Writing in the great outdoors

After the excitement of last week’s Book Fair and the launch of the Scribbling and scribing blog, this week has been a bit of an anti-climax. The thrill of being invited to contribute has been replaced by the realisation that this is now a commitment. The glossy sheen of novelty has already been tarnished by the patina of banality. Actually that’s unfair, there is nothing banal on the blog, so perhaps I should have said (written?) normalcy rather than banality. Anyway, having wasted a few words already, down to some actual content…

   You know, this isn’t as easy as it looks – mind you, some blogs amply demonstrate that with every post! But then writing isn’t as easy as many people imagine. How many times have you heard people say that they know they have a novel inside them? Strange eating habits aside, they seem to imply that all they really need is to have some spare time to just write it down. If only it were that simple. Having the idea for one novel doesn’t make you a writer any more than having a concept for a great image makes you an artist or filming your mates with your mobile phone makes you a movie director (even if you upload it to some ubercool social networking site like YourSpace or MyTube). Which brings us back to blogs I guess. Writing a popular blog doesn’t guarantee any success as a professional writer – and vice versa.

   So, as I was originally saying, this week has been a let down. It has been one of those times when I sit looking at the screen in front of me, watching that flashing cursor nagging me to type something just to move it along. In the end I had to take advantage of the unusually nice weather we’ve been having, thanks no doubt to global warming, and sit outside in the garden making notes on paper using a pen (you must remember pens? Long thin things with ink in them, that make marks on surfaces like paper, the tablecloth and your hands? What we had before word processors? See, now you remember – except those of you under the age of 18 who don’t believe in a time before computers.) Actually it was very effective and had the added benefit of getting me out of the house and into the fresh air. One of the advantages of not living in a city is that we still have fresh air (and a garden in which to breathe it). The only real problem at the moment is that our new neighbours have just taken delivery of a small dog – one of those ugly noisy vicious types that looks like it has been bred as an extra for a gorefest movie. Being not much more than a puppy it seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time in their garden, presumably being punished for inappropriate behaviour indoors, which means it then spends its time hurling itself at the fence that separates it from our garden and barking furiously at whatever it thinks it can hear beyond that inhibiting wooden barrier. For some reason, the constant chirruping of blackbirds, sparrows, robins, doves and magpies doesn’t seem to be particularly annoying, while the barking of the noisy mutt next door has attained an irritation completely out of proportion. However what’s usually even more irritating is the sound of gardens being dug up and replaced with concrete slabs to make off-road car parking space (the digging up often being achieved with pneumatic drills and the laying of concrete slabs being preceded by the endless thumping of machines that flatten and compact the sandy foundation). Our whole village has become a series of white van alleys, making it like a ride on the dodgems when you need to negotiate your way in and out along the roads in anything larger than a bicycle. if it weren’t for the myriad white vans of the builders laying the concrete slabs there would be no need for off-road parking anyway!

   This seems to be turning into a rant from a grumpy old man (although I will vigourously deny the description old), so maybe I should stop for now and try again when I’m in a more appropriate frame of mind.

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