The stories that inspire us -‘Hamlet’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

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Shakespeare, the original story teller. The true architect of language and narrative. You’ll find his influence near enough everywhere when it comes to the written and spoken word; sometimes you won’t even know you are using a phrase that he originally influenced. His works these days have even extended to cinema and television. 

Many of us came across the Bard’s work during our school years. Too many walk away from those lessons thinking his work is boring and almost inaudible to follow. That’s a tragedy in its own right and probably down to a lack of teaching execution. Although I don’t blame teachers not being an effective vessel to explain Shakespeare, like all art it’s  an acquired taste and also subjective.

For me Hamlet is the true epitome of story telling. It has almost everything a good story should have. Love, life and death with near enough all the elements that make a good story just that. Betrayal, deception and triumph; enveloped by that word ‘tragedy’.  They never taught me about Hamlet at school. I remember ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ but the Prince of Denmark and his laments I didn’t find out until I was cast as him in the play.

When you take on a work for the stage, be that by any writer you take a part of them and perform it as your own. You also sometimes; not all the time, become engrossed into their story and by becoming a character you only truly appreciate the weight of a story and it’s true power.

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Death is all around Hamlet, the character and the story. His ever so famous ‘to be or not to be’ monologue is about the contemplation of such and as the story unfolds death slowly reaches over near enough all involved. He urges love interest ‘Ophelia’ to get away which becomes an unintentional shun leading to the shuffling of her mortal coil. ‘Claudius’ plays the typical step father figure that is cliche even to this day – he did have a hand in killing his brother who happens to be Hamlet’s father the King; sound familiar yet Simba?

The only significant survivor by the close of play – spoiler alert; although you’ve had hundreds of years –  is ‘Horatio’ who utters those ever so famous words but before then we see a deceptive plot to poison Hamlet which goes ‘badly’ for Shakespeare’s standards along with a memorable duel. As I said it has everything and as our language continually evolves further and further away from that used in this classic tale, it’s so important we remember and honour it.

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For those looking to improve their craft on stage nothing will do it better than the words of William Shakespeare. From modulation and dictation all the way to understanding of how a basic story is put together and all the way to being able to learn lines – if you’ve learned and nailed Shakespeare on stage, everything and I say everything you do after will be noticeably easier. Great stories of tragedy or even triumph never fade and well I suppose the rest is silence….

Do you have a favourite Shakespeare work? 

Weekly Ramble #59

I am fully immersed into book editing mode. Delving back into the pages and words I laid down nearly two years ago has lifted me. It’s surprising how well polished I left what I thought to be a first draft of ‘Darke Awakening’. Over the books and years my style of drafting has evolved into an edit and go process which pays off when you return to a project. 

This book will have it’s challenges but the most difficult part of the writing process has already been figured out. It’s a masterpiece, an intricate complicated shitstorm of fun intertwined with several story arcs combined to tell one great mess of a book which I personally adore. It may well be a tad ambitious but what I have edited so far has restored my faith in a story told over three books; Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood – three books readers must take on to enjoy this next one and hence the real challenge in all of this; marketing the whole thing.

Personally and it might sound indulgent and egotistical but I’ve said this before; I actually don’t care if people don’t like what I write, I do it for the story telling and not the reaction of mass audiences.

Yeah we get bruised as creators when someone gives us a scathing review but that isn’t why we are in this game. We do this because we want to create and to contribute towards art and literature. We do this because it fulfills us and shines a light into this dark void of life. Opinions and audiences are variable, the story we tell is the constant.

To reach the summit of those two sacred words ‘the end’ is to truly live as a writer. And to create something from the imagination entirely from scratch is to be free. All of us live to be free. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #57

Seeing your own writing come to life and put onto a stage in front of an audience is something I am still getting used to. It’s an incredible and rewarding feeling. As writers, bloggers and creators many of us don’t ever get instant applaud for our work. Books can take years to ever gain any type of gratification so most of you can imagine when an audience member approaches me and say’s that I did a good job, it’s probably the pinnacle of being a story teller. And I wont lie, even after the past weekend which now seems a lifetime away; I’m still rather high from it all and perhaps I should be. 

The truth is I am damn proud of the stories I have created but the plays, they are truly special because they are made by the performances and the production. My writing is a mere first step, or even a suggestion of an idea; the rest is in the hands of everyone else. Those performers and everyone else involved should be proud, not only because they have brought a fantastic show into this world but because there aren’t many good  moments in this life to be proud of. Life can be bitter sometimes and it can bite you hard and bring you down. You must find things to be proud of to cast light over the shadows of hardship and that’s up to you. Taking pride in one’s work is probably more important than any other type of praise or reviews; the fact that you did it and it made a difference; a positive difference in your life is all that matters when it comes to story telling.

Be proud, all of you!

The stories that inspire us – ‘Timeline’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Welcome to a new series that hopes to give insight to some of the stories I have experienced that shaped me and my writing. Many of them I hold close to my heart and some you may end up taking on as recommendations. Without the stories in this series I would not be here today!

Although this series will cover stories from all mediums it starts with a book that might possibly be one of the most important I have ever read. This is the story of destiny and how I came to find a story called Timeline. 

I grew up near Heathrow Airport, in fact the runway stood no more than two miles from my house. We were parallel to it so we didn’t get the flight path noise, plus in that distance there were a stack of fields and houses in that space. The sounds of take off and jet engines I found comfort in, I still do. Eventually I found myself a job at the Airport. In 2005 I was sixteen years old without a clue about the real world, what real work was or who I really wanted to be. The dream of being a writer was still forming and back then the prospect of being anything and nothing all at once fed the imagination of the dreamer in me. Back then I had never properly read much apart from some kids stories and of course ‘the Lost World’ by Conan Doyle – another entry for another day perhaps…

The work I found wasn’t great. It was a bottom rung of the ladder type of gig although the money wasn’t bad for someone my age. My first job; aircraft cleaner. My stint at Heathrow only lasted about six weeks – sixteen year old Lee didn’t want to work Christmas so he handed in his notice… but the one thing I did get out of that job may serve as my reading and writing destiny. This is what I found, discarded and probably aimed at the trash… (you don’t ever throw books away, that’s a rule)

82388540_2767793129922668_5957050524938272768_nI picked up this book while cleaning and immediately the authors name grabbed me.

‘That’s the guy who wrote Jurassic Park, I’m sure…’ 

And I was right. Michael Crichton is the guy who wrote Jurassic, so if he can tell a story that good about dinosaurs then what can he do with time travel?  Being a big time fan of Back to the Future my mind was open about another time travel caper. So what can he do with time travel?

My answer is: everything you can imagine and more! I took this beaten and weathered book home and read it cover to cover in around ten or so days over Christmas 2005 – I had no friends anyway…

The picture above was taken especially for this entry. Timeline sits on my shelf alongside eleven other Michael Crichton novels. When I open it, I still smell that musk of old pages, it takes me back to that moment where I discovered a novel about realistic time travel. But it’s not just about that, like all good books, like all good Crichton books, it’s about so much more. As well as being a history lesson, it’s a roller coaster of science, action, deception, twists and turns. When I finished reading this book I had only one goal in life – to read more of Crichton’s works and I did. My aspiration and dreams of becoming a writer began to form because of this man’s work and his stories.

If there is a truly pinnacle moment in my writing and reading journey it would be when I found Timeline. Only three years after I had found this book Crichton sadly passed away and I remember exactly where I was. I will never be able to thank him personally for the story that inspired me to go on a write my own works under his influence with his works on my shelf beside mine where they will always be. The inspiration of stories lives on in those who have read them and experienced them.

Have you ever found or been given a book and it ended up being a masterpiece?

Weekly Ramble #53

All this year I have been immersed in being busy. Whether that’s writing stuff, work, moving places, performing or even doing social things. In some senses I don’t think I could function without doing stuff. I know we all need a rest every now and then, the mind must wind down and reflect, right now I’m doing just that (while subconsciously thinking ‘what’s next?’).

While being real busy I just haven’t taken a moment or used any mind space to reflect on that fact that I now have 5 books published. A feat which is actually pretty damn cool, especially after doing it in under 5 years. The truth is and without sounding overindulgent I am damn proud of my work, in turn I am damn proud to know some of you who have pushed me on and on this year and in previous years. Being proud of the good things in life is so important and not everyone will get that. Now I am of a certain age (the kids won’t get this) I have come to appreciate that this life can bite you sometimes. In fact there aren’t many real good days that we have. Be proud of the good things you achieve, wear them, carry them with you, let them remind you it isn’t always bleak. Life is too damn short not to be reminded every day of the good stuff. 

This blog and it’s ‘moderate’ success has been a revelation this year, all you need to do is look at the numbers below to see how things exploded in a matter of months. There are a stack of good supporters this Hall of information must and will pay tribute to next month.

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For those in search of a ‘different’ type of read, my 5th book ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ has literally just been published and is available to download for less than $2 (it always will be). The paperback drops next week. Check out the awesome cover here. It’s a story about love, life and even if people do leave us, their influence lives on inside us.

Peace out and thanks for reading well cultured, well read individual! 

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Weekly Ramble #50

Weddings can be an incredible thing. I should know, I’ve been to 2 in the past week. Both of which were for some of my best friends and people I know. Whatever your outlook on love and togetherness all reservations and opinions of such are reunited when you see a couple who mean the world to you get together. Sometimes it takes a wedding to truly realise that two people are meant for each other.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a person who cares less about my own success and more of a person who cares to see others do well. Perhaps that’s me being the connoisseur of stories, seeing real characters in this world answer to destiny and succeeding.

In fact there is nothing more in this world that I want than to see others achieve success and to find themselves. Of course love can be a huge part of that for many of us, but there are folks out there who are yet to find such things and can still be happy. Perhaps happiness like love is in the eye of the beholder.

Being just a few days removed of my own brother’s wedding I am starting to process how special that day was, not only for him and his now wife but for the family and friends that were part of it. Families have a way of drifting apart for whatever reason but life is too damn short and sometimes it takes something like a wedding to reunite old memories and acquaintances. Family, friends and love is important to us all, it’s what makes us truly human.

I think I nailed the best man’s speech. They laughed and enjoyed my words which were from the heart. There was emotion, laughter and fun – not just in my speech.

In a world where many of us all have our own struggles, it was days like that which make it all worth it and you probably know the saying by now, ‘love is all you need..’

Weekly Ramble #49

How the hell are we in November, again? Even with a mere eight weeks until the culmination of not only another year but another decade I got a lot of stuff left to do!

These days it’s kind of cliche to be busy, but this past year I’ve been one of the busiest motherfu**ers in the world… Okay that may be a tad over dramatic but I’m tellin’ ya now, even though on the writers side of things it’s been good, if not awesome, everywhere else, off the written page has kicked my ass.

This ramble post is just a check in before what is one of the biggest weeks of the year for me. My brother is getting married tomorrow and I have the honour of being the best man – this involves a speech in front of a very specific audience – family and close friends. The truth is, I’m anxious, nervous and every other type ous there is available. As a whole the speech does what I always do, it tells a story. I’ve recited it out loud several times and I am probably prepared for it. I’ve been in 16 stage shows in 9 years but this is whole different type of gig. I’ve constructed what I hope is a speech that is emotional, touching and sometimes funny with a balance towards a wide audience of ages. Its in situations like this you just have to trust the story to do the rest.

The next ramble will probably be a debrief of sorts. My mind is only focused on this right now but at the very back of my mind is my 5th book.

‘The Ghost Beside Me’ drops in December. I am on the lookout for a handful of beta readers, anyone interested in a shorter read that is both weird and a paranormal romance then hit me up. Until then, I’ll see ya’ll on the other side…

Weekly Ramble #48

This has been probably the most important year of my life, in both writing and everything else and even now there are several plays to be made before the final bell is rung. 

Everything that I have achieved hasn’t been easy but it never is. This blog is approaching 400 followers, this year we started south of 200. Incredible things happen when decent people back you and that’s probably my real secret to all of this; good people trusting my words which are also good and honest.

Story telling as a whole is just a collection of good ideas fashioned into some kind of order and then put on the page. Convincing people to take on those pages is the hardest part of all of this, but we’re getting there. This always was and always will be a one person at a time kind of deal. To all 398 of you who one by one made the effort to follow this Hall of Information – thank you, when it reaches 400 there will be something of a reward…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Stairs’- a paranormal account

The events relayed in this account are true.

 

There are unexplained moments that happen in our lives. Some remain that way forever in the back of our minds and on the fringes of belief. For the majority, these ‘events’ are far and few between but then again there are some exceptions. My second paranormal experience was just that; an exception to the rule. It also happened to take place in the vicinity of where my previous one happened. I don’t believe in coincidence when it comes to the paranormal simply because of this…   

In the summer of 2017 I joined my significant other, her family and friends on what had become the annual two week trip to the south of France. For those who read my previous account  you’ll know the setting; a picturesque converted farm sitting on the hills of beautiful countryside. It’s remote and peaceful. The weather hot nearly everyday although this year the presence of bugs was way reduced due to a late frost.

Our particular digs like the other years a ‘gite’ which could hold up to 12 and on this trip 10 of us were about to become 12 at the midway point of the holiday when my S.O’s sister and her other half would be joining us. Their room sat opposite ours and my S.O’s in the right hand wing of the place. We had a bathroom between us and little stretch of narrow corridor which then flowed out to the main staircase. This staircase was fashioned out of dark red varnished wood and the steps were separately slotted into the wall. Like I mentioned previously when someone would climb these steps it’s would be difficult to miss with the distinctive wooden ‘drumming’ and vibrations which resonated against the wall whenever they were stepped upon.

On the night before our new arrivals were due I had already gone to bed when I had the rather strong urge to pee. I eventually gave in to those urges and decided to get up, I put the bedside lamp on and made my way to the door which I unlocked and headed out into the dark corridor. At this time the whole place was dead quiet, everyone was in bed by now and so it was dark but the little light from behind me showed the way and so I went into the bathroom, before I walked in I noticed the open bedroom door in front of me where our new arrivals would be staying the next night. The room sat in the shadows and in my grogginess I shuffled into the bathroom and closed the door.

Being half asleep I took the decision to sit on the toilet and during so I heard the distinctive sound of footsteps drumming up the stairs. Was someone up at this hour? The steps pattered on wood as they continued from what I presumed was the ground until they reached our level. I had the distinct feeling someone was rushing into our wing of the gite and flowing past the door I was behind and into the vacant bedroom. What followed was a loud echoing slamming which sounded like what could have been a heavy door closing.

I finished my business and headed out into the corridor. Immediately I put the light on to see nobody in sight. I walked to the stairs to see nobody around. My inspection of the situation pointed towards nobody I knew being around at the same time. That slamming sound, so distinct and even harrowing, I am swaying towards belief that it was something not of this mortal coil.

Some encounters remain unexplained…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Facebook dead?

Who here actually uses Facebook as their number 1 social media platform?

I’ll admit that good ol’ life invader is probably number 4 in terms of social media platforms I exist on. Just last year I spent the majority of December with the Facebook app deleted and the revelation was, I felt so much better for being without it…

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It’s not news that ‘FB’ have been involved in a bunch of ‘unsavory’ activities when it comes to data, our data. Cambridge Analytica happened and this is without mentioning many more speculative activities the social media giant have been linked to all of which links back to our data. Both Trump and Brexit are could be suggested here…

From all of these revelations, I just get this feeling that things are no longer the same. Yes Facebook boasts a huge amount of users but do they use it as much these days? Is the social network just a reanimated corpse walking around with users who seemingly latch on because there isn’t an alternative? Most of us know their history of less than reputable dealings but I take a look around and long gone are the days where most of the people I know put up statuses on a daily basis. It feels like a ghost town, or a mining town where the gold ran dry.

I’ve boasted for a long time that my usage of ‘FB’ is limited to messenger and events planning. That’s probably the same for most of you. My author page sits idle a lot of the time and I probably post something every other week. The real truth is I don’t know anybody who’s Facebook page is their go-to platform anymore.

Out of all the super businesses in the world Facebook doesn’t actually produce anything. They earn money from advertising and they also take a shit ton of our information on a daily basis. Most of the people who will read this right now will be logged in to Facebook and not bat an eye about it. Much like our devices, Facebook is listening, it’s a harrowing sinister thought that for some reason nobody seems to challenge. You ever talk to someone about a particular subject and then that subject appears in a pop up ad on your browser? I suppose that’s the answer when you ask what they are doing with out data.

Fu**ed up isn’t it? And that’s without mentioning the repercussions social media is having on our mental health. The instant gratification and mining for likes generation are soft and vulnerable by their own means. And the generation just before were brought up on the Simpsons, South Park, Little Britain and the Office and they are just as afraid to say their mind because it could offend. This really is a world trying to figure itself out.

Social media has given birth to that new world and I could go deeper but the world Facebook has created could ultimately be its undoing. It’s already began. This is without even mentioning some of the fantastic positives social media has. Most of you reading this wouldn’t be doing so without social media. Some of the people I have come to know at the other end of a keyboard are probably the reason I haven’t given up. It’s a strange old world.

 

What do you think of Facebook? Have we changed or has Facebook?