It’s late, I’m tired…

But…

There’s more to this story.

Or that’s what I keep telling myself, struggling to stay awake and write the next sentence then the next sentence, and the one after that.

Long after I should have gone to bed.

Does that sound like your life?

Of course, it doesn’t.  The rest of the world is sane, goes to work, come home, have dinner, watch a little television or play with the children, or maybe not, then go to bed.

None of this writing business, trying to finish the page, the scene, the chapter while the ideas are fresh in your mind.

Only your mind isn’t fresh, it’s been a long day, an argument with the significant other, a bigger argument with the cat, there’s the washing, the cooking, the cleaning…

When do I get five minutes for myself?

At the dead of night when everyone else has gone to bed, getting their eight hours sleep.

In the dark with only the screen to light the keyboard, I’m trying to find the way around the keyboard and turn out what has to be the next international best selling thriller.

The dog next door barks, it means the cat got out and is terrorizing it.

A door slams, it’s old Joe getting home late from the pub, probably drunk again.

Yep, right on target, the vitriol of a bitter woman, and I have to say, I don’t blame her.

Then I hear it, that voice from the deep, “Poppy.”

The youngest of the grandchildren, the very devil to get to sleep.

Writing for the night is over, time to read other people’s stories.

Nothing is infallible, computers or memory

It’s late at night and there are twenty other story ideas that are currently running around in my head, instead of the story I should be working on.

These ideas are impinging on the current story, and somehow are finding their way onto the page.

Writing, cursing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, cursing.

I’m working on the latest book and it is not going well.  I don’t have writer’s block, I think it is more a case of self-doubt.  It’s why I can’t concentrate.

It’s why I’m thinking about the next story and not staying on track.  And that pesky outline, or synopsis, or whatever it wants to be called has gone missing under a pile of paper.

Next resolution, clean up this goddam mess!

This leads me to be over critical of what I have written and much pressing of the delete key.  Only to realize that an action taken in haste can be regrettable, and makes me feel even more depressed when I realize the deletions are irrecoverable.

Damn.  Whatever happened to ‘undo’?

I think I’d be happier in a garret somewhere channeling van Gogh’s rage.

Lesson learned – don’t delete, save it to a text file so it can be retrieved when sanity returns.

If it returns…

I was not happy with the previous start.  Funny about that, because until a few weeks ago I thought the start was perfect.

What a difference a week makes or is that politics?

Perhaps I should consider adding some political satire.

But I digress…

It seems it’s been like that for a few weeks now, not being able to stick to the job in hand, doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.  I recognize the restlessness, I’m not happy with the story as it is, so rather than getting on with it, I find myself writing words just for the sake of writing words.

Any words are better than none, right?

So I rewrote the start, added about a hundred pages and now I have to do a mass of rewriting of what was basically the whole book.

But here’s the thing.

This morning I woke up and looked at the new start, and it has inspired me.

Perhaps all I needed was several weeks of teeth gnashing, and self doubt to get myself back on track.

 

Burning the midnight oil

It is an interesting phrase, one that means someone is working overtime at the office till late at night, or early next morning.

You know, “Been burning the midnight oil again, Frank?”

It prompted me to look up its real meaning.  It goes back to the days before electricity where a worker toiled on into the night using only an oil lamp or candles.

In my office, I have neon lights that are so bright you would think it was a television studio.  Not quite the atmosphere needed when looking for inspiration.  That inspiration might be better attained in a more subdued light, and an oil lamp or candles.

That aside, those hours leading up to and after midnight are the best time for me to write.

At times the silence is deafening, another rather quaint but relatively true expression.

At others, there are what I call the sounds of silence, which for some reason are much easier to hear than during the daylight hours.

The bark of a dog.

The rustle of leaves in the trees.

The soft pattering of rain on the roof.

The sound of a train horn from a long way away.

THe sound of a truck using its brakes on the highway, also a long way away.

The sound of people talking in the street.

I’ve never really thought about it until now, but it will be something I can use in one of my stories.

Perhaps it will be the theme of another.

Damn, sidetracked again!

Conversations with my cat – 4

20160903_163902

This is Chester.  Hiding.

He is the proverbial ‘scaredy cat’.

He is in hiding, buried at the back of the shelving in our walk-in robe, one of the few places he thinks the grandchildren don’t know about.

Think again, Chester!

He pays scant regard to the fact he molts hair all over our clothes.

Efforts to fill the hole have been met with stiff resistance, the ‘blockage’ finding its way to the floor.

A bit like the blankets he doesn’t like on his bed.

Chester is 16 years old.  He has had a tumultuous relationship with my grandchildren, who, at first, wanted to terrorize him, and now, older and wiser, want to make friends with him.

Sorry, no can do.  You had your chance.

But …

He’s warming to the 15-year-old.  Perhaps because she is as tall as us, he is confused.

Her efforts to get him to sleep on the end of her bed have failed.

Perhaps we should switch beds, and I might win that battle after all.

 

 

That’s two days of my life I won’t get back

Yep…

I just spent 26 and a half hours in planes and in airport terminals getting home, and lost two days in the process.  The 15th of January just didn’t exist for us.

This is what happens when you fly from Vancouver in Canada to Brisbane Australia, via Shanghai.  The thing is, everywhere way, way overseas is a two-stop run.  We have to break our journey somewhere, like Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and for the sake of managing delays at the originating end, we usually end up with a mid airports stay of five to ten hours.

It all means that when you finally arrive in Australia, you are tired, and look it.  I feel sorry for the Immigration officials who must rarely see people looking good on their arrival.

This time we were fortunate to get back in the morning.  To save being picked up by relatives we arranged for a limousine service, and it worked out well.

I couldn’t say the same for some of the pickup services overseas, but that was more the fault of the travel agent here than anything else.

It only reinforced my thoughts on travel agents, some are excellent, and some are complacent, relying too much on travel wholesalers whose knowledge of the products they sell is appalling.

The original bookings were fine, the agent we used knew her stuff.  But she left and someone else took over, and not so good I’m afraid.

However…

On the whole, it was an incredible expedition, from temperatures of 30 plus celsius to temperatures of -21 degrees Fahrenheit, and rarely above 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The highlight:  Lake Louise in Canada.  Everyone should see this place in Winter at least once in their lifetime.  Certainly, my wife’s 65th birthday, spent there, was something she will never forget.

And the sleigh ride, in -14 or -15 degrees, well, we might be eligible to be declared start staring mad, but seeing the frozen waterfall was just another of those magical moments that reinforces why we should be preserving the planet, not trying to destroy it.

But…

We’re back home and glad to be so.

 

 

We all have our sport, and varying degrees of supporting our particular team

One has to travel to different countries to discover that our pathological love for our sport is mirrored elsewhere for games that we may never see, or even hear of, much less understand.

In England, as for much of the world, it is soccer, and to some the traditional game of football.  Stadiums are filled and fans can take their support to amazing and unfamiliar to us levels.

In the USA it is Grid Iron, another form of football, and basketball.

In Canada, it is Ice Hockey, and those games are a true test of skill and stamina, and then, at times, pure luck for one side, and utter bad luck for the other.

In all, fans wear jerseys of their favorite players, and ex-players are revered, as much as current players.  Even in far-flung counties like Australia, we have heard of the legends, such as Jordan and Johnson in Basketball.

In Australia or some of it, it is AFL, our own version of football.

In Melbourne, it’s an institution even a religion.  Traditionally it is played on a Saturday afternoon and luckily for us, we are attending such a game.

The stadium is the mcg, one of the best in Australia.  Shortly after the start, I’d estimate there are about 40,000, but eventually, there was 53,000, spectators here for a clash between the two Melbourne based teams.  It is not unheard of to have in closer to 90,000 spectators, and the atmosphere is at times electric.

For the die-hards like me who can remember the days when there were only Victorian-based teams,  in the modern day form of the game, to have two such teams is something of a rarity.

However, it’s not so much about the antics on the field as it is the spectators.  They are divided into three groups, the members, the private boxes and the general public.

But in the end, there is no distinction between any of them because they all know the rules, well, their version of them, and it doesn’t matter who you are, If there is something that goes against your team, it is brings a huge roar of disapproval.

Then there are ebbs and flows in the crowd noise and reactions to events like holding the ball attracting a unified shout ‘ball, or a large collective groan when a free kick should have been paid or by the opposite team’s followers if it should have been.

It is this crowd reaction which makes going to a live game so much better than watching it televised live.  The times when players take marks, get the ball out of congestion, and when goals are scored when your team is behind and when one is needed to get in front.

This is particularly so when one of the stars goes near the ball and pulls off a miracle 1 percent movement of the ball.  These are what we come to see, the high flying marks, the handball threaded through a needle, a kick that reaches one of our players that looked like it would never get there, an intercept mark or steal that throws momentum the opposite way.

This game is not supposed to be a game of inches but fast yards, a kick, a mark, a handball, a run and bounce.  You need to get the ball to your goal as quick as possible.

That’s the objective.

But in this modern game, much to the dismay of spectators and commentators alike, there is this thing called flooding where all 36 players are basically in a clump around the ball and it moves basically in inches, not yards.

It is slow and it is ugly.

It is not the game envisioned by those who created it and there is a debate right now about fixing it.

Here, it is an example of the worst sort.  This game is played in four quarters and for the first two, it is ugly scrappy play with little skill on display.  The third shows improvement and it seems the respective coaches had told their players to open it up

They have and it becomes better to look at.

But this is the point where one team usually gets away with a handy lead, a third-quarter effort that almost puts the game out of reach.  The fourth quarter is where the losing team stages a comeback, and sometimes it works sometimes it does not.

The opposition gives it a red hot try but is unsuccessful.  Three goals in a row, it gave their fans a sniff of hope but as the commentators call it, a kick against the flow and my team prevails.

It is the moment to stay for when they play the winning teams song over the stadium’s loudspeaker system, and at least half the spectators sing along.  It is one of those hair raising on the back of your neck moments which for some can be far too few in a season

We have great hopes for our team this year, and it was worth the trek from Brisbane to Melbourne to see it live rather than on the TV

Leaving the ground with thousands of others heading towards the train station for the journey home there is a mixture of feelings, some lamenting their teams, and others jubilant their team won.  There is no rancor, everyone shuffles in an orderly manner, bearing the slow entry to the station, and the long lines to get on the train.

Others who perhaps came by car, or who have decided to wait for a later train or other transport, let their children kick the football around on the leaf-covered parkland surrounding the stadium.

It is an integral part of this game that children experience the football effect.  Kicking a ball with your father, brothers, and sisters, or friends on that late autumn afternoon is a memory that will be cherished for a long long time.

It’s where you pretend you are your favorite player and are every bit as good.  I know that’s what I used to do with my father, and that is what I did with my sons.

But no matter what the state of the game, it is the weekend the football fans look forward to and whom turn out in their hundreds of thousands.  It is a game that ignites passions, it brings highs and it brings incredible lows.

And, through thick and thin, we never stop supporting them.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

OK, I’m sure I’ve heard these words before, like the rhythm of a song you can’t get out of your head, perhaps because the guy next door won’t stop playing it over and over.

There’s a story there, but it can wait.

I’ve just been reading the news, and there’s a lot of plotlines in the offing, but I’ve changed the names even though you will have no trouble recognizing the perpetrators.

 

Plotline 1

It’s a conspiracy doosie, beleaguered President realizes that if he can get a particular candidate into the Supreme Court, all his troubles with his extramarital affairs, and one in particular, will go away.  It happens and changes the course of history forever.

No, hang on, it’s removed the past 200 years of history and we’re back where we started from, the dark ages.  The Vatican is in the process of posting help wanted ads, “soldiers required for inquisition”.

Talk about a blockbuster time travel novel that doesn’t just shift one, two, or even three people, but the whole world…

 

Plotline 2

Why is it that every journalist that disappears had to be a ‘dissident’?  Journalists disappear all the time, some on long boozy lunches, some down the rabbit hole called taking a hiatus, but it’s only a story if there are a few ‘so-called’ secret agents flying in around about the same time.

Of course, it works better if it isn’t necessarily a journalist, but some rocket scientist that’s suddenly dropped dead in the street, particularly if it is one from a perceived ‘enemy’ country.
Plotline 3

Space travel for the common man, well, a common man who will be able to afford it.  Seems HG Wells stories are about to come true.

Will a real-life Star Trek be next?  I kind of like the idea of being instantly beamed from one place to the next.  I’m sure it will be far less than a plane ticket and thank the Lord, there’ll no longer be a ‘middle’ seat!