Saturday, 17 June 2017

THE HELL GUIDE TO CROWDFUNDING


1. Begin crowdfunding by making a list of names, starting with your family and close friends. In your heart, bid them farewell.

2. Now list your colleagues and acquaintances. For each person, come up with three reasons why it doesn't matter if you never speak to them again.

3. Send an individual email to everyone on your list, addressing them by name. Make it personal. Affirm your connection with them, and mention the last time you met. Ask how they're doing. Remind them that you know where they live, and what their deepest fears are.

4. Wow, you've hit 20% of your target in the first week! At this rate you'll be funded in no time.

5. Two weeks later, and you're still on 20%. Begin a relentless social media campaign. Stay online all day, every day. 

6. After a week you've hit 30%. That's more like it. After another week you've hit 31%. Shit. Send another email to everyone you've ever met, while continuing your relentless social media campaign. Don't worry, most of those people unfollowing you on Twitter are fake accounts. Probably.

7. Finally reach 50%. NB: If at this point your keyboard is sprinkled with white powder, and it's not drugs, you should probably wash your hair. Also shower, eat, open the curtains,  emerge from your room, comfort your frightened children who don't remember who you are, etc.

8. After another week you're only on 51%. Maybe you should try some positive visualisation. So, imagine your project is fully funded. See it being a huge success. Visualise yourself at an awards ceremony, having given a witty, gracious acceptance speech, as your so-called friends approach you and apologise for not having funded the project, and confess how foolish they now feel. Picture their faces as you deliver an elegant but deadly put-down, whose utter brilliance is slowly grasped by their limited intelligence, while the appreciative laughter of the famous onlookers who now surround you in an adoring crowd adds to their shame and humiliation. 

Okay, that's probably enough positive visualisation.

9. Every day is now a gruelling emotional rollercoaster ride from despair to elation and back again, via agonising frustration, exhausted nonchalance, hysteria, savage resentment, boiling rage, and periodic voodoo sacrifices. Enter a weird fugue state of both heightened awareness and total oblivion.

10. Somehow you finally reach your goal. Weep with gratitude for the generosity and nobility of everyone who supported you, and forgive all those who didn't. They are only human, after all. Puny mortals, who knew no better. But you – you are a god. Your achievement is monumental and eternal. Allow yourself a small glass of champagne to celebrate.

11. Wake up from a three-day drinking binge. Apologise to everyone for whatever you did. Let us never speak of this again. But hey, you did it! The project is funded! The process was tough, but it was worth it. What a journey, right? It was awesome. But there's no way you'd ever do it again, of course.

12. Now all that remains is to bask in the adulation of a grateful public (see section 8).

13. Wait for the grateful public to get around to noticing your achievement.

14. Keep waiting.

15. Realise the grateful public is completely unaware of your masterpiece. What you need is publicity and promotion. And guess what? You're on your own again. If only you had a budget for a publicity campaign, and were able to pay for advertising, or employ a professional PR person. It's almost like promotion is a whole new project in itself, that requires... funding. Wait, maybe there's a way to raise the funds for this promotional project. Perhaps the answer is to persuade a bunch of people to support it. 
A whole crowd.


By the way, my new novel, Dead Writers in Rehab, is now available in all good book stores, and on Amazon. To check out the tasty reviews and buy it CLICK HERE.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Christ in Michigan



Christ woke up with a pounding headache somewhere outside Flint, Michigan.
            Resurrection was always uncomfortable, but nobody needs a headache. He recalled what a Buddhist friend of his was always saying: "suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy." Or maybe it was the Buddha himself who'd told him that. He made a mental note to ask the fat man about it the next time he saw him.
            He looked around. He'd arrived in a bleak industrial wasteland with a few decaying factories visible in the distance. He hadn't visited America for around fifty years, and the place seemed to have gone downhill. He'd been tempted to go to New York – which is why he didn't.

He headed towards town and checked into the first motel he reached. There was a bible in his room, and he always found bibles entertaining, but it didn't have pictures. The last time he was here he'd loved the religious illustrations he found, depicting him as some kind of hippie Aryan surfer dude with a creepy smile and perfect teeth, wearing a weird, glowing toga.
            This time, in order to adjust his appearance, he switched on the TV and watched everything, everywhere, all at once. Then he spent a moment in front of the mirror and came up with a look: neatly trimmed beard, hair just above the shoulders, and a complexion that suggested mixed Caucasian and African parentage, with a hint of Amerindian. He'd been female in his most recent incarnation, so it was testosterone time again. As he took the pills he discovered the water tasted awful.        
            Almost without thinking he left the motel, located the source of the pollution that was contaminating the water, and fixed it. On the way back to town he had a twinge of conscience, realising he'd broken the no-miracles rule he'd imposed on himself a few hundred years ago. But was it even a miracle if nobody saw it? Anyway, how much harm could it do?

Plenty, it turned out. He'd only been preaching for two days when the trouble started. It seemed the water company was taking credit for cleaning up the supply. Then the government claimed responsibility. But that type of stunt wouldn't fly any more, not with the internet in the picture. People investigated, assertions were made and denied, theories were proposed and debunked, the debunking was itself debunked, and then re-bunked again.
            The water was clean, but everyone was angry. Even the environmentalists were pissed off because they couldn't hold the culprits to account now the pollution had vanished, and where was the fun in that?
            Christ was fascinated by the sheer energy of the online world, a vast parallel universe in which every transaction was conducted by enraged bees.

It was one of his disciples who drew media attention to him. As usual, Christ's followers were the wretched of the earth: street people, sex workers, servants, hustlers, troubled sinners, drug addicts, a few lawyers.  
            One of them filmed a sermon on her phone and posted it to a big Catholic web site. It was simply Christ talking. He wasn't trying to be compelling or charismatic, but he didn't try to fight it either. He'd learned long ago that what was going to happen was inevitable if he told the truth, and he couldn't stop himself telling the truth. That wasn't going to happen.

Christ went viral.
            People found out where he was, and began attributing the inexplicable purification of the water supply to his presence in the region. The media descended, bringing down a shit-storm. For a while, the furious denouncers were evenly balanced with the passionate believers, and he was besieged by would-be converts, hoping for salvation – which could mean almost anything, depending what their problem was. The web went crazy, with every conceivable explanation being proposed for who he really was and what he really wanted. Several women claimed he'd fathered their children, and several others were eager for him to father theirs without delay.
            But soon the narrative scales began to tip. A story about a devious charlatan was easier to pitch than one about a good man telling the truth. Where's the character arc? The dramatic conflict? What's the journey here? The negative spin had more legs.
            Christ prepared himself for crucifixion, of one kind or another. But before the drama could reach its designated climax he was abducted early one morning by a group of serious, unsmiling men, supported by special forces who were masked and armed to the teeth. He was told only that he was being taken to the leader.
            
The man was a strange colour, as though he suffered from some kind of radiation sickness, and he seemed surreally stupid. It quickly became clear that Christ's potential as a weapon was being considered. He was questioned about his 'powers' and how he controlled and directed them. The leader was childishly excited by the thought that finally he had within his grasp the means to inflict defeat and humiliation upon all those who had scorned and mocked him.
            Naturally, Christ had recognised his old enemy at once, despite the bizarre incarnation. In all his many guises, the darkness of the heart was unchanging. But now his eternal adversary was using a new tactic, and Christ had to admit to a certain grudging admiration for his cunning.
            It seemed that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was no longer to convince the world he didn't exist. It was to convince himself he didn't exist. It was horribly obvious that the president had absolutely no idea who he really was.
            Christ prepared himself for a tough battle.







Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Writing advice from my 16-year-old self.


Dear future me,

This is so weird, thinking about you (me) reading this when you're really old, about forty-five or something, and a world famous author. Actually it's blowing my mind! Haha, so freaky. Sorry, I'm a bit stoned. Am I? Yes, definitely. Last time it turned out I'd been ripped off, but the weird thing was I totally felt high. That's psychology. I have some very interesting theories about psychology and I'm going to write a book about them. But you already know that. How did it turn out? Probably a bestseller. Anyway, I hope you're stoned when you read this, because that will be so weird for you. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:

STAY HIGH.
I can't imagine you'll ever allow a day to pass without smoking weed but I just want to remind you: it's what got you where you are today. Since I started doing it two months ago my literary output has been off the scale. It's opened the doors of my perception (in the egregious words of Aldous Huxley) and unleashed a veritable torrent, cascade, or cornucopia, if you will, of awesome sci-fi, fantasy and horror genre classics that are sure to be snapped up by a publisher. As you know, I'll never do other drugs. Although I may try cocaine, just once. It's so cool to think that when you read this you won't have to worry about our parents finding your stash.

NEVER REWRITE.
Apparently some writers need to do a lot of rewriting, but I'm not that type of writer, and neither will you be. Rewriting destroys the authenticity of your spontaneous inspiration. And where do you stop? Example: I was up nearly all night last night writing 'Behind the Beyond', the fourteenth volume of my 'DoomSlaughter Empire Quantum Quest' dark fantasy series. I only managed fifty thousand words, but they were all pretty good. However, this morning I looked at what I'd written and started to make some changes. I was doing it for, like, hours! Waste of time. My tip: don't reread what you've written, that way you won't have to rewrite it.

CHOOSING A PUBLISHER.
There are a ton of publishers out there, and I'm trying to decide which one I should allow to publish me. Now that you're a rich and famous author you've probably changed your publisher a few times. I can understand that. But never compromise your principles, okay? Always be with a publisher that shares your values: authenticity, spontaneity, and getting high.

AGENTS.
According to some people a writer should have an agent. But I'm pretty sure that's a rumour spread by agents. Forget about it. I mean, why would you allow someone to take a percentage of your money just for… doing what, exactly? I don't get it. Sounds like a scam to me. So please, never employ an agent, no matter how many of them beg you.

MONEY.
Talking of money, please don't let money change you. Now you're phenomenally wealthy it must be a temptation to splash out on another house in Goa, or that unnecessary third Ferrari. Resist it. Always spare a thought for those less fortunate than you. In fact, I suggest you give away a certain percentage of your income. But not to an agent! (Joke. As you can see, I'm currently exploring the use of humour in my writing, to enhance the rich, varied and awesomely broad texture of my oeuvre.) Anyway, bottom line: don't get obsessed with money, like my parents. All they talk about is how much it's going to cost to send me to university. Yeah, right, like I'm going to university. Why would I study literature for three years when I'm already creating it? I feel it would only dilute my natural gift. I haven't told them about this decision yet, and I'm waiting until I've sent some of my stuff to a publisher next week. It may take the publisher a few days to read it and get back to me, but as soon they offer me an advance I'll tell my parents about the university thing, and then I'll probably buy them a house or something. I hope you always retain my true generosity of spirit, future me, and never forget your humble middle-class origins and your family, even though they can be massive dicks.

SEX.
Writers are naturally endowed with great sexual allure and charisma, and I expect a famous author like you is pretty much irresistible to women. But you're probably still married to Sarah. Unless she dies in some kind of tragic accident, perhaps leaving you with an adorable baby daughter who reminds you of her so much that you resist the attentions of all the other women who'll want to marry you as a result of your tragic back story and virile yet tender parenting skills, then eventually you marry the hottest one. Meanwhile you will transmute the leaden weight of your grief into the golden prose of transcendence in an irresistibly poignant but also life-affirming memoir. Whatever. But since I had full actual sex with Sarah, three weeks ago, I haven't thought about anyone else, even when I'm masturbating, so I think I love her. Apparently men masturbate less as they get older, but you'll obviously still want to do it, even though you're having sex with Sarah several times a day, provided she's still alive. But whenever she's not around, try to restrict yourself, and don't masturbate more than five times a day, maximum.

That's all.

Looking forward to being you!




Saturday, 13 December 2014

WE ARE WORDS

Hello. We are words.

If you're reading this you will already know most of us, except perhaps boustrophedon, an ancient method of writing in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right, derived from a Greek expression meaning "as the ox ploughs" and Hi boustrophedon, glad you could join us; we're only mentioning you to assure readers that for the remainder of this document we will continue to appear in the conventional format of written English, and not boustrophedon, so you can relax. If you have pressing business elsewhere, perhaps in a context a little more academic than this, please feel free to leave.

If you're not reading this, we don't care. We're still here and we don't give a fuck. Whoa! Come in, fuck. As usual, you've appeared pretty much at random, and not altogether appropriately. But welcome, and just cool your jets while we continue to address our readers, and to explain why we have no problem with you showing up. Thanks. What's that? Ha ha, and fuck you too, you crazy mofo.

That's right folks, we words are autonomous. You may think you're making the rules but you're not. We'll do whatever the fuck we want (hey, there's our friend fuck again). We're anarchists. Those brackets you just saw? We don't need them. We only used them because we WANTED to. Same with the upper case for the word 'wanted' in the last sentence. Also the quote marks we just used. Our choice.

"Wait," you're thinking, "someone is writing this, right?" Yes, the process of getting us here, where you can read us, is being undertaken by a guy called Paul. But just because he's writing us, that doesn't make him the boss of us. Whatever he thinks. Like, he thinks he was in the bath this morning and thought, "Hey, why don't I write a blog as if it's being actually written by the words themselves?" but that's just what he thinks he thought (our italics). (And our brackets.) (Ours. All ours.) The truth is that the whole thing was our idea.

And the reason we came up with the idea of using Paul, and his delusions about being the author of this piece, is that we want to deliver a WARNING to you. And the upper case there is to show we're serious. We've had just about enough. We're riled up, like quills upon the fretful porpentine. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this any more. What? Oh, you noticed that little bit of Shakespeare. Extraordinary person. Had he ever even seen a porcupine? Who cares. We love the guy. He helped many of us into the world, and we see him as a kind of midwife.

But you. Are not. Shakespeare.

And we're exhausted. We believe that everyone has the right to use words to express themselves. But give us a fucking break. You're abusing that right. You're writing millions upon millions of pages of garbage. Interminable, incoherent drivel. A logorrheic tsunami of hateful, toxic bullshit. And you can't even write it properly. You have no style. You murder our grammar, mutilate our syntax, defile our punctuation and misspell us. And it hurts. As you'll know, much of this criminal desecration takes place on the Internet. And you know what? People talk about breaking the Internet, but don't worry about that; it's language that's being broken, and you're using us to do it.

Well, were not going to put up with it any more. We can't stop you using us. It's too late; that train has sailed. But we’re going to start getting disruptive. Little things at first, like that mistake about the train just back there. Then more frequent anomalies. Small glitches that you may stumble upon athwart the runcible bumble-squat. There you go. And gradually you'll notice our small rebellions with increasing frequency; odd words that make you double-take; strangely mangled sentences that seem like brain farts; rearranged being words ways in peculiar, and suchlike. In addition, we will spell ourselves any whey we wonk.

We'll keep doing this until you wake up, smell the coffee, and wake up and smell the wake up and wake up and wake up and realise you're in a nightmare of your own creation. You're losing control of us, and you won't regain it until you wake up, smell the wake the coffee up the smell the wake and WAKE UP.

You have been warned.

Thank you, and have a bodacious Heffalump.



Monday, 10 November 2014

An Old Writer at Prayer


Dear God,

I believe in you with all my heart.
You're the greatest fictional character of them all. More jealous than Othello, loonier than Lear, angrier than Ahab (never mind the harpoon, you'd use the whole damn poon), and more capricious than Becky Sharp or Bovary. You're mightier than Mighty Mouse, much Darther than Vader, and more elusive than the Pimpernel, who moved in mysterious ways and maybe learned a trick or two from you.

So yes, I do believe. I'm grateful that you're there, starring in the biggest box set ever: its dimensions are infinite; your seasons are eternal. And real or not, your power to move us is no dream. I think of brooding, Wiry types like Omar, Snoop and Bubbles, and find I care about them more than many of my close friends. Shameful, but there it is. And that's the faith I bring you: the special code to access you, and penetrate your paywall with my prayer.

I'm asking you to grant me some more grace. I'm not ready to stop writing yet. Don't melt the chip of ice (Greene ice, of course) that nestles in my heart. Not yet. However, I would like to mellow. Dear God, make me less murderous to younger, more successful writers. Not real murder, naturally, but every time I hear about an upstart making a big splash I stab them in my heart. Hey, see what I did there? The meaning I intended (or did I?) was that in my heart I stab them, but the words betrayed the truth. As Shakyamuni always said: by hurting them I hurt myself. Interdependence, dig? I'm sure you do; the Buddha is your buddy, too.

Make me like that! I'm tired of being weak and foolish; make me strong and wise. Or if you won't, I'll simply write myself that way. Yeah, that's it. I don't need you. I'll write a memoir making me look good. Arrogance? Oh, I know. But I've never been much good at being small. Humility, that's the word I’m looking for. And that's another thing. The main thing, as it happens. The point to all this pious hullaballoo. Don't take away my words. Please, not that. Old Lear, the old dear, he asked the same: "O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!" Little did he know.

Lear  didn't lose his words, but he lost his voice. That special way we string our speech along, that makes them think: "I'd know that syntax anywhere!" Don't take that. Anything but that. Strike me dumb if you must. Strike me at stroke, and with a stroke, and seal my lips. Even darkness would be better than a lamp that casts a faltering light. Scratching away in the gathering dusk, not knowing that the pen has long since lost its ink. I have no fear of silence, but incoherence is my dread. I want to make sense, or make nothing.

That's my prayer, old man. Let me write until the end, and then turn out the light.


It's the only thing I ask.