The distant echo of a morning star

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Sunrise

I’ve reached what is probably my least favourite stage of writing a book with Cyrus Song: The first edit. This is my least favourite part because it’s so laborious and unproductive compared to others, going through the entire text with a magnifying glass while adding very little new to it. But it’s a necessary evil, to make a good thing even better.

In the greater scheme of things, the book is just over halfway through the pre-publishing process. It seems like so long ago that I started to write it, and the finished book is still some way off. The first draft is about to go out to test readers, while the writer is in a self-imposed limbo.

The first edit is a real plod, after all the fun which was actually writing the book. But I can type at up to 80 words per minute, so there are bound to be mistakes which need ironing out. I tend to write a first draft directly on the typewriter, simply because I can type faster than I can write longhand. I do have hand-written notes, character biographies, and relevant newspaper and magazine clippings in notebooks, and part of the first edit of the initial draft manuscript is making sure all those notes got included in the narrative. It’s laborious because I know the story well but I can’t skim through it; I need to check every punctuation mark and the general continuity of the whole story. I need to be able to send the first draft manuscript to test readers without bits missing or broken. But having read the first draft fully myself, I’m satisfied that it’s going to be a good book.

I’m now looking at a month or so before test readers are due to come back to me. Depending on their feedback, there may be further amendments to make, but the manuscript they’re getting is effectively a second draft, now that I’ve polished it up. Then there’s all the actual book stuff to do: Editing for style, indexing the chapters, writing the foreword, acknowledgements and dedications, as well as the author bio and the back cover synopsis. It’s still looking good for publication before Christmas. In the current domestic and worldwide climate, it’s a book people might be wise to read. It’s a tribute to Douglas and a book for humanity.

Having said before that I wasn’t going to politicise this blog, then posting some political opinion of my own, I won’t dwell for long on what’s becoming a bigger subject by the day. At the moment, I’m seeing the unrest which I predicted a few months back, with what seems to be a far-right retaliation attack on innocent Muslims in London. I’m also witnessing a left-wing uprising, which I hope will prevail. I post daily on social media about current events, so follow me on Facebook and Twitter for a more rolling feed. Back to the blog about the writer with depression, I’ll just say that Cyrus Song has a lot of socio-political subtexts, without diminishing the fun of the book.

While I’m at the mercy of others with Cyrus Song, I’ll be writing some new short stories, for my next anthology, and for the free-to-read markets. New work from me should be knocking around in the next month or so.

In the writer’s life, I spent last Sunday as I often do, with two of my biggest fans: My children. It’s been discussed many times, but after all that happened with my breakdown, everyone has ended up in a better place. For my kids, that’s having a dad who’s a writer, and that must be pretty cool. Well, I know it is.

We’d postponed from the previous week, because of the tragic events in London at the time (The Borough Market attack). And of course, in the intervening week, there’d been a general election, which surprised many, but which I’d called as a hung parliament two weeks before. My kids are as hopeful as I am, that the lifting of a national veil and the rise of the left, will begin a more progressive movement for the future.

My children are only 12 and ten, but they have the same left-wing, long term view as me. For them, the move to the left would mean free university tuition, which we would otherwise be unable to afford. I see access to knowledge and teaching as more of a human right than something which should be packaged up and sold as the preserve of the rich. My kids see many human jobs being made redundant by technology, just as machines had the same effect in the industrial age (history repeats). They realise they’ll need to start work as graduates to do something worthwhile. And they see the bigger picture, where further education is democratised for the greater good of the country, rather then the right wing way, which favours the rich and creates a two-tier society. These are my children: Thinkers, who have a dad who researches near-future scenarios for fiction works. Yeah, that must be cool.

It seems more like a decade than the year ago that Brexit happened. Now, we’re looking at the glimmer of a better future but there’s a long way to go yet. One thing everyone ought to be able to agree on, is it’s time to change. It’s time to forget petty differences, to unite and co-operate as one race: The human race. Right now, we’re hoping for a new dawn.

In Cyrus Song, there’s the animals too. At the end of it all, it’s about the planet we all share. The book goes further and deeper, but one day, humanity may yet hear the Cyrus Song itself.

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Ryanair: “We will never eject passengers”

NEWS | SATIRE

Overcrowded Plane

Budget airline Ryanair has announced it will never eject passengers from over-booked flights, following the recent United Airlines controversy. The US carrier caused outrage when a passenger was forcefully removed from an aircraft so that a crew member could sit down.

It is common practice for airlines to over-book flights, on the assumption that a number of passengers will forget they’re going on holiday and simply not turn up at the airport. Ever keen to capitalise on anything and jump on a bandwagon, Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary has announced that he will abolish the need to ever eject anyone from an over-booked flight, by “finding room for everyone, somewhere.”

O’Leary, 56, went on to say: “Planes are big, except when they’re far away; and people are small, so it’s really not that difficult is it? For starters, Ryanair will never ask paying passengers to vacate a plane for our staff. We’re often short of staff, so we might ask passengers to be flight crew instead. The result? Never another cancelled flight because of staff shortages. How many people have ever dreamed of being a pilot and flying a real life plane? At Ryanair, we make dreams come true.”

Asked what the airline’s policy was on over-booking, O’Leary said: “Our passengers pay fuck all for their flights, before we add all the stealth charges on. We’ve not even announced our latest: A door policy, where customers pay an extra charge to actually get on the plane. But we will make them pay, and get them on our flights. Our customers don’t expect much. We’re pushing the CAA to licence our standing-only cabins, where passengers just hang onto a strap, like when they’re on the Tube. While we still have to waste a load of space with seats, people can sit on laps. There’s plenty of room in the aisles: We have no on-board services to speak of, so our cabin crew don’t need the aisles. Result? More room for passengers. We’re reducing the hand baggage allowance, so people with children can stuff them in the overhead compartments. And we’ve got the cargo hold. You can always fold granny up and put her in a suitcase, just so long as you buy her a ticket.”

Writing home

NEWS

I’ve been fortunate enough to be approached by the local press, who wanted to report on my story. So this week, I’m in a newspaper.

From back alleys to bookstores – The journey of a man who turned despair into award-winning tales.

The full article is here (on page 4):

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“Lewinski role” for Kellyanne Conway

NEWS | SATIRE

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Kellyanne Conway and her mouth (Getty Images)

Following Kellyanne Conway’s recent defence of Donald Trump in the disabled journalist row, the president-elect has offered her a job as a White House intern, saying, “It’ll be just like Monica and Bill.”

Conway, 49, is a key adviser to Trump who ran his 2016 campaign. She defended the president-elect’s behaviour when he apparently mocked a disabled New York Times reporter during a 2015 rally. But Conway insisted that’s not what he was doing.

“That is not what he did and he has said that 1,000 times,” she exaggerated on Monday morning. “Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?”

Although it’s clear to anyone with a pair of eyes that the stuffed orange carrier bag was using his position of power and superiority in his pram to ridicule the disabled man, Conway maintains that he “Didn’t mean it that way. People need to look at what’s in his heart and not what comes out of his mouth. I only have to stare at his navel to feel the warmth that comes from him. And people will need to listen to what I say and not look at what’s coming out of my mouth.”

Trump believes that Conway’s mouth will be very useful during his presidency: “Kellyanne defended me. She tells the truth. That’s a good mouth”, he said. “In fact, I might even call her ‘The Mouth’. I’ll probably grab her by the pussy, because I’m the president.”

Asked to comment on her new post, Conway said, “I can’t wait to get my teeth into it. Now if you’ll excuse me, Donald has asked me to go out to buy some cigars.”

Original Huffington Post article.