Monday, January 16, 2012

A Deep Breath

It was quiet in the office last week. Not horrifically so, we hadn't resorted to braiding each other's hair and singing German folk songs, but quiet enough.

In the absence of work and after taking stock and sorting everything on the desk alphabetically however, I decided to follow a winding road and explore Norway ... digitally of course. You can cover a great deal of the country on google maps, moreso than I actually imagined - I don't think there was a fjord missed or a hytta unseen - and it made for quite the questy afternoon.

Unfortunately this virtual escape did the opposite of making time pass by. Instead it instilled in me a longing to sit once more, cramped and stifled in the coach of Air China (or whatever similar airline my meagre savings could afford) and sharing my personal space with a rotund version of Gilbert Gottfried for barely an hour short of my breaking point, thence at last to be released into the wild, fresh air of the North once again. Freedom! Beautiful freedom!

I have this crazy idea of exploring the Scandinavian tip of the world by motorbike, and possibly not returning for a while, instead content to live in various seaside cottages of small towns, where I would pass my hours chatting to locals by evening at the pub, learning about their fishing exploits, and the days wandering the coastline and tundra with some awesome camera in tow to catch that perfect shot of ... whatever it is the North felt like providing. This in itself shows the thoroughness of my thought processes, and perhaps the fallibility of my plans. One can dream.

In any case, for now I'm just glad to have conjured up the money for a trip to Turkey and Berlin in the coming months. This particular e-ticket will land me first in Istanbul, capital of that mysterious, humid bastion of east & west which I'm eagerly awaiting to explore again, map in pocket, phrasebook in hand and with a small group of friends.

I will be posting some photos (taken with my less than awesome camera) on this blog, and hopefully some new articles will be inspired. Huzzah!
</excited rant>


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Das Buch

Leaping again into the murky and ridiculously vacuous time vortex that is creative writing, I struggled for the longest time to get a chokehold on an idea I liked enough to expand on. I've never had a problem with writer's block (perhaps but hopefully not because my writing isn't intellectual or thought-provoking enough) but not having writer's block can also be a problem.

I had a pile of papers, each one littered with notes and concepts for stories, some with accompanying drafts of the first chapter or two, some with a big question mark dotted over the title or main character's name. None of them really leapt out at me. I had a string of narratives and a chorus line of characters rampaging through the 'random' folder on my hard-drive in various text files, annoying me with their dramatic introductions and semi-formed personas, but I didn't really click with any of them.

Of course, as often happens, it was when I was not trying that the eventual 'worthwhile' idea presented itself, and now a year and a half later I have a draft of the first part of The Binding of Ciltari, a fantasy/drama set in another place, another time, and I'm really happy with how it's emerging.

I just had a number of copies printed and flung them into the postage system to test on some poor, unwitting subjects and so far the response has been interesting. Thankfully - and perhaps due to my friends and family being too nice to knock me down a few pegs - it's been mostly positive. The feedback has been astute and invaluable in helping me make a couple of decisions and pointing out what needs to be fixed up before the next draft is ready - in other words there are definite changes to make, but that's writing.

You can see what's happening at, though updates aren't going to be too frequent for a while. Hopefully I can also post a few tidbits here too.