Monday, 5 December 2011

Daughter in sunglasses

I'm just experimenting and so is Emma. Good look, starlet!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The novel is finished

My 'new' novel, on my iPhone, just now
Well, I say it's finished. What I mean is that I have reached what I think might be an acceptable first draft to send to my agent. Using Scrivener, I collated the 142,000 words into a PDF document and emailed it to myself. Here it is, on my iPhone. I can now download it onto my iPad, with which I will attempt to read the thing as quickly as possible, like an excited reader (I know. I know. Look this is theoretical exercise, OK?) to see if it hangs together. And, barring any glaring problems that require a last minute slog of re-writing, I will send it to my agent. He will then read it on his iPad and at some point in the future ring me to tell me what he thinks of it. And then I will either pretend I haven't spent several years of my life writing it (if he reacts in that non-committal, have-you-got-anything-else-? kind of way), or I will spend another three months doing the 'tweaks' he suggests before it is submitted and I anxiously wait to see whether Jonathan Cape want to publish it. Hmm, I've just made myself feel slightly unwell.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Occupy Norwich!

Today I went into the city to witness, and be a small part of, the Occupy Norwich campaign. It is a part of the movement that started with the #occupywallstreet campaign which today went global with people gathering in cities large and small to protest what they feel is a system that is skewed towards big business and banks at the expense of ordinary people.

It was a modest turnout in Norwich, but at least there was a turnout. They had signs and everything. People played guitars and sang old protest songs and a few people spoke. It was interesting see democratic discourse in the streets, with some impassioned people demanding that the protest be relocated to City Hall, where they reckoned the enemy cold be found, while others made the argument it was better to be in the city centre, where more people would see the protest.

I was taking photos, of course. I was asked by one protester whether I was from the media. I told him I wasn't, but that I am a writer, and I'd blog about it. He shrugged. Better than nothing, he supposed. But where, he wondered, were the media?

Good question.

We have a daily evening newspaper in Norwich, and this fine city is the where the BBC for the region is based. The BBC building is about a forty second walk from the location of the protest (Haymarket, if you're passing), and the Evening News offices are no more than ten minutes away by leisurely dawdle. I just looked at the Evening News website and their Twitter feed. Their last tweet was yesterday, and there is nothing about the protest on the website. From a news gathering point of view, it's pitiful. But is it worse than that? One of the issues much discussed around the occupy Wall Street Campaign is how little media coverage it has been garnering. You have to go to Twitter or Facebook or YouTube to see it. But if you want to know what's going on in, say, a tea-time television programme about singing and dancing, everything you need to know is there.

Now, I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but one of the functions of the media is salience transfer - the process by which the media set out to influence the public and political agenda with their own agenda. The more a topic is reported in the media, the more important it is perceived to be by people. And the less they report a topic… you get the idea. Is this is what is happening, even here in sleepy Norwich?

The protesters report on Twitter that there will be people in Haymarket all night, and that there will be a get-together tomorrow to discuss where they go from here. If you want to know about it, follow them on!/OccupyNorwich. But don't bother with traditional media,

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Reality Insurgents

Is it really September?

I've been distracted by a) school holidays - two children needing entertaininment and not getting it, and b) another very exciting music project called …of Diamonds. But this isn't about that, this is about the novel.

I am now writing two chapters simultaneously; the first and the last. These two chunks of writing place the rest of the novel into a context which I wonder whether will be picked up by readers. In my minds, they explicitly set out one of the most important themes, namely that the human mind is prone to confusion, that reality is a slippery concept, and that death stalks us like a serial killer with a fuck-off big gun.

Today I read this which I found very stimulating. He employs a metaphor of a failed state for reality, which is really interesting, and notes how our grasp on reality has been fractured by the distinction we have in our own minds between our everyday reality and the 'magic fantasy world' as supplied by the 'media realm'. The problem we have in dealing with global warming (the apparent theme of my current novel and his interest in writing about reality) is that people 'no longer inhabit a single reality', and the arguments made in favour of taking action over global warming are rejected the global warming deniers because they come from a different reality and therefore make no sense to them. He also differentiates between the 'sclerotic bureaucracy of institutionalised reality' and the dynamic media memes spreading over on the deniers' side. He calls the deniers, the Tea Partiers et al, 'reality insurgents', which neatly brings in the apparently loopy insurgencies of terror cells acting against America and pals.

All of which uncannily tackles the same sorts of ideas Jefferson Greenspan Saves The World? is trying to deal with. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Scrivener - Where Have You Been All My Life?

A screen shot of Scrivener with my novel in it. Colours! Pictures! A cork board!

Meanwhile, meaning while I'm not delaying writing the novel by writing articles and papers about writing the novel, I have been working on the novel with a new piece of software.

Many people know Scrivener, I feel like a latecomer. I found it via a tweet and I am so grateful. I thought I was pretty clever by having ditched Word years ago (a bloated overblown piece of software if ever there was one) in favour of the excellent and efficient Nisus Writer Express. But I still had a folder filled with sub-folders, stuffed to the gills with versions and scraps and research and pictures and all kinds of guff that one day will all magically transform themselves into a novel. The thing gave me nightmares. Once, I accidentally started editing an older version of the novel.

Within five minutes of downloading the trial version of Scrivener, I knew I was going to buy it. It felt like the answer to every gripe I've had about my lack of ability to marshall the sheer volume of data that writing a novel generates.

Scrivener allows non-linear scatterbrains like me to organise everything I've ever done into a labelled, colour-coded order. I can add photographs (very useful for me, given that I've now created two art projects of photographs based on this novel-in-progress), I can make notes in the text, add comments, auto-create chapter synopses, and I can see them on a cork-board layout, and move them around on there, too. You can split the viewing screen into two (horizontally or vertically), so you can compare, drafts, or have the last chapter up to refer to when you start the next. The programme interacts with the web beautifully too. Just drag a link into it, and the website displays inside the programme, next to your page.

It might just be the best software in the world ever…