Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to a Sensible Length

I must confess that although my new techniques to attract more readers to my diary has succeeded in that I now have an average of 14 readers each day instead of 10, I am unhappy with what I have become.

I have allowed myself to become seduced by the lure of possibily gaining more than 20 readers per day and entering into the big leagues. You start to think you can dip your toes into the modes of populist trash yet maintain your credibility and integrity. You start to think that you can get away with producing inferior products, and that your core fan base will indulge you such slips because they are convinced of your genius. You start to forget your true fans, and just write for the idiots. You start to think you can just post up pictures of Charlie Chalk and Martin Short for your readers to goggle at. Before you know it, your electronic diary is just a collection of links to other people's work. Before you know it, you are weeping into your lap, longing for the days when you were respected by the literary community and were berated on Late Review by Tom Paulin. Before you know it you are disgusted with yourself. Before you know it you are standing in the new Marks and Spencers in Broughty Ferry, drunk on fortified wine, your trousers on your head and your pain-contorted face slicked with aspic from three dozen purloined Melton Mowbrays.

When the police finally let me go with a caution, I returned home and vowed never again to cater to the lowest common denominator: from now on, my diary entries will revert to their usual level of intelligence. I am now going for a Radox herbal bath.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This entry is the shortest yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Short Entry

Although my last entry was short, it was not quite as short as I had intended, so I will do my best to make this one shorter.

Here is a picture that I like.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another Short Entry providing Balance

As my last diary entry was another long one, I will now break up my web page by including another short entry here, so that casual browsers are not put off by too much text.

The postgraduate Kennie Pome told me that, as well as including more pictures to hook readers, I should include lots more web links in my entries, so that my diary is providing a tangible service to readers by furnishing them with interesting and educational content.

Therefore, here is a web site which specializes in the matching and supplying of reclaimed imperial bricks. It has a brick library that you may browse, and the front page features an animated man that talks aloud (about bricks), providing you turn up the volume on your computer. He will keep you right.

I have also been told that I must make greater effort to interact with my readers through such means as asking them questions within my diary entries, which they might reply to through the 'comments' function. Casual browsers will see that each entry has numerous comments, and will assume that the electronic diary is extremely popular and may thus revisit.

I will try this as an experiment to see if it works:

My favourite brick from the brick web site is brick DM0202. What is yours?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Interview with the Postgraduate: Part 2

I will now continue with Part 2 of my interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome.

Kennie Pome: Now then, Steve...

Me: Who's Steve?

Kennie Pome: You are.

Me: Oh yes of course. And Horton Carew is a fictional character which I created.

Kennie Pome: Now then, Steve, perhaps you could say a little about some of the other characters that appear on the blog via the comments function (and occasionally in the narrative itself). Dr Gland, Professor Flitey, etc. What do they lend to the diegesis?

Me: [worried, because Dr Gland and Professor Flitey would not appreciate me saying they were fictional] I did not actually create them.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting. Do you collaborate with other writers then?

Me: [inelegantly improvising] Oh yes, I have a large network of writer chums. Dr Gland's creator is Bill Tutternosker, a schoolteacher from Kirkliston, and Professor Flitey was the brainchild of Angela Civetbrawn, a homemaker (housewife) from Norfolk, Connecticut (America). They both do a really good job with those characters. We do our best to confabulate online three or four times a week, just to touch base. We've only met up in person once. We organised a Writers of Horton's Folly Christmas Party last Christmas in Connecticut. It was nice. We all sat around on Angela's veranda swigging beers and discussing what direction we wanted to take for Horton's Folly. I have to say, Angela and myself tend to be on the same wavelength, but Bill often wants to be a lot more experimental than we're comfortable with. For instance, he wanted to have Dr. Gland speaking in untranslated Hebrew at one point. Another time, he came up with this idea that Dr Gland should give up being a medical doctor and become an eco-warrier. Angela and myself usually have to rein in those wild flights of fancy!

Kennie Pome: That's interesting...

Me: I can put you in touch with Bill and Angela if you like, provided you only interview them over the phone and just give their £5.00 fees directly to me. Funnily enough, Bill and Angela both have Dundee accents just like me because they both liked mine so much they decided to copy it whenever they spoke. In fact, we often joke about how similar we all sound over the phone. You would pay them £5.00 per interview I trust?

Kennie Pome: That's interesting, but I will stick to just interviewing you. I assume that your blog is sort of an arena in which you dramatise the work of postmodern literary theorists? Is that fair to say?

Me: It certainly is Kennie. I've said so myself many times.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting. Now, what authors influence you? We'll take the usual suspects - Calvino, Borges, Eco, Pynchon, etc. - as given.

Me: Of course. Well, I have to say that I am influenced mainly by the writers of Neighbours. I really love it.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting. You're being coy again. I can see you're not comfortable with that question. That's cool - I'll drop it.

Me: No, I love Neighbours. Have you seen that Max and Steph have split up? It's sad, but I suppose Toady and Steph are free to get together now.

Kennie Pome: Okay, okay. I get the point. I'll drop that line of questioning. Right. In many ways, your blog is metacritical: how aware are you of current academic research into blog fiction (my own included) and how much of that do you incorporate into your blog?

Me: ...

Kennie Pome: Would you like me to repeat the question?

Me: Do I still get the £5.00 if I don't get all the answers right?

Kennie Pome: Okay, we'll call it a day for now. Thank you for your time. That was very interesting. Perhaps we might arrange another interview later.

Me: Yes, that would be a pleasure. We authors relish the opportunity to talk at length about our work, and to earn £5.00.

And that readers, was the interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome. You have done very well in managing to read all the way down this diary entry without losing interest or being distracted by other electronic diaries that have more links to YouTube. I do not wish to tax you further with more text, so as a small reward for your patience, here is a picture of the president of the USA (United States of America), George W. Bush.

I hope that casual browsers might see it and assume this is a website full of stinging satirical commentary. By the time they realise it is not, they will already be hooked by the pictures of monkeys further down the page and by my deft and skillful prose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Shorter Diary Entry for Contrast

The postgraduate Kennie Pome has also indicated to me that if I have tried the patience of my readers with a very long diary entry (upwards of 100 words), then the next diary entry I create should be shorter to give a sense of contrast and variation. Readers, if faced with two lengthy diary entries in a row, will break down and give up in tears at the effort expected of them. Therefore, this diary entry will be very short and I will continue with the second part of my interview in tomorrow's diary entry.

I do not like to waste my readers' time however, so I will use this entry to direct your attention to this website which you may explore at your leisure. Once you've read that web site in its entirety, I advise you to follow the link given by that author on the 17th April, because he has also found a very good web site that you will certainly enjoy perusing.

Certain of my readers have indictated that my recent practice of including a picture with each entry has hooked them, so the advice of postgraduate Kennie Pome is evidently something I can trust. In particular, images of simians seem to draw the readers in, so I will now continue this trend by presenting a picture of a monkey taking home a juicy pear to his spouse:

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Interview with the Postgraduate: Part 1

I will split my account of the interview with the postgraduate Kennie Pome into two parts, which I will entitle Part 1 and Part 2 for ease of understanding ('Part 1' being the first part of the interview, and 'Part 2' being the second). Doing so will keep my diary entries shorter so that the reader will not be discouraged by reams of text. As I said yesterday, the postgraduate Kennie Pome informed me that electronic diaries, or 'blogs' as he insisted on calling them, are typically read by jaded and largely uninterested readers, who will not be persuaded to invest any time in reading unless they are 'hooked' by bite-sized chunklets of punchy text and attractive images. I have therefore endeavoured to adopt such a template in order to keep my readers interested. Thus, being studious of brevity, I will refrain from elaboration and continue with my account of the interview.

I cannot remember our conversation verbatim, but I will do my best to recount it exactly as I recall it. I believe I did a very convincing job of presenting myself as an author and hope you will agree.

Kennie Pome: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I have enjoyed reading your blog fiction. Let's start with a few basic questions about yourself and the nuts and bolts of your blog. What's your name?

Me: Horton Carew. Can I confirm that I will be getting £5.00 for this interview?

Kennie Pome: Yes, you'll get £5.00. But I'd prefer you to conduct this interview 'out of character'. This is serious academic research I'm doing, not a bit of fluff for the gutter press.

Me: [panicking, for I had forgotten that I was supposed to be playing a part, so distracted was I by the lemon muffin] Of course. My name is Steve M. R. Tubbock.

Kennie Pome: Thanks Steve. Do you feel comfortable sharing any personal information with me? Where are you from? What do you work as? That sort of thing?

Me: I live in Broughty Ferry where I own a small gallery that exhibits and sells the work of local artists. My wife creates sculptures of seabirds using hewn driftwood and oyster shells, which are very popular. This brings in enough money to put me in the fortunate position of devoting myself entirely to my writing.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting. What other writing projects are you working on at the moment?

Me: None. I spend all my time writing Horton's Folly, which is of course fictional. As is the handsome and erudite character 'Horton Carew'.

Kennie Pome: That's very interesting. So how long do you spend on each blog entry then?

Me: It varies. I never spend less than eight hours per entry, sometimes more if there's a lot of research required. I write my first draft by midday, then usually scrap it and start again. This abandoning is a valuable part of the creative process though: nothing is wasted. I typically write 20,000 words in total before I begin self-editing. I describe this stage as 'prose decocting' wherein I 'boil down' the 20,000 words and extract the essence of the narrative, which is what I present to the reader.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting. Can you tell me what first drew you to use the blog genre for your fiction? Would you say that you understand that blogs and diaries are conventionally thought of as confessional discourses which present secrets and avowals to readers who consequently feel that they are privy to some naked and unvarnished truth, but that, in couching a fictional narrative in this genre, you chose to mock or subvert that notion to augment your overarching concerns, in common with other postmodernist writers of metafiction, with fracturing the atavistic concept of absolutes?

Me: Yes.

Kennie Pome: It's interesting you say that because that's exactly what I would have thought. Now, what about the character of Horton Carew? Where did he stem from? How did you develop him?

Me: Well, I think of Horton as a classical Hero figure. He is fiercely intelligent, knowledgable, strong, and brave. Throughout his everyday experiences, he always shines through as the perfect human being. Horton is a character that all women fall in love with and all men aspire to be.

Kennie Pome: [laughing, for some unknown reason] That's interesting. Typifies the biting sardonicism prevalent in your blog. But seriously, how did you develop Horton's character? He's a very strange individual I think it's fair to say!

Me: [confused, but deciding to play along so as not to jeopardize my £5.00] Oh yes, of course. Horton is a strange fellow. I wanted to create a strange character.

Kennie Pome: That's interesting.

Me: Is it?

Kennie Pome: I suppose not.

Here I will break off so that my readers do not feel overwhelmed with words. And as promised, here is a picture to attract the attention of new readers and casual browsers, so that I might hook them in:

Broughty Ferry beach

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Meeting with the Postgraduate Kennie Pome

The meeting with the postgraduate Kennie Pome was a success - I earned £5.00 for only 20 minutes worth of work. We met in a sophisticated coffee house called 'Starbucks', the interior design of which was perfectly suited to our great meeting of minds. If any of my readers is a member of the intelligentsia and is ever in Dundee and in need of coffee, I can recommend this 'Starbucks' place highly. It is a real shame that you should all be deprived of access to this delighful shop just because you do not live in Dundee. If only there was some way to duplicate it and place up to seven of them in every town in the world, then you would all be able to enjoy it like me.

The postgraduate Kennie Pome introduced himself to me as Kennie Pome, postgraduate. He bought a couple of coffees and two lemon muffins for the total cost of £12.40, which may sound expensive but when you consider that the coffee tastes marginally better than Nescafe Gold Blend, then you begin to understand that one is paying for quality. Pome had recognised me straight away because I look like the photograph of myself that I include on this web site. He expressed surprise, for he had thought that the photograph was just a random strange picture chosen to look 'totally random'.

Then began the interview, which I will relate to you in full later. You see, the postgraduate Kennie Pome has advised me to keep my electronic diary entries shorter and to include more images, because his research has shown that 'web logs' with briefer entries and more pictures are read by more people. Thus I will save my account of the interview for a subsequent entry so as not to overload the reader with excessive verbiage. Furthermore, here is an image of a monkey riding a man riding a horse.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Becoming a Sham-Author: Part 2

Because I must convince the postgraduate that I am a real author and that 'Horton Carew' is a fictional character, I must do my utmost to stay in character throughout the interview if I am to secure the £5. To this end, I have created a persona for myself that would convince anyone, even P. D. Harris, the number one reviewer on and hence the person most knowledgable about books and authors in the world.

As related yesterday, I have modelled my appearance on such literary greats as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Terry Pratchett, OBE, who are both so good at authoring that royalty gave them titles. I have thus eschewed that view of writers as louche alcoholics, surviving on laudanum in pokey garrets, and gone instead for more workmanlike, down-to-earth craftsmen types. Tomorrow I will wear a shirt and tie and attempt to remain business like. I have fluffed up my moustache a little, but that is my only concession to flamboyance.

It strikes me that I will require a suitable name to go by. What sort of name would the author of a fictional electronic diary have? I feel initials are key to success. J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Poppy Z. Brite, and Thomas R.D all recognised this truth. Yes, an initial will be essential. A simple first name, a couple of initials, and an unusual surname: this formula will see me right.

Some possiblities:

Ben R. R. Glush
Joe H. L. Askew
Bill M. C. Tutternosker
Lee P. D. Florescu
Dave F. T. Civetbrawn
Steve L. J. Hubshuft
Andy W. C. DeKelb-Rittenhouse
Mark C. F. Krzywinska

I must settle on a name by tomorrow, for it is then that I must meet the postgraduate.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Becoming a Sham-Author

I have arranged to meet the postgraduate on Friday in Dundee's Starbucks coffee house for the first of my interviews. If I am to convince him that I am an author and hence earn £5, I must look the part.

I have decided to model my appearance on a selection of famous and respected authors, whose senses of dress and general demeanour I will syncretize to create a whole new persona comprising the very essence of authorial class.

Here are the authors on which I have chosen to model myself (in some cases I was unable to find images of the actual author, so I have been obliged to use lookalikes):

Arfur Conan Doyle

Charles Dickens

Jules Verne

Robert Louis Stevenson

Terry Pratchett

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Postgraduate Plagues Me

Those of you who have been following the comments left by other readers will have noted that I am currently being hounded by a postgraduate who believes me to be fictional. He wishes to conduct a series of interviews with the author of this electronic diary whom he erroneously imagines to be someone other than myself.

Ordinarily I would not humour such forwardness and brazen cheek, but as he has promised to pay me £5 per interview, I have decided to accommodate the cove. Thus will I pretend to be a writer who has fabricated everything in this electronic diary. I will disguise myself as an author and tell this postgraduate exactly what he wants to hear, even if that involves maintaining the pretence that I, Horton Carew, am a fictional character.

This will not be easy, but I believe I am up to the challenge.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Treats

As it is Easter Sunday, the day before Easter Monday, and as I am feeling light and gay after my recent triumph, I have given the day over to carefree pursuits such as eating chocolates and decorating hens' eggs.

Today is truly a wonderous one, for today we remember the day, many years ago, when Jesus H. Christ rose from the dead and escaped from his cave by turning into an egg and rolling down a hill or something.

To bring you joy, I will share with you a photograph of an egg which I have decorated in such a way that it looks like Scarlett Johansson in that film where she looks like a boiled egg.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I Triumph

Success, dear readers, success! I have, for the moment, defeated my dead mother. She is imprisoned with little to no chance of ever escaping.

You see, for the past few days I made a great show of apologising to my dead mother and repeatedly promising to return to my evil ways. I even pretended to slice off my right hand as she had requested (in reality, I merely hid it up my sleeve). Evidently my ruse succeeded because her manner eventually reverted to a collegial tone rather than that of an evil mother enraged at her morally good son.

Yesterday I asked her, in as casual a tone as I could muster, whether she fancied a game of Monopoly. Perhaps, I mused aloud, it would bolster my capacity for evil for it is a game in which players are blooded in the ruthless ways of capitalism and encouraged to take delight in the financial ruination of family and friends. She agreed at once. My heart skipped two to three beats with the excitement.

She stood upon the board in the intimidating form of the little scottie dog that I have grown to loathe these last months. I chose to play as the race car because I thought that it would make me look cool. I took a deep breath and rolled the dice.

It was clear from the off that she was the better player. Within only a few circuits of the board she had established hotels on the blue set and the red set. I had succeeded only in buying the Waterworks, Fenchurch Street Station, and Old Kent Road. My fiendishly clever plan was failing almost before it had begun.

Down to my last £14, it was obvious that I would be bankrupt within my next few rolls because my mother owned all the property on the board and had at least a house on each site. I had only to wait for her to take her turn then all would surely be over. Well readers, she rolled a ten! That took her to a Chance square. My very last opportunity to defeat her.

I picked up the top most Chance card from the pile and, with trembling hand, revealed the underside. Triumph! It said, "Go to Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect £200". Oh frabjous day!

I moved my mother into the Jail square, my heart thumping so rapidly that I feared she would hear it.

"And now mother, I am afraid you lose," said I.

"Not so, halfwit," she replied. "I need only roll a double within my next three shots and, if I fail to do so, I must pay only £50 to secure my release. That is a paltry sum for me because I have many thousands of pounds. Besides which, you will be made bankrupt in your next few moves, and I will de victorious, you chump. Bwah haa haa haah... Now roll the dice and take your turn."

Have you guessed my plan yet readers? I expect two or three of you have, but no more than that because it really is terribly clever. You see, because my dead mother's wicked soul is trapped inside the little scottie dog from Monopoly, she is bound by the rules of that venerable board game. She is obliged to abide by its rules as you or I are bound to the rules of gravity.

Readers, I refused to take my turn. Until I do so, she must remain in Jail. And you know as well as I do, and as well as my evil mother knows, that I will never take my turn in that game of Monopoly. Bwah haa haa haaah.

Being careful not to shift any of the pieces, I gingerly carried the board and accompanying paraphernalia up to the back of my loft where I have laid it in a large chest and locked it tight. Never will I hear from that wicked soul again.

I suppose it's a bit like Jumanji starring Robin Williams.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Secret Plan is Concocted

Readers, I am afraid I allowed myself to become distracted by numerous animated programmes these last few days, which meant I forgot about my resolve to rid my home of my dead mother's soul.

No matter, for I have hit upon a brilliant scheme. Readers, the solution is in the game of Monopoly itself! I have been blind. The answer is obvious: I must challenge my mother to a game of Monopoly...and win. Her soul being anchored to the little scottie dog from Monopoly, she will of course play as the little scottie dog, and I will play as something sexy like the racecar or the boat...

But I am saying too much. She is crafty and suspicious and may yet read my electronic diary. If so, all will be lost. I will report back to you after my plan has come to fruition.

Pray for me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Dog Came Back The Very Next Day

Fact 1: My dead mother's wicked soul is anchored to the little scottie dog from Monopoly.

Fact 2: If I can get rid of the little pewter dog then I can surely be rid of my dead mother's wicked soul.

This was the sort of reasoning I employed when first I hurled the little dog from out my bedroom window onto the street, where it struck the ear of a passing Mormon who understandably evinced chagrin. Alas, the next day the dog stood atop my mantelpiece as though it had never been flung away in disgust.

Next I took the dog to the top of the Law Hill and left it there, exposed to the elements. The next day, however, it had returned to its spot on the mantel.

Law Hill, Dundee

Next I packaged it up securely in a padded envelope, addressed it to Kirk Douglas in the US (America), and paid the relevant postage costs. The next day, however...well, you can undoubtedly guess the rest for you are not a buffoon.

The whole sorry affair reminded me of a cartoon I once saw on Rolf's Cartoon Time about a cat that kept returning to the home of a man who desperately wanted to be rid of the creature. It was a good cartoon. I must go and see if it is available for viewing on YouTube.