Category: writing


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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161037Quote of the day.

In Alasdair Gray’s ‘Lanark,  the protagonist and aspiring writer is reflecting on  the two main types of novels he found in his local public library:

“One kind was a sort or written cinema, with plenty of action and hardly any thought. The other kind was about clever unhappy people, often authors themselves, who thought a lot but didn’t do very much”.

A sweeping generalization perhaps, but there is a lot of truth in this.

THE NIX by Nathan Hill (Picador Books, 2016)

thenixAccording to the cliché,  everybody has at least one book in them. Nathan Hill has now written his in the form of this bold and hugely entertaining debut novel.

The American author says that his previous attempts at fiction followed formulas in vain attempts to win a lucrative book deal.

After a series of rejections he decided to cut his losses and simply write a book to please himself. In doing so, he had no idea whether or not it would be published.

It took him ten years to write, a slow but enjoyable process that he equated to tending to his own garden. The result is a triumph. Continue reading

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami (Vintage Books, 2009)

3031024When I first read this memoir about five years ago I was a casual jogger.

Picking it up again as I train for my first marathon, I see it now as a valuable mini-manual to get into the right physical and mental state.

You don’t have to be an amateur athlete or an aspiring writer to appreciate Murakami’s down to earth words of wisdom but it helps.

As a celebrated novelist, frequently tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and a prolific marathon finisher, the Japanese writer and runner shares his experiences in a style that goes beyond the standard textbooks on both pursuits. Continue reading

Top albums of 2016

One of the reasons whjambinaiy there have been fewer blog posts
this yeswordar is that I spend a lot of my free time writing music reviews for the online ‘zine Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.

This year I reviewed a grand total of 240 releases and although 2016 was by no means a vintage year there is still plenty of good music around. This, as always, exists on the margins away from the mainstream.

My preferences continue to veer strongly towards weird folk and post rock and the following are the ten albums that I enjoyed the most with links to my reviews:

  • JAMBINAI – A Hermitage  Jaminai are a trio from South Korea and I wrote that “The power and intensity of their music taps into the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a new generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them”.
  • YAIR YONA – Sword  Yair Yona is a gifted Israeli musician and this powerful instrumental album “covers universal themes of personal endurance and trauma”.
  • MODERN STUDIES – Swell To Great  Ornate and dreamy British folk music from a supergroup of sorts.

Continue reading

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