- Try writing individual ideas on post-it notes. You can either stick them on a large piece of paper to see where they might fall in the grand scheme of your idea; or preferably stick them to the cat and treat the order in which they fall off as the intervention of fate.
- Ensure cats are well-fed before you start, ten minutes after you start, and then at 30 minute intervals. Either that or don't feed them, and treat the results of them rolling on the keyboard as the intervention of fate.
- Do not be tempted to open the windows. This will only admit insects for cats to chase. Either that, or do open the windows, and treat the results of cats charging backwards and forwards over the keyboard as the intervention of fate.
- Make sure your working environment is comfortable. Sitting on a cat's tail can be detrimental to your comfort.
- Do not forget to check social media sites regularly. It is very important to keep in touch with your friends, colleagues, potential readers, and their pictures of cats.
- If your creative endeavour includes any artistic medium, ensure that the design calls for cat fur in both strategic and non-strategic places, because you know it will end up there anyway.
- Ensure all electronics you are using, including surge protectors, are protected from surges of cat vomit.
- Do not pause to stroke cats even if they look cute. It is difficult to create with a stone of cat hanging from your finger by its teeth.
- You may wish to consider shutting cats out to ensure you remain undisturbed. If so, ensure your timetable allows for refitting carpets/ repainting doors/ making good external woodwork that has been damaged by cats attempting to regain entry.
- If you are getting stressed about your project, remember that cats are excellent for helping reduce stress (it says here). Why not take a break from your project to feed your cat? Just don't leave anything drying, unless you're happy for it to have footprints in it...
Now that the studying is out of the way, I'm turning my attention to other things.... like the third and final volume of The Automata Wars, a new musical collaboration, a new literary collaboration, and a host of other ideas. Of course, it isn't always easy switching from a particular style of painstakingly researched writing to something that demands completely different styles of productivity. I thought I'd share my top tips on how to make it all work.
Just before signing off for this week, I wanted to say a big thank you to A. Stuart Williams and to Amy and Scott of Southcart Books, Walsall, for hosting and coordinating another fantastic writers event last weekend, and to all the wonderful writers for their various talks and readings. I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!
Last weekend, I was treated to a special post-dissertation outing: namely, a wolf and bat walk. Well, more specifically, a wolf view and a bat fly-by/ crawlpast, but that would have made the event title rather unwieldy.
The UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Beenham, Berkshire, is dedicated to the conservation of wolves - no, not the football team - including education and research. There aren't any wolves left in the wild in this country anymore, but there are elsewhere, and the Trust funds projects that help to preserve these animals in their natural habitat. Ten 'ambassador' wolves ("Ambassador, you are spoiling us with these great big teeth") live in Berkshire on the Trust grounds, and it is these ten that I visited last weekend.
The wolves are divided into several enclosures to prevent fisticuffs (biteycuffs?), and include Arctic as well as Northwestern wolves. As the dusk fell, they began howling - a truly eerie sound. Overhead, red kites wheeled in the dying light while the wolves woke up and began to play, including a mock fight alongside the chain fences. Even when the darkness fell, the white-coated Arctics were still visible; the Northwesterns, though, were mere ghosts amongst the trees...
A wonderful experience, though it's a shame there was no moon - a moonlit wolf would have been a sight indeed - unless they turned out to be werepeople, of course. That could have been a bit of a letdown....
The research is over, and the writing has stopped. The dissertation is printed and delivered. The library books are returned, the owned books are filed, and I am no longer a student. I have to admit feeling quite sad – it was an intense few months, cramming all that research and writing up in around the day job – but although it was pressured, I did very much enjoy it. Still, all things come to an end, and that, of course, leaves room for things new...
...or in some cases, not necessarily new, but relaunched. That’s right, after an absence of two months, the Gothic Alternative Steampunk and Progressive (GASP for short) web-radio show should be back on air tonight. Rumours that it was I who sabotaged the IT systems of GASP’s host, Blast 1386, just so I could finish the dissertation, are entirely unfounded. Honest. It is mere coincidence that took GASP off air at the start of the writing up period, and brings it back now...
GASP is, of course, hosted by Steven C. Davis, with support from yours truly, and features an eclectic mix of music familiar and unfamiliar, new and old, across a range of genres. All these divine sounds are accompanied by the usual inane ramblings of your two hosts, and of course by live interaction via the weekly facebook event – have a listen, drop us a line on facebook, request a tune if you feel so inclined, and we may even think about playing it in a future show if you’re very, very, good.
You can listen to GASP via Blast1386 at 8pm – 10pm UK every Tuesday on https://sites.google.com/a/i.reading-college.ac.uk/blast-1386/, or by using the tune-in website at http://tunein.com/radio/Blast-1386-s6837/, or by downloading the Blast1386 app so that you can listen on the move more easily. And this week’s facebook event is here.
Also coming soon is another writer’s event at Southcart Books in Walsall – this time a Sci-fi, Fantasy and Steampunk gathering, featuring 11 authors, on Saturday 27th September – more about the event here, and the facebook event is here. I’ll be on at 12:55, talking about my series The Automata Wars – come along and have a listen.
Next week I may also have some more pics of wolves to share (light and wolf permitting!). See you then...
Firstly, may I apologise for a few weeks of Blog silence. You may be delighted to hear that such silences should now be past, as I am in the home strait for handing in my final piece of work for my history Masters degree - namely, that dissertation on Victorian prostitution! One more week, and it will all be over...
In the meantime, I was asked a question this week. Fear not, gentle reader, nothing untoward, but something I thought might interest your good selves as you enjoy this seasonably sunny September sTuesday (sorry, I should have posted this at the weekend to maintain the alliteration really).
Steampunk, you see, is loosely based on Victorian aesthetics, Victorian manners (though not necessarily values!), and to some extent, steampunk clothing usually exhibits some sort of Victorian element. However, my interrogator wondered, why did some ladies of steampunk wear such short skirts? Surely in Victorian times, revealing even an inch of ankle might have marked you out as one of the very ladies I am currently writing about in my dissertation!
This is, of course, absolutely correct, and no self-respecting Victorian lady would have dreamed of being seen in public without full skirts, hats and full ensemble. Indeed, there are records of a respected and respectable lady writer being arrested one evening because of her dress - by foregoing her bonnet and gloves, she had given the arresting officer the impression that she must indeed be a 'nymph of the pave'.
But times change, and so do fashions, and of course what was acceptable at the beginning of Victoria's reign had changed by the middle of it, and had changed again by the end. Who would have dreamed, when that slip of a princess took the throne, that in her lifetime, women would be wearing bloomers without a skirt over the top!
Oh yes indeed. By the end of the 19th Century, those racy lady cyclists were pedaling merrily down the streets, bereft of skirts that might tangle in chains and cause a nasty accident. The bicycle gave ladies freedom to go out unescorted (there was a time when there were no public toilets for ladies, so housebound were they!), and bloomers gave them the freedom to ride their bicycles in comfort.
Fashion has often moved to accommodate the needs of the wearer. When women did not go out alone, huge dresses and trained skirts were if not practical, then at least acceptable. In the century before Victoria, when women had more freedom, clothing was much less restrictive. And in the century after, the Wars required women to work at occupations previously considered exclusively masculine, and clothing once again adapted to suit.
So my reasoning for short skirts in steampunk follows similar lines. Steampunk isn't Victorian reenactment - it takes elements of Victoriana and reinterprets them, as if history had developed in a different way. For many steampunks, the role of women, for one, is not at all the same as it would have been in Victorian times. Steampunk women can be adventurers, aviators, inventors, and many other things, without opposition. It stands to reason, then, that just as fashion did not stand still for Victorian women, neither would it for steampunk women - and a short skirt is so much easier to get around in than a full skirt with bustle and train.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! What do you think?
(Please excuse all the photos of ME ME ME, by the way, it's just the easiest way of knowing I'm not impinging anyone's copyright!)
(Plus you get to admire my needlework on two of them, ahem).
I'm a writer of steampunk/ fantasy fiction, singer/musician and writer at LM Cooke Music, singer in the parody band Mediaeval Biaetches, occasional historian, and co-presenter of the Gothic Alternative Steampunk and Progressive web radio show. Here I will ramble vaguely about stuff. Friends, countrymen, and people who aren't countrymen, lend me your ears...