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Dec. 13th, 2007

Lake Monster

Terry Pratchett, Pink Floyd, Ory Chalk & Marie Antoinette...

I confess to never having read a Terry Pratchett novel, but I was shocked by his announcement of a rare form of Alzheimer's Disease. He presented it with what I have always assumed to be the stoicism of an atheist humanist.  This Sword of Damocles hanging over an artistic intellect fills me with utter dread. May he write many more books in future and I endeavour to read some of them.

A genuinely fascinating documentary about Pink Floyd (I can find no free watch of the documentary online, sadly) on the beeb last night in which all the members took part. I was surprised at Roger Waters' admittance of regret and even remorse over their breakup, largely instigated by Waters himself. Their twenty minutes together on Live 8 was just as epic and momentous as the Zeppelin reunion in my book. I saw the Floyd moment at a party held by my downstairs' neighbours in London. The party had been going from early evening and I have no idea how much wine, punch and Serbian brandy I drank (never, never mix 'em) and myself and another Floyd fan (I have no idea of his name nor what he looks like now) sang through every single word during every single moment of the Floyd set at the tops of our voices. That was bloody marvellous. As was the documentary. Interesting to see Waters, an awkward massively talented bugger (when Gilmour related that Waters presented the band with The Wall already written, I just gasped) so regretful, remorseful, even contrite. He clearly wanted to repeat the experience on stage with the band members again. Tellingly, he looked older and more careworn than the rest of them. Who knows. I must know most of their stuff backwards. Just once more, the whole lot performing Dark Side together again. People think Zeppelin tickets were hard to come by!

There was quite a bit of footage involving Bob Geldof, responsible for getting them back together. He said he considered getting them to perform on stage again symbolic about what Live 8 was all about: despite differences, even animosity, all uniting in a common cause. Geldof also said that coming out of Punk he viewed Floyd with contempt as Prog Rock dinosaurs. But years later he listened to The Dark Side of the Moon and recognised it as one of the absolute pillar high points in the history of Rock. Amen to that.

Speaking of music, the ever-excellent Ory Chalk has just posted a new piece, Marie Antoinette on her MySpace page. Quirky, evocative, disturbing, beautiful, sensual, mysterious, her music possesses all of these qualities. And she comes across as charm herself as a person. If you follow that link be sure to listen as well to Mortal Danger, Ladywolf and Eva's Temptation (wow!) this last her gorgeously intoxicating and sensual collaboration with Lunabee.

Thank you swan_tower I have been following your lead in avoiding the temptation to write 'out of order'. I have been writing scenes here there and everywhere and after such enthusiastic surges finding myself with a massive headache (and precious little interest) in trying to 'join the dots'.  Instead, I mapped out for scene following on from scene and then writing them. Also aided by writing elsewhere this morning. Yomping through the cold and the frost to a good friend's house: table cleared and ready for me, strong coffee brewing and left to myself, no distractions, I got on. Repeat tomorrow. If I reach the 7000k mark with my latest novella by the beginning of next week, that will be Xmas present enough for me.

What I would like beyond that is a very, very good bottle of red. A decent Pinot Noir (from anywhere, one that doesn't turn out to be a watery disappointment) or a Chilean Carménère; or an Argentinian Malbec. And to write a scene I have in mind with the first snow and a splash of blood, dishonour and the seeds of doom and redemption thereby.

There is no tomorrow. Do it now.

Dec. 9th, 2007

Lake Monster


Yep, it's raining again. Grey, cold miserable unpleasant land.

And that reworked poem reminds me why I don't write 'em any more.

The weather these past few days has got the better of me, I admit it. Nor is there anywhere right now to hole-up in comfort, knowing that where I am now is where I simply should not be. Very uncomfortable.

I am a walking poetic fallacy.

Targets for the day:
1) Stay out of talk fights. Sh**, don't talk. (Target one doomed to fail before it's begun.)
2) Write something. Non-fiction doesn't count as writing with me. Never has, never will.
3) Avoid the moving wallpaper of the tabloid news media world. The petty irony of our hubris as a species oozes from it like a puss.
4) Read some fiction, learn something. "Art is lies that tell the truth" - Picasso.
5) Music. Magenta aside (I am nothing if not eclectic) Classical and Baroque to cleanse the bloodstream. Possessed of all the beautiful decorum of a Dutch landscape or interior. Yes. If no snow, some decorum then.

And caffeine.

Dec. 5th, 2007

Lake Monster

In the Deep Midwinter...

...Well, it cannot be denied that the winter is upon us here in the UK. The wind was playing frisbee with dustbin lids all through the night.

There is no question that the lack of sunlight affects my state of mind and my mood. Need to invest in some St John's Wort - soon - so that it will actually take effect before December is out. Whether it is a placebo or not: it works with my walnut brain.

I know that snow can bring all sorts of often serious problems. But anything is better than this damp bloody squib of grey slating rain. I can remember White Christmases in this part of the UK too, down South. I'm sure the records will nay-say my memory. But I can remember it snowing here in the winter. It hardly ever does now. You'll get a spit of sleet around April if you're lucky.

It acts as a tabula rasa, the snow. Acts as a literal white-out of many of the self-inflicted iniquities of a year*. There have been many. Too many. Well, good riddance to this one! An awful thing to say. But right now, I mean it.

*I should have saved those lines for fiction! I'm not sure it is actually productive doing this. I'm becoming so OCD about what meagre word power I have that the compulsion to hold them back grows. Even just a burst of emotion in here can write me out for the day, the mere process. Now how insecure can you be?! If I don't write fiction first thing, chances are I won't write any at all on the given day and writing anything else is like letting air out of a (hot air anyway) balloon.

Dec. 2nd, 2007

Lake Monster

Close Your Eyes, Lie Back...

...And do the dying fly.

Well, I didn't get there. My characters didn't get there and I didn't get there. I made the fatal mistake of getting up too late, when the world (here in this part of the hemisphere, GMT) had already woken and got its grubby mitts into me.

Idling about, making coffee and - most fatally of all - going online beforehand is disaster in slow motion.

I can only ever get this done if I am hermetically sealed. I get up at 6 and I get on with it for at least four hours. Then the world can throw whatever daily (and ongoing) crap at me it likes, because I have already done. The words are down. Do your worst, world. IT NO LONGER MATTERS, I've won already!

But not today.
Lake Monster

Close Your Eyes, Lie Back...

...And think of getting to the next chapter. It has to be all about wordage in quantity today.

If a half-decent content-relevant turn of phrase during - with which I can pointlessly preen myself later and which, were it ever to get to publication (nobody publishes novellas you frickin' dummy) would be edited out anyway - then all well and good, but it has to be about the wordage. I know the point of the tale at which I want to arrive today. I have no idea what the characters will do or say to get there, but somehow get there they will and maybe meet a couple of new characters along the way.

I have set things up so that a point of view turns out not to belong to the person the reader is (hopefully) led to believe it belongs to at all. Why? Because, that's why! A work of fiction should get the synapses of a reader's brain firing, surely. Thwart a few expectations (as long as it's not randomly chance bloody silly in the way it does it) and by the words. Sod it. Back to the words again. And preening myself with would-be nice turns of phrase...

So today's writing session is not going to be about wordage at all. It's a craft lesson of another kind: making a rod for me own back.


Dec. 1st, 2007

Lake Monster

Music as a Writing Tool...

Listening to Balakirev's Tamara while writing my latest novella. The atmospheric opening is nigh perfect and I immediately thought of it when the storyline and landscape for the novella came to me. I have been waiting to put that piece of music to use in a piece of fantasy for almost twenty years!

As a piece of music, never quite the sum of its parts - it teases you with the promise of an orgiastic climax all the way through, but what we eventually get is a rather risqué romp. Although Tamara's sensuously alluring curves are wonderfully rendered on the strings. Not quite the sum of its parts, then. Let's hope the same won't be said of the novella when it's done. As for Tamara, the parts in themselves are gorgeous.

Nov. 29th, 2007

Lake Monster

Getting in a Swift One...

John Lennon famously said:

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

For me, it is like this:

"Writing is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

It will dawn on most writers struggling to complete the process, never mind about reaching publication, that the everyday world does not give a sh** about what you are doing, does not value your efforts in the slightest. 'Tis mere frippery, a hobby, mere doodling. Sitting on your backside and picking your nose in make-believe.

That is why you must value it as much as anything else you have in your life. Otherwise it is merely a hobby, it is mere doodling and frippery. You must not submit to the fascism of the everyday and the mediocre (and in the UK where tall-poppy syndrome is endemic, that is not easy) instead, throw in your lot with the rich and strange, transform yourself. Be something other. Inhabit that world elsewhere.

Bet on it: in this incarnation you only go round once.

Nov. 27th, 2007

Lake Monster

The Ascetic in the Aesthetic...

One thing about being deeply immersed in writing a piece, you just don't read other writers' stuff. Certainly not fantasy. You just do not want to go there.

It's like trying to recall a melody you never quite knew you had but always sensed you did and then another melody is hummed and aahed over the top of it, result: dissonance.

Yet, strangely enough, when it comes to the stuff I consider to have been penned somewhere way beyond the Alpha Centauri staging post of accomplishment, I can.

Again, not fantasy. But I can read Conrad. As a refresher course for what language could and should do, while I am writing my own earthbound fiction. And even in just half a line out of a thousand, hope to be touched by the precious substance of the stars the man just seemed to have so much of he could casually do his washing up in it.

I pour over each word. Each word. Even the 'and'. A die-hard habit from writing poetry. Perhaps that's why it takes me so long to finish a book or a novella. Olivier is reputed to have said to Dustin Hoffmann on the set of Marathon Man after Dustin Hoffmann hadn't slept a couple of nights to look right for a scene: My dear boy, why don't you just try acting?

I suppose a similar piece of advice could apply to me: stop worrying about the words so much for now and just tell the story.

Nov. 21st, 2007

Lake Monster

For Want of a Nail...

Took off the top of a big toenail on the lip of the bath last night. There was blood. And cursing and swearing. Ouch. But it was a kick-start of sorts.

Not feeling at all well today, but need to grind out some words for the novella. Not writing for a couple of days I simply start to go bonkers.

I know that (this time, this one) it can be good! But the chances of getting a novella published are practically zilch. For the love of, then...

It must first and foremost always be: for the love of...

Nov. 13th, 2007

Lake Monster


...Thirty years after the first exhibition here in the UK (which I can still remember queuing for hours to see at the British Museum) those Egyptian marvels are here yet again. That astonishing mask (topped only by the bust of Nefertiti I saw in Berlin - made more remarkable for me because its perfection was suggested as probably only one of a 'production line' of them) with its juxtaposition of straight barred brilliance and of curving lines like some premonition of digital code, so striking that only the genius infused into an entire culture could have conceived of it.

As for the mummy itself. The inherent symbolism of our fragility there for all to see as they lifted it out of its resting place to house elsewhere (sealed properly one hopes) to protect it from vibration and the human condensation created by gasps of awe, one doesn't wonder.

King Lear:

Thou art the thing itself, unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare, forked animal as thou art.

I later saw a quite compelling 'docu-drama' (when they had no such horrid aberration for a name) about Howard Carter many years back and with that rekindling of my memory of the original exhibition I wrote some lines of poetry - one of my very best similes! - that in over fifteen years I have yet to find a whole poem for:

Bright as Carter's eyes
Lit by the glow of candlelight
Hitting off gold
As he drank the breath of a race
Three thousand years old.

Not bad. As a couple of real pros of poetry combined put it:

These fragments I have shored against my ruin.

But I question the wisdom of putting those - to me - precious lines on public display for every tomb raider to rifle through.

Oh, the egotism of the man!

I need, one day, to find the poem for it.

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