Reading inspired writing

In The Year of Reading Dangerously Andy Miller turned a good idea into a brilliant book about his reading life and life in general. Because my memory is poor and I don’t keep a diary, I can see that, were I to embark on a similar project to read and react to good books, it would be the equivalent of a Pilates work-out for my mind.

In the same way as I use Goodreads to remind me of the books I’ve read, so this blog, if I can maintain it, would also create a record, a memoir, that I could reflect on, perhaps.

AHP*, who thinks that anybody who puts their thoughts ‘out there’ is an unmitigated show-off, is likely to condemn the whole idea. ‘If you’re doing it to help your memory,’ she is likely to say, ‘why do you need to go public.’ My only justification is that the gene that makes a writer is tied to one that makes me want to show off through my writing*.

Life is too short to read bad books. But it is also too short to carry on reading a long book for the sake of ticking off a classic on a list. This is why I’m taking my own approach to a list of betterment. I will only continue reading a book if I’m convinced by its first 53 pages. Each week will start with a new book. After seven days I will write a blog about my reaction to it. I will continue reading books that pass the 53-page test.

The project starts with the book that inspired it – one that I did read to the end – The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

  1. A Higher Power. My wife of 33 years. Married that is. Not age – I should be that lucky.
  2. She should allow me this, I hope, since in all other areas of my life I’m cripplingly modest. On second thoughts, she wouldn’t.


01 2019

Why ‘Nudging 70’?

As each year passes after my sixtieth birthday, I’m increasingly aware that the grim reaper is treading in my footsteps. Nearing the close of my seventh decade*, I find myself using the phrase ‘life’s too short’ more often.

Switching metaphors, I’m driving along life’s motorway and a police patrol car has appeared in my rear-view mirror.
I reduce my speed and, until the police officer loses interest in my driving, I’ll check my speedometer regularly to ensure that I’m not passing the national speed limit*. Because, my memory being what it is, unless I check in regularly, when the patrol car signals me to pull over,  I’ll have no idea how I’ve been doing.

Inspired by a book called The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller, (see my Goodreads review here) I will take on challenging books and write about my reaction to their first 53* pages. I hope it will act as a prompt to monitor my driving in life’s two-lane highway – possibly with the occasional excursion into the fast lane.

This is mostly for my benefit but if you’re happy to sit in the back seat, make encouraging noises and never tick me off for my driving, welcome aboard.

  1. ‘Nudging 70’, geddit?
  2. ’Nudging 70′, geddit?
  3. Because I read somewhere that, if a reader decides to give up on a book, on average, the decision is made on page 53.


01 2019

NaNoWriMo 2018 I didn’t ‘win’ …

… but does this mean that I ‘lost’? I have an issue with the vernacular used by the burghers of National Novel Writing Month. If you achieve the target of 50,000 words during the month of November they tell you you have ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. This implies that I, who achieved ‘only’ 32,022, somehow lost.

Okay, so I didn’t meet the target that I started the month fully expecting to do – having done it two years ago. But life intervened. Namely, railing against the total chaos that is Brexit.

On the plus side, NaNoWriMo forced my imagination into gear and I have the bones of a novel that I believe will be my best yet. It’s innovative and challenging in terms of plot, character and structure and I’m excited by the prospect of finishing it during 2019.

So thanks, NaNoWriMo, even if you think I’m a loser.



12 2018

Treading water

Can I be catching up and falling behind at the same time? For those who don’t know I am participating in National Novel Writing Month 2018. It happens in November.
The idea is to write the first draft of a novel of 50,000 words  in thirty days.
My first mistake was to fail to clear the month in my diary. This meant that I started off with a deficit and I’ve been catching up ever since. But the relentless daily target of 1667 words means that on the days I write, although I’m writing more than the daily target (catching up), I’m still falling behind.
Today’s par for day 12 is 20,000 words and I’ve written 15,318. Luckily at this stage in the process quality is not an issue it’s all about the number.


11 2018

“Churlish and grudging” review

Yes, I have been churlish and grudging about Jonathan Coe’s novel Number 11 that I have described as “totally absorbing”. To find out how this is possible please follow this link to the review on Goodreads. Enjoy.


11 2018