I Don’t Like Mondays

Learning how to take criticism is a life-long journey. Sometimes, it is simpler as a writer to just switch off and ignore everybody, but there are also moments in the development process where the right commentary can completely alter the momentum of a project. For many successful writers, Social media is a place you simply don’t go to. There’s a very good reason for that, and it is seen every day, often with quite depressing regularity from the same group of destructive, morally ambiguous users. Those who now feel their voice is more important than anything else, and will comment relentlessly on anything which they feel an opinion is warranted on, are slowly eroding away centuries of conventions that have kept many institutions afloat.

Criticism relies on some fundamental principles to remain relevant and useful.

Philosophy underpins much of what I am: it should be the same for everybody, but for some, all that matters undoubtedly, is the self and nothing more. Having a reasonable debate with such people can become impossible face to face, so one anonymity is introduced the entire delicately balanced structure will come crashing down. If you don’t grasp the basic concept of the Social Contract, I’d urge taking some time on Wikipedia and other sources to learn about Jean-Jacques Rousseau, because this is a fundamental part of existence that really does matter quite a lot, and extends into pretty much every aspect of our current lives.

Grasping criticism effectively comes from the realisation that your work and your ego are two different things. A criticism of content is not a personal attack, just as a disagreement over ideas or beliefs should not become a fight. Once one is able to establish basic tenets of existence (everyone is equal, regardless of sex, ethnicity and religious belief) all of this should be a simple, hassle-free process. However, that’s not been the case for… well, since that bloke came down a mountain with a bunch of carved tablets which were supposed to keep everybody in check.

Rules only have relevance if everybody sticks by them.

In reality, with so many people now granted a voice that can be heard in places that would never previously have been the case, the rules of our Social Contract on Social media are distorting and warping. Lies and truth become the same thing because individuals are unable to distinguish where one starts and the other ends. Is this country an enemy, or a friend? Is this leader asking for peace because they want it, or have circumstances dictated the need to change direction? What set of circumstances have pushed this movement to emerge now, and why did this not happen years previously? So much of life is filled with questions, yet few people take the time or thought to consider the answers.

Most days, people complain about what upsets them the most.

April 14-20th is Mental Awareness Week, and it is really rather important that everybody, regardless of their own personal issues, grasps how society as a whole is contributing to slow, overall disintegration by refusing to think outside our own lives and issues. Criticism should be an essential part of the creative process, and yet so many people now refuse to take the concept on board. Without it, you will never grow and improve, but most importantly of all, you will lose respect from those who, in many cases, simply wish to help and support.

Learning to deal with contention, now more than ever before is vital to developing as a better human being.

Forget Myself

We are into Week Three of my drawing/comic strip adventures, with ACTUAL Progress breaking out. However, apart from the poetry this month, there has been no actual work on fiction work since the middle of December. I’m using a short story to properly debut the ‘serialised Twitter content’ that was pre-written a while ago. I need new material, and have the deadline of the end of the month to edit my NaNoWriMo novel. Should I be worried therefore that the only idea in my head right now is of no use to me whatsoever?

I know full well why brain is pushing for a sequel to my two Bond fanfics. This is the wish fulfilment that keeps me sane and happy, and did for long periods when Real Life did not go as planned. The problem is, of course, that fanfic doesn’t pay bills. It won’t get me noticed as a serious writer. Fortunately for me I think I’ve found the means to bypass the problems and get back on track, and that is what is happening this week. The central conceit that would have been used as plot in the fic is, on reflection, far too good to be wasted on someone else’s characters. I’ll be inventing my own plot therefore to go with the idea, and once that’s done it is time to leave the world of other people’s stories behind and finally produce my own.

The J Word will be serving a useful function in that regard in the months to come, I hope.

I’m hoping, sometime later in the year, to tell a story using the Comic Strip. To do that I need a) the right narrative and b) to be able to provide the elements required. That’s also the plan for Christmas gifts in 2018, to draw Infographics for everybody I know. With that long term objective in mind I cannot afford to let anything slide, especially the storytelling elements of my process. It means that it is time to get my brain out of mothballs and start pushing fiction to the forefront.

As with everything, I’ll keep you updated on progression as we go.