The First Revelation of John

This week I would like to present another one of my latest poems, “The First Revelation of John”. It is a retelling of St John’s first visionary experience, as dictated in the book of Revelations (The Bible). Now, I am not a theologian and do not claim any special understanding of what is described but I wanted to address it in some form and therefore decided upon what you are about to read. I hope you find it interesting.

 

“The First Revelation of John”

From an Angel, came the message,

Of the ending of the world.

A telling dream of many things,

“Be Blessed…” said the Herald.

Unto those who read the prophesy,

Untold blessings will be given.

And the rest will feel the burning

Of the whole/full might of Heaven.

He is coming with the thickening clouds.

He’s coming with a sounding fare.

Every heart will cry in anxious pain,

When all do see him there.

The Alpha and Omega both,

The Lord, God; Great I Am.

Who is and was, will always be,

Is soon to stalk this land.

Seven lights the seer first was shown,

Of domestic simple fare,

Though golden was their colour true,

He could not help but stare.

Among the light and standing tall,

A “son of man” was seen.

A long dress robe he wore therein,

With his golden sash pristine.

His head and hair were white as white,

Though his eyes they burned like fire.

His feet were bronzing to the eye,

A voice of water rushing air.

In his right hand holding seven stars.

Out his mouth, the sharpest sword.

His face was brighter than the sun,

On any given world.

When the seer saw what had been seen,

He fell flat on his knees.

The man put hand to the seer’s arm,

Saying, “Do not, please, fear me.”

“For I am the ever living one,

Who once had been dead, true.

But I hold the keys to Hades gates,

And now will outlive you.”

The seven lights being seven churches,

The truth was told and known,

The seer did what he was told,

And put it all to stone.

Please feel free to comment.

You can also follow me on Twitter @AuthorMcGowan

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A Little Advice

This week, I would like to talk about advice. For writers, taking advice can be one of the hardest things to do. We think that nobody else can understand what we’re trying to do and tend to shun what others might suggest. My advice is to take advice from those who know; the writers of today, for we are ourselves the writers of tomorrow.

In this blog, I will go through some advice given by such writers as Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman, Terry Gilliam and Stephen King. These are people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to writing whether it be novels, scripts or whatever. Each piece of advice is one that I find helpful and I hope that they are for you, too.

Here goes…

“The first thing you want to do, when you want to write a story, is to sit your ass in a chair.” – Prof John Dufresne

Excellent advice for any of us. If we want to get anything done then we have to come to a point where we stop running everything through our minds and get on with the writing process.

“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” – William Zinsser

Writing is difficult and if you come across anyone who says otherwise then you can ignore anything they say because they’re not doing it right themselves. Writing is a pain in the ass most of the time. You have this story in your head and notes made but the time and the effort and the brain energy that it takes to put the story down on paper can be exhausting and, at times, you may wish to scrap the whole lot and just start again from scratch.

“You need to understand your vision and you need to articulate it.” – Terry Gilliam

“I know I can articulate. I can describe exactly what I want.” – Quentin Tarantino

This is some great advice. So many times young writers have asked how to communicate the stories in their mind to the reader. Basically, Terry Gilliam is saying that you just need to tell the story that you want told and describe what you see.

 “Nobody’s ever going to see your first draft and nobody cares about your first draft… whatever you’re doing can be fixed… for now, just get the words down… Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman

“People have a romantic notion about writers that the muse comes and you write, you’re inspired and you write but they’ve got that completely wrong; You write and then you get inspired.” – John Dufresne

Always remember that your first draft (there must always be a second) is never the one that you send out. It is not the one that you let people see. It will need some work before it should be read by anyone but yourself. Until the first draft is complete, it is vital that you just write and keep writing, even if you are not inspired.

“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman

Again, good advice. Trying to emulate someone else or tell stories that are not of our own actually inhibits the writer. It prevents us from delving into our imagination and creating those new stories that we have inside. What we write must be from our own souls.

“As you come to the end of your writing day do not write out the last bit. Just maybe make some notes so that when you start the following day, you start by writing up the thing that you wrote in note form the night before so you never have that experience of not knowing where to begin.” – Andy Hamilton

I have found this advice very useful. Andy Hamilton has been a great inspiration to me over the years, creating and writing such shows as “Drop the Dead Donkey” and “Outnumbered”, not to mention the classic, “Old Harry’s Game”. I do as he does, writing up a few notes before bed so that I can dive straight in when I restart. I have found this helps me greatly as, by the time I have written up from my notes, I have found my rhythm again and can continue with more ease.

As you can see. The advice that writers can give is invaluable and I suggest that everyone thinks hard about these advisory quotes. We should always be willing to accept help in becoming the better version of our writing selves.

Good writing to you all and I will leave you with a few more quotes that I have found useful over the years. I hope you do too:

“I start with a character and I give that character some trouble…” – John Dufresne

“One thing I still do, over and over, is write in notebooks.” – Neil Gaiman

 “The best advice I can give you is be tenacious, be aggressive and don’t be polite.” – Jerry Lewis

 “I think that the novel is a quagmire that a lot of younger writers stumble upon before they’re ready to go there… Misery started as a short story.” – Stephen King

 “The plot has to come out of the desires, wishes, behaviors, motivations of the characters. They drive the plot.” – John Dufresne

 

Follow me on Twitter: @AuthorMcGowan

Story Generation… Good or Bad?

“… a backward badger balancing on a bendy scout, an old newspaper headline about a dancing accident, a hooded tortoise ranting about elbows and a drinking-well located in a gloomy place.”

What, you are probably asking, am I talking about? Is it drugs that I’m taking or drugs that I should be taking? Well, the answer is neither.

I have been looking around, this week at some of the offerings out there for online story generators. I have always been wary of these except for the three-point kick start elements; a place, an object and a profession. Having a little time on my hands, however, I decided to give some of them a try.

Most of them are not all too good. It is hard for a generator, especially a free one, to include the right number of elements for a story to work and incorporate them in a coherent way. I did find one, as it happens, that has made me think twice. I would never use any generator for my novels but, when writing a short story or some bite-sized fiction, it has it’s uses.

The site that caught my attention was “plot-generator.org.uk” and the reason that it made me stop in my tracks was that what it came up with was almost like it could have sprung from my own mind. Backward Badgers, standing on bendy Scouts; A Hooded tortoise, ranting about elbows; it all sounded very psychedelically sweet.

Obviously these online programs are only designed as a jump start for your imagination and not a way of replacing the planning stages or creation of plot and theme etc. It is, however, fun to play about with and see what kind of madness slips out. Sometimes it can be enlightening and may even give you an idea for your current or next writing project; and if not then you have had a wee rest from straining your writing brain which is always a good idea. Take a break every now and then.

After using this online generator, I will not be using the story-line that it produced but I will be trying desperately to find a home in my next book for a backwards badger, a bendy scout and a hooded tortoise.

Social Media: In My Humble Opinion…

I first started using social media with the introduction of Bebo. Facebook quickly exploded and very soon every man, woman and the family dog had an account somewhere on the web. Today I would like to give a very brief extrapolation about how I have found the more popular of the social media applications, performance wise.

As I go through, I will talk about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I will allow you to make your own conclusions and even advise you to try out each of them in turn to see which suits your own needs, whether it be personal or professional.

First of all, let us talk about Facebook. It is certainly a booming venture and the uses that you can put it to have grown incredibly since it’s conception. There are many millions of people who use it and it works for both businesses and for personal use alike. So, you say, what’s the down side? Well, as advertising goes, it is very easy to set up and market your product to hundreds of thousands of people in a very short length of time and the targeting programmes that are utilised are relatively good. My only real issue with it is that it was designed as purely a ‘social’ application and thus, even as it grows, it will always be used mainly for friends and family connecting, posting and enjoying memories.

As someone who uses social media to meet contacts inside the literary world, I find that the only real use I have for Facebook is a stage for my funny cat videos and amusing antics; a mere moment’s release from reality.

Secondly, I would like to say a little something about Twitter, who is undoubtedly Facebooks strongest competitor. I have found Twitter to be a wonderful way of connecting with people inside the industry that I am interested in, whether it be literary, musical, artistic or if you simply like Bird Twitching and are looking for others who do the same of a weekend.

Most of the people you follow or who follow you, unlike Facebook, are most likely people you met through the application and not school chums or workmates. This, I find, is perfect for its purpose. When you find people who are interested in the same things as you are, you follow them; the chances are good that they will follow you back (Unless, of course, it’s someone uber-famous like Brad Pitt or Tim Burton). If the person you find has sent out a tweet, feel free to comment and start up a conversation. It’s all part and parcel of the application and people welcome it.

I have met a great many people on Twitter and am glad of it. There are many others out there who have the same likes as you do, so don’t be afraid to jump straight in.

When Robin Williams died Facebook was aware but the reaction of the ‘Twitterverse’, as it’s known, was incredible. There were people all chatting and mourning from all corners of the globe. Celebrities and common people alike were all conversing and posting pictures of themselves standing on tables as they held sheets of paper saying, “Oh Captain, my Captain,” a reference to his role in the landmark movie, “Dead Poet’s Society” and instigated, I believe, by the lovely Amanda Palmer, writer, performer and beloved wife to Neil Gaiman.

I find, however, that Twitter can, as like most other social applications, take over my life. I am constantly checking it to see if I have any lovely red notifications and also have personal notifications coming through for a few of the people that I have chosen to follow, myself. This gives me a wee message whenever they make a post and allows me to keep abreast with what’s going on in the community.

Next on the list has to be Instagram. I understand that it has come on leaps and bounds since it’s creation but, as it stands, I cannot see any real sustainability. From what I have seen, they have taken a single aspect from other applications, the posting and storing of photographs, and made a whole new application around that premise. With most other social applications out there offering this as an expected element, I do not really see the point of it.

Next on the list is Vine. Now, this application, although I do not use it myself, does have some really great merits. Basically, the way writers, poets and artists use Twitter, musicians and performers use Vine. This gives them a worldwide platform to post their work and share it with the people who matter, the general public. These are the people who will be buying the songs, videos or going to the shows and so having a platform that allows artists, musicians and performers to display their work is great. It is also highly possible that the more popular postings will be seen by producers and others in the business. I would advise this and the utilisation of the YouTube channel option wholeheartedly.

Now, LinkedIn. What can I say? Not a lot to tell you the truth; I have only just found out how to pronounce it properly. I believe it is very useful in the business community and even a must but I have always seen it as an interactive phonebook and not much more. I have no personal use for it, at this time, and so cannot really comment but please try it for yourself if you feel it may be useful to you. You can always come back here and let me know how you find it by leaving a message in the comments section.

Lastly, Pinterest. Personally I found this absolutely irritating. Agreeably, I know that it is used to get posts on subjects that you may have an interest in but the topic selections are too broad and I ended up getting far too many posts arriving on my screen that I had no pinterest in (see what I did there?). Basically, if you like it then I do hope it continues to please but I cannot be having with it, myself.

As I said at the start of this blog, all of this is simply my opinion and I obviously do not wish to offend anyone. If you have anything to say about this article, please, I welcome any comments you may wish to leave at the bottom of this page. Alternatively you can contact me on my twitter handle, @AuthorMcGowan.

Take care and I hope you find the right social media platform for your own personal needs. We’re all different and that is why there are so many options out there.