Saturday, November 20, 2010

Procrastination, paranoiea and e-publishing

I’ve spent quite a bit of my time devoting myself to the Goldenford accounts (together with numerous games of Freecell, etc.) The thing about having a particular job hanging over you is that frequently you don’t get down to it and you don’t get down to anything else either. At least that’s what happens to me, so perhaps it does to others too. At any rate, the accounts are finished and only have to be handed to the accountant, so perhaps now, I’ll be less inclined to get diverted by trivia on the net, and do something more productive.

The OH and I haven't been to any of the stately homes recently, apart from our visit about three weeks ago to the Winkworth Arboretum. We followed a trail along a path where the ground fell away from us into a valley. This was all fine when it was fenced off, but I became quite panicky as we made our way along an unfenced area. I took a photo, almost not looking through the viewfinder, I was so eager to move on to somewhere that felt more secure. Very stupid really, as it was quite a wide path. The photos are very beautiful though, as you can see.
As far as the social events are concerned, I’ve been to a Quiz Supper with the OH and other friends, and we came third, which was quite acceptable and good fun, anyway. I’ve lunched with two or three local friends, leaving the OH behind with instructions on how to butter a roll and take tomatoes out of the fridge. I went to a more formal lunch at a trattoria half way up Newlands Corner – an 80th birthday party of a friend - which was most enjoyable. And I’ve had the Son&H and his womenfolk here for the most recent weekend. His daughters – Granddaughters 1 and 3 – now respectively nearly 12 and nearly 9 – are so tall and elegant, I cannot call them little girls, though an eight-year old certainly should be regarded as one. They are both now taller than I am, at around 5ft 6″ and 5ft 3″.

I have watched The Apprentice and Downton Abbey with enjoyment and disappointment at the number of loose ends left by the latter. Another series soon, please. What a dishy hero, too. I can see him having as many admirers as D’Arcy. Not totally sure of the truth of the characterisation of the heroine. She seemed such a strong willed and decisive young woman. Surely she would have made up her mind about him – if it weren’t for the fact that the audience has to be tempted along to the next series.
Also I’ve read the latest Reading Circle book – Songs of the Humpback Whale, and my review is below:
I found this to be a very readable book, whilst on the other hand, feeling able to criticise its structure and some of its characterisation. Having recently included my thoughts on the structure of a novel at a presentation, I felt qualified to make this judgement.

After a crisis at home, Jane leaves Oliver, taking her teenage daughter with her. Because, ostensibly, she’s no good at finding her way across America, her brother, Joley, feeds her information via letters, a device which enables her to do a tour of sights in the USA and perhaps allows the author to describe places which she enjoyed visiting herself. This was the first unlikely thing to happen. Jane describes her trip to get to her brother chronologically, whilst her daughter, Rebecca, describes all the events, including the very dramatic happenings once they reach Uncle Joley’s apple farm, backwards. I could find no good reason for doing this, because it took away every element of surprise, and whilst I hoped the author would pull something else out of the bag at the end – she didn’t.
I also could not believe in the characters’ emotions and reactions to some of the events. In particular, regarding the death which occurs, I felt there would be much more grief, guilt and anger – which is not shown.
I took the title to be a reference to the different ways in which men try to attract or behave towards women. A good title, perhaps, because, it fitted the current trend of rather cryptic titles and got your interest. I haven’t read the author before, and understand from many people who have that this is a far inferior novel to some of her others, and this, I am prepared to believe.

A couple of fairs are lined up during the next couple of weeks – in fact, one is tomorrow – where we Goldenford girls will sell our wares. From a writing point of view, the good news is that I heard from Untreed Reads during the week, and they are to send me a contract for my story, Maggies Plot for their site. I’ll be interested to see what happens about pricing for something so short. However, there’s no doubt that the ability to download something to Kindle or its equivalent opens another door to the selling of short stories. I can see that e-books will become more popular over time, and I’ll try to report how my first experience of publishing a short story on line goes. It’s possible, of course, to do it oneself, but I haven’t yet acquired that skill, and I’m inclined to believe it’s better to be filtered through a publisher who actually makes a judgement about the story.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Capturing the colours of Autumn

Every autumn, I am carried away with the desire to capture the scene on paper or with photos. I imagine Monet felt the same way, when he painted his water lilies over and over again. So once again, I’ve taken some shots, and for good measure, throw in this poem which I wrote more than a decade ago. I remembered it a few days ago, when there was the same sort of light quality, and I took an enjoyable walk in the unusually mild November weather.

It was rather a forlorn poem, and though the period from November to February is my least favourite time of year, I’m taking each day as they come. The last few days have been a pleasure. There is a conflict here, which I hope I capture in the poem – being aware of the nature of dying of the leaves but recognising and appreciating the beauty of autumn, those magnificent reds and scarlets just before the trees and bushes lose their leaves, the brilliant yellow and golden browns and all contrasted against the evergreens. I’m pleased to have most of those colours in my garden at the moment.

Greens and golds, yellows and browns -

Shining in the low sun

Damped by the early evening mist

A blaze of muted colours

Lit by the eerie light

Of the sky, blue white

Edged by the sun's last touch.

So light it hurts my eyes,

As if I were thrust newborn into this place.

So why the sadness?

I have this ancient knowledge

That the sky will turn

From blue to pink through purple to black.

The autumn colours shout

A triumphant trumpet blast

Heralding their end.

And each of us rush blindly

Towards our own dark winter.

This is the best shot, I think, of those I took last week; all the rest are on my walk, down my lane and neighbouring houses and the newly arrived sheep in one of the local fields (are they pregnant? They are certainly not spring lamb.)

I do wonder why we can’t have double summer time here, or whatever it’s called. I would love to have lighter evenings. Apparently, when we experimented many years ago, it was found there were more deaths in the morning. But the reduction of deaths in the evening was not, at that time, recognised. Scotland could have its own time zone. If they do it in America, why can’t they do it here?

Last week, we went to the Jay Margrave launch party. I took the OM along, feebly protesting that book launches are not his thing. I found him at one point in an animated conversation with another man about a boiler on board ship. I left them to it very quickly. Later it transpired the man was a gatecrasher, but the OM enjoyed the conversation.

I got into a terrible tiz when I arrived at Sainsbury’s to do my poppy selling stint. I was so thrown by my diary error, that I dropped one of my gloves in Sainsbury’s and didn’t find it again. Fortunately, I was able to team the remaining one with the partner of one I lost in Guildford last year. My brain was still not working very well when I nearly double booked on day next week. Goldenford are going to three schools to sell our books, but I shall have to miss one of them because I will be at my book circle discussing Songs of the Humpback Whale.