Archive for July, 2015

Ruins, not rocks

Posted: July 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

Monday is my long walk day. Last Monday I got soaked, so we’ll say no more of that. The one before – 21st July – was one of the last fine days we had. I went on a longish hike past one of the many reservoirs we have around here on top of the hills. Up on the moors I passed this ruined house. You find these abandoned places all over the place, the high watermark of recent settlement on the moors (by “recent” I mean the last few centuries. Thousands of years back when the climate was warmer people lived on the moors rather than in the valleys. But that’s another story). These buildings come from the end of that period of enclosure, and mostly dated from the late 17th to very early 19th centuries. Some of them can’t have been occupied for much long than a hundred years before the owners, faced with poor soil and frankly shitty weather, pulled out. They left their houses to fall down, surrounded by fine drystone walls and useless fields. They’ll still be there long after the buildings are piles of rocks.


Red Dykes. Looking at the stonework I reckon this must have been built sometime between 1760 and 1820. I’ll have to find out for sure.


There are several fine arches in the building. If you fancy checking it out, it’s up above Withens Clough Reservoir near Stoodley Pike monument.


The last roof truss. It’s swung upside down, and won’t last much longer.


Oh, that same old excuse? No

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Been a long time. Here’s a post, in which I talk about blogs. This is probably of most interest to writers who are thinking about blogging too, but you know, stick around anyway.

It’s a funny thing. When you become published the very first question your publisher asks is “Do you have a blog?” There’s this belief that social media is the tonic to heal all the ills the information age is supposedly inflicting on the poor, poor writer. Blog! And 6 billion readers could be yours. It also absolves publishers of the tricky task of publicity by putting the onus for it on the author. Not that I blame them for this, the publishing industry is a very different beast to what it once was, and they are pushed hard.

My opinion on the change in publishing in a nutshell: It’s easier to become a writer than it used to be, harder to make a living, but the chance of becoming very wealthy is about the same. It’s all to do with ecosystems and apex predators and stuff.

Anyway, a month or so ago I read this post by the prolific Chuck Wendig about why writers shouldn’t blog. Shortly after I read another article on the same lines. And actually, I couldn’t agree more – blogging for the sake of publicising your fiction writing is a waste of time. I agreed with him so deeply that I couldn’t be arsed to write anything for ages. I mean, I have also been really busy. But not being arsed is the main reason.

Blogging should be done for blogging’s sake. The writers that have successful blogs – Wendig and John Scalzi spring to mind – began blogging first, novelising later. Doubtless this helped them become successful novelists, but only because in an entirely literal sense they already were successful writers – of blogs. Although Wendig himself says that the two audiences are separate, so maybe not.

So, to employ the nutshell of argument again: If you’re a new writer, no one has ever heard of you. Writing a blog won’t change that because um, nobody has ever heard of you. Blogs aren’t magic billboards. If you do become popular online, it doesn’t necessarily translate to book sales, and if you’re widely read as an author, why bother writing for free when you can put it in a book and sell it?

I’ve met a lot of writers who don’t blog because this writing takes away from other, often paid, writing; a stance I’ve pretty much adopted myself.

My blogging doesn’t reflect the content of my books. It doesn’t reflect my personality. In reality I’m much more outspoken, but you know, the internet’s like the fricking wild west, and a lousy forum for reasoned debate. I’m also a lot more chirpy, alternating with a lot more miserable. This blog represents some kind of Eeyore-ish mean.

Blogs are useful as places to talk with people that like your books (those that read blogs). They’re good places to talk to peope who like your posts. This one serves me as a sort of archive, and as a (very heavily censored) diary.

What it absolutely does not work as is a publicity tool. Nor is it useful a vehicle for my opinions on the things that really matter. For that, buy me a pint. Or read my books, because I put a lot of my thinking into them.

What it works well as – sometimes, when I can be bothered – is a blog.