Monday, September 07, 2009

A brief response to a complex question

I want to briefly address a question I get asked quite often by friends and family in the UK and the U.S.:

‘Do you ever plan to move back to the U.S.?’

The short response is, well, no. Now, before the derision begins, let me explain.

I will not move back to the states because I have a serious issue with the fact my partner (who is from Poland) is unable to emigrate to the U.S. due to a single factor: he is a he.

I am not forbidden to move back. I can return anytime. Of course doing so means leaving my partner behind because even though some states now recognise gay marriage, it is still a basic fact that immigration is a federal – not state – privilege.

Living as an ex-pat is not a choice, but a necessity. I find it disingenuous when I go through U.S. Customs and get asked the question ‘Why do you live abroad – is your country not good enough for you?’ It confronts my determination and my beliefs. It questions my loyalty and my convictions.

Quite simply, it does not take into account that it is in fact my Country that has made the determination that ‘I’ am not good enough for ‘it’.

I will not belabour the point. I am not going to ask a country for a right that it is simply not ready to grant.

I live where I am welcome and that is enough for me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

hmm... is this still around?

Alright. So I haven't posted - AGAIN - in a while.

I guess that's because I've been busy running phunQube. And for the moment, that's not a bad thing.

Since the last post, I've turned 40... and 41. I'm getting, erm, older.

But that's okay too. With a bit more age seems to have come a bit more wisdom. And perspective. I won't go into the aches and pains.

So, diverting away from writing fiction - and to see if this diversion means more posts - I'll talk about something else.

So what should I talk about? Maybe... what I do for a living.

You see, I run a company that works with other companies to help design their products and services using a user-centred design process and fundamentals of good usability. We work with great clients, who work to understand what we do and how we provide our services - and how those services (and our team) can integrate with their teams (and customers).

It's hard work. Not everyone understands what we do. It takes convincing. And even when our customers sit in front of their customers - they still sometimes don't understand the value of what they are seeing - or what we provide.

But, it's interesting. Companies don't like it when their vendors go off and create things without involving members of the customer's team. So why do companies then go off and create products and services without involving their customers in the design process? Why don't they prototype their ideas and see what customers think? Is testing such a difficult thing to understand? Or is it that companies don't understand the value of a UCD and usability focussed process?

I think what I am going to do with my blog going forward (for a bit anyways) is address some things that I've seen - or see around me now, that have to do with phunQube - or with my personal take, in any case. I have no idea where this might go. In fact, it could be that the next post will be in 2 years. Again. We'll see.

And for those of you who might be interested in my writing. It's stalled. Though, I have been sketching out a novel. And I have been editing some short stories. In truth, the only new thing I've written in a while is a poem. So, we'll see where that goes too.

Hopefully... see you soon!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Continued, but no further along

So, months later, and where were we?

I am currently no further along - in my writing. However, the agency is growing, and we have taken on new clients and challenges since I last commented here. I have been buried deep in the world of detail and delivery. And it will continue for the foreseeable future.

But this isn't a bad thing. I'm really dedicated to the work we are doing at phunQube and to our clients. We're proud of our accomplishments, and I daresay, hope to continue with providing excellent service to our clients.

I've had little time for all else, though I have to say, since the last post, I have had to deal with a family tragedy back in the states, the flu, and other generally time-consuming and unhelpful issues. Through it all, I've had little time to concentrate on writing.

I have re-connected with an old friend in Brighton, a promising and currently publishing poet, and someone with whom I've been able to re-kindle conversations around that old bug of writing versus career, life versus creativity, etc. And as the year progresses, and the small things in life are worked out, I find my thoughts turning back to writing, and what I can do in the little bits of time that I have.

A friend's blog reminded me of something that Hemingway once said, though he used it in a different context than me.

'Writing, at its best, is a lonely life... For [the writer] does his
work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face
eternity, or the lack of it, each day.' (Hemingway)

It is certainly lonely. As much as I have tried to see it as a more social endeavor - showing anything I've done to my partner or friends - at the end of the day, it is up to me to sit, and think, and understand, and finally to write what I think I understand down.

My problem where writing is concerned is that I have often put what I believe other people will think ahead of the actual writing, and in the end, thinking that I have guessed or intuited the will of others, I write something that is facile, devoid of any feeling, that sits flat on the page.

If I am to write again, it needs to come from me first. It needs life and blood to make it live. It needs inspiration, and indeed aspiration to make it bold. It should stand equally among those who read it, as individual and self-sustaining as its readers - some of whom will agree, some who will disagree, others who will feel inspiration, or aspire to be more because of it. But it cannot anticipate these things, or the thinking or reactions of these people. It must first be its own self, have its own substance.

I must first aspire to be myself, and be inspired by the things around me. I must live and breath my own air, and understand life even as I live it. I must be astonished by life, surprised by it. And sometimes be afraid of it. If I am to write again, I must feel all of these things. Then, perhaps I will have tools to choose from when I next sit down to write.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A further thought... and whinge?

I used to like writing science fiction and fantasy when I was a kid. It reflected the type of fiction that I most often read, escapist and in many ways indicative of things that were unobtainable. As I grew older my reading was tempered with “real literature” and then later more action-adventure and mystery-crime fiction. I grew from Feist, LeGuin, Donaldson, Asimov to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Welty, and finally to such modern genrists as Cussler, Clancy, Grafton and Ludlum. My reading tastes are now a hodgepodge of literary and genre, criticism and poetry.

It’s been a long while since I’ve written anything to completion, whether poem, short story, or that mountainous of all literary endeavours, a novel. I have completed numerous of the former two, but none of the latter, and it is the latter to which I now wish to strive. I am caught up in the indecision of what to write, where to focus, how much research and detail do I need to know before I begin, do I work with the novel beginnings already littering my hard drive?

I could make a novel of false starts and best intentions.

I recently read a blog by an old friend and fellow writer which reminded me of some of the lessons we learned in our writing workshops at Emerson. They’ve given me something more to think about – as if I didn’t have enough already. But perhaps this time I’ve also got some help, as they suggest I dump the above, forget the indecision, pick a point, and well, start writing. All of which puts me back to where I’ve been for the last 8 years since leaving Emerson – on the event horizon of a black-hole of uncertainty, inert and staring into a black abyss of nothingness.

To be continued?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

a look back, a step forward

2004 was a long and strange year. I began the year working as a consultant, founded a company somewhere along the way, turned my home life inside out, and ended the year spending Christmas in our flat in London.

I developed plans with my partner this year to get back to writing. It is important for me to affect a return to writing in the not too distant future. I've spent a very little amount of time editing some of my short stories this year, and have started and stopped 3 novels. I've ended the year working on one novel and am currently 5 chapters into the story. Let's hope this one holds out.

A good piece of advice I received from a friend of mine this year is to complete a novel - keep writing until it is finished, and don't look back. I intend to follow that advice. You'll see here if I'm successful or not.

I'm working full time with my company as well - It's been a busy year there. I began with one business partner, and ended with another. We've finally come together and have a great proposition and great clients heading into this year.

I hope to travel a bit more this year - short trips even, city breaks to see what kind of places I'd like to visit for longer periods. All european travel of course.

In any case, watch this space this year!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Harder than I thought

Alright, so blogging was more difficult than I'd thought. Of course - remembering you have a blog is a good start. Not been doing any writing, so that's certainly not the cause. Too busy making an endless string of bad decisions to do any writing. Working at my consultancy - though perhaps not putting much heart into it. Hmm... sounds like a dismal blog, eh? Stay tuned. Perhaps it will get better.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Getting started...

How hard can blogging be for a writer? Hmm... Well, inspired by my friend, and author, Olen Steinhauer, I thought I'd give it a try. Don't expect much for a start - I'm not good at keeping these things up. I thought it might be a good way to keep myself honest with my writing. I'm working on a novel at the moment - crime novel. I'll try and keep you posted on its progress, even if I don't divulge the content.

In other news, I am editing a short story that I hope to send out soon, and working on another. Keep you posted on this too.

Check back soon... not too soon.