Difficult Writing About Past Experiences

A person wants to share autobiographical material. How do they proceed? Too much, and the reader may get bogged down in the detail. Too little, and the narrative will lack conviction.

Plus, the past is complicated. And messy. And emotional, of course. Can a writer really reduce a period of time to a few paragraphs or pages and expect to convey their experiences?

I think the answer lies in painting pictures first, then providing summary in later parts of the story. Describing new scenes, themes, in detail, bringing the narrative to life. But choosing summary techniques as well, to prevent the story from getting stuck at later points.

Writers also have the task of deciding on various lenses, to borrow a term from photography. Does the person choose an introspective approach, looking inward? Or do they project their material?

I’m currently sharing my experiences as a piano player on my sister blog and facing these structural and editorial issues. I use a number of narrative techniques. You can access the story here.

Till next time.


Some More Language Learning Tools

I love learning languages. French. German. Russian. I purchased these cheap tools in various north London charity shops and paid about a fiver in all:

  • COLLINS GEM French Grammar
  • German, Teach Yourself
  • AA phrasebook and CD, French

No course is perfect, but I believe the materials will help bring about an overall improvement in my studies.

Till next time.

Coming To London, An Anniversary

Twenty-four years ago today, I arrived in London from Exeter.  The day always evokes a mixture of feelings. Pride that I made it work, to the best of my abilities. Nostalgia for a different life, for Exeter. The Roman city. The summer evenings.  The lack of responsibility. 

Devon, the place where I’d studied. 

It took me a long time to get used to London life, but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. 

Modern Languages, Affordable Resources

Anyone can learn a modern language these days. The internet. Libraries. And charity shops, of course.

The emphasis has switched as well, from schoolbook-like methods to studying language that’s directly relevant.

I’ve chosen Russian, German, French. I find French the easiest, followed by German, and finally Russian.

The following books, all complete with CDs, cost me just over £10 from various charity shops. I believe the resources take the student up to and beyond B1 of the Common European Framework for languages.

Another Late Summer?

The dull summer has given way to glorious weather again, bypassing the month of July and most of August.  Another late summer.

I find it interesting how seasons come and go, often in unexpected ways.   I think artists live unpredictable lives that mirror the seasons. Things are never that straight forward, surprises often come from nowhere, some good, some bad.

As for my own artistic endeavours, I can’t work out what to do with the current writing project, a crime novel based in Lancashire, so I’ve decided to put it to one side for a few months and concentrate on other pursuits – my music, blogging.  At the moment, I’m blogging my own musical journey as a piano player on a sister site.  The new blog is now just over a week old (twelve posts, so far)  and takes the reader from my first encounters with music to my early experiences of performing before an audience.

Meanwhile, I hope to pursue the crime writing at some point and go through the publishing process again.

Just a few of my thoughts.



BBC Talk Russian, A Review

I love studying foreign languages.

This excellent course (two CDs and book) takes the total beginner through various scenarios using dialogues, role plays and short grammatical explanations. The units introduce the Russian alphabet, step by step.

The atmosphere is lively and the course covers close to a thousand words. I have gone through it, as well as the equivalent courses in French and German, and have found all three useful introductions.  

Obviously, the BBC Talk series only covers basics, but it does enable the average person to gain some knowledge of a foreign language. 

I believe the course takes the student about half the way through the A1 speaking standard set out by the Common European Framework for Languages.

Learning never stops.

Just a few of my thoughts.