Monthly Archives: October 2011

Two days til take off

Preparatory notes, and excitable thumb.

November is now only 30 hours away, and I’m ridiculously eager to get cracking on Nanowrimo this year. I’ve spent today making some notes and trying to jolt my mind into action. I’ve been flicking through both volumes of Monica Wood’s The Pocket Muse (shame the website is terrible, but there you go), two fantastic little books full of ideas to get your started, techniques for getting over writer’s block and language exercises. The first was a present from pretty much the finest writer I know (and indeed the person I owe my entire published career to), the second a present from Mr Shaky, and both have been very well used. If you’re Nanoing this year, I’d recommend investing in either or both of them.

As with last year, I’ll update periodically and will try not to moan too much. Mr Shaky is trying his musical challenge again this year, writing three four-song EPs in November. Tonight, it’s time for one last non-fiction assignment – reviewing Lykke Li at the ABC beckons – then it’s head down, see you in December.


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The Stone Roses resurrection

Earlier this afternoon, The Stone Roses confirmed that they’re reforming. The fact that they were having a press conference in the first place indicated it was going that way, given that they haven’t had anything to do with each other publicly since the 90s. (If memory serves, Remi played on Ian Brown’s first solo album, but that’s been about it.) And of course, the world is on the verge of wetting its collective pants with excitement. 

There are several things wrong with this. The Stone Roses split was so very acrimonious, their disbanding statement saying that it was a pleasure to announce the band’s demise. Squire hated Brown, Brown hated Squire, The Second Coming was, for the most part, an absolute mess: it was a moment of kindness, really, of putting the band out of its misery, to sleep forever as a band that got it very right once. The band’s getting back together doesn’t seem like a renewed friendship or a genuine desire to do it again: it’s about money, pure and simple. The Fool’s Gold royalties evidently aren’t cutting it any more.

Do we want to see them play live together again? Having had the misfortune to see an Ian Brown solo set, I wouldn’t recommend it. Angelic on record, moose-like in the flesh: his voice simply can’t do it. And Squire is an amazing guitarist, but we’ve all heard guitar solos before, and no doubt the crowd will be singing most of the riffs Chelsea Dagger-style anyway. And Mani will be doing exactly what he does in Primal Scream. Even in their hey day, they weren’t great live; not one person seems to have a good word to say about Spike Island. And what would they be playing? Songs that, mostly, haven’t had the chance to dip out of the public consciousness. There will be no surprises, unless they dust off Tightrope, which seems an unlikely and unpopular choice. And, Jesus, there’s actually going to be new material. Can you imagine what fresh hell this is going to be? Brown peaked with F.E.A.R., Squire floundered with The Seahorses (the lovely Blinded By The Sun aside, which is one that he didn’t write) and embarrassed himself with his solo album.

This is not to say The Stone Roses were rubbish. Of course they weren’t. Their debut album remains near-perfect, and its significance is frequently and deservedly recognised, but why oh why are they deciding to piss on their own legend now? Because they were legends. They practically invented indie, then combusted, and maintained a dignified silence when it came to talking about the past. Coming back will, most likely, serve only to ruin this, and we’ll get an album about as good as Oasis’ Don’t Believe the Truth or The Verve’s Fourth just to stick the boot in before they inevitably crumble again. It’s a colossal mistake, and a heartbreaking waste.

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Nanowrimo 2011 – the countdown begins

19 and a bit days of sanity remain: it’s almost Nanowrimo time again. Last year, I managed 50,075 words in 29 days, and I’m not daft enough to try to get it done more quickly this year, but I’m still daft enough to try.

I’ve had a few people ask me why on earth I do it, particularly as no one apart from Mr Shaky has been subjected to (or volunteered to) read the finished result, and I don’t really have an amazing answer, I’m afraid. I do it because I love to write, and because it’s a risk-free way of trying something different and potentially ridiculous. If you sit down to write a novel properly, that can be years of your life spent on something you might never be happy with: battering out the minimum 50,000 words in a moment means you’re less attached to what you write, less invested in the characters, and no matter what nonsense you end up writing, you can still sit back and admire the fact that you wrote any words of it at all, let alone 50,000. Plus I love a good deadline.

Last year’s was written almost entirely to a soundtrack of The National’s High Violet and Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest, which did end up informing the tone of the piece in places, and which I can’t listen to now without being taken back to writing the thing. Time to invest in a couple of new albums and batten down the hatches. Things are about to get antisocial.

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