Reading and Writing for Pleasure: June 2017 | Douglas Burcham

Douglas writes a follow up to his post in February 2017 in his Writing and Reading for Pleasure series with a reflective post on recent activity.


Reading One 


I did not go shopping for short stories. My intention is to spend some time on looking at the latest fashions on book cover design on the bestsellers rack and tables at the entrance to Waterstones.

I am attracted by a familiar cover design in green and think: “No, surely not… his next book is not due until November.”

I consider further and think: “I am weakening and cannot resist, but my book token card with a £7 balance is at home. I will have to return.” 


“I must warn you if you have read all his books there is only one new story,” the assistant says with a smile.

I reply: “Thanks I appreciate your warning. Usually I only read his long hardbacks.”

“£3 to pay.”

I make a start on the new story as soon as I return home. The daily bad news is put to one side when I sip my coffee and hot cross buns coated with marmalade. But for the heavy showers, I should be sitting outside.

As usual, with this author, the book is hard to put down. The short stories are good with a beginning, middle and end coming at short intervals.

Saturday night

All finished. A great read and a first chapter of his next long book as well.

See also on book coversIt did not take me much further.

Writing and Publishing

I feel guilty I have also not made enough progress in completing the third volume of Gemini. I missed my deadline of reaching the end by my 1st June 2017 deadline, seven years after I started the book in 2010. I planned to do my next TIPM post then… but on second thoughts because I missed the target, I may as well write one now. I am not far-off with 250,000 words in the first two volumes, already printed off as near final drafts, which I am at last happy and ready for another read with a red pen. Recently, I found MS Word 2007 also converts to a near-perfect PDF file of a final version for printing – if this is what I want. The Writing and Reading for Pleasure mantra is still strong. I have a sample from a hard copy print and binding service at competitive rates and it is tempting to seek to use them for a few copies.

My seven years of writing seems a long time, but then writing is a long term activity. I note a recent newspaper headline and article: “I left the City to write a novel – it took 17 years.”

During the last seven years, I do not consider I have suffered much from writer’s block, when I may have I just made a note to come back and add more later. Unfortunately, from my self-editing, I now realise this has not worked. I am no better at completing these blank matters today than I was years ago. Perhaps even worse, because I may have had a better idea of what I wanted to write then. So my advice is either do not bother when you first face the problem or try harder to write something, because from my experience you may not do any better if you put writing off.

Back to publishing: I think of my recent completion of reading A Wheel Adventure, a 190-page A4 sized book about a bicycle journey from Wales to Nepal overland in the 1950s.  All is now a dream and an impossible journey in the 2010s. I bought the book at a festival in Pembrokeshire when trying to sell copies of my then recently published book Ywnwab! in September 2013. A Wheel Adventure is printed with no ISBN, so a shame it is not easily obtainable as a good read for those with a taste for armchair adventure. I have written to the author hoping he has reached a great age, like many long-distance cyclists I know.

Do I want all my effort to be unknown as well? At least putting my stories up as e-books would place them in the public domain. I see from some book selling sources the e-book fashion may be on the wane and hard copy is enjoying a resurgence. I have to remember to charge my Kindle up occasionally because it has not been used in months, if not now, for well over a year.


Reading Two 

I bought a copy of the Sunday Times book about the Voyage of Donald Crowhurst in their non-stop race around the world in 1968 – 1969. I knew up until last week that he did not go into the Southern Ocean or return home, but little else before I started reading the book. I found the story good but rather a sad read. Sailing a yacht for 243 days with only one face-to-face human contact must be tough on the mind. Given a little more time to get his yacht right before he had to start might have given a better result. Leaving with yachts ill-prepared seems common. I have followed this read up by reading Peter Nichols collection of stories of others in the Sunday Times RaceA Voyage for Madmen. This is an enjoyable book containing lots of information. But truth is certainly stranger than fiction, given only one of nine sailors returned home on their yacht.

Even today in safety conscious times, society tolerates people going off and risking their lives ocean sailing, mountaineering, going to remote places or motorcycling in the Isle of Man. I recall Stephen Hawking believes humankind is doomed unless a new place to live on another planet is found. I find it surprising therefore to hear that one-way exploration passages to Mars are not being entertained. I am sure there are plenty of people who would be prepared to go one-way to report by radio on who they meet on Mars.

I recall Jeanette Winterson wrote a book – The Stone God. It is about humans colonising a new planet hoping they would do a better job than their ancestors had done on Earth. Being human with egos gave them no chance as was the cause with many historic proposals for new utopias on Earth.

On the health front, my wife was expecting a new man as a result of procedures since my last post. Unfortunately, she is disappointed, but at least I am not yet bionic. I note a comment about reading books in the TESCO magazine. Researchers at Yale University found people who bury their heads in books live almost two years longer than those who do not read! If this is what you want!

By the way my £10 book buy described above is by Lee Child’s No Middle Name and features Jack Reacher in a dozen entertaining short stories. Having a nomadic, possession less, ex-soldier main character does allow fictional entry into all kinds of interesting situations.

I see Jeffrey Archer is also about to publish another book of short stories. Given my books are structured around short stories; I am pleased to see other successful authors making money from short story-books.

My I wish you all good reading and writing during this summer.


DouglasDouglas Burcham started writing on 1 June 2010 and self-published under the Allrighters’ name a book of short stories ‘Ywnwab!’ in September 2013. A million words of draft writing reached completion in January 2014 split between 900,000 words of fiction and 100,000 words of non-fiction. The latter being about writing and memories of buildings, trains, boats and planes. Since then slow progress continues to be made in the conversion of the draft words into final books ready for possible publishing under the Allrighters’ name.

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