Thursday, January 03, 2013

Have you been telling people about us?

I thought this was you and me. But I just went to see what we'd talked about most for the last year and there are, like, thousands of people reading. You're very nice but, seriously, I only get in enough biscuits for the two of us.

We need to talk this through. I'll put the kettle on.

And in the meantime, happy new year – and here's what was most popular on this Self Distract blog in 2012. I am truly surprised but you know it's nice really.

One thought. Where a blog was about a particular thing, I've included a link straight out to that so you can skip my nattering and go there. Most of it has no connection to me but where it's one of my books or dramas, I could conceivably get a few pennies from your buying. I promise to spend foolishly.

Done To Do, what's next? (23/1/2012)
If I thought I was alone in looking for better To Do apps, I am an eejit. This was a piece that ultimately evangelised the one I'd just moved to, a whole series of apps called OmniFocus. I look back at it now and think... yep, that was right. OmniFocus transformed me. I lost my biggest single journalism client this year and replaced it with a mass of complicated projects and I seriously wonder how I'd have handled all that without OmniFocus. No kidding. 

I did recently find an Anonymous comment about this one. Actually, I'm always finding Anonymous comments: they get sent to a penalty box if they look like spam and I get bored because they always are. Except this one. I should answer that. Maybe when the new version of OmniFocus comes out shortly.

Just one more thing (1/6/2012)
You like Columbo too? I knew we'd get along. You don't have to do much to get me talking about this show but the leak of Columbo scripts online forty years after they were written made talking about it an absolute requirement. Stuff my enthusing, go straight to the scripts.

Indicing with Death (15/6/2012)
Oh, I am so happy that this made the cut. I bounce in this one. It's about how years ago I wrote an article about software that helps you build an index for books and how minutes ago I finished doing one for real. I'd that minute finished the index for my book BFI TV Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair. If you haven't spent your life reading indexes, you'll think my excitement is very strange. You might be right, but.

What's it about? Uh-huh. And what's it really about? (22/6/2012)
Self Distract may look like us nattering about Strictly Come Dancing and I can't pretend it isn't, but I can pretend it has a format: it's meant to be about what we write and what we write with, when we get around to writing. This entry was a serious bit of writin'. It was about the difference between a plot and a story. And I can tell you now that the script I mention in it is Doctor Who: Spaceport Fear, which came out rather well in the end and comes out in February.

Sandy Glasser owns a cheese shop (27/7/2012)
Nobody commented on the title, a quote from Grosse Pointe Blank, but an awful lot of people seemed to share the sentiment: this was about finding an old school photograph online and trying to spot the person you'd asked out and who smashed your heart like a lollipop right before double maths.

Is this why actors claim to rewrite their scripts? No. (24/8/2012)
Far and away the most popular thing I've written on here – and you can be sure that was because Graham Linehan (@Glinner) tweeted a link to it. The cast-to-die-for of New Tricks had just revealed that they think their show is dreadful and that they save it by rewriting the scripts themselves. Everybody bar the real writers enjoyed laughing at them and I wondered about how you get to that level of disconnection from reality. 

J'queues Apple (21/9/2012)
This one was so popular it got reprinted in a Mac magazine. The only thing that could be better than that is if they'd kept my headline: the piece was about queuing to buy an iPhone 5 and I was – and am again today – preposterously proud of the headline pun. Small things make me happy. Like my iPhone 5.

The News Cycle (26/10/2012)
You name an event and this blog details every news story that will ever happen about it, in sequence. It'd be funny if it weren't true. I hope it's at least a little funny anyway.

The Prince and the Spinning Wheel's Angular Momentum (16/11/2012)
This year I started working with writer Maeve Clarke, helping out at a Writing Squad she runs for school-age children in Walsall. (Writing Squads run all over the place: here's what the fine Writing West Midlands people have to tell you about them.) It's a terrific group and I wish there had been something like it when I was in school: it would have changed my career. Or at least got it on the right track dramatically faster. In one session, Maeve got the group to write a fairy tale – and I did one too. I would not have thought of trying one and yet I so enjoyed it, I wanted to share it with you. I did a sequel, too: The Princess and the Li-On. Just between us, there's at least one more coming your way.

Live blogging Doctor Who at Christmas (21/12/2012)
The joke's not so obvious now but this came out before the Christmas Doctor Who episode aired and though some fans believed I had seen it in advance and was out to spoil it, I was of course really trying to spoil all live blogs everywhere. If I could spoil them enough that they went away, job done. It looks like I'm not alone: this last entry of the year got shared all over the place and I got a nice note from Steven Moffat. 


It's a silly thing to say, but I didn't realise I'd talked so much. It's especially silly because I set out to: I very much enjoy the weekly blog by Ken Armstrong and I decided last year to try emulating him at least in volume and regularity. He posted a rather moving piece about time travel last week that'll give you a taste of what he can do. 

I'm obsessed with time, which may account for all that wibbling on about To Do apps and you have to think it may just play a little bit into how I write Doctor Who dramas. It is also what is making me think you are a pal for reading all this today and over the year.

Thanks for 2012: I had a time, I hope you did too, and now what are we going to talk about next?



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