Plough on or Chill Out?

We’re fast approaching the end of 2018 – has it been a good one for you? A wild ride? Productive? Or has it been a fallow year, with less accomplished than you had hoped?

I know I definitely tried to accomplish too much this November making me feel, like Bilbo Baggins, “… sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” I took on three online courses in one month, completed two. The third hangs in the balance. I tried to be the ‘Little Engine That Could’ – turns out I couldn’t, not quite…

Part of my problem is that I am a dilettante – a dabbler, a tinkerer, a potterer. I have been told on the one hand that I have the mind of a butterfly, on the other, that I am a mine of useless information. I have taken part in NaNoWriMo with a novel planned, and also writing by the seat of the pants. The second works best for me. You’ll have your way of doing stuff.

Don’t despair if you didn’t get to do all the things you’d hoped to, it’s all a learning process and next year is a fresh start. As Professor Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

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Professor Dumbledore

Though I do have to admit to feeling a little miffed when I hear, on the radio, as I did this morning, about someone who began writing five minutes ago and just got their first novel published! What’s that all about? I ask myself, how did anyone even know they had written this little gem? I am by inclination, a combination of melancholic and choleric, and have been trying to train myself to be more pragmatic, so forced myself to feel good for them- sort of, a little bit, maybe. Oh all right, I hate them!

Lyra Belacqua tells her father in Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, “You told me that was my nature, and I shouldn’t argue with it…you were wrong… I can’t choose my nature, but I can choose what I do. And I will choose, because now I’m free.” She learnt that as a child, I, in my mid-life am just beginning to.
Do you take stock at the end of each year, of your accomplishments? And how do we assess our own accomplishments anyway? Some believe we are too close to give an accurate appraisal of our own selves and work done.

I have met many people who are extraordinarily hard on themselves, they are the perfectionists who can never meet their own high standards – this does not mean all they do is done well, sometimes effort isn’t exerted so as there is an excuse to have not met one’s own exacting standards. Then there are those people who – and this is particularly pertinent in regards to creativity – think what they have made is wonderful, when in fact the rest of us can see the awfulness, or blandness, of it. Self-criticism does not come easy to these folks.

And yet…should we just not try? Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.

As Christmas approaches, will you slow down your production? Will you take a complete break from your current project to frolic with family and friends? Or, will you be the snow plough that keeps on going through the deep mid winter? Will you plough onward, or take time out to chill and recuperate?

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Does Father Christmas write all year round?

One habit to cultivate is taking account of our successes and failures – and do not be afraid to use the word fail, we cannot all be winners in everything we do, if we don’t fail we don’t learn –only ‘snowflakes’ don’t like to fail – some will keep an actual written account, for others it might be a simple check-list, or just a mental run-through. Have a general idea of what you wish to achieve in the coming year. Bloggers are encouraged to plan, keep a calendar of what will be written every week for months – I typically tend to waft from week to week writing whatever takes my fancy. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go...” Doctor Seuss.

Here comes the end of the year, approaching fast, like a steam train with the whistle not quite screaming, and the engine driver trying to wave me off the track, because I’m too stupid to move! Each year I make myself promises and set targets and charge headlong into too many projects at once – like I said, too stupid to move off the same track!

 

THAT’S MORTALS FOR YOU, Death continued. THEY’VE ONLY GOT A FEW YEARS IN THE WORLD AND THEY SPEND THEM ALL IN MAKING THINGS COMPLICATED FOR THEMSELVES.

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Death as The Hogfather (Source: https://ani-izzy.com)
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What’s Gone Wrong With Doctor Who?

People have been seriously divided by the new Doctor Who series; fans and critics alike.

Regular and long-term viewers will all be aware of the flurry of discussions that went on preceding the revelation that a female would play the titular character – it’s actually the same with each new incarnation –Morgan Jeffrey did a great piece for Digital Spy, last month, about what critics had said over the years about each new Doc; not all complimentary.

But the Twitterverse has been all a-Twitter with things like –

There’s delight and disappointment in equal measure. And thankfully, little of it has to do with having a female lead in the role that has for 55 years had a male lead.

Finally the show took the great leap and Jodie Whittaker took up the mantel. And she’s pretty good, as far as I’m concerned. Her Doctor has passion, energy, a curiosity for the universe, delights in the company of others and gets smarter by the episode; as her Doctor comes to grips with previous incarnations information pile-up. Though I wish she was less ‘gushy’.

My issue is with the writing.

Going back to Seasons 1 through to 4, the writing is strong, the stories gripping and the acting compelling. This block of shows had Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat as the primary writers, with Davies writing 6 out of the 12 episodes for Season 4.

Season 5 saw the departure of Davies and the arrival of a new Doctor, in the form of Matt Smith – I hated this Doctor from the start. He was childish, impulsive to the point of idiocy, and seemed purposefully designed to appeal to little kids. Of course, some will cry, it’s a kids show!

Although created as a show for children – the audience demographics reveal something else. One brief student research I was party to, suggested the largest group that watches Doctor Who is – women aged 30 to 50-something with an academic background. Others show it males in their 30s working in IT. And then others that it has a target audience of 7 to 14 year olds. Demographics is not the same as target audience – one is the result of who actually watches, the other is who the producers have targeted – obviously with demographic research taken into consideration – the two don’t always match up.

Jump to Season 10,and there were nine writers. I felt that Peter Capaldi could have  been as excellent a Doctor as David Tennant, but for the writing. The tenure of David Tennant as the Doc seemed to be a convergence of all the best things at once – great acting, great lead, newly resurrected series but not first Doctor into the fray, excellent writing team; not too small, not to big – this for me was, to put it in astronomical terms, the Goldilocks phenomenon – not too adult, not too childlike – just right.

The Girl in the Fireplace S2: E4

In this new Season 11, we are only 9 episodes in, and already there have been 6 writers. And I wonder if the issue with this season has been the exact opposite of the David Tennant Goldilocks effect – too many writers, new non-male lead, writing to appeal to too many ages, too many companions!

Too many companions spoil the plot

I don’t know what I expected with a new writer/show-runner; ChrisChibnall. I didn’t feel like the Doctor should need to be a female just to be ‘politically correct’; I have no issue with male leads. But there is something missing, the spark – or darkness –that made Doctor Who so watchable. I feel as though I am sticking with it through some false sense of loyalty built from years of viewing ,and a kind of nostalgia. I want it to be good, I really do,because there have been times when the episodes have been fantastic. But it simply isn’t.

Sometimes it feels like the writers are trying to be clever just for the sake of it. Too many twists and connecting threads, and ‘explanations’ etc, etc, do not a good story make. It’s as though someone has gone – ‘here’s the story, now what if….’ and another person has gone…..’and what if we just add….’

A couple of the episodes have been good, as stand-alones. The Rosa Parks story was beautifully poignant – sometimes you have to watch people fall and not step in. And having political messages isn’t the issue – it’s the writing.

I believe a part of the issue is having three companions. Why are there three? I cannot fathom the need. For starters, there is never enough dialogue to go around and sometimes I watch the non-speaking characters and they’re just standing there, doing nothing! Edgar Wright would never let that happen! Also, if I were to get rid of one, or two of the three, I’m not sure which I’d choose. I think they’re all equally wooden. Some of the voice acting has been like listening to an amateur read lines.

What’s needed is:- Tight-knit writing team. Character development. Simple stories just well written. There must be psychological realism, it doesn’t matter how bizarre, let it make sense.

Will I be sticking with it?

I can’t honestly say I will stop watching – I live in hope. I wonder if they could invite Russell T. Davies to write an episode or two?!

Or, Maybe I should write something myself…hmm…

https://graphicpolicy.com/2013/09/16/facebook-fandom-spotlight-doctor-who-fans-50-women/

https://georgeakcm.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/doctor-who-target-audience/

http://bethkirkbyunit1media.blogspot.com/2014/02/audiance-demographics-and-profile-of.html