Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The home straight

A week of snow and some great walking, even if the writing has been a bit of a struggle.

We are nearly into February and in a way this is my first real blog of the year. I have already fallen behind with my novel. The end is tantalisingly close but I’m struggling to finish the draft. There’s a nagging little demon that tells me it’s no good and whilst it remains unfinished I’ve got a good excuse not to show it to anyone. If I have a new year’s resolution it has to be to learn to ignore the little voice of doom in my head and finish the damn thing for good or ill.

I have however been doing a lot of reading. In our house books usually feature heavily amongst the gifts at Christmas and this year was no exception. All of them physical books of course, ebooks don’t quite cut it as a present. You can’t wrap them and leave them under the tree.

I love books, not just the words inside but as objects in their own right. One of my most treasured possessions is a first edition copy of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, given to me for a landmark birthday. Originally published in 1865 by Chapman and Hall in two volumes and later rebound in one. Though not, alas, signed by the author it does form a tangible link to the past that an ebook can’t.

Traditional book or ebook? Both have their place.
That’s not to say, that I don’t like ebooks. I have the complete works of Charles Dickens on my Kindle along with all the other books accumulating there, including a few that I’ve already forgotten about. They weigh nothing and as long as I remember to keep it charged I can get a quick reading fix at any time just be dipping in my handbag.

It has other uses too. I keep a copy of my novel on it. I can read out extracts from it when I’m at my writing group. I can sit down, as I did recently, and read the whole thing through. The formatting is a bit basic but because it looks like a ‘real’ book, you can get a good feel of what is wrong and what is right with it.

The Kindle has also been useful for research. Since my novel is set in the nineteenth century, I’m much indebted to Project Gutenberg. Volunteers all around the world are digitising out-of-copyright books for free download from the Project Gutenberg website and I’ve been able access many strange and obscure books that would have otherwise been difficult to get hold of.

At home the old yellowing paperbacks are gradually being replaced on the one hand by smart new hardback editions or by the more ephemeral ebook.

For me physical books and ebooks are not an either or. Both have their place.

Friday, 18 January 2013

New Year, New Start

I started this blog because people I knew in my writing group kept blogs and I thought I’d have a go. As a would-be writer it seemed like a good idea but for a long time I prevaricated. I didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t know what to write. I thought perhaps there were too many blogs out there already. In the event I was looking through some photographs I’d just taken and the name jumped out at me.

Next I only had to decide what to write. I still couldn’t make up my mind but in the end I decided to dive in and see what happened.

Now I think it’s time to take stock.

First off, I’m deleting the blog I posted after Christmas, it was written in haste just to keep up the momentum. It will now be incorporated into a longer piece to be posted shortly.

Secondly, I’m posting some flash fiction on another page. At my writing group we have a weekly exercise, a piece of short fiction or poetry based on a prompt. It’s good practice. With a maximum word count of 200 you soon learn to choose your words carefully. I’ve a folder full of these short tales, so I thought I might share some occasionally. I found a couple on a fairy tale theme to start the ball rolling.

Third and finally, I have a photographic project planned which I’m keeping under wraps for the time being but which I’ll put on the blog all being well.

As to whether the world needs another blog? Probably not, but why should I let that stop me.