1. GT Bunbury’s “rules” of writing

    1. Write: Just write. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re working. Just go ahead and write it. And if you can’t write, if it’s so much of a struggle that nothing will come out, make sure you’re in that space where you’d normally be writing. The important thing is to develop that habit of concentration.
    2. Following on from that habit of being in a working space no matter what: build up a routine. If you find you write better at night, do that, do it over and over. If you write best during your lunch breaks at work (like I currently do), then do that. But do it constantly. A lot of writers say you HAVE to write every day – and if you’re a professional writer, I guess you do – but it’s okay to miss a day here and there, so long as you have a routine in check. That routine might change, depending on moods and circumstances, and that’s okay too. I used to write solely in the very early mornings, then I changed to write only in the mornings when I got up, then only after sex (which is difficult when you’re as apathetic towards people as me), and now I tend only to write during lunch breaks at work and hourly periods during free days. It’s just important to set up that muscle-memory of creativity.
    3. Remove distractions: this means nothing you can pick up and do instead of writing. This includes your/a penis.
    4. Snack wisely. Your body and mind need glucose to fire, but eating a pack of biscuits or a whole cake with your tea/coffee may seem like a good idea but it’s just going to slow you down and make you lethargic. Your body is a temple, at least for those hours that you’re working.
    5. Write what you want. One day I might work on a novel, the next I might be working on a design article. I try to keep to one project at a time (i.e. I won’t be working on multiple pieces of fiction in the same time period, and if I do diverge into something else it will generally be during editing) but sometimes you just have to get something down.
    6. Read. Everyone says it, and it’s true. Make sure you read, as it helps you come to terms with how to write and get you into that creative space. I’ll add to this that films and video games are actually good assets to this too, so long as you don’t indulge to excess, an hour and a half of a film or game might spark an idea after all.
    7. Drink lots of water. It’s a no-brainer.
    8. Relax. Creativity, as John Cleese said, is fundamentally the mind at play. Being tense and treating it like work will make it boring and dull your mind. Have fun with it.
    9. Know what you’re writing. If you’re writing about something, make sure you know what you’re talking about. For instance, if you’re writing about the Napoleonic Wars, read up about it. If you’re writing about a high-flying lawyer in charge of a murder trial, research it. If you’re writing about Around the World in Eighty Days, make sure you’re aware there’s no hot air balloon in it!
    10. Write ugly. The muse is a fickle bitch, so don’t sit and wait for inspiration. Just write dirty, get those ugly paragraphs out there, you can always edit it later. Writer’s block doesn’t actually need to get in the way if you just apply yourself.
    11. Drink some more water.
    12. Be yourself. Don’t try to copy someone else, you have your own voice so dig deep and use it.
    13. Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes you’ll write poorly, sometimes it’ll be hard work, and sometimes you’ll be too ill. But that’s the process, you have to fight your way through to the good days. The bad days are there to teach you how not to work.

  2. Space-saving measures in Medieval manuscripts


    Or: it turns out monks were tight


    Can you read it?

    The root of the word manuscript is very literal: manu (by hand) script (written). Of course, this word has now been diluted to mean any body of written work and as a designer every Word document you receive is labelled “xxx-xxx MANUSCRIPT”. But in the Medieval period manuscript really meant written by hand.

    Monks (being one of the few literate classes of the time) would spend their entire lives as scribes, working in a scriptorium – a special room or building at the monastery for the copying of texts – where they would be trained to write in a particular script (something like the house style) and then spend months and years copying out manuscript after manuscript. Pens were made of quill and dipped in ink made from blackthorn and wine, and texts were copied onto parchment made from sheepskin.

    But within these scripts – and Latin in general – one can find a number of now defunct characters and quirks; quirks that can be daunting for those who read Latin but aren’t familiar with certain scripts and completely alien to non-Latin readers. Ligatures varied from one scriptorium to another, as could individual characters, as did letterforms as many scriptoriums had their own variation on a script, if not their own script entirely. An effort was made to rationalise these scripts by Charlemagne in the 8th century with the introduction of the Carolignian Minuscule* to the Frankish empire, but even that had its own set of anomalies that would be unreadable to the modern eye.


    An illustration of common letterforms and ligatures in the Carolignian Minuscule and the modern equivalents.

    But perhaps more daunting is the general style manuscripts were written. You see, parchment was an expensive material, so a scribe would, at every opportunity, attempt to save space on the page to avoid using to much of the stuff!

    For instance, the modern reader is used to having more separation between words than between individual letters. However, in late antiquity books were written with all letters equally spaced, so there were no spaces to indicate where one word ended and another began. Words were separated in this instance by reading the text aloud.

    Things were more familiar in the Medieval period with words separated much as they might be now, but short words – especially prepositions (e.g. in, per, pro, ab, etc.) – were frequently joined to the following word rather than left hanging.

    But scribes didn’t stop there, not at all. To make copying faster and books even shorter scribes would abbreviate short or common words into the bare minimum of characters, rendering a word that resembled its longer form enough to be deciphered, but coming into an abbreviated manuscript for the first time could be a daunting task!


    A list of abbreviations found in Medieval manuscripts – and these are just the common ones!

    In the period these facets were so commonplace that they likely caused little or no problems to readers, especially once the Carolignian Minuscule was introduced and handwriting across large areas was standardised. But today it makes an already difficult and archaic writing system even more challenging for the modern eye.

    And why? It was to save money. Much as a modern publisher may look to cut down on the number of pages to send to a printer to save some cash, so too did Medieval scriptoriums try to reduce the length of their manuscripts in order to make for smaller, cheaper books. And when you were the only ones that could read the books you wrote, why wouldn’t you?

    *a longer article on the Carolignian Minuscule, including some of the points in this article, will follow shortly…


  3. I’ve a new design blog… it’s better than the last one.


  4. exulansis


    n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.


  5. I’ve always kind of disliked Tom Cruise. Not for any of his perceived “antics” or his “religion”, but rather because I didn’t find him to be a very interesting actor. Over the past few years I’ve warmed to him. He’s put out some good films, which have cast his older films in a better light, and every time I see him in an interview he comes across as a down-to-earth and nice guy. So, I found this article really interesting.


  6. shedloadtheatre:

    A look at H.P. Lovecraft’s words of guidance for aspiring writers.


  7. I’m still alive.

    I’m just busy and stuff: plotting, sleeping, writing.


  8. "Never forgive someone who isn’t repentant."

  9. "When you want a tiger’s cub, you have to enter the tiger’s den."
    — Japanese proverb

  10. "No, … it is not humiliating to be unhappy. Physical suffering is sometimes humiliating, but the suffering of being cannot be, it is life. … What you must do now is nothing more than live like everybody else. You deserve, by what you are, a happiness, a fullness that few people know. Yet today this fullness is not dead, it is a part of life and, to its credit, it reigns over you whether you want it to or not. But in the coming days you must live alone, with this hole, this painful memory. This lifelessness that we all carry inside of us — by us, I mean to say those who are not taken to the height of happiness, and who painfully remember another kind of happiness that goes beyond the memory."
    — Camus.

  11. "She smiled her smile with no pity and no condensation."
    — Something I managed to write… I am a writer.

  12. If you’re wondering what I’ve been doing with my time: I have a full-time job and I’m transposing Dead City into past-tense. So I’m busy. And bored. 


  13. "I’m a simple man like that. I don’t make a fuss, I try to respect people, and I try to drink lots of water."


  14.      “I don’t want to lose you again,” she said through quiet tears, a slight shivering the only sign that she was weeping. After a few minutes she was breathing softly, her hand clasping his, and he thought that was just fine.


  15. As he walked further into the cave he looked above him at the towering missile, far up to the warhead at the top. It really made up so little of the whole; it was strange that the little bomb needed such a big body to carry it. He related it to the way the human body carries around our little heads, and it was in that moment, struck by epiphany, that he sensed an intelligence from within the vast metal canister. Those shadows, whatever they were, were in some way manifested by this missile, though they were not his observer. Instead it was the missile that had been watching him, not through seeing eyes but some other way, tracking his movements through the bunker from the moment he entered. Here in this bunker was a little world of its own, and the missile was the Authority.