A Lazy/Busy Day – Day 12 NaBloPoMo 2015

Well, I’ve managed to do not very much today apart from write, and (so far) I’m pretty okay with it.

There’s a big easterly rain front over Tasmania and there’ll be little gardening action until Saturday afternoon. Usually, I’m the kind of person who has a checklist of things that I want to achieve every day, even if they’re ongoing tasks like music rehearsal, feeding “Wee Beastie” my sourdough plant, or tending to the animals. Writing tends to be shunted aside for when there’s time, especially at the moment, which is the busiest season in the garden.

Instead today, I’ve been writing poetry pieces for a university assignment and scoping out my 500 word exegesis. The concept of an exegesis is interesting, it’s a lot like writing liner notes for a recording or an introduction to a book but digs a little deeper into what informed the creation of the piece. In fact, many writers have used introductions as a type of exegesis, and they make fascinating reading for students of writing like me.

I recently read Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning, his latest collection of short fiction and I was really inspired by the introduction. Apart from the generalities, he offers a few notes about each story and it was really very instructive.

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Meanwhile, I imagine the water tanks are full again *happy dancing* so I’m going to find my raincoat and head down the yard soon to collect eggs, pick salad for tonight’s dinner, do the evening feed and check for any new mushrooms. I buy bags of supposedly spent compost and usually get quite a lot out of them this time of year – and today’s humid, wet weather is perfect. Hopefully, there’ll be mushrooms on toast tomorrow 😀

Mushrooms from the garden - note the pencil for size!

Mushrooms from the garden

What’s your favourite way to spend a rainy day? Leave a comment – I love to hear from you!

Going Mobile

From tomorrow and for the next few weeks, I’ll be without an internet connection at home, as my household awaits the arrival of the NBN (Australia’s National Broadband Network) so blogging will be sadly reduced! I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get my house connected, which in itself, is quite exciting. But I feel particularly lucky that my area’s getting connected at all, given the recent change of government in Australia…… but that is a whole other post!

Meanwhile, I’ve been having a rethink about Twitter and how writers I admire, such as Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman, use it so effectively and manage to say so much. So, I’ve revisited my account and plan to learn how to use it better. You can find me here.

And lo and behold, this morning I was fortunate enough to discover fellow blogger Jumbled Writer, who wrote a very relevant piece about Twitter in January this year. It’s called “The (Potential) Benefits of Twitter” and I repost it for your enjoyment.

I’m heading out to the garden to play with my rabbits now and plant vegetables. Yes, I’m taking my smart phone with me 🙂

Bella & Boudica

Bella & Boudica

Lou Reed – Thank’s for the Inspiration

Lou Reed Transformer

This week saw the passing of Lou Reed.

As a music teacher, I still use “Perfect Day” as a teaching tool. And Reed’s incredible original version on “Transformer” as THE example of someone who isn’t a good singer but IS a great vocalist.

Friends of mine met him, one was lucky enough to work with him. All speak of the acerbic wit and some, the legendary rudeness. I was just a fan but I can’t begin to say what a tremendous inspiration he was to my songwriting and how much I loved his lyrics. Along with David Bowie, Reed was major part of my teenage soundtrack and caused my mother to worry about me and the music I was listening to. I still listen to my Velvet Underground and Lou Reed cd’s and that still makes me happy.

I read this tonight on The Guardian UK and I think (as is often the case) Neil Gaiman summed it up beautifully. So I share it with you. I am sad tonight too….

Neil Gaiman on Lou Reed

Things That Matter – #1 – Reading

Over however many weeks it takes, I plan to share with you the things that matter to me in my creative life.

This week, is one of the absolute joys of my existence.

My father used to say to me, if you have books, you are never alone and never bored. How true! The biggest issue for me is to make time to pursue my passion. My tastes are eclectic and I read very widely. Besides fiction, I also love books on food and cooking, practical skills, science, travel, biography and history.

My Reading Pile

As I type, next to me are Scott Lynch‘s “Lies of Locke Lamora”, Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean‘s deluxe edition of “Black Orchid”, Paul Koudounaris‘ “Heavenly Bodies” and Alan Moore‘s classic graphic novel “V for Vendetta”. Also on my current reading list is Alison Weir‘s biography “Eleanor of Aquitane”, Robert Fagles‘ beautiful translation of Homer’s “The Odyssey” and top of the list on my e-reader (yes, I have an e-reader – but more on that later) are Mira Grant‘s “Blackout” and David Mitchell‘s “Cloud Atlas”.

I love books. To me, there is something almost sensual about the feel and the smell of a book, the weight of it in my hands. In the case of “Heavenly Bodies” it’s not just the feel and smell but the stunning photographs that bring me back to explore the text and the reasons why these cadavers are so adored and adorned. But above all things, if it’s a fiction book I haven’t read before, it’s the anticipation of a new journey and new characters to come into my life. If it’s a familiar title, it’s like saying hello to old friends and revisiting familiar places. And the anticipation of new things to discover and learn in non-fiction is still as important to me as when I was a child.

In Tasmania we also have a fabulous library network called LINC that has stayed so relevant in an increasingly digital age and is just a great place to find out things, browse books, magazines, cd’s and dvd’s. And there are many, many bookshops in Hobart, my favourite being Cracked and Spineless New and Used Books, aka The Imperial Bookshop.

Now, as much as I love real books, made from ink and dead trees, I also own an e-reader and use it surprisingly often. My experience with them came from my GP, who was horrified that I was carrying so many library books in my day pack. He suggested that I should, as a person with a spinal disorder, seriously think about getting an e-reader. I was reluctant but my beloved friend (aka “theywhomustnotbenamed” or TWMNBN) bought me one. TWMNBN’s a reader too and understood the need to maintain my habit! That device saw me through the first three and a half George R R Martin “A Song of Ice and Fire” books and more Terry Pratchett Discworld titles than I care to mention! It finally died one summer’s day at a critical moment in “A Feast for Crows”. Fortunately, I had a hardcopy of the book to come home to and find out what happened next.

It’s surprising the amount of criticism I’ve had from people about my e-reading. Most of the books I have on it are electronic versions of titles I already own and it’s wonderful to be able to pull a library of some 500 books out of my bag – no matter where I am. My current e-reader is a touch screen device, with WI-FI capabilities but it doesn’t replace printed books for me. I don’t see it as being “unfaithful” to traditional publishers but just using a particularly convenient tool. I still borrow, buy and read books.

Reading removes my stress, helps me sleep and gives me dreams, feeds my thirst for knowledge, causes me to daydream and imagine the weirdest things and makes me want to know more. And, the inspiration it provides to my songwriting is incalcuably wonderful! For me, the reading inspires writing.

Several of my favourite songs have been directly inspired by Neil Gaiman‘s work. A few weeks ago, he gave a lecture to The Reading Agency in London about why our future depends on reading, libraries and daydreaming. It’s worth the effort to read the full transcript. Also, I’ve recently read (and highly recommend) Gaiman’s latest adult novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane“. It’s really, REALLY good.

Now, back to my reading!