In between writing stories and blog posts I like to drum. It’s a smashing hobby; cathartic as well as creative. I think I started when I was sixteen, but I’ve improved a fair bit since my first off-beat battering of Smells Like Teen Spirit. I bought my own drum set, a Mapex Tornado Rock Fusion, back in 2013 after finishing university, but it’s evolved and spread a bit since then, and received a DIY tattoo on the bass drum. I pulled it out of its usual corner today and gave the whole thing a polish and spruce up, since I’m toying with the idea of recording some covers for YouTube. Let me show you around… (more…)
It’s been about three months since I started work on my novel, Rosetta, and a little over two months since I described my first impressions of writing it. I hit 50,000 words last week – a little over half my forecast completed word count, which means I’m near enough halfway through. At the very least, I’m in the thick of things, and I’ve got some new reflections on the subject of writing a novel to tell you about. Some of them are pretty surprising; at least in light of my first impressions. (more…)
Earlier this week I ambiguously tweeted that I’d written to Ludovico Einaudi – composer of, among many other beautiful piano pieces, The Waves. I didn’t mean that I’d written a letter to him, though that’s how it came across – I only meant that I’d listened to his Islands album whilst writing.
I tend to listen to music whilst working on my books, and was overjoyed to find Stephen King does the same, as he notes in his fascinating On Writing. Whilst King prefers ‘loud music – hard rock stuff like AC/DC, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Metallica’, I prefer soft stuff – instrumental, electronic, classical… Music that I wouldn’t usually spin in the car or that I’d learn the drums to. Background music, I suppose, though I don’t want to mislabel any of the excellent albums below as merely sonic wallpaper. (more…)
Around this time last year I wrote this post about New Year’s Resolutions, and what I was hoping to achieve throughout 2015. Without even looking at those resolutions I can already say I’m really happy with the past year and what I’ve accomplished. I’ve done things that, if not life-changing, are certainly milestones for me in my life. Let’s take a look at my resolutions of yesteryear… (more…)
I remember far back into my childhood when I dreamt of writing novels. It couldn’t be that hard, I reasoned. I could write a page every night after school, and more at the weekends. It would be just like reading a book: I’d find out what happened as I went along. And for the record, I still think there’s mileage in my idea of an alternate medieval universe in which everyone is accompanied by their own gargoyle, but I’m learning now there’s a lot more to writing a novel than one seed of an idea. (more…)
I’m not a fan of fan fiction. I think using characters that other authors have put their love and imagination into is cheating and disrespectful – especially (inevitably) when the writing isn’t as good as the author’s own. I can’t see the reward in it either – fan fiction isn’t part of the original story and is therefore in no way ‘real’ or ‘true’ to it. I don’t see the point in it other than as a writing exercise, and even then it’s a half-baked activity – the characterisation and interplay between different characters has been established for you.
This morning at the unsocial hour of 3:47 am, the Sun, Earth and Moon were arranged in perfection alignment in space. The Sun’s rays, distorted and coloured by the Earth’s atmosphere, beamed upon the Moon – itself orbiting close to Earth as the Autumn Equinox approaches – and turned it a glowing red. This is a fairly rare astronomical happenstance – it last happened in 1982 and won’t happen again until 2048.
I hauled myself up at half three in the morning to have a look at it, and I’m glad I did. Here’s three lessons I learned from seeing the Super Blood Moon:
Getting out of bed is always a good thing.
Actually, I’ve suspected this one for a while. If I didn’t have to sleep I wouldn’t – you don’t even realise when you’re asleep that you are asleep. So there’s very little to take from it besides the obvious physical and mental recharge. As soon as you’re awake you can appreciate the sleep you’ve had – or, in this morning’s case, didn’t have. Which is endlessly preferable to not being able to appreciate either.
So I learned: don’t wait for the sun to rise – get up and experience something else. The Earth is only going to turn so many times with you on it – don’t waste any of those days. Everyone needs to sleep, but don’t feel you can’t miss one of your forty winks every now and then in order to experience something different.
There’s more than the main attraction.
The Super Blood Moon of this morning was the A-movie. But from my vantage point on my driveway as I looked into the night sky, I could see the vast scope of the universe arcing above me. Further to the east were brighter, slightly coloured stars that turned out to be Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Three planets for support acts and a headlining supermoon? Plenty of bang for your buck.
So I learned: there’s always more to the experience than the thing itself. Just like seeing a band is about the atmosphere, the audience, and the ringing-eared train journey home as much as hearing your favourite songs live.
Some things make you feel deeply.
As I basked under the vault of space above me (well – as much as anyone can bask wearing only a dressing gown and a pair of Crocs on a cold gravel driveway) I became intensely aware of the Earth and its place in the universe. The sky was absolutely clear – not a cloud in sight – and every inch of the star-studded sky was visible; far-flung planets and solar systems all part of an unimaginably vast cosmic composition including our own Sun, Earth and Moon.
So I learned: every now and then a moment happens, and you feel something more than what you might on an ordinary day. For me, those moments happen when I think about the universe or the depths of oceans, and it’s somehow a frightening and comforting feeling. It’s a sensation of knowing there’s more out there, that no one understands, so it’s not a problem that you don’t either. It humbling and amazing at once.
So definitely worth getting out of bed for.
Earlier this year I decided to steampunk-ify my trusty record player. I’d been considering it for a while – ever since I modded a couple of Nerf Guns back in my university days. Records are pretty old school; it would only make sense to play them on a Victorianate turntable. Eventually I bit the bullet and dug out my modelling saw. Here’s how I built my Steampunk Record Player… (more…)
Anyone following me on Twitter will know I’m into my running – it’s my favourite way of exercising, and I like challenging myself to hit faster speeds and longer distances. One of the main reasons I run, though, is for the opportunity to listen to a bit of music. On a run, it’s just you, your thoughts and your iPod. It’s a great chance to meditate over an album whilst getting a bit fitter. Here are five of my favourite bands to listen to whilst on the run. (more…)