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the East March

 

Dunstanburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast looks windswept and interesting (it even forms the backdrop to one of my stories), but in its day it was as bloody and murderous as any fortress in Game of Thrones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the debateable lands of the north, the murderous lords and princes of that time really were playing a Game of Thrones, and Dunstanburgh, built by House Lancaster as a refuge in their dispute with the King but often in the hands of their rivals the House of York (GOT fans, think House Lannister/Stark), was finally reduced to rubble by cannon.

The Northumberland coast is scattered with castles, some ruined, some restored, some still glorious. Between those monuments to a time of war, and the endless beaches, this coastline is my favourite place.

 

 

 

 

review

 

For some reason I found myself reading reviews of the Mark Barrett books on Amazon and I was pleased with the reaction. I don’t usually bother reading them as they add nothing to the writing process, but I was pleasantly surprised with both the star-ratings and the comments

I now feel responsible for ensuring that the books are as good as they can be. Previously I only concerned myself with the process and whether or not I liked the end result. I think I’ll stop reading reviews.

 

trip

 

I met Lishman at Cresswell and we cycled up to Amble, then Warkworth and then on to Alnmouth, and then back again. Thirty miles on a very hot day – in English terms that is – 28 degrees, light wind, clear blue skies.

The view from one of my favourite places Alnmouth. Coquet Island is just on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cherry

 

It’s midsummer’s eve. The weather is warm and sunny. I have a bottle and a half of red wine and a seat in the corner of the garden, beneath a cherry tree. Couple of jobs to do, but by 8.15pm I will be enjoying the evening.

 

 

good junk

 

As might have come across over the last few posts, I’m getting ever more impatient with books and movies that are just badly made. I don’t mind junk, some of my favourite ever clothes came from charity shops, and I have no problem with genre, Chandler wrote genre and he’s a genius, but where it counts, make some effort, please.

 

screwed

 

Almost by accident, I found myself on an online magazine, reading an article by a writer, about writing. Sound of screeching brakes after the first couple of paragraphs. How did I begin reading this? It’s become a habit to just crawl through articles when I’m bored. Needs to stop.

As for writers writing about writing. Tell me a story, by all means. But don’t talk to me about writing. Don’t write about the process. And definitely don’t philosophise about it.

It’s just writing.

I’d rather watch a mechanic threading bolts.

 

remove from device

 

Began reading a book yesterday on my kindle, just some cheap Dan Brown rip-off, but I quite fancied something mindless and entertaining. Unfortunately, it was also really badly written.

Really badly written.

How do people manage to do that? Write so badly? I can only think it was a genre-cash-in and the publishing company gave zero fucks about the writing. Is that even a business model?

Delete.

I picked up a Garth Nix book as an alternative. I’ve had mixed results with his work, loved the Abhorsen Trilogy, couldn’t get away with some of his other stuff. But I live in hope.

 

 

ps – read the Nix book. It was so-so.

 

 

rocker

 

I rewatched Rocknrolla on Saturday and I’d forgotten just how good it is. It’s a very good movie, but the thing that stops it from a great movie is, I think, the character of Johnny Quid, played by Toby Kebbel. I think TK is a great actor, and I’d have liked to see a film that was all about JQ, but as a part of the overall story arc, he jarred. The rest of the movie could have been up there with Lock Stock and Snatch.

Have to add that the cast are fantastic, though I doubt that there’d be enough cash to get them all into a promised sequel.

Then yesterday, I rewatched The Gentlemen, and it was seriously good. Colin Farrell is in some great, offbeat movies, and all the cast were excellent.

Two movies in one weekend. Got to be a record.

 

break

 

Every now and again, when I’m overwhelmed by writing, I think, I know, I’ll take a break, sometimes I even announce that I’m going to. Then, having cleared my head of the burden of having to write, I feel much better, so I start writing again.

I’m thinking of taking a break from writing, just a few months. Maybe this time, it’ll stick.

 

get back on it

 

I do like errors. I like that moment an artist makes a mistake and then somehow scrabbles back to where they should have been, but the work is changed forever by that single dynamic moment.

I was at a concert one time and when the first violinist stepped up to take a solo she immediately snapped a string. To see her playing with only three of fours strings, to see her tuning up as she played*, was to witness a high-wire act slip and almost fall, but somehow manage to stay on the wire.

KT Tunstall gives one of my favourite vocal performances here – but in the second verse she makes a mistake with the timing and almost doesn’t make it back to where she should be. That risk she takes, and the flaw that results, is what makes it perfect.

And of course, once you hear the mistake on this track, you can’t unhear it.

 

*notice I said see, not hear.