I've been meaning to post this photo for a while (I took it back on the 16th). It's from an event where Jake Spicer did a live painting of Rosy Carrick at Art@TaylorMade. I've seen lots of paintings but not much painting. I arrived in time to see Jake make his first marks and loved watching how Jake picked out which lines from the real world he was would use. Jake said that he can't look at a person without mapping out their face for a portrait or planning the shading.
I had a strange day on Thursday, not helped by having very little sleep the night before. In the evening I had a photo shoot by Sam Collins at Brighton's Hotel Pelirocco. Sam was shooting various people for a Tight Lip project. While my involvement in the project was minor being photographed was fun. Apparently the final images are good.
After the photographs I headed to the Victory Inn to see Glue Gun '91. It's their third show but I missed the other two as I was performing elsewhere. It was awesome: the first half was fun, with two poets reading, but things became very strange after the interval. An appearance from 'Jerry Springer' was followed by a man doing a striptease while riding a unicycle; he then sang songs about things like headless chickens and hagfish. I'm looking forward to next month's event, which will include an appearance from famous poet Philip Larkin.
For years I've kept a computer file with notes for writing. It contained brief story descriptions, character sketches and interesting lines, some salvaged from failed stories. The file grew to a few thousand lines, with some entries that were years old.
As part of my general decluttering I've now eliminated the file. I've taken out the ideas that suggest viable stories, moved some notes into works-in-progress and the rest are gone. I think that having the file was more of a distraction than an aid. Sometimes things were written in the file rather than take the time to write a fast draft and ended up never being written; other times I wrote things in the file rather than consider them properly at the time.
I'm very excited. I now have a set of short stories that are no longer hidden amongst weeds and rubbish. Over the next few weeks I'll see which ones grow into something interesting. Clutter is never good.
I'm reading at Jo Horsman's next Sparks night, on December 9th at the Three and Ten in Brighton. I'm very excited, as I'm reading alongside some very interesting people. The line-up features Vanessa Gebbie, Jenn Ashworth, Kuzhali Manickavel, Pam Hewitt and Jacqueline Cattaneo. I'm going to be reading a story called 'A Bad Place to Stick Your Hand'. Tickets are £5.
work. Everyone smiled when they saw me and I soon found out why: in my absence they'd decided
I would be doing the eulogy."
Yesterday was the Brighton Brooks 10K race, which went very well. I started further back than I wanted, meaning the first couple of kilometers were like Churchill Square on a Saturday. Once past the crowd I could go faster and made up for lost time. It was actually one of the easiest runs I've had (maybe because of the slow pace at the start) and I had lots of energy left for the finish. I was delighted to come in at 790th (by gun time – by chip time I came in 720th) at under 47 minutes – I knew I was faster than usual but not how fast. I'm mostly recovered now but I'll take a few days off then switch down to practising 5K runs ready for the Santa Dash.
After the race (and still wearing my shorts) I visited the Art @ Taylor Made gallery where Jake Spicer was doing a live painting of Rosy. I've often looked at paintings but not painting – it was fascinating to watch Jake picking out what information to put on canvas. I'll post a photo of that when I get back to Brighton.
I had a long coach ride to Derby but I had lots of distractions- a history of boo.com, the West Wing and the BBC documentary on Hugh Everett (the "human interest" side was brilliant, but I wasn't sure about the physics explanations). I wouldn't have survived without headphones to block out the people making long chatty mobile calls. Maybe I do need an MP3 player after all?
I'm now in Derbyshire for a few days, relaxing and catching up with some friends. I'm impressed that my sister has learned by heart the novel Each Peach Pear Plum
I saw the sign below while walking home on Monday:
I missed all of the Halloween festivities this year, but it's good to know they're going on. The same evening I also saw a poster for Brighton Wok (click for a larger version):
I was amused to see the poster quoting this weblog. I stand by that comment – I have no desire to watch Iron Man a second time but I will be at the Duke Of York's on Saturday for the Brighton Wok screening, even though I have it here on DVD. Iron Man may have starred Robert Downey Jr. but Brighton Wok's Ninja Flakes were more creative than anything I saw in Iron Man.
Also this week, I've noticed one of those little signs of aging. I no longer have to say no to the flier touts near the HSBC on North Street. They don't even offer me their fliers now. Guess I'm too unhip for dance clubs now.
On Thursday night I went to a Making Presentations workshop at the Werks, run by the copywriter and poet Ellen de Vries. I wanted to go because my recent Barcamp presentation didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I figured it would be good to learn what I might be missing.
Nine people attended the workshop, split into two groups. We were asked to introduce ourselves with just our name and job titles to see what conclusions people drew from them. This was a little weird for me, since I'm still on sabbatical and had to invent a title. Everyone else sounded very fancy.
The course covered a lot of material in two and a half hours, including defining objectives, understanding the audience, not presenting after lunch and the use of adult education theories. The workshop format worked well, allowing people to share their own experiences and tips. Hopefully it won't be too long before I have a chance to present again – I'm looking forward to putting what I learned into action.
Sadly I'm going busy when Ellen's doing her next course on DIY Copywriting, but would be going if I was free.
Thanks to David Pashley, I've now learned the problem. Vodafone transform some of the content they deliver over the web. One effect is degraded image quality (discussion of the problem and its solution in Germany is here and here). The other problem is their use of minify, which is breaking some sites. This was breaking the JQuery library included in a site of David's I use.
We resorted to loading the libraries over HTTPS, which is not a good general solution but works in this case. Meanwhile I thought I'd make this entry in case it provides a pointer for anyone facing similar problems.
(Aplogies for the technical post. If you've read this far and are disappointed, here a link to a kitten video —> kittens )
I've recently found some excellent short stories on the web. The list was somehow lost in draft status but it's all fixed now. I've also added approximate wordcounts for each piece – none are long, and all are worth reading:
- When the Toasts Stopped Being Funny by Steve Almond (125 words) – haunting and wistful.
- Plaits by Tania Hershman (240 words) – I'm amazed that such a short story is so detailed and well-structured.
- Nightfall by James Cooper (340 words) – another piece that produces strong emotions in few words.
- The Pomegranate by Katy Darby (1800 words) – I love contemporary stories based around mythology.
- Ten English Trees by Danny Birchall (2100 words) – this story braids together facts, myths and narrative. The structure works really well.