Toronto #20

Finally, back to actually writing this on a Sunday for my blog! Well, a couple of updates since last week: I’ve been writing more the past week, and have even got round to getting my own journal while I’m over here. In fact, I’ve now got two.

To clarify, at the end of the week where I once again got paid, I rushed out and got one. Nothing too fancy, just a nice little black hardbound book with lined pages. Simple, but classic.

What I didn’t know was that my wonderful mother, who has been following these posts, decided to buy one for me online. The great thing is that, other than the fact that it’s ringbound, it was virtually exactly what I was looking for. So on the plus side, if I fill my current journal up (and I certainly plan on doing just that), I do have one spare, so here’s me planning on remaining disciplined enough to fill up both of them.

What can I write in a journal that I can’t write in a blog, one that I’ve been pretty upfront about already? Once again, I’m reminded of my old friend Lee, and how he would introduce one of our shows at the Laughter Academy. He’d explain to the audience that with shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Mock the Week, the reason those shows were always half an hour of absolutely hilarious improvised lines was because, when they were actually filmed, they would be closer to at least an hour of comedy. It’s just that of that hour, at least half of it would be cut because it was shit. The joy of seeing something like the Laughter Academy live was because all the shit would be left in!

That’s basically what my journal is: any thoughts that I have written down, unedited. Yes, what you’re reading right now is the equivalent of the best of those thoughts. Apologies for that.

I must admit, knowing that my mother is following my blog and will be able to catch whatever entries I write has made me realize something. Specifically, that there are two words I should be writing when going into detail about my personal life, and that I’m not nearly writing them enough. They are, of course: “Sorry, mum.” I hope I can correct that in future.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can say this week that will be worthy of those words. As I mentioned, I simply focused on the writing, as much as wanting to focus on developing any skills I might have as much as simply a lack of money. It seems to have gone nicely so far. Nothing on my novel writing but, along with filling up some ideas for a loose plot and a couple of characters, I’ve started work on a short story. It’s not exactly intended for publication, just something done mainly as an exercise, both for fleshing out the characters and village in my novel and for just seeing what works in my writing style and what doesn’t.

It’s a little character story that has been heavily influenced by Stephen King novels, especially the “epic” ones. In his best books, he’d tell almost entire life stories of ordinary characters, just people who lived their lives in a town, city or world that’s shared by the main characters. At least half the time, it’s done to build up to a terrible and horrifying death, but it’s also done to add a little bit of extra colour, depth and even life to the novel. Being able to focus as much on the little characters as much as the major ones was a skill I really love about King’s writing.

The same, by the way, could be said for comic book writers John Wagner and Alan Grant, particularly on their 80s Judge Dredd work. In just a few pages, they’d paint the perfect portrait of a citizen’s or criminal’s life.

It’s something I think I’ll work on for the next couple of months. Whether any of these short stories will be included in the novel or not is something I’m unsure about, but at the very least, it’s good practice.

Over the weekend, I’ve watched a couple of movies, two at the cinema on Saturday. First, I watched Wayne’s World at the Royal, which was fun. 25 years on, (what the fuck, seriously???), and it’s still a great comedy.

But the highlight of the day was watching Hacksaw Ridge for the first time. Holy fucking shit, what an amazing war movie! I had heard great things about it, but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. In some ways, it was reminiscent of a lot of war movies. There was a lot of focus on the brutality of war as well as the heroism, and such scenes reminded me of the greats like Saving Private Ryan. The fact that it was also split so cleanly between the training and the actual battle even reminded me of Full Metal Jacket.

But at the same time, it remained very much its own film. As much as it was about the brutality and the heroism that could be found in war, in equal part, it was also an amazing character study. What happens when a man refuses to kill or even hold a gun when he wants to serve his country in a time of war? And how well can he truly stick to those principles? These questions of morality were what really drove the film for me, and the fact that it was based on a true story just really amazed me. Hacksaw Ridge is definitely one of my favourite war movies, and could be a favourite of mine for a long time to come.

One other film that I watched this weekend, this one on my laptop, was Stuck in Love, which I mentioned in last week’s blog. It’s kind of a shame that it didn’t stick to the original title Writers, as I do think it suited the movie a lot better. Anyway, one of the characters mentions an actual quote by Flannery O’Connor that stuck out for me:

Nothing needs to happen to a writer’s life after they are 20. By then they’ve experienced more than enough to last their creative life.

I’m not sure if I believe that, and I’m certainly not sure if that’s true for everyone. As I covered in my last blog, I spent a lot of time in my years before high school avoiding key experiences.

Having said that, I’m not gonna lie, the year I turned 20 was definitely a pretty major year for me, one where I learned a lot about life, love and relationships. Well, maybe not relationships, but dating. Well, maybe not dating, but kissing and sex, at least. (If you’re still reading this, sorry, mum.)

The point is that I do need to continue to make an effort to get out there and have new experiences. Both as much for the sake of the blog and keeping it interesting as much as it is for developing the writing. Hell, gaining new experiences was a big reason why I came to Toronto in the first place. There have been many great nights I’ve had in the past six months, and I see no reason to stop now. Which is why, tomorrow, I’m gonna head out downtown and check out a night of decent music that’s playing that I’ve randomly stumbled across. I’ll let you guys know how it goes in next week’s blog.

Until then, enjoy the best scene from Wayne’s World.

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