Aug 01

It’s FA Cup final day. And the strangest one in my lifetime.

When I was growing up, the FA Cup final was probably the highlight of the whole football / soccer year. Everyone watched it, no matter which two teams were competing in it. That has diluted over the decades.

These days, I may not even watch it if Chelsea are not in it. There is so much football on TV these days, it’s not like how it was in the 70s and 80s in the UK, when only a handful of games were shown live. There are more than that on our screens every week nowadays.

But my team is taking part today, for the second time in three years. We used to go decades between appearances.

So even though there will be no fans at a stadium that holds something like 80,000 spectators, I’m about to go in, settle down, and watch the showpiece. I’ll still be cheering on the Blues. Even in these strange times.

Jul 01

A change this month. For a while now – it seems like forever, but it is 15 weeks – Corona-virus has been dominating everything. So I will ignore that particular hulking elephant in the room, and take a wee jog down Memory Lane.

The title of this entry comes from a song by Marillion, an English progressive rock band who were big in the UK in the mid-eighties. I was a big fan, and whenever I hear or think of those words, it always reminds me of the song, and the title of their debut album, Script for a Jester’s Tear.

In keeping with many others around the world I’m sure, I’ve been rooting through boxes in the attic and revisiting my past during lock-down. It’s been an enjoyable trip, looking at old diaries, coming across old records, finding old keepsakes and mementos. This morning I was thinking of Marillion because I was wearing their t-shirt in an old photo from 1985.

I went to see Don Henley in the early nineties, and he played a couple of Eagles songs. A few years later of course he rejoined the reformed band, but that night he said, “Memory Lane is a good place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Indeed sire, indeed.

Jun 03

I’ve finished the first draft of my third book.

It’s 175,000 words. That would translate to something like 575 pages, which is obviously way too long. Indeed, that’s twice as long as my first book, and more than three times the length of my second.

But getting everything down on paper – or in cyberspace as it is these days – is the hardest bit. Putting your arse on a chair in front of your computer for hours a day, for days on end… that’s the most difficult thing.

Just “vomit it all out” as one of my writing students said in class a few years back. Once we have a framework, a start, something to work with, a rough guide, then honing and chipping away at it (or hacking away as will be the case with me), you can do that. I can’t do anything if it’s in my head.

So I am happy I’ve got the first bit over and done with. It has taken me the guts of five months, and that was with the lock-down. Without coronavirus it would have taken years I’m sure.

Now I’m going to take a break from it. It’s only the third book I’ve written in the last 13 years or so, therefore it’s right to take a breather. I need space to analyse what I’ve written, to mull it over and think about it. I will get back to it over the summer I’m sure.

My aim is to chop it in half, and hopefully have a completed book – maybe the fourth draft – by the end of the year. Hope springs eternal, right?

Anyway, I’m off to celebrate. Take care, be safe, and stay healthy.

May 01

Today we entered the third calendar month of quarantine. It’s crazy, mad, bonkers, isn’t it?

Who would have thought, if I had told you even only two months ago, that most of the world would be under a form of house arrest. It came from nowhere, and I wonder what societal changes, both medium and long term, will come about because of this.

Financially, this has been a disaster for me. I had to cancel my writing classes, which were just about to start. With many people now also suffering economically, it may well hit sign-ups when we reconvene in September. I’m guessing the chances of doing a summer session are also scuppered.

But everyone is suffering, and there is no point moaning about it. At least I got to spend time with my daughter, who was here visiting when the stay-at-home kicked in, so she was able to go to school online for five-and-a-half weeks. Also, so far I’ve managed to write 100,000 words of my third book.

We still have much to be thankful for. Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Apr 01

Well, that came out of nowhere, right? What happened?

One minute we were all getting on with our lives, the next minute we are quarantined in our homes. Overnight the world changed.

The one good thing about this, and I realise tens of thousands of deaths across the planet put this statement into perspective, is the extra time we all now have on our hands. I’m hoping people take advantage of it.

I’ve been teaching writing for years, and I’ve had a lot of talented writers come through my classes. Then they don’t finish their stories / novels / memoirs, whatever it is, and often the reason they give is a lack of time.

Now that’s not an excuse for anyone. We all have time. Lots and lots of time.

I’m hoping that people use the time to write, not to watch reruns of football games from the seventies, or spending their time on youtube.

Everyone who has a story to tell: write. We will never have a chance like this again. Stay safe y’all, S.

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