Five Things You Can Do To Make This Year Suck Less

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So I have gotten into a habit over the year of blogging just after New Year’s with my thoughts on the days past and those that still lay ahead of me. 2012 was a hell of a crazy ride and for all intents and purposes I am still somewhat surprised, sitting before you now with my thoughts laid bare once again, that I made it through in one piece.

As a celebration to hard lessons well learned and my never ending pursuit of optimism I thought I would share with those slightly less than optimistic about 2013, a couple of things that I learned over the last year that are and will be enduring lessons to guide me through the next twelve months. I hope wherever you are and whoever you are, some of these words offer you solace as you wage war on the New Year.

Mama Always Said

Although my mother has never compared life to a box of chocolates, she has come out with a few one liners that still flitter into my head from time to time and the most important piece of my mother’s advice that I found coming back time and time again in 2012 was this – “You are only responsible for you.” Seems simple right? There aren’t many words and my Ma has never been big on superlatives but these six little words mean a hell of a lot more when they come to you at just the right time.

What my Ma was trying to say was that I was going to drive myself crazy trying to figure out why people did what they did and said what they said, and when it came down to the bitter end why they didn’t do what they should have done and why they didn’t say what they should have said. I took this apart a little and with my mother’s words came to this conclusion – the problem isn’t necessarily how something happened, but how you responded to that something when it happened.

Life is perception and you are only responsible for you. Respond accordingly.

Forgive AND Forget

The old adage “forgive but never forget” has never been closer to my consciousness than it was in 2012. A long procession of what the fuck moments proceeded by what felt to me at the time like a blatant disregard for my own emotional wellbeing led me to re-think this adage and I present it to you now, new and remodelled and now in full working order – forgive and forget, because it is impossible to do one without the other.

You cannot forgive someone something and still view what they did to wrong you in the correct light, just in the same way that you cannot forget the unforgivable. To truly forgive someone you must forget what they did and rewrite the past in a new light, then shine that light on all the shadowy secret places you never thought to look for answers when you were still hurting. You will be amazed at what you find in those dark places where the truth sometimes hides.

Forgiveness is stoic, a declaration that you will move past something and leave it where it stands, whereas memory is a living, breathing entity that cannot be so easily left behind. So take it with you, wherever you go, untainted by your own feelings and lighter to carry as a result.

 

Love Like Crazy

It’s easy to forget to say “I love you” to your parents, siblings, children and partners when hanging up a phone call or dashing out the door but this year – try not to. I always tell two people that I love them, without fail, and have as long as they have been in my life – my mother and my daughter. But this year, my big sister spent a significant amount of time in hospital and only when I went to visit her and saw her condition, a monolithic weight of energy and happiness in my life reduced to a drowsy rubble, did I realise how hard it was for me to tell her that I loved her when my time came to leave.

I have two siblings – an older sister and a younger brother – and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have told them that I love them. Don’t get me wrong, we all know that we love each other but we show it in different ways. My little brother, apathetic towards almost everything in life and unenthusiastic to a fault, went the sober route and got my name tattooed on his wrist, along with my sisters and my mothers. My older sister, a fireball of emotion and eccentricity, is a lover of photographs and keepsakes. And then there is me, middle child extraordinaire whose personality lays somewhere in between the two of them, who has only time and the verbal testament of my love.

And I don’t tell them enough. I think it’s about time I started.

Just the Two of Us

Most parents have had two things constantly attached to them from the time that their child was born – said child and a camera. I have never been a big on documenting my daughters every waking moment, but this year I plan to make a little more effort to remember those moments that mean more to me than any other, because they are the moments when it is just her and I.

When we are sitting on the settee watching cartoons in our pyjamas on a Saturday morning and she is flicking cereal at me and laughing when I catch it in my mouth. When we walk to the shops and she insists on jumping in every single puddle there is but warns me to evade them because I am not wearing the right shoes. When she says things that catch me off guard and make me laugh. That laughter is so above and beyond anything I can put into words (and I do this shit for a living). When she falls asleep on my stomach and leaves a warm Molly shaped patch on my skin when I move her into bed. When she mumbles in her sleep and dribbles on my shirt.

Can I photograph all of these moments to make sure I never forget? No, some of them are impossible to document. But those that I can, I will and those that I can’t, I will remember to never forget.

Less Money, More Time

In correlation to the first passage about what my Ma always says, she once told me that the difference between a rich person and a poor person is that a rich person counts every penny and a poor person throws change away. I agree with this to a certain point, being a poor person myself, money doesn’t really matter because you never have it in your hand long enough to imagine the possibilities of what such an amount could afford you.

When you find yourself with severely limited funds you throw money at the dreaded bills and then scramble together what you’ve got left and do with it what you can. As I write these words I am -£6.57 in my bank account and have about the same in coppers and coins in my money jar. However my bills are paid for another month, there is food in my fridge and warm clothes on my back so in the end I count myself richer than poor.

We should spend less money trying to make the time we have more important, and devote more energy to trying to make the time was have make the money we have look more important.  

 

So that’s what I plan to do this year. Take the sting out of heartache by changing my perception of things happened, because as Mama always said, I am only responsible for me. Forgive the forgivable and forget the forgettable, because to do one without the other is to live a life half told. Tell those closest to me that I love them and reassure myself that although they mock it at the time, one day, they will be glad I said it as much as I did. To document the moments I can and remember to remember the moments that I can’t.

And to keep in mind that the measure of a person’s wealth is not by how many coins they have in their pocket, but by how many moments they carry in their heart. 

 

Aside

So over the past couple of years I have ended up with two completed manuscripts, three half finished stories and hundreds of pages of random thoughts and ideas that one day may or may not make it into the realm of fabled “manuscript”. Around the time I finished my second full length manuscript I decided to call myself an author, and shortly after I started making money from my trade (February of 2012) I began to get comfortable with the title.

Like with any title I suppose, many see you as an authority on the craft and I get asked a HELL of a lot of questions about what I do, how long it takes me to do it and why I started doing it to begin with. I get asked technical questions about how long manuscripts should be, what they should look like and how they should be formatted as well as what fonts to use and what margins are best. I get asked questions about how to find an agent and a publisher and whether or not you can have one without the other, as well as questions about self publishing (which I am a fan of) and self promotion. I get asked what to write about, how to start writing about it and how to keep track of it once you have started writing. I get asked about plans, time lines, names, places and fictional fabrication almost daily… In short I get asked a HELL of a lot of questions, like I said.

In an attempt to answer questions before they are asked and to indeed answer the ones that have already been asked I decided to post this FAQ blog to try and help those who seek it from me. A major disclaimer here has to be mentioned before I begin however – although many of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues may see my advice as advice worth taking, I do not hold the first and last word in novel writing. My advice is a guide into the world of fiction writing and is in no way absolute. If anything here contradicts what you have already been told about the craft I make no apologies. I make a living selling contradictions.

So let’s begin… at the beginning I guess? *book joke book joke*

No but seriously the first question I usually get asked and the one that gets asked the most is the most logical beginning so let’s start with –

  1. How long does it take you to write a book?
  • I have never understood the wording of this one and it usually results in a rather puzzled look on my part. Firstly, I don’t write “books” I write “manuscripts”. Now that may seem like I am being pedantic but I’m not. It is important to remember that books are born of manuscripts and the stories are separate from both the book and the manuscript. So with that in mind let’s reword this first question.
  1. How long does it take you to write a manuscript?
  • That’s better. Sadly, although the question is much clearer the answer still remains as vague. A manuscript can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to write, with my personal shortest taking six weeks to write and my longest manuscript taking a whopping two and half years! (And that was only a FIRST draft! :O). So in short, it depends. Pretty useless answer right? How long a manuscript takes to write depends on the following –
  • How much time can you spend writing? I got most of my writing done after I had my daughter and left my job. I had a lot of free time and with a new born not demanding much more than feeding and changing before going back to sleep again, I had a lot of time to fill and I filled it writing. The more time you have to write, the quicker the manuscript will get written. It’s that simple. Which brings us neatly to the question of –
  • How much time should I spend writing? As much as you can. I would say that four hours a day is the minimum amount of time required to consistently update a manuscript. I personally try for this minimum but have been known to write for up to twelve hours a day, because I’m hardcore like that.
  1. How long should my manuscript be?
  • There is a lot of debate about this but generally a manuscript should be between 60,000 and 90,000 words. Word counts are given as a guide as page length will vary depending on what font you are using as well as what size that font is and how narrow your margins are.
  • Okay, but for arguments sake how many pages is that? Okay, so for arguments sake between 60,000 and 90,000 words will give you between 180 and 250A4 pages in most word processors. This page count is based on the standard presentation of size 12 Times New Roman (anything smaller is generally considered too small) framed with a narrow (1cm) margin.
  • Is my manuscript too long or too short? The 60,000-90,000 word count is more of a guide than a criteria, but it is the standard of a fiction novel. At the bottom end of the short scale a manuscript 25,000 words or less is considered a short story or novella. A manuscript between 25,000 and 60,000 words manages to scrimp into the word count of a novel, but much lower than 60,000 would be considered more of a novella. Likewise on the longer scale anything between 90,000 and 125,000 would fall into the category of a long novel. Anything more than 125,000 words maybe you should considered either heavily editing or cutting up into more than one installment.

So now that we have defined the independence of a manuscript from a book, now comes the time to shine a light on the most important and ambiguous part of writing a book – the story. I suppose this is the middle of the blog and at the beginning of the middle, once you have formatted your processor to the specifics above you should start to think about how you’re going to structure your story. This usually starts with the following question –

  1. What should I write about?
  • Anything. Some would argue that you should write about what you know, so for example if you are a teenage girl you should write from the perspective of one. Although I agree with the premise of this advice I would have say that it’s not always the best to take. I mean, J.K.Rowling isn’t (and to my knowledge never has been) a boy wizard, but she did a pretty good job of writing about one and likewise Stephen King has never actually found a demonic clown with razors for teeth in the sewer outside his house (or has he?…) but he chooses to write about such things. The importance of the subject matter comes down to writing about something that you feel passionate about, something that is going to hold your attention and continue to inspire you as you write.
  • What if it’s already been done before? Around the time I began seeking publication for my first manuscript, on many publishing websites I found the following phrase – “No vampires, no werewolves.” And I think we all know why. Originality is key if publication and commercial success is what you seek, but you can be original with ideas that already exist and finding inspiration in others work is nothing to ignore, but maybe if vampires and werewolves are your bag try putting a different spin on a story line that is getting tired. Who knows, you may even save a genre that is getting as tired as the people reading it.
  • What if my story line is a little, you know… embarrassing? Oh so you want to write something taboo, huh? Well that’s what pseudonyms are for. If you have an idea for a story that is a little bit out there or will reveal too much about yourself to the people who know you, make up a name and write under that. It worked for E.L.James, it will work for you to.
  1. But where do I start?
  • Where everything starts – at the beginning. There are two ways you can write a story – stream of consciousness writing (SOC) or planned and precise prose (PPP).
  • Stream of Consciousness Writing (SOC) – SOC is basically the practice of sitting in front of your computer screen and writing without following a plan of any kind. This method uses your own stream of consciousness to tell you when the next character is going to be introduced, what is going to happen next in the plot and how the chapters are going to tie themselves up. It requires an immense amount of concentration but with a decent set of headphones and an infinite supply of coffee, SOC is an amazing way to write. This method of writing works best if you have the basics (character names, setting, loose plot line) already jotted down in an informal medium. I like post it notes. The green ones are my favourite. SOC is liberating and surprising but gets difficult as the story progresses and becomes more intricate, but it is an awesome way of finding your groove when starting something new.
  • Planned and Practised Prose (PPP) – PPP is almost the opposite of SOC and involves hours of planning before you get to anything creative. It can become tedious and tiresome but most writers find that working from a plan, however detailed or abstract, helps immensely as their story progresses in their mind. PPP is the literary equivalent of a crystal ball and allows you to look round corners and know what is going to happen. It makes the story line easier to work with and reduces the risk of plot holes and character inconsistencies. The only real danger with PPP is that a story line gets over-thought suffocates before it has really had a chance to breathe, so be wary of over planning.
  • Yeah, but which style should I use? Either, neither or both. The choice is entirely up to you. Personally, it depends on what I am writing. If I am constructing a completely fictional world then I tend to use the PPP method as there are more details to keep track of, but in my general writing I am an SOC girl all the way. In short I plan a little, write a lot, then double back on myself and write an overview so I know what I have already written. Either, neither or both, see what I mean?6. How do I get my manuscript published?
  • First thing you have to do is make sure you are finished. It is terribly tempting to scamper off to the publishers as soon as you have finished your manuscript but if you haven’t drafted your manuscript properly you will make life a hundred times harder for yourself.
  • How many drafts until my manuscript is done? This depends on your ability and satisfaction with the story line. I have never submitted anything less than a third draft but that is because my grammar is terrible. Proof reading is imperative and little mistakes such as “won’t” and “weren’t” may not necessarily show up on your built in spelling and grammar check. Either hire a proof reader (literally Google Proof Reader, then your area) or sit there and do it yourself. In short, don’t sell yourself just so. Make sure it’s perfect, even if it takes fifty drafts to get there. Patience is key here grasshopper.
  • How do I get my manuscript printed? When each draft is finished save the document as a PDF file by clicking on the File tab at the top of your processor and then Save As. There will be a drop down menu below the title of your document. Select PDF and away you go. Most PDF files use Adobe to read them so make sure you also have that on your computer. You can find it by again Googling – Adobe Acrobat Reader. When your file is saved as a PDF copy it onto a memory stick and take it down to your nearest printers. Places that print signs, canvasses and business cards usually offer this service but if you’re not sure call ahead.
  • How much does it cost? A 200 page single sided A4 manuscript, bound and covered will cost in the region of £20-£35. Seems steep but its worth it. Having a hard copy to proof and flick through makes you read the manuscript like a book and awakens your brain to mistakes you wouldn’t notice on a computer screen.
  • What happens when I have a printed and proofed copy ready for publication? Then you go and find yourself a publisher. There are three ways you can do this – find a publishing agent to do all the hard work for you, approach publishers yourself, or self publish. Again the choice is up to you.
  • Publishing Agents – can be found on the internet and through writing networks. They will handle your work for you and approach the right people who will most likely be interested in what you have written.
  • Approaching publishers yourself – can be time consuming but is worth it if you want to cut out the middle man. It is important not to send manuscripts to publishers without first emailing them telling them about yourself, your manuscript and your goals. Many publishing houses will tell you what they require if they are accepting unsolicited (agent-less) manuscripts. Read websites carefully and remember – you may be sitting in front of your computer in your pyjamas and eating cereal at four o’clock in the afternoon but they don’t know that. Act professional.
  • Self publication – again there are many routes to stagger down the road of self publication. You can upload to Amazon Kindle for free and even pay someone to format your manuscript (there can be no hyphens or manual tabs) into an eReader friendly standard and set the price of your book as high or low as you like. Alternatively you can go for something more concrete like LuLu that offers a paperback publication service that will print hard copy paperbacks for a fee. Self publication is a wonderful world but research your chosen avenue heavily before jumping in head first. The good thing about self publication is that if it goes right, you know it was all down to you. Well done you. Having said that, if it goes wrong… yeah, you get what I mean. Self publication is just that – by yourself.

And with that stunning piece of motivational believe in yourself advice I will leave you with the last piece of advice that I have, and possibly the most important thing I can tell you. There will be rejections, by the hundred, but they will not matter in the grand scheme of things if you manage to find that one acceptance. Keep at it and believe in yourself as much as you believe in your story. Anyone can be an author regardless of talent or ability, and if you don’t believe me ask Stephanie Meyer…just kidding. Kind of.

So with all my advice all but dried up I will leave you with the advice of some of the greats –

What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

Stephen King

Here’s how you do it; you sit at the keyboard and put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.”

Neil Gaiman

Never give up, and most importantly be true to yourself. Write from you heart, in your own voice and about what you believe in.”

Louise Brown

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

J.K.Rowling

I have written a book. This might come as a shock to some. They didn’t think I could read, much less write.”

George W. Bush… o_O?

Good luck! 🙂

A HELL of a lot of questions! Answered 🙂

Brick By Bloody Brick

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When I was a kid I always wanted to be seventeen. This was when, in my mind, the world would open its gilded doors and allow me to float through into the chaos that growing up in a small left me craving by the time I reached ten years old. And what, you ask, did I hope to find on the other side of those magnificently elusive doors? Well, I hoped to find the world and within it – myself. So here’s what I was going to do when I was seventeen –

I was going to be tragically and impossibly intelligent by the time I was seventeen. I was going to know exactly where I was going and why I was going there at all times and the childish notions of confusion and fear would evaporate the moment those doors to seventeen closed behind me and enveloped me into their madness. I was going to read – a lot. And not just the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the Wind in the Willows that got me through much of my childhood – I was going to read foreign books by enigmatic heroes of the written word like Dochevsky and Alighieri. And I wasn’t only going to just understand them; I was going to understand them on a level so unfounded that my sheer ability to comprehend their nuances would be simultaneously enthralling and enraging. And I was going to write – a lot. Hell, I was going to write a library.

I was going to be cynical and alone and insufferably miserable. I was going to drink hard liquor and smoke cigarettes that didn’t have filters and I was going to look unimaginably awesome whilst I did this. I was going to see the world and travel from place to place with a few coins in my pocket and a crooked smile on my face. I was going to make friends and enemies in equal measure and learn as much from those who loathed me as I would learn from those who loved me. I was going to drink wine out of the bottle on top of the Eiffel tower and strike a pose next to Washington monument that bordered on phallic. I was going to eat food that wasn’t even considered food in much of the world and I was going drink my coffee black and bitter and I was going to draw deep and meaningful correlations between the nature of my favoured beverage and the inherent nature of my soul. Yes, I was going to be one deep motherfucker when I was seventeen.

I was going to change the world one burnt flag at a time and I was never going to wear a bra or shave my legs or give into what a society who idolised nothingness asked me to be. I was never going to wear make-up or take note of my appearance. I was going to be an independent entity, existing only to better humanity and for no personal gain. I was going to chain myself to fences and throw pretend blood over many a war mongering politician. I was going to be the next Abbie Hoffman and I was going to end the hypocrisy and injustice in a blaze of adolescent glory. I was going to establish world peace because when I turned seventeen I would suddenly know exactly where the rest of the planet had gone wrong in that respect. People would listen to me when I was seventeen. I was going to set the world on fire.

And then when my library had been written, my world discovered and eventually saved I was going to die alone in a cabin in the woods somewhere in Maine, New England surrounded by books and tokens of my indulgences. Empty whiskey bottles, overflowing ashtrays and vinyl – my God there would be so much vinyl. And I would leave nothing behind but my legacy. No children, no broken hearts or thankful ones and I would be remembered for what I did and not who I was. No one would know me enough to miss me and I would take comfort in this thought in my last days. People would remember the thousands of lives I lived but no one would ever be close enough to know the real life. The eating, shitting, snoring, crying life that we all try so desperately to hide from everyone but the people you love. I was never going to fall in love. This one was the most important. I was never going to fall in love.

So I am a few years on the wrong side of seventeen. And what, you ask, did I actually find on the other side of those magnificently elusive doors? Well I found the world and within it – everything but myself. So here’s what I did when I was seventeen –

I was tragically and impossibly suffocated by my intelligence and the constraints, as well as the expectations that came with it. I had no idea where I was going most of the time nor why I was going there or what I hoped to find at the end of many dead end roads. The childish notions of confusion and fear were replaced with the adolescence notions of confusion and fear that were in retrospect much more terrifying than their predecessors. And I read – a lot. And I read foreign books and I understood little to nothing hidden within their pages. But I pretended I did, as if just managing to finish “The Idiot” or “The Divine Comedy” and understand their basic premise was enough. And I wrote – a lot. Hell, I wrote a whole goddamn library.

I was cynical and insufferably miserable but never alone. I drank hard liquor and smoked cigarettes without filters but never looked any cooler than the other people doing it. I did indeed travel from place to place with a few coins in my pocket but there was very rarely a smile on my face. I made more enemies than I made friends, and in all likeliness probably learned more about myself from those whom loathed me than I did from those who loved me. I never did make it to the Eiffel tower or to the Washington monument to snap that fabled phallic photograph. I have eaten some crazy stuff, but nothing of note and yes, I do drink my coffee dark and bitter but never drew that comparison between its nature and that of my soul. Yes, I was one misanthropic motherfucker by the time I was seventeen.

I never burned a flag and have always worn a bra (well most of the time) and I shave my legs and pluck my eyebrows like every other woman. I wear makeup and care more as I grow older about what I wear. I realised that I was a person in the world too and that I could not save everybody without martyring myself. That idea lost a lot of weight by the time I was seventeen. I have berated many an MP but I have never chained myself to something or thrown any particular item, blood or otherwise, over a politician. Around the same time I discovered that I was a person, not independent of the world but part of it, I discovered that even the most parasitic politician has a mother and a father who love them as my own loved me. It made the process of being objectively outraged a lot easier once I began to see my enemy as a human being and not a sack of cells sucking up oxygen. I learned quickly that I didn’t know everything and that the establishment of world peace took more than just telling people to put down their guns. I didn’t become the next Abbie Hoffman and I didn’t really achieve any great political victory when I was seventeen. No one listened to me when I seventeen. But I did set the world on fire.

Sitting on the wrong side of seventeen looking back at all I had hoped to achieve does twist my stomach into a knot – mainly at the sheer vanity of many of the dreams. I was an egotistical, angst ridden fool who thought of nothing but herself and masked it as a deep and meaningful understanding of the world and the problems within it. I didn’t know what I was talking about then, and I don’t really know what I am talking about now. And in coming to that realisation I managed to set fire to the one part of the world that mattered – my future.

I will not die alone in a cabin somewhere in Maine, New England and I won’t be surrounded by empty whiskey bottles, overflowing ashtrays and vinyl. Okay, so there will be vinyl, and a lot of it. I will leave behind much more than my legacy and I know at least one person will miss me when I am gone. One heart will break and one person will never be the same. I know at least one person will remember me independent of the thousands of lives I pretended to live in the shadows of my own vanity and that one person will remember me for the eating, shitting, snoring, crying mess I am and you are and they are. I know this because I broke my own rules and I did what I said I would never do. I fell in love.

Yes, instead of doing all of that awesome stuff I had planned for seventeen when I was ten years old, I did the one thing I promised myself I would never do. Broken promises are always devastating to some degree, but none cut deeper or fade slower than the promises you made yourself. And then on the wrong side of seventeen I realised that predicting the future is possibly the most fruitless endeavour one can hope to comprehend because sometimes the exact thing that you never wanted is the exact thing that you always needed. I needed to fall in love, I needed to break that promise and there isn’t a day that goes by that this fact doesn’t simultaneously kill me and heal me.

And however we end up, whether she loves me forever like she does now with complete innocence and adoration, or she grows tired of my unrelenting pessimism and tries to break free of my inane bull shit – I will always be eternally grateful to her and the promise that she forced me to break.

And however we end up, I will always love the little girl who helped me set fire to the world and held my hand as we rebuilt it together, brick by bloody brick.

An Adulterous Metaphor

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So here we are again. It’s been a while since I blogged and I feel as though I have been unfaithful to the practice. Although I began life as a blogger I have recently found pastures new and ventured into the world of vlogging. In essence how I feel about vlogging can only be likened to one cheating on a perfectly good wife with a saucy new mistress. And I love it. Vlogging that is, not necessarily adultery. Metaphors surrounding adultery yes, but not the practice itself. As always I digress.

However keeping with my motto (and the motto of many) of “the world has moved on” I decided to move on once again and recreate my blog so that it was compelling enough for not only my old friends to enjoy, but to hopefully inspire the ever loving eye of many new readers. So again to use a wonderfully adulterous metaphor – I didn’t find my wife attractive any more so I gave her a make over in a vain effort to make me want to be with her again. And you know what? I think it worked.

There is something invigoratingly organic about writing your thoughts down on a page and it’s something that I have always been compelled to do but in between the novels and shorts, the poems and prose, the endless lists and letters, I lost my appetite for good old fashioned rambling of the textual kind. But I am back now. And I have never been happier to be so.

So my friends, enjoy the old and await the new and always thank you for reading what I choose to write.

Long days and pleasant nights.

The Piano Has Been Drinking Poetics

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Q – What’s my type? A – “Dark bearded men! That write and don’t care what they look like! I’m talking philosophical, Tom Waits the piano has been drinking poetics!”

Whilst discussing all be it a hypothetical break from my usual type of man, I asked one of my best friends just what she thought my type was, as she was so convinced that the man I was describing was far too away from my idea of “perfection”. The above answer is word for word what she answered and it got me thinking that maybe that is where I have been going wrong. Searching for a man that I know, on the basis of their very character, are going to be eratic, egotistical and sombre – three things that I have come to expect from my experiences with these kind of men.But then again isn’t this what I love about them? I like the sporadic way their minds work, the tilt they take the world in through and that humbling sense of confusion that they radiate through their alcohol soaked pours. I revel in the fact that they read books, reall genuine hard to handle books, that expand their creativity and mould their absolutely ludicrous thought patterns. You never know what they are going to say, what subject of conversation is going to come up or who they are going to put on the record player. It feels – liberating.

Then again there is a draw back to these men, something that they all hold in common and something again that I have noticed after being married (and subsequently seperated) from one – that a hell of a lot of musicians hold in common – they lack sincerity. They read those books because it fits their style, they drink whiskey not because they like it but because its what their idols drink, they grow beards not because they have no need to shave it but because it suits the clothes that they seem not to think about wearing, when in actual fact a lot of thought goes into looking like they do not care. They play their instruments and sing their songs not because of a genuine love of the art, a way of expressing their thoughts or perpetuating their experiences, but simply because it is seen as an attractive skill to have.

I have met a lot of good, genuine “bohemian”, “beatnik”, “hippie” whatever you want to call them, people but sadly they are few and far between. It seems that the very people you think are unique, always have a way of turning out to be a dime a dozen, with their eyes set on the stars because in all reality it is simply closer than the moon. I don’t want a star chaser to sing me songs in the small hours of the morning, or croon to me over the empties whilst listening to forgotten jazz that neither of us really enjoy.

I want a moon man. I want a man who wakes up in the morning and knows that there is something beyond the stars, beyond the countless ways you can sell your soul to seek reprise quickly and effortlessly. I do not know what these moon men look like, I do not know if in fact they have beards, or write poetry, or listen to Tom Waits but I know that I am not asking for much. A man, simple in his complexity who believes in peace rather than love. Who is not constricted by Hallmark connotations of romance but not so liberal as to assume that romance does not matter.

It appears to me I need a break from the afore mentioned men that my friend (who knows me far too well for either of our benefit) and I both know are part of the problem rather than the solution. I am in no hurry. I have a perfect partner who knows me better than anyone else in the world and whom I love so much it hurts. Who every moment I spend with feels like peace and who when touches my face helps me find my heaven. They do not call me sweetheart, sugar, darling or baby – she calls me Mummy.

My Life – According to Bob Dylan

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I agree with the Christians – there is only one God – he’s a Jewish folk singer named Bob

 

In this piece of inane bullshit I will give you a run down of my favorite Dylan songs – the ones that have made me laugh, made me angry, made me cry and made me lose my voice – but most importantly made me who I am and in turn a massive Dylan fan or as we like to be referred to as – a Dylanologist. It is easier to go through his albums chronologically so my apologies if you get confused.

Song to Woody – Bob Dylan – 1962 –
 This song ultimatly reminds me of my daughter. When she was first born (and I was shamelessly trying to weane her onto Dylan as I did when she was in utero) I used to play and sing this song to her. To this day it makes me smile, his voice is so pure and untarnished. You can sense the hope in this song, a hope that you can argue was met or dismissed. Still one of the best songs he has ever sang and one of his first ever to be released.

Oxford Town – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – 1963 – The first year of sixth form college when I was sitting on the train in the beaming sunshine listening to this on my iPod and reading about civil rights in my history textbook. I put two and two together and realised what he was singing about. A revelation to this day I am still glad I had. Amazing song with some of his best vocal work of all his albums.

To Ramona – Another Side of Bob Dylan – 1964 – I remember being incredibly stoned as I mostly was when I was fifteen and coming home from school. This album had arrived through the post and I went upstairs and put it on. The moment I heard the lyrics “Its all just a dream babe, a vacuum a scheme babe, that sucks you into feeling like this” I was officially in love. This song is mine and Bobs ❤

Boots of Spanish Leather – The Times They Are A-Changin’- 1964
 This song (regrettably) reminds me of my ex-husband as it became the song I used to listen to at seven o’clock in the morning waiting for my train, staring at the same row of houses as the winter sun crept up behind them. He went to South Africa about three days after we officially became “something” and I do not think to this day I have ever felt a longing for someone/something before or since then. This song helped me through but is really hard to listen to now without crying.

Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream – Bringing It All Back Home – 1965 – This had to be on this list man. It was my ring tone for nearly four years! I remember the first time I sang it from beginning to end I found myself almost pausing for applause in my bedroom and then laughing as much as Dylan does at the beginning. Its one of those truly original songs that tells a story only the true Dylanologists understand! Quintessential Bob 🙂

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Highway 61 Revisited – 1965 –
 This bad boy really helped me hone my Dylan drone 🙂 I love singing it and have done at least once a week since the first time I heard it. Best memory of it though would have to be sitting in Cyprus watching the sun set over the mountains and almost screaming it off of the balcony of my Nan’s house to a host of confused Cypriote people walking past!

Visions of Johanna – Blonde on Blonde – 1966 – Although this album is held in high esteem I must say that this song is my favorite. Best memory would be waking up one summer slicked with sweat at some ridiculous hour like five thirty in the afternoon. I clicked this album round and skipped it straight to number three and turned it all the way up. My Mum started banging on the door for me to turn it down and when she opened it she looked at me, with my eyes closed and a roll up in my hand, mouthing the words and looking slightly worse for wear. She left quite abruptly.

I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight – John Wesley Harding – 1967 – One of his more gentle numbers I used to listen to this one while I was cooking most of the time. It reminds me of one particularly nice Thai red curry I made when I came home from college one day. It always seems to make its way into my ears when there is food on the agenda.

Girl From The North Country – Nashville Skyline – 1969 – Those of you who know me well enough will know that I do not particularly like this album but I do own it and have listened to it from time to time. This is one of the only songs that I like from it and it reminds me of a rather dark chapter in my young life that I indulge my memory in from time to time. If I am listening to this song – I am feeling sorry for myself. However I must add that it is better than any antidepressant on the market … kinda 🙂

If Not For You – New Morning – 1970 – Again not one of my favorite albums but this is one of my favorite Dylan songs. Again a loose and romantic number, but I find it easy to listen to Bob telling me how much he loves me 🙂 (crazy much?!?) I remember playing DX Ball all night with my brother listening to this album when I first got it – he was not too impressed with any of it but I found a few diamonds, including this one.

She Belongs To Me – Self-Portrait – 1970 – I love this song and the live version on this album has always had a place in my heart. Memory associated to it would have to be when reading (and trying to understand) The Discourse(s) of Jean Jaques Rosseau. I think I never noticed how bad the album was until I stopped exuding all my energy on one of the only books I have ever had to read four times to understand any of it!

Its Alright Ma – Before The Flood – 1974 – The first time I saw Dylan I cried when I heard him sing this song. Whenever I hear it performed live as is on this amazing album I feel those butterflies coming back into my stomach and its comforting. You want to know what hysteria is? A sixteen year old Unknown Hobo twenty minutes before seeing Dylan live …

You Angel You – Planet Waves – 1974 – One of his best love songs that reminds me of the summer. I got hideously drunk and serenaded my cousin outside a pub while listening to this song on my MP3 player and in turn seduced a man who became a lot to me … and subsequently nothing. The memory of that night and this song however will always have a good place in my heart.

Idiot Wind – Blood On The Tracks – 1975 – This is without a doubt my favorite Dylan album! However with all the songs meaning something me this one is special because I was excluded from my secondary school (for two weeks!)  when I was about fourteen or so for writing “You’re an idiot man, its a wonder that you still know how to breathe” in permanent marker on my head of years office door. They did not guess it was Dylan so I silently took credit for one of the best “I hate you” songs in the world!

Isis – Desire – 1976 – This song is legendary! The first song I ever learnt to play on the guitar (and tambourine!) and still one of my favorite. A magical story line and one of Bob’s best videos … I melt for a man in greas paint with a flower in his hat!

Shelter From The Storm – Hard Rain – 1976 – A song from my favorite Dylan album performed on my favorite ever live album. This song reminds me of my exhusband and I (after a few too many late nights) wearing flannel and trying to light a barbeque in the rain. It did not work but this song blared from the speakers of the living room and we left the doors open all day. The neighbours were confused and we were stoned and in love. Good times.

Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) – Street Legal – 1978 – I first saw Masked and Anonymous some time before 2005 in my little brothers bedroom because his was the only room with any reception. It was near the beginning of my extreme infatuation with Dylan and during a rather heart breaking run in the movie this song sweept through the tinny speakers and cut a nook in my heart, where it sits and stays. In my opinion one of his best songs … period.

Gotta Serve Somebody – Slow Train Coming – 1979 – The first week I had my first real computer this album had just arrived in the post. I remember the excitement of unpeeling those black blocks from their boxes and this song coming on. While I played around (until the early hours of the morning) with it this album played on a loop – much to the disapproval of my family and my neighbours, but true love perseveres!

Every Grain of Sand – Shot of Love – 1981 – My favorite memory of this song is a time when the song was not even playing! I took my little brother to his first real concert, which was surprisingly Dylan, and there was a, lets say mentally compromised, man standing behind us whom throughout the show continually shouted “Every Grain of Sand!” at the stage. My brother and I both found it hysterically amusing and when we got home I played the song to my brother and he agreed that Bob should have bloody played it!

Jokerman – Infidels – 1983 – The lyrics to this song, from beginning to end, were written on my desk as a teenager. I remember watching the video on YouTube and making my friends, who were normal teenage girls who did not find old men attractive, watch for the line in the video when he says “You know what he wants” because he done this thing with his eyes that made me swoon. Good memories 🙂

I’ll Remember You – Empire Burlesque – 1985 – This is one of my favorite Dylan songs and again became so whilst watching the movie Masked and Anonymous. I have not listened to it in five years and even though I listen to the rest of the album almost every week, this song is always skipped. I am saving it for the darkest of days when Dylan returns to God and I am left alone. Its sacred like that 🙂

Knockin’ On Heavens Door – Dylan and the Dead – 1988 – The two greatest musicians Dylan and Garcia coming together and singing THE best version of this widely covered song. Its fucking Dylan and the Dead, do I need to say more?

Most of the Time – Oh Mercy – 1989 – I don’t know why but not many people have this album. It is one of my favorites but I suppose it depends if you like politcal Bob or heart broken Bob … I like them both in equal measure and this is one of the best heart break songs that I have ever heard and still struggle not to knot up when I listen to it.

Make You Feel My Love – Time Out Of Mind – 1997 – It was the ninth of October. I was hungover. I had missed college. I met my exhusband a week later. I had no skin left on the right side of my leg. It was cold and grey. The house was quiet until this song crept out of my speakers. I sat still in the greyness of the evening when I had woken up. My friend was still asleep in my bed. It started to rain. I started to cry.

Mississippi – Love and Theft – 2001 – This album again is very underrated but one of my favorites. I love his voice in this song in particular though and when I came out hospital with a no from the doctor in regards to returning to college I got a job in a supermarket. I used to listen to this album in the car as my Mum dropped me off and it still calms me down when I am nervous.

Someday Baby – Modern Times – 2006 – I was supposed to be going out with my friends that night but when I got home and saw the album sitting on the doorstep I ran upstairs and plugged the world away. I sat, I listened and I loved. Best memory of this song is sitting in the car with my Nan complaining about my Mums car, smiling to myself as she spoke to me without knowing that I could not hear a word she was saying, and just kept nodding. Ignorance is even more blissful when you have Dylan to accompany you!

So that is it … there are a lot more songs in between but I have tried to give you one off of most of the albums I own. I hope you listen to the ones you haven’t heard, buy the albums you haven’t got and join the wonderful (all be it eccentric) world of the Dylanologist.

An Arsehole and An Angel

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I can count on one hand the things that make me genuinely happy at this stage in my life man. There are a million and one things that I hate, loathe, despise – pick your superlatives ladies and gentlemen but anyway you swing it – the things that make me clench my fists outweigh the things that make me high five 🙂 

I hate it when just as you pick up the phone it stops ringing. I hate the self service check out at Tesco. I hate it when my head phones are wet and they slip out of my ears. I hate the way my fringe hangs in my eyes after I have washed my hair. I hate the way my jaw clicks when I chew. I hate it when I have my tobacco in my hand but cannot find adequate papers. I hate when I lose my place when I am reading. I hate adverts. I hate little scene kids with those stupid side lip piercings that listen to Fall Out Boy and actually think that their lyrics are anything other than pretentious. I hate people who assume I smoke pot because of the way I look. I hate organised – well organised anything really. I hate people who give money to animal charities when there are kids living in bins as well as kittens. I hate it when the snow falls directly in my eyes. I hate the way my bag slips off my shoulder. I hate how my socks always have holes in them. I hate it when I leave my tea too long and it over brews. I hate it when people save up what they hate about YOU and throw it back at you. I hate it when I go to push a chair back and it doesn’t move. I hate it when I bite my tongue. I hate it when people take the piss out of the way I talk. I hate the fact that I say man after everything, man. I hate the reasons why I am the way I am. I hate where I am today and was yesterday. I hate that I cannot give my daughter the world, which is the least she deserves for having the parents she has. I hate that he never calls me back. I hate it when I go upstairs and forget what I wanted. I hate being in cars. I hate it when people try to control other peoples lives. I hate not being able to help the people that need my help the most. I hate it when I can’t sleep. I hate the fact that I have more prescriptions than a pensioner. I hate how rough round the edges I am. I hate the way I am compared to everyone else. I hate the way people choose to hate me. I hate people in general. 

I love the autumn. I love my terrible singing voice. I love to dance like a lunatic. I love making pancakes. I love walking. I love the way people smile at me when I walk past them in the street. I love it when people say please and thank you. I love it when you don’t have to queue. I love really cheesy country love songs. I love the smell of dusty vinyl sleeves. I love talking to my best friend on the phone for hours about complete shit. I love doing things that other people don’t. I love that I still wear clothes I wore when I was ten. I love that I never really change. I love that I am loved by few and but needed by many. I love my name. I love the way my daughters hair smells. I love splashing in puddles and getting dirty. I love being outside. I love laughing until I have cramps in my lungs. I love rocking out in the car with my girls and not going anywhere, just driving and screaming randomly. I love what a complete and utter cunt I am sometimes. I love the in jokes I have with my brother and my sister. I love the look my Ma gives us when we do something wrong, like we are still two years old and don’t know that fire is hot. I love punching people square in the jaw when I know they really deserve it. I love how people cry with me. I love my Yaka Yaka tree Farnsworth. I love the way my goldfishes tail looks in the sunlight. I love watching the trains go past by my window. I love it when I am wearing my Iron Man t-shirt and little kids shout “Iron Man!” when I walk past them. I love how the rain makes the grass smell. I love that moment just before I fall asleep when it feels like the world is made of honey and I’m sinking through it. I love not having to lie anymore. 

But when its all said and done you only really need to love one thing in this world. When you have the one indescribably precious love, all the little things you hate become obsolete – they abondon your mind and seek solace in the background of you consciousness and somehow, everything seems little brighter without them. Thats how I feel when I’m with her. She breaks everything I think I know and rearranges the pieces in my mind in a way that makes their sharp edges kinder to my fragile psyche. 

She is my hero, my partner, my best friend, my angel, my nemesis, my daughter, my sole heir and my only reason for not giving up. She makes everyday worth it and every moment perfect even when I feel like I can’t breathe. And when she sleeps she does this thing where she rubs her nose and puts her thumb in her mouth and it kills me. Somtimes I think we both would have been better off without each other that she would have been better with a mother who wasn’t also insane and a father who, well knew how to be just so. 

I was taught that everything happens for a reason and as I get older I kinda think thats the case. People come into your life and whether they be a blessing or a curse, they leave behind something with you – whether it be love, hate, wisdom or hope – the scars or the smiles you remember them by are the only thing that will remain when they are gone. I wanna be remembered as I am. 

That is someone who burns with hatred and who never thinks twice about cutting you down. A complete and utter arsehole with the people skills of a peanut and the conscience of one too. Someone who never made you think it but always did believe in you. A person who never does anything without their entire heart. An incomplete, broken, unstable and imaginative human being who only ever did one good thing in their entire life and will be remembered fondly despite everything else for that one good thing. 

I don’t want to be remembered for who Ron was. I want to be remembered for who Molly became. She is my calling card, my saving grace and the only decent thing on this earth that I have ever had the luck or the joy to be a part of. She will either save the world with those chocolate eyes or she will destroy it with her temper, but either way people will remember me because at the end of it all – she is me. 

The only difference is – she’s a good person.

If Stephen King Wrote the Bible

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I remember sitting as a nine year old watching “The Miracle Maker” on the TV drinking banana milkshake with a killer ear ache. It was a BBC standard stop motion clay animation rendition of the resurrection of Christ intersplashed with pencil animation whenever a parable felt like cropping up. Ralph Fiennes voiced Jesus (and still to this day even as the Toothfairy in Red Dragon, he still sounds like Jesus to me) and the rest of the cast was unknown to me. I don’t know how I found it or why I became obsessed with it but I really did and am (to be honest) still quite obsessed with it, to the point that whenever someone even mentions Jesus I automatically think of that little clay man with the hint of Welsh in his voice that made me fall in love with the dude from Nazerath who probably sounded more like Osama Bin Laden than Ralph Fiennes. 

Every Easter as the pancakes and eggs come out I wonder whether it will come on the TV. My Ma tried to get me a copy when I was about sixteen but it was £40 from Amazon and she did not think it was worth parting with that amount of money for. Then as an adult when I had my own money, it mysteriously disappeared and I have never been able to find another copy and even though Jesus and I have been on better terms, there is something about that movie that rekindles the love that was snuffed out during those faithful “teenage” years. 

Most people look forward to Christmas but I cannot stand that time of year, for numerous reasons. Surely Christians would see more magic in his resurrection? Everyone is born, mortal or not, but it takes one gnarly dude to come back from the DEAD! People have a lot of misplaced feeling for Jesus and that’s where me and the Christians fell out all those years ago. 

There were enough people who were suprised when I had my daughter baptised because of my stance on religion but it has not always been the way it is now. I learned early on (having an Athiest for a father and a Pagan for a mother) that Christianity was not the only view point. I was also aware that I could draw what I wanted from the religion and leave what I did not want. So that’s exactly what I did. I took Jesus and the New Testament and I left behing his grumpy old dad and the vengeful Old Testament. I took his love, his wisdom and his endurance and threaded them through the fibres of my body but I never got ahead of myself and made him more than what he was – a character in one hell of a good book. 

I have always drawn inspiration and guidance from characters in books and I do not see any evidence proving that Jesus or his band of merry men should be put any higher than them. Mac from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest taught me that no matter how much they try to break you (and even when they eventually do break you) its the hell you give them along the way that really matters. Grenouille from Perfume showed me that even the most vile and sadistic people on this earth are more often than not beautifully misunderstood. Sherlock Holmes proved that if you look at even the most difficult problems from every possible angle you eventually meet the answer in the middle. Lisel from the Book Theif reminded me that a pure love of the written word can be a guiding light to anyone who finds themselves in darkness. 
  
And then there’s Roland … 

Just seeing his name written in front of me makes my stomach knot. It’s hard to describe to people just how much you can actually love a character in a book. But I do love him. More so than any rockstar or even the very man that created him and got me through everything I ever needed help to get through. He is my Jesus I guess. Everything about him from his bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded denim to his heat, his intensity, his callous and unconscious simplicity, his complete lack of humour and razor sharp tunnel vision – he is everything that Jesus SHOULD have been. 

If Stephen King had written the Bible Jesus would have been like Roland. He would have been ruthless in his goals with the stamina of a thousand men, uncomplicated by emotion and focused on duty. He would swear and cuss and smoke from a magical pouch that never ran out of tobacco. He would know everything that had been forgotten and would recall the days before the world moved on with a bitter nostalgia that would have made him resist every instance of happiness he happened to be faced with. He would have compromised anyone or anything to get to where he needed to be to do what he was put on this earth to do. He would have been the strongest man in the world. He would have lived for thousands of years and never noticably age. He would have chased the Devil like Roland chased the Man In Black. He would have wanted to travel alone and never wanted his followers, whether they were twelve normal men or a child, a heroin addict, a black woman with no legs and an animal that looked like a racoon. 

But along the way he would have learned those things that Jesus was born with that Roland was never gifted with as a younger man. He would have learned what it was like to love someone and know that it was your fault you lost them. Then he would have known the treasured glee when that person returned to him. He would have had to learn humility, patience and humour. He would have had to face the world as if he were alone and learn in time how good it felt to know that someone had your back after years of watching it by yourself. He would have captured the hearts of more than just lost people looking for answers with no effort required. He would have enslaved the minds of young and old because Roland Deschain has one key and integral difference with Jesus of Nazerath – 

Roland Deschain is real. He is your father when he is to busy to talk to you. He is the man who you walk past everyday on the street and wonder why he looks so sad. He is the argument you had with your best friend. He is the rain when it won’t give up. He is the sun when its so bright you think your corneas are literally going to melt. He is the blisters on the heels of your feet when all you can do is walk. He is the last flicker of light behind your eyes before you drift off to sleep. He is the croak in the back of your throat when you are singing too loudly and out of key. He is the feeling of your hand in the hand of the only person you ever want to hold hands with for the rest of your days. 

Jesus is none of those things. Jesus is a gimmick. Jesus is a dude that sells glittery trinkets of jovial emptiness at Christmas time. Jesus sells chocolate eggs at Easter time. People feel obliged to Jesus. You feel like you can walk all over him because he will always forgive you. You can find him whenever you want and leave him just as easily. He asks nothing of you and in turn very few give their all to him. He is weak, he is false and he is not Roland. 

If Stephen King had written the Bible we would have a messiah that was as flawed, as broken, as stubborn and as twisted as we all are. Jesus was not a human being, even if that had been God’s intention. Jesus was not and never was anything like anyone before or after him, so by that token never resembled human kind well enough to be called one of us. Roland is a human being. He is a human being with bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded jeans, with three fingers on his right hand, with a pain in his hip, with grey in his hair, with the thought patterns of a freight train, the memory of the seas and a heart as scarred as yours or mine. 

He is my messiah, my prophet, my father, my mentor, my husband, my best friend and my hero. He is everything that Jesus could never be.

Why Writer’s Hate You – Yeah You!

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You want to know why writers don’t like you? People who write don’t like people who do not write for one reason – they envy you.

 

They envy the musicians who take ten minutes to write a song, three minutes to sing it and live off of it for the rest of their lives. Musicians who play their guitars and make people melt, who recycle forgotten notions into meaningful lyrics and capture your heart and your soul with three chords and a couple of “ohs” and “yeahs”. The men and women that boys and girls want to be, they stick their faces to their walls and ask for that first guitar for their birhdays. The musicians that give the writers the inspiration and the drive to keep going even when their hands are weak and their eyes are tired. They envy the simplicity of it all. 

They envy the painters whose genius is so blatant. The painters who may spend years working on one piece that is valued and sold in a matter of moments. The painters whose work is flung to the four corners of the earth printed and re-printed time and time again until their images become part of our lives, spanning the generations and becoming immortal. The men and women who buy their work and place it on their walls with the highest esteem for everyone to effortlessly enjoy for the rest of their days. The painters that make their space brighter, whose work peels away layer by layer and gives the writers what they need from it everytime they look back, even when they think that they have gained all they can from it. They envy the stamina of it all. 

They envy the performers who capture their ear without even trying. The performers whose words radiate through the minds of the masses and inspire more than just original thought. The performers who change the world with a speech or a saying, whose words are their mark on the world at large without pen ever touching paper. The men and women who live by the words of these performers and quote them in their minds when the days are short and the nights are long. The performers who made the writers want to to write to begin with, whose words seemed all too eloquent for their hands not to want to elaborate on paper and immortalise them forever on parchment. They envy the legacy of it all. 

When you can play a guitar people flock to hear your songs. When you can paint a magnificent picture people climb over each other to get their hands on your work and show it off to the world. When you can inspire a generation of people, even when you are cold in the ground, your words never gather dust and your spirit never dissolves. There is nothing to envy about being a writer. The process of writing a book is not fast, its not catchy and when its done it cannot be fully appreciated in a matter of moments like a song, a painting or a speech can be. 

The written words demands the life of the author, but with that, it also demands your life as a reader. A book cannot reach you as fast as a song, as spectacularly as a painting or as hard as a speech. It asks for some of the time it took to write it in return for a much longer lasting relationship. If you ask someone who their favourite musician is you will get a thousand bands and artists. If you ask someone who their favourite painter is you will get random descriptions of images and lets say twenty names. If you ask someone who inspires them with their words you will again find quite a few names dropping at your feet. 

However were you to ask someone who their favourite author is you will see their face change slightly. Behind their eyes you will see them recanting the first book they read, the way it felt in their hands virgin and new, and then simultaneously the way its pillaged spine felt in those very same hands when it was finished. You will see them recalling to memory for that briefest of moments what was happening to them when that author came into their life and what that authors words helped them face or forget. A million memories will flood through their iris’ in that moment and if you have the resilience to search for that moment you will not be disappointed. 

Whether you would accept it or not writers do not like you because they rely on you. You can hear a song without choosing to put it on, in a car or a supermarket and slowly fall in love with it. You can see a painting in the lobby of a hotel or in the corridor at your school and begin to unpick in your mind. You can overhear someone speaking and form your opinions without ever having to engage with that person. You cannot accidentally read a book. A song can catch your attention with one drop in the bass, a painting with one flare of colour and a speech with one key phrase you cannot shake from your mind. Writers have to put their faith in you to carry on reading the book until it captures you, which could be on the first page, the thousandth page or never at all. 

So when writers tell you to fuck off because they need to concentrate or ignore you when you are speaking to them, intentionally or not, when they frustrate the living shit out of you because their minds are a million miles away from the water bill or what she said to him – remember that they hate you. They hate you without wanting to or even fully knowing the extent to which the hatred filters down through them. But my friends take solace in the fact that you are not the only people they hate – writers hate the world. 

Writers hate the world because it gets in the way of the one in their mind. The one that lives behind their eyes that they are duty bound to make so perfect, that when you eventually do get an invitation to join them inside of it – you will never want to leave. 

If you leave – we fail.

When I Dream of Fire

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It was dark and the house had no windows. Whether day light prevailed beyond the mortar that surrounded me I have no idea, but in the back of my mind I hoped it did. There was a rectangular glass case in front of my on a platform. As I approached it, the tank filled with water. I took a few steps back and inch by inch the water evaporated from the tank. I took a few steps forward and it returned, not falling from the ceiling or rising from the tank, but materialising as if from nothing.

With my nose practically touching the cool moist glass a key manifested within the water. It was larger than a normal key but no more ornate. As I watched it, it seemed to stand up, lifting itself with the help of the weightless water, until it stood on its narrow tip, the dull head now level with my eyes. The glass of the tank began to bulge and break, the water remaining shapeless and still.

As I brought my hand up to touch the glass the door behind me opened with a creak. I didn’t turn to see who it was. I couldn’t turn. The key was looking at me, begging me with all its heart to take it with me and not leave it trapped in the tank. My fingers grazed the glass,

“I wouldn’t do that. Not if you value that hand” The sound of his voice broke me and I fell to my knees. My eyes trained on the wooden floor below me, my finger tips digging into the soft, untreated oak. Tears started to speckle my view. I pulled my tired eyes from the floor and the tank was gone. The door behind me was closed. I felt as though the blood had stopped moving in my veins and the rhythm of my heart had been knocked off tempo.

I rose slowly, my ankles clicking. How long had I been on the floor? When I turned the door was still closed, its silence mocking me in the dark, damp room. I placed my hand tentatively on the handle, wincing slightly as if it were to burn. It didn’t burn. It levered evenly with a squeak and opened onto more darkness. I have never been afraid of the dark, but ran my entire life from the light. I slunk into the safety of the shadows, letting the door click closed behind me.

I could sense him everywhere. I could smell his body, the sweet, stale aroma of his sweat. I could hear his laugh, the beautiful sound of utter desperation masked with the bitter honesty of his smile. I saw his eyes in every nook of the corridor, glimmers of green and gold danced along the surface of the otherwise dull walls. Footsteps echoed and they were not my own, but for what felt like miles only the dimly corridor spanned my eye line.

Then a break in the hostile nothingness. An arch, not a doorway, now stood before me and resonating from beyond that arch way, a calm orange glow. As I drew closer to the arch way a burden of warmth engulfed my chest and tears once again broke out on my cold face. If I had tried to stop them, which I didn’t, I am sure I would have felt physical pain.

With one hand placed on each side of the arch way I hung my head and breathed from knees. The tears stopped momentarily but my face was still damp with their ghost as I stepped through the arch way. This room had a window but it was covered with boards, the ancestral slices of light cutting through the hot room and casting shadows upon the shadows.

A fire crackled neatly in the centre of the back wall. He was sitting with his body facing me but his head hung down as mine had been at the arch. I could feel his heart beat radiating through the room, clawing its way from the floor boards and up into my feet, then my legs and resting in my gut. The entire room smelt of him and as I searched for his face in the waltzing silhouettes the fire cast upon his body, I now saw that the fire did not glow orange, red or yellow, as one would suspect – but the palest shade of olive green and silken gold.

His face glanced up from the floor and his eyes met mine. He smiled and the whiteness of his teeth broke the air. We both knew our search had been killing us and the look in his eyes suggested that he was rather proud of the fact that once we had finished our hunt, we were both still breathing. He uncrossed his legs and stood, his boots in the fire. He held out his hand as one lock of thick hair wafted in front of his face.