Category Archives: Thoughts

Writers… Thoughts…

Inner writer

So, I was thinking the other day. Yes, I know, I should be careful, it’ll make my head hurt. But anyway, the thought…

In the writing world there are two types of writers. Of course, there are many subsets to those two types, but stripped down to bare basics, two is all there are.

The first type consists of the ‘literary writers’. These are those writers who wish to create something with words. They want the words to be beautiful, to be profound, to convey a meaning only those on the writer’s own level can hope to comprehend. They want those words to look striking and powerful on paper. They wish to create a long lasting legacy with those words. They wish to create… *dramatic pause*… a masterpiece!

The second type of writer is made up of the ‘storytelling writer’. These are people who have a story, or indeed many stories, to tell. They want to share this story, or stories, and writing is their chosen medium to do this. If they could make movies, they’d probably make a blockbuster to tell the tale. If they had the first clue how to make video games I’m sure they’d make a Triple A title to relate the story. But as it is, writing is their humble talent, and so write they must. Storytelling is their trade, and Story, be it complex or simple, is the fuel which drives them, the light which sustains them.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I belong in the second category. Though I spend a lot of time writing for other people (it pays the bills, after all), I love to write for myself, to give life to the myriad of stories floating around the ocean of my imagination.

The writers in the first group have my admiration. Those guys know what they’re talking about. They can discuss the literary greats for days on end. Grammar is second nature to them, and they can utilise it without a thought. They’re all experts at cryptic crosswords too!

That being said, I’m more than happy to be fairly and squarely in the second category. Storytelling is my bread and butter. Writing is good, but Story is everything.

So yeah, it was just a thought. Which group of writers do you belong to?

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Thoughts


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Be True To Yourself

Way back in 1958, when Hunter S. Thompson was still only 22 years old, and yet to become one of the twentieth century’s most important authors, as well as a famous journalist, a friend of his wrote to him for advice on life. Hunter duly replied in his wordy and extravagant manner.

Legendary journalist and writer Hunter Thompson plays golf

The late, great, Hunter S Thompson

If you are due to finish high school this summer, or indeed college or university, and are struggling to find a direction for your life, you would do well to read the transcript of Hunter’s reply, below. If you’re unsure of which qualifications to pursue, unsure what career ‘path’ you think you should follow, or unsure whether to conform to society’s uncalled for expectations of you, then read his words and take heed.

The words hold true for everybody else, too. It’s never too late to reassess your own situation, never too late to make a change for the better, never to late to grab life by the balls and proclaim in a loud voice “Now it’s my turn to take control, motherfucker!”

I first read these words a number of years ago, when life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses. Since then I’ve tried to hold the main tenet of Hunter’s philosophy at the forefront of my mind.

April 22, 1958

57 Perry Street

New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,


There you go, pretty inspiring. And on that note, that shallot.

Live your life for you. #LiveLife #NeverGiveUp



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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Random, Thoughts


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Just a thought…

Just a thought for horror writers…

We sit in our nice, comfortable houses, full of our good food and good drink, and write about the horrors of the zombie apocalypse, or the end of the world, for entertainment purposes. For fun.

But what if it was the zombie apocalypse? What if we were living through the horrors of the end of the world? What would we write about then?

The horrors of home comforts...

The horrors of home comforts…

After years of battling the undead, would that ultimately become humankind’s normality, therefore making the age old comforts of home the true horror?

Would we then write about living in nice, comfortable houses? Would we write about being full of good food and good drink?

Would that be entertainment? Would that be fun?

Would that be terrifyingly horrific?

Well, would it?



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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Thoughts, Writing


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Slaughter of the Innocents – Taiji

Have you heard of a place called Taiji?

If you have you’ll know why the mere mention of the name makes me shudder. If you haven’t, then please, take the time to enter the name into google and read all about it. And if you’re an animal lover, prepare to be upset. Fair warning. If you’re left unmoved, then you, my friend, are welcome to leave this planet and return to your own any time you wish.

Taiji is a small town on the coast of Japan. Taiji Cove is a place where humans slaughter dolphins. Not one or two, ones that might have unwittingly found themselves in the cove. They slaughter them hundreds at a time.

TaijiA fleet of boats sets sail. Out on the ocean they’ll locate a pod of dolphins, organise themselves for the hunt, then drive the pod back to Taiji Cove. Once there, and trapped, the dolphins are slaughtered inhumanely for their meat. Not all are killed – some are selected to be sold, alive, to various marine theme parks around the world. So that paying tourists can marvel at how beautiful and intelligent these creatures are…

I won’t get on my soapbox and start preaching about this barbaric practise, that isn’t what this blog is for. Besides, far better qualified people than I can argue the case better than I ever could. Links to them can be found at the end of this post, should you wish more information, or to support them in their efforts. (I’m not averse to sensible discussions about this and many other topics. I can be messaged on my Twitter and Facebook pages, or emailed direct – info at alenbcurtiss dot com)

So, back to the point of this post. Last weekend 250 dolphins were driven into Taiji. The ‘lucky’ few were removed, to live out their lives as ‘entertainment’ for overcharged tourists. The rest were slaughtered, the ocean yet again turning red with their blood. Yet again, those who care tried to raise awareness, tried to get the world to take notice. Yet again, the majority of newspapers didn’t print a single word about the atrocity. Yet again, news channels failed to broadcast a single second about the slaughter. It seems the only ‘news’ they believe people are interested in are stories about arguing politicians and cheating celebrities.

I was watching yet another news item about an exchange of words between politicians in the House of Commons, concerning tax avoidance by large companies. At the same time I was reading tweets by @SeaShepherd and @CoveGuardians as the dolphins were being slaughtered. Which one you consider to be more newsworthy is your choice, but it got me thinking – what if it wasn’t dolphins? What if it was children that were rounded up, herded to a certain place, and then hacked to death? Would the world ignore it? Would people sit back and let it continue? Would the media fail to report stories about it?

You know what? If it went on for long enough, long enough to seem routine, I rather think they would.

The following is the beginning of a story inspired by these events, and by the above questions I asked myself. As always, I’ll get round to finishing it at some point. If you know me, you’ll know this isn’t anything new.

Slaughter Of The Innocents

They came in the morning. Silent, grim faced men spilling from their transports and quickly surrounding the small primary school. Morning assembly had just begun and the pure, sweet voices of the children within could be heard, raised in a joyful rendition of All Things Bright And Beautiful. Bright and beautiful described the day perfectly. A golden summer sun beamed down from a faded denim sky, small wisps of pure white clouds sailed serenely across the heavens. Brightly coloured birds sang their newest compositions to each other, while honey bees acted as backing singers as they buzzed and hummed from one iridescent flower to another, legs already heavy with the first of the day’s pollen haul.

The grim faced men stood in a silent ring around the school, their black clothing absorbing the heat of the morning sun. Sweat ran in rivulets down dispassionate faces as temperatures rose. They cared not; they had an important job to do, and do it they would. Some carried worn sledgehammers, others favoured rusty swords, each tool of choice strapped to its user’s back. Hands were to be kept free for the Herding, which came before the use of such tools would be necessary.

The two transports the men had arrived in sat off to one side, engines rumbling, exhausts belching black fumes into the clear air. The heavy treads of their tyres had chewed up the green grass of the playing field, four muddy lines tracing their route across the soft turf. The cage trucks, only two for a school of this small size, were already parked by the chosen collection ground – a small park half a mile from the school. The commander of the black clad Collectors – a large, heavyset man with pinched features and watery eyes – had chosen the park purely because of the sculpture of a leaping dolphin in its centre. It appealed to his artistic side.

On the summit of a small hill to the north, a group of observers gathered, huddling together as if for warmth despite the heat of the day. The group consisted of the schoolchildren’s parents, and opponents of the Collections. Banners had been unfurled, placards were held high, all bearing slogans in defiance of the barbaric practise – ‘Stop The Slaughter!’, ‘Children Are Innocent!’, ‘Compassion Before Greed!’. They waved their signs in near silence – the New Laws clearly stated the penalty for ‘aggressive vocal opposition’ was a minimum of five years in one of the government’s correctional facilities. Actual physical opposition resulted in a lifetime of ‘corrective therapy’ and, in extreme cases, public execution.

Another, smaller group congregated a respectful distance from the first. Reporters, cameramen, photographers milled about, drinking coffee from plastic cups, and chatting quietly. Less than a dozen here to cover this particular Collection, less than a dozen to broadcast their reports to a disinterested world. Their numbers dwindled with each Collection – newspapers no longer printed the stories, news channels no longer aired the ‘exclusive’ reports. The world, it seemed, no longer cared.

The Commander stepped a few paces inside the ring of his hand picked Collectors. Each man had passed rigorous tests for ruthlessness – the slightest sign of compassion, the merest hint of sympathy meant instant failure for new recruits and a return to the job queues. The Commander had selected each one with meticulous care, over the years building the finest Collection Unit in the western world. In his opinion, anyway.

He gave a subtle hand gesture and the two rumbling transports fell silent, their engines switched off by unseen drivers. Up on the hill the observers turned their attention to the scene below. Some noted how the wildlife had also fallen silent, no birds sang, no bees buzzed. Even the slight summer breeze had abated. Mother Nature holding her breath, awaiting the inevitable.

The Commander raised a small and intricately engraved silver whistle to his lips. Today’s Collection was ready to commence.

The atrocities were about to begin.


So there you have it. Not exactly a masterpiece, and a long way from complete. Hopefully though, it’s made a few people think about what’s really important in the world, and maybe even look at things from a slightly different viewpoint.

The wonderful people of Sea Shepherd are doing what they can to stop the atrocities of Taiji, and also to protect all of our seas and oceans, and the wonderful and unique wildlife they contain. They can be contacted on the following:-

Sea Shepherd website –

Sea Shepherd on Twitter – @SeaShepherd, @OmarSeaShepherd, @CoveGuardians

Sea Shepherd on Facebook – Sea Shepherd Official Page

Thanks for taking the time to read my scribblings.



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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Rant, Thoughts, Writing


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Horror Fiction? Real life is more horrific.

The sun was shining as I strolled through my local town of Penrith the other day. Wispy white clouds sailed across a sky that was, funnily enough, sky blue. Birds sang, people greeted each other with hearty hellos and broad smiles. The old guys who regularly lean against a set of railings in the town center, gossiping and setting the world to rights, had their jackets off and shirt sleeves rolled up. Young ladies wore short skirts, young men wore tight t-shirts, each group vying for the attention of the other. It was, let’s be honest, a beautiful day.

I headed for my favourite book and coffee shop, which is situated alongside the church, parts of which date back to the 12th century. Off the beaten track and away from the hustle and bustle, it’s the ideal place to relax with a cup of coffee and a newspaper or good book. The shops and houses that surround St. Andrew’s church and its churchyard are centuries old, and it’s easy to lose yourself imagining all the history that has passed through there. The people, the events; if the walls could talk they really could tell some amazing stories.

As I sipped my coffee I flicked through a daily newspaper left behind by a previous customer. It was full of the usual non news; posturing politicians, attention craving ‘celebrities’, whining premiership footballers, and gossip gleaned from the ex of somebody who’s sister’s best friend may have overheard something…

Then I turned a page, and read something that chilled me to the core. The article is written out below.

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy was found soaked in blood with his eyelids turned inside out – the blinded victim of the world’s sickest black market trade.

His eyes were discarded nearby but the corneas were missing, revealing an organ ­trafficker was behind the attack.

A female kidnapper had told him: “Don’t cry. Don’t cry and I won’t gouge out your eyes.”

She took the child from his home at Fenzi, in the north China province of Shanxi.

He was then drugged and lost consciousness before the attacker removed his eyes, China Central TV told viewers.

Footage showed the heavily bandaged boy being taken from an operating theatre and placed in a hospital bed, writhing in agony as family members stood at his bedside weeping.

imageThe victim’s father said: “We didn’t notice his eyes were gone when we ­discovered him. We thought he had fallen down from high and smashed his face.

“He had blood all over his face. His eyelids were turned inside out. And inside, his eyeballs were not there.”

Police have offered a £10,000, reward for information leading to an arrest of the lone suspect. The gruesome assault is just the latest shocking evidence of the grim trade.

The illegal trafficking of organs in China is a growing problem, made worse by the 1.5million people on hospital waiting lists and low number of donors.

Seven people were jailed last year when a teenager sold a kidney for an illicit transplant operation and used the proceeds to buy himself an iPhone and iPad.

Child organs are usually more expensive on the Chinese black market, an organ trafficker told Sina Internet news portal in 2010, as “most people think the younger the donor is, the better the quality of organs”.

Organ trafficking was outlawed in China two years ago but trade continues to boom, particularly in kidneys.

The World Health Organisation last year said the issue was becoming a global problem, with huge amounts of money on offer.

A spokesman said: “There is a growing need for transplants and big profits to be made. It’s ever growing, it’s a constant struggle. The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there.”

The attack has caused outrage across China, with one user of Sina Weibo, the country’s version of Twitter, writing: “This is ­extraordinarily vicious. How and why could someone be so cruel?”

I enjoy writing horror stories – more the psychological kind as opposed to out and out gore – but horror nonetheless. Even my fantasy and sci-fi works tend towards the darker side of their respective genres. But sometimes, and especially after reading articles like the one above, it makes me wonder why I bother. Real life has the ability to be more shocking, more horrific, more terrifying than anything a writer could put on paper. A previous post of mine, When nature provides the perfect inspiration for horror writers, backs this up.

This world is a truly amazing place, full of many beautiful and wondrous things. But be careful, for if you scratch the surface, it has a tendency to bleed pure evil.

Sleep well tonight, won’t you.


Article Source: Daily Mirror

Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Random, Thoughts, Writing


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