Writing and Reading for Pleasure: October | Douglas Burcham

Douglas continues his writing and reading for pleasure posts with some October 2015 reflections on TIME and current news.


This last month has been a TIME of reflection during my annual break in Tenby. Only a few used books were purchased this year, two old sailing books and two volumes of short stories – a collection by Readers Digest and 65 stories by Somerset Maugham. All more than enough for my existing large shelf of books to be read. One local charity shop has a good stock of long, large, hard copy Ken Follett books. The shop assistant said “People buy them as door stops!”

While in Tenby I realise it is two years since I completed and published Ywnwab! An Autumn Story-book. (You Will Never Write A Book.) Where has all the TIME gone to? I am minded to compile in Kindle format another Story-book for Winter under the Ywnwab! banner using a further selection of stories I have written over the last five years. Contributions for consideration for inclusion from other writers are welcome.

I noticed a post about gaining over 48 days a year of TIME.

Sadly, it means fewer posts, but this does illustrate how much TIME and commitment a web presence does take. I will keep going but perhaps I need to shorten my posts … so this one is about fourteen hundred new words taking less TIME for you to read and me to prepare. This leads me to consider again my good and bad TIME habits.


  • Making a start and focusing on actually writing and reading books rather than an excess of web based reading, much of which I notice is now being repeated from past years.
  • Setting a target. My million draft words in three years target was great. I am struggling to find another one so effective.
  • Writing two hours first thing in the day. Now back into the grove. I am also doing jobs around the house in the afternoon when I might otherwise be tempted to have a nap, so I am in someone’s good books for a change!
  • Making effective notes – see bad TIME.
  • Commenting on other writer’s drafts gives us the mutual benefit of sharing structural and composing ideas. I am always willing to consider requests to do a reader’s read-through and comment on drafts without charge.
  • Reading a varied range of books, both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Using an old version of Autocrit has advanced my writing in 2015 in a very TIME efficient way, getting rid of over use of words, passive writing as well as confirming readability.
  • Monthly writer’s group. Live contact with other writers is TIME well spent.


  • Handwriting notes, which I find I cannot read or they are insufficient to recall full context of the great idea I had at the TIME.
  • Reading a daily newspaper. Writing was supposed to replace doing the small crossword and Sudoku and I take cuttings of reports which might come in handy and of obituaries for character details. This latter process has rather spun out of control with a pile of cuttings over a metre high. I am finding it hard to stop. Perhaps a New Year resolution is necessary.
  • Too much web based reading of blogs etc. All those promises to do writing research in the summer are still on the stocks.

When I stopped working for others and branched out on my own in the late 1990s, I took account of Charles Handy’s advice on Portfolio Living where one regarded an enjoyable life as a collection of varied activities. What he failed to emphasise enough was defining a capacity into which all the activities would fit. Those “only an hour a week” charity jobs one had to spend a day or even a week to keep professionally right and the extra TIME and too many projects taken on soon produced a near burn out situation. Having learnt the hard lesson I have tried to manage all my life-TIME more effectively. A new unwanted item in my portfolio is Mr Aging and Feeling Unwell. My medical consultant’s suggestion of learning to live with him is hard.


Current writing

I think I may have at last broken the back of self-editing and restructuring of my first long story-book now titled First Gemini. If anyone would like to beta read a few thousand words, please let me know on allrighters@hotmail.com and advise me why you would like to do so.



I reproduce part of an interesting post by Tony Riches. Author of Warwick, Eleanor Cobham and his latest book Owen

I had almost finished the book when I was lucky to listen to a BBC Open Book special, where Pat Barker discusses writing her trilogy with Mariella Frostrup. This answered many of my questions. I learnt that Pat’s husband sadly passed away while she was writing Toby’s Room, which helps to explain the deepening sense of grief and loss conveyed so brilliantly in Noonday. I had also been confused by the inclusion of a minor character, the obese, fraudulent clairvoyant, who turns out to be a figure recalled from Pat’s past.


Interestingly for me, Pat also explains how difficult it is to write the final novel of a trilogy. As well as having to let go of characters crafted with such care, she admits her nervousness about being able to do the whole trilogy justice. I can hear an echo of Elinor Brookes in her self-deprecation.



September was an average month for reading in amount and quality. The latest Jack Reacher book Make Me, I found the best since The Affair, even though it was slow burning. The grim and horrible plot ending make the book hard to forget.

Oliver Sack’s factual book The Mind’s Eye is proving a good and relevant read, every bit as good as a fiction thriller, with patient studies so far of a concert pianist losing her ability to read music and a writer and his ability to read from the written page. The latter also features in a BBC 2012 Imagine programme repeated on BBC4 TV this week. Well functioning sight is a faculty I would least like to lose.

I finished the Brendon Bracken biography I referred to last month. A fascinating account of someone, who up to now, has been a dim name in my memory. It is the best biography I have read for some TIME. Quite an achievement, because Bracken’s instructions for all his own papers to be destroyed were acted on so the book has been compiled from copies held by other people.

Last month I made a comment about the excessive cost of Susan George’s e-book version of How the Other Half Dies. Margaret M, in response to my negative review on Amazon, has advised (I think her credibility still stands): You can download the book for free from here. This is one extreme to the other.

I am now awaiting release of Career of Evil, the third Robert Galbraith book on 20th October 2015.


Other News

  • A short rather disjointed post on book length – but still worth a read.
  • Thursday 8th October 2015 is super publishing day when nearly 400 new titles hit bookshop shelves. How much money will publishers and writers make? Some earnings figures and good news for an indie author in the following two posts here and here.
  • Russell Blake provides further context in his 2nd October advice for new writers.
  • Although I have an original Kindle Reader I use it so little the battery is always flat when I do. I use the Kindle application on desktop and laptop PCs, an i-pad and a Hudl. The latter is now connected this week by a £2.39 HMDI cable to my TV. Reading a Kindle book on a 42” TV is quite good! Maybe even better than a large print book, but not very green given the high relative power consumption of a TV. Although I have the non Kindle reading applications on various devices that I hardly ever use them now. See this related news item.

The recent deaths of Jackie Collins and Denis Healey provide an interesting contrast between each of their writing outputs.

TIME to Finish.

As usual good writing and reading to you all.


DouglasDouglas Burcham started writing on 1st June 2010 and has not stopped since. He was saved from the clutches of vanity publishing by Mick Rooney of TIPM in July 2010. In May 2013, his characters, including his fantasy twin brother Alexander, took all his fiction writing and set themselves up as the Allrighters with other writing friends. They self-published a book of short stories ‘Ywnwab!’ in September 2013. In their 2014 and 2015 Writing Plans, by working in 16 to 18K word bites, Douglas, along with the Allrighters, are trying to convert a million words of draft writing completed in January 2014 into several reader friendly books totalling 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. Progress in 2014 and 2015 has been slow as Douglas and the Allrighters prefer new creative writing to editing and restructuring existing writing. A new writing plan in the June 2015 post indicated a move to completion of Gemini c256k words in four books by Christmas 2015 followed by Amazon Kindle publishing and some well produced hard copies for friends and family. Now the aim has changed to a trilogy of 100k words each.

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