Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First rant

The sub-heading of this blog promises the odd misanthropic rant, so for veracity's sake, here goes...

I travel a lot by train and of late Station Announcements have really started to get on my wick. The first problem is that they are nearly all electronic these days. Now, yes, voice software has improved a lot, but it's still very obviously a standard message that goes out with the odd word dropped in to make it specific to your problem. The slight shifts in tone or drops in volume over certain words (places, times) shows you this.

All of which is fine. Except... well, you know that it's a fake voice, you know that it's a recording, so why, when an apology is called for does it say "I"? There is patently no "I" to refer to (unless B R Station Announcement technology has become self-aware). What's wrong with "We", thereby making it a corporate apology? To be honest, whenever I hear one of those messages apologising for a late running train, I feel as if British Rail (or whoever) is laughing at us. It's such an insincere message.

Not that it stops there. Occasionally, you do get a real person speaking, most frequently these days with a new announcement that declares 'Please would passengers use the full length of the platform when boarding and alighting'. Now this is obviously a new scripted announcement - every staion in this area uses it - but nobody has stopped to think that it makes no sense at all!

The first half is okay - despite the fact that it does make you sound like Mr Fantastic, it is possible to use the full length of the platform when boarding a train (or at least, for passengers to spread themselves out a bit rather than all clump up at the bottom of the platform steps, which is I think what they mean), but once you are on the train, you are effectively stuck in one place. To use the full length of the platform to alight from the train would require dashing from carriage to carriage just before you got off. So why keep it in the announcement? Do they really want us all to run up and down the train merrily - or does B R just have a lousy script writer?

End of first rant (prepare to get used to them!) ;-)

On my way

Well, today I discovered what will become a major component of my writing life - a decent Coffee Shop!

I'm not a great coffee drinker but I have to say there is something really nice about sitting in a coffee shop, cup by my side, laptop open, writing away. I think it's because there are no real distractions - ok, I've got my mobile but no one ever rings me, and the coffee shops I use are not wi-fi, so I don't have the fascination of t'internet. It's just me and the (electronic) blank piece of paper.

Until about a year ago, we had the best Coffee shop in the world in town (Well, there might be another contender for that title in Edinburgh, but it's a close run thing). There were comfy settees, friendly staff, good food and plentiful drinks. And it was an independent too, which was an added bonus. But they shut down, unfortunately (taking a large chunk of my social life with it!) and until now there hasn't been a decent replacement.

The new shop is only a Costa, but it's got a nice feel to it, the chairs are comfortable and laptop friendly, and the coffee's not bad. So now my days off will be spent tapping away on a keyboard in town, as I did today. And that can't be bad!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well, I'm here...

It's a bit of a conundrum, figuring out what to put in your first post...

The reason for doing this: I have wanted to be a professional writer for ages, for probably as long as I can remember. At school, Creative Writing (as it was known in those far-away times) was always my favourite subject, and the one I got the best marks in. Since I left school, I've continued writing - sporadically, admittedly - and have built up a back catalogue of short stories, novellas and even a full-blown novel, all of which I have done nothing with.

Ok, I tell a lie. All of which no one else has wanted to do anything with.

I've sent off short stories to all the usual suspects (I tend to write Dark Fantasy / horror, so there aren't too many outlets anyway) and each has come back with a standard rejection. Undaunted, I have continued to write and to try to find outlets for it. I came very close once when a well-known small press kept one of my novellas for a whole year while they ummed and ahhed over whether to publish it. In the end, however, it was decided that the theme 'wasn't quite for us' and back it came (The same piece was praised by a Literary Agent but also dropped because of the 'non-existent market' for novellas - it's becoming my boomerang book).

All that changed, though, on 13th October this year when a novellette of mine - The Red House - was actually accepted, by Pendragon Press for one of their future Triquorum anthologies (I'll add links in to their various pages as soon as I figure out how). So it's happened: I will see print. And now I want more.

So, this blog is here to do two things - to chronicle my attempts to get published further (and to follow the Pendragon trail) and to push me into actually doing something when the twin distractions of work and home life conspire to stop me. I've no doubt that it will metamorphose into something totally different as time goes by but in the meantime I start with high hopes and good intentions.

Come follow me, dear reader, if you dare...