Tag Archives: writing

And finally

OK, so I know I should leave it alone now -and I will – as soon as I’ve posted this.

Some of you will know that yesterday I wrote a post about an app that claims to be able to analyse your writing. This app. is called I Write Like, and I’ve had a hilarious time with it.

Today, inspired by a comment from my friend Pat, over at imissmetoo (you should check out her blog – it’s beautiful, intelligent and often thought provoking), I threw this at the analytical robot which lurks, waiting eagerly to chew up our words and spit out whatever it pleases:

Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil Jane Basil
Jane Basil

This is the result I got:

I write like Agatha Christie

Really?

Not being one to skimp on my scientific experiments, I changed my poem slightly, thus:

Jane
Jane Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil
Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Basil Paterson Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil Paterson
Jane Paterson Basil
Jane Paterson
Jane

Guess what?

I write like Bram Stoker

I rest my case. Forever.

Thank goodness that naughty Robert Mitchum has agreed

Robert-Mitchum.png

to stay out of this post.

Phwoarr…

©Jane Paterson Basil

 

I Write Like Everyone

Mandelbrot_Set-6-TAIL_ZOOM
Image of a mandelbrot set

This evening I’ve been messing around with ‘I Write Like’, an amusing tool that I discovered a year or two ago. At the top of the page it says:

Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.

So I did. In the box provided by the site, I copied and pasted an angry rap that I’d written, clicked ‘Analyze’, and waited. The result came quickly. It said:

You write like Shakespeare.

william shakespeareWell! I did a little dance, patted myself on the head and waited for Instant Fame.

(Just a side note; he has a nice face, but he’s not exactly Robert Mitchum, the man who made even cigarettes sexy…)

I was in for a long wait, but I like to keep myself busy, so I maintained all those essential tasks that shake the top layer of dust off my body and keep me in tip-top physical condition – you know the jobs I’m talking about; making lists of all the lists I’ve made, checking down the back of the sofa after a guest vacates, in the hope that they’ve dropped some money, designing a shaky cushion for them to sit on the next time they come, doodling pictures of my favourite aardvark in a wedding dress, dropping water bombs on folks below my window, counting the empty milk cartons in my recycling to make sure none have been stolen, practicing my x-ray vision (still a long way to go with that), inventing a recognisable letter to replace the word ‘carapice’ – and not before time.

Oh, yes, I keep myself busy.

After a few months, fame hadn’t even made ot to my front gate, so I thought I’d better check to make sure I still wrote like Shakespeare. I posted another poem – or maybe it was a story. The analyser said:

You write like Stephen King.

So, not quite Shakespeare, but I figured Stephen King had a moderate amount of success for a writer, and I reckoned that any day a host of agents would find my blog and come Robert Mitchumknocking at my door, begging to represent me, offering me loads of money and sexual favours. Robert Mitchum – the only man for me, (although our timing was all wrong) so I’d turn down the sexual favours. I’m only in it for the dosh anyway. I’d probably go for the highest bidder.

I’m still waiting. I assume some kind of technical difficulty is keeping the agents from seeing my blog, but this evening I experienced a hint of uncertainty, and I went back to the analyzer to make sure that I still write like Stephen King.

Apparently I don’t. The next result told me:

You write like Charles Dickens.

I tried another poem and got this:

You write like Arthur Conan Doyle.

The next:

You write like Anne Rice.

I didn’t even know who she was, so I tried again, and again, and… you get the picture; I submitted 41 poems and short pieces.

What?

So, this is research, OK? I resent the suggestion that I’m obsessive. At least once a week for the past eight years I’ve done an online a test to see if I’m obsessive, and every time it tells me I’m not.

And stop trying to change the subject.

My research told me I write like:

Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Clarke, Agatha Christie, Jack London, Mario Puzo, Daniel Defoe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Chuck Palahniuk came up twice, Stephanie Meyer (x2), Vladimir Nobokov (x 4), David Foster Wallace (x 4), Margaret Atwood (x 5), James Joyce (x 5), Anne Rice (x 6),Charles Dickens (x 6).

The more poems I had analysed, the more confused I became. In many cases, I saw little correlation between my work and what I knew of the given authors’ writing.

You may also have noticed that the analyser doesn’t even mentionRobert Mitchum. I think the fact that he wasn’t a writer is a poor excuse, since he was so sexy.

I decided to conduct a few carefully monitored experiments:

1. I deliberately wrote a bad piece about a childhood experience. I included mis-spellings, poor grammar, a proliferation of ands and buts… it was terrible. The analyser told me I wrote like Raymond Chandler. Sorry about that, Ray.

2. I copied and pasted the poem that the site had originally stated was like Shakespeare, but it now says that it is like Stephanie Meyer’s work.

3. I copied one of Shakespeare’s most famous love sonnets (“From fairest creatures we desire increase…”) and discovered that the bard of Avon writes like H.P..Lovecraft.. Well done, Shakey.

4. I copied and pasted one of H.P. Lovecraft’s poems. It turns out that he writes like Mary Shelley.

My conclusions:

1. The analyser has it in for Raymond Chandler.

2. The writing which used to be like Shakespeare’s is now it’s like Stephanie Meyer’s. I haven’t read Twilight, but according to reviews her writing is dreadful. How can this be so? Both Shakey and I are rather good writers.

3. To complicate matters, Shakespeare has now taken to writing like HP Lovecraft, and HP Lovecraft writes like Mary Shelley.

4. Ideally, all of these authors should go back to writing like themselves.

5. My brain was less scrambled when I wrote like Stephen King.

6. In a perfect world, Robert Mitchum would have been born in the 1950s, grown up to be a literary agent, and lived next door to me.

If I take one thing from all this, it’s that I have finally achieved my dream – I choose to wave aside 37 of the analyser’s efforts with my work (not that I’m dissing the writing of those authors), and take heart from the remaining five, thus:

You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.
You write like Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood writes as if she was born with the perfect words inside her, already in the right order. I find numbers beautiful; they ask questions which (although there may be several methods of calculation) can only be answered in one way. They have beautiful symmetry. To me, Margaret Atwood’s novels are like the mathematics that exists within nature; a complex range of words that are arranged perfectly. Not a single letter need be changed. They make a shape as lovely and exact as a mandelbrot set.

N.B. I hope my silly post will raise at least the hint of a giggle here and there, but I ask that you take the last paragraph seriously. It’s the only sincere passage in this piece. Margaret Atwood is a literary giant.

And Robert Mitchum was the sexiest thing on legs. It was a bit sneaky of him to barge into this post – Robert Redford would not have been so rude – but better late than never.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Symphony of Life

beach-boy.jpg

The sea whispers in the distance, its waves telling tales of where it has been, all it has seen; our history crowding its every note.

Listen as the waves hiss toward the shore, each one inching forward a little more before crashing with a shoosh, raising a subtle rustle as sand shifts and smashed specks of shell swoop and rollick in salt water, sinking to silence as stillness momentarily descends, ready for the next wave to skiffle them again.

Seagulls circle, searching for fish, their racket rising to a crescendo, then calming from screech to squawk when they spot a shoal.

Listen to the Beach balls bounce as mothers squirt and slather sunscreen. Small feet splash in little land-locked lakes, young throats vibrate with laughter and high-pitched screams until ice cream time arrives, accompanied yummy hums and dripping, slurpy licks.

Listen to the beach orchestra as it plays its holiday symphony.

Somewhere, in a far away forest, cheeky breezes tickle tunes from the leaves of trees; a startled stag crashes through bracken; small creatures scratch and creep; rain taps on all it can reach; branches creak; a distant storm rumbles and cracks, but this equally complex piece can be replayed some other day.

.

Written for The Daily Post #Symphony

©Jane Paterson Basil

Another Beer

He swallows another beer as he wallows in loss of a broken doll that he never wished to repair; to mend it would be to lose it forever, and to forego his fun.

He opens another can as he drunkenly hunts for a plan to win her back.

A hundred pounds should seal the deal. The doll will feel a dash of guilt or greed. He’ll sow the seed in her account and it is bound to yield. She’ll buy a bag and run to heel. It cannot fail. By next weekend he’ll possess her again.

But what is this? It’s all going wrong. She told her she’s happy where she is. She doesn’t want the hundred quid and doesn’t want to hear from him.

He drinks another beer and has another think. Another hundred quid should do it. He knows her sort, they’re no better than they aught to be, and that’s why they keep him warm in bed. They’ll do anything for some squid to buy a day’s escape from pain.

She reminds him it’s over, that he doesn’t know her, he only remembers an addict he thought he could buy, and though she can’t recall the sordid details, and can’t recognise the person she was now she’s found a different life, he should know she was only for hire, and the lease has expired. Her body is her own private property, as are her mind and her soul. None of her form, functions or faculties have any connection with him.

He feels frustrated so he takes a break, and has another drink.

Now he is angry, and soon, so is she. Another hundred unsolicited smackers in her bank account, yet still she won’t listen. She should have crumbled and spent it on gear. He’ll speak to her mother; he’s convinced he has tricked her, she thinks he’s a charmer, with his grammar school twang and his good education. She will believe him when he spins his tale.

So he’s texting her mother to say that if she doesn’t help him, she’s not the mother that she should be. He writes that he is in love with her daughter, and adds “You should send her to me.”

His mother succinctly explains (most politely) that he is a git and a pervert also, and that she’s always known it, but had to go slowly and retain his trust, ’til she got her daughter out of his clutches. She’s pleased she’s succeeded, and says that she hopes he will leave well alone. She mentions his age and compares it to daughter’s, she points out the difference of thirty three years, says she’s aware of his filthy intentions, wishes him well and she puts down the phone.

So he necks another beer.

His left arm possessively clutches a bucket of fine filmy dust while his right hand hurls mouldering tatters of insults and sick psycho tricks which harmlessly sink through the rug at their feet. He shouts and he swears and spits evil invective. He threatens to stab them and shoot them and send out police to arrest them…

Pardon me, could you repeat that last piece?

Stab them and shoot them and send out police?

What, all three?

And how will he find them? He has no address.

They were very upset, but now they are laughing. Three months of plotting and drunken scheming and now he is screaming arid threats. Can he do no better than that?

Somewhere in a lonely town, he chokes on his beer…

and the brave phoenix extracts a heap of cash from the bank, slaps it into the hand of a representative of a cherished charity. She modestly waves away the receipt, and whispers “A stranger gave it to me. He thought I looked a bit like someone he knew. He refused to take it back. There was nothing I could do.”

She turns to leave, but briefly turns back. Smiling, she says “Free.”

At last she is free.

.

Quid:- one pound sterling.
Squid:- same as quid.
Gear:- heroin.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Unravelled

You pursued me, pretended to love me, when all you wanted was control.

The day you met my kids in that cafe, you encouraged them to misbehave – made believe it was a harmless game. You played like a fun guy to make them like you, but you were a fungus of the most poisonous kind, killing my mind.

Your behaviour changed on the day you moved into my place, taking control of every corner of my life. You held the money and you chose my clothes. Soon I was clad in ugly rags. You bought the food, yet said we had no money for my children’s shoes.

When I wanted to stop eating meat, you bought half a pig.

When I planned to give up chocolate, you showered me with the goo. You even bought me a man’s tee shirt that said “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. How could I possibly have worn that?

You bought me another that was steeped in chocolate fragrance.

You asked me what was my favourite fragrance, bought it for another woman and made sure I saw it. You wanted me to think it wass for me, and I did, giving you the opportunity to tell me it was for Kaye.

You had fun with that nasty little game, and Kaye always played along. I was meant to see the expression on your face when you spotted her in the street, and you both intended to make me feel humiliated as you flirted with each other.

I saw Kaye try to play the same tricks with other men while their wives were present, but none of them played along.

You made me sell my house, and we moved. You adult son came to live with us, and the two of you made it clear that me and my children had no rights. You ganged up on us, making the most unreasonable rules. We were there for over a year before I discovered that my name was not on the deeds. You had stolen the home that I paid for. Meanwhile your son was stealing money, and you were blaming my oldest child. I laid a trap, and proved it was him. When I spoke to you about it, you stammered, looked lost, and then became angry.

“What abot Sarah,” you yelled, “she left her bag in the hall when she came home from school.”

That was one of the rules; my girls were not to leave their bags in the hall even for a moment. Sarah had gone to the bathroom before putting her bag away.

You fathered my two youngest children, and used them as a weapon against me, spoiling them and bullting them in turns, being deliberately inconsistant, making empty threats so that they ended up confused and warped by you.

You made me feel ugly and unappealing. I did my best to please you, but that only made it worse. Other men found me attractive, and even tried to steal me from you. At least three of them went to great lengths, but ai came to the conclusion that they were all crazy – why would they want someone as disgusting as me?

I shut myself off from friends as you humiliated me whenever there was an audience. If anyone came to dinner you would push you plate away, saying the food I’d carefully cooked looked too horrible to eat.

If I made an effort to look nice, you’d glance at me then turn away, as if my repulsiveness made your eyes hurt. The more I tried to please you, the worse you became. I could tell a thousand stories of your dirty antics, but I’m bored with talking about it.

You denied your warped psychology – tried to make me believe I was paranoid, and it worked. For a long time I felt too pathetic to leave you. You made me think I was too useless to survive on my own. It was only after I finally got away that I found out the worst of your crimes.

I must have been blind not to have seenwhat you were. The clues were there every time we walked down the street.

You should have gone to prison; for a while, that was what I wanted, but it was not my choice to make. When the secret reached the ears of the man who broke your ribs in revenge for what you did, you thought his sin was greater than yours, which goes to show just how sick you are.

You tried to unravel me, and for a while it looked as if you had, but I survived, and now I understand, it was you who was unravelled. My mother once said you were inadequate, looking sad as she spoke those words. She was a kind woman. I wonder if she knew what an understatement she’d made.

The Daily Post #Unravel

©Jane Paterson Basil

Long weekend

fractal-111178.jpg

It’s been a long weekend, starting on Friday afternoon. Laura was with me in my flat when I received a call from the inneffectual stand-in Supervisor of this sheltered housing complex (our lovely permanent Supervisor, Sandra, has been ill). He told me that it had been reported that Laura was in the building, and her ban was still standing, so she must leave immediately and not re-enter.

Laura was banned from the complex about fifteen months ago, as a result of a noise complaint. She was in psychosis at the time. She endangered nobody in the building, nor would she have at any point, but I was very shaky and her confused, aggressive presence increased my anxiety.

I have twice since been refused an assured tenancy due to this disturbance. It’s up for review next month and I was told I could expect it to be granted if there is no further trouble – but they said that six months ago, and changed their minds without any good reason.

Even a ‘lifetime’ ban from a shop tends to expire after a year or so, if there’s no cause to extend it, but I wanted to talk to Sandra as I felt that she’d support me in getting the ban squashed. However, she’s had a lot of illness lately, and I never managed to catch her when she was in the office. The few things I’d noticed about the stand-in hadn’t been promising.

So the ban was still in place when Laura got beaten up by that monster, and ran to me for support. Naturally I took her in – it’s in a mother’s contract, written in capitals. It overrides landlords rulings, and I didn’t think there would be a huge problem anyway; her behaviour is now beyond reproach. She hasn’t stayed with me every night, and we’ve arranged for her to move to safe place far from here, soon.

Laura was about to go out when I got the phone call. I told her what had happened. She raised no objections, even going so far as to comfort me, assuring me everything would be OK. She left to meet a friend, and I went down to the office to speak to the drippy stand-in nitwit, who at least made sympathetic noises and gave me a number to call.

I spoke to a secretary who said I’d get a callback from the appropriate officer. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t. This was Friday; the weekend was looming. I prepared the food we’d planned to cook together, then we met and ate together, outdoors. She said she had somewhere safe to stay. I knew that her ‘safe’ place would put her at risk of weakening and using drugs, but I had to let her go.

On Saturday we met in the morning and again in the evening, dining on a park bench as we watched the sun go down. She said she had somewhere better to stay than the place where she’d been the previous night. We parted.

Yesterday was Mothers Day. It began with a lunchdate with my two elder daughters and their families. After lunch we all went to the park, where the little ones romped and played. I left them at about 4pm to meet Laura. We enjoyed a pub meal with coffee and followed it up with a long walk, sitting down every so often, as I tire easily these days. She said she was going back to the place she stayed on Saturday. I reminded her that we were having lunch with my sister today, and she was excited about it. She and my sister have a special bond. Sadly, Christine’s house is too crowded for a short-term guest.

She left me at about 7pm, walking in the opposite direction to the cosy sofa that was to be her bed for the night. She told me she had to see a friend first, but I knew she was going to a dealer’s house. I can spot the signs, however subtle.

This morning I couldn’t contact her. I went looking for her at the address where she should have been – she doesn’t know that I know it – but nobody was in, and I felt her absence stretch backward – I could sense that she hadn’t been there last night.

I came home, and – wonder of wonders – Sandra was back. I saw her through the office window, so I went in to ask if she’d seen Laura press the buzzer. She hadn’t and she made me sit down and tell her the whole story, then dialled 101 for the police, and handed me the phone. The police treated her disappearance as an emergency. As there were serious concerns for her safety she was put on the missing person’s list. A police officer quickly arrived to take down more details.

Meanwhile, Sandra got hold of the housing officer, and told him he must speak to me urgently. She was asked what she’d have done if she’d been in charge on Friday. She said she would have said Laura should stay with me.

As the policeman was about to leave, I got a phone call – from Laura. I was right – she never reached that safe sofa. She’d spent the night at a dealer’s house. It wouldn’t have happened if Laura had been with me.

The police officer arranged to meet her somewhere outdoors as she didn’t want to lead him to the dealer’s house. On the way to meet him, she bumped into her brother, Paul, who was out looking for her (he had a pretty good idea where she would be, and he was right). She’s had an aversion to her father’s home for some time, but between us, Paul and I persuaded her to stay there tonight, safely away from this town.

Thanks to Sandra’s intervention, the housing officer phoned me, but he said he had to speak to another officer before allowing  Laura back into the building. He asked if I knew of any official who could vouch for her, and I gave the drugs services – it was my only choice. He promised to try to get back to me tomorrow.

This evening I rang Laura. She was happily surrounded by Paul, his girlfriend, her dad, and the cat who disgraced herself on Saturday. She says she may stay there again tomorrow night. There was laughter in her voice.

And me? Maybe I’ll be able to eat some cereal, fruit and yogurt. A meal would be too much to cope with. I’m walked off my feet, my brain’s been fried by constant radioactive calls, and I need some sleep, but for the moment all’s almost well with my corner of the world.

Later, I’ll deal subtly with NNND (nasty neighbour next door), who made the complaint. She hates being caught telling tales, and she’s so bitter and twisted that she can’t stand to see people happy. I’ll give her my most sarcastic smile, and sweetly thank her for giving Laura the opportunity to meet a couple of helpful housing officers AND to prove herself worthy of entering the building. Maybe I’ll get Laura to help me with the garden. The added advantage there would be that NNND would see the other residents stopping to talk to Laura. She’s an attractive, personable woman, and quite a few of them like her.

Sweet revenge…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Out there (Stream of Conciousness)

Out there.jpg

In the enclosure below, white buses wait for children playing soldiers, intending to defend a country that doesn’t know where it’s going. Behind red brick and jagged wire, Army green shreds of a greedy empire cling, ragged, to their skin. Sergeants scream at lagging lads, as the keen stand to attention, toy guns polished and ready for the killing game, never questioning that they are on the right side. Whatever the cause, they will blunt their bloodied swords and raise the tainted flag of false victory, as the foe breathes his final breath, to find the only peace he will ever know, in death. Yes, they will say they have killed the beast, yet our fear will continue to fester, until we learn to live together.

Along the road, cars drive by, intent on many urgent or indifferent missions, while buses carry harried housewives home with their cache of nutritious food; but I am forgetting – those days have receded into history. The women are working, or fearfully trailing, to the Jobcentre to be sanctioned for something they didn’t understand, wondering how they will buy bread next week, knowing they may have to join what they see as the queue of shame for a free food handout. These days, the buses drag students to and from uncertain lessons in subjects they don’t want to learn, and can’t, because the courses are substandard, except for the fortunate few, who have up-to-date tutors and superior curricula.

Meanwhile, in a city we used to call The Smoke, due to the smog that hung over it, parliament buildings rumble with government people who shoulder the true blame, yet walk without shame. They jumble justice and shuffle the cards; each card bearing the name of an unwilling servant whose choice has been stolen by corrupt officers with too many ticks in too many boxes, pencilled in by people who thought only to make their own lives richer, but didn’t think to look for the truth behind the lies. Too late to take back the mistake they made, their spirits turn to sludge as they trudge though Satan’s paperwork, getting tripped at every step.

Outside, rain dulls the senses, though the day is brightened by a fading line of bright sky on the horizon. Through dripping windows I watch the traffic lights go by, to sweep around the roundabout nearby.

Suddenly I catch sight of the golden glow on the central island, and I wonder how, or why, it passed me by. My eyes are awash with yellow narcissi, trumpeting silently, promising that Spring will come, as it always does.

I feel shame; it is the daffodils, and not me, which have become the change I want to see.

I let the feeling trickle through me, feed me, maybe improve me.

The rain ceases, the sun shows its face, painting the sky blue again, making the trees glisten with drops of nature’s liquid saviour.

The world turns at its usual speed, and even with our destructive nature, we are tiny, and we cannot slow it. We can kill the deer, and ourselves, but the planet will endure until infinite space holds up its hand.

But that is not enough for the deer,  or for you and me.

Image: The least attractive  portion of the view from my window, showing the army cadet building on the right, with the white buses below, and the daffodils on the traffic island behind.In summer the trees cover a lot af the scene, leading the eye toward green hills on the horizon.

©Jane Paterson Basil