Jun. 6th, 2011

naomi_jay: (angel fire)

Tim is a fellow Damnation Books author and all-round awesome guy! I loved his first Demon Squad book, Armaggedon Bound, and I think you should all love it too (and the sequel, Resurrection, which I can't wait to get stuck into). Tim's kindly agreed to blog for me today, so without further ado...


 


Evolution of a Dream

 When I first seriously thought about writing, it was an ego thing that pushed me across the line. While I’d always liked to write—song lyrics, poetry, bits and pieces of fluff—I’d never put much effort into it. But while at work one day, a buddy of mine showed me a novel he’d written and it struck a chord with me. It was a challenge of sorts: if he could do it, so could I. So, I sat down and started collecting the ideas I had in my head and got to work.

Turns out, the first book sucked; as did the one after that, and the next one, and even the two after that. Each novel had good things about them, and I learned that I could craft an imaginative story even if I couldn’t’ write worth a damn. That was a start, but the worst part was, I didn’t realize how bad they were at the time. I proudly peddled them off to friends and acquaintances—for whom I’m still very sorry—and was fortunate enough to receive honest and critical advice as to what I was doing wrong.

It was a shock at first. In my ignorance, I hadn’t realized how low my ceiling was, and I was bumping into it blindly, thinking my work was better than it was. It really opened my eyes to hear the problems the books had, and was a definite kick in the ass to learn how I’d overlooked many of the most basic concepts of writing. Luckily, I’m thick-skinned as well as thick-skulled. I took it as another challenge.

I dove into sites like Absolute Write and SFFWorld, and found tons of people with great questions and advice. I studied the forums and the light started to come on. During that time, I happened upon a writing group that pushed me at every opportunity, forcing me to think about why I wrote what I did, what purpose did it serve in the grand scheme of the story? Between the forums and the group, I really began to develop a critical eye for spotting flaws in other’s work, which ultimately translated to my own. The ceiling had been lifted and I vowed to never let it be built again.

Once I could see my flaws, a whole new world opened up. I was no longer bound by my self-imposed limitations, and could put on paper the words as I imagined them in my head. That was truly the start of me as a writer.

Even now, though five times published, I still see myself as a neophyte. There is so much to learn, and so much to explore, that I can’t even imagine conquering it. I aim to get better with every book I write, aim to challenge my idols and step from within their shadows, one day. That is the dream I work toward.

The moral of this longwinded rant is targeted at those of you who hope to pursue a career in writing. Never settle. Treat every criticism to an honest eye, searching for the lessons buried in them, no matter how harsh or admiring. We can always get better, and we should always strive to. Don’t ever be satisfied with your writing. Challenge yourself, search out your weaknesses and chip away at them, write outside your comfort zone.

While there may be a lot of writers in the world content to be average, if you expect to make a name for yourself—barring incidents of complete luck—you have to have the skill to back up your vision. As deep as the field is, good just doesn’t cut it. Learn and practice your craft at every opportunity, so when you’re lying there in your bed at night, you can look up and see the stars, not the ceiling.

 

You can find Tim at http://www.tmarquitz.com/home.html, along with details of his books and blog. Really worth checking out!
naomi_jay: (penis)
So the one good thing I can say about A Serbian Film is that it has raised my tolerance level to all-time-high. Everything I now see or hear goes through my spanking new internal ASF filter, and usually falls short, because frankly nothing I see or hear will ever be as bad as ASF.I am now totally immune to anything you can throw at me. Ha! Seriously, try it. I am now shockproof. So when I stumbled across the synopsis for The Human Centipede II, I was pretty blasé about it. I think it sounds just as crappy and ill-conceived as the original, and I'd probably think that even without the ASF filter, because ... well, come on.

The plot this time is that some guy is sexually obsessed with the original film and decides to make his own centipede so he can ... enjoy it a lot. ([livejournal.com profile] dwg  and I are lolling on Twitter about this, because we've both been like "in the next film someone will be all 'Dr Heiter just wasn't ambitious enough!'" and we're right, apparently. I think Tom Six has been reading our Tweets). Anyway, like the first film, this seems pretty thin, and I'm sure that like the first film, it will be badly scripted, acted, directed, and produced, and it won't even have Beloved 3-Hund to help.

I have to admit, I've developed a love-hate relationship with THC. I still think it's utter shite, and after ASF it looks even lamer, but it has provided me with a lot of amusement since. So in a twisted sort of way, I was quite looking forward to seeing the sequel and mocking that. Except I can't (legally) watch it. Because it's been banned in the UK.
 
I'm marvelling at this. Apparently it's been banned because there's no way to edit it in a way that won't link sex with violence (and us Brits are funny about sexualised violence but we think it's okay to give a guy who beats his girlfriend to within an inch of her life a £20 fine as punishment. True story). Reading through the synopsis, we have masturbation with sandpaper and barb-wire-on-penis rape, which "poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk, that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers." This is in contrast to ASF, which features *takes a deep breath* necrophilia, paedophilia, bestiality, rape, murder by fellatio, murder by decapitation during sex, the rape of a newborn baby, skullfucking, sodomy, and a really horrible soundtrack.
 
ASF had a limited 2010 cinema release in the UK, with four minutes and eleven seconds edited out to remove "elements of sexual violence that tend to eroticise or endorse sexual violence." Wow. I cannot imagine which four minutes and eleven seconds they removed to achieve that, because ASF is basically sexualised violence from start to finish.
 
So anyway, I know Tom Six said that he wanted THCII to be far more graphic and disturbing than the original, which would be like "My Little Pony compared to part two." And I get the idea of wanting to outdo yourself (although in this case you really wouldn't have to do much), but really? Masturbating with sandpaper was the best you could come up with? Okay...
 
Anyway, I can't help but feel that this is more of what the original THC was - crude stupidity for the sake of crude stupidity masquerading as something genre-defying and challenging. (I still refuse to accept that ASF is a commentary on wartime Serbian politics. You were not thinking about politics during the baby-rape scene, Mr Director). And like I said before, making something shocking doesn't make it intelligent or meaningful. Of course, I also don't think for a second Tom Six is trying to make intelligent, meaningful films, because, you know, I've seen his films.
 
So yeah. I think THCII sounds every bit as banal and ludicrous and stupid as the original. In fact, I'm certain it is, because a film in which a guy masturbates with sandpaper over people defecating into each other's mouths cannot be anything else. And that's ... okay. I accept that there is a market for that kind of film and that some people will think it's bold, transgressive cinema and not a bunch of poop and penis jokes strung together with a paper-thin central concept. That's fine.
 
What I cannot get my head around is that the BBFC think this film is worse than A Serbian Film. I really don't get that. It's like Tom Six has won something, somehow, and he didn't deserve to win it ... or something. Or like ASF gets a pass because of a purported political message. Masturbating with sandpaper* is terrible and we shouldn't be allowed to see it, but fellating a woman to death is just peachy? 
 
I ... I don't get it. So I'll leave you with this:

 
 
*I know I keep going on about sandpaper masturbation, but the image won't get out of my head. And now it won't get out of yours either.

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