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Selective Patriotism

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

OK, so since Friday evening, it’s been the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration weekend here in the UK, and everyone has been joyously celebrating our glorious royal family and just how great it is being British.

Except me, quite frankly. All this weekend has done for me is reveal just how truly unpatriotic I am. What’s more, I’m also incredibly cynical of the mass patriotism that’s sprung up via this weekend. People have been hanging up their giant Union Jacks and holding street parties, gleefully watched a whole bunch of boats travel down the Thames in the rain and have been tweeting that they’re #ProudToBeBritish. But it’s weird, because I’m sure very few of the people involved in all of this are quick to point out how rubbish it is to be British at any other time, so it just feels false.

Truth is, there is little to recommend about modern British culture, and I know using the Jubilee weekend to point this out seems like shockingly bad timing, but I feel it needs to be said. I have been underwhelmed with British society for a while now, and it doesn’t look like it’s about to change any time soon.

We’re the laughing stock of Europe, something we don’t help by acting like we still rule half the world. As a nation, we parade around, wearing the “Great” part of our country’s name as if it were a badge of honour that automatically grants us the best of everything.

But when’s the last time “Great” Britain produced anything of worth? We used to have a strong manufacturing base before it got sold off to China. We used to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We used to make highly influential and exciting music that was loved around the world. With the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare, we influenced literature around the world.

Nowadays, we seem more like a binge-drinking, arrogant nation, obsessed with TV talent shows and godawful music from Oasis tribute bands. We whinge about the rain, and then go nuts when the sun appears. We deride Polish and Asian immigrants as leeching off our infrastructure and not integrating properly, while simultaneously retiring to Spain and Italy without bothering to learn a word of Spanish or Italian. Oh, and those Polish and Asian immigrants? Know why they’re taking your jobs? Because as a nation, we are lazy, constantly expecting someone else to solve our problems for us. So much for our entrepreneurial spirit, then. And worst of all, our food is the blandest food on Earth.

So excuse me if I fail to feel unpatriotic for the Jubilee. Present me with legitimate reasons why I should be proud to have born here, and I’ll listen. But I rarely ever hear a compelling argument. Sure, we’re better than North Korea, but that’s hardly a glowing accolade.

I want to like this country, I do. I live here, after all, and I hold a British passport, meaning I am therefore part of this country, but I feel so distant to it all. I have no feelings of loyalty towards the nation or to the Queen. Why should I?

I know it’s a controversial position to take, and I’m sure there are many people who are ready to tear me apart for expressing this view, but it’s genuinely how I feel. We call ourselves Great Britain, perhaps it’s time we worked to live up to that name again.

Project Management

June 1, 2012 Leave a comment

So let’s talk projects. Now, I’m one of those writers who can come up with a million ideas but never has the time to work on them all. This is the worst kind of writer to be, since it’s almost like being a perpetual magpie, constantly distracted by new shiny things. You struggle to focus on a single idea for an extended period of time, while your ideas pile just gets bigger and bigger.

I have learnt to curb this tendency a little, but I still have a huge project list sitting around waiting to be worked on. I’ve just learned to prioritise it a little. Here’s a rundown of some of these ideas:

I have the idea for several screenplays, but without any idea on how to get these sold to film companies who’d want them, they’re still just ideas, and I’ve put them on the back burner until I’ve done some more research.

I did plan on attempting a short story a fortnight, but this never got very far either. I wasn’t really focusing on the specifics of a single story, just constantly trying to generate new ideas and never really giving each story the attention it deserved. As a result, I only got up to story 5, and only one of them actually got completed. I still intend to revisit some short stories, and the story-a-fortnight idea is one I might revisit when I’m working as a writer full-time (fingers crossed) but for now it’s too much of a hassle

A series of novels based loosely on my life, one from my teenage years, one from my post-uni comedown years and one from the present day, each with a highly fictional twist. However, this whole idea seemed a little self-indulgent and has been shelved indefinitely. Maybe I might attempt this project someday, but it’s unlikely.

A supernatural teen drama in the form of a web serial, most likely set up as another sister blog to this one. This is the idea I most want to come back to, but it’s a big daunting one and I’m having some serious plotting issues with it at the moment.

Amongst these ideas, there are two main ideas I’m focusing on. The first is one I’ve mentioned before, my self-imposed challenge to watch the 1024 movies you must see before you die, and review them all on a blog. The blog is the sister blog Sven vs. The Movies and it has a Monday/Thursday update schedule. If you’re following this, please follow that too, I’d really appreciate it. It’s a labour of love, but it’s a way to flex my review writing muscles, which have seriously improved since I started the project.

The second project is a series of detective novels, which I feel is my signature project. A sort of X-Files meets Life On Mars, it tells the story of a young woman who leaves the police force after a particularly strange case and becomes a private detective, specialising in investigating the stranger cases that the police either would never look at or gave up on a long time ago. I have plans for a big conspiracy theory running underneath her adventures, which, at the moment, include investigating urban legends in a seaside town and helping a priest who believes he’s being stalked by a demon.

The reason I’m so focused on this project is because it’s ideas on top of ideas. I have so many plans for this little series, even to the point where I vaguely know what’s happening at the end of the series (that’s right, not just the first novel, but the whole series). It actually excites me every time I think about what I’ve got planned, and let’s face it, that’s when you know you’re onto a winning project.

Of course, it’s only at the beginning. I’m still writing the first draft of the first novel, approaching the climax. There are a lot of issues with it at the moment, in terms of plot holes and such, but it is only the first draft, so I’m pretty much just pouring ideas onto a page right now. But I have notes that I’ve made whenever I’ve spotted an issue, and my second draft will be focused on addressing those issues first. As I feel happier with it, I may post snippets up here to generate interest and also get feedback. I look forward to hearing others’ opinions.

As for those other projects? I’m sure I’ll find a way to sneak them into my schedule somewhere. Especially that web serial. I have big plans for that too…