Lord Byron and Peter Cochran

If you needed any proof how out of touch I have become on the subject of Lord Byron since my book was published, the other day I read of the passing of Peter Cochran in May 2015.

Afterwards, whilst searching for another contact I found Peter’s name in my emails and found our correspondence from way back in 2002 when I wrote an article about Tita Falcieri for The Newstead Byron Society Review. It was one of the first published pieces I ever wrote on the subject.

Looking back, the path of our conversation seems so incredibly naive, knowing what I now know. I was still getting to grips with the basics of my family tree and the life of Byron and Shelley when we were writing to each other on this and the wrecking of the Don Juan in the Bay of Spezia. It is a realisation how far my work has come.

I don’t know if he ever knew that my book was published. I hope he did. I guess I’ll never know. It’s strange because my email is littered with brief conversations with recognisable names regarding publishing, tv programmes and visits to archives. I don’t delete any of it. They are the legacy of years of research. And it’s nice to dip in once in a while.

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.

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Happy Endings

I don’t like happy endings. It’s just not realistic is it? I like tales that end horribly or surprise you with something you couldn’t possibly have predicted. An ending that shocks you and hangs with you long after the credits have rolled leaves a lasting impression. Cold Feet Season 5, Breaking Bad, Chronic. All unexpected painful cliff hangers.

Life isn’t full of happy endings. Although I know there are some lucky people out there that always fall on their feet.

They are predictable, safe. They don’t challenge your senses. They don’t make you question anything because what they’re doing is saying ‘actually, don’t worry, it’ll all turn out okay in the end’. No. Just no.

I don’t think I could write something like that. It wouldn’t feel natural. At the very least leave your audience wondering what the hell happened. That’s the lasting impression. Be brutal with your characters. Do they deserve to have it easy?

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.

Taking Off The Brakes

‘Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else.’

Geoff Dyer via Jon Winokur

Several posts ago I mentioned in passing how the book I had published in 2014 may have been the script I SHOULD be writing now.

So I’m just lobbing in a curve ball here and saying that I’ve put away the other project I was struggling with and I’ve pulled out my book and started the next phase of ‘A Most Faithful Attendant’.

And unlike the other one, this comes easily. Scenes that have played out in my head for years, fall onto the paper at an alarming rate. Nothing has been forgotten. The pitch and the plot are already there. The characters, all based in truth, already formed.  Places and dates already dictated to me from history. I enjoy the accuracy and the scope that it gives me. And I’m putting my slant on it.

I am pulling out my old research materials, re-reading my work and finding just how much I still like Lord Byron and his wit and his writing style. Whatever people said about him, I think he was a nice person. Ahead of his time. And that makes him fascinating to us. But he is just a small element of the script I am now writing although clearly a focus of sorts.

I’m working out how I can include it in what I am doing now. And I am having so much fun. This feels right. It happens because it wants to. Because it can. And because I can do it.

So there it is.

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.

Distractions

At the risk of giving away my age, I am finding the difference between writing now and when I started very very different.

Most of my writing these days is in blog form. I write as part of my business, so it’s very much industry based though still creative as it’s from my personal view point. And then I have this blog which I’ve recently begun for the writing side. I have an overactive brain that needs to vent.

I wanted to document reviving an old script and whatever comes after that. It occurred to me not so long ago that I have achieved something. Every day is another writing experience. If I’m not actually writing I’m writing in my head. It never stops. Incidentally I wrote this one in my head in the shower.

Back when I started out, and admittedly I did start young, there weren’t distractions. I was still a teen living at home when I began the script I am trying to rewrite now. We didn’t have the internet or social media. I wasn’t even allowed to have a TV in my bedroom. I didn’t get a mobile phone or access to the internet until I went out to work full time in London.

So I found it easy to lose myself in the worlds I created on paper. I could read books for hours. These days I find it impossible to concentrate on anything for long periods. And it’s definitely a failing. I am constantly darting between different projects and tasks. I can’t even watch a film without picking up my phone to check my social media streams.

Admittedly my world has changed a lot. I run my own business which is all consuming. A lot of what I do involves social media. I am my own PR, marketing, advertising and sales agent as well as creating the product. The industry I work in is quite fickle. You have to keep at it non stop to stay in the game and make enough to live on. And I have workaholic tendencies so there is little holding me back. Work is important to me. If you put work first everything else will follow. You have to be dedicated and unrelenting. You have to really want it.

But I can’t disconnect for the more substantial writing in my life. Once my book was published in 2014 (and I admit it was a struggle to complete once my business launched) I found it hard to focus and I haven’t completed any major writing or research since then.

Now I want to redraft my script I am finding it difficult. I need to get into the head of my leading man, to get to the essence of what he is so I can rewrite him. Disconnecting and solely concentrating on it seems impossible with everything else that’s going on around me.

I am beginning to understand why people go on retreats. The only way I am going to manage this is to go somewhere there is no internet.

I get very jealous of people who don’t use social media. Mostly these are people who have others to do it for them. I suppose you reach a certain level of fame and you don’t need to tweet or add selfies because fans do that for you. And agents find you work. People are basically asking you to work with them. I can’t see me ever reaching that point. I’m not even sure I would want that. But it’s a nice thought.

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.

Re-Evaluating Your Family Tree

My Grandad was one of 11. He owned a book about the Scottish Border Reiver families believing we were descended from one of the clans. I studied that book avidly. I believed it. We all believed it.

I’ve spent years tracing our genealogy. And after lots of research it turns out we are not. In fact, not only are we not from a Scottish family, our surname isn’t correct either.

We actually hail from Northern Ireland, the surname Gallagher slowly corrupted once the earliest ancestor arrived on English soil before 1826 and then deliberately sabotaged because of a family scandal.

It’s not the same as deceit. In fact it’s fascinating. It’s the evolution of a genealogy. But we have been living under the wrong name.

It’s ironic. Because on the other side of this tree we have also been living under a false name. You can read my book for the details of that. What’s also ironic is that on the flip side is adoption. So nothing is as it seems.  Every surname is wrong. Every single one.

I’ve got a whole new slant on my ancestry now. And on my identity. Every time I find something else in the DNA, my perception of who I am morphs a little more.

Human nature is at its most basic, fascinating. At its worst, heartbreaking.

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.

Fighting

Where I work comes with entertainment value. Like these three last weekend, out of their trees on something. The dude on the right eventually walked away. The dude on the left with his belongings in a black bin liner stormed away but kept coming back for more.

Girl in the middle with the iPhone eventually managed to calm him down and they ended up dry humping against the building on the left. Classy.

Rolling A Boulder Up A Hill

One Sunday a month I get to stretch my brain a little further than the norm. In a quiet pub on the edge of the Northern Quarter in Manchester, where they serve beers you’ve never heard of at vastly inflated prices, conversation begins ordinarily enough but often tends to end up in far deeper and darker realms. And whilst I would never consider myself an intellectual, I revel in these opportunities.

Questioning the point of our existence, on what else might be out there and theories and beliefs is a great interest of mine.

At our last meeting the Myth of Sisyphus hoved into view. The futility of life, and the reasons for our existence and why we do anything at all is one of my fascinations. Man has elevated himself to such a level that a life without purpose has become something of an anomaly. We are programmed from when we are small children to have talents and abilities and to do well and excel and aim for the top. But really, why?

Of course, questioning like this could result in you not bothering at all. So I don’t delve too closely because really I have enough procrastination in my life.

The myth of Sisyphus can be interpreted a number of ways. The one we discussed is the idea that ‘the struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.’ Largely because we were discussing whether getting to the pinnacle of your abilities was enough for a satisfying life or whether it was the struggle to get there that was what mattered and what made life worth living. Once you reach the top, where is the drive to do more?

The ‘Brain In A Vat‘ argument thus also joined the conversation. We were asked to decide ‘if you had a choice would you rather the life you had now, rolling the boulder up the hill or would you rather be the brain in a vat who gets all that comes from reaching that pinnacle, but you know that it’s not real?’

Several of us opted for the brain in a vat. I think that I could get to a point in my life where I’d be happy living in the believed perception that I had reached the end point and was enjoying the fruits of my labours. Others, most notably our host, preferred the struggle. Because at least it was real. Of course it depends how fulfilling your journey is. I am just starting out on mine (again) and desperate to fill it with interesting things which I sometimes think can only be filled by reaching the end point.

The question is, is it the end result that is important or the journey? We were also discussing procrastination which becomes an integral part of that journey and how fulfilling it ultimately is. Our host is also a writer of sorts. And our conversations had also turned earlier in the evening towards completing scripts, finding tv companies etc. I briefly dipped into the film I am now struggling to get my head around. The conclusion was that my published book WAS the script I should be writing. I have always known this. It was the first thing I thought 2 years ago as my book ‘went live’.

In many ways it would be easier to write because the bones are already there. And the pitch is already there. It has the substance to catch the imagination of a director, actors, a tv company even. And I can sell it too. But it is the other script I am focused on right now, because it is sticking two fingers up to me. And probably because its beginnings preceded the book I have written. And this one still lingers, incomplete.

But that doesn’t mean I cannot be persuaded and it is certainly something that I thought over as I drove home later that night. Because the fruition of one project simply leads to the beginning of the next. And thus heightens the sense of the journey.

You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.