Next Thursday December 15th
T O N I T E
more details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/
Next Thursday December 15th
more details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/
On December 15th 2016 from 5:45pm until 7:00pm I will be at Cardiff Central Library reading from and discussing two of my novels – Boys from the Backfields and Cheats and Liars. I might also discuss some of my other books and possibly talk a little bit about the publishing process.
Boys from the Backfields is a murder mystery set over half a century. The story begins in the 1960’s when Mick a young teenage boy and his little gang witness the murder of Betty Fish while out blackberry picking around the Backfields council estate in South Wales. Mick is haunted by this tragic event for the next 50 years until finally the truth is revealed and the mystery is solved.
Cheats and Liars is set in an affluent inner suburb of Cardiff and follows Brian Llewelyn, ‘The Greatest Living Artist in Wales’ as he comes to realise that his success depends on the sycophants, cheats and liars that share in it. The novel follows Brian as the foundations his life is based on crumble from under him and he has to redefine what is important.
There will also be plenty of time for any questions from the audience.
This is part of the Library’s Open Space Events series and it’s free but space is limited so it might be best to book through Eventbrite where if you search ‘Open Space Cardiff’ you should be able to find them, though, as I write this it may be too early for the December event’s listing.
Here’s a painting from nearly 15 years ago – one of the first I did. It was painted on the back of a placard/protest sign that I had previously used in a satirical community play I wrote called ‘The History of Llangennech – Part 2’
Blodyn has become a bit of an icon for me since I painted her. She was used on the cover of my poetry collection “The Words in Me” and will be used again on the cover of my new collection “More Words in Me” due to be published in a couple of months.
Here she is:
And here’s the back of Blodyn
To Me is the title of my next book. It’s been written specifically for myself and it is dedicated To Me, but I don’t mind if others read it.
I think everyone should have their own ‘To Me’ book. Luckily I have the experience and skills to publish my own.
Using Print on Demand it doesn’t really cost anything but time plus the cost of any printed copies, and you can buy just one copy if you like.
I’m working on the final edit, it looks like it will end up being about 103,000 words and 310 pages long in an 8.5″ x 5.5″ format.
Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:
The Artistic Imperative
* Warning – this is a self-indulgent ramble *
When I was young I was told I was very clever. ‘You are so intelligent,’ they used to say. I was also a very nice kid – generous, gentle, helpful and uncomplaining. I was full of life – ‘Fond of play’ as my form teacher wrote on my final report from the primary school. I was top of the class, number one of thirty-four, and that was in the A stream in the final year at that school – so at that time I was the top pupil of the whole school.
To be fair my teacher recognised this and wanted me to apply for a scholarship to go to Llandovery College – a private school around thirty miles from my home – it would have meant boarding I believe.
But, my parents didn’t have the wherewithal, either in monetary terms or in imagination to pursue the idea and the teacher realising it was an impossibility, let it go. As it happens, I’m glad about this, I don’t think I’d like the person I would have become if I’d spent those important years of my childhood in such a place.
Now, I’m approaching my 65th birthday – my mother is disappointed in me. I can see it in her eyes – and anyway, she says it often enough. ‘You used to be so clever,’ she’ll say. ‘You could have done so much.’ Continue reading
A personal message to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Exhibition Day 2 – Tuesday half ten am.
No one in yet but at least it’s finished. Everything’s up.
Laura Mason’s installation – Anna’s paintings – Ian’s drawings – my 87 varieties. Maybe I’m deluding myself but it all looks amazing to me. Toying with the idea of getting in touch with the media – but I don’t really want personal publicity a la Llanelli Star, obviously I’d like artistic publicity-recognition-acknowledgement whatever, but I’m scared of getting my chops in the local paper – daft aren’t I?
Need to go for a piss etc so shall lock up and leave a note on door. Continue reading
I’m chuffed that my novel Bums has had its first review.
I’m still experimenting with the idea of vlogging (Video Blogging)
Here’s a short intro and a shorter test rant 🙂
This is a piece of what I call ‘Live Writing’
It was typed directly into a Word document on Wednesday November 4th 2015 at 9:45 am. The document is laid out exactly as it will appear in the final book.
The book is called ‘This is it’ and it’s a kind of fantasy/autobiography type thing. It’s just something I’m working on as a side project – but it’s already grown to around 92,000 words.
I’ll probably regret it but this piece is completely unedited. Continue reading
I made this video to see if
a: it’s something I want to do
b: it’s something I can do
The jury’s still out on both counts
Some work in progress to show the conceit of the writer – when I say the writer I mean any person who considers themselves a writer, including myself, for you have to be conceited to believe that anything you write is of any interest to any other person. It’s no good saying you write only for yourself – what would be the point of that?
I suppose there’s a book in that – ‘The Conceit of the Writer’, it may have already been written, but this is not about that, this is about me. So, the following piece is the first few paragraphs of the first draft of the sort-of-autobiography I’m writing.
The sort-of-autobiography has the provisional title of:
It’s now normal to take pictures of yourself; no one thinks you’re weird or that you have an ego the size of China if you post a self-taken photograph of yourself on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or wherever; in fact, posting a selfie is a cool way to let the world, or at least your so-called friends and followers, get to know who you are.
So, I present to you the Selfieview – an interview with yourself. Let’s face it, you’re probably not interesting enough to be asked a set of questions about your innermost thoughts and desires, or even your outermost achievements and beliefs. But that’s where the rest of the world has got it wrong, hasn’t it? You are interesting! Of course you are. You are a unique and magical being infused with all the energy in the universe, and besides, you do have things to say about the meaning of life – you may even have the answers. Continue reading
I recently wrote a little piece about an event I was due to perform in. You can read it here: The Suchlike Zen.
Here is what happened next.
Disclaimer: The following piece was written by a different version of me from a parallel universe therefore the views expressed are not necessarily mine. It’s also a bit long, and a bit of a head-fuck, even for me.
‘Hello! I’m Derec – sort of. The thing is, I’m not from round here, and to tell the truth I’m a bit lost, and when I say lost, I mean properly lost, lost in space and time.
You see – I’ve got this theory that, hmm . . . hang on, let’s try to keep it simple. OK, let’s just say that – and remember, it’s only a theory – well, not even a theory really, in the scientific sense, it’s just an idea really, a smidgeon of a thought about the nature of reality – you know, what it’s all about, I mean, I’m not going to pretend I know the answers, any answers to anything, but, and I think you have to show me some respect as a fellow living, breathing creature of this universe, or any other universe come to that.
And that’s the point – Any. Other. Universe. That’s what I mean, there are, according to many respected scientific thinkers, many universes, in fact, according to some, there are an infinite number of parallel universes.
This is a photo of my painting Two Black Cats in the Garden
it’s painted in acrylics on a canvas board and it’s no longer in my possession
The painting was part of an exhibition I held shortly after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. There was some interest in the painting during the exhibition, one woman in particular was very interested in it but couldn’t decide whether to buy it or not.
The painting was inspired by a pair of mad black cats we got from the RSPCA a year or two earlier. We went through a comprehensive vetting process before we were allowed to bring the cats home, involving questionnaires and home visits.
Unfortunately, the cats never settled in. They were basically feral and I’ve still got scars after my altercations with them. We persevered however, and worked hard to make them feel at home until eventually they started behaving like well-adjusted domestic cats.
Unfortunately again, my wife developed a life-threatening allergy to the cats and after a visit to the emergency department of the local hospital, where steroid injections were necessary to restore her breathing, we reluctantly took them back to the RSPCA.
As the exhibition was coming to close, the gallery asked me if I would donate a painting for an auction they were planning to help the victims of the tsunami. Not wanting the embarrassment of handing over a painting that would fail to sell, I gave them the Two Cats painting, knowing that there had been some interest in it.
A few days later I got a phone call from the woman who had nearly bought the painting during the exhibition saying she would like to buy it after all.
Of course I told her about the auction and she seemed delighted saying she would be going along to bid for it.
She phoned me again a few days after the auction asking advice about framing. I referred her to a framing shop in town who I knew would do a good job with my masterpiece.
I didn’t ask her how much she paid for it in case it was a silly amount like a fiver or something.
I’m glad she got it, but I still miss it.
One of the projects I’m working on has the physical attributes of a book. It looks like a book and it reads like a book (or will do when it’s finished). In its present state it contains about 80,000 words all typed up in the same Word document. The content is snippets from diaries, journals, and scraps of paper going back to when I started writing such things half a century ago when I was twelve or thirteen.years old.
I’ve got a few more bits to type up – say a couple of thousand words. When that chore is complete the real work will begin and I reckon it will take about a year. The idea is to then superimpose a story over these seemingly random unconnected scribblings, so the end result will be a kind of meta-fiction-autobiography-fantasy type of thing. So far it looks like there’s a Magic Elf and a thirteen-year-old Alien girl involved in the plot. Continue reading
Another one from the archives. This piece was first published on John Baker’s Blog
What phases are involved in the creation of a text?
I have created texts of all kinds and have published poetry, short stories and a novel. I have also written and produced stage plays and short films and completed television and film scripts. Despite this extensive experience, the creation of a text is still something of a black art to me. For example I remember getting up early one wet Sunday morning back in 1999 and scribbling away like a maniac until mid-afternoon. What emerged was a one act play called “Tossers”. I spent the rest of the day typing it into the computer. I’ve still got the original hand-written manuscript and there is no difference between that and the finished play. I put the play in a drawer until 2004 when I submitted it to a theatre company. Tossers was staged in Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff as part of their On The Edge series. I had nothing to do with the production apart from turning up on the night to watch it. As far as I could tell, not a word was changed and the staging was exactly as I had imagined it when it was created.
I’ve no idea where the play came from; the only phase involved in its creation was the physical act of getting it out of my head and onto the paper. But, Tossers aside, in the best traditions of academic analysis I present the following acronym to define the phases involved in the creation of a text:
WRITER = Watch, Record, Inspiration, Toil, Edit, Release
For any text to have validity it must be based on truth, and truth is derived from what we experience through our senses and our emotional and intellectual response to that experience. Sitting in front of the television or reading a classic novel is not good enough. No matter how engaging the programme is or how brilliant the book is, it’s a second-hand experience filtered through someone else’s set of myths and prejudices. A writer must watch; must observe real life in all its gory glory.
Watching on its own may increase your understanding of the human condition but in order to create a text you must record your observations. Manifestations must be recorded; this could be in the form of notes on paper or of mental notes to yourself.
Sometimes inspiration seems to come out of nothing; your mind processes your observations and tries to make sense of them, it needs to make a story out of the characters and events it encounters. This processing takes place consciously and subconsciously in varying proportions and eventually inspiration comes, but it doesn’t come from nowhere, inspiration is earned.
So you have watched, recorded and found your inspiration. Now those raw materials have to be organised into strings of words that convey the meaning of the story to others. This takes work; you have to toil to get those sentences out in a meaningful way.
The words are on the paper or the screen but they are still a bit raw and clumsy, and there are gaps that need bridging or repetitions that need culling. The text has to be edited, it has to be groomed and pimped until it is in a form that is enjoyable for others to read.
There is a Zen koan that asks: “If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” There is no logical answer to that question of course, but if a text is put in a drawer or left in an obscure folder of a hard drive and no one reads it, it does not exist as a text. The final phase in the creation of a text is its release into the public domain; it has to be published in some way. Tossers sat in a drawer for five years before it became a text. It did not complete its journey until it was released.
Come to think of it, even Tossers had to go through all of the above phases; it’s just that it happened to go through most of them in a burst of creativity on a wet Sunday in 1999.
Tossers is a surreal black comedy and plays out in about twenty minutes; please contact me if you want to read it.
Writers in Modern Wales are undervalued and unfairly treated,
just as writers have always been.
** This article first appeared in the New Welsh Review,
Winter 1999/2000 **
(but it’s still relevant)
“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
Dr Samuel Johnson
“I’m just a Gower farm boy and I make bugger all
from my writing.”
“I don’t make money from my art.”
I’m not suggesting that Nigel Jenkins and Robert Minhinnick are blockheads, and that famous quote of Johnson’s may have been a little tongue in cheek, but it sums up the way many writers must feel when pumping away at their keyboards long after dark. Who can blame a writer for feeling like a blockhead, when, after weeks of effort on a short story or a poem the only recompense received is at best a few pounds, more often a couple of contributor’s copies. Continue reading
I just got interviewed for the Selling Books website.
Click Here to read the interview and get a glimpse into the twisted mind of the narrator 😉