Patti Smith, Trains of Creativity, and the Little Things We Notice

I’ve been reading Just Kids by Patti Smith and I don’t want it to end. I’m not sure what it is that I find so spellbinding about her writing, but it was the same with M Train when I read that last year. Like a pair of comfortable boots, I’d live in them I could.

M Train begins with the line: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” And you may be fooled into thinking it is a book about nothing. Patti talks in streams about coffee, cafes, wandering, memories, books, waiting, superstition and coincidence with little linearity or focus. But in showing us what her down time looks like, she shows us the profound. Poetic vision isn’t some gift radioed in from another world; it’s in the everyday, in the gaps between ego events. Our art is in the little things we notice when we think we’re doing nothing. And sometimes there is no point, no single focus of meaning. Sometimes the only thing we need to take away from an experience is our own natural response.

“Life is at the bottom of things and belief is at the top, while the creative impulse, dwelling in the center, informs all.”

For me, M Train was itself on a trajectory of synchronicity. It was exactly a year on from writing Mind in the Gap (which has a main character called M and a string of wacky experiences on trains) that I noticed it, and I was still at a bit of a loss as to what I would do next. I’d been playing about with some ideas, redrafting an old novel, but nothing seemed to gel. Then, somewhere between the lines of Patti Smith’s nothing, I started thinking about my own nothing. And, from a stream of consciousness style notebook I kept on a trip to London, I got a good start on the novella that is to become Endless Circles. Something comes from nothing.

Continue reading “Patti Smith, Trains of Creativity, and the Little Things We Notice”

The Best Books of 2017

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At the beginning of 2017 I challenged myself to read 28 books this year, which I surpassed by reading 33. It’s not as many as I would like to read ideally, and at this rate my current ‘to read’ list will take about 6 years to get through, but I like to think I go for quality rather than quantity. My ratings would certainly suggest that too: I scored 9 of the 33 books as 5/5, and a further 15 as 4/5. Even the books I scored as 3 were enjoyable reads on the whole, just less remarkable or memorable than others.

Some of these I have written full length reviews of, and those have hyperlinks so you can navigate to them.

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A Chaotic Mind

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My notebook has notebooks inside it!

A chaotic notebook has unfortunately led to a chaotic mind, and last week I had to take some time out from my writing projects to put everything into some semblance of order. I could really do with one of those meta-grids I imagined in Bottled Up… Anyway, I have now devised a set of symbols to help me find things more easily in my journals without losing the spontaneity of mixing up inspiring quotes with research, plotting, prose, and general thoughts about life. I have lists, spreadsheets and trackers; and a (slightly) less cluttered piece of consciousness.

So, as you know, Fragments of Perception has been released into the world. A big thank you to everyone who has bought it so far! I do have a favour to ask: if you have read the book, would you consider posting a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? It would mean a lot to me. Alternatively, if you are a book blogger, perhaps you would write a review here on WordPress?

The road to indie publishing has been interesting and challenging: I have loved every minute of it. I know more than ever that this is the path I wish to take, and am excited to now be working on the next book. Right now I’m busy researching subjects as far-ranging as the mid-Atlantic ridge, Greek mythology, and VR therapy. I’m also writing for an anthology, and throwing around some ideas for a collaborative project. All of this inevitably steals from what used to be blogging time, but the truth is I need to keep writing flash fiction to release those smaller, short-term creative echoes. It may be a juggling act, but I fully intend to keep posting new content and I won’t keep you hanging for the next instalment of The Holly King’s Apprentice much longer!

One more thing: this week I will be doing an interview about Fragments of Perception for an online author’s site, and I thought it might be fun to do one here too. If anyone has any questions for me about the stories, process, forthcoming work or even me as an author, please pop them in the comments or email me at orchidslantern@gmail.com and, providing there is enough interest, I will compile them into a special post in the next week or so.

Thanks everyone!

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Fragments of Perception and Other Stories is available in paperback and ebook now! For a synopsis and purchasing options, please visit my Books page.

Noumenautics – Peter Sjöstedt-H

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‘One might say that the noumenaut is a philosophical psychonaut – one who navigates through both the human harbour of ideas and out through to the inhuman ocean that is psychedelic consciousness.’

When I saw the subject matter of this collection of essays, I couldn’t wait to read it: so I was thrilled to be sent a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Although it took me a while to read, this was only due to the fact I kept stopping to make notes and contemplate, so it’s safe to say I was not disappointed.

Like most books with a philosophical bent, there is a lot packed into Noumenautics’ 136 pages. It starts out with a discussion on psychedelic phenomena: what the experience of using psychedelics does to our sense of reality and physics, and how we can apply the knowledge gained from it in rational, philosophical thought. It is an area that is surprisingly omitted from most popular notions of philosophy – which may have more to do with our prescribed morality (a topic also covered in the book) than a lack of validity – so I found it fascinating. I am a fan of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, and this reads well as a scrutinising companion.

‘To deny philosophers of mind psychedelic substances is tantamount to denying instruments to musicians.’

Continue reading “Noumenautics – Peter Sjöstedt-H”

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