Tag Archives: Monty Python

Stifled writing and a look into my brain! (WARNING – it is not for the faint-hearted)

People who write can often get bogged down with the concept of finding that great idea which will earn them money and quite often when they do this, they lose themselves and in some cases, even lose the love for writing itself.

I am at fault of doing this as much as anyone, particularly in the past five years, this is because financially I am suffering to the extent that birthdays and Christmases have been disappointing and not as traditional as I am accustomed to.  In fact recently I found an old Christmas shopping list, which included food, presents, games and décor and basic normal food to last for two weeks over the festive period so we can focus on more family time and that list was five pages long with two sections on each page; this year it was only 3 pages long with only one section as when I write in an excited state, my letters get bigger than my usual handwriting – which is a bizarre idiosyncrasy that I have.  My lists are quite methodical, I will list food from Tesco, Food from ASDA and food from other places separately within the list; I will list where to buy certain presents too and for whom, which shops, so we kind of plan a shopping map in our minds whenever we go to town.  Along with this list will be a separate length of what kinds of decorations or traditional Christmas stuff we need, such as crackers from B&M and purple bauble at Wilko, you get the idea?  We usually do a massive buffet on an old pasting table in our living room and fill it to the brim with food and drinks as well as the coffee table, because Christmas Eve is the only time in the year where we can guarantee an influx of visitors and we like to feed them – this year it is a no go and I am embarrassed that this may come across as too inhospitable compared to what they are used to, as everyone usually got a bag of food to take with them either for snacks at home that night or jars of homemade stuff, which we just can’t afford to do this year.

I hate pleading poverty, but lately it is getting me to a state of breaking down.  I went for advice on my ESA benefits two weeks ago to a lady who is very kind and runs a charity, I was so embarrassed detailing my struggles to her as she was helping me fill out the forms that I was shaking and my teeth were chattering so badly with the humiliation of it all.  She thought I was freezing cold, but I told her, it’s just that I am so embarrassed by it all and she said that it was OK, but it really isn’t though is it?

Usually I am very good at being calm and self-composed, despite anxiety issues, but lately I just can’t keep it together, I am struggling to hide behind a façade like my normal self would.  Most people can’t tell that I have anxiety issues because I masked it so well, but lately I break out in tears over the smallest of things and what is worse is that I am getting short tempered with it, with people I feel are cold or unfeeling and I have this awful feeling that I will say something out of character at my next medical which will make me lose the benefit.  I am very scared about it.

If I could get a job I would, but no one is going to employ someone with the health issues I have.  I did struggle a few years to get a job, before it got too bad seven years ago.  All of this makes me try to push myself to create something just to get out of this mess, but it isn’t working, it is stunting my creative growth badly because I am not writing what I really want anymore.  I am writing the lesser ideas I have which are the most popular amongst my nearest and dearest and unfortunately what I love to write about, they hate immensely.

What I like writing about are dystopian stories similar to Mad Max, I am Legend and Tank Girl.  I enjoy writing about vampires and their sired offspring as I call them and histories as a massive saga dating back to the Ancient Sumerians and contemporary times too, how they live and how they lost loved ones.  I enjoy writing inane pun infested comedy fantasies where you meet mermaids and trolls with a very Monty Python meets Discworld air to them and I enjoy writing horror that touches taboo subjects.

According to those who are in the know, the only type of book up there I have mentioned that they can barely stomach is the comedy fantasy, not my main love of in depth vampire soap operas and dystopian tribal warfare.

Yes I love my fantasy comedies, but whenever I discuss my writing with those who are privy to them, they always get more excited about any updates on that genre than anything else and I feel if I don’t write this genre more than the others, I am failing to please this specific audience.  I am one of these people who find it really hard to talk to people about my work, those I do are precious to my motivation, if I don’t talk about my work, I can’t do the work.  But unfortunately my discussion circle seems far too niche and not entirely me.

I used to mix and mingle my genres a lot and had a wider circle I trusted to talk about them to, usually as dinner party discussions but since moving to Warwickshire, I don’t have that anymore.  London is a very different place, with very different people with mind-sets very different to Rugby’s.

I have mentioned vampires and horror to people up here I thought I could trust with my writing, but they recoil or give sideways glances to those next to them and simply state “Oh, right, not my cup of tea really”; Then I share my fantasy comedy ideas and they feel that fantasy is strictly for children, surely I should write something nicer for them?  Not drunken elves and mermaids who rip eyes out and swear profusely with such corny puns as well!

Apparently my personality must reflect my work and because I don’t lark around like some tomfool jokester all the time and I seem a pretty calm deadpan person in real life, I can’t be taken seriously in comedy surely?  Won’t I come across as some kind of fake?

Now that hurts, but it has been said to me before and I find it amusing that comedy must be serious… really?  I wonder how we all laugh at serious comedy!  Should we laugh at flippant tragedy then?  I don’t know what kind of world I have tripped into a hole of, but it is certainly quite different here to where I am from, I can tell you!

I think if I was to walk up to my favourite British comedian of today and say “Darling, you are not taking your comedy seriously” he would choke laughing and crying at how stupid that sounds.

*passes a dictionary to said people and points to the word “comedy” for reference*

So, though I am currently in quandary over my work, my main quander is this – “how can I develop a trusting relationship with people online so that they can become my beta readers and I can learn to trust the online community with my plans and outlines”? 

I’m not sure I can.  I am very protective of what I share with people because I have often had entire ideas stolen and published behind my back and that someone became very successful with my ideas and have not produced work since I eliminated them from my social circle a decade ago.

I have thought that maybe signing up to a free creative writing course with the OU would help me discuss work and improve my skills with an online tutor?  But not sure if that is really what I want – improved skills are always good, but not sure if I want straight laced professional opinions which are bias regardless of genre and content.

Meanwhile, I have been thinking about just writing whatever, whenever and go back to my scatty ways that were long lost a decade ago.  Paul tried to organise me too much I think?  Tried to get me to focus too much that I lost my way; I don’t really have a way.  I am higgledy-piggledy and mentally a mess when creating.  Paul often said if a hypnotist was to delve into my mind for just five minutes he would run out of the room screaming “get me out here, she is completely insane, she is such a mess, she is so confusing, help me, help me…. And oh, pass the paracetamol that gave me a headache!”

Why the drama?  Because I will have seven documents up at the same time, one is a horror about a cat, two are vampire novels concentrating on two entirely different characters, one is a comedy fantasy with tiny people, and one is a dystopian story based on a religious concept of the apocalypse and angels, the other document is writing notes to eventually put into any work in the future, along with research papers and notes, scribbled papers and notes off the computer, and Wikipedia up on the internet with another internet page looking for the history of Thracian warfare.  If that is not enough, I am also meddling with playlists on Amazon music flipping through them depending on which scene and novel I am working on in those few seconds, whilst daydreaming about food and what it might be like if I was the size of a peanut in my garden.

You get the idea?  That’s my brain in just five minutes.

I am like the dog who is in the garden playing fetch with you then all of a sudden I have ran away chasing squirrels, then coming back to you wondering where the ball is and oh look sausages!

With a mind like mine, it has been said by people before – is there any reason to wonder if I will ever find it possible to get anything finished?

I pass them some books I have indeed already finished and I do so quite proudly.  Then I announce, they are not for sale, they are not edited and they are not good enough.  The person looks through them, finds they do indeed need editing but are absolutely wonderful, why not publish them? 

Because they are mine!  Then I grab the books and hug them close to me with a snarl!

I am like this even with the art I paint too.

Thing is, there are ideas I do want to sell.  But I am scared that those private stories reveal too much about my inner workings.

I feel psychologically exposed, basically.  It brings about the kind of feeling in which I can only sit back and think, it would be better to be physically nakedly exposed than that, then Paul tells me to stop being weird and dramatic!

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Reading and writing past and present

I have always wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old when Mr Alistair a therapist/teacher told me that I had a gory imagination and extraordinary talent; back then my specialism was horror and it has only been in the past seventeen years that my writing has moved onto fantasy, comedy and poetry.  I started writing stories about alien invasions, vampires and alarmist ideas about climate change, El Niño and the end of the world.   I have for most of my life been a dedicated environmentalist, but since I talked so much in a spiritual forum about my concerns I lost confidence to continue writing this journalistically (is that a word? if not why not?), because I was accused of being a doom-sayer and me being a very uplifting positive person this accusation hurt me enough to stop me.

My first ever short story of any real length was based on Persephone in the underworld that I wrote when I was eleven.  I imagined how life must have felt like living in the underworld and even when I was that young I had a good clear understanding that not everyone is 100% evil or good, so I wrote about Hades in a positive form and it was very much influenced by my passion for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  This is a theme that has followed me through my writing life; if there is a misunderstanding in something, I am always willing to show another side to it – determined to prove to everyone that nothing is just black or white; it is a multitude of colours.  I can do this to the most indigestible of subjects too, according to a few people who have seen my handwritten work – thus I am sometimes known as an excellent mediator and diplomat, as long as the subject doesn’t get me too personally hot under the collar. 

One friend recently told me that they see me as society’s apologist, whatever that means.  I looked it up and I am not really that religious enough to be considered an apologist, though I suppose if you were to watch me answering questions whilst I am watching many quiz shows on religion, you’d say I seem to know an awful lot about religion for someone who isn’t interested in being religious.  You see I think this is where people misunderstand me – it is not that I am not religious, I am more humanist because I think that religion by and by causes division and I am all for world unity.  However I am a deeply spiritual person who literally believes in anything until it is absolutely solidly proven not to exist – hence why I leave milk and honey next to the stove at night for the house spirit (Nisse/elf) and ask permission to the tree itself before I prune it and honestly believe in various ancient customs and ideas – though I am still soul searching, but I will make this abundantly clear now, this is not an invitation to be converted to anything.  My ancestry history is so mixed, whenever I feel I should dedicate myself one way or another, I feel like I am upsetting some ancestor on the other side, so I don’t bother myself with dedication of that sort.

Anyway, this post was going to be about how I started writing and what I started with and where I have ended up.  I have written a lot of comedy and comic themes recently that I have noticed I have more and more of the fantasy and sci-fi comedy genre, if that is a genre.  I told Paul the other day that I feel like I am being possessed by the spirits of the deceased members of the Monty Python gang and Terry Pratchett, I try and write serious high fantasy and I can’t help putting in some silliness into it and I am seeing corny puns in everything!  The more I fight it, the funnier I get.

Unfortunately the comedy themes are rarely if ever posted on here, because I have made this mostly into a life update and poetry blog, rather than the intended fantasy blog, because I worry that my worst writing might be my best and my best my worse in the eyes of the world.  So I never really know which short stories and snippets to risk posting here.

I have decided to make this blog more of a writing diary, but again I have fears that I might reveal too much of my plans.  Fear is a major factor for me not posting much lately.

I have a handwritten diary I update about once a week on average because I keep forgetting to add to it – this diary is purely about my writing, my plans and any strange themes I have noticed that day or week.  For example, I have noticed I get a story idea in my head, then a book falls off the shelf in the library of a similar theme I was thinking about – weird coincidences like this happen a lot to me.  Then whilst television flicking, subjects of things I have been thinking about or themes of the day seem to be found everywhere, even on my sons chocolate wrappers as adverts at times!

I was thinking about sharing these day to day themes and the weird occurrences they have been discovered as part of my day to day blogging, as these things often develop into story ideas for me as I sit back and wonder what the universe wants me to do with these supposed signs?  What story is she prodding me towards and I believe this is why I have more ideas than actual work – I am never without a new idea, the problem for me is writing them down fast enough and concentrating on less than three at a time.  This is extra difficult for me because I am an attention deficit sufferer, I get bored doing the same thing or thinking about the same thing for longer than twenty minute bursts – hence why my current reading list on Goodreads usually has around twelve current books on the go!  It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a book, it just means I really can’t concentrate for more than twenty minutes.

Thinking about my reading list on Goodreads has actually just reminded me to make a point here on a matter a friend recently said to me the other day – she noticed that I have all these books on Goodreads I am currently reading but I only manage to read between ten and forty pages a day of maybe two or three books and she said that as far as she understands I am always reading but the Goodreads activities doesn’t prove it.  I said it is simple really when you consider that Goodreads is not designed to update magazines and newspapers and out of print books that are not listed on their site at all as well as local pamphlets and guides, game back stories, research websites, other people’s blogs and so forth. 

Here is a list of my magazine subscriptions and I do mean, I read them every time they are published either weekly or monthly;

Writing Magazine

Garden News

Sci-Fi Now

Gardeners World

Tesco

Yours

Pets @ home

Total TV Guide

Amateur Garden

Kitchen Garden

Lego club magazine

WWF membership news and stuff

Bibliophile

BBC History

New Scientist

Focus

Classic Rock

When I pick up a new magazine, that is the only thing I can read from beginning to end and it takes me around an hour to two hours – the reason why I can do that with a magazine rather than a novel is simple, the subject changes every few minutes.

Honestly, I am addicted to reading, I am addicted to downloading new information into my mind on a constant basis and I am a person who doesn’t enjoy sleep – I see it as a waste of time, but being ill, I have to sleep more than most and it literally drives me crazy!  All I want to do is think learn and do.

So there you have it!

Hello, I am Tina Cousins and I am a reading and writing addict and I don’t intend to cure myself of it, goodbye.

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