Monthly Archives: May 2011

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

“Negligence is an extreme thing.”

– from ‘Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai’ – trans. William Scott Wilson (Kodansha Int’l Ltd, first edn, 1979)

Of all the fine words that I have read in my life, this one sentence indelibly engraved itself into my memory upon my first reading. The very essence of efficiency and insight presented in simplicity, this reduction of a plethora of complex states, excuses and motivations to just five words still makes me shake my head and smile in awe.

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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Quotes


The Incomplete Works

On the side of a cabinet in my lounge, a single piece of Carl Critchlow artwork hangs in a plain A4 sleeve, held in place by the simple expedient of double sided tape. It is an unpublished piece of Carl’s, kindly donated to me to be the front cover of my first fiction anthology. It hangs there because it is in my eyeline every time I enter the room. It’s a reminder, a chastisement, a promise and a damn fine piece of art to boot.

After completing my first poetry collection, the urge to get my writing into print at last was unstoppable, or so I thought. While the focus placed on poetry required to get that book out has left my poetry facility healthier than it has ever been (to the point where the second volume is already half completed after only four months) the drive to get my stories published is unfulfilled. While I can drop a poem in a matter of minutes, from memory to page with only pauses to find alternative rhymes for my preferred pairs, the story writing urge has been beaten down by the occurrences in my personal life. Financial woes, romantic failure and imminent house loss inspire poetry but stifle story writing, it seems. I get the occasional piece of flash fiction, usually in the 400 to 800 word range, but that’s it. While something is better than nothing, it is frustrating. (Another frustration, to be precise.)

This evening I’ve taken a break from job hunting to revisit my notes, short stories and partially completed tales. It leaves me sad that there is so much here, and even allowing for my bias, so much good prose just lying about like a field of textual headstones in the graveyard that is my ‘Stories’ folder. Even worse are the fragment respositories, where three decades of plots, ideas, fragments of stories, background information, scene setting and other usually unseen supporting cast for good books lie gathering e-dust.

I had promised myself for twenty years that I’d get a book published. I got the poetry book out and smiled, for it was completely my own work (and by inference, only me to blame). My first hard copy book, proof read ad nauseam by me, photographs cut and manipulated by me, fonts chosen with painstaking care, layout prototyped half a dozen times, cover aligned in pixels for fit and effect. I thought it would feel more of a triumph. The only thing I felt can be described in three terrifying words:

“It’s a start.”

Now I sit here in the comfort of what is my home for only another 41 days, while todays two dozen job applications reside in seemingly indifferent inboxes and far away I am sure I can hear bankruptcy assessors sharpening their pens on their valuation sheets.

I wonder if I have left it too late.

From what I can see and from past efforts, I have at least five years dedicated work to prepare and complete the fragmentary stories that exist in some substantial form. The three bigger works are an unknowable time beyond that, because they are so all-consuming in their spread I will have to work on them exclusively, at least at the start. Then there are the two linked novels or novellas… You see? I haven’t even begun to touch the thirty to fifty tales that exist only in outline or single paragraph form.

While the poetry of the classic tragedy where the author starts his life’s work too late to see it completed is not lost on me, I would really rather I not try it on for size.

At least I know beyond question what I want to do now. The rest is just process, as a friend once said to me.

So until I complete this process and arrive at literary creation realisation (now that’s fun to try and say ten times fast), I shall update my website occasionally with the tales that occur to me in the gaps between problems, and drop the odd poem on to Facebook or my website if it is good enough to share in rough form yet not of as pure a gemlike quality as I am trying to maintain for the ‘previously unseen’ elements of the second volume.

As that horribly overused cliche says so well: Only time will tell.

Bear with me, gentle reader. I shall endeavour to reward your wait with several books eminently worth your time.

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Life & Self


A Triumph of Ignorance

I read that the alternative voting system had been rejected and that the Liberal Democrats had taken a beating at the polls on Thursday. What a sad day.

I am not naive enough to believe that successes on either front would have been a panacea for the United Kingdom’s ills, but I do believe that they would have indicated that the public at large had actually considered the situation realistically.

The coalition government in the UK is in a similar situation to the Obama administration in the US. They both inherited countries in dire straights from at least a decade of mismanagement at the highest level. While the UK government had to be non-Labour, the Conservative majority was disappointing if largely inevitable. What gets me is the fact that both governments are now under fire from the public for not unravelling years of poor decisions instantly.

Is the general public so blinkered that they think these processes can be achieved overnight? Really, the rabid hatred of banks and financial institutions fuelled by a sensation hungry media and government misdirection is nauseating. In the halls of government, nothing really changes behind the newly elected faces at the front. But those faces can instigate change. As in any monolithic system, change will take a long time and must be constantly driven and monitored.

Mister Obama is getting a thumping from the ignorant being ably aimed and funded by some highly suspicious backers. Meanwhile, the UK public gets to vent it’s frustrations on the new kid on the power block. The Liberal Democrats got a kicking while the Conservatives strengthened. Good grief. The Liberal Democrats are the only restraint we have on the Conservatives. Reducing their effectiveness is hardly to our benefit.

As the dust settles, the ramifications are unclear but I have a surety that because of this decision, ‘we the people’ are going to get taken again. The outcome of Thursdays vote ranks right up there with the rescue of some financial institutions by their respective governments. Said institutions chuckled as they watched a tacit acknowledgement of where the true power lies in the Western world today. I cannot help but feel that some Conservative party members and supporters are smiling as their clever campaign proves that they can do an awful lot and rely on the fact that the Liberal Democrats will be blamed by the public.

As the quote goes “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. It seems that these days, the actuality is that good men will do something, but as that something is based on guidance from sources loyal to the ‘evil’ they abhor, they are unwittingly aiding the very thing they oppose.

Inform yourselves. Ignorance has never been an excuse. When you wish to form an opinion to act upon or in support of, please read at least two sources on the subject. 🙂

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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

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