it’s a miracle.”)

21) Teenagers
Everyone and everything.

22) The Elderly
Everyone and everything.

23) Parents
Computer games (what ever happened to kids wandered the streets without structure or an objective?)

24) Teachers
The National Curriculum (what’s wrong with kids watching The Lord of the Rings in class?)

25) Financial Advisors
The FSA (we don’t need regulation, we’re not in it for the money)

And finally:

26) Banks
Yep.

Writing On

A couple of things to mention which are the audio novel I’m working on and a series of short sketches in the character of Wade Moss. I’m putting them up via my new website called Noisy Bark.

The reason I’ve started a new website, which is sort of a catch-all for my own work (and is broad enough to host content from others) is that I really want to know where my writing is going. I don’t want to be writing scripts anymore that I can’t get to an audience. I’m finding this useful since I’m not thinking while I’m working – “how am I go to sell this piece to a theatre, pitch it to a producer” or whatever. It allows me to write things just for me. And it’s made a huge difference to what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be writing something novel length if I thought I had to get it passed a publisher or secure an agent. for instance.

I wanted to mention also my continuing problem with the way you build an audience online and how crap I am at it. When I set up Noisy Bark I also set up all the twitter, facebook and YouTube accounts at the same time. And I really did make an effort to post each day and try to interact (this lasted about a week). I’m discovering that I’m really no good at posting via social media – either as an individual for “fun”, or as a form of meta-marketing. I think you’re either that sort of person, someone who has a thought and wants to share it, or you’re not. I don’t have any desire to share my thoughts regularly. If I tell my girlfriend what I’m thinking I’m pretty much satisfied with that interaction and telling a bunch of people doesn’t really appeal to me.

There’s a big difference between the speed at which I work and the speed at which people want new stuff online and posting to social media only makes that difference stand out more. You end up posting random junk in lieu of actual content. Maybe there’s a middle ground but I haven’t really found it yet. So, I’ve decided that if my personality doesn’t fit the climate of constant interaction I’m going to stop trying to do that. I’m beginning to realise that if something feels forced it’s generally not the right thing to be doing anyway. I rarely even post to close friends and family on Facebook. I see their posts drifting down the newsfeed and think “cool, they’re going along doing their thing. They watched a movie. They’re happy about this, or sad about that.” And knowing they’re there, going about there lives is enough. This blog is another case in point. It’s five months since my last post. So, I’m obviously not someone who thinks “damn, I have to say this and put it out there” very often.

In fact, I think I use blogs and such as markers. When something ends or begins or you reach some sort of turning point. And that doesn’t happen every day for me.

Before starting Noisy Bark I thought about resurrecting Vexation Audio, which had a decent following for the work we’d done. Enough to garner responses when we posted a new episode or something. But that seemed like a backwards step. Some of that old work is good but they’re not ideas I’m planning to return to any time soon and having a website with a series (Nova Star Hunters) that stops abruptly mid-season doesn’t send out the best impression. What I’d like Noisy Bark to end up being is a library of content that people can listen to or watch long after its completed. A place for stuff that has a definite beginning, middle and end – and a place to post ongoing projects.

Finally, I was doing some videos on YouTube, experimenting with how you build an audience online, choosing video games as a focus for the channel, since they’re an easy source of video content and not too time consuming. This has been interesting and I’ve learned that if you really want to retain a following of people the time commitment (despite the fact that it’s relatively simple to film and post gameplay footage) is immense. You’ve really got to be aiming to post one video a day and you’ve got to hammer at the social media and love that interaction. Obviously I’m not suited to doing that – but it was (and still is, since I still intend on doing these videos) a fun thing to do. You can sort of switch off your brain and talk shit for an hour. I’ve learned a ton about producing video content for YouTube – which was the point. I’d done video sketches and short films in the past but focusing more on the logistics of doing stuff swiftly was the key for me – things like aspect ratio, compression, how to get Premiere to play nice, and how to tag and publicize videos effectively so they stand out in search engines. Hopefully this should be useful if I decide to start filming the real world again. Just need a decent camera (and of course a script that’s up to snuff!)

Right, that’s it for me. I’m off to potter.

Reasons to stop smoking and Star Wars

My list of reasons to stop smoking that I wrote and then barely look at:

  1. Live longer
  2. Don’t give cancer to loved ones
  3. Be around long enough to look after loved ones in their old age
  4. Be more fit
  5. Smell/Taste things
  6. Go places without worrying if I’m going to be able to smoke
  7. Save money
  8. Stop coughing
  9. Do audio/video stuff without coughing/wheezing down the mic
  10. Teeth
  11. Fingers
  12. Better circulation (my feet are constantly cold and I’m wondering if it’s because I smoke)

But like I said I haven’t looked at this list much since I put it up on my wall. It’s a decent motivational list but actually day-to-day you don’t consider these things. You’re just looking for ways to distract yourself. I find I can’t concentrate on very much at all and I’m sleeping all the time. I slept for 14 hours yesterday. I don’t know if this is my body adjusting to life without the stimulative effect of high doses of nicotine or a result of low mood brought about by chemical readjustment but it’s not normal, is it? I just feel completely out of it at the moment. And a motivational list can’t change your mood – it just reminds you why you’re bothering in the first place.

But I’ve gone from a 40 a day habit to just a few cigarettes when I occasionally lapse. It’s definitely progress. And the routine of a cigarette break every half an hour is gradually breaking down. I find I don’t think about it as much. Doesn’t stop you feeling like crap though. I can’t bring myself to write or do anything creative via the interwebs. Can’t even see the point of playing computer games at the moment. Just seems like a massive waste of time. Really waiting for these feelings to pass whilst struggling on.

And Star Wars. I love Star Wars but I find myself put off these great imaginative franchises because of the obsessive interest fans show in them. I’m following the progress of the new films and getting excited about them but when I see the excessive amount of thought and emotion people put into their fandom it really puts me off. I almost don’t want to call myself a fan. I’m a person who likes good stories told well. For god’s sake, they’re just stories. Do we really need another making of documentary? Another interview with Carrie Fisher? Another celebration of the art of Star Wars?

I’m a cynic and I’m glad about it.

 

Building a Fence and The Elder Scrolls Online

IMAG0001Well, after complaining about the various jobs that needed doing around the place I spent all day yesterday building a gate. So, I can sort of do things when I put my mind to it. I think one of the main barriers to this sort of stuff is having the right tools. I need a better drill for a start! But at least it works. The point of this particular bit of DIY is to keep Baloo the barking barbarian away from the front fence. He was harassing neighbours. Now I can leave the back door open for him to come and go.

And in other news. I bought The Elder Scrolls Online and I’m enjoying it – but only after spending a couple of hours messing around with config files and trying to get the screen to stop freezing every ten seconds. I still maintain it’s crazy that triple A titles like this require the user to troubleshoot before they will work. See here and here

Despite this I think the game is great. It’s very pretty and the world is definitely Elderscrollsian. I’m not sure what all the Elder Scrolls fans I’ve spoken to are complaining about. You can’t expect an MMO to have as much interactivity in the environment as a single player game and I feel the compromises they’ve made in order for the series to go massive work very well. Currently I’m enjoying wandering around and looking at stuff. Exploring the various environments. I think my guy is going to be a woodworker (given that his RL alter ego has just built a gate!) and I’ve also made him slightly overweight so he’s even more like me!

I’m enjoying doing the YouTube vids too. These are a good distraction when I’m not writing and I’ve got Fraps and Nero Video set up now so I can record and spit out a vid without too much deliberation about formatting. I’m frustrated that my computer isn’t quite up to snuff however. It’s very loud in the background and I’d like a bit more power so I can render things quicker. The thing is, do you wait until you’ve got eveything perfect or do you just plough ahead and put stuff out there? I’ve opted for the later. I think the vids are watchable  enough and will get better once I’ve got the spare cash to upgrade.

That’s that! Comment if you read this – it’s boring doing blogs without people responding.

Quitting Smoking

I’ve been puffing away at cigarettes since the age of 18. I started to impress a girl who was much cooler than me. It was a stupid thing to do and I wish I’d never started.

The longest I’ve quit for was a 2 month period last year when I replaced the cigs for electric ones. So, I know I can go without the real deal for a while. Still, the electric cigs are satisfying your body’s craving for nicotine so it’s not really quitting.

But it’s increasingly been on my mind that I need to quit for good and I’m going to go for it, starting today. I want to be fit again and to not have to break up every activity for a cigarette at some point. One good thing is that last week the doctor’s surgery rang up out of the blue and asked if I was still smoking – and would I like help quitting. It came at just the right time. So, my plan is to replace the cigs with electric ones until my appointment on Thursday – at which point I’ll try to switch to patches. Or whatever else they recommend.

I don’t mind admitting I’m going to need help with this. I admire people who can quit cold turkey but I’m not one of them. I’m hoping the smoking cessation clinic will be a real advantage. I work in health care and in my opinion the NHS is one of the greatest institutions our country has created. People grumble about it a lot but the level of dedication and commitment of NHS staff far outstrips that of private health care companies. We live in a country where there is an organisation like the NHS that actually cares whether you’re killing yourself with cigarettes.

That’s something to be proud of.

No Good

The past few days have reminded me that I’m no good at the practical things in life. First there were a few money issues we tried to solve via credit that reminded me just how far from a solid investment I am. And then problems next door with appliances that needed fixing and the fence that is falling to bits.

It’s not that I can’t do practical things when I put my mind to it. We’ll fix the fence and put the new gate on the garage and sort the money worries eventually – but it’s the fact that, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have to deal with these things. It’s not that I’m lazy. I want to help my partner with her various RL issues but for some reason my brain sees it as a hassle. I wish I could recondition myself to see these things as interesting challenges to overcome…when we’re doing things it does help that I have someone to do them for. If I ever do anything practical what makes it worthwhile is pleasing Sue. But there’s this part of my brain that is always nagging at me. It says things like – what will fixing the fence actually achieve apart from getting people off your back? What will having money do to make life more meaningful?

I’ve never wanted those things you’re supposed to want – a house, a car, holidays somewhere hot, things to put on shelves. Material things you can point to and say, “There. There’s what I’ve achieved.” And I suppose that’s why, in the eyes of the world, I’ve achieved nothing.

I got it into my head many years ago that the point of being here was to somehow reflect on the experience of living. To say something. Or to simply put your viewpoint out there for other people to consider – so they can then compare it to their own experiences. And that’s still my focus. I suppose that’s what makes me so disinterested in so much stuff. If I can’t see how it relates to this agenda then it feels like a chore.

I’m always aware I’m probably wrong though…