Monthly Archives: February 2010

Pimp my mag!

I am full of love for the wonderful SFX this month, not only because they’ve been throwing work my way (kiss kiss) but also because of THIS. Supernatural gets its second cover issue and a big feature – woohoo! I didn’t write it but I’m pimping it anyway because it’s Supernatural. (And the rest of the issue’s bloody good too, in case you were wondering…)

So go and buy it, okay?

And you might also want to buy it next month, seeing as it’s got my Misha Collins interview inside it… and [engages cryptic mode] possibly the best cover SFX has had in its entire history [disengages cryptic mode].

You still here? Go and buy eeeeeeeeeet…

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Seeing red (or slightly off-red with brown bits)

I feel I need to apologise for the rather self-defeatist tone of my last post, which I didn’t realise sounded quite so negative until I came back to it a day later, having received lots of unexpected, supportive comments. Thank you all so much for saying such lovely things! Shucks, you guys…

That post was a random train of thought composed, rather bizarrely, while I was dyeing my hair bright red (and the keyboard too, as I also discovered this morning in bright daylight!). I was killing half an hour as the dye developed and my fingers just started typing. The results were unintentional on both counts: one slightly miserable blog post and one decidedly off-colour red hairdo, neither of which were as sharp as I’d been intending. What was originally going to be a post about whether blogging is dying out turned into something else, and I still don’t quite know where it came from.

To clarify: the thing about writing is that I love it. I don’t claim to be the best writer in the world and I still think my biggest skill is being able to compose a sentence that is grammatically correct (well, usually). I get intimidated by people who are better than me, naturally, in the same way anybody’s intimidated by people who are better than them, and occasionally it gets me down. But I get up again, often with an unsuccessful new hair colour, because I have no choice: writing is the only thing I can do. (Apart from raise plants. I have green fingers so green even the Hulk looks at them and thinks, “Whoa, green.”)

I’m really, really lucky that I get paid to write about things I love – TV, film, books. Okay, so I don’t get paid too much and some months, such as this one, I earn many new grey hairs waiting to find out if I can pay my rent or not – hence the hair dye.  But I somehow get through it, and people like you, with your wonderful feedback, remind me that there are people out there reading what I write and actually enjoying it. Thank you all! Your feedback was very much appreciated.

As a footnote, have some good news: as you may or may not recall, last May I was in a car crash with my friend Biddy, who smashed up her shoulder rather badly and has been sling-bound ever since. She finally had an operation this week to fix it – thank you, oh ‘speedy’ NHS – and she can finally move her arm again after eight months. Fantastic news! And it also means she’ll be healthy enough to attend this year’s Asylum convention in May, but I’m fairly certain we’ll be getting the train this time. Wouldn’t want to tempt fate and all that…

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On writing

I read an article the other day (exactly where I read it completely escapes me, hence the lack of a handy link directing you toward it so you can read for yourself) which posited that the blog is dead. It’s dead because the new generation of net-users are more content with writing short-burst statements about their lives and opinions on places like Twitter or Facebook. Nobody, it seems, has the patience any more to actually sit down and write.

“What a load of rubbish,” I thought. “People will always love rambling on about themselves. The blog isn’t dead!” And then it occurred to me that I don’t seem to be updating on here half as much as I used to be, but I’m perfectly happy to post opinions/funny comments/general inanities on Twitter and Facebook while avoiding writing anything longer than 30 words.

Oops.

I have an excuse: I write for a living. I write all day long, in fact. If I’m not writing a feature or an advertorial or a film review or a book review or a DVD review or an interview then I’m answering emails, writing up invoices, sub-editing copy or, in the rare times I actually feel like being creative, trying to work on a novel (ha ha ha ha ha ha). Typing is all I do; and so typing up a blog entry, particularly when I’ve been sitting at a desk all day and my wrists are getting sore, isn’t always what I want to do. I’d rather read a book or watch TV or just collapse into bed. Which makes me paranoid, actually. You hear people saying that the thing that makes a ‘writer’ a ‘writer’ is that they can’t stop writing – they write all the time, in much the same way that an artist draws all the time. But if I can’t even summon the energy to write a blog of my personal thoughts… well, clearly I am not a writer.

Although I could just be someone who can’t stand staring at a screen for more than 12 hours a day. I’ll try to keep this in perspective.

What really undermines my confidence about this whole ‘writing’ lark, at which I am very lucky enough to be able to make some kind of a living, is when you read an article or a book or an opinion piece which makes you want to crawl away and never look at a keyboard again because it’s just so damned good. I stopped reading Vanity Fair many years ago because the quality of the writing was so phenomenal (even if every issue did spend much of its time trying to beat the crap out of George Bush, which was a noble endeavour, true, but became very wearying). Today I am taking a second look at my ‘novel’ (ha ha ha ha ha ha) and considering jacking it all in. The reason? I just finished Kate Griffin’s follow-up to A Madness of Angels – the soon to be released The Midnight Mayor – and found it so brain-freezingly brilliant it made me wonder why people like me even want to write when there are people out there doing it so much better.

There’s talent and there’s talent. There are authors who can spin a good yarn, keep you entertained, conjure up a hackneyed and yet perfectly enjoyable plot and leave you wanting more – JK Rowling would probably be a good example. But then there are writers who can write. Kate Griffin (or Catherine Webb, her real name) doesn’t just come up with a decent plot – she comes up with brilliant characters, colourful language and a sense of place that took my breath away when I first discovered it. I think it was when I read her description in The Midnight Mayor of London’s Barbican as ‘a space-time vortex’  (because it IS, oh my god, it IS) that I realised I’m never going to be a writer. As I said, there’s talent and there’s talent.

She’s got it. I don’t even have the willpower to write a blog entry.

I think I know why everybody’s deserting their blogs and spending time on Twitter. It’s because on Twitter, at least, you can pretend you’re a better writer than anybody else. Chances are – as long as you’ve spelt your update correctly – you’re right, too.

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FML.

The SFX Weekender is taking place as I type this. In case you haven’t heard about the event, it’s a huge great honking convention with thousands of attendees, guests and the entire SFX team taking place over two days at a holiday camp in Camber Sands. I couldn’t go due to my finances being in a pathetic state at the moment (Christmas really messes up your payments when you’re a freelancer – once an Accounts department shuts down for the break you can effectively expect no money for six or seven weeks until they clear the backlog of invoices in January… sigh).

The convention appears to be going rather well;  I was following all the Twitter comments earlier before deciding I was fed up of hearing about what I’m missing. To take my mind off it I thought I’d clean out my fish tank, which – if I say so myself – is a particularly awesome fish tank these days. My fish are blissfully happy, it looks great, the plants are thriving and the new shoal of serpae tetras I added yesterday are unfeasibly perky and pretty. Awww.

Unfortunately, in order to filter the gravel in my tank I have to use a special vacuum pump. To get it to work you have to suck the end of a plastic pipe to get the suction going. It’s a tricky maneuver – you really don’t want a mouthful of manky fish-water, so you have to time the suction very delicately and make sure you drop the pipe at the last minute.

And because today has been unbelieveably spectacular, I ended up with a mouthful of manky fish-water not just once but twice.

I can haz new life now pls? This one, quite literally, sucks.

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Yeah, so I found a website…

Link here. I’ve been giggling a lot…

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Angry Jayne is angry

So my bank have accidentally taken two loan payments out of my account in the space of a week, leaving me in a lot of trouble unless I can get one of the payments back as soon as possible.

When I called them to tell them, I got a sniffy girl telling me to ring their Customer Support team, which I did using the number she gave me, only I couldn’t get past their automated menu because every time I pressed a number related to my query, it took me back to her department. Eventually I spoke to her department a second time to check if I had the right number, only to be greeted by an even sniffier girl who informed me gruffly that “everybody was busy and I should try again later.”

Well, NO. Because ‘later’ would mean I’d incur bank charges, as there’s a time limit on how long I have to report a problem.

So I called the not-quite-working number again, sat through the automated menu twice, decided to press a number that had bugger all to do with my query just in case it put me through to someone who was actually helpful, and finally, after 35 minutes of pissing about, I spoke to a woman I could hardly hear who didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. She then put me on hold for 5 minutes, came back on the line and told me to ring back at 3pm because their records haven’t updated yet.

I should have a witty punchline to this story, but I’m afraid my witty punchline consists of me slamming the phone down very hard into the receiver ten times in a row until it shattered into little pieces.

Seriously, imagine if your bank took two loan payments in a week and not one out of the three people you spoke to even apologised for it, let alone offered any help?

My bank is Lloyds, by the way. Who were, until today, not that bad. Now I want to smash them like I smashed my poor, unsuspecting phone.

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