Not the most organised of people
Now Playing: Still Walter Becker
Lately I've become very poor at dealing with correspondence, for which many apologies. I hit a difficult patch after Christmas, which meant that I was finding it unusually hard to finish, or even get started on, various projects. It had nothing to do with anything going on in my life, except perhaps as the fallout from a difficult and stressful year involving relocation to the UK. Whatever - the point was, I hit some roadblocks, and work wasn't going as smoothly as I'd have liked. I've talked a bit about this in a podcast which will be going out as part of StarShipSofa in a little while. The upshot was that - after I got back from Minneapolis - I badly needed to get some focus and cut out distractions. That's a large part of why I removed my email address from the website - not because I didn't appreciate the feedback (most of the emails I received were interesting and welcome, and generally very kind, and very few encouraged me to go and kill myself) but simply because dealing with them was swallowing more and more of my time, even after I'd made it clear that I wasn't necessarily going to respond to everything. (In fact, I think I still responded to 95% of all emails).
However, that's not really the point of this update. Very occasionally, I do get actual mail, forwarded on via my agent or publisher. Again, they're mostly very welcome. I've received some crank material, but I doubt that there are many SF writers who haven't. The problem, though, is that I'm just as chronically bad at dealing with this form of correspondence as I am with the electronic variety. A case in point - and I really hope she's reading this - would be the nice letter I received from a young lady called Megan some time ago. I put it aside with the intention of replying ... and then didn't, and time went by, and now - even though I swear I knew where the letter was - I can't find it. I'm still hoping I'll turn it up, of course. But I feel an apology is due. At least with emails I can go back into my inbox and theoretically locate any that I haven't responded to, but a physical letter is a different matter.
So. Much grovelling from me, and due apologies to anyone else who's still waiting on me for anything.
Veering in a completely different direction, I'm taking guitar lessons. On one level, it's an admission of failure. I got a guitar 14 years ago (ta, mum). I got some books and started teaching myself how to play. I kept doing this for another 14 years. I got a bit better, working slowly through the exercises. I enjoyed myself tremendously, but - a year or two ago - it began to dawn on me that I wasn't really improving, at least not at any measurable rate. And while I could sort of read music, I had an almost hopeless lack of understanding of basic theory - scales, key signatures and suchlike. What I could play, I'd more or less figured out by a painful process of memorisation. So it was time to do something about it. The tipping point was the Telecaster I treated myself to after the House of Suns signing in Forbidden Planet - that and spotting an advert for guitar lessons in a shop window.
So now, once week, I get on my bike and cycle around to Richard. Richard's a nice young guy who can play just about anything - he's classically trained, but likes Steely Dan and death metal. And under Richard's guidance I think I've learned more in the last couple of months than in the 14 years since I got my first guitar. I'm still crap, of course. But it's a different, more refined crap. Right now the reason my fingers feel like the ends have been sawn off is "Prelude" by Matteo Carcassi, and I'm having a blast. Maybe because I don't have a musical bone in my body, I'm enjoying it all the more. And I'm doing it because I want to, not because I'm made to do it by a teacher.
Posted by voxish
at 11:34 PM MEST
Updated: Thursday, 7 August 2008 12:07 AM MEST