Thursday, 28 September 2017


Snake Oil. Now here is a word that means a lot to people of a certain age and not so much to others. I grew up watching movies about cowboys in the good old US of A and without doubt one of the characters in any film of this genre would be a man selling medicines of dubious quality and efficiency to people isolated in desert country,
or at least in a town far away from what was considered as civilization. What the liquid in the dark brown bottles consisted of was anybody's guess; sometimes alcohol, sometimes morphine or some such derivative, sometimes a chemical concoction that could kill rather than heal, sometimes plain old dirty water. Much faith was put in these snake oils simply because the vendor had a good sales pitch and often a damned good voice, the envy of many a preacher. We see this skill passed on to modern day CEO's of corporations in their 'talks' with governments or indeed to the politicians themselves. The concept is the same. Make a damned good case for a product (or a policy) , sell the idea as something good for the individual person, as if they are the only one that truly matters, and wham the pitch is swallowed holus bolus by sufficient people to make it a worth while enterprise. Of course, what all of these salesmen (and women) are doing is selling a dream and we all want our dreams to come true, no matter how far fetched or expensive it seems to be.
So when we ask what is in a word..well..the word is what sells the dream, or at least puts it up there with other desired offerings. The word is what spreads this desire, this grasping for what is desired as well as the pitch to sell it. The word, money, has a lot to answer for but then it is not the actual object (money) that is the problem it is the person using or abusing it. Money can bring lots of things, including happiness, or so I am told yet it has to be used correctly. Another word. A bit like snake oil that word correctly has many interpretations. Where did snake oil come from? A snake, I guess.
The last word must go to a friendly python passing through our garden on its way from its former home next door, disturbed by the cutting of grass, to a new home, which could be anywhere within a radius of ten kilometres.  Another word. Home. Oh what feelings that can arouse but I have already given the last word to a snake so I will close for this time. Let me know about any snake oils you know of. Just a few words will do..

Monday, 11 September 2017


It has been some time since I was in this space but things have happened for the delay, namely the break down of my computer and the modem not working correctly and consequently my head in a haze and oh, a little travelling by me. So, now, I have a new modem, a brand new computer and, sigh, a new draft of my latest book to work on! Exciting and challenging at the same time. It's only words, as The Gibbs Brothers put it in one of their best songs but hey what a lot of time and energy and love goes into linking one word with another to make a story. It is odd to think of it in that light, one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time, one chapter at a time and eventually, with any luck, not only a complete story but a good one. I have completed lots of words, around 70,000 at the last count but I expect to change a lot of them as I do another draft. It is the thinking about what has been written that makes a writer reconsider not only what they have said but how they have said it. Writing for theatre, as I have done, it is much easier to decide on how much of the story is showing and how much is telling. The criteria of drama being to show and not to tell. In a narrative fiction this can be a little more difficult. How much do I describe in a garden setting? Does the reader really need to know how many pansies are secreted behind the rose bushes and what colour they are? Well, if the pansies become part of an investigation into the death of a character, then I guess it is an important detail. Those adjectives need to go in. Likewise, how much detail of the fabric of the curtains in a room is required? If the specific details tell the reader something about a character, such as he or she hates paisley patterns or is fearful of swirling shapes or wants only the best quality plain velvet in their house then this is something that tells the reader about that person. So each single word can alter the feeling or comprehension of a person or a scenario. So, it is only words that count and as a writer words are all I have (apologies to Barry Gibb) So, on with the telling and the showing in as much or as little detail as is necessary.
Note: I did not give the finer details of my new computer. Not necessary to explain my delay in writing this blog. 
I am now off to red the book of another writer I admire to motivate me to re write my work and to work towards making it better. The word for my current mood is 'good''. I hope it describes yours.