I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Kindle treachery

Do we fail more than we succeed? A question only someone who regularly writes fiction would put; failure is more interesting than success, it's got built-in drama.

Anyway the answer is yes. For every success we fail a thousand-fold. Luckily no one knows, these failures are internal. The most prolific source is self-delusion.

A plane flies over; idly we pretend we could become a pilot; we couldn't. Pass a jeweller and imagine running off with the diamonds; we never will. See a tree, type unknown, vow we'll buy a tree book and learn; we never do. Dozens of times a day we fail with nothing proclaimed.

But a Kindle reveals our self-delusion. Mine is several years old. The minute I bought it I trawled the Internet for freebies. But not for JK Rowling or John le Carré (even if they'd been free); I sought free downloads that would prove my intellect: Goethe's autobiography, Canterbury Tales, the Alexander Pushkin collection, The Communist Manifesto, the complete Milton, and more.

They'll be there, easily accessible, I told myself. I'll be able to read them any time. Guess what...

Proof that I'm not an intellectual, then? Better not read, writing's a more sophisticated disguise.

Hardline Hope, a novel (4523 words)
Lindsay smiled. “This is a supercar, Gayle. I could bore you with nought-to-sixty times but a supercar is – and here’s another crummy word – a statement. You run your own business. What’s your line?”

“I’m plugging a hole you Brits desperately need plugging. Computer programs for really big systems, the sort this country always seems to screw up.”

“NHS? The Inland Revenue?”

Gayle said, “Uh-huh. Those and others. Systems where bigness shifts the goalposts; even changes the game itself...


  1. I too raided the Kindle store for out of copyright freebies, RR. A whole shelf of my beautifully bound and varied poets was donated to my daughter and shipped to Oz, all replaced in a simple digital box. She abhors Kindles and loves books. I always said I would will them to her, but she has got them whilst I am still alive (almost) and it gives us both pleasure. Me knowing that they are loved and cared for by someone I love and care for: her having the pleasure (visual, tactile, spiritual)of their ownership.

  2. Well, you know the story about my Kindle purchase only 3 years ago. Your posts sometimes included references to your Kindle, so I began to seriously consider one. Then I learned one could borrow books from the library on such a device, and so I bought the Paperwhite model. I've got the contents section parsed into 4 categories: completed / unread / shorts & poetry / non-fiction. I see that I've completed 32 books in these past 3 years (+ the ones I borrowed from the library) and that 17 books await my pleasure. Mostly memoirs and novels. But then not every book is available in e-format. Last week in the mail, I received Marly Youmans's newest, Maze of Blood, in hardcover form. It's a handsome book sporting a svelte dust jacket.

  3. Might be a case for a bloggers' meme (remember those?); encouraging people to come clean about the grossly over-ambitious free stuff downloaded to our Kindles, things we were never going to never read but somehow believed that their being there would induce us to do so. This was all the more deluded since a book's presence on our shelves is at least visible and might serve as a prompt, whereas once it disappears into the two dimensional universe of the e-reader it may as well not exist at all. Yet perhaps our aspirations and over-inflated illusions about ourselves reveal more about us and how we than what we actually accomplish does.

    I even went as far as to put many of mine into folders - French, German, Russian, kids' classics, knitting patterns... which makes them still more occluded, since they no longer even appear directly on the home page. I never attempted to keep much poetry on it though, as it always seemed a completely unsuitable support for it, though perhaps no more so than for knitting patterns.

    I also have a little app thing on the Chrome browser which will format and send any web-page straight to the device, so all those fascinating articles, blog posts etc that I lacked the time or concentration for at home can be called up whenever I am at a loose end on the train or in the dentist's waiting room, or wherever. Thus I collude with myself to progress yet further down the path to hell...

  4. One too many 'nevers', and missed out a bit of 'how we see ourselves in the first para.

  5. Avus: Never opted for beautiful bindings; always found hardbacks a nuisance, too heavy especially when reading in the bath. Incidentally I have read in the bath for seventy years and never wetted a single volume, until a fortnight ago when I fell asleep and E. Waugh's Put Out More Blogs got briefly doused though I have to say my reactions were electric and the damage was minimal.

    Thank G. it wasn't the Kindle.

    Not that I'm idoleogically opposed to hardbacks, you understand.

    RW (zS): If I didn't know better I'd say your powers of organisation were positively Teutonic. A woman of the world, that's what you are by now.

    I didn't realise you could, in effect, go to and return from the library via Kindle. Neat. Americans are so advanced. Let me know about the Marly Youmans novel (other than about the dust jacket). I've just had a comment from her, a first.

    Lucy: "Grossly over-ambitious" - exactly the phrase I was looking for. Also "occluded" which I've never yet used as far as I know, orally or in written form. It's so compensatory having well-educated friends; knowing there's a good chance the stuff will rub off.

    Best of all you share with me the implications of delusion. Oh yes - on another matter entirely - you may have been partly instrumental in my receiving a comment from Marly Youmans; very jolly, no side at all. Very honoured to have shared the covers of Annunciation with her.

    I love the circularity of your comment, ending as you do on the path to hell (Capital h?) and yet jokingly. Some of your writing is like a familiar tune, or like a tune that is going to become familiar. I can't be sure this makes sense.

  6. I'm intrigued by the vignette from High Hopes. Hope to see more.

    Still working on Little Black Book? (Hope I've remembered the title correctly.)

  7. Some friends gave me all of their (very many) downloaded Kindle books. They are well read and I was excited. It didn't work out and most are still unread. I didn't know the authors and the electronic medium didn't allow for perusal or 'choosing for the cover'. I do love my Kindle though (maybe a guilty pleasure for an author) and have recently experimented with reading it in the bath (this will no doubt end in disaster!)

    I too am looking forward to High Hopes; do give us more tasters.

  8. Crow: Glad HH caught your attention. Picking vignettes can be tricky. At first I looked for three or four lines that had a kind of "completeness"; almost a little story on their own. Now I tend to go for bleeding chunks which hint at the scope of the story, but provide no answers.

    No obligation with Little Black Book. It's either fun or it isn't; if it's not fun, drop it.

    Blonde Two: We all know about that vast list of unread titles; but so long as it's a vague entity, out there in the ether, it doesn't matter. But Kindle reminds us of our pretentions; one way or another we now have - as I have - a tenuous link with, say, Ovid's poetry. And each time I open Home I'm reminded. Answer (a cowardly one), stick Ovid in Archives.

    It doesn't matter to anyone else but to be able to post HH's wordage figure, and notice it growing, is proof I'm doing what I like doing, what I need to do, that something new is occurring.

    Something entirely new in HH: a hateful mother. Never before.

  9. I've read LBB; wondered if you were going forward with it. When I can get my head together for more than five minutes, I'll email you my thoughts on it. Suffice it to say that I think it would work as a novel.

  10. Crow: You're not the first to have suggested that (expanding it into a novel), the most recent being my neighbour just across the road. As it is I added it to a collection of my stories which is presently being considered for publication, although if this does happen it will be the longest of long shots.

    Don't strain your head over this, it is after all only fiction, another way of saying fibs that have undergone a certain amount of re-organisation. The Matron does (or did) exist, albeit a long time ago and she wasn't plying her trade as a spy at the time. I know all the locations involved and it may have been this more than anything else that led to the creation of this story.

    As I said before, don't feel any obligation. I'm simply glad and grateful you've had the stamina to read it. Keep on looking after your noggin.

  11. It is doing such things as reading you stories and thinking about the plot and characters that helps my noggin. This isn't nor has it ever been a strain for me. I just go through some tough times and it knocks me on my can for awhile.

    I need the challenge, Robbie. I had a feeling you might have known someone like Matron. She is your strongest woman yet, I think.

  12. 'High Hopes' was a great film by Mike Leigh...

  13. The Crow: Too strong to live, alas.

    Fed; Now attended to.

  14. Your books look as though they have more about work in them than most, and that's something that has tended to be left out of books for some time now. Interesting.

  15. Marly: Hole in one. Gorgon Times lays its cards on the table with a foreword called A Working Brief:

    The chances are you have a job; the chances are it isn’t the sort of job that figures in novels. Unless, of course, you're a policeman, an art gallery employee, an academic, or – Lord help us – a writer. Book jobs are a tight little world.

    I believe we are defined by our jobs but since most of us don't chase rapists, moon about Lucian Freud, deconstruct Derrida or overcome authorial block we rarely see our lives mirrored in fiction. Gorgon Times was written with most of us in mind.

    My other three titles make similar claims. I wanted the nature of the work done to push the plot, even if no one wanted to read the result. Out Of Arizona's central character flies light planes for a living, Blest Redeemer's is in marketing and Second Hand's a fledgling surgeon who is forced to find other work. All are women by the way, the result of a Damascene moment that occurred while I wrote GT.

    I hate novels that sustain characters who don't work: who are on holiday, are of independent means or who merely do something undefined in an office. Even the dullest job impinges on our nature, shapes our personality. So it goes...

  16. Yes, I agree, though I have been guilty of writing about a writer in my most recent novel (though he also does lots of menial labor, including washing the clothes of prostitutes and picking cotton.) I find a number of elements missing in most novels: the first is work, particularly blue collar work; the second is characters who are conservative. It's as though everybody is on the left and doesn't have to work--which I find curious. Other things are absent as well, or else are treated from the "correct" viewpoint that skews the story. It does make one want to write agains the grain of the times. I'm not that far away in time from my father's childhood as a sharecropper's child, so I really enjoyed using that material in a book--again, it seemed like something in our history that is too often ignored.