Inspiration and marketing

January 25, 2013

I have taken to revisiting a lot of classical music that I got to know as a child but which I seldom listened to as an adult because familiarity bred something like contempt.  No, contempt is too strong a word; it was more a case of heard that, know the notes, now, let’s move on.  So, it’s been a lot of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.   As an adult, you listen with different ears and I am again quite bowled over by the imagination and originality of pretty much everything Beethoven wrote and the magical lyricism of Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky’s final symphony (No 6, the Pathétique) has been described as a suicide note, but I read a letter from the great composer  and this gives a totally opposing viewpoint.  I stumbled across this which applies to writing as much as it does to music:

“The kernel of a new work usually appears suddenly, in the most unexpected fashion.  If the soil is fertile, that is, if one is disposed to work, this kernel will sprout roots with irrepressible strength and speed, will break through the ground, will put forth branches, leaves, twigs, and, finally, blossoms. I cannot describe the creative process except by this analogy.  The whole difficulty lies in getting that kernel to appear and making sure that it lands amid favorable conditions.  All the rest looks after itself.  It would be useless to try to put into words for you the boundless delight that seizes one when the main idea has come and when it begins to assume definite shape.  You forget everything, you become a madman for all practical purpose, all your insides quiver and throb, you barely have time to make your sketches, one idea chases the heels of the last.

Only one thing is necessary, that the main idea and the general contours of all the individual parts must appear without being sought, but rather spontaneously, as a result of that supernatural, incomprehensible, and inexplicable force we call inspiration.”

For me, that spells out the creative process better than I could have ever described it.

Now, regular readers of this blog will know that I’m self-publishing and am finding it heavy going.  That’s because I want to be a writer, not a marketing man.  Writing is one thing but marketing is another and there is no link between the two; one is pleasure, the other is a pain.  But if you self-publish, there is no one else to do it.  The conventional Dickensian publishing route had many benefits but the main one is that the writers write, the publishers publish and the marketing people do the marketing.  Heaven, if you can get there!  For me, having established the uploads, website and blog, the starting point for the marketing is reviews…and I’m still waiting.  Marketing. for me, is getting people who have never heard of me to download my book, but without reviews, it’s a non-starter.  Enough griping.


I received a tweet from fellow writer Angela Kelman ( nominating me for a Liebster Award (see her blog) .  I’d never heard of these but it appears to be a writer’s chain letter; ie, you get nominated as one out of eleven and nominate a further eleven writers who all have less than 200 followers.  You ask them questions and so it goes on, via Twitter.  Nice idea and I’ll give it some thought.

Thanks Angela!



Sunsets and fruit flies

January 4, 2013

I’ve just spent ten days in the UK, visiting family and friends, the first time for a year and a half and the longest time I’ve spent over there in eleven years.  So, impressions as an expat…? Well, it’s nice to be able to speak colloquial English without worrying whether anyone will misunderstand it.  But, overall, it’s changed so much.  In short, I found it frenetic.  High streets are full of pound shops and the TV is dominated by ambulance-chasing solicitors and ‘compare the meerkats’ sites.  What was 4 TV channels is now a million, all of which remind me why I stopped watching TV years ago.  The motorways are an obstacle course and it’s still raining in Manchester.  On the up-side it’s great to see my adult kids, confident and comfortable.

Now I sit here, back in Portugal, watching the sun kiss the horizon and disappear.  Today, 17:30, a whole 10 minutes later than before Christmas, and so the new year starts with its promise that it’s going to be whatever we want it to be and that summer is coming.  Every now and then, we get a plague of fruit flies which plunge into my wine glass with reckless abandon.  Now is one of those times.  I fish them out and squash them into nothing but occasionally get one in my mouth…a little extra protein, I like to think.  I don’t know much about fruit flies but I’m pretty sure that if they were exterminated completely, the world would hardly notice.  Still, they probably enjoy their brief existence even though they mean nothing to us.

We all have problems – life wouldn’t be life without its problems – but when I contrast mine with those of my family, I realise that mine are rather selfish, possibly self-inflicted and rather inconsequential.  And, I think it’s part of growing older because such things should be related to those with the larger measure of life to live and the most to achieve in their lives.  The future belongs to them and we older buffers can merely observe and mutter.  Don’t misunderstand me – life has not passed us by – it’s just that our contribution is less important and, on occasions, simply out of step with the modern world.  We have been deluged by a tsunami of new technology and, although I have tried to keep up, you reach a point where you feel out of your depth. My parents don’t even have internet and are happy in their ignorance.

As I watch the sunset and squash a fruit fly, I wonder whether they have souls.