Oct. 27th, 2012 08:44 am
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What's kind of fun is rewriting scenes from the original (1998-2000) version so that they now make more sense; or realising as in the latest case that a scene from the old version can go into the new because it fits perfectly there (rewritten accordingly).

I've had to file off the serial numbers of my old local as, good as it is, I don't want to give it a free advert. (although TBH did that stop Ian Rankin?)
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So yesterday I went to the dental hospital and now need to adjust to a brace. Since then I have had physio (more painful than the accident or the injury), been to the allotment and planted cabbages and onions (and been cornered by an allotment-holder who told me uz lads didn't know we were born, ee'd taken all iz own teeth out wi pliers), and am now making a cake (or rather the bread machine is making it for me). Tonight is the writers group and having missed my last two reading slots I'm hoping to take over one that has been vacated (I certainly put forward my claim to it but did say that there are new members who might like to read instead). I do have something to read after all.

And having locked myself out of my own Flickr account (though I can access it as a visitor and so can download my own pictures that I don't have on the MacBook) I am trying Fotki for new photos. It isn't so much that setting up a new Flickr account would be too easy it's that it's owned by Yahoo and my Yahoo accounts are locked hence the being locked out of Flickr.

Had a dream in which I turned up in an expensive club as a passenger in a Mercedes Benz but was asked to leave, however the 'doorman' (a very tall young man) once outside was sympathetic and said the management had some odd views sometimes. 


Mar. 14th, 2012 08:14 am
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Just sent a story off to "Interzone". I note that they still require MS to be sent by post, no electronic subs. Discussed this with Andy Killeen who suggests it's because that way people take the submission process more seriously and don't just send stuff off in bulk.
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Getting everything ready for New Flat is a bit like cat herding if cats:
- have not appeared and should have done some time ago
- need to be contacted regularly
- may not in some cases actually exist
- charge by the second
- need to be put in precise order
- must in some cases be kept unknown to other cats
- have to be herded in an improbably small amount of time

After all if I can't get the place for long enough to decorate it or the carpet (which must be installed after the decorating is done) can't be delivered before the removals date - which must happen before I am checked out of this flat - then that is not a Good Thing. All I can say is that I am being kept busy. I also have 2 x medical referrals, 2 x other sorts of medical appointment, a job interview, and the usual dog walking and helping in the garden to do.

At the moment (although not at the moment, obviously - the observer affects the observed, but presumably only on Sundays, other days it's the guardian) - I am spinning off the rewrite of the Hammersmith novel into a short piece from the PoV of the ex wife of one of the major characters - she is never actually seen in the novel but definitely deserves her say, after all she had a valid reason to be an ex wife (nothing unpleasant but an area of emotional incompatibility to say the least). Andy Killeen's asking me if I'd written about Aleister Crowley has led to a desire to finish the novel with Crowley in it, which is the one under discussion.
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I seem to have volunteered to help with the Prince of Wales (Moseley) Literary Festival this year. Well, "seem to have" - that's a phrase I hunted down mercillessly from the WIP. I have volunteered and if there had been similar things in Kingston I would have done so there (that there weren't is possibly telling). Just back from the MAC which does put me in mind of Riverside Studios (Hammersmith) but is mostly like itself. Apparently it used to be very run down but is now bright and shiny and I seem to be in there many days of the week, whether for classes or for coffee while walking the dog.

Today I have also been to the dentist with an aim to getting my teeth improved. They work OK but they could be a lot better aesthetically. Mind you when a dentist with many years experience opines that she is not certain whether to label a particular tooth as a 3rd or a 4th tooth you suspect you are in the presence of Weird Dentition (certainly one of my upper teeth originally grew behind the others and had to be removed when I was quite young - this is in fact what is behind the dentist's hesitancy re labelling). The work will take a while (and cost) but should be worth it.

I can't scan and post the picture I have found: a black and white snap showing a woman I suspect is my maternal grandmother,  astride a bicycle. She is wearing a knee length dress and the bike has a crossbar which may have made mounting and dismounting tricky. It's annoyingly devoid of referents - the bike could come from a wide range of eras and the picture looks as though it was taken in a back garden somewhere. It sort of looks 1940s but the hat she's wearing may give us some clue.

A book I found recently is called "Notes from Overground", by "Tiresias" (the poet Roger Green). In this tome he scrutinises what many have not really looked at - train commuting. And as it was written in 1984 it also gives us a view of the last years of nationalised rail services in the UK, a now nostalgic era of diesel engines and uniformly blue or blue and white livery and occasional pens of steam locomotives. Not even Thatcher tried it with the railways, realising they were dear to the nation's heart and also you do not try the patience of railway workers for they are bolshy and quick to (industrial) action. It is also in this book that we find the original investigation of that curious graffito CLOSE AT HAND IS FAR AWAY IN IMAGES OF ELSEWHERE painted near Paddington station in the 1970s and destroyed when the wall that bore it was demolished in the 1980s. That one joins the repetition of CHRISTIAN GOLDMAN? in such places as Hammersmith Broadway and Shepherds Bush in the 1980s, and the solitary THE NIGHT on the street wall of Nazareth House on Hammersmith Road which lasted until a few years ago and finds its way into my story "Cow Lane" in Music for Another World.

I'll stop here and refer the reader to this item by [livejournal.com profile] sbisson of this parish: http://sbisson.wordpress.com/2005/04/20/far-away-is-close-at-hand-in-images-of-elsewhere/
which deals with all this. (I'd forgotten btw that I'd found a picture in the H&F Borough archives that shows that THE NIGHT graffito as existing in 1980, which either suggested my use of it in "Cow Lane" or else vindicated it, depending on when I found the picture - I suspect it would have been in 2003-4 when I was working on the pubs book so later than the writing of the story. I suspect the "90% crack up" item with its reference back to the French expression "metro - boulot - dodo" ("tube - job - kip") has gone as well. & between my comment to Simon's piece and now, the THE NIGHT one has indeed gone.

I suspect this is an example of "Circular reference, see, circular reference," as 'spride''s comments to Simon's article include a link to "Notes from Overground." I must have heard of that book somewhere, so why not in that comment?
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And suddenly the living room is full of junk again. I can see a pile of first day covers, boxes and books of photographs, some 8mm films that I would get converted to DVD if it wouldn't cost me £250+, some CDs that aren't even mine, a torch, some cans of paint, and a large NEXT plastic bag that contains other stuff as well. Somewhere also there are notebooks.
This is because I am getting rid of some of the furniture prior to the move - one bookcase (IKEA 'Billy' brand, the type that fetches up everywhere), one chest of drawers - all the clothes and towels that were in that are  now in the cabin trunk and a lot of the kipple from that is what is now in here, one footstool, boxy and unclassic. The people from the MIND shop are coming to pick it up tomorrow.
This morning I didn't go swimming as the pool was not available due to private lessons. So I went on by bike around the area of the new flat, looked into two or three corner shops and was unable to find any real ale in any of them apart from the occasional bottle of Old Speckled Hen to humour people with; went into the carpet shop and talked carpet and delivery times; and finally headed back and on a whim, on the merest whim stopped at yet another offlicence / shop thinking this one might be better for beer.
And it was. Only possibly overshadowed by Stirchley Wines to the south it is a veritable cavern of beer and whisky. The proprietor, an Asian man as is that of Stirchley Wines, is more of a whisky buff himself and frequently nips off (or drams off, possibly) to Scotland on whisky buying trips. I stand looking at these shelves of beers for some time before saying,  "So this is where the choice of real ale is around here!" I cannot leave without buying three bottles thereof (Bathams Best Bitter, Kelham Island Pale Rider, Isle of Arran Ale). I had gone into Bournville and then back out again thinking to identify the Country Girl pub just on the Selly Park side as 'first and last beer for some time', Bournville being "dry". There is even a sign as you enter Bournville saying "Alcohol restriction area" or sthg similar.
After that I head for the MAC and have coffee there, hoping that this is enough exercise to make up for lack of swimming which after all I haven't done for a while; what with the cold weather and going away we have let it lapse. Though today I have also done two job applications and identified the reclining chair I bought in Kingston c. 2006 as a Gimson and Slater Rock n Rest from c. 1960, sadly now without the footstool which was originally an integral part of the set.

Today would have been David Foster Wallace's 50th birthday. It is also Chuck Palahniuk's 50th birthday. Someone like Malcolm Gladwell would no doubt come up with reasons why that isn't quite that massive a coincidence (undergraduate creative writing programmes being funded around 1980? Arts students tending to be born in one part of the year for some reason?)
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Latest stand-up class included me going up and getting behind a microphone and doing a five-minute routine, much of which was adlibbed though from a structure. Considering I thought I really couldn't do it at the start of the class, it went pretty well (though must remember to look at audience not over its heads which is what you do more or less in choir).
Have done a bit more of the story in progress this afternoon. There is a related story that wants to be set in Birmingham but this one is set in London.
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Sent my submission to the Narrative Fall Story Contest off, just in time, now working (with a two week deadline) on the next submission. At least I know what happens - hopefully averting my usual tendency to try to stuff too much into a story (which might explain why I'm better at 1,000 word or shorter because there just isn't the room). Sthg happened yesterday (nothing bad, actually quite amusing) which might even become a story.

For some reason* I dreamed of Neil Gaiman. And of Kensington High Street. The difference being that I am going to Kensington tomorrow, but not to hear Neil read, &c, &c, in fact I have no idea whether he is ever in the UK these days.

The Prince of Wales pub near here, which is not only pub but also pretty much social centre in the way that the Lamb in Surbiton is, has a writers' group on Tuesday nights so I have gone along to that. And every week, which feels very different to something taking place every month.

The diet is fine except that I still have not got used to milk substitutes e.g. oat milk (I can't drink soya milk, it makes my mouth burn, even in situations where I didn't realise it had been used, so it isn't psychosomatic) - may end up drinking herbal tea and black coffee.
*creativity? the need for new projects?

Weight is now 76kg / 12 stone which is lighter than I've been for some time. Do not want to Appear Thin however.


Sep. 7th, 2011 11:01 am
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Didn't go to the cinema yesterday afternoon as was the idea because I spent most of the day on a rewrite of "Pablo's Used Oil Collection" which is the current title, having been given the background in a conversation last week (and which links to a piece by Les 'LJ' Hurst I found while researching afterwards).

This morning however was spent walking the dog through the Three Parks (Kings Heath, Highbury, Cannon Hill). Said dog is now asleep (for now) but will need walking again this afternoon.
Also now I need to come up with a contribution for this evening's writing group.


Aug. 19th, 2011 07:13 am
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The last day here. I am surrounded by boxes and wrapped-up items. There are, quite believably, still things to go - cleaning materials, duvets, and one bed needs to be dismantled (this isn't as obvious as it seems - the other one is staying, I could have dismantled the one that is going last night and slept in the one that is staying). Woke up this morning and looked out to see the sun peeping orange over the roof of the Victoria Hall; the previous occupants called this house 'Sunrise' and that is why.

This morning is chilly enough and with condensation on the windows that I have a slight nostalgia for the autumns spent here. I moved in on 22 August 2005 so associate starting out here with autumn. Then there were adult education classes to be signed up for etc. - there will be in the new place as well of course. I could always come back to this area but not to this house (which is one possibility).

I hope I've wrapped things up enough (literally and metaphorically). I hope I'm doing the right thing - suspect I am, as after all I can come back. Left work yesterday (cutting it fine) and was quite sad to go, it was actually one of the best jobs I've had. They gave me a card and four bottles of (proper, as in real ale) beer. I had one of them (Kipling's South Pacific Pale Ale) last night.
How will all this stuff (I am beset by there being Too Much Stuff) go in the new flat? M. is getting some of it (garden tools for example as these are no use to me in the flat).
Writing stuff: recently got a very detailed rejection email from Every Day Fiction which began

Some interesting insights are embedded in these long sentences and rambling thoughts. It is an interesting style, but overall I had a hard time getting settled into it. By the end of the piece, all we know is some information about John's family, the neighbors, and that he finally gets off the couch. This makes it feel like a first chapter of something longer. The long, running-on sentences also make it hard to submerge into the prose. For example, the sentence beginning: "The couch, bought from Wal-Mart..." is quite long, and as the second sentence of the story, too long. It presents too much information for the reader to parse and get a feel for characters and setting (any sentence with 88 words in it is probably something needing to be reworked, regardless of where in the story it falls).

And but also
This story has a few wonderful descriptions, "like assuming a shaven-headed man with a flattened nose is a bank robber."

So at least I know what to do. Rewriting is tricky though even with only 1,000 words.
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I just found out that not only has a short piece of mine, "Beyond Your Command" appeared in "365 Tomorrows", it's also been translated into the conlang Toki Pona by [livejournal.com profile] janmate. The result is here.

Haven't been out of the house today, just working on the neighbour's website and also writing about Scrivener - vs - Ulysses - vs - Writers Cafe.
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Getting towards the end of the story now. The current scene could actually be scripted using the words of a particular Pink Floyd song (but I won't).

You know you've spent too much time reading TVTropes when you start considering the work in terms of phrases like 'Badass Longcoat', 'Action Girl', 'Type II Antihero', and 'Heel Face Turn' ...


Dec. 11th, 2010 02:04 pm
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Kingston Library is still closed because some person stole the lead off the roof and the next night it rained, ruining the interior.

Anyhow, Surbiton library is open, and is further to walk - a mile or so which was pleasant. Have returned with books by Eric Brown, KJ Parker, Brown / MacLeod / Reynolds / Roberts, Rachel Caine. Also took the eee (801 model, a nice size to be carried around) with me and did some writing in the reference library (although there is no access to power sockets there) - have a climactic sequence a-coming. I've still got to work out the details of what the Big Bad are doing but never mind.

Last night I dreamed I went back to West Kensington. Not quite Manderley, I agree. Not even the road to it. Why I should be nostalgic about somewhere that is on a major street that crosses an even more major road and has a railway running underneath it I don't know. Especially when I now feel much more settled in here.
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Yesterday I went to the Rose Theatre (nearly typed 'the Lyric' there instead) to hear Catherine Paver do a lunchtime set, which didn't just include her own songs but other morsels such as 'Three Ravens' and 'Gaudete'. I feel privileged to know her. Discussed with the management of the Rose whether Saturday lunchtime music would be possible there, something that used to happen at the Lyric Hammersmith. I think they feel that there wouldn't be room in the foyer with the matinee audience being in there as well (although it worked in Hammersmith). Possibly there's a demographic problem here: the proportion of young families in the affluent population here is much higher (no statistics, but pretty much everyone I knew in Hammersmith who started a family, moved out as soon as it happened.) - and children running around / enormous baby buggies doesn't go with live music?

Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but the times at the Lyric were good ol' times. Met at least two women I later went out with there.

After that I went home and did some more to the novel. Trying to fix the backstory and researching around I happen across the fascinating place that is Kabardino-Balkaria - a constituent republic of the Russian Federation, and a country very similar to my invented 'Kazlar', whose name is Turkish for 'Geese'. This linguistic morsel was accidental as I just wanted something Turkish-sounding and already used the country name 'Kazlar' in "Loving the Alien" (in Strange Pleasures 3). It's just easier to handle than the previous 'Cartixa' which was Eastern European and somehow managed to have a language that was identical to Catalan - yes, Romania has a Latin language; yes, the Grand Catalan Company active in Greece in the Middle Ages, but still. This change also allows me to fix the 'monochrome casting' problem I had with the story - having removed a hefty chunk of the present-day story I'd also removed one of the few major non-white characters. Then later realised that she'd fit right back in as one of the ones I'd created for the new section.

Not that Kazlar is Kab.-Balkaria, or I'd need to get it right. Flag's the same though and it has a similar history.


Nov. 27th, 2010 08:59 pm
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50,208 words
The background needs some serious revision and the story isn't anywhere finished - but, 50,000 words in a month, including a week and a half away.

apart from that ...
- Went for a pleasant walk in a frosty Richmond Park this morning, not too many people about but there were some. Not all the way round the park but further than I used to go on the bike on a Sunday morning (up to the Richmond Gate and then back via Pembroke Lodge).
- Took the Airnimal into the local bike shop for them to have a look at it and see what needs repairing. This is a very small bike shop and somewhat traditional, but they have already had a look and I can pick the bike up on Monday.
- 6 pm felt v. tired and slept until 7. But at least I got up at 8 this morning, unlike previous days this week (10;8;10;10;11).
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So my sick leave has come to an end and I am back at work on Monday. Still have to go to the fracture clinic on Thursday though. Then there is the matter of physio and also doing exercise to get rid of some of the excess weight accumulated through four weeks of little exercise and too much bad food.
I have however been writing; the novel is still at 42000 words but has the addition of a third story strand between the other two. And 'For fear of little men' has rounded out at 25000 which is an odd length - was fun finishing it, though I'll have to change the name 'Damien Mocata' for something else. (Mocata is the villain of 'The Devil Rides Out', and unless this Mocata has taken that name - not impossible - I'll have to change it).

I have to remember to sit properly or this bone gets painful again.

On Thursday I went back to the Fairfield for the music but quite honestly if I'm barely tolerated there I can't be arsed with it. There is about one person there I'd miss (not including the people who are involved with the music, who turn up elsewhere) and I can meet up with her somewhere else. Unfortunately the Cricketers, down the way, is advertising itself as a madeover ale pub but I nipped in there last night and it doesn't seem any different. At least the Tup (now called Number 88 but it was the Tup when I moved here and until early this year so I still call it the Tup) is still there and doing good beer even if they were down to one ale thanks to the football. One (and that good) is a lot more than none (as in the Cricketers).

Today I may be playing boules in the afternoon and Julie has said she'll turn up to the boules game as well, which is nice. She hasn't been around much but is this weekend.

Having not been to Skyros I've been reading 'The Joy of Burnout' by Skyros founder Dr Dina Glouberman instead, and also invited to go along to Esalen in November. Now this would be something, and as I've never been to the USA would be a first, but not sure it is something I want to go to.
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but I guessed it'd be Netherlands 2 Slovakia 1 and it was. There were so few people in the Kingston Tup, er, 'Number 88' that we pretty much had a television each. In between goals, wrote more notes for the story - not the novel but 'For Fear of Little Men' which I've dusted off and continued. I seem to have a schematic for the remaining scenes - which is not something I've done before. At Eastercon it seemed a common theme was to plan stories and novels in advance, but I seem to let them surprise me instead. Wrote quite a bit of it yesterday - and here we have another issue, it looks like the resulting length will be around 30,000 words which isn't a novel and isn't a story, no, it's a novella.

Did not get the HM Treasury job I went for - it was only a one year's posting after all and it seems that it was interview technique that failed me even though my abilities and experience were fine on paper. I am so bad at coming up with examples when asked and like a lot of people tend to say 'we did this' rather than 'I did this', which is very often true as a lot of my job is a team effort.

The dining room / study is the coolest room at the moment. Bedrooms are not very cool and I am still having trouble getting up in the mornings as mentioned before.
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Today i have been to the fracture clinic and been fitted with a high-tech new sling which goes over the right (uninjured) shoulder instead of the left. I am also encouraged to use my left hand so am typing two-handed again, hurrah. This is a massive improvement, even if for comfort I now have a setup by which the MacBook has a MacMini keyboard plugged into it.
I have been doing some writing and also reading my way through the Qhe! novels, a series of, I suppose, occult thrillers published in the 1970s and written pseudonymously by New Age / Holism person William Bloom. Variable, with the third book in the series being particularly 'wtf?' - which may explain why the fourth, which is better, is published by a different publisher and has a completely different cover design. Talking of occult thrillers I also have Phil Baker's Dennis Wheatley bio, "The Devil is a Gentleman" to read. This however is huge and not appropriate for putting in the bag when I go out.

As far as the writing is concerned the Asus eee is now for this, hooked up to an Apple keyboard, 17-inch monitor, loaded with AbiWord and Writers Cafe' (for planning the structure) and tweaked so that it doesn't power-down when the lid is shut.

I am signed off work for four weeks but the GP's form noted that I could return to work if suitable arrangements were made e.g. working from home. I'm not sure what the position is on this - if I'm signed off for four weeks do i Have to stay off for four weeks, or can I return to work within that time - but if I do, who is to say I wasn't coerced to do so by my employer?
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Today I did get a bit of the NaNovel done, then in the evening over to the Hammersmith Apollo for Deep Purple, who seem to be self-parodying some of the time. Ending on an understandably audience-participation 'Smoke on the Water'. And there isn't even any decent beer in the venue.
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The delivery of two new mattresses and the rebuilding of the three-quarter bed into a double goes off fine though getting a kingsize mattress down the stairs in this house was a fraught exercise. The stairs are narrow and steep and there is not a lot of airspace above them at the foot. This house is now a proper two-bedroom one again then.

Talking, over the garden fence, with next door neighbour. He gives me some runner bean plants, which are now planted.

Bought a new front light for the Brompton. The old one broke when I was taking the front bag off (the B. has a neat luggage system where a bag sits on a mounting block at the front. It is attached to the frame not the handlebars so doesn't turn with them). The new front light is a Knog Toad which I am not sure about - think I need a more serious light for riding when it's properly dark rather than just when the sun's gone down and I'm in lit streets. But I haven't tried it yet.

Eurosportage: Watched some of the Giro d'Italia which I had totally ignored until Tuesday when it was on the telly in a pub I was in.

Writing class: for some reason I'm tireder going in than I am if it had been a working day, and barely recognise one of my classmates (though I suspect she'd had a day off as well and so was in jeans and t-shirt etc, rather than her smart work clothes). My contribution goes down well though it's only half way through the discussion that I realise its title should be 'Passing Strangers'. Of course!

This is another sunny day and there are more things to be done.


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