Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Re-write, anybody?

I hate writing second drafts.

No doubt there are people out there who can look at a piece they have written and with no more than a flick of a computer key delete, add or amend their near perfect prose.  These people are, no doubt, called Professional Writers.

The likes of us mere mortals, aka me, need a bit more notice.  We can't just sit there with a pen and calmly cross through and add willy nilly.  Oh no, that would be far too easy.

For whatever reason my brain needs time to warm up, to get into the story so to speak.  This inevitably means printing out my first draft and starting from scratch, typing up what is showing on the paper until such time as Mr Brain kicks in and starts telling me what needs expanding or re-wording.

I think this may be linked to my approach to writing.  One of the things you constantly hear from writers and writer groups is that it's all about using the strongest word at the appropriate time.  Weak words must be illiminated at all costs as this shows weak writing.

And to be fair, to an extent i agree - using the right word or an interesting phrase can raise writing above the crowd and make it come alive, but it can also scream to the reader "look at me, i'm being clever at you"

For me personally writing is more about the rhythmn and flow.  Really good writing should be like a background piece of set - you know it is there, it helps to set the scene and makes you feel that the place you are at is real - but if its a really good set then you probably shouldn't notice it in the first place because it's done its job of getting you there.

And in order to achieve that flow - well, you can't just jump in can you?  You have to be there, in the scenery and feeling what the characters are saying to you.

I guess life is the same in many ways: you don't have much right to comment until you've been there yourself I guess...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Please Raise Your Hands For The Templeton Three

They travelled from state to state, John, Maggie and little Emily, singing gospel songs. Sometimes it was hard on John being the only man, but as he was like to say, “Someone gotta look after my sisters”

Years later the three of them would gather and sing for pleasure, laughing about the good old days

Friday, 12 August 2011

Halfway Up The Stairs

If there is one sure fire way to upset an English person it is to sit in their seat.

Anyone who has ever been on a course, to a place of work or to a regular pub in the UK will know that there are certain seats and centres of location that are out of bounds. This is why the trend of hot desking at work doesn’t fit well with us – we like to know where we are going, who we are going to be sitting with and, most importantly, how we fit into the wider group. There are some people in the work place who after forty years of the same view have been known to break down into tears at the relocation of little more than a few inches.

If you want to annoy someone in the UK there is no better way to do it than to enrol on an evening course, wait for 3 to 5 weeks and then suddenly sit somewhere else. Frankly – if you come out alive you’ll have done well.

In fact one night a few months ago, in a fit of wild abandonment, Herself and I decided to swap sides of the bed to see what happened. It lasted all of five minutes – and confused the cats no end.

I was thinking about this today at work when a phone failure led to me sitting at a different hot desk to the one I have grown accustomed to. As I sat there: nervously watching my back and feeling twitchy because of the move of twelve whole feet down the same corridor, I found myself asking what my choice of seating says about my personality.

Given the choice of location at any meeting, club or social occasion most people, including myself, will try not to sit at the front. Often fisticuffs will break out in the jostle of bodies to remain central. No one likes to be exposed, or so it seems, unless they are Ultra Confident and absolutely love being the centre of attention (or else has a role at the meeting that means they have no choice but to be at the front) – Most dictators probably started going wrong in life by continually insisting on sitting at the front where people could adore them

My personal preference is somewhere towards the back and in the middle. Not right at the back, you understand, but sufficiently central that when John Smith arrives half way through the meeting I won’t have to grudgingly stand up and let him through.

I’d say that this probably says something about my desire to hide myself away and possibly hints at a lack of confidence. The same has been said of all my extroverted sides – my guitar, sax, paintings…are all something to hide behind.

So maybe I should make myself sit at the front for a change, put myself out there for all to see and find out how it feels? Life sometimes forces us into those situations: where we have to stand up for the things we believe in, or have to stand up for the way our job should be run. We don’t always like doing it: but sometimes…

But I think, on the whole, I like it where I am.

In the middle

Hiding away

Laughing uproariously at the absurdities of those on the front line

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Say It Loud

You know I dont even care

It's a cheesy video, there's that bit at the end with the choir, it's camper than Butlins, Pontins and Maplins put together - but if you don't get a tingle down your spine listening to Paul Carrack on this song - there's something deeply wrong with you.  But seriously guys, can't you just here the echo of Phil Collins shouting "why didn't you write this one for Genesis?"!

Say it loud...

Every generation, blames the one before
And all of their frustrations, come beating on your door
I know that I'm a prisoner. To all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

No crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thoughts
Stilted conversations, I'm afraid that's all we've got
You say you just don't see it, he says its perfect sense
You just can't get agreement, in this present tense
We all talk a different language, talking in defence

Say it loud (say it loud)
Say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear (as well as you hear)
It?s too late (its too late)
When we die (ooh when we die)
To admit we don?t see eye to eye (we don?t see eye to eye)

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
And it's the bitterness that lasts
So don't yield to the fortunes
Sometimes see is fate
It may have a new perspective on a different date
And if you don't give up and don't give in you may just be ok

I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn't get to tell him all the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo in my baby's newborn tears
I just, wish I could have told him in the living years