So here we are again, at the end of another year and once more, like nearly all writers, I am doing a look back at the year blog post and, in terms of writing, what a year it has been. Right, after that really long sentence let’s begin.
I always start off by reviewing my targets from the year. I specifically kept them simple in 2016 to avoid disappointment and another year of failure, simply put all I planned to do was ‘do some writing’ and I certainly did that. It is probably clearer to look at my three successes…
Poetry – as you may know I am bad at poetry, but that has never stopped me writing it! I managed a whopping six new poems that included topics such as Nintendo, love, Star Wars and not being able to write well. I have never had a repository for my poetry so decided to make one rather that it just sitting on this blog. That meant that ‘Bad Poetry you probably never want to read’ was born. I popped in my older poems that were on this site along with the new ones. As it is a work in progress it is only available on wattpad at the moment. You can read it here. There was to be a seventh poem for the year but nanowrimo took over and it was abandoned. Please feel free to ignore my poetry but if you do read it can you leave a review? It can be good or confirm my belief that I am terrible at the medium.
A Close Shave with Destiny – I finally finished my first draft of the story I started in October 2015 for Movember. It turned from a 5000 word short story to a nearly 40,000 word novelette. I finished it just before the start of nanowrimo so it still needs a proofread and a cover created. Expect it out in paperback and ebook format in 2017.
The Fifth Coin – this was my story for nanowrimo, which I am happy to say I won thanks to sticking very close to the target daily word count. I really like the story and have pushed myself to keep writing it in December, although not at nano pace. I am now on 60,000ish words and only have three chapters to write to finish the first draft, two of which I am already half way through. I hope to have it out next year as well.
So overall nothing published but a lot of words down, the most in any one year. This is largely thanks to Google docs which allows me to write from anywhere. I often sit for five minutes and add the odd hundred words which does add a little to a novel and keeps you in the flow. In fact I am writing this blog post on Google docs on my phone whilst my daughter is asleep in my arms.
Right on to next year, there is a lot I would like to do but the ‘just write something’ idea worked really well this year so I am keeping it. That said, in an ideal work ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ and ‘The Fifth Coin’ would be published and I would have started work on something else as well as a few more poems being released. We will see though!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, I look forward to 2017 in the hope that it is good for writing. Thank you to new followers through the media hop set up by Raimey Gallant, I do look at your posts even if I rarely comment. I do hope you enjoy this blog and find it useful. Anyway, to every out there good luck in whatever you do next year, unless it involves hurting kittens, then I am afraid I cannot condone it!
Some people think that the measure of a good movie is the number of effects or the cleverness of the script or that it pushes boundaries and goes where no other films have gone. To me, there is only one thing I really want, entertainment. The best films, in my opinion, are those that feel a lot shorter than they are, the ones where you realise you are at the final act and it seems that no more than half an hour has passed. This is why I think Rogue One is so good, I found myself sitting in the cinema knowing we were near the end but for the life of me I could not understanding how that much time could have passed so quickly. On leaving to cinema I started to think about the film a little more and I realised that this was the Star Wars film we have all been waiting for. Before I go on I must say that there will be spoilers (if you had not worked that out from the title of the post!) so if you have not seen the film then DO NOT read on. In fact I will make it all even clearer…
Right, now the large spangly banner is out the way let’s get down to business. Before we go any further I must say I was a lot more excited by Rogue One pre the film’s release than I was The Force Awakens, maybe it was that I knew it was going to feel nostalgic. In some ways this makes me more critical, I was expecting it to be good whereas The Force Awakens came after the prequels in release order and was Disney’s first Star Wars so I was skeptical. I think this high expectation is what makes Rogue One even better in my eyes. Whereas The Force Awakens seemed to be a clone of the other movies, Rogue One really pays homage by including links to the other Star Wars films without allow them to dictate the story. From the blue milk in Galen’s house to cameos such as that from Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba and onto mentions of Obi-wan being in hiding, Rogue One gives you the feeling of nostalgia but not deja vu. Possibly my favourite scene in the whole film is a hark to the past, at the end where Vader brutally kills the rebel soldiers much like he did when he was Anakin Skywalker trying to save his mother from the sand people. All these make your feel part of the Star Wars universe but if you took the scenes or references out of the movie the story would not really be different.
I also like that that the movie is not so much about the Death Star but the band of rebels who are trying to steal the plans. I have read a lot of comments and reviews that complain that it is another Death Star story but I think it works as it takes it from a different angle. I love the way they have explained why the problem with the thermal exhaust port exists, it stops doubters and moaners whining about plot holes. I also think the fact you know this movie is not about destroying the Death Star but a reconnaissance mission makes it a different type of Star Wars film. Another triumph is the lack of Jedi and Sith, it would be so easy to shoe horn in someone like Obi-Wan or Yoda then them leave and say they will not tell anyone or that they will wait for a signal before starting Luke’s training. Instead the film just completely ignores them, bar one mention of Old Ben.
My major concern going into the movie was the introduction of new characters and how they were going to deal with where these were later in the series but the idea of killing them all off is great. It is dark, dark like The Empire Strikes Back was, and ties up any loose ends. The way they kill them all is not an ‘oh and they are all dead or cannot be found,’ type affair, it is a legitimate part of the story line. The characters I was most concerned about were the Death Troopers. Whilst I actually quite like the prequels (ok Attack of the Clones is pretty bad) I did not like the idea that the Clone Troopers were so different from Storm Troopers. Now there are new ones that never existed in the original trilogy. Oh wait, they are Krennic’s personal guard and are all killed along with everyone else. Got it, that is why they are not there.
Another great part of the film for me was that there are parts that are set up that will clearly lead to bits in the new films, particularly the idea of the former Jedi Temple on Jedha. This adds to the mythology and we might hear more about that as Luke has visited the first Jedi Temple. I wonder if Rey’s parents are somehow set up or linked to in Rogue One, we just do not know about it yet. I also love that they have woven the story into the existing films, little touches like having Krennic die and there is an empty chair on the head table on the Death Star and us seeing Red Five be destroyed, the call sign that becomes Lukes.
Also the development of character was good, it really was all about them and not the tech. You really felt for Erso and Andor and could see why they were justified in their decisions even though they came to them from different places. I liked that you had both a strong male and strong female lead, that lots of people could identify with them. I really enjoyed the hints at a relationship between them, that sort of ill fated love, the knowledge there was something special between them, something they almost realised before they were annihilated. My favourite character by far, however, was K-2SO. He was so cocky, sarcastic and clever but also very insecure. I love the way that Star Wars makes droids more than machines and I truly feel that K-2SO is the most human feeling of the lot. I had that Darth Maul moment when he was killed allowing Erso and Andor to get the Death Star plans, I wish he was actually in Episode 7 so they could have kept him for more movies. I love R2, C3PO and BB-8 but K-2 steals the show for me.
That massive love in is not to say that there were not areas of the movie I would change but they were not the large ones involving characters and plot I thought they might be. My main gripes are really that Darth Vader’s voice does not sound quite right, I know it is James Earl Jones but maybe the changes in his voice in third odd years means he may not have been the right man for the job. The CGI versions of Tarkin and Leia were good but they did not quite feel right, maybe they can be revisited in the future as technology advances. Also the title screen looked a bit naff, I understand not going with the classic opening scrawl but it looked a little bit like bad word art to me. A pale recreation of the Star Wars text, it may have been the same font but it did not look right to me. Finally, the soundtrack was good but it was not quite up to John William’s standard. A grade A copy but not quite the real thing. These things I can forgive, they are minor blips in an otherwise excellent movie.
So, Rogue One is definitely a great movie, one of the best I have seen at the cinema for a long time. It is a different sort of Star Wars movie but feels part of the whole saga and ties all the films together. It is definitely worth a watch, a second viewing and buying on Blu-ray. It also makes me more excited for Episode 8. Maybe I was not as excited for Episode 7 as it was all a bit new and I did not know where it was going. Rogue One was safe territory, albeit it one that was executed with aplomb. A Star Wars movie where the Storm Troopers can actually shoot is not a bad thing!
I love the fact that people find inspiration in the strangest of places. Recently I won NaNoWriMo (as if you could not tell!) and in the dark times my inspiration came from the strangest place. I headed back to my homeland of Guernsey to visit family just before NaNo started. As it was the first time some of my family were meeting my six month old daughter I got showered with gifts, well they were all for her or her three year old brother! One of the gifts was a pink bear that played music, I have since searched on the Internet to find out is it the Chicco First Dreams Baby Bear. There is a blue and pink version, we have pink but that adds nothing to the story! The bear projects stars, that change colour, onto the ceiling and plays classical music. We put it on each night when we rock my daughter to sleep. Not that inspirational at the moment but something magical happened and I did not realise it at first. There was one tune, a soft melody that made me think of sadness but with hope. It was not until about a week into NaNo that I realised it was creating images in my head, these images were ones from the novel I was writing but it was more than that, it was like I was sat waiting for my wife to start a DVD. There was the main menu playing this tune and on the screen were parts of my story playing out like a move. Each night it seemed to be about what I had just written or what I was about to write. That bear, that melodic tune got me out of a few sticky situations, when I did not know how to link two sections of the book together or how a certain character would react to a situation. As soon as it came on, and still now as I finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to write, I had the itch, I had the ideas. I just had to get my daughter to sleep first!
The only frustrating thing is that I do not know what the song is called and I can not find anywhere on the web that tells you. I am not going to sift through every classic song to find it. One thing I do know is that if my novel ever becomes a film and we are about to release a DVD (probably will all be blu-ray by then!) I will want that song as the tune on the menu. I can see it now, sat in a meeting about the movie with a child’s pink bear blurting out songs till we get to the right one. “That one,” I’ll shout, “that’s the menu song!” Suppose I better stop dreaming and finish writing the novel then!
For the second time in my short life I have completed NaNoWriMo. In 2013 this was a race to the finish on the last day, this time I was the epitome of just hitting your word count every day. When I started I was worried about work and family commitments but this time my planning was so detailed that I did not find it too hard to complete. I do feel that if a Dad with two young children and a demanding job can complete NaNo then anyone can!
So now I can sit back and relax, or rather not. When I started I thought that I might not have enough content for 50,000 words but after about five days it became clear that 50,000 words was never going to be enough to tell the story I wanted. Now I have two choices, take a break from writing for a bit or plow on and get my first draft finished. I am in the writing zone now but I thought after thirty days of constant writing I would want to stop for a bit, however I am actually excited about getting my first draft finished. I don’t think I have ever felt so excited when writing, maybe the book isn’t going to be that bad after all. So here are my plans for the rest of the year and into next…
- Finish the first draft of The Fifth Coin
- Design a cover for A Close Shave with Destiny
- Edit A Close Shave with Destiny
- Release A Close Shave with Destiny
- Edit The Fifth Coin
- Release The Fifth Coin
So a lot to keep me busy then. But if NaNo has given me one thing it is hope, I don’t know if I will have anything released by the end of the year but at least I am moving forward with my writing once again. Right, I am off to open door one of my Lego Star Wars advent calendar, yeah I’m just a big kid really!