I started writing this post earlier in the month as I thought it would be good (for my own benefit) to put my hopes for 2016 down on paper. As with a lot of list makers, the process of writing down what I want to do, then re-writing that list several times over, really helps (and wastes time, yes) to drill down to the nitty-gritty.
Then we had that dreadful run of ‘celebrity’ deaths. I don’t think celebrity is the right way to describe them individually but you know what I mean. First of all I was really upset at the death of ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister. I have never been rooted to one style of music so I’m not going to pretend I have been a die hard metal fan all of my life but I grew up with an affinity to rock and heavy metal and it was rare for much time to pass without blasting out something loud and raucous. I grew up to Iron Maiden and they are still the soundtrack of my life but Motorhead certainly played its part, and more importantly the ethos the people that made up these bands had, and the way they lived their lives was just as impactful. As with who know how many hundreds of thousands of people around the world, news like that makes you think about mortality and without realising my draft blog become quite the depressing pessimistic final-diary entry piece, so I thought it best to let some time pass.
I write this blog for myself. I’ve given up on diaries and I end up keeping most of the notes I make for stories I have in mind (I always think they will come in handy for a character or scenario later down the line). I realised though that I was becoming a bit more boring in my blogging, in that I was using it just for news and announcements and I have trailed away from writing about my feelings. I wanted to change that in 2016 and get back to exploring my views on the world but aware of not going too far, I don’t want to spend too much time here rather than on my stories or get too personal either (we all have those Facebook friends who post ‘Too Much Information’) but it’s an interesting exercise and good practice, and I quite enjoy it. Even if no one reads my blog, it’s the routine and discipline involved that helps me so I’m going to make a renewed effort this year to post on personal subjects as well as more business related ones.
Then David Bowie and other influential people died and I really felt down. As with Lemmy, he wasn’t a bigger or lesser influence on me than many others but for sure, there were moments in my life when I listened to his music and it made me feel better. Just the fact that he existed and did what he did made me feel better. Just the awareness of how creative people sometimes do succeed and flourish makes me feel better. Just the fact that ‘ordinary’ people become famous and despite ups and downs remain ‘ordinary’ and people you can associate with makes me feel better! That’s where YouTube comes in. It still amazes me that we have access to the history of the world’s media within a few clicks on a computer. I’m 36 years old so I’m not fully eligible to use the ‘in my day…’ phrase but ACTUALLY in my day growing up in the 80s it was still the case that you had to go to long lengths to get access to the information you wanted. All those crap magazines you had to pay mail order subscriptions to, VHS rentals that only had three copies of the latest films and were always out, satellite channels only one person in your whole school year had and so on. You couldn’t simply go to a computer and type in ‘David Bowie interview’ and be presented with countless clips from every decade and every country. It is incredible. Of course that is exactly what I did. I must have spent hours watching interviews and documentaries of David and Lemmy… and I was so moved. As I said earlier, it was their sense of purpose and direction that was just as important as their work to me. They knew what they wanted to do with their lives and they worked hard to get it, and yes, no one, including them, would say it works for everyone, you need luck and the dice to roll your way sometimes and have people to support you, etc. but I don’t care about that. You need that in ordinary everyday life just as much. What I care about is that they had passion and didn’t give up, and you get the feeling that they would have been more or less the same personalities regardless of what ever job they would have ended up with. That’s also the point, to remain connected to reality despite the craziness around them (and to which they succumbed at times of course, but wouldn’t everyone?) and still be just decent ordinary people.
But there is another element to their deaths. As I mentioned above, I am 36 years old and that means that for the most part, people my age have parents roughly the age of Lemmy and David. Mine, and my friends’ parents are their ages. If you saw Michael Caine’s interview last week where he talks about being 82 and remembering when he was younger (he actually says he feels like he was 36 only yesterday) and his perception of people in their 80s was that of a being really really old and doddering about on walking sticks and speaking in dry raspy voices. He doesn’t think that now of course! I’m from the UK and like most other places our society (despite the many, many serious issues we have) is serving our health well, we are growing older, growing older fitter and stronger, and being in your 60s and 70s is not the same as a few generations ago. So, it feels like dying in your 60s or 70s is somehow wrong, it is like being robbed of decades of potentially rewarding and fulfilling life (for the individual and those individual’s families and loved ones) and that is why it seems so upsetting. What else could they have achieved given more time? It’s a horrible thought… and selfish too, I’m looking at it in the sense of what pleasure could they have given me, but I don’t mean it like that. I want them to enjoy life for its own sake. Then there is the thought of my own life, if I am 36 then that is over the half way mark! I have less time that I have already lived to achieve what I want to achieve. It’s a sobering thought. One last comment on why these people had such an impact, and again, it’s another selfish one I’m afraid. If you live near to where someone famous lived you have a sense of connection. You may never meet them, never have any physical connection to them at all in fact, yet because you know that they came from the area you did, there is a sense of emotional connection. There were two articles from a couple of weeks ago that touched on this.
Culture should never be a privilege - it must belong to us all
The entertainment industry has always been a route to fame and riches for people from modest backgrounds
David Bowie: how a broken pint glass in a Blackheath pub changed the course of music history
David Bowie was only 16 when he stepped in as lead singer for The Konrads when the band's frontman cut his foot on broken glass at a pub gig in 1963. The accident propelled the then David Jones to stardom
I can walk to where that pub used to be. I can walk to where Kate Bush used to live. I could go on and give you countless examples of being able to walk to places where ‘famous’ people came from. Coming from London this may not be unusual, I know. I realise that living in a big city you can’t turn a corner without some link to a fascinating historical fact. That doesn’t take away the point that these places are still ordinary. Ordinary places with ordinary people. That’s why when you watch these interviews on YouTube it is surprising that we are surprised, if you know what I mean. Of course they were just ordinary people. Why would they be anything else? Why do we expect them to be anything else? They come from ordinary families and from ordinary places. They worked hard like we all do. It just so happens that what they worked hard at had an impact on millions of people. We are surrounded by ordinary people that are also magical beautiful people, we just never get to see it because they don’t have their day to day lives recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Think of how many wonderful people you know that would be an inspiration to others if only you could somehow transport them into the living rooms of the world. That’s why when watching the following interview for instance, which happens to be the last one Lemmy recorded, it makes me smile so much because it could quite easily be the bloke down the pub, or the uncle you see at Christmas, or the mate from secondary school who now runs his own plumbing business, etc. He is just someone who had success, but still enjoys life for what it is and that’s all I want really. To be able to enjoy life knowing you took the decisions that were important to you, risky or not, dangerous or not, crazy or not… you just worked hard doing what you want to do, as the saying goes, the journey is the important thing, not the destination; if you had told Lemmy or Bowie what they would achieve when they were kids they would not have believed it just as much as if I told you – you reading this now - what you will achieve. That’s why you just have to enjoy the journey because we simply don’t know.
(I tried to find the original from German TV channel ZDF
but couldn’t so apologies for posting a re-upload)
So... I ended up writing this blog again and changing the angle from pessimistic to optimistic. From Lemmy to Bowie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_in_2016), to those who have passed so upsettingly young to those who have lived to see a full and complete journey, reflecting on the meaning of what work and art is, and the means by which you judge success, takes me back to one thing: focusing on the present. It is the hardest thing to do sometimes, I constantly think of the past, my mistakes, the things I wish had turned out differently, and so on, but channeling all that energy (and it can use up a lot of energy!) into the present is what we have to do, what we must do. That’s what you get from watching people like Bowie and Lemmy, despite what they have already done, and their age, and changing commitments, they are still looking forward to the next project, the next gig, the next whatever is may be… As someone who is interested in writing, I have to remember to think of anything negative as a tool, a means by which I can develop my writing, in the same way you need to tools to fix something mechanically, and when sad things happen and life forces you to reflect on your mortality, celebrate the good things and not rue the bad. Use those emotions for the next project just like Bowie or Lemmy would have done. Get busy. Get to work. Stay focussed on your passions!
With that in mind, here is a very quick mention on the things I will be working on this year and bringing you updates of through this blog and my other social media sites.
Self Publishing Package
For at least a year I’ve been thinking about selling a service, partly because I have been asked to by a few people and it got me thinking and partly because I find it an interesting business opportunity. I enjoy helping people and over time it has become apparent there is potential to develop the company in a way that would make me feel like I am giving people something genuinely helpful and growing a team, or a community, at the same time. The start of this year (what I said above) has settled it for me. Why wait any longer! I am finalizing the details of offering a self publishing package. I would like to help people build the foundations of a self publishing author profile that may assist them in growing and developing as a writer (and cross fingers moving on to bigger and better things) and so after a couple more weeks of tweaking the business plan, working out advertising, sales reporting, contracts, agreements, editing, design services, blah blah… I will start that venture. I will keep you posted. Initially I would like it to be just a local thing, working with people in south east London but we shall see.
My First Novel…
I spent a lot of time in 2015 setting out the story I want to tell for my first novel. I stopped developing it while I worked on my last set of short stories and there has been a further disruption now that I have been developing the self publishing package but I am nearly ready to get cracking. I pretty much know the main characters, the main settings, the main plot and have a folder full of notes concerning various episodes and conversations so it’s just a matter of sitting down and focusing one hundred percent on it. My aim is to have a complete first draft complete by December. Again… we will see…
I started a separate blog this time last year to show you photos and notes from the various trips I took to research locations I want in my book but stopped. I am not sure it is worth starting up again so instead any trips I take I will post about here. It’s a bit too much work trying to maintain so many different sites to be honest and it takes up too much time. I won’t reshare the first few posts as it’s all in a different format however every time I go on a jaunt around town from now on, I’ll share it with you here.
I have had my domains registered for years but have spent up to now developing my company website and other services. Before the self publishing package goes live I will make sure I have my own author website up and running and I will use it to offer any potential visitors an insight into my personal passions and share the experiences that have formed me (writing and non-writing related). Again, I’ll let you know when it goes live.
I think this year will be busier than ever. I really want it to be. I feel the need to be active and make some progress. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and hope you feel part of it with me.