I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
I had a wonderful day today, at Northwood Prep School in Rickmansworth. I felt almost at home, as I used too live in Bushey when I was 10/11. The signs to the Aquadrome made me feel quite nostalgic. We spent many happy summer days there as a child. Not so nostalgic is the proximity to Mt Vernon Hospital, where I had a cyst taken out of my eyebrow when I was about 13. It was done by the plastic surgeons at the burns unit. I remember being quite scared by some of the burns patients, until I talked to them and realised they were real people underneath the scars.
I arrived at my hotel last night to be told I was booked in for tonight! There had been a mix up, but they fixed me up at the Latimer Hotel in the impossibly quaint village of Latimer. It was all very lovely, except that the room next door decided to have a party at one in the morning!
The school in built in an old farm. The buildings are timber framed, and all the new buildings are built to the same style, which makes the whole very homely and on a human scale.
Sue Smith, the Librarian looked after me wonderfully and the canteen did a great lamb hotpot.
It was interesting having all boys in the audience. My books are very boyish. It was great not to have to add bits in for the girls! Thanks for a great day..
I stopped off at John Lewis in High Wycombe to get some material to make my Viking Vik tunic for World Book Day in Devon – now to get on and make it!
It’s a bit weird writing stories when I know that the covers are already sorted out! I’m revising the third story of Axel Storm at the moment. Actually, I’m pretty much re-writing it. I decided to change a major part of the series, which has put a different slant on all the stories. It’s made them all much better, but does involve a lot of re-thinking.
I struggled with this story, Jungle Fortress, all last week. I’ve been waiting for the last stone to fall into place. It did, last night as I was falling asleep. I woke in a panic this morning, wondering if it had only been a dream and that it was nonsense or that I couldn’t remember the idea.
Phew! It drifted back to me and it makes sense too. Better get on an write it now
Here is a lesson to help you draw a bat – c’mon – you know you always wanted to! I realised that I’ve been drawing them wrong for quite some time. Amazing what a bit of research will do! As ever, if you like it, please rate it with the stars in the top left hand corner. Enjoy.
Today marks a bit of a milestone in my drawing school- I’ll hit 25,000 videos shown on youtube. I think that’s quite good – i’s not like I’m showing videos of sneezing pandas or children getting bitten. It took me a year to get 2,000 views and abut four months to get the next 23k. My viewing graphs show a really nice curve, that statisticians would find very satisfying. Many thanks for all your views.
Any ideas about how I might improve would be gladly received. I don’t have a lot of time for it, so I do tend to do it in a bit of a rush.
I must have learned something over the years about writing, so I’m going to share my experience on youtube. Here’s the first video – just an introduction.
If you like it, please rate it with the stars in the top left hand corner.
I’ve finished reading Jaron Lanier’s You are not a gadget,.
The positive ideas he said would be at the end of the book never really arrived. He has to split his mind in two to be able to start questioning, never mind get answers. He views art and humanity from a humanist viewpoint and technology from a computationalist viewpoint. The two views never meet as, I suspect, Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics will never meet. Lanier has a vision of the future where we all become octopi on lsd.
It doesn’t excite me, I’m afraid. It’s hard enough being who you are, let alone pretending to be someone else in an online environment. He’s done a lot of work in Virtual Reality. He says that the brain soon responds to a new body and learns how to operate extra legs and make up for physical limitations.
I’m sure the brain would happily exist in cyberspace if it could, but what would that do to the concept of Humanity. The one thing that Lanier holds onto is the idea that Humans are special. We are not computers. We are something higher than that.
I can’t help but feel that the internet is changing that – smoothing down the individual, banging square pegs into round holes, making everything blend into gloop so that online culture becomes no greater than the giant, stupid, soap opera of Facebook or YouTube.
I’m beginning to think that the internet is a disease that has infected us. Did you see Avatar? That scene where the tree sends fungal-like filaments over the bodies as it scoops up the life force? I think that is what the internet is doing to us. Every time we connect another root is sunk into our brains, making it harder and harder to disconnect.
What would happen if you went offline? Can you? Your phone is now the internet. There are things you cannot do offline. How would you check train times, plot routes, find stuff out? Libraries are getting rid of non-fiction, because no one uses it anymore.
If I disconnected would the world stop around me? How hard would it be? Would I be happier? Would I ever work again? How could I let everyone know how brilliant it was if I couldn’t blog about it?
We are so hooked and hooked-up we can’t stop. It’s worse than an addictive drug, there is no cold turkey other than becoming a monk in an isolated Tibetan monastery. It’s all around us in the airwaves. We cannot escape.
But we might, one day be disconnected – and then where would we be?
I am not a gadget, but I am beginning to feel like one. Someone or something is pulling the strings, making me write this load of nonsense. I could have gone out and done something useful instead – made a cup of coffee, fixed one of the many things in the house I’ve been ignoring for too long, but no – something is calling – needing text entry. I don’t think it is me feeling I have to do it – I have no idea who my reader is. I really do feel that I’m providing data for something bigger than me. Perhaps I should just be happy with that thought, but I’m not sure if that bigger thing is good or bad and whether I want to be associated with it.
I’m a children’s author, for goodness sake, I should be exploiting this blog to make people want to buy more of my books. Instead I’m making them think, “he’s a weirdo!” let’s buy someone else’s books instead, someone who knows how to play the game and appear soft and cuddly and non-threatning.
Perhaps the internet is not there to be questioned and thought about. Perhaps it really is just a communications device to be exploited for our own ends. Just an enormous advertising billboard onto which we can spray our bits of graffiti or slap up our posters saying, “Buy me now!” Then we can take the money and run off to a beautiful desert island and end our days in the sunshine.
The snow is back again! I went for a walk in the woods. On the way drivers were abandoning cars on the hills and trucks were getting stuck trying to get up them. We have quite a few hills round here!I managed to connect up two paths today, but it was a longer walk than I thought it would be.
The snow was wet and heavy. It weighed the branches down over the paths making wonderful tunnel effects. One stretch was covered completely with thin, whippy saplings that bowed down almost to the ground. Lovely walk.
You’ve seen the compare the meerkat and you’ve watched Meerkat Manor so now get a pencil and some paper and learn how to draw them for yourself. It’s simples, peeps!
As ever, please rate it with the stars in the top left hand corner if you like it. Many thanks. Yo can embed this in your own website if you like.
Google claim to be “the Good Guys”. Maybe they are – at the moment. When that amount of power is focussed in one place, you can bet your bottom dollar the bad guys will want a piece, if not all of the action.
At the moment, Google makes so much money it doesn’t know what to do with it. So what it does, is create new little bits to further colonise the web and other communication technologies, so that in a couple of years, when a some nerds from Stanford come up with a “Google Killer” idea, the web will be owned by Google and they won’t get a look in. Google has learned not to let itself fall into the same trap Microsoft did.
If Google were making real things or selling food or any other utility, they would have been broken up into pieces by now, but somehow, we are perfectly happy to blindly let a real Big Brother outfit take over our lives, because they keep telling us they are the “Good Guys”.
If they really are the good guys, then they should stop fiddling about with operating systems and phones and apply their considerable power and inventiveness to the problem of content.
Google is a parasite. It makes its money by exploiting people like me – the creatives, who spend our lives having ideas, using our brains to move the human condition on. Google sucks up what we do, mashes it up and sells advertising on the back of it. It pays us nothing for our work and claims all the profit. That is either theft or slavery. The very word content demeans the work of creative people. The Mona Lisa is content to a web technologist. Picasso and Shakespeare mere content providers. Content is just a nebulous medium that can be focussed by aggregating technologies to sell advertising to finely chosen markets.
I’m beginning to feel a bit jaded about the wonder of the web. No one makes money as a creative person on the web. Certainly not enough to live on. It makes communication faster and easier, but is that a good thing? When I was young, you could send a postcard in the morning and it would be delivered by tea. Isn’t that really enough? we used to pick up the phone and actually talk to people at the other end – wasn’t that better?
I find myself glued to my communication devices these days. The day goes by and I’ve done nothing but blog, sort through spam and obsessively check my youtube and website stats, this because my publishers tell me it’s not enough to have ideas, to write and illustrate and visit schools and libraries and perform at festivals anymore, I have to blog to create and maintain my market. Woah! Isn’t that the publisher’s job? I blog away like mad, but I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference to my market, because I don’t address my blog to my market. If I did, there wouldn’t be any point in writing the books, as I’d be giving all my creative work away to the kids who aren’t the ones who buy the books anyway.
Meanwhile, as you read this blog, you and I are putting a journalist out of business, because you really should be reading carefully considered, well-written work from a paid-for journal and I should not be dashing this off for free, but submitting it to a journal who would pay me for my time and effort.
If Google really are the good guys, they should put all their energy into one project – online micropayments.
I’ve removed creative projects from the web because I did not get paid for them while they were online. As they were free, they took away from sales of real books from which I earn real money. Now I can’t be bothered to work on all the great ideas I have because I can’t afford to do them, because I know I won’t get paid.
If I got a micropayment every time someone looked at one of my projects, then it would become worthwhile to start putting projects together, or it would be worthwhile for publishers to gravitate towards online delivery. The way things are going, in about five years time, there is going to be a blood bath in publishing unless an equitable way is found to pay people for the work they do online. As far as I’m concerned, my good will and the fun of experimentation has worn out. Like everyone else, I need to eat and in this system, that means I need cash, not the promise of a new paradigm in a generation’s time, when I’ll be 90 and having to stack shelves at the supermarket.
I tried setting up a secure area of my site to provide quality content. But I could not guarantee the security of it and I found myself turning into a systems administrator – I shouldn’t have to do that. The business guys will tell me that I should be entrepreneurial and set up my own content delivery business, but then I’d never be creative again – I’d spend all my time employing others to do the creative work, while I did the paperwork and programming. I have a publisher to do that. It’s a weird twisted re-cycling argument that technologists and web business people don’t seem to get.
Since the web began to take hold, my workload has at least doubled. If only my income had done the same. I may have stayed in the same place – I think I’m probably going backwards in real terms.
The internet is turning into a place that is purely commercial, a system for screwing money and free labour out of the plebs, (that’s us) by legal or illegal means. Will we continue to walk blindly down this path, or will we revolt or will the good guys come to our aid and create a future that we might want to be part of?
My Drawing school is beginning to be quite successful, but it is noticeable that most of my hits come from California, the home of all things digital – a really wired society.
The trouble with UK viewings is that schools seem to disallow YouTube point blank, which is a terrible shame as there are amazing things on there. I’ve been trying to upload lessons to TeacherTube, but it is a horrible site to deal with. They don’t allow widescreen and it takes me at least ten attempts to upload a video. Once they are up, I seem to get good viewing figures, but I’m so frustrated with it.
Can you help me? below is a test video from wordpress, who host my site. It’s a great service, but pointless if it can’t be seen behind firewalls. I know some education authorities ban anything from wordpress.com too. Crazy!
Can you see this video on your school network? I’d really like to know. Do you have a special teacher login that lets you see sites the the kids can’t see? Can you have this site approved for viewing videos?
It would be so useful to know. please make comments below. You can do this without having to give your email address.
There is a big problem with ebooks. Once all the books in the world have been digitised, there will only be one book. No author, no revenue, except for those who find ways to exploit the power of cut and paste. There will be no reason to write a book again.
Books take time and consideration. Those doing the work need recompense – even if it is only praise and acclaim. There is nothing for the ego in the mashup world of the big ebook.
Look what has happened to music. Because it is so ubiquitous, recorded music has little value anymore. At least musicians have the option of going on tour and making money from live audiences.
You could argue that that is how authors get paid already. Very few make any money from selling books. They live by talking and teaching others how to write books, thus putting themselves further out of business. Technology has not only made books freely available on Amazon, it has both pushed the price down and allowed myriads of middle men to come in and chip away at the profit, making it less and less viable to be an author.
Already we have mash up books written by anonymous committees in anonymous “creative” production houses, promoted with marketing budgets that individual authors would never get spent on their books. This is marketing, not authorship. It’ll be a sad day when that is all that is available – fodder for stupid humans that will have allowed it to happen to them – Soma.
I guess there are a few authors who manage a life on the road, with large audiences all buying signed copies of the book as a souvenir of the gig to put in their collections- not as a book to be read. This is what musicians do now, but an author needs down time for contemplation. If that is taken out of the equation, then all that is produced is pulp. More pulp for the big mashup book in the clouds.
Of course I should declare self-interest in this problem. Will I be able to make any money from my chosen career in a few years time. Something tells me I won’t and that I’d better start looking for new revenue streams.
When I was young, you needed to be a god to even think about starting a band. I had a high opinion of myself! But it was hard to do. There were no mentors, we had to work it out ourselves. Now you can get kitted out at Lidl, learn from the best teachers on youtube and make yourself sound perfect with recording software. The result? Modern music all sounds the same, all overproduced and lacking soul. No wonder all the kids are happily listening to music of my generation. We would have poked our eyes out rather than listen to Doris Day! Music is over. It’s just there and anyone can do it. I don’t see anyone doing anything interesting lyrically these days. Lyrics are a nuisance – they require thought and practice and hard work. Much better to toss off a few lines of greeting card pulp.
Authorship by its very nature, requires time spent thinking, formulating ideas and arguments. It takes a human brain to do this. Machines can churn out stuff that looks like text (humans can do this too!), but you wouldn’t want to read it. The net has to find a way for the individual to be allowed to make money from their ideas and their humanity otherwise the machines win by default, without ever becoming intelligent themselves.