Archive for February, 2011

So, I have this car, a  1.8 litre 07 registered Vauxhall Astra which I’ve moaned about before on my blog (search “old grumpy”). It’s the most expensive car I’ve ever bought – got it three years ago when it was a little over a year old, and to say the car’s been giving me a bad ride is an understatement. I live about 15 miles from the  job but the public transport is such that it would take me two hours to get there (late) and two hours back, so I need a reliable motor, but this one’s given me more sleepless nights than every other car I’ve driven put together. I’ve had a blown gear-box, blown radiator and all the plumbing; I’ve had the main wiring loom, and the tensioner pulley (twice). And this evening, backing out of my drive to go to the shops, the gearbox wouldn’t engage drive at all. So, you try putting your foot down and, with the engine red-lining, you just about manage to crawl a few yards, but then you think this is stupid, so you switch off, wonder what you’re going to do in the morning about getting to work. Then you switch on again, engage drive, and off it moves like you’d imagined the whole thing. You drive about a bit, stopping, starting, trying to repeat the fault,… nothing.  I have it booked in for a service at the end of next week, but I’m wondering if I’ll make it that far without getting out the recovery team,… again!

In the mean time, we’re seeing the first signs of brighter days with snowdrops in bloom and the early crocuses, so it’s hard to get too wound up about the car.  And speaking of new beginnings last week I decided to extend my knowledge of Chinese martial arts by taking up Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. The original idea was to take numbers one and two sons to learn it, while I watched because what do I want with Kung Fu at my age? But I couldn’t resist joining in, and enjoyed the evening very much. So as well as the Chen style Tai Chi old frame to keep in my head, I’m adding even more complication by learning a whole new set of moves. I must be mad! I seem to be in good company though – the group is composed of a bunch of young-uns as well the more senior students like me. Why do I want to do it? Well, I felt a gate opening and the opportunity arose,.. so I stepped through.

On the writing front, I’m struggling with my latest novel, called La Maison du Lac, or something like that. I’m  trying to wrestle it into a form that makes sense but I’ve been doing this since last September and I’m at the stage of wanting to give it a rest, but the characters won’t let me. I’m not sure what’s going on here, whether I’m trying to force the story in ways the muse doesn’t want  it go or if I’ve just not stumbled across that magic key yet that tells me the story’s finished and means something. It’s a frustrating business, the dark side of writing,… a barren plain without a single landmark in sight to guide you, and you don’t even know if you’re heading somewhere worthwhile, even after ninety thousand words.

So, I’m distracting myself by blogging and even writing book reviews over on Goodreads. I’m not sure I’ve got the point of Goodreads yet. You go on there, list the books you’ve read or want to read and you rate them. But reading’s such a subjective business and unless you’re a professional critic I’m not sure what the opinion of Joe Public is worth. For example, you get someone awarding Orwell’s 1984 one star and saying it’s a crap novel. I would beg to disagree, but my opinion’s not worth that much either. You also get the wannabe critics calling the authors of books rude names and questioning their fitness to be authors, which seems a bit childish to me. I may be biassed but authors are people too and anyone who can sustain a hundred thousand words of prose should be exempt all personal insults, whatever you might think of their efforts. Anyway to all you Goodreads wannabe critics, please don’t simply say a book is “crap” – because you’re not in a position to judge. If you  don’t like a book, then say you didn’t like it, and tell us why. Same if you liked it – tell us why, tell us what you got out of it.  To simply say a book is crap tells us nothing about the book, but perhaps a whole lot more about you. And don’t call the author rude names because they might read your review and it would hurt their feelings.

Other than that I think Goodreads is an interesting forum. And you don’t need to be a traditionally published author to get listed. They’ve even got some of my books on there!

Okay, enough procrastinating,… back to La Maison. 

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