29 Apr 2014

The Three Days’ Word has Restarted

Good day, members of the blogosphere!

I can announce that the Three Days’ Word has begun again. This time, we have a word called ‘ubiquitous’, courtesy of Karen from Joie de Mid Vivre. I don’t think it the most interesting word ever conceived by the English language—or indeed foreigners, from which we stole—but that’s a different matter altogether. I’m sure you’ll like it.

(If you have some better examples than me, please comment them. Although, I doubt it.)

Ubiquitous adj

Pronunciation: /ju:bɪkwɪtəs/

Etymology: From LATIN, ‘ubique’ (meaning everywhere).

Definition: Being everywhere at once; octopus-like characteristics.


‘Ubiquitous was he; a madman, seemingly capable of teleportation.’

‘You are most ubiquitous—are you quite certain you can’t fly?’

‘No one is ubiquitous. Prioritise.’

Good day. I have poems to write...

27 Apr 2014

The Poem of the Week... Will Be Delayed

Okay you lot, before you start crying, know this: the only reason the Poem of the Week will be delayed is because I will be submitting five poems (yes, five) to a Literary Magazine called the Threepenny Review. Therefore, I will not have time to create a poem for this week; and neither can I publish the ones I have done, because the magazine only publishes previously unpublished poetry.

So there you go. But—there will be a Poem next week; I’m a very dilligent poet, you see.

(Suddenly rummages in his computer’s hard drive.)

Oh wait! It seems there is a wee little poem lying in my computer; it’s an earlier one, but it might interest you...

That Damned Philosopher

There once was a philosopher, and he lived on a mountain.
The mountain was the incarnation of philosophy:
Jutting out miles from the Earth
Content in its superiority,
Even if its roots still came
From the Earth that made it.
The Philosopher,
Was its compatriot.
The philosopher was neither large, nor small;
The philosopher was neither young, nor old;
The philospher was both green-eyed, and blue eyed;
The philosopher had hair, that was both grey,
And white,
And blond,
And sometimes he had no hair at all.
Only his mind was remarkable.
It was the system of logic,
The conglometure of ideas,
The resting place of genius.
It did not fear the politicians,
With their empty promises and dubious threats;
It did not fear the soldier,
With his deadly weapons and binding hands.
It feared only the ignorant.
Ah yes. The ignorant.
They lived underneath the mountain,
The subjects of his studies—the enemies of his kind.
They lived, below him.
And yet, he studied them: out of curiosity?
Out of fear?
Or out of that innate human desire,
To know one’s ancestors.
One day, the ignorant held conference.
The topic was small, the topic was trivial.
The new technology. The Oil.
Somehow, it became a debate.
The farmers screamed—‘We shall lose our income!’
Others, the philistines, they said: ‘People will lose their jobs!’
The majority—the guardians of ignorance, and stupidity—
‘We shall be rich.’
The philosopher, he was not impressed.
First, he studied: studied the effect on the nearby ocean;
Studied the effect on the forests, the plants, the animals;
Studied income distribution graphs, and expenditure of capital;
He studied everything.
He was still not impressed.
But his argument was simple:
‘This will not last.’
The ignorant, they ignored him, as they always did.
Oil wells sprang up, like mutated mushrooms;
Then sea-ships, with their radars;
Then frackers, with their explosives.
Some of the ignorant, they gained huge houses,
Huge yachts, huge interests. They said,
‘Tax is bad! No more tax!’
The tax want away.
The philospher, he became irritated.
Life had become more difficult.
He insisted, ‘This will not last’—
‘You’re just jealous!’ the ignorant said.
But he quietly saved his money,
Boarded up the windows,
And of course,
He waited.
The oil, away it went. They fracked and they fracked,
But none was left.
They protested and they protested, but the rich held firm.
Riots broke out. The rich died;
The ignorant became poor;
Poorer than they ever were,
As the banks ran out of money,
And the philospher waited quietly.
They came for him.
‘You knew this would happen!’
‘Why did you not help?’
‘But I did. You did not listen.’
The ignorant cried, ‘Liar!’,
And they burned his house down.
Then the world heaved its mighty breath,
And we were once again savages.

23 Apr 2014

On Turgid Prose and Carrot Juice Fiction

Some Terms to Know

This is going to be quite a long post—should I say sorry for that?—and I am going to be using some terms which you may well not be familiar with. This little section will give you a heads up; and maybe a laugh, too. (One can only hope.)

Carrot Juice Fiction: This is a term I’m going to be using to refer to pieces of literature that are extremely boring, have pretentious and tiresome characters, and a plot that is... lacking, to put it politely.

They also tend to use excessively large words, excessively long sentences (with excessive punctuation), and have a propensity to use various metaphorical and poetic devices that add very little to the actual story.

The term goes about because of carrot juice and what it actually is: an unsavoury drink consumed solely because it is meant to contain magical vitamins that you don’t get anywhere else. (Unless of course, you actually like the stuff, but that’s a different matter altogether.)

Anyway, like carrot juice, people read this type of literature in order to ‘gain’ something from it—insight, creative writing technique, whatever—and likewise, they can find the same stuff in books that are far more interesting (in orange juice, to continue the anecdote).

Logorrhea: An unusual little noun that refers to an excessive flow of words.

Turgid: Why do I need to tell you this? You do have a dictionary, right?

On to the Good Stuff

(And no, I’m not talking about porn.)

First off, let me introduce you to what I call the carrot juice novels: the Great Gatsby (perhaps the most famous one in this category), Chimanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (a more modern one), as well as Wuthering Heights et al.

What these books have in common is that they are known as ‘Classics’ or ‘Literary Fiction’. You will find that most proponents of such fiction cannot even really define what the hell ‘literary fiction’ actually means.

I propose that such novels are Carrot Juice Fiction. They are extremely tedious to slog through, with their ridiculously long-winded, turgid and sometimes even meaningless prose. Here’s an example:

Most of the confidences were unsought—frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon—for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.

I guarantee you’ll have to read that passage at least twice in order to understand what the author is actually going on about.

And you shouldn’t have to do that.

I won’t bore you with a tedious analysis of what the quote is saying (which it shouldn’t do anyway, since a novel should present its message within the story and not so directly). I won’t even bore you with how it can be shortened; and make no mistake, it can.

What I will tell you is that if a book—any book, no matter how good—forces you to re-read sentences, then there’s a problem.

The whole point of Creative Writing (and indeed all writing) is to communicate the author’s intent. Writing just to string words together is an exercise in pretentiousness. In this world, if a reader doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say, you’ll lose them.

You can argue that such readers aren’t supposed to read literature. To this, I say: sod off. Literature is not an exclusive club reserved solely for the upper echelons of society; in fact, that is the very antithesis of literature—art in all its forms is meant to be accessible; it is meant to change the outlook of many, not a select few.

Logorrhea just gets in the way of things. One can say ‘it is the nature of mankind to follow persuasive leaders, the way sheep follow the shepherd; but in the necessary process of deciding leadership and accepting law and order—something which must be present in all successful societies—things are lost: the minorities, the victims of political gambles, all must suffer the oppression of their voices; that is the weakness of democracy.’

The above sentence is disturbingly long. And while the content is certainly of intellectual merit—arguably, anyway—the way in which it is presented is not.

Say I were to write: ‘People follow persuasive leaders. They do so in the same way sheep follow the shepherd. The necessity of this is apparent: a productive society cannot exist without leadership and order. But in this process, something is lost—the voices of the minorities, the cries of political victims, of the oppressed. It is the great weakness of democracy.’

Now, this paragraph—notice it is no longer a single sentence—sounds almost is important and eloquent as the above. But which would you rather read?

And even if you answer otherwise, you must still consider the majority (ironically). Jane down the street—you know, the one who works in that supermarket—is, sadly, unlikely to read either; but, I know which version I would want to have to market.

The same applies to fiction. The issues raised by the Great Gatsby would come into far more scrutiny if the book had been written and marketed with a serious storyline and understable writing. Pretentiousness won’t just get you criticised by the likes of me; it will harm your career as an author, and it will undermine your efforts.

But Surely the Message is Still Important?

Yes and no. The age-old oxymoron. Yes, in the sense that (with a bit of effort) you can gain something valuable; no, in the sense that I’m going to elaborate on next.

Now, Northern Lights has to be my all time favourite novel—although the Amber Spyglass (the last book in the series) might just beat it out.

Northern Lights is also a book that is deeply inspirational to me; it instilled a love of physics in me (you’ll know why if you’ve read it), it gave me a love of literature, it gave me a real perspective on my view of religion; and it was a cracking read.

I can tell you that Pullman’s Northern Lights—or the works of other comparable authors—have made a much bigger impact on our lives than any classic you care to name. This is for no other reason than the fact that it is widely read; and because the people who do read it (unlike those forced to study it in English) will actually, really, comprehend it.

If Lights had been written in the same manner that the Gatsby and its ilk were, then it is likely I would never have read it—and couldn’t have understood as much as I did even if I had.

Now One More Point

Another thing I would like to mention is the fact that, by upholding a work of pretentious literary fiction, you are not only annoying the heck out of a lot of people; you are also giving authors a message—that convoluted writing and expositionism is okay—and, most importantly: you are distracting readers away from better books.

That is the crux of it all, at the end of the day. It is not about complaining that the prose is difficult and obtuse; it is not about whining that the characters are impossible to emphasise with; or that the plot is aimless and confusing.

The problem is that, in a world of books, lavishing praise on the not-so-good detracts from the ones that are really-good.

To Conclude

You’ve read a book. You don’t really understand it all—some bits especially. You think it’s good though. You have read what the critics say; surely, if they say it’s this and that, they must be right? Maybe you’re not clever enough to ‘get’ it? Now you’re going to give it 5 stars?

Well, don’t. Not to sound contumacious, but just because the guy with his degree from Oxford and the Cambridge girl who mastered in some obscure subject say it’s good; that doesn’t prove anything.

Education about literature these days is focused on symbol-hunting and metaphor-making (if it ever was any different). Use your head. If you can’t bloody read the thing, it probably doesn’t merit five stars.

Hope I’ve gotten the point across. Care to leave a comment?

Another Update on The Sandman

I am pleased to announce that the Sandman is now available on Kobo, for FREE. Check it out.

Additionally, I have made it available on B&N for GBP 0.80, the lowest price I could get it to.

The Sandman is also available for free on Google Play and directly on my blog: see the BOOKS page.

It is currently priced at USD 0.99 (GBP 0.77 VAT inc.) on Amazon; I am trying to make it free, so if you’re reading this, do me and everyone else a favour—report it to Amazon with their ‘Tell us about a lower price’ link in the Product Details. (Note: link to the Kobo page, because Amazon doesn’t really care about the minor player that is Google Play.)

Anyway, I’ll be busy with revision these next few weeks, in addition to getting reviews for the Sandman and maybe even organising a Book Tour.

I might write some more posts (aside from the Poem of the Week) but don’t count on it.

Okay, that’s everything.

20 Apr 2014

Poem of the Week: Heaven

After much ado, I have written the Poem of the Week: Heaven. The name is used in irony; it is in fact a critique of religion, and its pernicious paragons. It aims to highlight the double standards and discrepancies of Abrahamic religions.

The poem is written in a fixed pentameter; it is quite classical in that sense. You can observe that the structure remains unbroken throughout; this is important. The poem’s structure is highlighting the rigidity and inflexibility of the topic, and of the past; and as I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a limiting factor.

Okay, enough with the lecture. Let it speak for itself.

View and Download

Now Available on Amazon

My short story, The Sandman, is now available for purchase at USD 0.99 on Amazon. I would make it free, but Amazon doesn't let me do that; if anyone has some solutions for this, please contact me.

I shall try and make the Poem of the Week available soon: sorry for that. I am a little busy trying to get some reviews for the Sandman right now.

19 Apr 2014

An Update

Hello all:

A little update for you. I will post the Poem of the Week at some time later in the day; it will be called ‘Heaven’. Stay put.

The Three Days’ Word will be put on hold until next week. I have to revise for my exams right now—something which I’ve done precious little of—and I’ve got to sort out some stuff with the bank.

The Sandman will hopefully come out on Amazon and B&N next week. Sorry for the delay: again, personal circumstance.

Until then, please check it out (on the BOOKS page) and give it a review.

17 Apr 2014

Cover Reveal for The Sandman

Good day would-be readers.

I can now reveal the cover for my upcoming short story, entitled the Sandman. Below is the cover, and blurb; the short story will be free, so expect to see it become available on my blog (in the to-be-created ‘Books’ page) as well as on Amazon and Google Play.

Do you dare... to doubt?

This is a story about a girl, and her meeting with the Sandman. This is a story about change, and about disbelief; this story will make you ask, ‘Why?’

Prepare to be questioned. Prepare to think. Prepare to do the forbidden.

Most of all, prepare to meet the Sandman...

12 Apr 2014

Poem of the Week: The Little Boy

Hello readers.

I have another poem for you. It’s called ‘The Little Boy’; and it’s neither happy nor for children.

Read on Google Drive

I can also tell you that the Three Day’s Word will be put on hold for the following two weeks. The reason is simple: my exams are in a month, and this holiday is my only opportunity to do lots of revision. Wish me luck.

PS: A short story of mine—The Sandman—will soon be published. I am now just working with the designer to perfect the cover. A ‘Books’ page will be created soon.

6 Apr 2014

A Random Poem

Sometimes, I post random poems on this blog.

This particular poem—which I have concocted with my usual pessimism—is about the life of so many humans; and why it is futile.

Enjoy. Or not.

Read on Google Drive

Three Days' Word: Iniquity

Iniquity noun

Pronunciation: /ɪnɪkwəti:/

Etymology: From OLD FRENCH ‘iniquite’; originally from LATIN ‘iniquitas’.

Definition: A form of grossly unfair immorality.

Example Sentences:

‘Dictators often show great iniquity.’

‘Iniquity is a feature of bad teachers; it is because they hate their job, and wish to bequeath that to their pupils.’

‘Your accrasial iniquity can only harm your political image.’

3 Apr 2014

Poem of the Week: Lost Love (Or Love Lost)

I was inspired by Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil (by John Keats) when I wrote the poem. In fact, Isabella is the main reason I started meddling with poetry; and how I discovered that, actually, I’m pretty good at it (even if I do say so myself).

The poem is therefore my very first serious attempt at the art. I apologise if it is not quite as polished as some of my others—but I still think you’ll enjoy it, anyway.

The poem is written in a semi-archaic fashion, with contractions (e.g. seem’d) that are no longer in use. This is, of course, down to the source of inspiration. However: the poem’s theme is quite modern—it is about how one can feel great affection for a member of the opposite sex, even when they do not normally interest oneself.

Oh, and I’ll be linking all the poems on this blog to my Google Drive from now on. This is because of formatting issues mainly, but also because I want to keep the bloat down.

View and Download on Google Drive

2 Apr 2014

Three Days' Word: Maledict

Maledict noun, verb

Pronunciation: /mælədɪkt/

Etymology: From LATIN ‘maledictus’ meaning ‘cursed’; past participle of ‘malidicere’ meaning ‘to curse’.

Definition: Verb: the act of cursing someone. Noun: the state of being cursed.

Example sentences:

‘The necromancer made maledict to all his enemies.’

‘You are in maledict, for no other reason can explain these terrible boils.’

‘A maledict of vengeance and fury.’