Every four months I will write an update of where I am with the writing, a view of things with the scaffolding still up so to speak. I usually work on three or four things at the same time, moving from one to the other rather than keeping to one thing and seeing it through. This is how I work, not a recommendation about how other people should. The most difficult thing at present is a short story called Excoffon. Four pages which will be able to be read in any order giving 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 possible sequences, twenty four possible ways of ordering the pages. All orders will give a version joined up in the way Excoffon letters can all be joined up with each other whatever the sequence of letters is, or not as the case may be. It is a one off, but I wanted to try something different. The other two works I have on the go are plays that have been around sometime, but only now are they taking what looks like their proper shape. Symphonic Poem about Liszt inventing the Symphonic Poem in Weimar in the 1850s and the National Day, a play set at a house party in Brixton on September 11 2016, which is Catalan National Day. I think all my plays are best read rather than performed, but that is only because no one wants to perform them.
In the pre-recording past everything was always up to date. Only in the 18th Century did a sense for the not so distant past appear. Stories like King Arthur being something altogether different, more mythical than historical. The past of antiquity had been important since the Renaissance and had opened up possibilities outside of the restraints of the now. The idea that we were made up of invisible elements called atoms, produced as one of several scenarios started to be backed up by a few observations which made it more plausible than most of the other options on offer. Heraclitus – Epicurus – Lucretius, ‘On the Nature of Things,’ made the biblical into the imprisoned present rather than a story-tale past. But why am I going on like this? Well, Facebook and alumni organizations are starting to take the biscuit. To avoid being annoyed by people from 1979 you never rated in the first place, these networks really need a funnel/filtre of present interests shared, rather than just past places existed in. Before they are even allowed to ask to connect they should have to give serious reasons for continuing a camaraderie that never existed.
I have come across many people who call themselves writers but who if they were being honest with themselves probably aren’t. I think of the Peter Cook joke. who when someone told him they were writing a novel, said ‘Yes, neither am I.’ Now, there are as many ways of writing fiction as there are writers of fiction, (and in this case, I am talking about writing fiction, rather than writing a history of the Yorkshire and Lancashire railway or a book about how to collect string.) But to me the acid test of whether you are a writer or not is when you get the feeling if you haven’t written anything that day something is wrong. This ignores those writers who write in block like the playwright Alan Ayckbourne. He prepares for months, but writes the play in two or three weeks, so destroying the writing daily is important theory. However, though a writer might not be putting anything down on paper they must be thinking about it, or if the aren’t thinking about it, something must be gestating, Well I’m sure you get the picture.
I’m a 250 words a day man, though I have written as much as 600. I have a minimum of 100 a day, which I’ve never not easily reached. It’s important to set a limit that isn’t intimidating, or else disgruntlement can set in. 500 words a day would be too much for me and if I did meet 500 a day, day after day. It simply wouldn’t be as good. Good as what? Well as good as I wanted it to be. I have a certain tempo that absorbs and then expresses, and your tempo. if you are a writer or are going to start writing is different. With me at 250 words a day, the sentences are put down fairly easily though not without some struggle.
Using the maxim, if you want to make something real, start doing it, I am now making a film. I don’t know how to make a film, but fortunately it seems to be a collaborative process. As Terry Gilliam said to a young Quentin Tarantino when he was mentoring him at the Sundance Festival – you don’t need to know how to make the film. All you need is the vision and be able to communicate it to other people. You then find those people with the skills who can make it for you.
I’ve got my cinematographer. The next person would be an editor, and I’ll need someone for sound too, but I’ve written the script, or at least talking it through with Pep I’ve come up with a second version of the script. Naturally I’ll direct. ‘Action – Cut. One of the two!’ Pith helmet, megaphone. ‘What are those people doing with 1930’s haircuts? I’m trying to film history here.’ With music I’d like a full symphonic score, but have decided to drop recorded music in where it’s needed in the film using needlepoint – the first inside the business word I’ve started to use now I understand what it means.
Funding, well everything costs something, but I have a budget in mind that if we keep everything as simple as possible for creating something wonderful we should be able to keep within. On my learning curve I’ve come across a useful piece of advice to bear in mind while making this masterpiece, ‘We all think we’re going to create Citizen Caine, and we all end up with something else.’
When it comes to publishing your own writing. Do it yourself! Of course, the question of marketing doesn’t go away, but you can learn to do that incrementally in your own time. Or find someone and pay someone to do that for you if it’s not your thing.
In publishing, it’s self- publishing on Amazon- Kindle that’s the way for all new writers, rather than a publishing house agent mechanism that was failing, and arguably has failed in its duty to new writing. Self- publishing successes can still enter the world of book industry publishers, if only to farm out the work-load, but it’s the writer who has the power not the publisher, and takes a bigger cut of the profits to prove it.
Anyway the pejorative terms of dinosaur publishers about people doing it themselves have disappeared, which is a good thing. Though it’s easy to notice a so called ‘proper’ publisher by how they charge the same for an electronic version of the book as for a paperback, except of course they have no printing costs for an electronic version.
And let me assure you when you buy my books 70% of the money comes to me, so start buying them!
I have been writing comedy lately, trying to be funny and as usual failing. A page that is supposed to fill up with funny things is the blankest sheet of paper a writer ever looks at because there is only one way out for the sentences and that is to be funny. With other kinds of writing you can describe the powder blue suit, or else like an elephant trying to pick up a pea, get involved in the emotions. But with comedy it’s a very simple litmus test – is it acid or alkaline?
To me writer’s block is the wrong expression for a failure to perform, because if I look myself straight in the eyes, something I try not to do too often, writing is, and apologies to more human factors, the thing I like doing best, something I never delay in getting down to. But it’s with comedy that nothing happens on the page for the longest, until the connections somehow get together into an order that conveys roughly what is meant, if anything is meant. And often after an hour or so, rather than 200 words of something that looks kind of Okay in a first draught kind of way, you are left with one single scrawny thing you have managed to get down surrounded by lots of white space.
There are two people on the top deck of a bus. First person: I went to see Wagner’s Ring. Second Person: Restricted 18 certificate was it?
The seventh anniversary of the day my Mum died has passed by. Parents when they die are still around with you until the day you die, and it’s good to have them still around. You don’t need an audience to die and she managed to do it when my dad was in Bridlington having a very short break from taking care of her. Such is life and death. As you get older, and I have now started to consider myself as older, you have the privilege or handicap of being surrounded by more and more dead people. But as studies on old people have shown it is important to get them involved in the present rather than just living in the past. Five-year old’s are concerned with what five-year old’s are concerned with, and have the direct action that comes from little experience. Such attitudes are a good tonic for eighty-five-year old’s who are nailed to the floor. The directness of Dogs is good for this too. The only thing that matters to them is thinking it’s great now. If we older guys see this it seems we remember the past positively without needing the protective goggles. On July 20, 2010 my Mum, ignoring health and safety, made the break, and so on that day I get the photograph album out and think about those questions that were important, such as why are the Simpsons yellow? Then there are the people on Television she disliked – Basil Fawlty, Johnny Morris (and the animal magic signature tune which I used to turn the volume up for so she could hear it better), Kenneth Williams, and Gloria Hunniford, which is understandable. Also, her insistence, before I’d got into double figures on supporting Lancashire in the Roses Cricket Match because she was born in Morecambe, which is always a tricky one to spell.
The blog is a little late this month as I was doing my yearly stint of house sitting for friends in Languedoc, West of Montpellier. It’s about 250 kilometres from Girona and maybe 125 kilometres North of my home city, so the climate is much the same, which at the moment is a tad too warm 32 degrees centigrade. So apologies to all my readers, and I know there are two of you because here at control centre I can monitor your every move.In St Paul et Valmalle I look after a dog and two cats and remind myself about why I don’t have either back at the ranch. Pip, the camel sized dog has now reached the geriatric stage after eleven years, and has had two heart attacks, so its likely I won’t see him again. He is my favourite dog ever, and I still don’t want one. Being in France is also an opportunity to buy some Blanquette de Limoux. This has all the subtlety of Champagne, its bubbles detonating in the mouth in the correct way, but is one seventh the price. This week off is also the only time I really write longhand rather than keyboard words onto the screen. I am fairly fluent for a page, get to a point I think I can continue from and stop. 35 minutes of writing but with 23 hours 25 minutes of letting it lie in between. The result being the 250 words a day target achieved – and good stuff it is too. On the website front I am getting closer to the Amazon Kindle solution for my catalogue. Amazon has its own payment platform for the products which is a big plus. I intend downloads to be free for seven days in return for a review when I do get to posting things up in the new format. This will be announced in the news section of the site.
It is the end of the school year at the Escola Hosteleria in Girona – the school of Hotels, Tourism, Cooking and Entertainment. They finish early at the end of May rather than the third week in June so the students can take up summer jobs on the Costa Brava. I have performed the part of the customer in among since October last, booking into and checking out of hotels, ordering meals, being led through the wine-list, finding the tourist highlights, having holidays in Cuba, and taking the occasional custard pie in the face – an art in itself. I have always wanted to put stooge on my CV and now I can. In the heat and sunshine at the end of May Britain seems a long way away, and for the time being it can stay there. My postal vote is done and returned. There is nothing else I can do.
A new book has appeared on the site. A novella, ‘Love in Trieste’ which is downloadable electronically for one single pound, hardly much more than ‘un eurito.’ And so my international busking career continues. I’d like to thank everyone who has thrown money in my hat for helping me to remain here in the Mediterranean for the health reasons that forced me to finally leave West Bromwich behind five years ago. I can now only watch the train wreck that is contemporary Britain from the distant safety of somewhere with an outdoor ambient temperature of twenty-three centigrade. Those donations are important and they do make a difference. However I am able to vote in this 2017 General Election. So I will be able to say I tried by best even if I can never vote again once May’s ‘strong and stable’ regime suspends Democracy on June 9th.