Tuesday 20 December 2022

Are you a writer when you're not actually writing?


Here's why.

When someone asks "is there a doctor in the house?", the answer is never "well, that depends. I mean, if you're just enquiring casually then no, I'm not doing any surgery at the moment. But if you actually need a medical professional, yes, I'll become a doctor as soon as I start work."

If you phone the plumber and say to the person who answers "is that the plumber?", they're unlikely to respond "no, I did some plumbing this morning and I'll be doing some more tomorrow but right now I'm talking on the phone."

Friday 9 December 2022

Why aspiring authors should start writing their novel now before AI takes over

Aspiring authors often face the challenge of finding the time and motivation to start writing their novel. However, it is important for them to start writing now because soon, artificial intelligence (AI) may be able to write novels.

AI has come a long way in recent years, and it is becoming increasingly capable of performing tasks that were once thought to be exclusive to humans, such as writing. AI can analyze large amounts of data and generate text that is coherent and even imaginative. In fact, AI has already been used to write poetry, news articles, and even screenplays.

This may sound alarming to aspiring authors, but it is important to remember that while AI may be able to write a novel, it cannot replace the unique perspective and creativity that only a human can bring. AI may be able to generate text based on certain parameters, but it cannot tap into the rich inner world of a human author.

Furthermore, writing is more than just stringing words together. It is a form of self-expression and personal growth. Writing a novel allows an author to explore their own thoughts, emotions, and experiences, and to share them with others in a meaningful way. This is something that AI cannot replicate.

So, for aspiring authors, the time to start writing is now. Don't let the fear of AI replacing human writers stop you from pursuing your passion. Trust in your own unique voice and start putting words on the page. The more you write, the better you will become, and the more prepared you will be for the future of writing, whether it involves AI or not.

[Mark Bridge generated this article text by using GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model.] 

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Always have a product that's not just 'you'

...you should always have a product that's not just 'you'. An actress should count up her plays and movies and a model should count up her photographs and a writer should count up his words and an artist should count up his pictures so you always know exactly what you're worth, and you don't get stuck thinking your product is you and your fame, and your aura.
Andy Warhol, Fame

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Always find the 'why'

It’s only a few months ago that [poker player] Phil Galfond reminded me to always find the why behind every move, every decision, every action. And here’s one thing I know for sure: no matter the decision, the why shouldn’t ever be for the simple glory of saying you’ve done something. At least to me, right now, that’s not good enough.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Vera Thomas nee Maconochie: Mezzo Soprano

Spotting the intriguing gravestone of mezzo soprano Vera Taylor (nee Vera Maconochie) in Isfield led me down an internet rabbit hole that revealed her to have been a star of stage and the burgeoning TV industry of almost a century ago. Born in 1904, Vera Elizabeth Jean Maconochie was best known for performing in a 1930s show called Old Song Pictures, in which she and Guelda Waller dressed in period costumes to sing traditional folk songs, carols and other music. The idea came to them when they were in the cast of The Beggar's Opera at Hammersmith's Lyric theatre a few years earlier. Guelda and Vera toured internationally and were among the first people to appear on television, as well as being featured on BBC radio between 1930 and 1940. One of her concerts even gets a mention in Keith Stuart's historical fiction 'The Frequency of Us'. In 1944 Vera founded the Uckfield Music Club, which still exists today. She had three siblings: 

  • Archibald, who took over his family's Maconochie Bros food manufacturing business (later it became part of HS Whiteside, then was acquired by Rowntree and finally Nestle);
  • Margi (Margaret Jean), a racing driver - the 'Miss MJ Maconochie' who won at Brooklands in 1928;
  • Jean Constance, who - Wikipedia tells me - went to RADA, although sadly I can find nothing online about her stage career.
Vera died in 1993 and is buried in the churchyard of St Margaret of Antioch in Isfield.

Monday 18 October 2021

Freedom from self-pigeonholing

There's a good perspective about artistic freedom in Tim Minchin's recent feature for The Guardian:
I grew up in Perth, Australia. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but being small and isolated, its arts scene doesn’t sustain a hell of a lot of artists. It also isn’t a place from which the path to success is very clear. It was so unclear to me that I never really thought about it. Everything my friends and I did was for its own sake. We weren’t making art in the hope of being spotted by a talent scout or a movie producer, as there were none, and this afforded us incredible freedom. Not just the artistic freedom to make whatever the hell we wanted to make, but freedom from thinking of our plays and gigs as a step on a ladder, or even a viable way to make a living. Freedom from self-pigeonholing.

Wednesday 21 July 2021

A major disorientation (again)

 A recent post from the ever-encouraging Austin Kleon (go on, sign up for his newsletter!) pointed me towards Tim Kreider’s essay on 'The Referendum':

...a phenomenon typical of (but not limited to) midlife, whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers’ differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt.

This prompted me to revisit Richard Ford's memorable paragraph from Independence Day, in which he writes

Joe may be verging on a major disorientation here - a legitimate rent in the cloth. This actually appears in textbooks: Client abruptly begins to see the world in some entirely new way he feels certain, had he only seen it earlier, would've directed him down a path of vastly greater happiness - only (and this, of course, is the insane part) he inexplicably senses that way's still open to him; that the past, just this once, doesn't operate the way it usually operates. Which is to say, irrevocably.

But, as Tim Kreider says:

One of the hardest things to look at in this life is the lives we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back - Lot’s wife, Orpheus and Eurydice - are lost.