How to get honest feedback.

A close friend had a birthday recently. I gave her a print copy of one of my pen name novels. I didn’t mention that I wrote it. I thought she would either figure it out, or I’d just let her know when she told me later how much she loved it.

Well, she really did not love it. Didn’t even like it. She asked if it was one of those “DIY things”. She didn’ t like one of the main characters. She didn’t finish the book, she didn’t even get very far through it.

Huh. And I thought I’d written something that was compelling and engaging with strong characters. My first readers enjoyed it, but then, they knew it was written by me.

I have to remind myself that taste plays a big part in someone’s reading – despite being someone who reads some thrillers, my friend is probably not part of my target audience. I guess I might also need some training in the art of giving. Maybe next time I’ll just a get her a voucher.

Passing Storm

The host of low pressure systems that converged and threatened to plunge us into weather chaos has come to nothing. The forecast lacked optimism, but the day is filled with it. We were washed and dried, overnight; the city is beginning to sparkle with a crisp mid-summer glow and the air is clear and fresh. The sun flashed up first thing, announcing its arrival with fiery beams racing through the horizon’s clouds. Calm and quiet, though the wind is building.

Necrotic City

It is January. Again. The same as last year. The sun is throwing its crepuscular light down across the city that seems, as always at this time, like some weathered, necrotic cluster of empty buildings and streets. The populace has decamped to the beaches and campgrounds for a week or two, to immerse within this tiny sliver of summer, before returning to workplaces for the full brunt of summer’s onslaught at January’s end and, most likely, through most of February. The city seems so peaceful now. Once the university year begins, and work, for most, returns to that regular routine, I’ll be seeing the crazy antics of drivers and pedestrians, of kids with little to do, of the Friday and Saturday evening drunkards creating something akin to a pre-dawn zombie apocalypse as they traipse home along my street kicking in fences and hurling bottles. Right now, though, the calm and peace is welcome.

The heart of marking …

My posts here have dried up a little, but I’ll be back soon, ranting and reviewing and linking. Marking is one of the funest things I do, but it’s something I do in my free-time, so somethings fall by the wayside. Mostly no TV, no movies, little of my own creative writing and pretty much no blogging. Part of my goal this year was to blog at least four times a week, but with a couple of hiatuses, that’s perhaps been a little less.

Still, grading papers is cool and it’s a good way to engage with other writers in a different way to the blog. I’m around three quarters of the way through now, with a deadline of Friday next week, so after that I should be back and adding to the morass that is the world of blogging once more.

No news today – landslide

No news today – I’m flat out catching up with things after driving a couple of hours north to collect my parents when their car became undriveable from being hit by a landslide. They’re fine, but shaken, and the car might even be repairable.

Landslide:

The landslide shoved the car right across the road to around about where the photo is taken from. Please excuse the cellphone-ness of the picture quality.

Car (actually, normally blue):

I’ll carry on as normal on Monday …

Switch off hiatus

My computer, may she rest in peace, is back at the shop. Her third visit. I am on a borrowed vessel here, a machine with exponentially more power than my own sweet baby. But it is not mine. I cannot keep it. My darling will return, I hope, soon, perhaps a little changed, but still close to how she was.

Perhaps this is timely – I am about to switch off and disconnect for twenty-four days and three hours (and some minutes, I’m sure, and seconds). No blog, no twitter, facebook or flickr. No email (not even a single one of the four email addresses who are my galley slaves: they can fish for all I care). No net. No phone, no work. Just eyes open to the world, siphoning in all she has to offer. I will write and travel, photograph and make field recordings of the birds and grasses and the sea slamming at crumbling shores. I will look around my home and garden, perhaps with a new appreciation, perhaps with despair at all that remains undone.

I will be back: I will not be able to stay so real for long, I’m sure. The moment that this cluster of journeys and returns is over I will matrix myself back aboard, let those digits stream down the glass as if hurled by some green raincloud and demolish these remaining years in the continued ranting about the collapse of civilisation, the environment, the economy and bad ice cream.

Hiatus and redefining

Well, I’ve had an unintended hiatus from blogging here, but if you’re reading this you’re one of the few. I have been taking stock over the last month or two with regards to the energy I put into the blog – thinking that really my energy may be better spent on other projects, ie writing and music. Plus, I kind of don’t get this whole social networking thing anyway – introvert that I am.

So, I’m in the process of redefining what I do here – fewer posts, more focus on current writing (both mine and others) and current music, less of the ramble (like this) and more energy for those other projects.