Friday, 13 February 2015


Sometimes, when you’re trying to express yourself the important thing is just to do it, rather than to spend all your time wondering about the best way of doing it. I suppose what I’m saying is that, right at this moment, I think that it is more important for me to actually take part in some kind of creative act than to worry too much about whether it’s any good, or valid, or what I ought to be doing.

There really are few things as scary as a blank page.

Well… maybe a shark…

A shark that eats you just as you’re finally about to write something on a blank page which has been staring at you, all white and full of un-met potential, for hours.

Now that’s scary.

Sometimes I feel as though there’s something bubbling up inside me, trying to find a way out. Not in a gross Alien kind of a way. It’s like there’s an idea, a story that I want to tell, except it’s formless.

No, that’s not quite right. It’s not that it’s formless, because it feels as though the whole thing might leap out, fully formed if only I could catch it. The idea is slippery, or moving so fast round and around in my skull that I can’t get hold of it. I can’t slow it down enough to get it on paper.

Then again, sometimes I have the opposite problem. I grasp the idea and I sit down to write something, but I can’t get it down quickly enough. I have the whole idea, the entire story, right there, all at once, and I can’t write it quickly enough. So my fingers are typing the beginning of the story, while my brain is whizzing along to the end. I lose focus, and then I lose interest because I already know everything that happens and I’m too impatient to get it all down on paper.

That’s bad writing. Or rather, that’s being a bad writer. That’s how you end up with a million ideas and a million stories that you’ve started and barely any completed tales.

It’s partly how I came to love writing short stories, because I can focus on those. By the time my mind has whizzed on to something else, I’ve already written it and then it’s just a case of tweaking and caressing and making it beautiful. Except I have bigger tales to tell, longer stories and I stop myself from writing the short stories because I tell myself I ought to be focussing on bigger projects…

…at which point I refer you to the earlier problem. It’s a vicious circle.

Enough excuses.

If I want to express myself creatively, I just have to do so. I just need to cast aside my own judgement and my own fear and trust that I will find my voice. I just have to start writing and trust that the slippery, whirling storm in my head will allow itself to be eased out on to the scary blank page.

As for the sharks, I think I’m pretty safe from them in Oxford.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

In Case You Were Worried, I'm Not A Vampire

Last week I went to the dentist for the first time in longer than I care to think about. Anyway, the good news was that I didn't need to have all my teeth taken out and replaced by something better, in fact the dentist said I have "good, strong teeth". However, there was something a little weird...

I don't have my bottom two wisdom teeth and I don't have my top set of canines. They're not impacted, they're not waiting to come through, they're just not there.

Now, the lack of wisdom teeth just made me chuckle a bit, but the first thought that popped in to my head when I heard about the missing canines was that it proved, once and for all, that I am not a vampire.


Had that been bothering me on some level that I hadn't acknowledged in my conscious mind?

Here are some other things that indicate that I am not a vampire:

  1. I am not immortal.
  2. I cannot transform myself into mist, a big black dog, a bat, or anything else.
  3. I do not need to drink blood to survive.
  4. I can go out in daylight.
  5. I can walk into people's houses without them inviting me and it doesn't cause me to lose all my powers or bleed from the eyes.
Add those to the tooth thing and that's pretty conclusive.

Then there was my follow up thoughts: What would happen if I got bitten by a vampire, or, as we're speculating, a werewolf? Would I spontaneously grow canines while in my monster state, or would I just have to gnaw on people? Are my lack of canines a sign that I am the next stage of human evolution, now that we don't need to rip out the throats of our prey and can just chow down on some tasty carrots and the like?

We may never know.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Happy New Year, Happy Blogging!

Okay, first things first, how did I do on last year's Rambunctious Resolutions?

  1. Well, up until November I was pretty good at posting regularly. Then Nano took over my life, and then I was ill for most of December (nothing deadly, just annoying) and now here we are! So this is definitely a resolution that rolls over into 2015.
  2. Wow, I vowed to make this all killer and no filler. Big words there, Momento. I guess that's up to you to judge, Beautiful Readers, and might I say how fabulous you're all looking at the moment! Again, let's keep that one going.
  3. Sean Pertwee!!!! I certainly intend to keep up my resolution to watch everything he's ever been in, that's a life aim. I'll do a proper catch up soon (I know how much you all love those posts).
  4. Hmmm, I did resolve to be more creative and then didn't really make a lot of stuff. Tut-tut, Momento. I have been working on my novel quite a lot (watch this space) but again, this seems to be something I can keep working on (I see a pattern forming).
  5. I will continue to blog fearlessly!!! I will do my best to make this the best damn blog it can possibly be and live everyday as if it's Christmas... wait a minute, went a bit Dickensian there, but the point still stands. I'm even going to try and increase my readership so there are more Beautiful People out in the world experiencing some Momento Maureen Magic!
I realise that what I've basically just done is say that I'm going to have the exact same resolutions as last year, but they were such good resolutions that I'm okay with that, and on reflection they were all ongoing things rather than discreet tasks, so it's all good.

So, it's 2015, a sci-fi date if ever I heard one. I have a feeling that it's going to be a pretty awesome year, so let's skip forward, hand-in-hand, ready to face zombies, robots, drizzle and anything else we may encounter, together!

Monday, 3 November 2014

NaNoWriMo, Here I Come!

What more fitting subject for my first blog of November than to spin some sweet words about the joys of NaNoWriMo? Yes, this is National Novel Writing Month, although surely that should now be International Novel Writing Month. I guess InNoWriMo just isn’t quite as catchy.
So, in case you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo encourages people to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of thirty days. That’s about 1660 words a day, which does take a bit of discipline and determination, but is so worth it. And even if you don’t manage to write the allotted words in the time, at least you’ll have had a go, dedicated a chunk of your time to the creative process and probably have written way more than you would have otherwise.
I heartily recommend giving it a go, and before you say “But Momento Maureen, “‘tis already the third day of the month and I have yet to put quill to paper” (I’m imagining you’re feeling a bit Shakespearean today), my answer is “Hush up your mouth!” The first time I did NaNo I started on November 10th and finished my novel in just NINETEEN DAYS! Yes, that is impressive enough to write in capitals.
So, jump in, give it a go. You have nothing to lose but your spare time and maybe some marbles. Now I really ought to stop prevaricating and start writing.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Crack of Doom

There is a crack in my bedroom ceiling.

It's quite long, thankfully not too wide, and if you look at it from the right angle (lying on the floor) it looks a bit like the top line of the bat-signal. It also looks quite similar to the crack in Amy Ponds room in Doctor Who, although so far the only thing that has come through has been water and no dangerous aliens... that I know of.

My bedroom is directly below the bathroom, and when I returned from my shower this morning it had started dripping right on to the bag with all my library books in. Thankfully, that bag is nicely waterproof, otherwise I'd have some explaining to do to the lovely people of Ealing Central Library.

I grabbed the nearest thing to hand to catch the water, which happened to be a random safety helmet I found recently and made my own, then my Dad came along with a much more useful bucket, especially as there were now four drips and the helmet really wasn't up to the job.

Eventually the water dried up, the plumber came and we've been told that we can't have any more showers until they've fixed the horrible, mouldy bits of wood that have been barely holding the tiles and fittings on to the wall for some time now. I don't mind taking baths, but I find it hard not to luxuriate in the tub once I'm in it, which is not very practical when you're in a rush in the morning.

So, for now I am stuck with a fairly ominous crack in my ceiling and a feeling that maybe our house knows that it's going to be demolished in just over a year as part of the regeneration of the estate. Let's just hope it stays standing until we move out.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Shape of Things to Come

The London Film Festival may well be over, but the BFI still have me in their grip with their new season of science fiction, Days of Fear and Wonder. There are various screenings of film and television shows as well as a few talks, so many of which look really interesting I could easily have bankrupted myself paying for all the things I wanted to see. That seemed like a bad idea, so I've been a bit more selective.

Last night I went to see Things to Come.

 Made in 1936 the script was adapted by HG Wells from his own book, The Shape of Things to Come (although at one point the film was going to be called Whither Man? which would have been amazing!). It condenses the book and cuts out much of the anti-capitalist message from it. It follows the fortunes of the citizens of Everytown, from a terrible war in 1940 (with a worryingly prescient aerial bombardment scene), through plague, to a utopian future based on principles of science, progress and equality.

I love Wells' novels, but it's clear from this that the man was not a gifted screen-writer. The dialogue is very clunky and, at times, more amusing than I think it was meant to be ("However did they cope with walking up all those stairs!"). However, Ned Mann's special effects are amazing, especially when you consider quite how old this film is. They make the war scenes at the beginning really quite distressing.

Things to Come also boasts two pretty impressive firsts. It was the first feature length science-fiction movie with sound and the first film to have an accompanying sound-track album. The music, specially composed for the film by Arthur Bliss, is wonderful, often better than the script at conveying atmosphere and tone.

I was slightly worried as the film began that it was going to be a bit slow, and more concerned about getting across a worthy message than entertaining the crowd. However, it was really fun. The end is so over-the-top and deranged that I couldn't help but love it, especially the final speech delivered by a wide-eyed Raymond Massey wearing a truly ridiculous costume. If that's really fashionable in 2036, we're all in trouble.

If you like classic sci-fi and an old-fashioned spectacle, you really need to check this film out.

Monday, 20 October 2014

London Film Festival: Part Three

If I could sum up the films I have been to see at the London Film Festival in a catchy phrase or saying, it would be "Variety is the spice of life". This certainly holds true for the last two films.

First Cub, my first ever Flemish horror movie. In the Q&A the director, Jonas Govaerts said that he had been inspired by the video nasties, banned in Britain in the 1980's, but he wanted to make the kind of terrifying visual experience he had expected rather than the over-hyped tosh they so often turned out to be. Cub is the story of a Scout troop who find themselves camping in the wrong part of the forest. There's humour, gore, and some surprisingly moving moments. It's a well-crafted tale and I bloody loved it. It also had the best poster of the festival.

I rounded off my LFF experience by seeing a collection of experimental short films gathered together under the title of Pareidolia: Following the Leads. This was, in fact, the very last viewing in the festival, and having had a tiring few days, I wasn't necessarily in the mood for the kind of high-art-weirdness you often get from this kind of film. Thankfully, they were all really good. Mutatis Mutandis, by Kathryn Elkin, was a brilliant combination of story telling, sound and image. How to Make Money Religiously, by Laure Provost, was an excellent play on internet scams and cult religious movements. Rib Gets in the Way (Final Thoughts Series Three), by Steve Reinke, included a whole section of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, adapted as a children's cartoon. They all had the right blend of humour and insight and definitely provoked conversation on the way home as well as keeping me awake in the cinema, which was no mean feat. 

Oh, and I only just looked it up, but "pareidolia" refers to a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant, which totally makes sense if you've seen the films.

Overall, a really enjoyable festival. I'll try and get to even more films next year.