Productive Writing

There’s not been much happening lately. There has been a bit of a gap since my last post as I have decided that if I have nothing particular to say, I should not post just for the sake of it, even though my original intention was to try and post every other day.

I have almost, and will certainly do so today, completed ‘The Guermantes Way’ by Proust and will be able to start on ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’. The more I read ‘In Search of Lost Time’ the more I like it.

I have done little serious writing for a while now, having mostly been just free writing and journaling daily, but yesterday for some reason I just sat and started writing. Before I knew it I had written about 1,200 (useful) words pretty much straight off. I think a contributing factor was a single idea that just excited my creative imagination and allowed the juices to flow. It seems that often a productive spell of writing can be sparked off by a single discrete thought, phrase or even a word. It is just finding that, nugget, that gem, that tantalising hint that can inspire one to create.

Book Buying Problem?

Since finishing ‘The Art of Fiction’ I have been progressing nicely with Proust, now that I can devote all of my home reading time to it. I should finish this one by the end of the weekend and be able to start on the next book ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ . I know I said that I was not going to start anything else before I finished ‘The Guermantes Way’ but I have decided to start another book that I will purely read at work. I decided that Proust was too heavy to read at lunchtime, when I invariable get disturbed by other people.  The book that I will be reading is ‘Aspects of the Novel’ by E.M. Forster. I have not read anything by Forster before, although I know of his work. Can anybody recommend any of his novels?

Despite promising myself that I would not buy anymore books for a while I have acquired a few new books. I was happily shopping in Tesco on Sunday for food and somehow a couple of reduced price paperbacks ended up in my trolley. How they got there I do not know! And then later in the day I find myself clicking on buy-now on Amazon and ordering another six titles. I think it is a disease. I have piles of books that I wanted to read before ordering more, ranging from Homer’s Odyssey to some James Patterson thrillers and everything in between. I ended up ordering ‘The Fortune of the Rougons’ by Emile Zola, part of the Rougon Macquart cycle of twenty novels. I have read ‘Germinal’ which is one of them, from a reading list I was following, and I really enjoyed it so thought I would start to work on the whole lot. Apparently each of the novels in the cycle will stand alone although Zola did provide a recommended reading order. Naturally I will need to finish ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’ by Proust first before starting ‘Les Rougon Macquart’ by Zola.

Not satisfied with just one book I managed to come away having order seven. I included a couple of books by authors whose blogs I have been looking at recently, and I fully intend to get around to checking out works by more of the bloggers  that I come across, especially those that comment on my posts or follow me, although I do not have access to a kindle so will pretty much always be looking for hard copy versions. To start I have purchased ‘High’ by Corey M.P and ‘Jazz’ by Cristian Mihai. I also bought Sophocles plays and ‘Twenty Three Tales’ by Tolstoy. When I will fit them in I doubt know, but I will get round to all of them eventually. I think I will have to disable my Amazon account and lock myself in the house for a few months to curb my book buying habit.

The Art of Fiction and Films from Books

I have now finished reading ‘The Art of Fiction’ by David Lodge. I enjoyed this immensely and it turned out to be a fine complement to ‘102 Ways to Write a Novel’  by Alex Quick that I was also reading. ‘The Art of Fiction’ treated a number of the same topics, but in a much more expansive fashion, going into considerably greater depth. Each section was illustrated by passages from classic and modern texts. This allowed consolidation of the information provided by both books in an enjoyable way, each offering slightly differing explanations.

Now that I have finished both of those books I am going to concentrate a little more on ‘The Guermantes Way’ by Marcel Proust, before perhaps starting something new. Maybe when I move on to the next book in Proust’s ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’ which is ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ I will also start something a little lighter.

So those are my current reading plans, and frankly I have little else planned for the weekend, and the next week, except the usual boring stuff like food shopping.

I did watch a film that I really enjoyed the other night. It was ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ with Emma Watson. I had been eager to see this since reading the book by Stephen Chbosky and first hearing that a film was in the pipeline. Then it appears that I completely missed its release and only by chance saw that it was on Sky Box Office the other day. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely, having really liked the book. I always approach the film versions of books that I have enjoyed with a little trepidation, but on this occasion I wasn’t disappointed. Perhaps the fact that the screenplay was written by the author and that the film was also directed by him may have helped.

Are there film versions of books that you have particularly liked? Conversely are there ones that you have disliked or that you felt bore no relation to the books? I really enjoyed the Jason Bourne films and as a result read the Robert Ludlum Jason Bourne books. I liked the books but felt that they were so different from the films that naming the films after the books was just a little disingenuous.

Let me know your views on film versions of books.

102 Ways to Write a Novel

I finished reading ‘102 Ways to Write a Novel’ by Alex Quick at the weekend. I really enjoyed this book for the numerous (102 in fact!) ways of approaching some aspect of novel writing. I loved the fact that each topic took up only two pages and so provided bite size chunks of humorously written useful information. I learned a lot about different approaches to various aspects of writing, from the planning stages right through  to publication and promotion. It was a well written book that I have found to provide an extensive overview of information that will be of great use. It is not what you would call an academic book, but is very much an easy reader. It has kept me company, and well entertained, through many boring lunch breaks at work recently. I was a little disappointed when I finished it and would have liked it to continue, perhaps to 204 ways.

Now that I have finished that I have more time to work on the other books that I had also been reading concurrently with that. They are ‘The Guermantes Way’ by Proust which I am still working on, and no doubt will be for some time, and ‘The Art of Fiction’ by David Lodge that I will soon be finished. Then I don’t think I will start anything new, at least nothing too serious, until I have got a good bit farther on with the Proust.

Out of interest, how many of you find that you consistently mistype certain words. The main ones for me, and I have done this a number of times whilst writing this post, are whcih, teh and Julain. These are correctly which, the, and rather embarrassingly my name Julian.

Let me know which words your fingers type so fast that they always get them wrong.

In Search of Lost Time

As most of you will know I have been embarked on the task of reading my way through ‘In Search of Lost Time’ by Marcel Proust for a little while now. I have finished the first two books, ‘The Way by Swann’s’ and ‘In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower’. It is at the point of starting book three ‘The Guermantes Way’ that I have realised that I may have cocked up in my purchasing. I have realised that the first two books are Penguin Classics books whereas all of the remaining books are published by Vintage. Now I would not be so concerned were these books originally written in English, but as they were written in French and translated to English I am not sure as to the differences that I may find, or even if I will be able to relate the two translations.

As a simple indication of the potential problems that could arise here are the differences simply in title of each book. The first book is called ‘The Way by Swann’s’ in the Penguin Classics edition but is called ‘Swann’s Way’ in the Vintage edition. The remaining books ‘In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower’ and ‘Within a Budding Grove’, books, three and four are identical between editions, then we have ‘The Prisoner and the Fugitive’ and ‘The Captive and The Fugitive’ and finally ‘Finding Time Again’ and ‘Time Regained’. If something as seemingly simple as the titles can be so varied what does that bode for the text.

It appears that the Penguin edition is from a new translation by a team of translators based on the Pleiade edition, both the 1954 and the 1987 editions, whereas the Vintage edition is a fully revised edition of the Scott Moncrieff and Kilmartin translation. What this means in reality I will find out in time. In fairness I cannot really tell anything from the first ten pages that I have read. I will update you if I find any glaring differences, and I must remember to be more careful when buying a series of books that may have been translated from their original language differently in alternative editions.

If anyone knows of any major differences between these translations please let me know. Is it better for me to buy the missing books from one or the other translation? This I may do if I find too many differences that it becomes confusing. But for now onwards.

The Best Laid Plans …

Well, I intended to write about my trip to London on Friday yesterday, but that never happened – the posting that is, the trip went ahead. I had a great day Friday although all my plans to visit some book shops before the meeting kind of fell by the wayside. I didn’t leave until late, caught a slow train and by the time I arrived at Kings Cross I did not have much time for side journeys to bookshops, although I somehow managed to find time for a pint in the Euston flyer on Euston road. Lunch at the Gilbert Scott was amazing. The food was fantastic, the wine excellent and the service brilliant, everyone was so attentive. We even managed to talk some business. I will definitely consider going there again.

After lunch we had a bit of a pub crawl and met up with one of my friends. I did manage to come across a book shop whilst we were moving between pubs. The book shop was Judd’s books which I visited for maybe 10 minutes, although it wasn’t ideal, given the amount of alcohol I had imbibed. It was still interesting although I failed to buy anything. Caught the train back from Kings Cross and was home before midnight, which was kind of unusual. This almost never happens when I have a day in London.

Spent much of yesterday just relaxing although I didn’t seem to have much of a hangover, I just felt tired. Managed to finish my Jason Bourne novel and make some more progress on ‘In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower’ by Proust. In fact I have almost finished the Proust. I think I may have a little break before I start on the next part ‘The Guermantes Way’. I am amazed still at how relevant to my life I am finding Proust, there are so many parts that make me think ”Yes, that’s just so true, I feel exactly the same’. It will be nice to spend the rest of the day reading, and I do not even need to get up too early tomorrow as I have an appointment and am not going in to work.


I won’t be writing much today, but since I am trying to post at least something every couple of days I wanted to do that. I am getting ready for my trip to London today. I suppose that I make it sound like a big deal, which in some sense it is to me, but in reality it will be fairly easy to travel there. I just need a lift to the station and then the train takes about an hour and I am at Kings Cross. So not too arduous really. I think I make a bigger deal out of it than I should because of my dislike for London generally, or any very big town, but I suppose a lot of this comes from having always lived in the country.

So I am up now and trying to get some writing done and today’s allocation of Proust read before my lift arrives. I must check that I have my notebook, a reading book and the list of books hops that I want to visit, and then I am all set. Oh, maybe I need to ensure I have all of the documents for my meeting too, probably important.

I hope to have a few words to say tomorrow about my trip today, but I also expect that I will not be feeling at my best. Lunch and drinks followed by more drinks will likely leave me feeling very sorry for myself in the morning, but still that often makes it easier to write.

Sorry for the short, boring post!



I have been having trouble writing lately. Just general free writing, nothing specific, but this morning I seemed to have no trouble at all. Everything just flowed easily. I think it may have been going out for a few beers last night and totally relaxing freed things up. I was amazed at how easily I could write, even with the inevitable headache and sick feeling from the excesses of last night. I am not sure that indulging my vices is the way forward to keep writing but it appears to have been a solution on this occasion. I am even catching up on my reading today, which I have also been neglecting. Catching up on the Proust and Robert Ludlum books. Perhaps I will have a chance to look into the other books I have on the go at the moment. I like to have a variety of books available to read, depending on my mood, which changes frequently. I usually have about five or six books that I am reading concurrently, although I prioritise some more than others. I have been working on my journal too.


How many of you keep a writer’s journal?

What do you write in your journal?

I like to use my journal for all sorts – ideas for characters, plots, story ideas, words and phrases that I like from books, tv, songs or anywhere really. I find it really useful as a record of my thoughts on a daily basis and I can expand on the ideas at a later date. Often what starts just as a simple prompt can be expanded into a full blown story.

Unfortunately the lack of sleep from last night is catching up with me, so time to take a nap I think.


Wilko and more books

Since hearing , in fact even before I heard, that Wilko Johnson had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, I have been obsessed with watching old clips of Dr Feelgood (obviously with Wilko playing guitar) on YouTube. I just cannot seem to get enough of his unique, choppy guitar style lately. Such sad news about a true legend.

Books wise I have finished ‘Books v. Cigarettes’ and moved on to ‘The Art of Fiction’ by David Lodge for my reading at work book. I am still reading Proust and a Jason Bourne novel. So lots of variety in my reading. I am still enjoying the Proust and every time I read some of it I seem to feel that he is talking directly to me. So many of the things that he writes resonate deeply with me. I suppose that is the mark of a good book. If it can make us feel like we are connected with the author in some way, that we are not the only person who feels a certain way about something.

Nothing much more to add today as I have quite a busy evening, but more soon, hopefully something a little more interesting too. I am trying, believe me!

Sunday Snow and Books

I’ve been very disappointed with the weather the last few days. The weather forecast has been telling me that it is snowing where I am, but I haven’t seen any snow falling at all. Admittedly there is snow on the ground, but that fell either before I got home from work on Friday or during the Friday night when I was asleep. I love to sit in the house and watch the snow falling. I find it extremely relaxing and peaceful. Typically as I am writing this there are a few flakes beginning to fall, very small ones at the moment but hopefully it will get bigger and I will get to enjoy the snow.

I am still reading Proust and the George Orwell book. I should finish ‘Books v. Cigarettes’ today, so will need to find a new lunchtime read for work. Not something too heavy, like the Proust, as sometimes it can be a little hard to concentrate in the staff room, with people talking all around you. I may have a look at ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami and see how I get on with that. I had a bit of an Amazon spending spree just before Christmas and have thirty or so books that I ordered that I still need to read, ranging from more of ‘In Search of Lost Time’ by Proust to some Jack Kerouac to a few trashy novels.

For some reason someone thought that it would be a good idea to site a cheap bookstore right next to the opticians that I had to visit over the Christmas break for an eye test. Naturally I didn’t leave the bookshop without ten or so books, spending longer ion there than in the opticians. Entering a book shop has always been a little bit dangerous for me as I just love the look, feel, smell of books. I want to have them on my shelves, even if I do not intend to actually read them. In fairness I do try to control the purchase of books that I don’t intend to read, unless of course they are something that I just want to collect.

Well, the snow hasn’t really improved much in the time it took to write this. A very poor show. Going to watch the Chelsea-Arsenal game now, hopefully we’ll get an Arsenal win.