Is It Just Me?

Everywhere I turn this morning, I seem to be confronted by bits of technology not working as they’re supposed to, or in many cases not working at all. I’m starting to wonder whether I have some mysterious aura that fritzes machinery and electronics.

We have BT Vision which -in theory- allows us to tape and watch TV programmes at a later date with a simple press of a button on the TV Guide. Except that a significant  proportion of said programmes cut out after 5 to 10 minutes and insist that the recording has completed. BT told us some weeks ago that it was known problem which had been resolved. Not on our set it hasn’t.

Yesterday I thought I was close to completing my last film assignment; I’d written the text, all that was left was to upload said text to Blogger and paste in the links. Er, except that Blogger keeps crashing my machine when I switch from HTML mode to standard mode; then last night it refused to preview beyond a certain point; then it simply refused to save. I suspect that the blog post has reached a certain permissable size, but that’s only a theory, and Blogger Help is as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.

Is anyone out there an expert on Blogger, by the way? If you, feel free to get in touch via but put ‘from the website’ in your header. I’d hate for the spam filter to chomp you up.

In the meantime, I shall have to break the blog post into three and hope that that doesn’t contravene the assignment isntructions, and it also calls for yet more links to be inserted. With breaking the original assignment into three equal-ish parts that isn’t going to be a short job — and it may turn out to be due to some other problem entirely.

Lastly, we recently switched to British Gas. We are obliged to provide a meter reading online. Guess what? That didn’t take, so they asked me to call in via an 0800 number. And when I did, I got a “sorry, there is a fault” on the line.

Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations, but rather than being more convenient and saving time, as the ads claim, it’s actually considerably less convenient, and has added probably an hour two to my working day in each of the last couple or three days. Seriously, is anyone else having this level of technology fail?

• May 7th, 2011 • Posted in Uncategorized • Comments: 0

The Alarm Clock Returneth

Ugh. Drat that alarm was my second thought this morning. My first was actually aaagh!! wassat? Before I remembered where I was, and more importantly, who I was. I hate that moment of dislocation more and more with each passing week.

Yes, Kate was back to work this morning, and despite the fact that it’s still officially the Easter holidays for us studenty-types, it’s back to work for me. So I posted something on the Film Mumblings blog, and I’m writing this, my 500th post here.

Most of this week -I suspect- will be given over to the final MAF blog, which is worth either 6 or 12 marks (I can’t remember which — it’s bloody important, though) and trying to whip the Genre critical piece into shape.  Although some thoughts about e-books are bubbling away, prompted by a news item about their burgeoning popularity, and I have some critiquing to do.

So I’d better get on with it…Abyssinia!

• May 3rd, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0


Like the rest of the students on my course (and everyone else, I guess) I’m still in the middle of the pre-Easter deadline crunch. That hasn’t been helped by problems with the Minerva system causing one of the assignments to disappear into a cyberhole, only for the new deadline to be in the middle of the maelstrom.

The upshot is that blog posts may be far and few between for the next couple of weeks.

But while I’m here…

…part of my workload is to finalize the selction for Transtories over the next couple or three weeks, since I have some forty-five stories to read through. (I’ll post the full stats tomorrow) I may post acceptances on Twitter.

Right, better get on with it. I’ll be back sometime to talk more about anthologies…

• April 2nd, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Sunday Afternoon

We got the unexpected bonus of a bit of unforecasted sunshine this afternoon, so after several hours of cutting and pruning, and re-jigging, to take a break from the Hamster-Wheel of Doom that is my Writer’s Workshop assignment, I persuaded Kate to go and visit a garden near Saltford.

Aside from a railway line just over the back fence, and the A4 with its relentless traffic at the front, it’s a pretty nice place. Visualize -if you will- the hawthornes and cherry trees in blossom, the flowers nodding in a gentle breeze. And over the fence, rabbits hopping around in the field. They’re safe enough, especially with the two cows leaning on the fence, running interference for the rabbits in between chewing the foliage on the fence.

Well, it was a nice break, but now it’s time to return to the Hamster-wheel; now I’m hunting quotes from my reading material, in order to convert a narrative to an essay. Or maybe I’ll just leave it as a narrative…

Have a nice Sunday Evening, whatever you’re doing.

• March 27th, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Looming Deadlines

After a glorious day out in the sunshine, it’s back to the grindstone with a vengeance, although the continuing sunshine helps to soften the grind.

What is less wonderful is that I have eight deadlines due in the next nineteen days; six of them are academic, including three in two days, two of them on the same day.

Of the two to do with writing, one of them is out of my control, so I just have to keep a watching eye on it.

The last one is for Transtories, the anthology I’m editing for Aeon Press (publishers of Albedo One); if you’re looking to sub a story, you have another week to get it into me.

If it all goes quiet around here, you’ll know why — I’m already having to put some new projects on hold until the deadline crunch has passed.

• March 24th, 2011 • Posted in Books, Writing • Comments: 0

The Weekend Finishes, The Week Begins

Well, that was nice; two days of reading (the original Earthsea Trilogy for any of you who are interested, reacquainting myself with Le Guin’s almost pitch-perfect  prose) interspersed with dog walking in the sunshine and dinners out in the evening.

We left Poole at about 7.20 this morning, and when we’d cleared the traffic down in Dorset (not helped by lorry drivers incapable of reading the signs advising them that the road ahead wasn’t wide enough for them) made good time to the campus.

Which was oddly deserted. A fairly large minority of students weren’t in today, presumably because they were working on assignments, but the effect of the first sunshine on a semi-deserted campus and my being back after a ten-day absence was to make the place feel quite unfamiliar.

I’m sure things will settle down again in a day or two, and it’s no bad thing to have a feeling of dislocation for an SF writer.

• March 21st, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

February Hours

It’s 2.26 am as I write this. I have a stinking cold caught from my film group which is keeping me awake. So as it’s the beginning of March, I might as well give into insomnia and do the monthly stats, for February.

 I worked 244 hours in February, which for the mathematically challenged among you, means I worked four 61 hour weeks.  That’s 4 hours more than November, my previous busiest month, with 2 days less in the month. (In November I did also work 45 hours at the Eye Hospital, which is why I was gibbering the end of that month)

Unsurprisingly, Planning & Making A Film accounted for almost as many hours as the other three modules combined. The good news on that front is that we completed shooting, so (hurrah!) my hours should plummet on that module – I intend them to, certainly.

Cumulatively, I’ve worked 900 hours in the past 4 months (120 days) averaging 7.5 hours a day, or 52.5 hours a week.  The big single subject – bar, none, including miscellaneous reading and writing—is film; I’ve worked 138 hours on that.

However, it’s now Reading Week, so I shall devote some time to reading, which always helps me chill.

• March 2nd, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Casualties of Learning

There are times when everything seems to happen at once, rather like the denouement for a novel (what kind of novel I’m living in I’ll leave you to decide – it feels like horror at the moment). 

Tomorrow we start filming for our Making A Film assignment, which counts as one-sixth of my total marks for the year on the whole BA course, by far the biggest weight of any assignment. Worse, to a very large extent, it’s being determined by circumstances beyond my control.

And also tomorrow my second Feature Journalism assignment is due, so I’ll actually be handing that one in today, when I go to pick up the crew’s equipment – assuming Mike is happy with the level of documentation; so far I’ve had no response to the request for a filming permission, and what should have been a routine request to the University for a room on Monday has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.

I spent the last hour before starting this blog post printing out reams of forms and e-mails (before that I’d had to nip to Tescos to replenish paper, and now I’m getting ‘low ink’ warnings!).

 That’s this morning. My afternoon is worse – it looks like:

                13.00 Into Bath to meet Film Group to pick up papers

                13.55 Into Uni to hand in assignment

                15.00 Home with equipment to store for tomorrow

                16.00 Head back to Uni for Plenary

                17.00 Plenary Lecture for Creative Writing

                18.00 Head to Bath for

                18.45 Launch of Genre Lecturer’s book (ends 20.00)

               20.00 Head to Toppings for Core Workshop Lecturer’s Interview with Patrick French

                21.00 Home or a late dinner in Bath….

This is quite frankly a ludicrous schedule, and assumes nothing going wrong and no last minute tacks thrown in my path by the nine (yes NINE) different bodies affecting Film.

So I’m going to take action. That Journalism article includes a piece called ‘The Joy of Study,’ in which one of my lecturers warned against the peril of over commitment.  It seems to me that I can do nothing about the first visit to Uni, but if I cut out the Plenary and the Toppings event, I can at least regain some time.

Apologies to Joe and Celia, but you are the casualties of learning today.

• February 24th, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

January Stats

This post is especially for Marc, who absolutely loves stats…

So I’ve compiled the January work numbers.

In 31 days, I worked 217 hours – exactly 7 hours a day, or 49 hours a week, if you prefer. That’s down on November, but up on December. The averages are complicated by the Christmas holidays; I only worked 46 hours in the last two weeks of last year, and worked only 49 hours in the first nine days of January.

Excluding reading, I spent 42% of my hours on Uni work, again complicated by the holidays. If I include reading, I spent 56% of my time, so uni and writing work was split almost 50/50. Unsurprisingly, ‘other’ work dominated work hours, while slightly surprisingly, Genre dominated my uni split with 13% of my hours worked. If you’re what ‘others’ is, it can be as diverse as fixing a printer or reading my e-mails each morning.

Since I delivered Ultramassive to Angry Robot, fiction writing dipped in January, at least until a couple of days ago, while I spent least uni time on Feature Journalism — in both cases about 8%. If I was splitting absolutely eveything equally, I’d spend 11% of time on each.

Cumulatively, reading has taken most time over the last three months, accounting for 15% of my time. I’d quite like to wave that figure under the noses of those lecturers who complain how little reading students do. ‘Other’ work accounts for 14% of my average 50-hour week. Making a Film is the most time-demanding uni subject at 12%, and will increase this month as we head into the heaviest period — when we actually make a film!

There’ll be more stats in exactly four weeks time.

• February 1st, 2011 • Posted in General, Writing • Comments: 0


I started writing this on Monday, staring out of the window into the dark to see if at 7.40 am, there’s any sign of daylight.


I just posted “Ugh. Its dark, cold and wet; it must be Monday” to Twitter.

Then, while I was waiting for the bus (yes, still in the cold and dark and wet) I thought about this some more.

The truth is that two of those three can apply at any time of the year. Cold and wet don’t apply exclusively to January, although statistically it’s more likely they will. But dark?

I have this mental impression that in the winter I go to and from uni mostly in the dark. Certainly by the end of the Winter term more than half of my journeys take place before sunrise and after sunset.

But –and with the marvels of technology, we’ve just slid effortlessly into a sunny Tuesday– the reality is that by this time of year my only timetabled journeys to and from college in the dark, are homeward on alternate Mondays and Thursdays. But because I have to get up and make ready in the dark of a Monday morning, that perception stains my whole week.

It’s not just me. I lost track of the number of times while working for Unilever that working practices changed, often covered by the catch all phrase ‘we can’t just do the right thing, we have to be seen to be doing the right thing.’

The tendency has spread throughout society so that everything now has to have a PR angle. The downside of making media instead of objects is that perception is as important as the subject now.

And if you don’t think that that applies to you, turn it on it’s head; how many times have you used a cartoon, or a photo of an object, or of an odd angle of your body (say only the top of your head) to change people’s perceptions of you? On Facebook it’s only a joke, but the reality is that just as advertising relies on repeated iterations, so does perception — pixel by pixel, you’re strengethening one of many new realities.

• January 18th, 2011 • Posted in General, Uncategorized • Comments: 0