Day 476 – The Saturday Answer.

The Friday Question was one for the end of the holidays to provide inspiration for next year’s holidays, and it was . . .

. . . If you could spend three months writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I struggled to narrow this down to one single location.

Cornwall and France featured heavily due to the coast line and the sea. Le Touquet winning out for its ease of access around the town and beach front for my wife.

The setting of your story probably had an influence.

Would James Bond have been quite the same if Ian Fleming hadn’t been in Jamaica? A Year in Provence really wouldn’t have been the same without actually being in Provence. Would Harry Potter have turned out different if it had been written in Sweden rather than Scotland?

I went for the place I feel calm and contented in order to write comfortably.

Maybe you need excitement and noise?

We are all different and if we weren’t we would all be arguing over the last rooms/house to rent in the same place.

Day 469 – The Saturday Answer.

The usual recap to begin . . .

. . . The Friday Question was, What specific style/genre/type of writing is the one you most want to write?

And my Saturday Answer is . . .

. . . One which changes all the time! If I read a thriller, then I want to write a thriller. If I read a detective/mystery novel, then that is what I want to write. And so on . . . But the type of writing which is constant, no matter what I am reading, is sports writing.

There are some great sports writers in the UK but the outlets are either through newspapers or sport specific monthly magazines. There is a growing number of weekly ‘newspapers’ specifically for sport but they generally tend to be match reports rather than anything in-depth pieces on teams/players/coaches. The rise of Podcasts has really begun to unearth some great content, which would equally be great to see in writing.

A UK version of Sports Illustrated would be outstanding.

I tend to be slightly negative about my own sports writing as I am not a great ‘fill it full of stats/facts’ kind of guy, but more focused on stories and trends.

Sports writing is an area I intend to devote more time to developing.

What’s your Saturday Answer to the Friday Question?

Day 462 – The Saturday Answer.

The Friday Question was . . .

. . . If you could only read one Poet for the rest of your life, who would it be?

And my answer is . . .

. . . The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

Ever since I first picked up Under Milk Wood off my father’s bookshelf the pure sound of the words off the page had me hooked. Listening to the Richard Burton narrated record version of the poem-play only cemented its position in my mind.

It was the sound of the words which captivated me. Up to this point, at school, poetry seemed to be about line ending rhymes, where the rest of the words were pretty straight forward and boring.

Thomas mined words like a hewer struck his pick into rock.

My wife’s family had been miners and a cautionary rhyme was passed down through the ages: Pick too high, lose an eye. Pick too low, lose a toe.

Thomas realised that you had to strike the words in exactly the right place, as his lists of words on his desk at the Boat House attest to. His knowledge and understanding of Welsh language forms of poetry certainly influenced the form and shape of his poems; although this is often not credited to him.

Thomas’ ‘rock star’ life gave him the fame and notoriety in a way we simply do not see poets today, but that often detracts from his actual work. Under Milk Wood and Death Shall Have No Dominion will be his most well known works, but for me it is Especially When The October Wind which inspired me to write my own poetry.

There are plenty of poets which I have come to admire and value – Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney, Gillian Clarke, Owen Sheers, John Agard, Benjamin Zephaniah, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Hedd Wyn – but Dylan Thomas is always the touchstone.

Day 455 – The Saturday Answer.

So the Friday Question was . . .

. . . Why didn’t you achieve what you planned to during this last week?

And my Saturday Answer is . . .

. . . Stuff and illness. The latter is pretty straight forward. I netted myself some rogue bug which seems to have effected absolutely no one else within my close proximity. The former is a mixture of changed plans, plans no one told me about, disruptions and interruptions, lack of focus, distractions and other attractions.

None of this forms any meaningful excuse but is just what it is. It was up to me to work my way through all of this and still produce.

I am even more of the opinion that a shed at the bottom of the garden is a good idea, but have you seen how much sheds, worthy of creative endeavours at the bottom of the garden can cost? I think I can afford a bivy-bag underneath a bush.

However, I am writing something new and it seems to be going okay. I’ve gone back to the Lee Child method of plot development and it feels good. I’m especially happy with the fact that each seen is essential – I haven’t written a bunch of nice scenes which aren’t really necessary – and the plot is moving quickly along, with each of the characters asking questions. Well, that’s how I see it anyway?

A few other things which can wait for the Sunday Reflection, so catch you tomorrow!

Day 441 – The Saturday Answer.

So, The Friday Question was . . .

. . . What ‘creative’ excuse do you use for not doing the creative task you’ve scheduled yourself?

And my Saturday Answer is . . .

. . . Any form of creative research, no matter how loosely based upon the actual task I have set myself to do. You see I am still working creatively, I am not just time wasting!

And as a bonus I will give you, searching for an album to listen to as I work. I set myself the challenge – I don’t know how long ago now – to listen to a new album everyday. Being subscribed to an online streaming service I scout the new releases and look for something which seems interesting. Sometimes I recognise, or I am familiar with the artist, or I just look at the album covers until something takes my interest. Sometimes it can take a while to find something, despite being quite good about listening to what I have chosen no matter what.

So what is your distraction?

Day 435 – The Saturday Answer.

So The Friday Question was What single thing/event would ‘supercharge’ your creative exploits?

In thinking of the question I was influenced by the exploits of current Tour de France leader Julian Alaphilippe. He is a great rider, currently No.1 in the World Rankings, but he is seen as a one-day and short tour specialist. His lead in the greatest cycle race in the world is definitely benefiting from the mysterious powers wearing the leader’s Maillot Jaune – the Yellow Jersey – can bestow upon a rider. Whether is is that extra bit of confidence, or the thought of losing it makes you dig a bit deeper, it does push the rider wearing it to new places.

So, my answer?

Having a separate writing space. A space where I essentially ‘clock’ in and out. A place where the focus is the work of writing and there aren’t other easy distractions. A place where projects are planned and scheduled for completion.

What was yours?

Day 428 – The Saturday Answer and Other Stuff.

The Friday Question was, What is the last foreign language you began to learn and why?

My answer is French, because the last time I went into a French Boulangerie, armed with the necessary phrase given to me by my wife to purchase two baguettes and one croissant, I managed the first couple of words in French before seamlessly moving into Italian and then apologising in English when the shop assistant looked at me like I had told her that I wanted to Sunday roast her grandmother. Numerous cycling phrases were not enough, it has proven, for me to make my way about a country I have only begun visiting in recent years, but would now happily live in. My usual ‘learning a new language’ problem is the same as it was with German and Italian, whereby the lack of opportunity to speak it aloud, is quickly leaving me with a reasonable ability to read and hear the language but probably the same Boulangerie incident waiting to happen when I speak it.

The why? It seems terribly ignorant to visit another country and expect the locals to communicate with me in my language. I appreciate their efforts in my direction once I’ve proven my efforts in theirs. I like the places in France I’ve been to and I like the fact that the food is that bit different to ours. I feel as if I’ve eaten healthier. I also love the ritual of walking to the Boulangerie to collect the bread.

The Other Stuff:

I’ve managed to write two posts a day since the Tour de France started – the usual stuff and a Tour focused blog. Hopefully it will provide the initial ingredients for something a bit more substantial.

There has been plenty of sport – New South Wales wrapped up the Origin competition in Australia’s Rugby League. England and Wales cricket demolished the Aussies in the World Cup semi-final. Wimbledon Tennis entered its second week with some people winning and others losing. Wigan lost the Derby match to Saints but are still top 5 in the table.

DAY 414 – The Saturday Answer and Other Stuff.

So The Friday Question was, What is the one immediate thing you need to do for your creative endeavour to improve?

And The Saturday Answer is, Be Consistent!

What was your answer?

For me, I need greater consistency in my writing habits and in the words which go down on the page. Creative thinking time and writing time can vary too much for consistent output. Sometimes I focus too much on the dialogue and other times I focus too much on the narration and descriptive details.

The Other Stuff:

With news the The Long Way Up had begun, I started back through the first instalment of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman going a very long way on motorbikes with The Long Way Round. London to New York – about 20,000 miles – what a trip.

Lots of folk music listened to this week – Imar, Julie Fowlis, Breabach, Talisk, and Calan, mostly.

By some miracle Wigan Warriors have moved up from joint bottom of the table to 4th in Super League. What’s also incredible is that only four of the twelve teams are in positive points difference.

After his Glastonbury Headlining performance most young people would probably vote for Stormzy to be the next Prime Minister of the UK.

I finished an Audiobook on The Irish Identity from The Great Course series – very informative!

I’ve started reading The Outrun by Amy Liptrot.