At my reading this week from my Berlin thriller Blood Summit, someone asked when I found time to write.
I wrote a blog on “Where I write” recently.
A blog on finding time to write is a fine idea – I have added it to my list.
Because, it’s a bummer. Finding time to write is hard: lots of other things I dearly want to do, dear friends, dear family, dear visitors, and a job which I dearly want to do brilliantly.
Sometimes things don’t work out.
Writing at the Wolfgangsee in Austria
Like, this week, I have been away from home all day Friday and Saturday and a bit busy and haven’t got around to writing my planned blog.
Interesting take on “50 Shades of Grey”, which I have just finished reading. Will deliver my own thoughts in a blog later.
With the new film just released, Fifty Shades of Grey is being savaged everywhere again – everyone seems to have an opinion, no matter how poorly informed, and those opinions are almost uniformly scathing. Everywhere I look, I see Fifty Shades of Grey being used as a byword for leaden prose, abusive relationships, sordid pornography, and any other evil the author cares to lazily name.
That all irritates me. Not because I love Fifty Shades, but because I believe rather strongly that you shouldn’t criticize things that you don’t understand. I bother, before venturing opinions on books, to actually read them, and I don’t think that that is an unreasonable standard to hold others to. If you are going to criticize something, gain at least a limited understanding of it.
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Josef had long dark curly hair and a roguish smile. He stood aside from the tiller. ‘Fancy a go?’ he said. We were speaking Russian.
‘I’ve never sailed a yacht before,’ I said. The sea off Russki Island stretched endlessly around us.
‘Go for it,’ Josef said. ‘Keep your eye on a point on the horizon, and head for that.’
I seized the tiller and, under the watchful gaze of Josef, his business partner Pavel and their girlfriends Olga and Galina, began to chart a path through the waves.
Olga and Galina on the yacht
I’d met Josef and Pavel months earlier, on Daydream Island in Australia. They were young, confident and had plenty of money. They were there to buy a yacht, they said, and (more…)
This time the hosts are the excellent Vienna writers’ organisation “Write Now”: you can read about the event at their Facebook site.
I am grateful to Write Now for allowing me to join their “Open Mic Night”, which is open to all creative types – as “Write Now” say, “we look forward to hearing your stories, songs, poems, stand up comedy and other creative enterprises”. The evening starts at 1900 on 18 October in the rather fantastic Art Lounge of the Cafe Korb at Brandstätte 9 in the First District of Vienna. I should be reading around 2030, although timings are pretty flexible at these events.
All are welcome! I hope to see you there for an evening of creativity, entertainment and terror.
A video of my previous reading at Cafe Korb, courtesy of Sibylle Trost
Back in the 1970s I used to ride on the top deck of a double-decker red Routemaster bus to school in Manchester, an hour each way. On winter mornings the air was thick with cigarette smoke, and the windows would mist up with condensation on which we would draw pictures and scrawl messages.
No-one thought twice about the health hazards to children sitting in a smoky bus for two hours a day.
Campaigners are trying to introduce a smoking ban in cafes in Austria
In 2003, New York introduced a ban on smoking in all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants. Ireland followed in 2004, becoming the first country in the world to do so. In 2006 Scotland followed suit, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and on 1 July 2007, England, including bars, restaurants, and buses.
I remember entering a pub for the first time after 1 July 2007 and finding that the removal of the permanent haze of smoke made it possible (more…)
‘Hey,’ your friend says in Vienna. ‘Let’s meet up for a coffee’.
‘How about a cup of tea? Or a beer? Or a glass of wine?’ you say.
‘All good. We could grab a bite to eat, too.’
‘Where shall we go?’
‘How about Cafe X?’ your friend replies.
A fine cup of coffee in Vienna
You have a nanosecond to decide how to respond.
Vienna is crammed with world class cafes. I review my favourites (so far) on my “Best Vienna cafes” page. You may think my judgement sucks; but I welcome comments and suggestions.
So I was intrigued to see the Austrian newspapers rejoicing last week that a list of the “50 greatest cafes on earth” featured three from Vienna. The list itself is in the British newspaper “The Daily Telegraph”: I thought it a good effort, particularly for attempting a genuinely global list, ranging from Swansea to Hanoi. I also like the fact that the writer, Chris Moss, says he has visited 40 of them himself (more…)
So. The rather awesome J K Rowling wrote swathes of the “Harry Potter” series in cafes in Edinburgh.
Can other writers do this?
With iPad at the Wolfgangsee.
When I am writing major pieces – such as a novel – I write in longhand, in an A4 pad. While typing straight onto a keyboard is in theory quicker, I find sitting staring at a screen for long periods makes my brain melt. Making quick amendments to what you have already written is also clumsier, and slower, on a computer.
By contrast, on my A4 paper pad I am constantly making amendments, (more…)