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maxbantleman

Writing

Welcome

Hello there!

Here are some thoughts on varied topics, i hope some of them will be of interest and will prompt a response.

I’m going to be putting stuff out via Kindle Direct, which you can find by searching Amazon.com / .co.uk  for – ‘Max Bantleman’.

Thanks for reading.

Featured post

Not About Golf

About ten years ago I decided I’d like to take up playing golf.

I needed exercise, had the time and liked the idea of playing against myself.

I got some clubs, not cheap but not silly-expensive.

I went to the local driving range and talked to some people in the shop there.

I met a guy at work who played and offered to go round with me so I could get the hang of playing a course.

I was all set.

Went to the range, hit some balls. It was really easy to hit the balls.

They didn’t go very far and the direction was a bit random, but that would change with practice.

I read some books, checked out some videos, watched people play golf on TV and went to the range some more.

More balls were hit and it did indeed get a bit better.

Then I went round with the guy from work.

He was great. Very encouraging but also very quiet about what I ‘should’ do.

I really liked golf. I wasn’t very good at it, but I was sure I’d get better. And when I say ‘wasn’t very good’, I do of course mean I was comically awful. But it felt great to play, to try my best and to know I’d get better if I applied what I was learning.

I went to the range, played a round now and again and kept getting the tiniest bit better.

Then I had a lesson with a pro.

He was very encouraging and very good. His summary was that I could indeed hit a golf ball, and depending how ‘good’ I wanted to get, he could help and suggest stuff.

My aim was to understand golf. To know enough to be able to play with someone and enjoy it. To get better each time I went out and to start applying the rules so that I was measuring myself against the game, not a vague notion of what the game was.

I still really enjoy golf. I don’t play enough to improve, but am at a level where I can play a round and not completely suck. Not completely.

Golf is a very physically driven thing. The technique used with the tools are to achieve a physically tangible aim. The great thing about golf is that you really do play to improve. You are measuring your own improvement and can see results on the score card.

Creating things is not like golf.

Except it is.

But it isn’t.

But really it is.

And there’s the nub of why creative people find it hard to develop, to improve and to accept measuring themselves.

We sometimes need a ‘pro’, we sometimes need someone to tell us where we can improve in solid, doable terms that we can apply.

But being creative we keep applying the ‘it’s all so esoteric and subjective!’ argument. It’s a good one to stop us realising how much we can learn from others and how much we can improve if we just practice and do the thing!

We need to accept that we need feedback. We sometimes need help. We can always learn from others who do our thing. And most importantly of all, we must actually do the thing. A lot. Do it over and over again and apply what we learn to get better.

It’s not golf.

But it’s not rocket-science either.

Brave

Being brave is an age-old topic for discussion and reflection.

What is ‘being brave’?

Lots of definitions right?

As we grow as a species we come to realise it’s not just physical bravery that is to be admired.

Poets are brave.

Writers are brave.

Creative people who share are brave.

They open themselves up to judgement. They share aspects of themselves that reveal their inner thoughts and emotions.

If creating something doesn’t reveal something about the creator, it can still be good, but it will never be great.

But what about revealing a universal truth, doesn’t that make it great.

I guess… I’m a tough crowd…

If it speaks to me of the thoughts and emotions of another person, shows me they are opening up their spirit and their heart, then I’m far more likely to be moved.

And being moved is what creating stuff is all about.

Being brave enough to say, ‘here, look at this, listen to this, *feel* this. This is a bit of me,’ that’s where the courageous go.

I’ve read some poems recently that have moved me, made me think. They have made me see something in another person, helped me view the world through another’s eyes. The language and execution has not always impressed me, sometimes it does but that’s rare. But the courage and insight always do.

When I experience something that entertains me I appreciate it and the energy it took to create it. I’m mostly impressed that someone has hit all the right spots in getting me to smile or think, or both!

But yeah… when something moves me, makes me feel… that I find amazing and brave and all kinds of special.

So to all the creatives out there I’d say this: show us something about yourself. Share a deeper part of you than you might be thinking of sharing. Give us a glimpse of who you are. Help us see things through your thoughts and feelings. You will not always get a positive response, but you should know that there will always be someone who experiences your creation and goes, ‘wow! That moved me.’

Who Is The Narrator?

Who is the narrator?

Are they a character?

Are they a specific viewpoint?

Are we using their senses to get information on the current scene?

Can they see and report beyond that?

Are they telling us things from one character’s perspective but not ‘theirs’?

The narrator is telling the story. They have access to whatever information we need them to have to tell the story in the voice we want.

We can use the story-teller to highlight a character, give us information as that character would see and know it. Give us a glimpse in to that character’s thought-process.

We can hop about, skip from character to character as the scene and story needs it.

We can be the aloof story-teller, relating detail and incidents in a voice separate from the story. We can have all the information, tell what we want in any scene as we see fit to serve the story.

Who is the narrator?

We talk a lot about our ‘voice’ as a writer.

Depending upon the story or the piece, we use the narrator to reflect that don’t we?

I never write in a straight-forward ‘reporting’ style. There is always some character view-point, some stress to the narration, a point of view for the scene.

It depends on the piece.

Do you have a preference?

Is the narrator ultimately just you talking to the reader, telling them the story as if you were cosied up by a fire?

With poetry it seems like a question that never gets asked. And I think it should.

Poetry is telling us things, showing us things, asking questions, offering ideas. Poetry is not just about the words and images. There is more. Who is telling us this ‘more’? Who are we listening to?

The first thing that jars me out of being immersed in a piece is a wonky narrator.

There may be other things, but the first that I notice is the narration going off.

It’s usually the second or third edit of my own stuff where it hits me how bad I am at sticking to the ‘rules’ I like to see observed in other writing.

So that’s my focus on the next few pieces.

Make sure I know who the narrator is. What is their voice, their perspective, how much do they know and can they reveal to make the story better? Focus!

It’s #NaNoWriMo and I’m using it as a kick in the butt to get a novel moving, so maybe focus on the shorter pieces for the writing group… always an excuse!

But I am determined to pay more attention to the narrator.

Maybe in the fourth edit…

A Poem

I’ve started to write some poetry again… this isn’t recent, but reminds me of why I like writing.

W.W.W.

Yellow sunlight on white walls

Pale blue skies with wisps of cloud

Golden beaches washed with silver

Vivid green wild woods warm with shadow

 

Remember them

Remember when

Remember where we were

Remember why we went

Remember them

 

Fields steeped white with snow

Frosted glass breath wiped warm

Ice gleaming watch water streaming

Sparkling waiting world wishing for Spring

 

Remember them

Remember when they were real

Remember where we were

Remember why we went

Remember them as real

 

Washed out wired-in images

Wasted moments without meaning

Without life withered to the touch

Whispered hopes without meaning

 

Remember them

Remember when they were real to you

Remember where we were when we wept

Remember why we wondered why we went

Remember them as things we will never forget

 

Wishing it was real wastes

What we don’t have wastes

Who we are where we want to be

What we are what we see what we feel

Why we wonder whether we will ever remember

Mojo Working

Being creative is a desire, a passion, an urge, something that has to be done.

It relies on an energy that is inside every one of us.

It is expressed in different ways by different people.

Everyone who expresses themselves is drawing on different experiences and perspective.

When we feel good about ourselves and the world around us, we express it.

When we feel bad about ourselves and the world around us, guess what… we express it.

Sometimes I feel drowned by the world around me, put-upon by all the shite in the world, especially the injustices perpetrated by people in power.

My kind friends tell me it’s because I have an empathy with those affected, and this often includes me, so not sure how that works…

My unkind, and some would say ‘honest’ friends, tell me I’m just a wuss that needs to put things in perspective and get on with it.

‘But’, I whine, ‘creativity doesn’t work like that. Not for me.’

It’s hard to say exactly how it does work: analysing it has never worked out for the best.

But I know when it’s not working.

I know when my mojo aint workin’.

Being connected to the world via social-media seems to be a big drain.

There’s no news like bad news for getting ratings, so most of what’s churned out is bad news.

People affected pass it on and warn others, and so it (rightly) spreads.

It would seem there is such a weight of sadness, badness and intent to do harm in the world that we may suffocate under it.

Looking for the good, staying positive, clearing our minds to allow our inner… blah-blah-blah right?

There is good out there (and in there!) and it is easy to find. It just sometimes struggles to be heard over the cacophony of shite in the world.

Anyone who has a creative urge, who produces something and sends it out in to the world, I urge you: do it for good. Use your superpowers for good!

When we are made aware of bad stuff, let’s be aware in the ‘so what are we gonna do about it’ kind of way.

I know it’s tough. I know it’s mostly easier said than done. But it can be done and it must be done.

Be creative.

Get that mojo working.

Share your stuff. Get it out there.

Stay positive. Stay the superhero that you are!

Talk-Talk

What’s that old saying? ‘Talk is cheap.’

Talk is of course essential, well, communication is.

But sometimes words are just words – they have no intent when they are spoken and we can take no meaning from them as they signal no action.

I listen to a lot of pointless, empty words and it makes we wonder how the people speaking them don’t see how the people hearing them know they are hollow.

Talk is essential. Just keep talking.

Action is also essential – do something.

We can talk all we want but ultimately we are defined by our actions.

The horror of LV hit me as hard as all mass-shootings do. I always feel a dread, a malaise settle on me in the aftermath. A depression that people can accept such hollow platitudes from their ‘leaders’. That those leaders can continue to stuff their pockets with money from ‘interested parties’ and simply do nothing.

It makes me feel embarrassed as a human being.

Anyway.

Words…

WORDS

 

Words, words, we use them all.

Just sounds in the emptiness,

floating into open ears, and empty heads.

 

Meaningless noises meant to say

what can’t be told,

used to break up people like silence.

 

Words provoke images, demand recognition,

leave feelings of moments,

lived and thought forgotten.

 

A collection of lines that

are to be used like tools,

fall apart without doing their job.

 

Words, words, we abuse them all.

Just sounds in the emptiness,

floating into open ears, and empty heads.

 

Words of wisdom,

words of wonder,

roll around

my head like thunder.

 

Words like flowers,

fall like rain,

no escape

causing me pain.

 

Words that shine,

deeds will eclipse,

wasted words

fall from my lips.

 

Words can soften,

careless actions,

turn away

fear of rejection.

 

Words of wisdom,

hold me in wonder,

cannot break

the spell I’m under.

 

Words we use

sometimes we say what we

think

words we use

sometimes say what

we mean

words we

use

never say what

we’re feeling.

 

Words sound

useless to say

anything we really

mean

think

what we say

when we say

we never say

what we feel.

 

Words just words

written and spoken

useless little noises

useless little scribbles.

 

Words can kill

the things we

feel

can hurt

the ones we love

can make

us think

we have said

something

when we have

said nothing.

 

Words become

the things we mean,

or they become

meaningless.

 

Words become

the things we fear,

or they become

frightening.

 

Words become

a means to an end,

or they fail,

becoming wasted.

 

Using words,

we betray our feelings,

from deep inside us,

exposing our needs.

 

Using words,

to say what we think,

without someone listening

nothing is said.

 

Words become

useless,

using words,

meaningless

words.

SoulDice

SoulDice (which should really be said in a Homer Simpson ‘roadhouse’ voice) is out there.

Give it a look if you like comedy sci-fi in the vein of HGTTG.

Bit from the book:

One of the rents in space-time began to spark above them, a stream of white-hot snow cascading down towards the crystal dome, bringing life to thousands of com-devices as a live signal from another Universe was beamed to unbelieving eyes and ears…

On stage at the Dinner Key Auditorium, one James Douglas Morrison was doing his thing. He was even more drunk than usual, which was very drunk indeed. As Ray, John and Robbie pounded out the backing to ‘Five To One’, Jim wasn’t ready to take the bait. Leaning on a mic-stand, pulling his shirt out, he slurred in to the mic, he continued addressing his expectant (and mostly stoned) audience:

“How long are you gonna let it go on? How long are you gonna let them push you around. Maybe you love it. Maybe you like being pushed around. Maybe you love getting your face stuck in the shit…..You’re all a bunch of slaves. Bunch of slaves. Letting everybody push you around. What are you gonna do about it? What are you gonna do about it…What are you gonna do?”

The transmission crackled and faded, the sky above the glass-dome cleared, returning to its usual tranquil, if mind-blowing self.

Poetry Day

Is it ‘national poetry day’ or something?

Did I miss it?

Anyway…

Here’s a short one wot I wrote:

 

Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall,

I know you’re blind but see it all.

Why can’t you tell me all you see,

What other people make of me?

Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Either you’re too low, or I’m too tall.

SoulDice

Hurkle Glasts’ entry in to the Academy of Deep Thought was controversial for two reasons: he was the first amphibian to hop his way in to their hallowed halls. His entry ‘thesis’ was a three word note scribbled on the back of a snack-pack.

The average length of a thesis presented by applicants to the Academy was four days, and included written, visual and telepathic presentations. When Hurkle approached the Obsidian Gates and demanded entry, all took it as a crude joke, perhaps some attempt to garner a response that could be filmed and circulated on the waves. But when challenged, he simply presented an empty Unx-JaxSnack pack with a note scribbled on it, the note read, ‘nothing is unimaginable’. He was admitted immediately and has sat comfortably on the Academy ever since.

Hibble Xysix, from his best-selling download, ‘If Hurkle Can’.

Extract from ‘SoulDice’, available on Amazon.

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