The week that was: City of Light

16 02 2010

It’s that time of the week again. Been an eventful one this week.

World:

To be honest I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on in the world as the imminent threat of snow focussed all my attention on just what the hell I was going to do if the Eurostar shut down. I vaguely got something about some designer allegedly offing himself (very sad when anyone does it, regardless of fame) and some weird Scottish fella, increasingly few people pay attention to, employing yet another cynical media trick. Oh and Wales won. Just.

Work:

Buzz was the name of the game last week as Google demonstrated its ability to casually ignore privacy to an even greater level than most social networks. For those who missed it Google launched Buzz, a twitter/facebook hybrid that sits in your Gmail interface and was – until today – defaulted to on and accidentally made all your highest frequency contacts visible to the world. I was unsurprised that caught people’s attention but shocked and disappointed that the very dodgy terms and conditions around the Buzz i-phone app didn’t attract more attention. Perhaps it was corrected quickly but certainly initially in order to use the app you had to agree to let it use your location. This may have been only for targeted advertising but if the system is used in the way Twitter is then it could have unforeseen consequences.

Writing:

Word count tailed off a bit last week. This was disappointing but I managed an end of week rally and know where I am going this week – fingers crossed. I am still working to finish off the last draft of TSG.

Reading:

Mainly reading Aliette de Bodard’s debut novel Servant of the Underworld; an Aztec murder mystery with full blown magic and mayhem; Aliette’s great story telling and artfully woven research – what’s not to love?

Fitness:

Pretty good week here. Managed to up my cardio and finally introduce some resistance work, mainly just using my own weight for now. This is of little interest really other than to draw attention to how ridiculous I look on a cross trainer and how it was an entirely different short tubby Welshman that fell off. Honest.

Travel:

Constant readers and people who know me in meatspace will know I was planning Something for last weekend. The something was a return to Paris that G was unaware of and the first time we had been back since the infamous Paris Incident that occurred shortly after this blog was started. It was a surprise for G, meant as a distraction from a rough Christmas and a means of sorting something else out that will probably spill out in the next couple of days. But not yet.

The trip was a great success: we managed to see Notre Dame, hang out in the very cool Shakespeare & Company bookshop, wander round parts of the Louvre we missed last time, see the Chinese New Year parade and ate some very good food. Best of all: I escaped pigeon attack.

So it was a pretty full on week. How was yours?





Kicking back

24 01 2010

My mum has been visiting. It’s nice when people come to visit and I was really pleased my aunt and uncle called round yesterday. We’ve mainly just been hanging out, chatting and today we meandered into Greenwich for lunch.

It’s been nice even if I did have to work this evening.

I’ve been reading and eclectic mix of stuff from Michael Lockwood’s Labyrinth of Time, Sarah Water’s The Little Stranger to Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae. I enjoyed them all, flawed though they were, and am now starting on The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s been a good reading month.

Writing wise it hasn’t been great. The year has gotten off to a shambling start and I’ve not managed much more than a bit of tinkering on Eleutheria. My goal is to get going on this story properly and finish a draft as soon as possible. I’ll let you know how I get on.

In a foolish fit of optimism I have joined the gym. If nothing else it should provide some funnies for the blog.

Catch you later.





Relaxing

24 12 2009

I’m not a religious person being a card carrying atheist.

I still enjoy this time of year though: guaranteed time off, seeing family (what I’m doing at present) and some time to reflect on the year…or indeed the decade in this winter’s case*.

I’m also taking advantage of the time to clear down my reading list. I talked recently about taking on too much and, as an example, my reading is a pretty good case where, somehow, going into this week I had four books on the go at once. I can generally keep two in my head at a time, depending on how much I’m writing, three at a push, four is too much – clearly I was not doing any of them justice. Amazing what some free time can do: finished all of them inside of 36 hours. Now I can look at the newer books I’ve not had any time to read including one about theoretical time travel (yes: I am wild).

I haven’t forgotten to post the obligatory Look What We Did pictures of the rooms we decorated in the house but we’ve still got some snagging to do and I’d like to show off the finished rooms. I appreciate this will mainly be of interest to my family but that was the original purpose of the blog. Speaking of which: I am trying to devise a more skillful way of arranging the content on here so that people can easily find what they want and, should they wish, filter out the stuff they’re not interested in. More news on this in the coming weeks.

Oh dear, I really have wandered all over the shop on this post.

Anyway, the main point of this post was to point out I’m still alive, that I’m relaxing and enjoying the holiday.

What are you up to over Christmas?

* On the reflection note: I suspect there will be the obligatory round up posts percolating out here over the next week or so.





Thursday Tabs

1 10 2009

Right: on to more cheery things. Some tabs need closing:

Today is, at least for a couple more hours, Support Our ‘Zines day. I personally read across quite a few magazines and constant readers will know I’ve a particular affection for Interzone, Black Static and Murky Depths. Yes: I’m being quite British in my choices. For balance I also enjoy Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine and Weird Tales.

Have a poke around, donate, show your support. Tell me your favourites…

*****

Today is also the Angry Robot launch of Colin Harvey’s new novel Winter Song. Winter Song is Colin’s first book with the Harpercollins’ imprint SF Angry Robot and, having heard the opening last weekend, I shall be picking up a copy at Forbidden Planet on the 10th (Angry Robots’ launch BTW). Colin’s a talented writer and a passionate participant in the SF scene. He’s also a nice guy who was willing to take time out to talk to a very shy writer at his second con.

Check Winter Song out.

*******

Music fans should check out Neon Highwire. A friend is a member, G occasionally takes pictures of them but most importantly of all: they’re really rather good. Don’t believe me: take Abbi’s word (a much harder critic than me).

*****

Now I must sleep.





Sunny afternoon

8 08 2009

Long time no blog.

It all got a little bit frantic around chez Beynon. What have I been up to?

Well, last weekend was spent in Wales with family. I’ve been trying to get back fairly regularly since my niece came along as it’s nice to see how they’re getting along and to get to be the cool mad uncle for a bit. My sister in Sydney can’t manage trips back regularly but does something similar via Skype; it is the height of cuteness to see my niece waving at the computer saying hiya. I digress. We were home for a garden party with my aunt and I am relieved to say the weather gods smiled on us with the traditional Welsh rain (none of your crappy London drizzle) clearing for the afternoon. It was good to see everyone.

Writing wise, things have begun to improve. Realising that I had got myself into a terrible funk, rather than concentrating on any large projects I just picked one of my short story ideas off my ideas list and started writing. I’ve been plugging away at that short story for the last couple of weeks, refusing to beat myself up for not doing enough as long as I did a little, until – this afternoon – I finished an editable draft. It was good to do something new, it was fun to not worry too much about the end result or hitting a word target and was a useful distraction from the day job.

A wise Irishman once told me, when I bemoaned how difficult I found it to write at volume when I was working, that you only have so much room in your head to think about things. The point being you need to allow yourself enough downtime to create or it won’t happen. It’s been a painful lesson but it’s true and, probably, reflects why posting here has been at a much lower volume.

I’m just glad I’m writing again.

Reading wise I am, as expected, working my way through Bleak House. I’m enjoying the structural departure from the other Dickens’ pieces I have read (not as many as I should) but I think perhaps I should have opted for a paperback rather than an e-book. It’s not that the experience is poor but there are little problems like eyestrain and sunlight which make it a less enjoyable experience. I’m also picking through some more of Future Bristol which I have been dipping into for some time starting with writers I know and working my way through to others. It’s all solid work and great to see a city other than London being used as a backdrop.

I have a short holiday planned soon and so blogging is likely to be infrequent for a few weeks before ramping up again come September. That said you can be sure not to miss anything by signing up to the RSS feed, if you wish. And my more frivolous, and frequent, observations can be followed via Twitter.

Hope you’re enjoying this afternoon’s sun as much as I am.





Now we are two

13 05 2009

Today this here blog is two years old.

It’s strange because on the one hand it seems like I really haven’t been doing it that long and on the other when I look back at the things I’ve done it seems like absolutely ages.

Seems like an appropriate time to reflect on stats: previous best day is June 30th last year (thing have dropped off since I stopped Columbo Villain of the week); there are 79 pieces of free fiction available on the blog, of which Tinman is currently the highest trafficked; 1085 comments have been made off 507 posts and views currently sit at 244,940.

However, the more interesting thing for me is that I have done more on the writing front and the life front in the last two years than I did in the previous five. I’ve been published three times and have another story slated for later this year, I visited two continents and eight cities I’d never been to before, I attended a writing course and had a most unfortunate encounter with a pigeon.  Blogging really does change the way you think about your life, it adds a gentle nudge to do stuff and avoid putting things off. Whether it does this through committing, in public, to things (and so opening yourself up to humiliation) or simply by giving you a greater awareness of the passing of time I leave up to more talented and longer running bloggers to argue.

I’m still enjoying blogging and so I’m still doing it, everything else is gravy. I hope you enjoy reading it.





Bottom

20 03 2009

Sometimes you just need to hit bottom before you can come out the otherside.

For me that moment was yesterday when I found out that someone who had promised me faithfully they would do something hadn’t. Actually, it was more than one person but it occurred to me, or rather the observation crunched through my head like an anvil, that the world didn’t end because that stuff hadn’t been done. That in point of fact my soldiering on when I clearly needed a rest wasn’t just silly but really quite arrogant. And so I hit the brakes.

Which is a really convoluted way of saying I took the day off.

Today has been spent getting some of the ever growing pile of life stuff I needed to get done off my to do list, reading and attempting to write some flash. The later not going terribly well – the first attempt actually turned out to be a short story idea that I will have a crack at next week – but everything else was pretty good. I’m also looking at how I structure my week so I don’t keep hitting the wall like I’ve done through the first quarter of the year. 2009 is pretty much a pressure cooker – as it is for most people – and it’s no good whining about it. I’ve just got to adapt. It’s OK – I have a plan.

On the writing front there hasn’t been much going on. No excuses, I simply let my priorities get skewed but I’ve begun to bounce now. My plan is to try to finish the current draft of Forever by the time we put the kitchen in at the end of April/beginning of May. On the grounds that I won’t have as much time for that fortnight period and so it feels like a natural break point. I’ll probably do some more short fiction following that.

More blogging soon. Promise.





Sunday Updatery

22 02 2009

Yes, I wasn’t able to generate a very pithy blog title – sue me.

No, scratch that – don’t sue me: I have no money; the bank owns everything. Anyway, I’ve been focussing on writing and being very busy in the day job (I’m not complaining busy is good, at present). Consequently nothing of note has really been happening. Yes: this is another general-update-style-post.

It hasn’t been the easiest week on the writing front as I’ve had little energy and so I was mainly producing tripe that I’ve spent today rewriting, in most cases from scratch. However, a year ago I’d have finished the tripe version and then rewritten it, at least now I’m able to spot it before I’ve produced a ream of rubbish that can’t even be polished. Forever is now gathering some steam and the structural problems I had in January seem to be shifting.

I’m getting close to the end of my pile of books from Christmas and am turning my attention to the books I want to read prior to the next project after Forever. I think my biggest lesson from both The Scarred God and Forever is the sheer amount of ideas required to keep a novel length project afloat, this requires the composting of a range of material and so in order to give my self the time to synthesise it I need to start now. Also, the subject matter is deeply fascinating and much more ambitious than anything I’ve done so far. This is also why I occasionally grump about how long Forever is taking.

The TV is still banned. Although, it has to be confessed that I am keeping up with Being Human on iplayer and have somehow become horribly addicted to Battlestar Galactica despite the whole subtle as sledgehammer post-911 themes. I blame Ron Moore for getting me hooked on his story chops in the early nineties. Though I doubt he remembers me from the little writing class he took in London on a flying visit with Brannon Braga, that moment of being taken seriously – despite being just a kid – had an impact.

Anyway, in all honesty I don’t miss the TV. If anything I’m a lot less stressed than I was when I used to veg out in front of it before work or when I get in and both reading as well as writing has increased dramatically. If nothing else it has taught me that recommendations from friends are a more reliable, time effective way of finding good stuff on the box. Most importantly I feel a lot less like I’m thinking through treacle. I never used to be a great believer in the idea telly atrophies the brain but there might just be something in it. I won’t be returning to the glass teat anytime soon.

I’m sliding into the last week of February feeling like I’m more on top of the writing than I have been in a while and – whilst it’s been quiet – March promises a bit more to do. I’ve got an old friend’s thirtieth (mine looms in a few months), I’ll be in Wales around the middle of the month and we have some jobs to finish in the bathroom before we finally replace the kitchen in May. Should be fun. OK, maybe not the bathroom bit.

That’s enough for now. Laters.





Tender bits

15 02 2009

Twitter followers will know that I had a small accident last week.

I have been trying to take a little bit more exercise recently as I’ve discovered it seems to help my energy levels in the evening. On Wednesday I attempted to, as per normal, use the exercise bike but at the same time – because it’s next to the bike – I tried to put a book on the bookshelf. And because I’m a gobby shite when I want to be I was also talking to G.

In short: I wasn’t paying attention.

I slipped, swinging round and grappling with handlebars of the Not Screwed Down exercise bike in an attempt to stay upright. Gravity took over at this point and I hit the floor, colliding with our coffee table (otherwise known as a solid wood chest full of old computer manuals), moving it two feet with the force of the landing and bringing the bike down on top of me. I was more or less OK, suffering just a few bruises. However, my lower back is quite painful. Thursday was the most sore but, somewhat oddly, the best day as because I was so bruised I was careful. By Friday the pain had subsided to the level where it only kicked in if I sat down wrong, which I have been doing frequently since I keep forgetting I’m hurt.

See: exercise is bad for you.

Work on Forever has gotten into more of a routine this week and I am pleased with the progress I’m making. I have sent two more of my inventory of short stories out to markets and I’m thinking about a new short story that I hope to write in the next few weeks. Oh yeah, I’ve noticed that it seems to be quite hard to shift stories over five thousand words, anyone else picked up on that or is it just my imagination?

Valentine’s day was good.





Long Live Rock

15 01 2009

I’m all kind of tired tonight.

Yesterday was spent at an all day training session. The material was delivered well but, for me at least, wasn’t anything I didn’t know. I wasn’t disappointed with the day though as – although I said little – quite a bit of fun spending time with some of my more funny colleagues and an opportunity to catch up with some others I haven’t seen in a while. I do wish the trains could be a bit more conducive. I spent the journey back wedged between three other people, one of whose shoulder was in my throat, my right hand trying to hold me upright from the overhead bar (not as easy as it sounds, given my height) and the other desperately trying to hold my rucksack without making contact with the woman standing behind me. Oh and it was so hot in there you could have fried an egg on my forehead.

I digress.

Walking home this evening, and ignoring the temptation to trawl Soho for Warren Ellis an then tweet to him “is this stalkerish enough” (see his twitterfeed to see what I’m on about), I found the sight of the Astoria post final night rather sad and forlorn. This was nothing compared to the shock…nay horror at discovering that Dionysus (the best kebab shop near work) is closing its doors on or around Monday. What am I supposed to do for a hangover cure now? I know crossrail is good and I know it’s hard to build anything in London without pulling something down…but still: that’s a piece of the fabric of London they’re tearing out. Oh dear: I sound like dumpy version of Kevin Mcleod. Abbi is far more erudite on the matter than I.

Surfing along the hallowed halls of the cult of Face I learn that my friend Zarina, a very talented artist, has been interviewed about for Amelia’s magazine. In it she talks about her recent work The Hunter Series and the big life questions: Camden or Cambridge? Z is really very good – don’t believe me: go here.

At this point a plane went into the Hudson and distracted me. Not because I’m in NYC – I’m not but because Twitter goes haywire when stuff like this happens and Twitterfox is very determined to get your attention. Looks like everyone is OK and I’m back now. Except I forgot what I was going to say.

Ah yes, I remember. This weekend looks like fun. I’m off to Glastonbury (and yes: I am aware the festival isn’t on) and stopping off at Stonehenge on the way. Why? Well, we’ve never been and most people I know who’ve been to the town (not the festival) seem to think it’s worth a visit and I’ve also set part of Forever in that neck of the woods. Googlemaps is good (I’m relying on it for Nagasaki) but not foolproof. I dare say G will be taking some pictures and so there should be some stuff up on Sunday.

And I am wishing my sister good luck for her exam tomorrow. Erm, good luck S.

I’m ending with a quote from The Who:

“Down at the astoria the scene was changing,
Bingo and rock were pushing out x-rating,”
We were the first band to vomit in the bar,
And find the distance to the stage too far,
Meanwhile its getting late at ten oclock,
Rock is dead they say,
Long live rock.”

The Rock goes on but alas the Astoria is gone.








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