I’m so vain, I bet I think that shelf is about me!

26 06 2014

Is it vain? Is it a sin to be proud of your achievements? I go to friends’ houses and see proud displays of the children’s degree certificates, sporting trophies, awful daubs and I wonder if my shelf is viewed as self-promotion, self-obsession or just natural. Should a grown man be proud enough of his achievements to dedicate a shelf or two of a prominent bookcase to his own output?

I don’t think it’s so bad. I am proud and it’s not a sin. Nor is it a ‘vanity bookshelf’ as one journalist once cuttingly called it. I am what I am and what I am is just a writer. I don’t do sport (unless wobbling across Surrey hills trying not to fall over when I can’t loosen the cleats counts), I don’t paint, and education was a long time ago. I write and haven’t done at all badly at it.
I don’t have pictures glad-handing the PM or a B-list celeb on the wall. That puts me one up on some vain sods in my view!

PS Apologies (and credit) to Carly Simon for the title and to Jerry Herman for the steal half way through.

Next book blues

2 08 2013

One of my recent blogs was about ideas, creativity, seeking the next perfect idea. I told a small fib. I said that the Drawer of Ideas was just filled with unexplored ideas.

Not quite hidden amongst the scraps of paper covered with random thoughts were the plastic wallets containing the bigger ideas. I see them every time I open the DoI and every time I can’t decide what to do with them.

First to see the light is the unfinished book. Fifty thousand words put on hold.  Shouldn’t be allowed – but I remember how the mindset creating it just hadn’t fitted in with where I wanted to be. It had created such a mountain of complexity in those opening chapters that the finished article wouldn’t have been really me. It was forced, contrived and damned hard to think through.

Part of the current, older me, regrets that decision now. But there’s no way back. I’ve different mindset’s now and couldn’t capture the same intellectual viewpoint again – I know, I’ve tried! So The book remains unfinished and that dark place in my house unoccupied. I fed that mindset to the furnace and moved on.  Could I return though?

The second plastic wallet contained the scripts. I love the idea of scriptwriting. Getting everything across in dialogue and a couple of ‘exits stage left’ or ‘angry looks at Curt’. Perhaps when I finish the next one I can put one of my creative minds on the project and see if ‘Finding Father Christmas’ can be made ready to fly – working title only!

Finally, possibly finally, is the wallet full of the reasons the rest don’t get done. The sequel ideas. Who needs new concepts, new characters when I’ve left threads, questions ready to be picked up and developed into full blown tales. Most are still in my mind but Jenny’s tale is definitely one that needs to be told.

Focus or float? Create or consolidate? What to do next?

Where to do it?

30 07 2013

IT. The physical act. Writing I mean?

Being creative should not be about location but the process of actually getting it down on paper, on the screen – and that typically takes a special place. Some people are lucky enough to have space enough to create their own writing zone with inspirational possessions around them and the ability to close the door onto solitude.  Some have special places out in the world with the oft-quoted anecdote about Harry Potter being brought to life surrounded by Edinburgh coffee drinkers sheltering from the rain. I’m not like that. 

I actually do have a place of my own. A desk, a PC, even a room I call a study.  But I don’t write there. My so-called study is a place for house admin, internet trawling and for meeting visitors to the house. My books come out the darkness, out of the mind locked away from the world – hot-housed so creativity is all there is to focus upon. There’s no writers’ block allowed, no breaks to make tea or put the washing on. Writing is all there is.

Some would find it difficult to find the time and isolation. Being a single man with my own house gives me that opportunity. I have made the dark spaces in my house where only I go to find creativity, where the inner eye can be focussed on a single goal. It isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone but for me it works. My output is my testament.

I’ll do it in secret, locked away from the world. But what I do is for everyone to share.