Blog/Coming Clean

Loot Responsibly!

Loot Responsibly!

A hoot for our time. This was the instruction to his followers from Duduzane Zuma, reportedly living high on the hog in Dubai, on the proceeds of his father’s limitless looting of South African wealth. Watching the frenzied looting in Kwazulu Natal and Johannesburg, followed by the burning of warehouses and now the endless queues for non-existent food, there is a hollow laugh somewhere deep down.

Loot responsibly!

For me the hollowness is almost bottomless. Twenty seven years of the post-Mandela ANC governance of South Africa has brought it to this? The bright hope of a bloodless revolution, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s wise approach to healing wounds and expiating bitterness, the submission of the once powerful minority white population to acceptance, only to end in ‘loot responsibly’.

The looters are starving. They are unemployed and likely to remain so, they are also largely illiterate which is why the only shop left untouched was a bookshop. They face power outages but televisions and fridge freezers were trundled away in supermarket trolleys.  Not that there will be much to put in them, even should they work. The police joined in; a police van can carry a fair bit of loot. So too the occasional Mercedes Benz joining the fray! Even the vigilantes guarding their homes seemed content with deterence and waving a gun rather than using it. For the most part.

The hollow laugh is lodged in my own childhood. It is difficult to escape from. My idealistic zulu speaking grandfather Harold Jowitt, was the Headmaster to the founder of the ANC, the Nobel prizewinner Albert Luthuli. Both of them forsaw a rich country, and in potential few countries are richer in agriculture, or minerals, gold, climate, beauty, or diversity of wild-life where there could be lavishly enough for all. Education and training would underpin that sharing, and a working life would be universal. Both, along with Mandela,  have been betrayed by the greed that followed them.

The President Cyril Ramaphosa who began his career in the Trades union movement is worth $450 million dwarfing Jacob Zuma’s mere $20 million, and son Duduzame’s $15 million, now safely concealed in the UAE. The diamond magnate Oppenheimers wealth remains in the billions. The global elite always seem to survive.

African leadership has been universally condemned by the so called first world as ‘basket cases’ of irresponsibility. But is that because the rapaciousness has been quicker and less disguised?  It comes to me that ‘loot responsibly’ might equally have been directed at all the first world monopolies like Amazon, Google, Silicon Valley, and Big Pharma, who have looted any competitor, suppressed news of alternatives and eradicated the inventive by offers they could not refuse. Take the offer or get crushed. So we in the US and UK also have the homeless, the tent citadels, the soup kitchens, and the hungry. And the uneducated and de-educated.  They have all grown used to the rigged economies, the parable of boiling a frog-slowly and imperceptibly raising the heat.

Soon we will also have the failed health systems, and the monopoly NHS will be devoid of staff, killed off by the compulsory ‘vaccines’ or dismissal for refusing them. Most of our GPs lost no time in disappearing behind closed doors. The dancing nurses are now chanting on the streets and waving placards. African unemployment has been through neglect, ours has been contrived with Covid as the bioweapon. We will meet African standards sooner than we think.

Perhaps we can learn from the subversive inventive solutions, like the one store that spread cheap cooking oil acoss a broad entrance, sprinkled it with a film of water and watched looters tumble ignominiously unable to gain entry. Poverty has its own creative spirit, and that gives just one belly laugh full throttle.

Time to find similar stratagems. To laugh and get clever.

Where is True North Now?

I mean for the moral compass by which to live. Until recently the magnetism by which I oriented was as clear as the clock-face of time. Hands moved imperceptibly but the hours were there and people I knew mostly agreed and affirmed that we all saw much the same consensus world. The pivot on which the hands were set ( the unmoving centre) was mySelf, the entry point to which all else related. That Self was pinned in assumed liberty; to think, to act, to laugh, to be unwise, and above all to disagree. As long as it did no harm ( that was not liberty but license) there were no constraints; not in its essence. Any constraints were circumstantial, probably financial, or intrinsic, like my age for which I take full responsibility. I do not attend to healthy eating, or obligatory exercise, once smoked too much and still drink in moderation but I bear the consequences gladly, mea culpa. My unwisdom celebrates my liberty.

There were other components to liberty, mostly the belief that I lived in a civilised country essentially, which civility rested in assuming that smaller liberties were sacrosanct. Its imperfections and injustices had redress, its inequalities were recognised, and in the words of my birthplace ‘Alles sal regkom’ was ultimately implied because its humanity sought to grant liberty to all. I believed it had noble aims, although many not yet achieved. That was the centre of the moving hands of my vicarious daily doings. Nothing perfect but au fond good. As good as the air I breathed without thinking about it; a ‘given’, the basis of existence.

Almost overnight that world is gone and with it the Self that took them for granted. I now have to face the fact that they were not granted, or only on loan until the decision to remove them served a deeper purpose. Like feeding a slave until no longer required, and found un-sellable.

Air is now depleted through masks, ( as effective against a virus as chicken wire is against a mosquito), affection curtailed in its expression, humanity rendered abject and obedient. My kin now demand my surrender and acquiescence. Since I am a recovered, I now have natural immunity, but I am also severely anaphylactic; acquiescence (for no gain whatever) is likely to kill me. But if I resist it is I that am selfish. Those who put the value of their holidays above my life (or their own future freedom)  have not merely censure to beat me with but the State, and its army of outrage. Elderly women who once smiled and moved on are now beady eyed for the exposed nose.

Sometime ago I wrote a piece called ‘Covida, My New Companion’. Its tag-line was ‘A disease of ruthless truth’. In those innocent days I still believed ‘Rona’ was accidental, the ruthless truth was what it revealed about myself, my friends, and conditional friends, the ease with which I had accepted the generosity of life itself, the better uses I should have made of it- all that self examination was purging. If I recovered I would better honour life’s riches.

It came, as I saw immediately, with an ‘intelligence’. Unlike other viruses (and I have had most of them) this ‘thing’ was not biological. It did not wrestle with temperature, just took it up the scale and left it there, nor inflammation, nor raise my pulse or heartbeat. It took over authority and catapaulted me and my febrile body to the floor of that authority. It played matron and ticked off the inadequate protests with an indifferent shrug. It was in absolute control and would exercise that control until it decided whether I was ready for the morgue, or might be permitted to swab the floor, wring out the sweat, and totter back to vertical,  while it moved on and took over another; ‘next’. Next, next.

All those many ‘nexts’ I now know were exaggerated. Just to keep the fear alive. Doctors were paid a premium for Covid-attributed deaths and autopsies were forbidden. The profession followed by most of my family who believed in the Hippocratic Oath was grubbily getting a premium for falsifying. Now only one witness needed for certification to hasten disposal, and nurses sacked for whispering that many wards were empty.

Yet now the undertakers admit to turning off their fridges because business was so slow. They are humming now for the vaccine deaths, and promising business will boom even better in the autumn.

Now that I know it was a carefully patented bio weapon, with a patent number registered, along with the patented vaccine cures for shareholders, all that makes perfect sense. I recognised the difference from the beginning. The difference though, makes all the difference. The resolution I framed, sobered and contrite, now lies in shreds, the purpose left to me, will not reach the world that was. That is over.

But more than ‘over’. Even that past is destroyed (along with every illusion about nobility) together with its history. All those ordinary ‘good guys’ the valiant in mud-caked boots, conquering evil intentions  and dying in trenches, were all along the naïve fodder for those planning this plandemic. They assassinated presidents, silenced holistic doctors, murdered dissenting voices, ridiculed any who waved a warning signal, and to keep its impetus going arranged bogus deceptions like 9/11 or the capture of bin Laden or the moon landings—and we believed it all!  Yes I believed all of it, swallowed it, if not whole, nearly whole. Because trust was essential to Self. Those we elected would care for us! We had given them their power.

The trenches for this current and final war are the buried freedoms to think, and the dead in them are the valiant dissidents, the flag over them is now the triumph of Pfizer or Moderna waved by Bill Gates, the Clinton Foundation and the carefully engineered Great Reset of the Davos Club. Here comes the trumpet-herald Blair, never slow when a war is on offer. How does one even grasp that every country, its governments, its medical practitioners, its elected legislators, its dancing nurses, have all been complicit in the great deception? The final curtain for humanity? The murder of the useless eaters, and the deplorables; all of us.

That message is not an easy sell, but to save a few I try: To universal contempt. ‘With an intelligence like yours how could you believe in….???’

It does have its comic side. The pantomime villains like Claus Schwab who comes out of central casting as the CEO of S.M.E.R.S.H, the dwarf called Fauci who has been polishing his sickle at all that planned murder for decades, the clown called Bojo who walks on to ruffle his hair in that endearing way, and the wooden men called the army of ‘experts’ with names like Whitty and Vallance who keep their faces sombre despite their investments turning more than a pretty penny. Their absurdity makes persuading the sleep-walkers more difficult. Who can take any of them seriously? Trouble is most of my kin all do. For they are still my kin, and part of me, even though they shun this alarmist interpretation as the raving of a lunatic. C’mon man!

Where is there for any ‘Self’ now to stand?

Who would a writer address? My fond memoir epistle to those I loved, the world that was innocent, is an epistle to false belief, unwarranted assumptions, because the Self that took their measure was deceived by cynical narratives. I saw Israel as the heroic rescue from the desert by dedicated kibbutzim; now I know it was a trade to get a bigger war, and delivered by a man whose country it never was. Thereby to ensure the ferment of the Middle East forever. Money makes the war go around, the war go around…

 Lockdown for me has been a new education that has shown me that nothing I believed was true. Almost nothing is left standing except the miraculous beauty of the natural world. There was, in my later life, a deeper measure of truth, but the beauty of the world was precious, because shared. That illusory beauty tied me to my fellow man., to pour a glass as the garden burst open, and the roses scented the evening air. Could anyone write a poem to artificial intelligence, or celebrate the contemporary Tesla, Elon Musk?  Now Colleges of Music must forget Mozart or Beethoven and programme minority composers, and orchestras are disbanded for want of diversity: Even a meticulous score is now ‘too white’! True. Bring on the skin drums and the penny whistle.

I can still jive to a penny whistle but it’s not enough.

The past was largely illusion, but an illusion that gave rise to glories of genius; music, literature, painting, architecture: The present is grotesque. So grotesque that we have no resources to comprehend it. But this incomprehension has been carefully seeded by diversions and depravity. It is all so obvious now.

To watch the citizens who once fought incendiary bombs from the rooftops, who slept in shelters but still went to the music halls through the blackouts, who danced a frenzied Charleston, smoked like chimneys and bartered eggs for silk stockings is almost unbearable. Those that turned out for factory whistles and assembled tanks that rolled down ramps already firing, while the men they loved died like dogs, because they believed. Believed in the nobility of freedom from oppression. Yes; they were duped, their generosity exploited to their death and the same people were responsible, or their fathers were. Your country needs you! They signed up to give the illusion of liberty for an interval, and I thank them for that deluded vision for most of my blessed life. I owe them. Big time.

Now the undistinguishable Lowry populace scuttles in masks, and exposes its arms for a suicide shot, and wears a badge to prove it! They were all my friends and I cannot reach any of them. To them I am unhinged, to me they are deaf, blind and obdurate. They want to go to Benidorm. I want to recapture and secure liberty. With clarity of vision we could do it, together. The power of ‘no’ is all we need, but we need the ‘all’ to say it.

Most of the world is still saying ‘yes’ and even children cannot breathe

Covida: My new companion.

A disease of ruthless truth

Grey Flattened platelets

I felt her presence the moment she crossed the threshold. I would not claim she ‘breezed  in’, but her penetration came with a cold wind of dread, dread not of illness —nothing in me expected to be one of the chosen— but an unnameable dread that suddenly life as I had known it was to end.

It was certain, not apocalyptic.

I should set the  chosen victim in context before I introduce you to this ruthless calculating doyenne with her watch chain and gaunt resolve, a Mrs. Danvers mark ten. I was paddling slowly towards old age with some of the irritating symptoms, to which I gave no attention. I still had things to accomplish, a memoir to finish, other works to polish, and the days were filled with purpose and routines. Purpose had driven my puritanical life, to contribute something of small significance. I had long been indifferent to my appearance, or clothes and I wanted little. I hardly saw anyone. A reason to keep writing was all there was, and it was enough for some to say ‘You don’t seem anything like eighty’. I was nowhere near eighty, then. It was three months ago, that ‘then’.

Like any professional invader, Covida cleared her workspace, which was my mind, exterminating any resistance. She knew exactly what was required. I would submit, no nonsense, and since this would be a rehearsal for death I would lie down and sleep while she went about eliminating the value of anything I had achieved, chopping down and uprooting  before the pyre of correction consumed it all, the garden of my life lived. All illusions were swept away by her broom of unvarnished truth.

I slept uninterrupted for eight days and eight nights, only broken by a glass held to my lips every four hours, but the inner journey I took was her prelude for the other still to come.

First the landscape went pewter and metallic-ally grey, and the maw of a funnel sucked me slowly and inexorably towards it, until I fell, like Alice into a wonderland of bleak revelations. Grey flattened replicas of Covids floated past, like blood platelets or planarias with their characteristic spikes, as though suspended in a viscous medium, not threatening because being omnipotent they had no need for menace. They were masters in the medium of my blood and brain, and they were a tribe that had total possession, make no mistake.

Then, one at a time, I floated down past recent friends, and each was wrapped in a coloured film of slight colour, blue or green or grey. I saw that film as my projected imprisonment of those friends by my hopes and expectations of them. Those friends wrapped like mummies, had never been fully seen because I had projected upon them roles that answered to me. My longing for a reader had failed to differentiate between someone who admired my writing— in sich— from what I was writing which she couldn’t believe in, not really. Since the substance of what I was writing was my memories reconstructed with all their innocence, she, not believing them, was not believing in my world or my integrity. So my friendship built over years now seems to lie shattered.  My hope had blinded me and imprisoned her. Already I miss her.

So it was with each of them. Another, much younger, was wrapped in my confidence that she had never seen me other then as a contemporary, but Covida ripped off that illusion and showed her as kind but never carelessly equal. I wanted her youth, and she had granted it. I had expropriated her kindness. Others more distant were not mummified by my expectations but patiently waiting for their deserving recognition. I had neglected so many. There it was. One cannot unsee what one has seen.

Covida is a ruthless excavator of truth, the truth about oneself.

After the pewter funnel of recent life I landed in a black landscape in which the setting sun was a thin sliver of light on the horizon. It had the atmosphere of a Caspar David Friedrich painting, bleak but inevitable. That light was the remnant of my future life, if I was to live.  I took a vow, then and there, that if I survived I would not return to the unthinking, semi conscious existence I had been living. Nor re-clothe myself in the goals of self-importance, although without them the air blows cold about me. How will I spend my days?

Sunset_by_Caspar_David_Friedrich

I have not yet found another life to live. Perhaps when Covida gives her consent to let me walk more than three hundred yards without staggering, and remain vertical for a whole day I will. She is parsimonious with her spoonfuls of stamina. Some morning I rise with a teaspoonful that will last until noon, other days she is liberal with enough to see me through until tea time, and I have fed the dog before the desperation to lie down takes me back to bed.

Being stripped naked of all clothes of self belief, all the satisfactions from accomplishments ( and I had a few) leaves little from which to restructure a new existence. Perhaps a dulling of Covida’s influence will tempt me to return to smug satisfaction. I hope I will resist.

I have long had a place I go to in the imagination, a weather beaten grey wooden shack above a cove, shining like a coin, enfolded by the arms of the earth, and known only to gulls. That is where I hope to find a new life. Needing and wanting nothing.

I am now just as old as I look, perhaps older than even I know.

I do wonder whether my single experience is also to be the collective consequence of Covida’s invasion of the planet. Will she strip us collectively naked to repent of our blindness? Will we find its ruthless truth cleansing? I give Covida a female gender since women have a deeper appetite for truth, and are deeper mired in roles which imprison them and those they serve.

Humanity has received new vision, and been stripped of outworn illusions. We, Covida’s elected front runners, may have the wind of that in our nostrils. The haltings of the following tribe are still attempting to reduce the sharp salted new air to the recycled old paradigms ‘only a kind of flu’ ‘a variant of Sars’ in the hope of holding onto hope that Man has seen this before, and survived. Survived for another chance at mistaken identity and the death of value and values.

The lens of my encounter with her suggested something utterly unique, and ruthlessly intelligent, something impenetrable beneath the superficial symptoms of her presence. It robbed every conviction that I knew myself ( and I have spent a lifetime following Socrates in that pursuit). The onion has no limits. Nor does the onion of this blundering humanity concerned with appearances, with acquisition, with colour and distinctions, with sex and the liberation from gender, in the absurd belief that the individual is so defined.

The marvel of the unique individual remains hidden by the fluttering of banners. The Cause obscures the Universal.

George Eliot’s 200th Anniversary Today. My personal celebration.

A Tribute to George Eliot.

The thoughtful eyes and very long nose of a genius.

The woman who has guided my life, and plucked at my shoulder whenever I neglected her was born this day 200 years ago exactly. I vowed I would finish a memoir that is not just a literary tribute to her but a sleuthing of her intermittent interruptions through my 78 years of following in her treads. I did so yesterday in time to light the candles today.

George Eliot packed four signed volumes of her last novel (Daniel Deronda)to my great great great Aunt (Eliza Mary Sanderson nee Barrett)  who she had never met, and never would. The aunt, who was childless, and who lived in South Africa left them to my grandmother. Nobody knew what had prompted the gift, but the books were bequeathed to me. I first saw them when I was sixteen. Then they were stolen by my own aunt and given to a University Library in  a place they would never be asked for.

Portrait of the Aunt to which George Eliot sent books

The influence of George Eliot initially was that of overwhelming admiration, and the seduction to leave Africa for England, for its literature, its poetry, its traditions, its certainty of varied seasons. She summoned me to a different world, and ultimately to the ambition to write. But that was only half the story.

The other half was locked in the mystery of those books. The call to write the memoir was to discover the end of the story that began with them. That gift linked me directly to the author. I discovered not only her (adopted) family’s direct connections to my own but an unknown poetic work that I had never known of but echoed in my narrative poem Involution. It now seems that George Eliot was a restless muse, and found a scribe to finish what she had only just sketched before her premature death at sixty one. It seems my life was merely to mix the colours and sharpen the quills!

Perhaps that is all I was meant to do, to write her Religion for Humanity?

My life has been sliced into decades that echoed each one of hers, without knowing it. It mirrored her search for answers to belief, exploring every doctrine only to find each in turn insufficient. Each exploration of hers gave rise to a stupendous work, from Methodism in Adam Bede, Catholicism in Romola, to Judaism in Daniel Deronda, but the greatest novel of all, Middlemarch, exposed the dry vacuity of intellectual answers in the character of Casaubon seeking ‘The Key to all the Mythologies’. In his arid search for authority he betrays everything and everyone else, most importantly his marriage to his yearning idealistic wife, seduced by his so-called erudition. Erudition of that kind is the atrophy of the soul. This was the work Virginia Woolf called the ‘first novel for adults’. By that I take her to mean that meaning is not arrived at by catalogue or cogitation, or ‘givens’ from any source, but by independent ‘openness’ to all. And the courage to step away from any collective. (George Eliot was never a joiner of groups, not even those who expected it like the suffragettes.) I echo her in that.

George Eliot’s life was a life in search of love, and loving gave access to meaning, not just for oneself but through the lovers of music, inspiration, ideas, and the great adventure of life. Life was the ‘great book’ of wisdom.

Tomorrow I will add an imaginary conversation with the great author whose search was my own but whose recognition and rewards were the very opposite. For now I will rejoice in having known her. She is incomparable.

 

The Magical Tale of a Tail

via The Magical Tale of a Tail

Since I am wrestling with a memoir that is built of such magical bricks ( no straw at all) and one of them has been the intermittent view halloo from Shelley Sackier I post this celebration. I have been searching for my critical friends who intervened at important moments and took their leave at equally momentous intervals.

Found it0002

She is right that serendipitous events must be merely sprinkled in fiction. Probably that should apply to memoir too, but when your life has been a fable from get go, and animals have appeared to nudge it along, there is no shirking or coyness possible.

Here they are.

Bella ready for Jamaica
Bella the beautiful was really an honorary horse

Then came Milly. A collie more white than black and named for her namesake Milly Ndaba.

who made friends with Alfie and Alfie unwound a snake just at a critical moment when DNA had revealed its secrets.

Alfie and the Snake

But in the background was always Noel who kept me company without asking for anything.Noel and Me 001

This is Not about a Book

An essay about a non-solution; a book that’s not a book but a well contrived catalogue. One solution to writer’s block- just write a long list, press publish.

This is not about a Book.  (C’est ci ne pas une pomme.)

apple front cover transparent

The head of steam burbling below the surface suggests an essay coming on. I always take ‘essay’ seriously. It contains built-in respectable failure. A what-the-hell invitation to let loose. The shrug will follow. Ah well is implied.

If I were less self-controlled this might be a book review, but it’s not. I have enough solidarity with a fellow writer not to want to pull any kind of bell or dead-drop rope. Besides like marrying the wrong person half the fault is your own; your expectations chose the book, your disappointment was also yours. So this is not a shout at a book, but wider than that. It’s a shout at the world of publishers, and those agents and sales reps with manicures and glossy lists who have a product willy-nilly, ready for the Christmas market with time for the reviews first.

Will there even be Christmas this year?

I have just read, skimmed, galloped through a book and it enraged me. I rarely do any of those; books have an authority I am loathe to challenge. There is always hope that redemption lies on the next line, or the next page. Not this one; I read it all but at speed.

I am used to being disappointed by books I order on impulse. This was not bought on impulse, but pre-ordered on the basis of what it promised because I am not so much in the throes of writing a memoir, but beached like a whitened cuttlefish above the salt tide of a perplexed repetitive rolling breaker life.This book would help get me re-floated. It was (ostensibly) about the difficulties of writing about family, with matters of confidentiality arising; it was about the perilous knife-edge between fact and fiction; it was about how a competent and much respected author/teacher was coerced to solve the problems, of keeping things fresh, and being creative and stimulated. All Laocoon problems being wrestled with chez nous.

In a way it did address  all of those things, and solved none of them. Instead it explored, analytically the nature of the dilemmas in ‘finding a story’ and then finding ways to tell it engagingly. She never did find a story. She wrote a book about not finding a story.

‘Where’s the story’ dominated about twenty five percent of my valuable time, ‘Look into your family’ dominated the next twenty five percent. And looking for, not looking at, continued.

The members of her illustrious family were leafed  through as by a finger in a card index, singly, with much lingering on the reasons for being renowned, before she moved on to the next. A five star family tree hung out to sparkle. So well documented were these estimable generations, she could find no space for herself. She could not add much to esteem, nor supply salacious details or invent a caprice. They were all rock solid in reputation. Or someone else had got there first. But half of a three hundred page book was devoted to this index. I can get the Yellow Pages for nothing and nobody expects me to read it.

george-eliot-photo-u4
This is not a painting

 

I have been having similar problems with George Eliot who threads her running stitches through my book, and half of me thought I should uncover facts about her. Nine volumes of letters and seven biographies later I know less about her than I did. She walked speedily away because my George Eliot was not the same as other people’s. Facts added almost nothing. Or worse. Facts boxed in a Boadicea writer and placed her in carefully contrived ‘at homes’ with other notable visitors, all of whose names you recognised. They shone; reflected by being invited to tea. Same here. That was what I hoped this author would illuminate; how to relegate the biographical and make wild with conjecture; how to render conjecture truer than fact.

It often is.

Her despairing solution ( we are now sixty percent through) was to invent a fictional character that would thread through lives in their trivial and unexplored silences, the interstices that would admit a nanny, a governess or a secretary who might find herself interestingly compromised, abandoned, orphaned. I cannot remember what happened to her, this non-existent member of a family to which the author belongs. This fictional character never rose off the page, never spoke out loud because her function was simply to act as a needle and thread to replace the finger and sift through another generation of the estimable family, whose peppered names got shorter, but whose identities were even less interesting than the Wikipedia-like entries of the first half.

These smaller younger leaves on the family tree fluttered briefly without offering the slightest reason to notice them. Except their fast galloping names on the heels of one another. What their brief hooks permitted were extracts from the author’s other books  and not very well obscured references to the hell of earning a living as a writer, and the depths to which one has to sink (Open University might or might not, this year? The exhaustion of coaching! Oh not another talk for another lit fest!) to make ends meet.

We already know all that. Some of us lack the agent who says ‘Find a Story, anything will do, and mention as many important family names as you can. I need this year’s offering and your name will sell anything.

Now I understand the deadening effect of fact when you have wings to fly creatively. I had been taking maiden flights of fancy with the facts of my life for three years. I hoped this book would offer ‘lift-off’. I understand that restraint may be necessary with other people’s (in my case offspring’s) feelings, but how to stay true? I hoped for suggestions of stratagems. How much fictional recreation is legitimate? How much is taboo? The thin line between imaginative re-creation and distortion? How to tell? How to curb? Is truth merely your impressions or does it need ‘sources’ because sources add nothing to emotional veracity on the day (however riveting the facts on another day, or for another kind of reader). Wrong facts can tell a better story, if they were indeed true for you.

All these answers were implied by the banner over this book of a ‘writer’s travel through her family’. Instead it was a lot of ‘woe is me’, how curtailed I am by the importance of my family. I can hardly breathe! Where is there place for me?

The answer came. No doubt with an advance for the attics and cellars of ‘not there, not here’. And ‘this’ll do fine’. It has enough words, doesn’t matter what they are about. Available for pre-order, to which I appended my contribution. The book signings and speech making will follow.

This book, which shall remain nameless, is a lens to light the fire of indignation to a roaring blaze. For those of us who have too many stories to tell, without enough life left to tell them, without the agent to promote them, without the pedigree to make a sow’s ear from a silk purse, are dealt a final body blow with the current hype of this cynical exercise in self-promotion. It is not a novel, not a memoir, not a non-fiction trawl through illustrious forebears, but a non- book. It is a catalogue of harrowing self-congratulation for being too well connected. Very well written.

A bit like trawling through recipes under consideration by Marco Pierre White but never cooked.

Still hungry for answers.

 

 

How to Write a Bestseller

How I do like a realist, even better a humerous realist who joins hands and says okay, got it, measure the distance…let’s jump!

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Nice to meet you, sir. Thanks for coming to our writing circle. OK, everyone, let’s say what we’re working on for the next hour.

Sir, you don’t have to tell us the whole story. It’s enough to say “novel” or “memoir” or “blog post” and how many words or what goal you’re—

Fiction or nonfiction? Well, what’s your book about? There’s computers? And you’re creating a character like you… That’s fiction. No, it doesn’t matter if it’s set in the real world, as soon as you start making stuff up, it’s fiction. I mean, unless you’re writing memoir and being honest about fuzzy memories. But I’ve never seen a bookstore shelf labeled “Fiction but Also Nonfiction.”

Sure, I can give you a couple tips. Let’s just get everyone else started and—

Yes, planning a story is hard. You might find this website useful, it breaks down a traditional three-act structure…

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