Wednesday 9 November 2016

General Update

Well its been rather silent here recently. And no one likes an awkward silence. Therefore, I will waffle a bit to break it.

You have been warned.

Here's what I've been doing.

1) Hating everything I've been reading

Well, not everything. But most things. And in fairness this has been going on for a while.

What happens is I pick up a new book, read for a bit, then put it down, disappointed in some thing. Its happened with indie authors, its happened with Sanderson, its happened with everyone in between. I'm not sure why its happening - writing leaving me hypercritical? A side effect of my less than stellar outlook on the world in other issues? Sheer bad luck? Who knows. It is quite irritating though, not least because I do have to go back and give some of these authors a second go.

I'm not going to list everything I've bounced off - that would take a hella long time - but I did think I'd shout out the two new books that have pierced my armour of hatred.

Those are Heart of Granite by James Barclay and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Very different books, but if there is a link, I would suggest it is that neither is taking itself completely seriously. Which is a very underrated trait in fiction if you ask me.

2) Eating at Bar Shu

I don't know how many people reading this blog will have much of an interest in high end Sichuan cooking in London. It should be everyone but people are odd sometimes. Or have no interest in going to London.

In any case, a friend dragged me out there the other day. The original plan had been to eat around London Bridge, but she decided I need some exercise and she'd route march us to Soho instead. I wasn't complaining as getting a good meal around London Bridge can be a bit of a trial and I love Chinese food. This was my first time in a restaurant concentrating on the Sichuan region. I know of the cuisine; I know enough not to order anything considered hot by the menu.

And it was an incredibly big menu, covered with pictures of not your standard Friday night takeaway. Generally I have a rule about eating at places which show you pictures of the food (try not to) but I didn't mind on this occasion. It did make ordering very slow. Eventually I ordered the Muxu Pork and some whelks. The pork was not at all hot, but rather silky and comforting and downright delicious. The whelks weren't as good but did provide a nice counterpoint between mouthfuls of pork. My friend got the Gong Bao prawns with cashew nuts. I stole a few - they were some of the best prawns I've had in a while.

Googling the place finds plenty of less than glowing consumer reviews online. This surprised me a little although upon reading further, the main objection seemed to be to the service. Bad service in restaurants is of the devil tis true, but I had no problems. They even brought me a fork when it was clear I am horribly inept with chopsticks.

Me and the friend are already planning a return visit with a big posse so we can try more of the menu.

3) Playing dumb computer games

This has occupied far too much of my time.

Dumbest of all is an online idle browser game called Midas. The idea is you're Midas, gathering ever greater sums of money. At some point you get more diamonds than there are atoms in the universe. It is strangely compelling despite the fact pretty much nothing happens.

Slightly less dumb but still dumb is Freecell. I tell myself I'm using it as a mental warm up but the reality is I play it as a way of doing something to avoid being bored when I can do nothing more challenging.

Only kinda dumb is Mount & Blade: Warband, where I frequently spend my evenings yelling at other people not to die so quickly. They don't listen but that's okay as I'm usually being a little hypocritical when doing so.

4) Doing an internship

My return to the job market has featured a detour through internship land. I'm currently acting as a sorta digital copywriter/editor to Healthwatch Camden, updating and improving their Start Here guide to health in the borough.

Its been pretty interesting actually. There is a huge array of bodies offering some form of health or care to the public, or oversight of those, or the ability to complain about them. If someone wants to be actively informed about what they do with their health problems, they face overload. One of the things I've been doing is trying to make sure all the options are there for them to pick from without it being too overloading.

The weird thing is I've found having the structure of work actually helped with my writing. That is until...

5) Not writing like I should

Well, you knew that. There's been no writing on the blog.

Eventually, the whole hating everything I read thing got to my own writing. I hit a tough point in the plot where a lot happens in a short space and found I couldn't edit it for love or money because everything I wrote sounded awful. There's only one thing to do when that happens and that's to put the project aside for a little. Either clear your head of writing, or work on something else, or anything else at all. I'm all for writing crap to hammer out a draft but once you get to the editing stage, either do it right or not at all.

Anyway, since then I've cleared the head and yesterday on the train finally started tearing into that difficult little scene. It isn't done yet but we're on the way again to finish that book and putting it out for all you people. So time to finish this filler blog post and get back to work on the book.