Category: Blogging


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So you want to be a writer? Probably the answer is yes, otherwise why would you even pick up a book like this? But reader beware; Anne Lamott is not going to soft soap you into believing that writing is a glamorous or painless pursuit. Trouble and toil is at the heart of the process so if you nurse any romantic ideals about being struck by the muse, you are best advised to discard them immediately.

Lamott says that writers who succeed have to contend with stress, insecurity and loneliness. The feelings that drive them include jealousy, paranoia and anger. This means that only a happy few are able to apply their compulsive obsessive disorders to meet tangible goals.

Certainly, Lamott make it crystal clear that you must be prepared to sacrifice the niceties of social interaction if you’re serious about achieving your ambitions. In other words, the more self-centered and selfish you are, the better. Discipline and persistency, also known as plain bloody-mindedness, will stand you in very good stead. “To be a good writer, you not only need to write a great deal, you have to care”, she writes. Continue reading

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Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 – 2018)

I still find myself wanting to read as much as possible as a way of making sense of the world and my own place within it.

I aim to increase the number of blog posts on what I’m reading. These will probably serve more as a reminder to myself rather than offering any particularly profound insights, but who knows. In any event, writing is the best way of organizing thoughts. Making these public gives an added incentive not to be flippant, sloppy, unkind or lazy.

The simple pleasure of making new discoveries and revisiting old favorites is an end in itself. The joys are an antidote to the cynical business-minded world in which, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, consumers are conditioned to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

To confirm this, I was happy to stumble upon something Ursula K Le Guin said in a speech at the National Book Awards in 2014 : “Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words”.

What are film critics for?

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MULTIPLEX. WHAT’S WRONG WITH MODERN MOVIES by Mark Kermode (Random House Books, 2011)

10304270Spare a thought for lonely film critics in the age of streaming. They are an increasingly marginalized and, some would say, dying breed.

It’s not as if we really need them anymore. Often they just ruin our entertainment by over detailed reviews of popular movies. Either that or they wind up smugly enthusing about some obscure art house ‘classic’ that only they and a few of their buddies have seen.

Mark Kermode is one of the smartest and self-aware of this endangered species so is well placed to argue for their preservation. Continue reading

Why bother to blog?

leapThis blog is in need of a reboot.

I’ve been writing it for almost ten years now and find myself increasingly facing a writer’s block.

For a couple of years I managed to write something every single day but recently the average number of posts has fallen to around four a month.

I feel better about myself when I do manage to get something down and it’s also useful to look back and gauge my changing moods and interests over the years.

But the devil in my head continues to whisper ‘Why bother?’ and directs my gaze to the steady fall in the number of views in the last few years. Despite having almost a thousand followers, it’s hard to ignore this inner negativity and to shake the feeling that my words simply get sucked into the void of cyberspace.

Still, whenever I have to think about a good personal quality I normally opt for perseverance. I’m not a smooth talker or a particularly fast learner and tend to distrust those who are skilled in these two fields.

What is a handicap in social settings can be an advantage when writing. Blogging fits my character because it gives me time to think before expressing myself even though this also means I too often keep well within my comfort zone.

So the next time the little demonic mind fucker asks ‘Why bother?’ I will reply that writing for the sake of it is a goal in itself and remind myself that looking before leaping doesn’t always save you from falling.

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Mark Fisher – 11th July 1968 – 13th January 2017

Today is Blue Monday according to the depression experts. Apparently, if you’re going to feel low any time this year, today’s the day.

I never set great store by such notions, more often than not such stories amount to nothing more than clickbait.

But the post festive gloom descended heavily upon me this morning when I woke to the sad and shocking news that music critic and modern culture guru Mark Fisher has passed at the ridiculously young age of 48. Continue reading

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