Blog Hop

I’d like to introduce you to Jess C. Scott, who invited me to take part in this blog hop.

Jess C. Scott

Jess C. Scott

Jess has been writing and publishing books in a wide-array of genres (including: Psychological Thrillers, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, and Erotic Fiction) and blogging since 2007. She is prolific and talented in each of these genres and has recently started blogging about socio-political issues in Singapore. Talk about being multi-talented!

I can personally recommend her anthology of erotic short-stories, Primal Scream, which I have enjoyed. *(Jess, sorry I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet!)

I highly recommend that you give her a visit:
Blog: http://jesscscott.wordpress.com/
Website: http://www.jessink.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jesscscott
Facebook: http://facebook.com/jessINKbooks

Now it’s my turn:

a.  What am I working on?

Currently I am revising my sonnet collection 365 Days of Verse. My plan is to release a single volume 2nd edition. I may also revise my five act play “The Sacrifice” and possibly publish that.

I’m also working on a mini-epic poem written in iambic pentameter. I’ve been working on this for about three years now. I hope to finish it within another year. It’s 20 pages long so far.

b.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose I am more attuned to blank verse and perhaps “less standard” rhyme schemes than others, but to be honest, I don’t know. I’m certainly not doing anything too off the wall. I suppose writing a sonnet every day for a year is in some ways different.

c.  Why do I write what I do?

I’ve written for various reasons over the years. It’s varied from: ego gratification, trying to impress the opposite sex, and because I love a good challenge. I think nowadays I primarily write out of enjoyment more than anything. I have no particular axe to grind internally or externally. I’m pretty well aware that most people don’t like sonnets, verse, etc., and I’m fine with that.

4.  How does your writing process work?

When I engage I guess I become somewhat obsessive. I look at it like trying to solve a riddle. So for example, in the mini-epic I’m working on, I started with the structure of a story that happens to the characters. Then I had to figure out what goes in there and from there work on the verse aspect of it (which rhyme schemes to use, and so forth). It’s a large and complicated puzzle but it’s intensely gratifying.

I’ve failed to get in touch with other bloggers for the blog hop but I’ll just link to them.

Greg Rodgers, blogger and vagabonding master. Greg has traveled the world, and then some. He writes about his travels and perspectives on his blog vagabonding.com. He also blogs for about.com on Asia travel.

Dmitri Mandaliev, author of Stoic Living for the Modern Soul. Dmitri writes about a lot of different topics and focuses a lot on stoicism. His Letters to a Young Man series hearkens Seneca’s moral letters. Interesting, if sometimes provocative, stuff.
Website is here: http://taoofdirt.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taoofdirt

Review of Stoic Living for the Modern Soul by Dmitri Mandaliev

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

Summary: A panoply of wisdom and insight. This book stands out amongst other modern books on stoicism.

I’ve read a lot of books on stoicism, including the classics by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, as well as newer books, which I read after reading the classics. What I love most about Stoic Living for the Modern Soul is that it inspires me rather than tries to teach me with academic lessons and rote techniques. In this way it is much the same as the classic works in its approach, that is that it shows us rather than tells us. I think this is because the author, Dmitri Mandaliev, says that he wrote this book as reminders to himself, in much the same way that Aurelius’ Meditations was written. I’ve looked at his blog (tao of dirt on wordpress) and have found his ‘Letters to a Young Man’ series, a body of work which continues to grow and echoes the Moral Letters of Seneca. This is what the world needs now, I’m convinced of that. So often we are told what to do but we are not shown.

I got this book a couple of days ago and started reading it immediately. For me it’s been one of those books which is filled with moments of insight and inspiration. As I read I found myself saying, “Yes, this is what I’ve been looking for”, feeling that I have found a voice which I can relate to. So many topics are covered which are relevant to living today, including work (and dealing with having a job you don’t like), friendship and marriage, self-control, taking care of your body and mind, appreciate life in the face of turmoil, all the things you’d expect to find in such a work.

The book is divided into five books. It starts with an Introduction followed by books on: the body, the mind, the spirit, and the living of life. (Excerpts are available on his blog here.) The intro discusses what stoicism is, but it’s not your typical walk down academic lane with history. That has been done to death. Instead, it gives Mandaliev’s personal take on stoicism and parts of it are unexpected to me but nonetheless make perfect sense. In a way, it’s almost a re-framing of stoicism from a modern perspective, but one which retains the core elements and just views the words of the ancients somewhat differently than others do.

The following chapters take on each of the topics with clarity, dignity and with a personal touch which draws you into the world of the author. As I read I found myself contemplating my own life through the lens that Mandaliev presents, and I found that there are angles that I wasn’t considering. The human quality with which problems with work and with family are handled, make you feel that you have a mentor who is helping you a long, much the same way that I’ve felt when reading Seneca. Mandaliev’s ‘Letters to a Young Man’ series is much the same way, incidentally.

If you’re interested in learning about stoicism, or are a seasoned pro, I recommend this book. I dare say it could be life-changing. There’s something new here which I think has been missing from the writing on stoicism of late, and that is a personal voice which is human and that we can all relate to. I’ve grown tired of dry lessons and ‘techniques’ which always fail me. What I’ve been craving is a new voice to go along with the classic stoics, one which understands the specific troubles I have day-to-day. The ancient stoic writings and their principles still help, obviously, but it’s very helpful having someone talk about things like cell phones and how they distract us from more important things, from a stoic viewpoint. I dare say that Dmitri Mandaliev has picked up the torch from the past and is carrying it forward, and in doing so he takes it with us.

You can get the book here.

Why having clutter in your writing room is okay

Recently I had a friend over, and he remarked on the clutter in my writing room. I’m not a hoarder. There are no empty pizza boxes stacking up. There are just stacks of paper every where, and books, and miscellaneous writing instruments. Knowing that I’m a writer, he commented, “How do you manage with all of this clutter about? The rest of your place is so clean.”

He’s right, the rest of my place is clean and tidy. Well, there is that one room—the one everyone has, the one filled with stuff to get rid of—but we won’t talk about that. But this one room, my writing room is quite cluttered.

I can see how it might seem odd to someone that a writer might have a cluttered writing space, thinking that all of those papers and books would be the functional equivalent of noise. But no, in fact it’s not noise. It is a sort of ordered chaos, at least that’s how I think of it.

I replied,”Have you ever been in a carpenter’s wood shop?” He nodded yes—I’m not sure I believe that he has but, he was playing along and so did I. “What did you see there?”

He looked perplexed and shrugged, so I answered for him, “Wood chips, and filings everywhere, discarded bits of wood.”

We stood there silent a moment, both looking at the scraps of paper, stacks of books, and pens.

“These are my wood chips, my discarded bits of wood.”

Steven Moffat is a hack

There I said it. It’s been brewing in me for a while now, and watching Sherlock‘s Season 3 ending clinches it for me.

Steven Moffat is a hack. Worse, he’s an insufferable hack more concerned with looking ‘brilliant’ as a writer than in focusing on delivering good and believable fiction. He has one of the best platforms available, with two of the longest running characters which garner attention from today’s public, and he continually squanders it.

Before you come after me with pitchforks, let me make a simple case for the hack job done in the Season 3 finale of Sherlock (contains spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet):

John Watson should have been the one to shoot the blackmailing asshole (Charles Augustus Magnussen). Why? Well, firstly, it’s absurd that his wife Mary is revealed to be an ex-assassin who shoots Sherlock Holmes. But, if the writers are going to go with that angle, it CLEARLY should have been Watson who shoots the baddie. Remember how John becomes a total sop at Christmas and just forgives his ex-assassin wife for all the murders she’s committed? How believable is that, really? Not at all. Obviously, John Watson should have shot the baddie, who, remember was flicking him in the goddamned face after all, and then later (NOT BEFORE) he should have found some way to forgive his wife. This makes sense, if, and only if, he has also killed someone in cold blood. But NOOOOO. He forgives her before, and Sherlock shoots him? Give me a break. Moffat is so concerned with trying to make ‘brilliant’ plot lines come together that he forgets that we are supposed to empathize with characters and actually believe their actions.

Moffat continually does such things in both Doctor Who and Sherlock, but this really takes the cake for me. It was bad enough that Mary Watson is turned into an ex-assassin (I mean, really, that’s just absurd and unnecessary), but if you’re going to do it, at least do it correctly.

And Moriarty? I’ve said before (a year ago) that I don’t think that Moriarty is really dead, or that the man we think is Moriarty is just a stooge. Seems the end of Season 3 confirms this. So why do that? Why waste one of Doyle’s best characters for an entire season?

I’m a huge fan of the character Sherlock Holmes. I really want to be a big fan of this show, but I’m continually let down by a man who takes great characters with endless possibilities (even drawing from the original stories) and mutates, distorts, and ruins those possibilities by trying to show off.