#BenedictCumberbatch | An Unexpected Meeting

“Sure I came to see your play.”

“How come you didn’t stick around after?” he asked

“Something came up. Sorry.”

“I know exactly who that ‘something’ was. I’m surprised at you, Vic.”

It was Friday. James and I were having a drink at the Lab after work. I hadn’t seen him at all in the New Year, what with his constant rehearsals and my writing commitments leaving little time for social encounters. So when he called earlier that day to ask if there was any chance I may be free that evening, I did not hesitate. Call it a guilty conscience.

“Sorry. What?”

“You haven’t mentioned him in two hours,” James said, watching me over the rim of his Pornstar Martini.

“Is this a guessing game or will you tell me who you mean?”

He sipped from his glass, took his time replacing it on the counter and glimpsed around the bar to ensure that no one was listening in.

“Cumberbatch, who else?”

I nearly choked on my vintage Mulata. Just like James to introduce the topic when he knew full well that it would set me off-balance. I had to tread carefully. How much did he know? There were those pap snaps in the Saturday edition, but even if he saw them… My face was out of focus as I disappeared behind Ben’s towering frame.

“You’re getting a reputation, you know. Aren’t you going to tell me what happened?” he insisted, when I pretended to be too busy with my drink to answer.

“There is nothing to tell, James. Honest.”

“I see.”

He ordered another round and changed the subject, but I could tell that he was brewing something. I’ve known him for long enough to be certain that one way or another he would find it out.

benedict_cumberbatch_03

It was James’ West End debut. His first night on the big stage. There was no question about my not being there. When the curtain went down I headed to the stage door to wait for him. I sparked up and was leafing mindlessly through the programme when a familiar voice disturbed my musings.

James was right. The something that came up was Benedict. I did not expect to see him at the theatre that night, nor did I expect to… I suppose all things Benedict do tend to be rather unexpected of late.

“What did you think of it?” Ben asked.

For a moment I thought it was a trick of the light. What was he doing there?

“It was… good I suppose,” I said.

“I didn’t much like it either,” he smiled and asked whether he could borrow my lighter.

“The lead is a good friend of mine,” I said, somewhat peeved.

Alright. It wasn’t the performance of the century, but that is rarely the case on a first night. I was sure that with a little trimming here and there the play would do just fine. In all fairness I felt rather guilty discussing it with anyone, before I had a chance to speak to James about it first.

“I got your letter.”

I froze. Dropped my cigarette. Felt the blood drain from my cheeks. My throat constricted.

“You are mistaken, I’m sure,” was all I managed to say.

I avoided his eyes, lest he would read the truth in mine. Fumbled through my pockets for another cigarette; when I finally found my pack it was empty.

“Have one of mine,” he offered.

I took it. Needed something to keep me occupied. Wished James would hurry the f*** up. Perhaps Ben could sense the disturbance he’s caused, or perhaps he needed some time to consider my answer. In either case, I was glad to continue in silence.

“I know it was from you,” Ben said after a while.

“What makes you so certain?” I couldn’t help asking.

“Every writer has a signature phrase… or expression. It was an easy enough deduction to make.” That knowing smile again.

“I think you’ve taken your ‘getting into character’ a little too far, Sherlock,” I laughed, my mind gone into overdrive. A signature. I had a signature phrase. What could it be? How on earth could I not know about it. I must’ve read and re-read that letter a dozen times before sending it. It was supposed to be anonymous and yet…

“Give us a smile, Benedict!”

Damned paps. Where did this one come from? I pulled the scarf up to cover my face just in time. The flash left me momentarily blind. Next thing I knew I was being dragged away from the scene at full speed.

“Wait! I’m supposed to wait for my friend. Ben, wait!”

“We need to get out of here,” he said, speeding up his pace.

I stumbled and nearly lost my footing, but his clasp on my elbow was strong enough to prevent my falling over. A few minutes later, he was handing me a safety helmet. I was about to protest, but he would hear none of it.

“Look. We have to talk. You’ll meet up with your friend another time. Or do you fancy seeing your face all over the dailies tomorrow?”

Ben got on his bike. I wavered. James will never let me live this down, although… what he doesn’t know…

 

Daily Prompt: Blogger of Repute

Show | Don’t Tell

You’ve just finished work on a dreary day. You may be a commuter in need of a read for the train journey home. Here is a lovely bookshop enticing you with a multitude of offerings, but which will you pick? You may be tempted to go straight for a tried and trusted genre, but even after narrowing it down to this, your job is not yet done. You will have to leaf through a few books until you find the right one for you. How will you decide?

I imagine that each of us has a different way of going about it. For me the first page is key. I will open up the book and often discard it after the first paragraph. If I’m not caught yet, chances are I won’t continue reading. If the first paragraph makes for good reading, I will continue on until I have finished the first page. In most cases, my mind is made up by the time I’ve turned to the second.

In view of this, I was not surprised to discover that 99% of manuscripts submitted to agents and publishers are dismissed on the basis of the first five pages.

Five pages? Really? Is this all the space and time we are given to prove our worth? Apparently so.

'The manuscript is 'green' because it's typed entirely on the backs of rejection slips.'That is not to say that  an agent will take an author on the basis of five good pages alone, but this is the window of opportunity to impress and to persuade them to continue reading. The writing tips I’ve shared so far were geared specifically towards this:

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— Immaculate presentation that follows the rules set by the agent or publisher in question.

— Well constructed sentences and appropriate use of punctuation to create the right sound.

— Avoiding the trappings of unsuitable style.

— A manuscript that has been purged of excess adjectives and adverbs.

— Nurturing specificity and rich vocabulary when using comparison.

— Mastering the art of writing great dialogue.

Now that our overworked agent/publisher is caught, we need to keep them on side. Would be a pity to give them an excuse to eliminate us from their must reads after a good start. They’ve made it through those five pages. They are intrigued, but their brow is knitted still. Lips pursed and pen tapping hurriedly page after page, they are searching for a weakness, something that will justify them in setting this manuscript aside and moving on to the next – there are hundreds more waiting after all. What are they looking for?

Ah yes… that good old tell-tale sign of lazy writing: too much telling, not enough showing.

SHOW | DON’T TELL

This is one message that I shout to myself every time I come across an instance of unnecessary telling in my own narrative. Telling works just fine for outlines and drafts, but when it comes to publishable stories, it simply won’t do. Let’s break it down into the Wheres and Hows:

Easy places to look for telling that ought to be showing:

A. When introducing characters or settings,

B. When giving characters’ backstory,

C. Where there are a multitude of events following one another in quick succession,

D. In the gaps between major scenes, where what happens is described rather than happening,

E. Anywhere in the narrative where there is information instead of action.

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Next, some ways in which to figure out how the telling is done:

1. Character description: This is where the fault line begins. Writers are expected to describe their characters, give an indication as to what they look like and who they are. While in the past authors could get away with paragraphs upon paragraphs of this, that is no longer the case.

When it comes to physical description light brushstrokes are preferred to in depth characterisation. For the protagonist we may get away with more, but it is still better if the description is sprinkled here and there, rather than concentrated in one place. For all other characters: pick one main feature that would set them apart from the crowd and leave it at that. Three at most if you must. If a character’s traits are all average then describing them will hardly paint a memorable picture: “Here’s average Bill meeting average Mary on an average day for an average exchange. Blah.”

To tell a reader what characters are like, on the other hand, is a big NoNo. If they are kind, catch them in the act and show them doing something that would imply to the reader that this is how they are. If they are brutal or a liar, then we must see them acting with brutality or lying through their teeth, and so on.

The same goes for places. Showing what a place or a setting is like is much more difficult that telling, but do it well and a reader will feel like they have seen it instead of reading about it in a substandard tourist brochure.

Show and let the reader come to their own conclusions about characters and places.

2. By interpreting we make the story our own. When a writer tells the reader that their character is an alcoholic then the reader has no other option than to accept this. There is no room for interpretation. On the other hand, if the reader sees the character drinking again and again they might try to find other explanations for their actions:

  • the character may be undergoing some physical strain and trying to numb it with alcohol, perhaps they were a soldier and those old wounds are still bothering them on a cold day;
  • the character may be under emotional strain: why did that phone call with their ex make them take to the bottle?
  • s/he may use alcohol to relax: are they about to take a major decision and need something to take off the edge?
  • …or to chase away bad memories. Did something happen in their past that they can’t get over? Are they drinking to forget?
  • Perhaps they are an alcoholic, but what got them there in the first place?

Even if the reader reaches the conclusion we want them to reach, by having to think about it they make the story and the characters their own. They will endow the characters with their own life experience and rich internal life. It would be a mistake to rob them of this opportunity. If the story is theirs, they will keep reading.

Show the reader a character who starves their child and they will not need to be told that the guy is a heartless good-for-nothing villan.

3. Tell and all you have is description. Show and you’ve got yourself a scene. Scenes are what make up a novel. In telling what should happen rather than showing it in action, we describe events instead of allowing them to unfold, so that the narrative reads like the outline of a story rather than being one.

It is impossible to experience something that does not actually happen. We can only get into the character’s shoes when we live the story alongside them. By showing, by going into some detail for both inner and outer life, we pull the reader into the world we’ve created.

Of course, it is impossible to dramatise every single event, so it is key to pick carefully those parts of the story that render themselves to becoming tense, conflict-filled, therefore dramatic scenes.

4. There comes a time when telling is in order. Of course, it is impossible to show everything. Some things need to be told, but when we do it with a purpose in mind it is possible to strike the right balance between the two. Here are a few examples of good places where telling is a necessity:

  • To establish narrators and viewpoint characters,
  • To allow a character to give their opinion about someone else in the story (this can be a good way of “showing” that character’s point of view, giving their perspective.)
  • To establish conflict between what a character tells us, either about themselves or someone else, and what their actions show us to be the truth (great for establishing an untrustworthy viewpoint character)

More on characterisation to follow… but if you are curious about a villain’s fate or are in the mood for a laugh perhaps Despicable Me will oblige 😉

Writers… we are all Outsiders

wolf-howl-silhouette

A stranger to the moods of the land where I first saw the light of day,

An alien to every place where my foot has left an ephemeral imprint since,

I’ve learnt a long time ago that I do not belong…

An outsider.

Once I believed this lack – an affliction. I searched for the certainty of a home,

The security of an identity that is fixed, immutable.

Not so today.

I’ve made of this prison an ocean; for its shell I have fashioned a sail.

Hear the tempest howl. Listen to the silence shatter. 

Shards cutting deep, until words pour crimson from my fingertips.

A soul adrift. A writer. 

A world in flux. Its secrets – ours to unveil. Its pain – ours to render intelligible.

It is a beautiful place when a crisp line makes it so,

A torrent of despair when ink carves through its darkest corners,

Bruising out truths we would rather forget.

Yet every line is enveloped in precarious indeterminacy –

It is here to be read for a moment only – a glimpse of light

Before the night sets in.

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Daily Prompt: The Outsiders

My lifeline

Truth or Dare.

I have been writing less of late. Physically restraining myself from opening up my blog and adding a new piece of myself to it. If there is no post then there is no dated, time stamped evidence of it. Nothing to be thrown back into my face as proof that I am shirking my duties elsewhere.

It is an obsession, I am told. An addiction.

obsession (noun) 1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety. 2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
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The need to write is a visceral one. I am a writer only if I keep writing. If it is an obsession, I can think of none better or more reasonable for a writer to embrace.
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addiction (noun): the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. a. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something. b. An instance of this: had an addiction to blogging.
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Weaving Grace_DiasporaMy life is a succession of vicious circles. There are good days and bad. Those are easy enough to bare. What I struggle with is that empty space where apathy creeps in. It has ceased being a question long ago. Now it visits me only as a statement: “There is no point.”
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Late at night. In the light of day. Its grip is relentless. This is why I started writing. A writer adrift. In search of fulfilment. No. It is so much more than that. It is a lifeline. The one thing that keeps me breathing. Gives me something to wake up for every morning.

It is beyond comprehension to me why anyone would want to make me feel guilty for it.

Is there a distinction between writing and blogging? Perhaps… I see blogging as an extension of my development as a writer. It keeps my writing muscles flexed. It keeps me working, creating, even when I am not inspired, so that when the muse does visit she can find me ready, pen in hand.

I am back. Guilt-ridden. Fractured. Emptied out. Yet here. For another day at least.

Modifiers Modifying Modifications

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Nina Kaytel

“The bane of every writer is the adjective.  Too many and the reader gets bored – their mind over-worked and you lose the reader’s interest. The opposite is too few which has the same affect. As with many topics in writing there needs to be balance.” Adjectives

Adjectives from Lanetta's Creations

Ah yes… These tricky modifiers. I’ve come to loathe them. Nina‘s article focuses on adjectives, but to me these devils go hand in hand with adverbs when it comes to tormenting my every waking hour.

I will never forget the first meeting with a friend who insisted on reading the first draft of my novel and decided to give me some feedback. His first words: “Too many adverbs. Adjectives too, but Gosh! You really went to town on the adverbs.”

Right then. Modifiers. What are they? Well… “that which modifies” apparently. Don’t you just hate circular definitions? Of course a modifier modifies. What else is it supposed to do? Adjectives and adverbs are examples of modifiers. The first is used to modify a noun (a wise prince) and the second to modify a verb (she walked quickly).

Why should we worry about modifiers in our writing? I can tell you on good authority that they are the quickest and easiest way to have a manuscript rejected. This is what agents and publishers look for first when faced with a new manuscript: the overuse, or misuse, of adjectives and adverbs.

We use them to bring our nouns and verbs to life, make them more vivid, and yet – almost always – the result is opposite to the one intended.

Here are some of the rules I follow:

1. If I must use an adjective or adverb, then it will be always one and no more than one. When you have two modifiers in a row, each detracts from the power of the other. When there are three or more, the loss of effect is greater. So… I pick the one that I consider to be the strongest in the line and cut all others. Less is more.

2. No matter how many modifiers I may add to a scene, I will never be able to paint the picture quite as vividly as the reader’s imagination. They will use their own life experience to fill in the gaps, making the scene their own, and when this is the case I trust they’ll want to read on. Loose brushstrokes are preferable to micro-managing the content of every scene.

3. If am going to use some modifiers, I do my best to avoid using commonplace ones. Commonplace modifiers make for  commonplace images and descriptions and the worst I could do to my reader is bore him with yet another blah-blah. They have enough of that in everyday life, so I’d rather not subject them to the same with my prose.

4. Modifiers, rather than strengthening the nouns and verbs they are attached to, can weaken them. If a noun or verb requires a modifier, then chances are, they are not strong enough to begin with. If they can’t stand on their own, I usually cut them out and replace them with stronger nouns and verbs rather than piling up modifiers to make up for their lack of impact.

5. Modifiers are the enemy of pace. They make for slow, awkward reading. One way to avoid this, for me at least, is to read aloud what I’ve written and record it then play it back. Any sluggish spots are easily eliminated by using this method.

So the solution to the overuse of modifiers – that is adverbs and adjectives – is a straightforward one. Wherever possible cut back, then cut back some more. 😉

Do you have modifier nightmares too? How do you make them go away? 

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Project O – Harsh Reality EXCLUSIVE: Interview with vicbriggs and AOpinionatedMan

vicbriggs and AOpinionatedMan on life, the universe and Opinion!

vicbriggs and AOpinionatedMan on life, the universe and Opinion!

I’m a story teller. I want to share my story with you. It may be mine today, or perhaps someone else’s. Ideas tail me until I give them space on the page and I can think of nothing more joyful than to send them chasing after you, make you smile, laugh, or shed a tear if that’s what you need today.

Project O : truth + fiction. After submitting my Opinion piece preview for the project (you can read this here: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/   ), I decided I’d delve a little deeper and see what I can come up for you. It soon became clear that an interview was in order.

Opinionated Man came to the virtual rescue. But. It always helps to visualise.

Disclaimer:

The interview below is between a fictionalised Opinionated Man and myself. To avoid any confusion, I shall refer to him as iOM. 

September 1, 2013. 10:03am GMT.

Altitude: 37000 feet (plus minus a couple of toes)

Ground Speed: 548mph

Somewhere south of Prague, nosing ahead towards Vienna; final destination: Iasi.

iOM walks towards me with an assured step. His shoulders move in rhythmic sequence one after another, as if driving his body forward, towards this place that contains me. I just stand here, watching him walk. Interesting. I never noticed before that he keeps his arms balancing slightly apart from his torso, that he walks tall and straight, carrying his height to its full.

Half way down the seat-path he twitches his nose and fans it with his hand. I laugh. Yes. This is one stinky plane. No two opinions about it. We could’ve chosen a better place for this interview, but needs must.

We await the lukewarm pretend-coffee liquid to be brought around. Once the green-coated, cherry-lipsticked, and rather grumpy Tarom stewardess (excuse me, ‘pilotical’ incorrectness alert!), ok: flight attendant leaves us; Lilliputian coffee cups in hand, iOM turns towards me and gets straight to the point. 

iOM: You are relatively new on the blog scene, having just celebrated your first month blogniversary. We first crossed swords over the question of women being crazy. In your opinion, did your background influence your position on the matter?

vicbriggs:  Very much so. My first instinct was to rebuff your claim, but that’s the lazy route. I remembered how a fellow thinker once dealt with someone who called her a feminist dyke (not that I’m suggesting here in any shape or form any equivalence between your view and that of her assailant). Rather than getting angry, she embraced the term transforming it into something positive: “Yes. I’m a feminist and a dyke. It’s wonderful that we live in a society where we can be one and the other, and be proud and vocal about it, wouldn’t you agree?” she said. It completely befuddled her wannabe attacker.

Opinion on gender issues in my country of birth, a small former Soviet republic, is still dominated, to my great chagrin, by a misogynist male population. It was tough growing up as a woman in Basarabia, but I think I owe my strength and commitment to women’s cause to that place. 

iOM: Are things different in that respect in your new home country?

vicbriggs: Things are much better in Britain. Women do have a voice here and their social standing is relatively better than in Eastern Europe. Nonetheless, there are still many hurdles to be overcome. There is a backlash of conservatism against the advances of feminism on women’s rights.

Since the recession, some politicians have even suggested that women ought to return to the home as their rightful place. Women’s pay is still considerably lower than men’s in equivalent jobs. Whilst men do not have to sacrifice their career in order to have a family, many women are still faced with that choice.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if society viewed both men and women as equally responsible for the upbringing of new generations? I think a lot can be done to share the burden, and I do believe that men suffer because of these attitudes too. Many would like to have the chance to be more involved as fathers.

My last few years in academia have also thrown light on the difficulties female academics have to face. Male students are never told at the very start of their phd that they have to break through a glass ceiling and that those of their gender have a tough time making it in this ‘industry’.

iOM: In your previous piece for Project O, you recounted how your grandfather’s attitude towards his wife was the first prompt for your unearthing how important it is for people to be allowed to voice their opinions. What, if anything, in your opinion, acts as the Grandfather-figure for others today? What keeps people silent when they ought to speak out?

vicbriggs: Fear. There are many reasons why people chose to remain silent, or are compelled to be so. Fear, whether of rejection, of reprisal, of not fitting in, is a big factor.

States and their governments are well versed in using the power of fear to keep their citizens and/or subjects in check. The Cold War provided the perfect opportunity for both superpowers and their allies to curtail the rights and freedoms of their own people, whilst pointing the finger over the Iron Curtain. When “they have it worse than you” no longer served as an excuse, they found other enemies to scare us with into silence.

The war on terrorism provided the ultimate threat. When your enemy cannot be identified, you live forever in fear. The truth is that no one has as much power and opportunity to hurt us than those we’ve put in charge of our decisions, our laws, and ultimately – since politics now infiltrates every aspect of society – our lives.

This is why projects such as yours (Project O) are so important in offering others a platform, a voice. It is wonderful to be able to be a part of it, and I hope that it will encourage others to express their thoughts and beliefs, whilst respecting those of others.

iOM: Speaking of respect, what do you understand by it?

vicbriggs: Good question, and a difficult one to answer. I suppose respect starts with an open mind. Listen before you speak your mind. Do not judge people before they’ve had a chance to explain their position. Give them a chance to defend it. If you disagree, do so by approaching the issue at hand rather than going for the jugular. Never make it personal, even if at times it feels so. If we were all a little more willing to listen and to at least try and empathise with others, then we’d make the first step towards mutual respect.

iOM: You’ve had a chance to travel and interact with people from cultures and backgrounds other than your own. How did this influence your opinions, if at all?

vicbriggs: I owe a lot of who I am today to these experiences. It’s opened my eyes to other ways of life, other modes of thinking, to others’ ability to cope in tough circumstances. Travelling has made me feel closer to my fellow women and men. I am a better person for it.

iOM: You say that you are a feminist and a democrat, and that you can’t be one without the other. Does that influence the way you view nascent democracies?

vicbriggs: New democracies have a lot of work to do for their women citizens. Outmoded attitudes ought to be left behind. It is not easy. I appreciate that in societies where religion is an important factor there is an additional hurdle to overcome. But I stand by what I said If you are a democrat, you are a feminist.

A Modern Greek philosopher and friend once told me that you can be a Greek or a Christian, not both. Greeks have managed it somehow, so I think there is hope for new democracies to subscribe to feminist values without abandoning their beliefs. But they do need to adapt them to new realities.

iOM: And if they don’t adapt?

vicbriggs: If they continue to oppress and devalue more than half of their citizens, then they do not deserve the label. They may be something, but not democracies.

Women ought to fight for their right to an opinion. Men, if they have that right already, and even if they don’t, ought to join women in their cause. If we stand together, if we persist and never give up, then we are bound to succeed. “Constant Vigilance!”

iOM: If everyone is entitled to their opinion, surely some clashes are bound to happen?

vicbriggs: Absolutely. But as long as there is a mutual respect and a desire to listen and understand the position of your opponent or adversary, then opinion will be in good hands.

As I mentioned before, the one line I draw is on sexism, racism and homophobia. If you deny people of a different gender, race or sexual inclination an equal standing in the conversation, then you are an opponent unworthy of respect. You cannot expect to be listened to when you belittle others. You are entitled to your opinion, sure. But no one likes a dick.

iOM: The last question. Do you have anything more to add regarding the importance of this project to you and to the world?

vicbriggs: The fact that so many people have chosen to take time and participate, voice their opinion in this context , is inspiring. I am grateful to be a part of it.  We have so many projects of our own that sometimes we can lose sight of what is most important to us. Project O has prompted me to delve deep and consider what I value most and why.

I hope that you will be able to make this a return feature on your blog. Perhaps we can rename September as the month of opinion and encourage more writers to participate every year with new sets of questions related to this topic.

Thank you for initiating the project. And thanks to you all for joining in.

Our lukewarm cups long emptied, we said our goodbyes and Opinionated Man left to hunt down another blogger for their opinion. From theory to action, I landed in Iasi and sticking a protester’s banner on my arm tattoo-style, went of the Union Square and screamed my lungs out to save Rosia Montana from the greedy claw of gold-diggers (literally) and preserve this place of outstanding natural beauty for future generations. The future is too late a time to make amends. Begin now. Grab a cause.

You have a voice. Use it.

For a rather more humorous take on AOpinionatedMan’s Project O questions, follow the link to my original contribution: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/

And here is the link to all other contributions by my fellow-bloggers. Enjoy! http://aopinionatedman.com/category/project-o/

You are One of One Hundred and One reasons to be grateful

Amazing you!

Thank you for dropping by,

For likes and comments too,

For seeing that I try

To grasp the truth anew.

 

Thank you for keeping score

Of poetry and prose,

And asking for yet more

Of mine for your repose.

 

You make it all worthwhile,

This journey’s searching tide…

How joyful all the while 

To have you at my side.

 

Thank you! 100 Followers!

Congratulations on getting 100 total follows on vicbriggs’s Blog.

Your current tally is 101.

Link

My travels with depression

I wanted to share this link with you, and my comments to the author’s confession. It is such a tough journey to make from depression to health. I hope this helps.

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I recognised so much of myself in what you wrote. I write fiction. This grounds my search for identity. It was only once I admitted to being depressed – not the colloquial, everyday ‘depressed’ that people use instead of saying ‘sad’, but the big-D depressed, when your world implodes and there is nothing you can do about it – it was only then that I was able to identify a recurring theme in my writing. All my characters undergo identity crises. These differ in type, intensity and texture, but ultimately the motif is always there.

“How could I express this bizarre lack of identity or the way I swap and change personality to please the company I keep?” you say.

I believe we all do that in our teens, when we haven’t quite figured out who we are. Mimetic behaviour is also normal in adulthood, it is akin to empathy, but of course, what you refer to goes far deeper than that. It comes I believe from a deep-seated need for acceptance. From a belief that we are not enough. Truth is, you are enough. We always demand more of ourselves than others ever do. Depression intensifies the pain, and makes it difficult for us to have a positive self-image.

“Would he understand the secret emotional immaturity, like a child pretending to be an adult?” you continue.

Pretence… We all do it. Most of us most of the time, or perhaps some of us some of the time, fake it. Sometime we make it, other times we don’t. There is nothing wrong with keeping the child within alive, but I would like to hear more from you about this. I am not sure I fully grasped what you meant by it.

“How do I admit an inability to sustain friendships or relationships?  Is it significant that I told my partner to leave because I was terrified of his abandonment?”

Attack as a form of defence. Building walls. Keeping all at a distance. Depression does that. Admitting that it is not you, but the depression in you that makes all this happen, can help lift the burden of guilt. A small step perhaps, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.

“Do I even recognise that the chronic emptiness is anything other than “normal”?”

This hollowing out is the worst thing that depression does. We project all that is good outwards, and are left completely empty. I don’t have the answer to how the process can be reversed. Acceptance. Perseverance. Openness. Every attempt can make a difference. In time…

You story-telling technique is wonderful. The twist unexpected. Thank you.

#BenedictCumberbatch

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#BenedictCumberbatch

Welcome to The Batch on Sunday: your online-home for all things CumberVic
The Batch on Sunday reports!

     Ever the resilient professional, Benedict Cumberbatch does not take bad reviews lightly. After an underwhelming performance in Sex with you-know-who, he attempts a comeback with a guest stint in Midnight Snog: long-awaited sequel and an integral part of writer-turned-director Vic Briggs’s Dreamscapes Epic.
The Batch on Sunday was astonished that Cumberbatch got a return invite all things considered, so we take this opportunity to interview co-star Vic Briggs on their latest joint project.

BoS: “Now that Midnight Snog has moved into post-production, can you tell our readers whether Cumberbatch’s snogging was up to par, or was it another ‘between the sheets’ fiasco?”

VB: “It was a relief to see him back in form. Of course, it is always tough to film intimate scenes, even for someone of Ben’s calibre and proficiency.”

BoS: “You last crossed swords with Cumberbatch over Sex with you-know-who. Given that you’ve described his –ahem – shall we say enactment? …as ‘rubbish’ and ‘absolute crap’, can we assume there was a lot of tension on set to start with?”

VB: “You’ll have to be the judge of that once the sequel is out.”

BoS: “Vic, you appear determined to be coy about it. Well, we all like a little mystery, but a preview would be nice.”

VB: “He-he. Ben was gracious about it. And there was certainly no trace of former wooden-ness in his performance. I speak for everyone, Benedict included; I’m sure, in hoping that was one limp act he can leave behind.”

BoS: “Is it fair to say that he’s keen to court your good opinion after the Sex with you-know-who disaster?”

VB: “He certainly wouldn’t take no for an answer. Ben is one determined cookie and a deliciously talented one too. But you’ll have to watch Midnight Snog to find out more.”

No flop then! With this The Batch on Sunday bids farewell to the Dreamscapes Epic director. If Vic Briggs keeps it up, we are in for one busy season. Watch this space, #BenedictCumberbatch aficionados everywhere!

While we wait for the premiere of Midnight Snog, you might want to check out the confession: I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire and the umm… director’s x-rated debut Sex with you-know-who

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/daily-prompt-excitement/

Liebster Award Nominations

Liebster Award Continued: Additional Q&A

Many thanks, tas, mercis and dankes to Alienorajt and Cornerofrain for nominating me for this award. Amazing people! Love your writing and congratulations on being nominated too.
Check out what they’ve been up to at http://alienorajt.wordpress.com/ and http://cornerofrain.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/1338/ respectively.
Another nomination. I’m touched and my grateful thank you goes to RandomlySpeakingUnorthodoxly for another Liebster nomination. I’ve added my answers to the questions at the top of the list. The last one inspired me to write the State of Syria post – such a great question. Truly thankful to have been given the opportunity to offer my opinion on the matter.
You can support RandomlySpeakingUnorthodoxly’s writing by checking it out here: http://fixatedann.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-liebster-award-yippee/

LiebsterThe Liebster Award Rules: 

You must link back the person who nominated you and answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.

You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers and come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer and notify your nominees.

I’ll have to reblog my answers with a running commentary in a surreal interview 🙂

Here they are plain and simple for now:

1. Randomly Speaking Unorthodoxly Q&A with vicbriggs:

Where are you from, were you born there?

I’m European, born at its edges, in a small country that looks like a tall-hatted shepherd walking on the sea-shore. It’s in-between Romania and Ukraine, across the sea from Turkey.

Why do you choose to blog?

This is a similar question to the one asked by Alieonorajt 🙂 I’ll see if I can add to my previous reply here.

I am a writer, a story-teller. I wanted to share my story, some of which is happy, some of which is painful. Blogging is a good way to do it. If what I write helps at least one other person in some way then mission accomplished.

Do you think writing can somewhat help to heal depression?

It is certainly helped me a great deal with that. But writing is only part of the answer. Speaking out is equally important.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

On a mountaintop, catching sunrays.

Amidst the waves, searching for peace.

In a field of violets, with my beloved.

Do you play an instrument?

I allow my fingers some repose on the ivories of a piano. My love of music is a gift from my father; a fire reignited by a stranger one melancholy evening some two years ago.

Are you a professional Writer? If you aren’t what is your profession? Would you choose another profession?

I am a writer. Whether I am a professional writer, I do not know. Writing is first and foremost a labour of love to me. I’d keep writing even if I never got paid for one word of it.

Do you have a bucket list? Care to share?

Haha. No. I don’t have a bucket list. Perhaps I should get one.

I’ve been lucky enough to have accomplished everything I set my mind to up to now. There is still a project or two I’d like to finish, but I’m sure I will get there in time.

Do you write poetry?

Yes. I also love reading poetry. I’ve been out of practice with both these last two years, but being part of this community helps with both.

Do you believe in marriage/divorce? State with reasons.

I believe in relationships and in their ability to endure, whether they are ratified by the state or not.

When people grow apart however, sometimes divorce is the only answer, perhaps the best one. I’ve grown up with parents who kept their marriage going for the sake of the children. It’s done more damage than good, and it made me realise that while many relationships are worth the work, but shouldn’t be saved at any cost.

What are your thoughts on the current battle with Syria?

I love your politically-minded question. Please see my full answer by following this link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/the-state-of-syria/

2. Cornerofrain Q&A with vicbriggs:

Is there anyone you can tell anything to without fear of rejection?

Yes. My brother. He is an incredible human being. His love is unconditional. I can do no wrong as far as he is concerned and this means that I can trust him with anything.

What do you think about most of the time?

Other people. People fascinate me. I am yet to find a more interesting subject, and believe me, I’ve tried.

How do you feel about yourself at this moment?

Like Thumbelina in flight on the wings of a summer breeze, holding on to the stem of a dandelion seed-head: frightened and exhilarated.

What is your favourite drink?

Mead. It makes me feel like I’m in a magical place.

What website(s) do you visit daily?

I don’t have a daily website I visit, unless you count WordPress for the last thirty days. I do a lot of research so what I use daily are search engines.

Is it hard for you to concentrate with all of the information available today?

What an interesting question! I suppose yes. It’s tough to sift through the information and pick what is important to you, because everything is important and nothing is.

Do you have a good sense of humour?

I think I have one, but whether it’s a good one… Can of worms a-going fishing 🙂

What does it take to make you care about someone?

Be yourself. Can’t care about someone faking it. Maybe when I was younger people could fool me, but I’ve developed a nose for it over the years. Be yourself and care about others, and I will care about you.

Do you sing when you drive or in the shower?

YES!

How close is love to insanity in your opinion?

Love this question. Love is madness, because none of us love in the same way. There is no way to control and conform your emotions to what is expected of you. Hollywood has attempted to set the expectations and give us all a template on feelings and behaviour when in love. Failed project I should think. When it hits you, it’s like nothing else before or after. If you’re lucky enough, it stays with you for the rest of your life. It makes you a little crazier, but a little happier too.

3. Alienoratj Q&A with vicbriggs:

What was your first memory?

I am not yet two. It is winter I think, a gloomy day in the countryside, but I am happy. I have a new red coat with white twirls hemmed into its edges. I run around in the mud. Careful not to fall and dirty my white wooly tights, but not so careful that I do not enjoy it. Mother comes to me in a hurry. She lifts me into her arms, tucking me safely away from the dirt of the road. My aunt calls from the other side of the fence. She says something pretty and loving. I think her beautiful. It makes me glad.

What is your favourite colour?

Sunset-orange.

What kind of music do you like best?

I have very eclectic tastes. Love all good music. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Jazz and Indie.

What musical instrument/s do you play?

The piano, although not as well as I’d like. I used to play the violin when I was very young, but gave it up before reaching any degree of proficiency.

What is your all time favourite film?

Too tough! It goes in circles, so I’ll have to give a few of the ones I keep returning to: Pulp Fiction. Fight Club. Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. Stardust. Atonement. I’m sure there’s an obvious one that doesn’t spring to mind right now, but I think those five have withstood the test of time (more of it for some).

Who is your favourite fairy tale character?

The Wolf in Red Riding Hood: a very misunderstood creature. We only hear Red’s side of the story. Who knows what abuse Wolf might’ve suffered over the years at the hands of Grandmother to bring him to such an extreme reaction? Also, his actions are always judged from a non-wolfish point of view. Another world’s norms and values are imposed upon him. He never gets the chance to explain his position. He is robbed of a voice and then murdered. We are none the wiser at the end.

Who do you love most in the world?

My husband and my brother; my family and friends; although everyone that crosses my path gets their own nook in my heart.

Read or watch television?

Read.

What is the very best thing about you?

A resilient trust in others.

What made you become a blogger?

The need to be more honest about things that have been painful, the desire to share, the hope that I can help others with their hurdles even if only by adding a smile to their day.

Now! For my nominations

So tough finding bloggers with under 200 followers. Very encouraging, as it shows how much support new writers get. I found you. I read you. I enjoy what you do and want to get the word out there. So… My nominations, in no particular order, are:

  1. EightLeggedGemini, but to me forever TwinCentaur http://wordpress.com/#!/read/blog/id/45412027/
  2. Blessed/Depressed: http://sixsidedtruth.wordpress.com/
  3. Randomly Speaking Unorthodoxly: http://fixatedann.wordpress.com/
  4. Amelie Lockhart: http://amelielockhart.wordpress.com/
  5. My Travels with Depression: http://mytravelswithdepression.wordpress.com/
  6. Written Obsessions: http://writtenobsession.wordpress.com/
  7. Joserizzal: http://joserizzal.wordpress.com/
  8. Prodigious Leaps: http://allisonmargaret.wordpress.com/
  9. Alienorajt: http://alienorajt.wordpress.com/
  10. Cornerofrain : http://cornerofrain.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/1338/

My questions for you:

  1. How do you dream? (Colour or black and white? Sound? Smell? Touch? Taste? What senses do you use or have available to you in your dreams?)
  2. What were you like as a child?
  3. What is your favourite memory of a loved one?
  4. What, if anything, would you have done differently if you could go back in time?
  5. Do you remember your first kiss?
  6. What do you see as the purpose of life?
  7. What matters the most to you now?
  8. How do you feel about owls?
  9. When did you last walk barefoot through the grass?
  10. Where is the place you go to when you want to recharge?

A big thank you to all

from a very happy blogger on her one month blogniversary 🙂

It’s good to be here with you x