December 30, 2008

Thank you, Mister Utzon

Just before Christmas, my wife Kate and I went to a Christmas matinee concert in the Sydney Opera House. As it happened, the architect who designed this still-amazing structure, Jørn Utzon, had passed away a month before, having never returned to Australia to see his masterwork completed. The acrimonious relationship he had with the governments of the day is well documented and led to him leaving Australia in 1966, before the building was anywhere near completion.

Although subsequent governments have done their best to defile the foreshores near the Opera House with some of the ugliest monstrosities ever erected in this city, the House remains aloof from them, perched on its own headland and as much a part of the harbourscape as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Its forecourt and the concourses leading to it are a favourite meeting place for tourists and Sydneysiders alike…

okay, I’m starting to sound like a travel brochure.

As we left, there was a very good jazz combo playing outside the Opera Bar on the concourse, so we stopped to have a drink and admire the view, as we do on the rare occasions we get into the city together.

This was the view, recorded on my cheapo mobile, and gives you an idea of what a crystal summer’s day by Sydney Harbour is like. If you’re ever here, give me a call and I’ll meet you there - we’ll drink a toast to a man who imagined something unbuildable and forced men without imagination to build it.

Thank you, Mister Utzon.

December 11, 2008

Another limerick...

A scholar who liked to wear satin
ate pizzas whilst studying Latin.
But endless Supremes
were too much for the seams
of the satin he sat and got fat in.

December 10, 2008

The Critters Bar Anthology 2009

Thanks and kudos to Matt Ward, publisher of Skive Magazine and founder of the brand new imprint Mary Celeste Press. In the space of a week or so, Matt, a fellow inmate of Critters Bar, put together an anthology of stories chosen and submitted by its members and the very handsome result is now for sale at cost on Lulu.

As fellow Critter Rich Sampson puts it, “If you read this and don't come from Critters Bar (unlikely, I know) then you can get a free PDF…” - as a free download here or at Lulu.

The Anthology will soon be for sale at Amazon and CreateSpace. What’s impressive is that the stories chosen by the authors aren’t second-rate, “nobody-else-will-publish-this” pieces (even mine!), but tales that would enhance any publication.

So, buy one if you’re flush, or download a free copy with our best wishes for a Happy Christmas, Holiday, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, New Year, Festival of Dionysius or whatever you might be celebrating.

December 04, 2008

How do you write?

I borrowed this from Bibliorgy (I hope they don’t mind…)

How Writers Write

J.G. Ballard writes in longhand, then types everything up on an electric typewriter.

Christy Brown wrote with his left foot.

Richard Burton, while in India, sometimes wrote under a table draped in wet cloths, to keep cool.

Lawrence Durrell usually used a typewriter, but started writing Justine in longhand so as not to wake his sleeping daughter in the early mornings.

William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying on an upturned wheelbarrow while on duty as a postal worker.

Ernest Hemingway, in Cuba, wrote while standing. He wrote longhand in pencil, or on a typewriter when dialogue was flowing.

Kazuo Ishiguro writes in pen in notebooks. He writes his books fairly quickly, after a year or two of research and trying out voices.

Jack Kerouac typed On the Road on a 120-foot scroll of taped-together tracing paper over a fortnight. Contrary to legend, his writing spree was fueled only by coffee.

Ursula K. Le Guin uses an old word processor.

C.S. Lewis wrote on huge sheets of paper (each Narnia book took up only thirty sheets or so), while standing.

Cormac McCarthy writes on an Olympus typewriter.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote on index cards, sometimes in cars.

Marcel Proust wrote in a cork-lined bedroom.

Philip Roth writes at a lectern in a sparely furnished room.

Leo Tolstoy's wife transcribed everything he wrote.

Anthony Trollope wrote with a watch beside him, turning out a page every fifteen minutes.

Robert Walser, in mid-career, started writing so small that scholars at first thought his texts were in code. One later novel filled just 24 octavo sheets.

(Stone-Age Laptop!)

In primary school I wrote with a steel-nibbed pen, dipped in an inkwell. High school saw the advent of ball point pens. At home I typed my angst-ridden teenage poetry on a huge, cast iron Demountable typewriter which weighed as much as a VW engine block. I was then given a small Remington portable, which I still have.

My first script was written longhand in notepads – the pages were then sliced up and taped together in the right order and typed up on a purloined IBM Selectric II, the best electric typewriter ever made. (This took two days, fuelled by gallons of coffee. I didn’t sleep right for a week.)

As a demi-semi-professional script assessor, I still prefer to write notes as I read – the only problem is that my handwriting is so abysmal that I sometimes have trouble deciphering my own notes.

Now, like most people, I sit at a computer and… often, nothing happens. I’ve found that the best way to put a story together is to go for a long walk and talk to myself, working out the story structure and characters by way of acting it out. Yes, I get some strange looks, especially from dogs. When I get home I sit down and try to get it all down before the aging brain loses its grip and everything fades away.