Some More On Writing, then veering off in Ylvis

19 days of blogging everyday ... sometimes more than once a day. 

And it's interesting, for me, to realise that the more I write the more I want to write.  Last Wednesday I took time out to photograph an event and that had its own rewards.  And then Saturday I took a little more time and interviewed a truly interesting woman

But always, I return to the writing.  And the book is growing.  And it's just as I had experienced, twice before, it feels something like a pregnancy.  I didn't finish the other two books, I didn't make time ... it was life then, the usual excuses I guess.  But with this book ... there is always some thing that is happening with it, some thing that excites me at least once a week.

Of course, there are all the other things too.  I guess they would be the equivalent of cramps too early in the pregnancy, gestational diabetes, elevated bp ... the highs and the lows of growing something you very much want in your life.

My cousin, Julie, the creature who so generously took me traveling with her back in October, has finally arrived in New Zealand.  She left her life in the Cayman Islands a few months ago, came to Italy via a lone roadtrip in the UK, then stayed with us in Belgium, and we did some more of Europe together, and she did Lisbon, and later traveled on to Greece and Malaysia and Australia alone ... but I know I have forgotten some of the 'everywhere' of her travels.

However at some point I realised she had my October interviews, the three I had worked on in Genova.  She had bought a voice recorder there, saying she needed one ...  but really it was so I could borrow it because mine was back in Acqui Terme.  She's like that, one of the kindest people I know.  And so I had a series of delightful interviews recorded on it.  It was a crazy-busy time and somehow I never downloaded them because there was always tomorrow

Having finally arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand a couple of days ago, she was able to send them while I slept last night, despite another earthquake there.   And as I downloaded them, I realised how nervous I had been about it all.  The nausea slowly disappeared as I realised they were all there.  They're for the book too.

So it's like that these days.  The weekend was impossible, Monday was challenging.  Today ... today has started so well.  And I received an exquisite book in the mail.  Oh and last night, I was introduced to the most interesting Norwegian brothers.  Not really 'introduced' actually.  But they call themselves Ylvis.  I don't know which youtube to link too because you have to see them all ...

So ... probably everyone else knows about their song that went viral.  (They're mortified about it just by the way which I find hilarious.)  They explain some of it to Ellen Degeneres here.  The song they're talking of is here ... What Does The Fox Say.

But I think this is the best of their story found so far.  An interview they did on a Norwegian talkshow.  It begins in Norwegian but only the introduction.  Like so many Europeans they speak beautiful English.


Things I'm Learning About Writing A Book

I'm learning ...

I don't write a book in the same way I might train my body at the gym.  It's not about pushing the limits and building up strength.  It's not about endurance. 

And it's not about 9 to 5.  It's about 'anytime'.  My most exciting idea, so far, came while I was walking back through city streets in the early morning, a 5 celsius day.  I was thinking bad thoughts about Antwerp's polluted air.

I smsed my idea to myself.  I had a book for the tram and I know how time stretches and warps on these journeys of mine.  I need to make notes.  Always.  Because I forget stuff.  Even brilliant stuff.

Always make notes.

I have a song, sometimes more than one but usually just one, that I put on repeat ... endlessly on repeat.  It helps somehow.  It disappears into the background but creates a state of mind.  I recently heard Man Booker prize winner, Eleanor Catton, admit to doing it and I thought, 'So it's normal'!'  Many have tried to convince me that it's so far from normal and I should stop immediately.

So, currently, whenever I hear Ben Howard's 'Old Pine' then I know it's time to work.  Maybe I should put a dedication to him in the front of this book.  I've played his song hundreds, if not thousands, of times already. 

Obviously this can only be done when I'm working alone here ...

I am learning to steal the Belgian's bloke's desk-chair the moment he leaves for work, as my chair is an ergonomic disaster, even though we were careful in choosing it and paid more than we wanted to.  He just sighs, rolls my chair away from his desk, and waits while I return his in the evenings.  Thank goodness he works away from home all day ...

Most importantly perhaps, I'm learning not to panic when I can't think of what to write, how to dive in and begin when I have 'just 3 hours to produce something new!!!!'  It will come.  It does.

Oh and if I have the 130 photographs I have chosen (so far) for the book colour-photocopied to A4-size to work on, in batches of 20, then it seems less wicked.  Or is that like the kid playing hide-n-seek, standing in the middle of the room with her hands over her eyes, pretending that she can't be seen.  Hmmmm.

And finally, I'm learning that committing to writing a blog post everyday in November has been more helpful than I could have imagined.

Now,  I'll leave you with Ben. 

Oh ... I've posted this song before?  At least you don't share an office with me  :-)

Excellent Stuff Found Lately ...

I love the work of war photographer, Robert Capa.  I have his book, Slightly Out of Focus, and two fictions based around the facts of his life, Waiting for Capa, and Seducing Ingrid Bergman.

Last night I discovered a 1hour and 23 minute documentary about Capa, on Youtube, titled Robert Capa: In Love and War.  Brilliant!  I was searching for information on another war photographer at the time. 

Note to self, never watch two documentaries about war photographers back-to-back.

Erkan Saka's Daily News is one of my favourite news sources.  I have recently deleted my Facebook account and unsubscribed from so many different newsletters and updates but kept Erkan.   I think it's clear why he's undeletable.

Laurie, a lovely friend, introduced me to Ed Sheeran's music and this song has to be a favourite.  Peter Jackson agreed and this song was created for the Hobbit movie. 

Russell Brand, comedian and all kinds of other things, is out there doing his thing.  I can imagine how that red-necked friend of mine in Australia will love this link.  Here's the interview that started it all ... for me anyway.  Jeremy Paxman almost seems to take on more than expected when interviewing the Russell.

People, he's a comedian.  I've had to remind people although so is Jon Stewart...

I've committed to the NaBloPoMo month of daily blogging ... an interesting challenge, to rock up here everyday and write something that I've decided is okay to publish. 

NaBloPoMo ... I was inspired to sign up by this beautiful soul. It's all about turning up and writing, and I needed to work on that habit. 

I was gifted the documentary Restrepo recently.  Tim Heatherington was a rather remarkable war photographer, a rather remarkable human being actually, killed in Libya in 2011.  This documentary was the result of being embedded with a platoon stationed in Afghanistan.  He worked on it with Sebastian Junger, author, journalist and documentarian, most famous for the best-selling book The Perfect Storm.

Nate Thayer wrote of a musician's protest against 'working for exposure', as opposed to cash, going viral.  An important story.  One that is happening across the arts fields, as musicians, writers and photographers are increasingly told, by large corporations and organisations, that there is no budget for the ... 

A long overdue conversation. 

News to end this post with.  I sparked a bit of conversation back when I was still on Facebook.  Turns out that I might be the only person of my generation in the world who didn't know the music of Van Morrison.  To be fair, I knew a lot of songs once I started really looking but he has so many sounds ...

Okay, fairly shameful.  I was watching my favourite television show of all time ... The Newsroom, and there was Van Morrison, singing that song.  I picked up some lyrics, searched them, found him.

And now ...the Ostrich.

On Preferring Genova ...

A shameful admission ... perhaps, but I didn't fall in love with Verona. I don't know what I expected.  I may have accidentally watched Letters To Juliet once and you might say, that serves you right, Di

It was a very pretty movie set in an Italian summer.  Meanwhile I was there in September on an overcast day and I couldn't help noticing how much they had tidied things up for the movie.  And I think I was disappointed.

I really like Genova.  I like the extremes of Genova.  And it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not.  The gritty is there, right next to the pretty, in that northern Italian city located on the edge of the Ligurian Sea.

Trieste didn't seem to be pretending, not at all, during the few hours spent there.  And the local restaurant we found served food that I'm still dreaming about.  I love Rome but not like Genova.  Rome is simply something else.  Magnificent.

Acqui Terme has fabulous food and wine.  And the people were lovely but still, I preferred Genova.

Venice ... rainy, overcast, crowded.  I don't know, it didn't capture me but perhaps I need to go back there in summer, or spring.  On a sunny day anyway.  And Cinque Terre ... I'm still muttering about the crowds I found there.

Naples, that was something something else!  It was like nowhere I've ever been before.  Not like Istanbul, nor Cairo.  Not Singapore.  Naples was just its ownself.  I loved it but I imagine it's obvious by now ... not like I love Genova.

I write all of this in a bemused state of mind.  I need to pop in and visit Florence one day, and maybe drive through this Tuscan countryside everyone raves about.  Even if it only confirms what I suspect ... that Genova has everything, and more, of what I prefer.

Maybe Italy is like a pick-a-path story.  Maybe you simply find what you love best there and stay loyal to it.  I don't know but that's how it is for me.

Life Without Travel ...

The longer I'm home, the more domestic I become.  It's as if the examples laid down in my childhood just take over when I'm home too long ... ohdearlord!

The house is clean, the laundry mostly done.  There's gluten-free bread in the machine, tacos are ready to cook.  I imagine it might be the last lettuce and tomatoes I can stand to eat until next summer.  How and where do they grow these once the warm weather is done and autumn is absolutely in place? 

The tv people are coming to interview me tomorrow.  Let's see how that goes.  If it goes well, I'll share.  If not, I shall never mention it again.  It will be my third tv interview thingy and I'm hoping that I have finally learned how to self-censor.  Last time, a laughing producer said, 'Ohhhh, we had to murder some darlings!'  I was relieved that he did but concerned he was laughing.

Actually, that's over here.  They got our dates wrong.  I've been in Belgium since 2005 and Wendy, the artist, has been here for 3 years.  We had so much fun making that.  Mustn't relax tomorrow though ...

But it's a short piece and so the temptation to relax into a conversation with the interviewer may not occur in ways that make me forget the potential viewing audience.

It's getting cold ... 4 celsius this morning, rain fell most of the day.  My new book arrived.  I ordered wrong but it seems like a better starting point than Viktor e. Frankl's original 'Man's Search For Meaning'.  He expands on that book in this book.

I devoured it on the tram to the city this afternoon ... 'Existence thus may well be authentic even when it is unconscious, but man exists authentically only when he is not driven but, rather, responsible.  Authentic existence is present where a self is deciding for itself, but not where the id is driving it.'

Let's see how that unfolds over these days where I'm catching trams across the city 4 times per week.

I posted a photograph of my workspace the other day and then I decided to withdraw from my commitment to blog everyday.  I deleted the 3 posts I had written.  But then ... in a moment of brilliance, I deleted my Facebook account and voila, I am back blogging daily ... twice daily today it seems, and so I'll repost the photograph of my work space because I wouldn't mind seeing if time off from Facebook, combined with this promise to blog daily, and the fact I am beginning work on my book, doesn't inspire an evolution in my workspace over time.  I'll chart it here.  Then again, nothing may happen.

I'm struggling though.  I used to write the blog just for me now I'm more conscious of the fact I'm putting this space out there in the big new world called NaBloPoMo.  That's odd and I'm trying to get past the whole self-conscious thing.