Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Wrapping Up October
Although autumn begins in October, it isn't until we get to the depths of it that I really enjoy it. In October the late summer evenings are still fresh enough in the back of the mind to make it too far from autumn. November brings us on the verge of winter, and the dark nights, some calm with silvery moon, others stormy with high winds and rain fresh in from the North Sea.
I like the dark mornings. Walking to work in the pitch black with only the early birds and the odd fox as company. The dark nights, when accompanied by a clear sky and bright moon, take me back to when I lived with my parents and would be studying for my exams.
I would sit at my desk studying, listening to a tape with Pink Floyd's The Wall on one side, and Yello's Stella album on the other. The tape would repeat time and time again until the lyrics and tunes became synonymous with that period of my life. If I looked to the right I could see out my bedroom window, at the frozen fields and golf course, the leather works and the hill behind. Between the hill and the next house I could see the shimmering lights of Johnstone and Linwood, and beyond that Paisley.
There is one image that brings all of these memories together:
I gave my Slick synopsis one more run through today, but there was not much else I can do to it. I am so totally charged from this, and part of the energy comes from knowing I have prepared properly for it and done my research. Rankin told me; "you can never do enough research. and when you have, be prepared to only only use 5% - but you must do it. Even if it takes a week to understand something and it results in only a single sentence, it's still worth it."
I further narrowed down my selections for the cover to Poolside Poetry during the evening to try and take my mind off NaNo. I was just getting too excited and annoying everyone with my jabbering. I'm having trouble selecting a suitable title font. The one I've been working with is good but hollow, so has no real impact when placed over the images. I prepared a few different covers, each with a font I think might work. Still wasn't sure so I may have to go searching once again to find one that works for the book.
Took my mind off everything (because I can'tstart or finish anything until November starts now), by watching Sleepy Hollow on Film4. I saw it in the cinema, where I thought it came across better, but it's still an excellent film.
I was in two minds whether to stay up until midnight and start NaNo, or get up early as planned. Only my crazy urge to get going was making me consider staying up all night. But that would be getting ridiculous. I went to be around 11pm and set my alarm for 5am.
October's GDR Review
* Complete as much pre-research and synopsis for NaNoWriMo novel, Slick - done with all the plotting, sub-plots, characters ad formate. Ready to go!
* Continue with TSDR short story exercises - complete up to a natural point. Sensory exercises on hold.
* Take a look at Stella to see if revisions should be made - decided no. I'll take my chances. Too much work would be involved with it and is meant to be a tribute to the album so am too reluctant to change anything. May not see publication as a result but I don't care, it was always a personal thing. I like the story and I like the characters. I can always use them in something else later. The story stays.
* Re-write On A Monday Morning - done. Resubmitted to Wildchild.
* Finish typing up Wide Awake and make edits - completed type-up. Edits IP but on hold.
* Follow up on Stella submissions - 3 waiting, 13 still to go, 5 rejections (1 after a partial request)
* Follow up on Hunting Jack submissions - 4 waiting, 7 rejections (1 after a partial request) - not sending out any more for now
* Submit Water of Leith - Ephemera Magazine
* Keep on top of submissions list
* Work on new book, Poolside Poetry - all poems fully drafted and compiled. Cover photography shoot on 29/10. Just to design final version of covers and publish.
* Write more poetry - not done
* Keep checking listings for performance poetry nights - done. Won't be going to any next few weeks what with NaNoWriMo
* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for November column - Blockheads gig reviewed. May may be going quarterly with Nov. Cancelled.
* Plan and begin work on January's Scotland's Treasure column - Spotlight on Aberfoyle. Locality, history, what it offers, getting to etc.
* Interview Scottish poet for TSDR - Had to be cancelled. Waiting for new date.
* Continue actively seeking work in specific markets - Ongoing. Subs made this month were specifically targeted.
* Continue looking for freelance gigs, but not for during November - Done. No assignments received.
Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare new press release for NaNoWriMo - not done
* Create new standard Fringe Fantastic leaflet and poster - not done
* Re-analyse promotion of FF based on new information gained at Book Festival - approached ElvisShakespeare Bookshop. Arranged to meet. Had to cancel. Still to rearrange.
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic - not done
* Keep websites up to date - done
* Follow up on PR received - done
Reading and Research
* Read more poetry - various chapbooks in house and stores
* Read more fiction - completed reading Lifeless by Mark Billingham. Reading The Flood and Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - done. Might be going quarterly.
* Work on ARS Anthology - send out emails as no work will be done on this in November - on hold. The forum has slowed down and too much other work to justify pushing it just now.
Things That Turned Up
* Put together website for Poolside Poetry (http://poolsidepoetry.colingalbraith.co.uk)
* Second Edition of Fringe Fantastic released. Website updated and press release put out.
* Organised office and bookshelves before NaNoWriMo
* Water of Leith to Ephemera Magazine
* On A Monday Morning to Wildchild
* All the research and advance preparation of Slick for NaNoWriMo
* Sending off the proof copy of River Monkeys to Anchor Books for the anthology
* Only a Bagel rejected by Wildchild - reworked to be sent back out
* Had to cancel bookshop owner and poet interviews. Outwith my control and adjustable, but still a disappointment
* Lack of any new fiction written the entire month
Fiction - 0
Non-Fiction - 13,300
Poetry - 0
3am Magazine 1
Barcelona Review 1
The Portable Muse 2
Crimespree Magazine 1
One Story 1
Hunting Jack 4
Interactive Dad 2
If it weren't for my prep work for NaNo and my work on Poolside Poetry, this would have been a disastrous month. I got no new fiction or poetry done and managed to hook myself zero writing assignments. Add to this the failure to meet the bookshop owner and Scottish poet, one could not be blamed for claiming this as my worst month ever.
But it wasn't. I completed the manuscript for Poolside Poetry including the cover photo shoot and website. All that remains is to edit the cover to make it final, request the ISBN, proof the preview copy and launch the damn thing. A November launch is still not out of the question.
Work on NaNo took up most of my time. I wrote a few thousand words on character profiles and synopses, which if I had added the total words into my fiction count would have given it a 4,400 word boost. But I never counted it as it is not true fiction. Working and researching the novel has been a great experience in itself. Working through the plots and characters gave me a real buzz.
There was a period during the middle of the month where some personal time had to be taken. This amounted to around 10 lost days, so again, I will not be putting myself own over this. It had to be, simple as that.
I did get a couple of rewrites done and submissions made through them, so I have still been active and flexing my writing muscles.
The next month is all about NaNoWriMo. No time to think about the past just now. Only the future.
Monday, October 30, 2006
On The Starting Grid
I left the house in daylight, which felt weird. All last week it was night time when I was leaving the house, now with a later start, it's daylight again. It was very overcast with a chilly wind. Not very nice but there you go. I like it to be dark and calm. Rain is good too.
With only two days to go until the big NaNoWriMo kick-off, I'm wondering when exactly I should begin the marathon. Midnight on Tuesday night, or 5am on Wednesday morning. Both is out of the question - I would be dead within the week.
I think I may start at 5am on Wednesday. I can get to my bed early the night before and rise at five. Get ready for work and put pen to paper for the first few words of Slick. I already have it all mapped out in my head. It begins, "It was a dark and stormy night."
Had a bit of a thought drama at one point though. While running through the synopsis and imagining it in my head, I began to think that maybe I should write this from DI Lennox's point of view. It could be his first case. But then a lot of what I have planned would become redundant so I scrapped that idea.
I'll use the story to bring in Lennox and find out more about him that way first. I want this to be about Ronnie, to follow him on a personally journey as he discovers who he is. He has a lot of soul searching to do in the coming weeks so it has to be from his point of view. Besides, I like the idea of seeing it from the crimnials point of view while including the copper in pursuit.
I am also having trouble with the ending. It's convergant and dramatic, but I don't think there is enough of a twist. There is a big twist earlier in the story about half-way through, but I'm not sure how to (or if I should) double this up with another. Or even, if I should shift the first twist to the end of the book. I've got it straight in my head as it stands just now, so maybe it will be a case of "write it and see".
One thing I do know, is that there are characters in this novel, as with everything else I have written, who have yet to make themselves known. So I should be prepared for it.
Then, on my way home walking through the streets of Leith, I hit upon a fantastic idea. I've felt since the beginning of this project that there was something missing, an ingredient to Slick that would give it more spice and a real hard-hitting edge. Something to pull it out of the mediocre pile and into the potential best-seller pile. I just sensed it.
Then on the way home, it hit me. There is a sub-plot I can tie in that threads the whole way through the book, without shifting the current twist mid-way through, and be as explosive as you could imagine. It is logical to the theme and topical. Plus it is very exciting and really does pull the story out of the mundane. That's all I'm saying. It was a moment of pure epiphany. I saw the light. My muse spoke to me, nay, she screamed to me loudly.
I spent the rest of the night filling out the synopsis to integrate the new sub-plot. It literally stretches from the first chapter right through to when it is revealed at the final climax. Only then, will the reader see it. I expanded all the character profiles, too. Most were already done but I had left DI Lennox empty, other than the fact he enjoys the odd cigarette and alcoholic beverage.
Lennox spoke to me. Told me about his past, what makes him tick, what pisses him off and what he thinks about his life thus far. I am relieved first of all that he is nothing like Thorne, Rebus, Taggart et al. He has his own personality and is more of an enigma than I thought I was capable of creating. I cannot wait to write about him in this story, and I am looking forward to giving him something of his own. Mustn't lose sight of the fact the book is not about him, but he will be a powerful supporting character.
As I tried to wind down for the night, I felt like a Formula One Ferrari sitting on the starting grid, my engine revving loudly with the handbrake on. I'm poised and ready to let go, to hear the screech of rubber on tarmac, and leave clouds of burning rubber in my wake as I roar off into the unknown. There will be twists and turns, potential crashes and burns, but it's going to be a superb journey. I can feel it. I've got the plot, sub-plots, characters and format all worked out. I just need to hear that starter's gun!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The North Sea
I long for the day when she discovers the luxury of a lie in. Then I'll gladly be the volunteer who wakes her up. An extra hour in bed these days means a whole lot more than it used to.
I walked round to the shops with her early and got a few messages and the Sunday papers. The Scotland on Sunday was giving away a free book about ghosts in Scotland and the News of the World had an article written in it by my pal who works on the paper. It was an interview with Madness' lead singer, Suggs, that I was lucky enough to be sent the transcript and copy for last week. It had been heavily cut by the time it got to print, but it's very exciting to see the build up to December's tour beginning in earnest.
In the afternoon we all headed out to Portobello beach for the Poolside Poetry book cover photo shoot. My normal photographer was unavailable and it was too nice a day to risk leaving it any longer to get the shots, so Gail borrowed her father's digital camera and off we went.
I knew I would be able to make the scene look more summery using PC software post-shoot, but we still needed clear skies and for me to wear shorts and t-shirt. So I stripped on the beach in front of people wrapped up in heavy coats and scarves and got into the water. The North Sea. In Scotland. Late October. I checked the temperature over the east of the country when I got home. It was around 10 degrees - so God knows what the water temperature was.
It was bloody freezing. I mean really cold! Before long I could hardly feel my feet and after about an hour in the water we had got all the shots I think we would require, but the bottom half of my legs felt as though they were missing. Looking back I should have wore my shades but forgot to take them, nevertheless, the pictures came out well and I spent much of the evening manipulating them and narrowing the selection down.
I did a final run through on On A Monday Morning. I'm very happy with it now and am thankful to the editor at Wildchild for her suggestions. As she suggested, I think I'll re-send it to her. It's a non-paying market, but I like their production.
Had to take a Syndol to combat a major headache that came on and fell asleep on the couch for half an hour while it took effect. Then when I felt a bit better I had some tea and worked on Slick. Not long to go now!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I drank my cappuccino and pastry and read the first few chapters before returning to get Laura and going home for lunch.
Up until recently I seem to have been working my way through Rankin's novels in no particular order. Which is why, after reading The Flood, I'll move onto Rebus from book one. And catch up to where I am with my books on the shelf.
Blogger wouldn't post yesterday's entry. Kept getting error messages despite trying various methods. Pain in the butt. First time I've had real trouble with it, though I know others who seem to be much worse off over the past few months. Maybe I've been lucky up till now.
I gave my office a good tidy in preparation for NaNo beginning next week. I also boxed a lot of the books I have on my shelf, keeping only the ones that have value or special meaning. So there's a lot of Auster, King and Rankin etc. as well as a lot of reference books I can't do without. I only have limited space. The first two top shelves have novels, poetry and story collections. The third some of my folders and research. The fourth more reference magazines and books that are related specifically to the writing craft. Five has Gail's stuff and six has a scanner and other computer type stuff. Not ideal, but it's a small room.
I worked mostly on my characters for Slick this evening. Full names, ID's, backgrounds, personality profiles and characteristics. It was fun and made me feel at ease about the whole project. I feel like I have the cast set, the location ready and the script coiled waiting to be sprung. All I need to do, I think, is start writing.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Family Tragedy in Corfu
I was watching this on BBC News 24 this morning on the 6am bulletin (yes - another early start) and noticed how this family tragedy is being turned into a media circus. The BBC alone have reporters at the Corfu hotel where the incident occurred, the hospital where the parents still lie comatose, the coroners where the dead children await their post-mortem and in West Yorkshire where a TV crew and reporter are able to tell us the effect all this is having on the extended family.
This is an average family who have suddenly been thrust into the media spotlight for the whole of Britain because of their children dying and their parents fighting for their lives. Is it not too much to ask that we remove these smarmy and pretentious reporters and let the family grieve in peace. The last thing anyone wants is for their loss to be broadcast to the four corners of the nation, particularly when the parents themselves don't even know heir children are dead. It serves no purpose.
I can understand a need for it to be reported. Something awful like this can't be kept from the media, but do we really need to swamp these people with cameras and microphones everywhere they turn?
Leave them alone. They'll talk to you when they're ready. If the British media showed some respect and empathy every now and then they might find they are treated with less disdain than they are currently.
Looked out of the day job office window just before 7am and saw a glorious red sky filtering through the darkened windows. Shepherd's warning apparently, but surely it won't be as bad as yesterday's weather. We had torrential rain for the first half of the day and from then on gail force winds battered the country. The north of Scotland was declared a state of emergency after severe flooding.
Read a Rankin short story from one of his collections. Took the edge off work over lunch seeing as I never made it to Clark's.
Reworked On A Monday Morning, totally turning it on its head. Came as a good idea not only to continue editing practice but also as a fresh story not touched for a while, but it also provided a good way to let go of NaNo for a few of hours.
When Drinking Sessions Go Wrong
Thursday, October 26, 2006
A couple of interesting projects came in to my email inbox this morning.
The National Short Story Prize 2007 (BBC), has a deadline of October 31st 2006, and is looking for stories up to 8k with a £15k prize. I had a possible entry in mind, but that was canned due to this condition of entry:
2.7 The author must have a prior record of publication in creative writing. This means the author must previously have had works of prose fiction, drama or poetry published by a UK publisher (excluding self-publishing) or established printed magazine in the UK or broadcast by a UK national radio station. "Established" here means a periodical that is published regularly (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly), that has been in circulation for at least the past 12 months, has an ISBN or ISSN number and is not self published. For avoidance of doubt online publishing is also excluded.
A lot of my stuff is published online, and where it's not it's US-based. My poetry books are under my "pseudonym publisher", Smashing Press, Therefore, I do not qualify. Wonderful.
conFAB are running a haiku for an umbrella project that sounds interesting. Special edition brollies will be adorned with haiku and sold with accompanying books of all accepted entries. They are currently looking for submissions - relating to rain, naturally. There's nothing to prevent me entering this one. So I will.
Stopped by the NaNo forums and suggested a Leith branch be formed. I'd much rather be able to meet up with local writers that trooping up to some Edinburgh University campus building where they all seem to be from. Handy for them, but totally out of the way for me.
Did a few website updates to keep my techy animal happy, and worked on Slick as much as I could. Re-wrote Only a Bagel and it is now ready to go back out on submission. Ended up going to bed early and reading for a while, such was my level of tiredness, that I never got round to actually subbing it. I'll do that tomorrow.
Not sure what the coming weekend entails. There's a few possibilities up in the air of activities and things to do. Wouldn't mind a pizza at some point in the proceedings. Or a curry. And a beer.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
First in the office again. Discovered that PrWeb have stopped doing free press releases. There are others I know of but this was the best one, despite the fact you never actually knew where it was going. Not having all that much money to put into marketing at the moment so this is a bit of a set back. So as yet, the second edition of Fringe Fantastic has yet to be publicised - when I thought the release went out on Monday. Typical.
Worked on my November column for The Scruffy Dog Review. There's rumblings we could be moving to a quarterly magazine due to the quality of subs and the pressure we all have with our other commitments. I reckon it would be a good move, not because I happen to be struggling each month but I think it would give us a better structure to promote and edit. See what happens. If November is scrapped then the column I currently have will become redundant.
Related to this is the interview I am doing with a well known Scottish poet. I'm still waiting for a date so I ran through all the stuff I have prepared for it. I'm not sure there is enough questions, but then as has happened in the past, too many means you don't get through them all because you end up talking about loads of other stuff you never considered. I'm confident enough with the whole thing. Looking forward to it but just need a date now.
Re-wrote Only a Bagel giving the characters more in the way of motives, thereby explaining why they are in the situation they find themselves. Also gave more senses a mention to enrich the prose. I'll send it back out shortly.
Worked more on the Slick synopsis for NaNoWriMo. There are some important things missing; believable characters, scene setting (it dives right in), and I am swithering whether to make the detective who gets involved be DI Lennox, the copper that has come to life in a couple of my short stories recently. Could be a good way of getting to know him without him being a main character.
I feel like writing a rant about something but nothing is coming to mind.
Doing well with Rankin's The Flood; into the last third of the book. I want to begin Paul Auster's The Brooklyn Follies this week. Reason being, to give me two fresh examples of writing in third and first voice. Originally I was going to write Slick in first person, but now I'm not so sure.
First - immediate, personal, active and the reader becomes the protagonist. Reader will not see anything else that is going on round about; only what the protaganist sees. I've not done much of this but when I have, I've really enjoyed it.
Third - easier to switch between the protagonist, the police and if needed, the villains. Ability to see other things going on the protaganist is not aware of. Most of my writing has been in this style and it's what I've worked on hardest to improve.
First (for protagonist) with third (for others) - hard to accomplish. But I always said since NaNoWriMo was an experiment I should try something experimental. Would be able to mix the benefits of involving the reader (first) while being able to introduce tension via the omniscient third point of view.
I'll need to think harder about this and come up with a decision soon. Reading these two masters of these styles of writing should help me make up my mind.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The family normally get up around 7am so if I can get into the 5am starting habit, I figure I can get 90 minutes writing in the morning before anyone rustles out of their kip. Then I can get into work mega-early and leave early, too (we're on flexitime).
This will mean I can work on the novel when I get home before the rest of the family get back from work and school. I'll need to get to bed at a decent time if I'm to achieve this, though.
Why am I wanting to do such early starts? Simple, I'm most productive early morning. I have no excuses to procrastinate while the world is so quiet. Sitting in my office just after 5am with nothing but the sodium glow of the street lamps forming a bubble over the city outside, and the trickle of water in my aquarium as the fish wake up for another day's swimming, is actually very calming and conducive to writing. Words that I might not be able to place later in the afternoon seem to spring to mind with ease.
In the evenings it is much harder to get it all together, get freshened up and be in a position to produce solid work. Fatigue comes into it and the pull of the television and the couch can sometimes prove too great. I have to achieve a 2k daily word count if I'm to pull it off. Hopefully any drops during the week - like Thursday mornings after a few pints over snooker the night before - can be made up over the weekends.
So anyway, there I was, sitting in the office (day work office) and it was still pitch black outside. No moon just now means it's extra dark and not as special. Soon the glow of the moon will be back and it will be time to begin listening to Stella again, this time, with a matching story to go with it. Oh, and don't forget the wee picture of the crow. He'll be back, too.
Work dragged on and on. By the time lunchtime came round I was starving, my stomach not being used to such a long gap between breakfast and lunch. Gail's home made pasta in pesto sauce that I brough to work really hit the spot.
The semi-detailed chapter synopsis for Slick is now almost complete. I have the basic layout of the story, the main threads and sub-plots. I've still to develop the characters, though Ronnie, the protagonist, is becoming more well-known to me each day. The others I've still to even create names for.
I don't think I like Ronnie. I think he's a good character, but I'm not sure that I actually like him. I think he's the sort of bloke that if I overheard him in a bar I'd probably go out my way to accidentally shoulder him on the way back from the toilet. By the end of the story however, he is very likeable - and more human.
There are still some things to work out, and I want to allow for a lot of freedom with how I get from a to b to c etc., but I really can't wait to start writing it now. It is so tempting to just begin, but I won't. I will wait - promise.
I'm finding it hard to think about anything else really. From morning until shut-eye. The story is there. Ronnie is there. The excitement of embarking on a new novel is there. Roll on November 1st.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Running in Neutral
Sunday was pretty much a wipe-out as a result. I flaked out on the couch and got nothing done. The impact of my day job on my personal life is starting to concern me. Not only does one of these (well paid) shifts ruin the Saturday, but also the Sunday. The entire weekend is a total waste, then you find yourself back at work again.
Today I felt so sick with it all, I took the day off. It was pre-arranged if I wanted it but I wasn't 100% sure until this morning that I would take it.
I did a bit of reading and scribbling, then hoovered the downstairs before going up town to take a look around for possible Christmas pressies for my wife. She says we shouldn't get each other anything, but really! I always believed that something meaningful, even if small, is much better than an expensive gift. Something that touches the heart and has some thought in it. That's a sentiment that gets harder each passing year, however. What do you give the woman who has everything? She has ME after all!
I can't believe how fast October is running in. There is only about a week to go until NaNoWriMo and I still have much to do to prepare through the research. I wish it would just start. I've got the damn book half-written already in my head.
This week promises to be dramatic. I've still to interview the Scottish poet, and I'm unsure if I can schedule this and get it submitted in time for the November issue. This goes back to the family emergency last week, but still, I should have been better prepared. I may have to hold my hands up on this one.
I have still got to finish the November column for Scotland's Treasure, my regular column in The Scruffy Dog Review. It's half-written, I just need to get the rest complete.
I've lost my way this month and I'm impatient to begin NaNo. I'm feeling at a loose end and pretty vulnerable, starting to doubt myself. All becaue I've been distracted with work and other things that were of higher importance. Got to get back into the writing solidly. NaNo couldn't have come at a better time.
Finally, a message to my wife if she's reading this (because I'm feeling soppy today):
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Is It Me?
I forgot my bag with copied of Fringe Fantastic contained, which I was going to take into the book shop on Leith Walk. First cock-up of the day. I couldn't see the bloke when I passed so I'll get in touch with him to re-arrange again.
Then I discovered they've put up the price of the pastries in my coffee shop. £1.50 for a wee piece of delight. They've doubled in size, though, so I forgave them.
Checked out Ian Rankin's new novel, The Naming of the Dead in Waterstone's. Funny to think that the sleeve blurb describes what he was "toying with" when I interviewed him last year. Back then the plot was just an idea based on the G8 with a specific incident involving Rebus and the President of America. Now it's a complete novel, with sub-plots, twists and excitement.
I intended to get some sleep in the afternoon with a long and arduous night shift ahead of me but it wasn't to be. There was too much noise in the house and I just grew more and more annoyed at the prospect of another night with no sleep, this time because I had to be in the office. I gave up and showered, then left early to get in to work.
I stopped off for a chippy on the way, which only frustrated me further. Being a west-coaster I'm not into 'salt 'n' sauce', much preferring the healthier option of 'salt 'n' vinegar'. I never saw the young Polish girl put any salt on my sausage supper (they were out of fish!!!) so I asked her if she had. She confirmed it had been done. I get to the office, pull out my cutlery and opened the bag - no salt! It's not rocket science, a bag of chips and deep-fried sausage, is it?
What's the point. The whole day made me feel like it just didn't want to go my way. Should have stayed in bed. Should have stayed 8 and I could have been out playing on my bike.
Work dragged. Thought of the money coming my way in December's pay for doing it. Tiredness played a big part too, and I thought of my bed quite a lot as well.
Decided to run through Poolside Poetry and see if any of the poems could do with better titles. Some of them I just don't fancy and feel they could work better if they had a different one.
Finally got away around 5am.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Couldn't have come quick enough, if you ask me. I know you didn't ask me, I can just imagine you standing in front of me asking the question, that's all. Or to be more accurate, sitting in a bar - probably. The fact is I am delighted it is Friday and there is nothing more to add. Well, there is other wise it would be a pretty poor and pointless post. Wouldn't it?
Got a rejection in for Only a Bagel along with a couple of comments about the plot. Not sure exactly what was meant so I'll have to re-read the piece with the crits in mind. I trust the editor who sent me her opinion, so I'm happy take them on board and re-work it if necessary.
Day work pretty tough at the moment thanks to a devilish blend of incompetence and rudeness. Went to Clark's for a couple of pints at lunchtime to alleviate this, and then returned for two more straight after work.
Spent the evening with Laura, watching TV and our vast array of animals. Galbraith Zoo we call it. They're all doing fine, by the way. Not that you asked or anything. I just thought you would like to know.
Here's a Friday joke:
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I've put several of this months GDR items officially on hold while I concentrate on the new book release and preparing for NaNoWriMo. I want to write some new fiction before the end of the month as a kind of limber up as well and I'm running out of time.
Revamped the Fringe Fantastic website. I've been making small changes to the manuscript over time and just need to tweak the cover for the Second Edition, which will be published tomorrow.
This new edition will be available as a downloadable e-book as well as in paperback. The First Edition of the book will only be available in print and all copies signed by me. I want to clear them out for good.
While I was at it I put together a press release to announce the new release and gave my website and the Fringe Fantastic website
a top-up, too. I figured this will stir some interest just prior to the launch of my second book, Poolside Poetry.
All this took me quite a while to get it right, after which I decided on a cup of tea and an early'ish night. I caught Mr Rankin on This Week chatting about the state of the UK Prison Service and laughed as he managed to squeeze in a small promotion of his new book out today, The Naming of the Dead.
Speaking of which, my MIL gave me a tatty first edition copy of Rankin's Let It Bleed, which I already have but she wasn't to know that. It was a lovely gesture and made incredible when I opened the cover to discover a handwritten note from the original buyer to the recipient. It read, "To George, cheers, Ian Rankin." I don't think she knows it is signed by the author.
I'm still reading The Flood and have lost touch over the last weekend. I'll pick it up again in between.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Work was awful. We've been advised that come December we are all being shifted from the relative calm of our current 'just-outside-the-city-centre-leafy-suburb', to the burly hub that is Edinburgh's west end.
I don't want to move for various reasons:
- Longer to travel to work
- Longer to get home
- No Clark's Bar
- No Club Sandwich coffee shop
- Lots of noise and bustle every day
- A change of scenery might brighten things up
- The building we are in can get refurbished (we are supposedly moving back in 6 months)
- I'll be nearer the shops
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Sunset on Leith
Picture it: I'm heading to a meeting in another office but neglected to take a note of the room number. I call on my mobile to one of the phones in my area to ask someone to check my diary and see what room it is. A bloke (who shall remain nameless) answers, says his name and asks how he can help - as you do with any external call received. I begin to speak, started to explain my situation and he HUNG UP. He simply put the phone down while I was talking! Enraged, but to be honest, not at all surprised, I rang someone else who obliged to help me out.
The person in question is of small build and I'm pretty positive suffers from Wee Man's Disease. That is to say, he has a major chip on his shoulder over the fact he never reached over five foot four inches in height and he is now in his forties. He's the type of bloke who, when you go to say "hi" on passing, completely ignores you. He is loud, bitchy and a total wanker.
And I have to put up with this? I don't remember it reading in my contract that, "the employee shall put up with all wankers in the company who choose to toss their ego's off into other people's faces for fun."
Don't expect any help from me in the future little man.
Worked on Wide Awake. The first draft of this really was awful, I don't think I'll ever be happy with the final version because I know where it came from. A bit prejudiced I know, but I can't help but feel that starting it over again might be the way to go.
I completed the final draft of the Poolside Poetry manuscript. 89 pages of poetry; some funny, some reflective. It's two pages shorter than Fringe Fantastic, yet it has 22 more poems but no photographs. Why would that be?
Started putting the finishing touches together for the poet interview on Monday. I won't have any time on Sunday so I need to have it all done by Saturday night. Saturday morning I am confirmed to be meeting the owner of the local bookshop in Leith. I wonder if I can talk him into putting a copy in the front window. Now wouldn't that be a nice picture for the website!
I caught my catfish and put him down. Fingers crossed I disposed of the correct predator, and that when I wake up in the morning I don't have half a tank of dead fish.
Stayed up late to watch The Sopranos. It wasn't a problem really, since I was wide awake come 11pm anyway.
Here's a picture of the sunset over my neighbourhood. I thought it was impressive, so I took a picture on my mobile phone camera for your delight.
Sunshine on Leith
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
No Longer A Baby
Got an email from someone trying to start up a Writer's Group in Edinburgh. I'm definitely getting involved. It would only be one Wednesday per month but I want to continue meeting other writers and getting out there actively. It can only be a good thing.
I've begun clearing the decks for NaNoWriMo. The aim is to have as little on as possible that could detract, but I must have something on, because working on the one project all month could seriously do my head in. I'll keep the poetry stuff going, and maybe leave myself with a few stories written, but unedited. Then there's the marketing of Poolside Poetry - that can't be forgotten.
My aim is to write an average of 2,000 words per day. There are 30 days, so that would equate to 60,000 words of a novel. Knowing my writing pattern and other commitments, I can see my writing 2k for a few days, nothing for a couple of days, then 5k the next day, and so on. It's definitely do-able, and I'll give it my best shot. I've got a good foundation with all the planning I've undertaken both in schedule and plot.
I got soaked on the way home from work from sheets of heavy, hard rain under a dark grey sky. It was glorious.
Cue the song: Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, by Urge Overkill (as head in Pulp Fiction).
Pippin, my grey/white rabbit, is still suffering huge chunks of hair fall-out. Apparently it's just her adult coat coming in. All the scratching, nipping and digging was her puberty phase, as her hormone levels soared. Now, with the advent of her shedding her skin and being replaced by a new coat, she has moved into the next phase of her life.
Now, she is a woman.
I'll need to watch though because if they get any hair balls they could be in trouble so extra care over the next few days. Soon be time to get her and Mopsy sprayed, anyway. It's for their own health and well being apart from the obvious protection.
Got more trouble with animals elsewhere, too, this time with the wet and slippery variety. My catfish has turned predator. (I think it's him, though I can't prove it). Over the past week I have lost about 6 or 7 fish. No illness, no poor water and no signs of anything wrong, other than him tearing chunks out of them overnight. I pulled three dead fish out tonight alone and he's moved from the cheap/flashy fish to the quality ones larger than him. It's either him or the fast-maturing Angelfish.
I'm going to play the odds. Tomorrow, Mr Euthanasia will visit upon the Catfish for the good of the other inhabitants. If that doesn't do it, the Angelfish goes too.
I badly needed the Guinness and whisky I consumed while at the snooker this evening. Sometimes a little drop of alcohol helps to sweep away the gloom and get you back on a relatively even keel. Or at least set you on the path.
One of my best mates who had a second child a few weeks ago is celebrating it this weekend with the traditional "Wetting the baby's head" this Sunday night. It will mean a lot of lads out in Glasgow city centre doing what we do best. Drinking and laughing. I cannae wait.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
It worked partially though, because I managed to get to sleep when I did retire. Trouble was I woke up at 3am this morning - too early to get ready for work and too late for me to get up without me being "up for the day." Fuck it.
So I just lay there, waiting for the sun to rise.
Got through some non-writing related tasks to take my mind off things today.
I'll be meeting with the owner of the local bookshop hopefully on Saturday. He's said he would be fine stocking a few to see how they sell so I'll pop in and see what we can arrange.
I caught up with all my submissions for Hunting Jack and Stella.There are still a few to come back for both but I'm not running any more out just now for Hunting Jack. The latter I'll keep plugging away at.
Submitted Water of Leith.
Spent a bit of time on the NaNoWriMo forums posting some comments and getting to know some of the more local participants. I'm really looking forward to this.
A lot of people still don't know what they are going to write about. I find that scary.
Put together the website for the promotion of Poolside Poetry. It took me a couple of hours to get to where it is, which is pretty good going time-wise. It's almost done, except for a few pages of content.
If you want a sneak preview, point your browser to: http://poolsidepoetry.colingalbraith.co.uk
Let me know what you think.
Thanks to Devon for her comments left after yesterday's post. They made a lot of sense.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Cannae fucking sleep
When I woke up it was to bright sunshine and damp streets. I'd slept in. Looks like we had heavy rain overnight and now Mr Blue Sky is everywhere. Reminded me of the ELO song from nineteen seventy something.
People close to me say I'm talking rubbish with this erratic sleep patterns, and that I don't have any problem getting to sleep. What people don't see is the nights when I just lie there, unable to let the tiredness that I know is lurking, cawl over me and subdue my conscious.
What people don't see is the nights I wake up at 1am, my body convinced I've slept a full night, then unable to capture it again. so I get up and sit in the lounge, drink some milk, watch BBC News 24 or write.
It's not unusual to be up all night now. It's happening more and more. It's the unseen curse, and it's doing my head in.
If I let it go in its own way, I would turn night into day and then back round again. It would keep working in a cyclic motion where my body would simply not fit in to day time hours any more, but work its way round, an hour a night, until it did. Then it would start over again.
It's not that I'm particularly stressed or worried about anything, and I think that's part of the problem. I can't define it, pin-point a reason as to why it's happening. It just is. Some nights I want to go to bed, but I just don't want to sleep.
Work is terribly boring. I even had people commenting on how tired I was looking, so it must be bad. I could feel my cheeks hanging bruised from being awake too much and I'm not about to statr wearing make-up to hide it.
Worked on Slick and proof-read Poolside Poetry using the printed manuscript. Always, always, always a vital part of publication. No matter how many times you draft and double-check on-screen, you always spot mistakes/improvements when it's printed off and in front of you in black and white.
I now have a date for the interview with the Scottish poet for The Scruffy Dog Review - next Monday evening. I'll call to confirm again on Sunday, but the time and place are set.
I contacted a local bookshop I've been meaning to approach for Fringe Fantastic. I've asked for a meeting and promoted the benefits of a mutual exchange. Hopefully the owner will be reciprocal, because I do happen to think it will be an important venture.
Pippin is losing chunks of hair. Great wispy patches of fluff were filling out a soft base inside her hutch when I got home. I took her out and checked here eyes and skin. Looked ok so I clipped her nails and cleaned out the hutch. Hope it's just a cycle they sometimes go through, but if it continues it might have to be a visit to the vet to clear it up.
Maybe a wee bath this weekend in some "special" shampoo will help. Should be a laugh - she's not a wee thing any more.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
It rained more often than it didn't, and when it did, it lashed down. I quite like being inside when it's raining and doing nothing. Staring out at the circular patterns on the pavement puddles. I like being out in the rain more though.
Reading the news of last night's celebrations across Scotland for our win over the French in the Euro Championship qualifiers, it turns out that Glasgow city centre had to be shut down, as well as several bars to accommodate the party.
The Granary in Shawlands for instance - an old drinking haunt from my bachelor days - actually ran out of beer and glasses, and was forced to close its doors to prevent a crush. The city centre was so over-run by people partying that several streets were cordoned off by the police to prevent traffic congenstion.
I can't remember that last time all everyone was talking about was a Scotland match. 15 years at least.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
No Title Necessary
Went home and tried to sleep during the afternoon. Couldn't. Read more of Rankin's The Flood, then tried to sleep again. Couldn't. A combination of being too tired and the drilling/hammering in the house saw to it.
Scotland beat the World Cup runners-up, France, by a goal to nil at Hampden. It's been 17 years since I saw Hampden so delirious at a National football match.
Went to work for 7pm to do a mainframe software implementation and was totally shattered by 11pm as a result. Couldn't concentrate and had thoughts only of my bed the entire time.
As I write this, it is a few minutes past midnight and I am not expecting to get away until 3am at the earliest. Hopefully it will be sooner and I'll be able to get some sleep before I conk out totally.
Friday, October 06, 2006
East v West
Poolside Poetry is all but complete. I finished the preface tonight and I think all the poems are now in satisfactory order. I'll be giving the manuscript a full going over in print to check for errors and improvements that can be made, but all in all, it's done. All that remains is the photo shoot for the cover.
After several feature length episodes of Rebus over the past few Friday evenings, with the pleasure of seeing Edinburgh and Leith as the backdrop to Rankin's novels, and how the books adapted to the TV screen, something else. Tonight in the same slot, Taggart; the Glasgow-based police drama of the same ilk.
Taggart isn't derived from novels but is a similar kind of drama; local and criminal, hard and street-wise. While the outdoor shots of Rebus were filmed in Edinburgh and the interior in Glasgow, all of Taggart is filmed in the West of Scotland.
Watching it, I felt less guilty (?) about writing about Edinburgh locations. I'm not an east-coaster and all this worry I've had of late to do with basing stories in Edinburgh seems less apparent when I watched Taggart. It was good to see the Dear Green Place on screen, but I realised that my unique view of Edinburgh is what can help me pull it off.
If I want to write a story based in Edinburgh, I always feel it might be compared to or in some way mistaken for plagiarism from Rankin, Welsh, McCall-Smith et al. I would need a new angle, a different perspective to what has already gone before. Edinburgh is, after all, a small city and it is too much to expect not to write about the same places from time to time.
Rankin's a Fifer, Welsh is a Leither and McCall-Smith is from Zimbabwe. I am from Glasgow and the West of Scotland, which none of them obviously are. And now I think I can use this to make my voice more unique.
As far as the programmes themselves go, Rebus is better, mostly because of the actors involved. Ken Stott is Rebus, and is a gifted actor. Taggart on the other hand, is comparable, but not since Mark McManus died and the programme continued without him under the same banner. McManus wasn't as good an actor, but the Taggart production was always top-notch. All things considered, Rebus pips it, although seeing Glasgow again, well, it's home and I miss it.
I remember when I interviewed Rankin last year, I asked him what Rebus would have thought of Taggart should they ever have their paths cross. "Rebus wouldn't have liked him," he said. "They're quite similar in some ways, but he wouldn't have liked him because Taggart's a Glasgow detective and Glasgow detectives and Edinburgh detectives just don't get on. It's to do with territory."
East v West. It's everywhere.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Energetic that is, except for my right foot which is damn sore - much sorer than yesterday when I went over on it in the garden. It's now really hard to walk on and I can feel pain right through my foot.
I worked more on Poolside Poetry, adjusting the order of the poems and working on the foreword. It's coming to fruition nicely. I've not decided if the font I have used is my final choice, I may do a further search for fonts.
I've got hold of a digital SLR for the font cover photo shoot, so I dropped Sarah an e-mail to see if she's still up for doing the cover. I still fancy doing a Portobello beach shot. Going to be cold this time of year but it'll be worth it.
Worked on Slick outline. I'm reluctant to overdo the synopsis in case I remove the enjoyment and richness of allowing the story to grow itself. But I need it to be researched and plotted to a certain degree if I'm going to make the 50k words in the month of November.
I'm going to write it in first person. NaNoWriMo is an experiment, so I want to experiment with the writing, too. I think first person will suit the story I am planning, but the problem I am having is how to start the book. There isn't any logical beginning but without an explosive start, this book will be nothing. Answer? More thinking, more planning, more work.
Here's the blurb:
The Devil Finds Work For Idle Hands
Ronnie Glover was a bit of a cad. He had a good job in the City, a swish pad overlooking the Thames and a girlfriend most men would give their right arm to be with.
But he got bored.
When the chance to work for one of the world's richest oil families was offered, he jumped at the chance. Now, as he returns to the UK after a three year stint in Dubai, he is richer than his wildest dreams - and more wanted than any other man in the country.
Six months after returning to London, his flat is burgled, his company office burnt to the ground and his girlfriend murdered. The police can't find a motive, but Ronnie knows who - and why.
He fakes his death and flees to Edinburgh fearing for his life, and begins a new life with a new identity, a life that affords him little of the pleasures and luxuries he once took for granted.
When his past catches up him, all hell breaks loose and Ronnie is faced with a life and death decision. Can he survive a life on the run from some of the World's richest criminals and get his life back?
Sometimes, it's better to be dead.
Slick. A novel by Colin Galbraith. Coming soon! (Well - a wee while yet.)
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Started reading Ian Rankin's first novel, The Flood. Written about 20 years ago well before Rebus was on the scene. First impression - very different.
Applied for 4 new freelance gigs.
Worked a lot on Poolside Poetry. I edited and re-edited all the poems, polishing and re-organising, re-reading and standing back. Finally got them all to a high standard and began the task of inserting them into the final manuscript.
I'm using the format of FF but with different fonts etc. It means I don't have to re-format the entire document, which is what took up most of the time to produce FF last year.
The problem is with 68 poems, one has to decide on what order to put them in. Obviously the poems relating the going and coming home form the beginning and end, but you also have to be aware of the mix in between. There is an overall story to be told and it has to be told in a funny way but make sense at the same time. There is no point just chucking the poems in randomly - that won't work - so this, to me, is the hardest part of laying out a chapbook, and the one area that I can never seem to decide to a stage I'm happy with.
All that is left now though, is to write the acknowledgements and notes to the text (don't think they will be needed though), as well as the preface and the cover photography. I want to get the book out before December but that may come down to getting the cover organised and the time it takes to get the draft copy sent out.
Forgot to mention a programme I watched on Sunday night. The South Bank Show featured Melvynn Bragg in interview with Irvine Welsh. It showed him walking about Leith and talking inside the Leith Dockers Club with acted inserts portraying his new novel, Bedroom Secrets of the Masterchefs.
Obviously, seeing the streets of Leith on the TV was exciting, but listening to Welsh talk was as interesting as it was curious. He was very open and came across as very intelligent and articulate, despite the fact his expression hardly ever changes. Clearly, he has thought far more about the work he is producing, loves what he does and totally changed my opinion of him as a writer.
Before seeing it, I feared he was relying too much on the drugs culture and reliable characters to see him through, but hearing him justify his reasons for it all and why this latest novel is again set in Leith, I found his argument flawless. Couldn't argue at all and found it all very inspiring.
I've become more and more inspired by Leith and Edinburgh, and as a result have this nagging feeling that whatever I write will be compared to other Edinburgh writers. I might be seen as copying in some form by using the same geographical muse. Hearing Welsh talk about it gave me renewed confidence in this particular issue.
The highlight of the programme was the revelation that Welsh wrote Trainspotting in a flat only a hundred yards from my old Leith flat, and only half a mile from where I now live.
October's GDR Plan
* Complete as much pre-research and synopsis for NaNoWriMo novel, Slick
* Continue with TSDR short story exercises
* Take a look at Stella to see if revisions should be made
* Re-write On A Monday Morning
* Finish typing up Wide Awake and make edits
* Follow up on Stella submissions
* Follow up on Hunting Jack submissions
* Submit Water of Leith
* Keep on top of submissions list
* Work on new book, Poolside Poetry
* Write more poetry
* Keep checking listings for performance poetry nights
* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for November column - Blockheads gig reviewed. Van Gogh exhibition?
* Plan and begin work on January's Scotland's Treasure column
* Interview Scottish poet for TSDR
* Continue actively seeking work in specific markets
* Continue looking for freelance gigs, but not for during November
Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare new press release for NaNoWriMo
* Create new standard Fringe Fantastic leaflet and poster
* Re-analyse promotion of FF based on new information gained at Book Festival
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic
* Keep website up to date
* Follow up on PR received
Reading and Research
* Read more poetry
* Read more fiction - completed reading Lifeless by Mark Billingham. Reading The Flood by Ian Rankin
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
* Work on ARS Anthology - send out emails as no work will be done on this in November
Monday, October 02, 2006
I got some nice cards and gifts from everyone, the best being from Forward Press who wrote to me to confirm acceptance of my poem, River Monkeys for publication in their new anthology, A Pocketful Of Fun - A Collection Of Poems For Children, to be published under Anchor Books!
My parents came to visit this afternoon and my sister and her husband also popped in during the afternoon after their own night out in Edinburgh.
I really need a day off. Being woken early by Laura ringing the doorbell then my FIL turning up with his jackhammer really edged me into grumpy territory. I'm tired and need to sleep in a quiet place. Portobello beach seems like a nice spot.
Here's my GDR for September, which I am pleased to say, makes for some damn good reading.
* Type up and finish edits for Wide Awake - WIP
* Follow up on Stella submissions
* New round of Stella submissions to publishers, e-book sites etc. - still waiting on some publishers. May need subsequent editing on names and places.
* Finish editing Regrets and send out to targeted publishers - finished edits. Submitted.
* Finish writing and editing Amanda and Joe and 'maybe' send out to targeted publishers - finished edits. Submitted.
* Complete editing A Friend To Die For to point where left off [read/edited to end of ch.17 (30740/40000 words)] - no work done.
* Work on synopsis for NaNoWriMo novel, Slick - WIP
* Keep on top of submissions list - ongoing process. Targetting paying markets and higher profiles.
* Work on new book, Poolside Poetry - WIP. Problems with photography equipment.
* Write more poetry
* Check listings for performance poetry nights - joined some appropriate mailing lists and plan to attend upcoming events.
* Work on Scotland's Treasure for November column - Blockheads gig reviewed. Van Gogh exhibition? - WIP
* Set out a plan for actively seeking work in specific markets - wrote out plan, researched markets, prepared templates, applied for several freelance gigs
Marketing and Promotion
* Create new standard Fringe Fantastic leaflet and poster - not done
* Re-analyse promotion of FF based on new information gained at Book Festival - not done
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic - books waiting to be sent out
* Keep website up to date - full review and update completed this month
* Follow up on PR received - pending. Will combine with new PR from the Fringe - pending
Reading and Research
* Read more poetry - completed as part of interview research on several websites
* Read more short fiction (web/mags) - reading Lifeless by Mark Billingham. Read and crit several short stories with crit partner who is also working through the exercises I've been doing on TSDR blog.
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - a lot of reading and admin completed
* Work on ARS Anthology - Taken a back seat temporarily, due to other commitments.
Things That Turned Up
* Feedback from Yello management. Expressed mixed opinions on the story and advised that permission from them to my publisher would be required to use their lyrics in the prose. Overall quite negative. Not sure whether I can still use the manuscript as it stands or give them a suitable credit in the book.
* Wrote five new short stories - Amanda and Joe, House Call, The English Teacher, Only a Bagel, Water of Leith, all as part of the TSDR exercises.
* 5 poems sent to PSH for Poet of the Week (3 published)
* 2 poems & 1 flash fiction to Zygote in my Coffee
* 1 short story to Pulp
* 1 short story to One Story
* 1 short story to Wildchild
* 1 short story to Crimespree Mag
* 10 freelance writing gigs
* Heart of a Child published in TSDR Sep issue after call from Brenda. Wouldn't normally sub to my own magazine, but under the circumstances...besides, it's a great story and deserves a good home after all it's been through - rejects, pulls etc.
* Big name Scottish poet agreed to be interviewed by me for The Scruffy Dog Review (still waiting for date)
* Became Poet of the Week on the Poetry Super Highway website, 17th-24th September
* Forward Press accepted River Monkeys for publication in their new anthology, A Pocketful Of Fun - A Collection Of Poems For Children (Anchor Books)
* Daffodils "rejected" by This Is It Mag - looks like they've gone out of business, but taking as rejection anyway 1/9
Fiction - 9,510
Non-Fiction - 14,450
Poetry - 0
Zygote in my Coffee 1
3am Magazine 1
Barcelona Review 1
The Portable Muse 2
Crimespree Magazine 1
Web Mystery Queried
One Story 1
Zygote in my Coffee 2
Wrote a lot of fiction and worked on some interesting new characters. Not feeling any pressure for the next poetry book and got through a lot of poetry and freelance/non-fiction work. I'm pleased. Very pleased. Next step is to keep the fiction moving along, try to bag a few freelance assignments and gear up for NaNoWriMo by ensuring all pre-research and notes are as complete for the beginning of November so I can give it my best shot without leaving myself too tied in to a plot. It will work better without restraints, though there has to be some directional guidance.