The Right Write Stuff: Blog Action Happening In a Cyberspace that is Not Here…

Alrighty! Write on! I’ve decided that I’d like to do something that’s a bit like blogging. I’ve also decided that this website isn’t the best place to do it and I though that the flowing, more fluid nature of Tumblr would be a better fit for my meanderings. Thusly, I’m going to put my blog updates and general musings on my freshly-spruced up Tumblr site alongside my doodles. Please feel free to head over in that direction where I’ll be sharing my experiences, ideas, opinions and avant-garde oddities of various shades and flavours (gluten-free options available)…

The first blogpost has cuttlefish disco lights and A Touch of Zen. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading…

Summer Camp Lunchtime Doodles August/September 2015: Drawing Pictures in Padova…

You know what I doodly-do when I do English-language summer camps in Italy every summer? Well, one of the things I do – aside from singing, dancing and struggling to control Havoc Beelzebambini while I teach them essential vocab like ‘tape’, ‘shame’ and ‘toilet plunger’ – is draw diary sketches during the lunchbreaks. Sì, signore e signori! Its time for another round of lunchtime doodles from summer camp! *fanfare*

As it was in Torino in June, so it was again in the countryside near Padova in late August/early September. Technical background and insight into ze process for those interested: this time I had to use standard paper rather than canteen placemats because there was no canteen arrangement at this school. Doodles were therefore done in the public park next door and were powered by packed lunch (mostly tuna sandwiches). Furthermore, I was determined that I’d make these daily diary doodles the most Jamazing yet and I sought to raise my game from ‘Yeah! Alrighty!‘ to ‘Oh Gods! Thor Almighty!‘. More sketches! Better sketches! More imagination and in-jokes and off-the-wall absurdity and semi-topical creative lunacy!

I think I did a decent job of that and rate these as my best batch of lunchtime doodles so far (until next year, if I make it that far and if they have me back). I won’t go into detail or try and explain ’em – just appreciate them for what they are. Then again, if you wish you can always try and dive deep into esoteric theory and try and discover the occult symbolism and the secrets of my subconscious manifest in miniaturised ink dribbling.

Here are the fortnight’s daily doodles from Summer Camp No. 2 collected together for convenience (you can also see them and my other arty bits on Instagram y’know). And stick around after the two weeks are done with – I promise that there are bonus extras…

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Back in Britain and Brewing Up…

*Clicks* And you’re back in the room. Specifically, I’m back in my room. Sì ragazzi, I have returned and I said that with stress and hamtastic disjointed emphasis for dramatic event. See me. Feel me. (And, yeah, touch me and heal me, if you so desire. And then everything gets really weird and turns into a rock opera directed by Ken Russell and I’m not sure why Tina Turner is here) I’m making much ado about this because coming home back to Britain after almost three months in Italy is a bit of a big deal. I mean, I’m a legend in my own lesson schedule over there and I have a fan following so in a way the UK should be honoured that I’m gracing it with my presence… *pouts, with bonus acquired Milanese swagger*

Seriously though – and speaking with my more standard modesty and over-sentimentality – coming home is a big deal because, hey, it’s home. I love Italy and consider it a spiritual home-from-home but Dorothy has a good point. After an extended spell in foreign lands, it’s good to get back to me roots, eeeh by ‘eck, see my blood brethren, drink a proper cup of tea and relax in my own space with my own home comforts. And the home discomforts as well. It’s cold, it’s pretty wet and the moors are scowling but, love, it’s all good. I’ve got a whole stack of films and telly to catch up on, very typically British things to indulge in and some time to savour the English springtime before I bugger off again.

That could be very soon depending on election results and my own whims, ’cause I like warm Mediterranean climates, the Italian way of life and living in a place where I’m a hot commodity (or at least, my mother tongue is) and where some people think I’m a hero. Heck yes I’m a hero (*fist pump*) but I’m going to spend the imminent future trying to be a hero back in the homeland I left behind. I don’t know what that entails yet, but I’ll blog about it here when I find out and am going to retrospectively blog about some Italian adventures. I’m also eager to get on with other writing and assorted creative stuff so, yeah, ‘ave it… (Truth: while living in Italy I’ve continued to lurch into very silly British accents – most often Northern accents – to retain a feel for the Mother Land and the Mother Tongue. Unleashing esoteric dialects and voices on completely confused foreigners and showing them clips of really bad British sitcoms and adverts is a source of great amusement for exiles.)

In total, expect potentially-interesting action on the interwebs from me over coming weeks and until I decide I’m done with home and want to go off adventuring again. For now, though, it’s nice to be back. Eeeeh, d’you fancy a brew?

Home comforts, guys. Home comforts… 😀

A post shared by James Clayton (@jamazingclayton) on

Upheaval, and ‘How to Self-Diagnose a Severe Case of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia Dysfunctilia in 13 Relatively Simple Steps’…

By the bushy tail of Ratatoskr! It’s been aeons since I uploaded something onto this blog space so, feeling the need to rectify that, here I go. Some context first: I am currently in a state that’s best labelled as ‘Upheaval’. ‘Upheaval’, as a matter of fact, sounds like a really good name for the summer house I’m going to build in Asgard at some point. “Good morning Odin! How do? Would you lie to come in for a brew?” “Mornin’ kiddo! Aye, grand! Don’t mind if I leave these here dead Frost-Giant bits on ya lawn f’ra bit d’ya?

Anyhoder, coming back down to Upheaval on Midgard, erm, Earth and this is where I’m sitting. I’m in the middle space between working at Italian summer camps, in the middle of family home total redecoration/overhaul and, altogether, in the middle of a great deal of confusion. It’s just about several shades less chaotic than Ragnarök. Still, in spite of all of that – in spite of the fact that all my junk is in boxes and that I’m sleeping on the floor and feeling out of sorts and out of order – creative action has still been happening and is happening. Den of Geek columns have been manifesting themselves and I was fortunate enough to get away for a week’s retreat in the Shropshire countryside recently. While there I got chance to focus my mind on creative projects and get a clear sense of certain secret things so I am now very excited about certain secret things which I will not talk about because they are certain secret things.

While there I spent some time going through ze process of revisiting abandoned ideas and old projects and, as part of that, I rediscovered things that I’d completely forgotten about. One thing was a surreal piece of writing that I’d had fun with and submitted to a literary journal. Having browsed the internet a bit to check, I’m pretty sure that this thing didn’t make the cut, so I may as well share it here. It may entertain you or enlighten you (or save your life!). I’ll leave it here and go back to dancing through this Upheaval – here’s a handy guide for you titled ‘How to Self-Diagnose a Severe Case of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia in 13 Relatively Simple Steps‘…


 How to Self-Diagnose a Severe Case of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia Dysfunctilia in 13 Relatively Simple Steps

Are you feeling unwell? Do you have a sense that you are not quite yourself? Are you harbouring acute suspicions that you may be a victim of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia Dysfunctilia – the increasingly common albeit unexplained malady vexing the medical establishment and respectable-and-unrespectable society?

If so, do not worry excessively, for a diagnosis can be made effectively by the patient herself/himself/itself. Simply follow the following steps and follow up with a visit to your local professional general practitioner or verified witchdoctor if you feel that, yes, you have come down with a severe case of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia Dysfunctilia.

Step 1

Look in the mirror. Does the reflection look like the reflection that you recognise and would identify as yourself?

Step 2

Cut your fingernails, your toenails, your nostril hairs, your pubic hairs and your belly-button hairs. Can you distinguish any trace of exposed nerve endings in the trimmed and depilated areas? If you do spy exposed nerve endings, would you describe their condition as “harried”, “agitated” or “German Expressionism”?

Step 3

Touch your nose. Touch your toes. Touch your clothes. Are you finding this simple rhythmic touching sequence in any way difficult or painful, either physically or mentally? (If you are not wearing clothes, try the test again once dressed or, at-least, half-dressed if you are having problems locating your full wardrobe.)

Step 4

Breathe in and hold the breath for ten seconds. Now breathe out and hold for ten seconds. Repeat several times and then, when ready, reduce the time allotted for the holding of inhalations and exhalations to five seconds. Repeat five times and then hold the inhalations and exhalations for three-and-a-half seconds. After five repetitions of this breathing pattern, hold in-breaths for two seconds and out-breaths for six seconds. After seven repetitions, reverse so that out-breaths are two seconds and in-breaths are six seconds, then equalise after forty seconds so that all inhalations and exhalations are five-and-a-half seconds in length. Are you finding breathing difficult?

Step 5

Pass urine into a small vial as a sample for close scrutiny. Is it a colour outside of the conventional Flat Champagne-Meyer Lemon spectrum? (Retain this urine sample for a future step.)

Step 6

Reflect upon your recent behaviour. Have you noticed any troubles when asked to observe and fulfil simple requests, obey orders or comply with clear demands? For example, did you discard the urine sample you were asked for in Step 5 (see above) in spite of the explicit instruction that it was to be retained?

Step 7

Pour yourself a glass of water. Empty the urine sample collected in Step 5 into another glass. Place on a solid, level surface. Observe both closely and wait until you receive communications from the liquids before you. In your experience, is it the urine that appears to express the message “DRINK ME” first? (Note: it is not advisable to drink the urine, no matter how persuasive said urine may be.)

Step 9

Walk backwards for a distance of at least one country mile. Do you have the sensation that you are walking forwards with your head on back-to-front?

Step 10

Check your internal compasses. Are they pointing to somewhere other than the True North? Are you finding it impossible to locate your internal compass or, likewise, are they finding proving to be incapable of finding you or True North?

Step 8

Observe your relationship to the imminent environment and the chronological unfolding of reality around you. Does it seem like you are experiencing things in the wrong order?

Step 11

Check your chromatic sensory perception. Are you seeing a lot of indigo? Are you smelling a lot of indigo? Are you tasting and hearing a lot of indigo? Are you feeling indigo? Indigo?

Step 12

Sit still for several moments and attempt to scrutinise your faculties of logic and reason. Do you illogical feel that trouble life having jumbled and because sense don’t make are you comprehending jumbled appears it all to be and understanding having up are you things?

Step 13

Ask yourself the following critical life-changing question. Would you like to suffer from a rare, interesting, definitely-spurious psychological disorder?

If, having attempted all the steps, you feel satisfied that you are a victim of Idiopathic Cerebrinunsensia Dysfunctilia, congratulations!

As advised in the introductory paragraph, please take this opportunity to consult with a medical professional and/or accredited witchdoctor for a confirmed diagnosis so you can proceed with your condition appropriately.

Enjoy your illness* responsibly.

(* “Illness”? Whoa now, sugar. I think we need to have a conversation about labels and stigma…)

‘We Made It’ Issue #2: Fantastical Unicorn-Themed Zine Action…

What is best in life? Some people would answer “fat unicorns“. Those people have a good point. Rembrand Le Compte is one of those people and he decided that fat unicorns should be the theme for the second issue of the We Made It zine that he edits. That zine is now here…

It’s a very nice anthology package packed full of sweet illustrations/stories/poems/photos from a diverse array of ace artists, all inspired by the fat unicorn theme. I’m happy and humbled to be in there alongside them, for this issue features some of my work as well – a comic titled ‘Una the Aurous ——-‘. Cheri Borgstrom illustrated the short story and she brought the whole thing to life and turned my idea into something beautiful. I’m really pleased with the end result and it’s a thrill to see something I wrote made real as a printed comic that I can hold in my hands.

We Made It. Yes we did, and you can see what we made by ordering issues – print or digital – from the We Made It site. You might also be interested in the first issue – themed around Whales – which features my short prose story/alternate history ramble ‘Whale Caesar’. You also might be interested in submitting to future issues, so keep an eye out for news of issue 3.

What is best in life? Well, if it isn’t fat unicorns, it’s probably making things. Yeah, I think that might be it…

Sweet Memories, Feelings and a Sentimental Summary of my Summer in Italy…

Allora, I feel like I should write a blogpost about my adventures in Italy because I’ve been back a while now and time is ticking away. The moment is passing. The trip is becoming old news and something that has been and gone, fading from view in the rear view mirror. If I don’t type up some stuff soon then surely soon will be too late, right?

Even so, I’m feeling ambivalent about the idea of blogging. I could write a blogpost about my travels, but what’s the reason for doing it? Is it because I feel obliged to – that I have to account for myself or file a report because if I don’t I’m being oddly evasive or acting as it’s like it didn’t happen?

I’m also wary because I know that some people out there are interested but I also know that others don’t care much at all, and that’s fine. People – people like me and probably you – put a lot of stuff out into the aether and upload things into cyberspace but cyberspace is vast and indifferent, and that’s also okay and understandable. People have busy lives and there’s just too much going on in real life and on the internet to engage with everything. If I share something on the web and it doesn’t register or cause a ripple, hey, never mind. I’m not very precious and create stuff, first and foremost, because I love creating things. “Do what you love and if other people like it as well then – hey! – that’s a brilliant bonus!” is my kind of general mindset and a terrible working title for the creative self-help guidebook that I’m never going to write. “‘Tis better to share and find that others aren’t interested than to never share at all” is a similar summary of the way I tend to see things, though that line is going to need some editing if it’s ever going to make it into a poetry book or onto a teatowel…

Anyhow, in spite of that it’s not pleasant feeling like – and knowing that – you’re pouring out your heart and soul out in public spaces for no purpose. If I were to write a blogpost on my recent trip, I know that I would be pouring my heart and soul out because Italy has given me feelings. So, so many feelings. This trip meant a lot to me and I don’t want to wrench out all those feelings and beautiful memories and do them a disservice by knocking out a badly-written blog treatment that folk quickly skim over. I don’t think I can adequately encapsulate what was possibly the best six weeks of my life so far in a few thousand words accompanied by context-free photos. There are so many details, moments and intangible elements – way too many to try and tie up neatly and definitively in a post.

I wouldn’t know where to begin and I wouldn’t know how to shape it to do myself and my experiences justice. I also fear – and this is one of my major worries as a writer who says things on the internet – that I’ll come across as smug or insincere (and that is never my intention). I also don’t want to be insufferable and irritate others by banging on about how I had the most awesomest of amazing times. I did, and I feel I can better represent that in person on in more personal sections of the internet (namely, via emails or among friends on Facebook). These black and white bits of text on a screen can’t carry the full, authentic force of emotion and convey the deep truth of what I’m trying to express either. I’m a gushy sentimental soul and there’s a danger that cold pixels will distort or dilute the genuine passion and feeling, making me seem trite and mawkish.

Altogether, I’m not satisfied that a blogpost chronicle of my six week trip around Italy is going to cut it so I’m not going to write one. I can’t find the words and effectively articulate my feelings about the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve had the privilege to spend time with and all that they have all meant to me. Italy is a very special country for me and I’ll treasure this particular trip especially for the rest of my days. All I can do to express that is shut up and scribble down some doodlings on a piece of paper in a sort of reminiscence mindmap to try and give a visual picture of my happy memories.

Basta. I will finish and move on by saying thank you to everyone and everything that was a part of my Italian experience. The best time of my life… 😀

My travels in Italia, a scribbly reminiscence mindmap…

A post shared by James Clayton (@jamazingclayton) on

 

The Total 2013 Backtrack Trip Before We Bring the Axe Down Ahead of New Year Revolutions…

I’m bringing down the axe on 2013…

It’s New Year’s Eve, so following on from the end-of-year musical retrospective of the other day and doing what it seems right to do at the calendar climax, here’s another look-back blog post. I will keep it brief and will try not to be boring and self-indulgent. In truth, the coming of a New Year is always an auspicious opportunity to eyeball boringness and self-indulgence and say “A pox on all your pernicious devices! Begone!” And then we explode boringness, self-indulgence and their dyspeptic brethren with our Positive Mental Attitude in a multiple-Boss Fight and level up. Erm, yeah. Basically I’m just going to write my personal sheepdip blogpost equivalent of Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe though I guarantee that it won’t be as funny or as depressing as that. If you want a more worldly or insightful view on all that’s happened this year, all the newspapers and websites in the Solar System have got you more than covered. You can navel-gaze and dwell in premature-nostalgia as much as you want – it’s all out there…

Anyway, armed with the extra experience (accumulated in the multiple-Boss Fight) and resolve to get on with it, here’s the rest of the round-up of my 2013. All in all, it was a pretty good year and I’ve done some cool things and had some awemazing experiences. The highlight of the highlights was definitely spending the entirety of June in Italy, going back out there to work as a English-language summer camp tutor in Italy. I got to see old friends, make new friends and have an absolute blast with the bambini in a country and culture I love. I cherish all the memories of Milano, Torino, Borgo val di Taro and all the things I saw, did, soaked up and appreciated on the way. Good times…

Trip-wise, a birthday weekend excursion to London to see Shakespeare on stage (Macbeth at The Globe, no less) was special. Also special was watching the Charlie Chaplin silent masterpiece Modern Times with a live orchestra accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music. I also got to see some heroes this year and had starstruck moments in front of Neil Gaiman and Matt Fraction. Sticking with comics, Exhibiting at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds was a really good time. Oh and while my mind’s in Yorkshire I remember that I actually drove over the Pennines and automobiled over Britain’s highest stretch of motorway for my Pass Plus lesson. I passed my driving test in February! Achievement! An achievement completely forgotten because I don’t have access to a car but, hey, I passed!

Achievements otherwise generally revolve around creative output and I’ve churned out a lot of mess over the past 12 months (though never as much as I’d like). Den of Geek columns most weeks; Alternate Reality News and the Alternate Reality News Timequake Expanded Edition reboot; several Fight! Fight! Fight! episodes; a number of Working Barbarian instalments; monthly Pictonaut short story experiments; several doodly projects like #DrawAugust and the Magical Christmas Artefacts Advent Calendar; and a whole lot of stuff that no one will ever see or that people will hopefully see once I’ve done the necessary reprocessing, perfecting or completing. I’ve got a lot of things in pipelines, in notebooks, in neglected files, in locked-up parts of my brain and in other places out of sight but I can smell them and they’re scaring me and i’m going to have to face them at some point before they become even more fearsome. 2014 is ‘get your hands dirty and wrassle with demons’, time…

Before then, though, I’ll tie up 2013 with a few cultural highlights. My favourite comics of the year have been Battling Boy by Paul Pope and Hawkeye (or Hawkguy) by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth. I’ve also been getting jazzed about Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals in recent months and am ultra, ultra excited about catching up on with all the Mike Mignola-related comics (B.P.R.D. and Hellboy) that came to stay at Christmas. Televisually, everything is ultimately overshadowed by the end of Spartacus and I was in mourning for a week when it finished.

Really, I don’t watch a massive amount of TV because most of my square-eye time takes place at the cinema. I used and abused my Cineworld Unlimited card to maximum this year and saw over 100 films. That’s an unhealthy amount of time sitting alone in the dark crying about people who aren’t real but, hey, I got to see some great movies and I enjoyed and got something out of most of them. Trying to nail it down to an exclusive few (I like pretty much everything so it’s hard) my favourite films released in 2013 were Only God Forgives, Gravity, Stoker, Pacific Rim, Pain & Gain, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Way, Way Back. My sweetest movie memory would be getting so high on Pacific Rim that after watching it I ran all the way home punching imaginary kaiju monsters. Yes, that happened…

A really happy guy after his giant monster/giant robot fix...

A really happy guy after his giant monster/giant robot fix…

I also experimented with growing a beard for a bit, participated in an all-day meditation retreat for the first time (it was cold and uncomfortable battling with my mind in silence) and dressed up as a pretty witch for Halloween. I’m sure that there’s loads more but I’m going to bring the axe down on this self-indulgent bore ramble and put the year to bed (graveyard bed ’cause ding dong the year is dead. I’ve put an axe through its chest and it breathes no more). 2013 is beasted and I’ve levelled up to bounce my way through 2014 which is an even more exciting stage with fresh challenges. I have more powers, I have more experience and I’m game on to have some fun in the future and get better on the way.

On with the New Year Revolutions (I have so many) and ‘thanks ta-ra’ to 2013, then. Thanks and appreciative cyber-hugs are also sent out to everyone who’s been nice to me this year and taken a moment to give me or my shenanigans some consideration. And with that I’m off into the future. Happy New Year and see you in 2014…

Open up the Advent Calendar of Magical Christmas Artefacts…

Happy December! It’s okay to start feeling festive and talking about Christmas now. People have opened up the first window on their advent calendars. I’ve opened up the first window on my advent calendar. It looks like this…

Day 1 of the Magical Artefact Advent Calendar turns out to be the Seasonal Peace Pipe…

And so it shall continue. Every day up until Christmas Eve I’m going to be sketching one of the Magical Christmas Artefacts and displaying it on my arty-doodle blog. Expect lots of mystical seasonal relics, kitschy winter paraphernalia and surrounding squigglies. Oh, and with it being December I’m also going to get on the greeting card trail so if you’d like Christmas correspondence from me, just say hello (as instructed in this blogpost). I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s Christmas album and lighting up up with the festive spirit! Can you feel the magic in the air?!

It may take a bit more time actually ’cause it’s still early. Regardless, the advent calendar is open, welcome to December and here’s to a nice Yuletide season. Fa la la la la, friends…

Thought Bubble 2013: Reflective Post-Comic Con Round-Up…

Thought Bubble 2013 happened and it was quite a happening. I had a great time over the weekend and came away in a discombobulated state of upbeat energy, worn-down exhaustion and fresh creative impetus and inspiration. All those different forces are not necessarily compatible so I’ve been sort of drifting around in a smiley-but-weary slightly-dissonant post-geekout Zen fog. Still, even though I think I’ve recovered now I’m still feeling the comic convention rush and that is a right-on feeling that can just run and run and run, heck yes. (And I feel like I’ve been overdosing of awesome experiences lately. A couple of days before the con I got to see the Pixies live and meet comics writer hero Matt Fraction on a pre-con signing tour within the space of a few hours. I’m on a high! I’m surfing waves of euphoria and beatific double rainbows all over the damn show! Yeah yeah whoop whoo!)

Back to Leeds, and at TB I occupied an exhibitor’s table in the Allied London Hall which was an overfill venue rigged up to meet high demand. There I sat/stood touting my wares and here is an iffy action shot of me and my wares at my table…

Showin' off my stuff with jazz-hands showmanship...

I took the James Clayton show on th’road…

Though it can get a bit lonely sitting behind a table for long, quiet periods (as you can see from some of the pass-the-time con doodles I’ve posted on my sketch blog), I really enjoyed it. People might not buy much of your junk and shower you with coins but it’s worth it just to be there, in that space and soaking up that atmosphere. Having people pass by my stall, speak to me, spend a moment contemplating my creations and pick up my cards is a bonus. Smiles, compliments and positive responses when I explained my ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ shenanigans, talked about The Working Barbarian and my other activities were an extra-bonus. I’m a lonely guy who spends most of his time creating in complete isolation so I appreciate those rare occasions of social engagement. I therefore would like to say a big thank you to all those souls who hung around for a bit and said nice things. You are all lovely.

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No NaNoWriMo, Yes Nah-No-Wri’-Mo’…

Oh! November! NaNoWriMo? The answer is ‘No’ for NaNoWriMo where NaNoWriMo means ‘National Novel Writing Month’. (Though the fact that it’s an international phenomenon makes the ‘National’ part a bit suspect and has me me wondering whether it should be WoNoWriMo for ‘World Novel Writing Month’. Note the apposite “Woe!” or “Whoa!” homophone in there.)

I want to write a novel. It’s a creative challenge I’d like to apply myself to. So why not now? Because I also want to do everything else. This, as I keep on finding, is a conundrum that causes a hell of a lot of creative frustration and feelings of inadequacy. When you want to do all the things all the time you find that you inevitably can’t do all the things all the time. You realise that you are not superhuman and that you are, sadly, a flawed mere mortal meatvessel with limited ability to master time and space and, boo hoo, that’s not what you want. Then you have stompy feet and grindy teeth and self-beaty-up shadow-boxing moments as you ‘fail’ over and over in your constant impossible pursuit of some unobtainable perfection or sense of Universal mastery.

You then collapse into multiple existential crises and succumb to fear and loathing, ripping your skin off and howling desperately at the malevolent gods who are laughing at your pitiful humanity. And then we wrap up the pity party and go about pursuing perfection and attempting to conquer the impossible all over again because we just do not learn and those gods and the cosmos are indifferent to our lamentations. At least they are if you’re going to be so overly-melodramatic and wretched about it. Mostly, everyone – gods, animals, other humans and other humans who want to be gods and/or animals – prefers you with your skin on and a smile on your face.

So, yes, enough sorry shadow-boxing because there are better things to do and one of those things is writing (or at least shadow-boxing with a smile). Getting back on track, I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because I need and want to focus on other creative stuff (like these and this and this and trying to prepare more stuff for this as best as I can before it happens). I want to do all the things all the time but I accept that it isn’t the right time to be doing this, as much as I’d like to have a crack at it. High five to me for working that out all on my own and acknowledging that I just cannae take it right now, Captain! Maybe I am learning! Whoop whoop!

What I’m going to do though is continue to want to do everything and work hard at doing everything as best as I can in hope that I can transcend my tragic humanity or, at least, be highly productive and juiced up on constant creative mojo. I’m going to channel some of the underlying principles of NaNoWriMo – daily writing, prolific mojo-a-go-go, creating without hesitancy or doubt – as I go through November and into months beyond. I’m embracing an an attitude of Nah-No-Wri’-Mo’ which means ‘Nah! No! Write More!’ which basically means “You should be writing more and more and more and more.” It doesn’t necessarily have to apply to writing – generally, I’m all about creating and having an upbeat, proactive creative mindset.

Rockin’ with that energy means I may have a chance of doing about 1/27th of all the things I want to do and I’ll feel good about it instead of getting downbeat about not achieving anything and being a fallible human who can’t master space and time. It’s a matter of mindset, shifting poor mood (too much of that lately), the sense of slacking and going through the motions and punching out Demon Apathy, Demon Pity and Demon Procrastination (The Unholy Trinity that terrorise us all into insidious inertia). Cut down those killjoys, quit the kvetching and crush creative frustration whenever it rears its irritating and ugly head. Get working. Get writing. Follow that Nah-No-Wri’-Mo’ groove and there will be more writing and momentum and, thus, more creative energy and good feeling and thus more writing and so on, so on, so on…

All I’m doing is harking back and holding on to the same philosophical ideas expounded in manifestos like Less Talk More Rock,  Making Things Fast and so many other motivational self-help articles, blogs and suchlikes that are out there. Long story short, moop is unacceptable and writing makes me happy and is so much fun so let’s do lots of that and enjoy it. Positive Mental Attitude, zealous determination to kick out the jams, remembering the fundamental inspirational mantras (Nah-No-Wri’-Mo’ at every pause point) and yeah, having fun.

No NaNoWriMo for me, then, but yes to writing more and more and mo’, mo’, mo’. The start of November is a perfect, auspicious time to think “Yeah! Write on!” so I’m flicking an internal switch, refocusing and rebranding this ‘Yesvember’ as I rumble on into bleak winter. I’m punching the air with plucky determination to defy the gods and my own limits! I’m going full gusto at my hopeless dream of mastering the Universe and doing everything all the time even though these things are unachievable! I’m in manic uptempo Positive Mental Attitude mode and it’s do or die and I’m a doer!

Yay writing! Yay right attitude! It’s Yesvember and the action is go! All is righteous because I’m writing and if I’m not writing I’m doing something to generate extra creative enthusiasm and energy to fuel more writing. Hey! I may even end up writing a novel! Write on… *Beats chest and burns up his keyboard, laughing maniacally all the while as he goes about conquering all the impossibles…*

(As a footnote, high fives to anybody reading this who is taking the NaNoWriMo challenge this month. Write on…)

The End of August and #DrawingAugust Draws to a Close…

Today is both Caligula‘s birthday and the last day of August. I’m going to celebrate the 2001st anniversary of the 3rd Roman Emperor’s birth in appropriate fashion later but, for now, I’d like to talk briefly about August ending. With the month coming to a close it means that the #DrawingAugust challenge (or ‘Drawing August challenge’ if hashtags hurt your feelings) is, likewise, over and done with.

To recap, every day for the past 31 days I’ve been spending a little bit of time making a sketchy-doodle mini-narrative combining a simple image and some handwritten scrawl. The results are posted all over my ‘art’ blog if you’re interested though they are nothing compared to the mass of masterpieces produced by other ‘proper’ artists. Ian Gordon Craig has been collecting them on a Pinterest board and it’s well worth a look to see the wide array of styles, skills and inspired artwork of very different people.

Even though I don’t rate my output at all it’s been fun to scribble around and conjure up some fresh original creations on a constant basis. I’ve got fresh story ideas, characters and concepts to expand upon. I’ve also cleaned off some drawing rust and got a galvanising shot of “yeah, practice more” impetus which is a bonus.

The crucial point of the exercise, though, is this: constant focused, forced creativity is a good thing that keeps your imagination working and exercises your metaphorical creative muscles. It helps generate ideas, keeps you in ‘the flow’ and makes you happy (you want to be happy, right?). This is why I write every day and keep up stuff like the alternate reality news blog – ensure that there’s everyday enjoyment, fantastical thinking and creative action in life. Without it you’re liable to atrophy and feel your energies and essential enthusiasm draining elsewhere.

You can find creative advice and motivational aphorisms elsewhere so I’ll spare you the preaching. I’ll instead leave you to the last day of August with a time-themed #DrawingAugust piece that I spawned on Day 6 and a salute to all the artists who took part and worked up amazing illustrations and paintings during the past month. Every day inspiration! Every day art! Every day is excellent with these things!

Now, on to Autumn… (the time period in which we attempt to recover from the deranged excess of Caligula’s birthday party…)

August 6th – Time’s Terrifying Tendrils