Thursday, 1 July 2010

Life’s kaleidoscope

We leap from moment to moment and none of them lasts. But, even though it’s only as memories, the feelgood (or feelbad) factor of each of them blends with all the rest and gives us a sensation that does join them up and give the impression of continuity.

I know, I know – what the hell’s he talking about? Well, I was just reflecting on recent incidents and the accidental nature of everything and pretending to philosophise about them all. Instead, I’ll just tell you what they were.

The ongoing fact is that I’m still writing these two books, but occasionally I stop, take a rest from them and do something else. With the appearance of a strange round yellow thing in the sky on Tuesday, I decided I needed some oxygen, so I drove to a local hill and walked up it. It’s only about 1000 feet, probably less than that, but the views from the top are terrific, you’re all alone, and the only sounds are birds and rustlings in the heather it’s probably best not to think about. And it’s so different from sitting at a keyboard that it feels as if you’ve achieved something.

Then, on the way home, I stopped at the River Feuch and watched the salmon trying their incredible leaps up the falls. I don't think I've ever seen one actually make it to the top so it's a perfect symbol of the good old Sisyphus syndrome (even though they do obviously make it otherwise there wouldn't be any of them left).

Then … No, I’ll save the next ‘then’ for last.

Meanwhile, e-book and e-serial instalments of The Figurehead have been dropping into my inbox, the book’s on sale in the USA, and ought soon to be available here, too. And the garden’s lush and overgrown, which is how I like it. And I’ve started carving an owl for my sister. And the World Cup gave me an excuse to watch telly (even though it’s been the worst one I can remember).

Then there was a suggestion from Michael (of May Contain Nuts fame – and probably several other fames, few of which can be mentioned in mixed company), that it might be fun for him to interview me. I agreed and it turned out that it was. Over a few days, we exchanged sub-Wildean wit and some deep thoughts about crime-writing and you can now read the result on May Contain Nuts. It provoked some nice comments from Facebook friends but won’t make either of us rich.

So all of these things produced little (or large) reactions and gave an impression of variety, change, surprise – and I love unpredictability. But then, and this bit concerns several of you personally, came a surprise to add even more to the mix. Diane (DragonLady) Nelson is a prolific writer and editor. It was she who supplied the first response to my call for ingredients for what became Dinsdale the whale. But then, when both parts had been posted, she surprised me by asking if she could include it in her latest book – Shotgun Shorts. Needless to say, I jumped at the idea and so now those of you who contributed other elements of the story can see them in print (and on screens). I’ve acknowledged you all by name so future literary historians will one day be researching what they’ll probably call ‘The Dinsdale Collective’.

And it’s all these things, these little shifts of chance, alleyways, ring roads, that keep feeding different responses into life and give us an impression of duration, continuity. Which, when really all we are is poised on a ‘now’ which never lasts, is somehow reassuring.

I bet you wish I was still doing cop-out blogs.


  1. Cool stuff! well,I love surpsises too. I had an interesting email the other day, not concerning my writing but my drawings...was exciting, but will see whether it was just a stalker. :)

  2. I love the guarded approach you always seem to take to these things, Scary. I hope the email's genuine and I'm sure you'll let us know via your blog.

  3. I've never seen a salmon achieve the top of a waterfall either, Bill. Maybe it's one of those Kit-Kat moments like the skateboarding pandas?

  4. I ordered The Figurehead this morning from and look forward to reading and reviewing it.

    As for the salmon, I've actually seen a few of them reach the top, only to be grabbed and eaten by a couple of brown bears. It's amazing that they're not an endangered species. :)

  5. Fiona, I was going to suggest that the salmon are the embodiments of my old friend Sisyphus but Jean's note rather squashes that.

    Jean, thanks for getting me at least one customer. I hope you enjoy it but I know you'll tell me one way or the other anyway.

  6. Serendipity is a marvelous thing, so, apparently are sunny days in Scotland. But I'm never surprised when your originality is rewarded.

    Let's make an event of the random thought storytelling. It was fun.

  7. OK, Marley. Your turn then. :)

  8. I shall happily stalk Amazon for my very own copy of The Figurehead. I've never had so much fun as when I go up against the wit [and wisdom and really stunningly superior vocabulary] of you and Donnie Ross. The insanity, the improv nature of the writing, really gets those creative juices flowing. I eagerly await the next edition.

  9. Thanks for that, DL, but from the evidence of the pieces of yours which I've read, you've clearly no need for any outside agencies when it comes to creative juices. As for the Ross person, the man's a charlatan - all the wit comes from his dog.

  10. Congratulations on the many things that are happening in your life. You write as though you're quite calm and your days are quiet, but it sounds like you have a lot going on.

  11. Bill, The Figurehead finally arrived and I have it at the top of my to-read pile at my bedside. I'm anxious to dive in. :)

    As for the Kindle edition of Mysterious Writers, you can download it onto your computer and print it if you don't have a Kindle reader. The print edition is uncertain at this time.

  12. Thank you Helen. You’re right, there are lots of things happening at the moment and yet it is quiet and calm here. I suppose it’s that my body sits here typing away and answering the occasional phone call while my mind gallops off to do the interesting stuff.

    Jean, I hope it turns out to be worth the wait.

    And, since I now know there’s a way of reading Kindle things, I’ll be getting your book right away. You do keep trying to drag me into the 21st century, don’t you?