Bad backs, bakeries, and book publishing

I wish I could take my own advice.

I had this ‘great revelation’ about not doing vs. trying too hard, especially when it comes to my yoga practice, and then I go and over-stretch doing a sitting forward bend and pull a muscle in my back. Lord what fools these mortals be.

But, no experience is wasted if we learn something from it, and even though I was forced to take it easy for 4 days – which meant canceling getting my car serviced, canceling my trip to Brighton, and missing out on a yoga seminar – at least I may have learnt my lesson when it comes to exercising properly (I recognise the fact that, like a naughty puppy, sometimes I need to be smacked round the nose with a rolled up newspaper :)).

The reason I went too far is simple; I’m over-eager to advance in my practice and thus one day become a teacher. You can’t force these things, and I now have to admit it may take me a year or two before I’m of a good enough standard to teach. After all, if you can’t do, you shouldn’t be teaching.

hazel gingernuts 2

I do however want to teach, at least that much is clear. I’ve been getting distracted recently by the idea of opening a vegan bakery, so much so that it had become forefront in my mind. But it was only meant to be a secondary project; something to do in addition to the yoga studio upstairs. It was just the immediate possibility of the idea, the fact that there’s a gap in the market, and watching Stranger Than Fiction that shifted it’s position in my head. Really, if I’m honest, the idea of getting up at 6am every day and having to deal with the General Public does not fill me with heady enthusiasm. I mean I can do it, but I need to be doing something else too, just to help balance it out a bit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been distracted by ‘reality’ either. Back in the day I wanted to be an author. When I was 8 I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. By age 10 I was sending stuff off to publishers, and though I’ve yet to have anything published, I still write. However, what I write has changed throughout the years. It started with books, then comic strips, then movies, until finally I’ve come full circle back to books again.

I recently asked a friend of mine, if you could do one thing before you die to somehow make your mark on the world, what would it be? Now I’ve had lots of ideas over the years, things I’ve invented, memes I’d like to be taken up, but in the end it boils down to one thing: Before I die I’d like to get a novel published. I want to see my name on the spine of a book in Waterstones, squeezed in between Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson, then I’d feel like I’d accomplished something tangible, something that will live on after my death. How funny it is that, after 30 years, it all comes down to the same dream I had when I was 8 years old.

So there’s where I’m at at the moment. I’m going to finish the novel I started working on last year, whilst gently getting back up to speed with my yoga practice, and to appease the baking Gods I’m going to produce a series of recipe cards to sell online. That should keep me busy enough for a while, then in the summer I can reevaluate and see where I want to go next.

NB: Had some feedback on the script I finished in December. The friend I gave it to the other day to proofread said she picked it up to look at and couldn’t put it down again ’til she was finished. That’s the sort of stuff a writer wants to hear! No major problems either. The odd bit of dialogue that slowed things down a little (mostly expositional stuff that needs to be there, what they call ‘laying pipe’ in the business) but generally it sounds like it’s 95% there. Look forward to getting a more detailed analysis, plus the thoughts and opinions of my other proofreader, but it sounds like it’s on the right track so far. Happy days. 🙂

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Aches and Growing Pains

I tell you what, being holed up for 4 days with the flu really gives you a new perspective on things.

For one thing I’m sick to death of being stuck indoors all the time. And that includes work as well as at home. I’ve had the last 2 days off work as they were night shifts and I just couldn’t face them, but even so the thought of going back to sitting in a dark room for 12 hours a day just fills me with dread.

This is in contrast to my writing, which I would like to do for a living. But that would be during the day, regular, with a window, and only from about 10am ’til 3pm (if I’m disciplined enough) leaving me ample time to do/teach yoga, or run a retreat centre, or something like that.

I feel more energised today than I have all week, partly due to some physical recovery, and partly due to recent inspirational communications with the very lovely Rikki Cupcake, who has just set up her own vegan cupcake business after her own work situation became a little ‘intolerable’ (NB: if you live in Arizona and want some cupcakes you should definitely give her a call!). It’s time to move on with things. I’ve stagnated for too long.

So I’ve finished typing up the re-writes for my script (103 pages, thank you very much) and I’m going to print them out today once I get a new ink cartridge. Then once my muscles stop complaining I’m going to get back on the yoga bus and ride it all the way to Teacher Town, lol. Come the summer I should be ready to make some serious moves into a new life. A real new life. One worth getting up for in the morning. 🙂

Om shanti, y’awl.

The Social Network

Just finished watching The Social Network and, rather ironically, I had to blog something about it.

First off, if you haven’t seen it, check it out. The direction by David Fincher is excellent, the music by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) really works well, and the writing by Aaron Sorkin is very crisp and beautifully put together. And it’s the writing that has really got me thinking.

I just finished the second round of re-writes tonight on the script I finished just after Christmas. I know, 6 weeks, what can I say? I’m a lazy arse. Anyway, watching the film tonight I can’t help but wonder if what I’ve written is any good or not.

Now no one can say as no one has seen it yet, but you see I have this aversion to emotional trickery. You know, having characters say and do unrealistic things in order to get a rise out of the audience. The intellectual equivalent of going *BANG!* just to scare people. My script has none of that. But without it will an audience be able to relate?

My good guys think they’re doing the right thing, but so do my bad guys. Will people be able to understand that, or will they just not give a damn about either of them. And that’s what matters in the end, for me as an audience member anyway, whether there’s an emotional connection with the characters or not. That’s why films like Inception don’t work for me. ‘Clever’ though they are, I just don’t give a damn about any of the characters.

Really there’s only one way to find out. Once I’ve finished up this draft I’ll give it to someone to read. If at any point they say “I’m half way through,” I’ll know it’s boring enough to put down and I should just move on.

Actually, moving on is what I’m doing anyway. I’ve got another idea ready to go, as well as a book I want to continue with. Which I tackle next I guess I’ll find out in a little bit.

NB: One thing watching Social Network made me realise (actually two things) is (a) if you’re going to blog about stuff blog about real stuff that matters, to you at least; and (b) get on with it! No one ever won a race by thinking about going for a jog. Or as my yoga swami would say (yes, I have a yoga swami now) “Good intentions are not enough, you need to do some work.”

With that in mind, I have some work to do.

Bye Bye, Twenty Ten

It’s been a wacky old year, with a lot of the really interesting stuff happening in the past few months. But I don’t want to bang on about all that like it’s the end of something and the beginning of something else.

The whole new year thing is somewhat arbitrary, and generally based on religion. If you want to get technical there’s an argument for the ‘new’ year to start after the winter solstice, once we’ve had our darkest day and the nights start getting shorter again, but that’s not what I want to talk about either.

Let’s talk food, time wasting, and accomplishments.

First up, check out me Christmas dinner!

christmas dinner 2010

Similar to the dinner I made for Thanksgiving, but a damn site cheaper let me tell you; and just as tasty. It’s Redwood Co’s Cheatin’ Meat Free Roast Turkey for me from now on.

Also, food wise, plans are on the drawing board for my food blog idea. Just needs a wee bit of formatting and we should be good to go.

Want to see something fascinating? Follow the link and go check out the level crossing outside Abbey Road Studios. Now no guarantees, as time of day in the UK is a factor, but I could spend hours watching all the tourists annoying the drivers as they try to recreate The Beatles’ famous album cover photo for themselves. NB: For those of you who aren’t British, when someone is waiting to cross at a level crossing and you’re in your car, you have to stop and let them cross. And you can’t go until the crossing is clear, it’s the law! ..hehehe..

And finally a wee celebration. Last night I finished the script I’ve been working on. A solid 92 pages of movie gold! 😉 Of course now the re-writing process begins, but I’m well chuffed to have something to re-write finally. It’s been a long time since I finished anything substantial (if you don’t count Christmas dinner that is, haha). Next year I hope to knock out a couple more in fairly quick succession, now that I’m in the groove, then I can see about finding an agent. Wish me luck.

Ok, have fun in 2011 y’awl. See you after New Years.

Week 44 : Frustrations

I’ve been trying to decide this week whether to continue with this blog or not. As I come up to 1 year of blogging I have to admit that My Brand New Life has pretty much failed in it’s mission; ie, to generate a brand new life. I’m still in the same job, in the same flat, still single, and still uncertain about where I want to go next.

It hasn’t been a complete loss. I’ve given up drinking booze. Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary of that (not counting a couple of mojitos I had a couple of months ago) and I’m happy with that decision. I’ve also done a lot more writing this year than usual, and I may have a script and/or book finished by the end of the year. And generally I’ve done lots more new stuff that I’ve found quite interesting (full report/examination on December the 6th). But is it enough?

Truthfully, the answer is no, it isn’t. I need to do more to be satisfied. But it’s a start, and that’s better than nothing. Is it enough to keep going with this blog though? Now there’s a question. I’ve already started thinking about doing a vegan specific blog, and if I decide to do a filmy one too what does that leave for here? It is a quandary.

I’d been pondering all this, then I came across this quote:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you will begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson


I need to let go of what was and move forward from where I am now. Like I tell people when they ask about becoming vegan, you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’re going to make mistakes, what matters is where you go from here. Don’t use them as an excuse to give up, use them as a starting point to begin again.

And so…

I’ve signed up to do a 6 week introductory yoga course at the Sivananda Yoga Centre. I met them at the Yoga Show last Sunday and they were just so nice I had to pop along to their open house yesterday. Again, everyone there was really lovely. The course was very knowledgeable, the introductory lesson nice and simple yet challenging and concise, and I was generally impressed by their warmth, openness and understanding, so much so that I signed up there and then. I’ll have to swap some shifts around to make the classes but it’ll be worth it. I have a feeling I’ll be doing yoga for quite a while.

Week 25: In which our hero lists some stuff, does some stuff, and wins something

Ok, so what have I been up to this week? Well, after my lack lustre performance last week I’ve had my nose to the grindstone… a bit. So here goes;

First, I made a big list of “Every Idea I’ve Ever Had”. This didn’t take long, I’m sorry to say. Actually it took longer than I expected. Put down on paper it seems I’ve done quite a bit of thinking over the years. Most of it was rubbish like, as is always the way, but the good stuff is pretty good.

It was fun to revisit some old ideas, but many of them had to be discarded as they’re just not interesting any more, or technology had left them behind. Like ‘End of the roll’ for example – a collection of photos that people have taken to finish off a roll of film just so they can get it processed. Everyone uses digital these days, so there are no end of the roll photos anymore! A loss, I think.

However, many of the ideas still have great potential, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t list them here. You will be apprised of any progress as and when it happens. For now let me summarise my lisitng efforts thus: 4 product design ideas, 3 business ideas, 2 video ideas, 6 book ideas (including 1 potential series) and feature length 7 movie ideas.

The purpose of making the list is so I can select the best ideas, the ones with legs, and really start to run with them. I realised last week that, if I really want a Brand New Life, I need to be doing something new every week, not just every now and then. I need to be creating something, or writing something, or coming up with a recipe; something tangible that advances me forward in my attempts to do something new! To that end…

satan soundtrack cover

I did a couple of things this week. First was the artwork for my as yet unwritten horror comedy Fuck You, Satan! Don’t worry, this isn’t my thing for the week, this I just did to amuse myself. Actually I think it came out kinda nice. I also did a disc design which makes me smile too. 🙂

If you’re interested, here’s a download of the playlist.

My thing this week was writing a step outline for Apogee/Perigee, a script idea I have about a boy who never talks. It opens with someone getting killed, and there’s a wolf in it, and that’s all I’m saying about it right now. This will be my art-house movie, my usual stuff being very commercial (and that’s how I like it). I won’t be coming up with a soundtrack for this one, as Fever Ray’s first album is all the soundtrack I need. If you want to see what I mean check out the video (incidentally, one of the most mesmerising videos I’ve ever seen!).

It will be a beautiful movie when it’s done. Hopefully I’ll get to direct it myself, once I’ve made a few quid selling scripts, and have a bit of a reputation. It’ll take me off in a new direction; the thoughtful, compassionate, critically acclaimed part of my career.

Remember all those competitions I was entering? Well, I finally won something! Just a tenner, but it’s the first time I’ve ever won anything on the National Lottery ever! Seriously. I once won £3 on some scratch-cards once, but that was when I bought 20 in a row thinking buying a batch would give me a better chance of winning. Technically it did I suppose, but the return on the investment wasn’t up to much, so I abandoned that strategy and never bought scratch-cards again.

But this time I won a tenner, after playing the same numbers both Wednesday and Saturday for 4 weeks. Collected the winnings today and immediately reinvested £8 in some more numbers for 4 weeks. If this keeps up I’ll be rich by the time I’m 40, hahaha.

And to finish this week, here’s a video that really made me laugh. Enjoy! 🙂

Report 12: A new look and new ideas (& Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I was very discombobulated this week, and whilst it’s been fun having an excuse to use the word discombobulated in conversations with people, it really wasn’t worth the aggro.

Not that anything specifically bad happened, I was just so busy with work, and so physically drained after having the bad back, that I couldn’t get my head in gear or get anything done. In fact my ‘new thing’ this week came about by accident. I got paid on Thursday, so I could finally afford the new jeans I needed to complete the look I’ve been working on. It’s nothing amazing but I like it. See what you think.

kiki's new look

Works for me. Can’t wait to try it out on the world (still a bit too cold to go out with just a shirt and jacket on).

But the one up side of this discombobulated week is I’ve have had plenty of time to think about what I’m doing, what i want, and what I’m doing this blog for, and I’m going to make some changes.

First of all I’m going to stop doing two vegan recipes a week and stick to just one. I learnt with the Chilli Wedges that it can take a lot of experimenting to get a recipe just right, and sometimes I haven’t the time to make three or four versions of two different recipes. Plus you get pretty sick of eating the same stuff all the time, especially when it hasn’t quite worked. So from now on I’m just going to do one recipe and do it well. If I’ve time to do two or more great, but I’m not going to push it. There’s no rush after all.

Second I’m going to try and do more impressive new things, not that that’s always going to be possible (time and money being the biggest restraints), but where I can I’m going to do more adventurous things that involve more people. That was the point after all, to get me out of the house making new connections and possibly finding some chica to share the newness with, and I’m not achieving that staying home ordering vegan footwear off the internet.

And third… well, third I’m going to keep pretty much as it is. I mean I like reporting on what I’m up to script-wise, as it keeps it on my mind and makes me try and do more. I’m just not going to make it an integral part of the Brand New World. The more I can do the better, but if I can’t so be it. You can’t do everything, can you.

I think these changes are for the best. They are for me anyway. I’m not going to be a slave to a bloody blog for Christ’s sake! I mean think about it; this week I only had two days off, during which (if I’d stuck to the programme) I’d have had to do a new thing, which can take all day, write part of a screenplay, a session of which can take a good four or five hours straight, and invented two new recipes, again, many hours of cooking, all of which I’d have to fit around general life maintenance of washing, shopping and tidying up, not to mention a bit of me time for chilling out and the like. It’s just not do-able. So from now on I’m going to do less, better. It’s the way to go.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Here’s a recipe I think you’ll like.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

1 cup of plain flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup of unrefined sugar
1/3 cup of agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of corn oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a bowl. Mix the sugar, agave syrup, vanilla essence and corn oil thoroughly in another smaller bowl, dissolving as much as you can the sugar.

Add liquid mixture to the dry stuff and stir until just mixed (don’t over-do it). Put a sheet of grease-proof paper on a baking tray, then take small, slightly-larger-than-a-golf-ball, sized lumps and space out on it, pressing down so they make cookie shapes (I get about 10 from this mix).

Put in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown (check after 8 minutes to be safe). Remove from oven and put on a wire rack to cool, and that’s it. A nice simple recipe that I’ll think you’ll enjoy.

Ciao 🙂