5 FOR FRIDAY: FRIDAY FIGHT NIGHT

I’ve been a fan of boxing all my life. Perhaps it’s admiration for those who do what I cannot– I can’t fight for peanuts, and had the snot beaten out of me regularly throughout my schooling career by a succession of anencephalic bullies. Perhaps it’s a function of my cultural background– I was the poor son of poor parents from a poor City in a poor part of England, where the fight game was a genuine option for clambering out of poverty and into some sort of money and independence. Perhaps there’s just a part of me that remains brutish and primal, no matter the veneer of civilization I drape around me.

Whatever it is, I love boxing. It stirs my blood, pumps my heart, and gets me bouncing with energy when I’m getting ready to roar into a situation and tie one on. I genuinely watch a bout or two before a performance or an appearance, and often use bouts as a form of reward or regular intervention when faced with a long, boring task. I grew up with Jeff Fenech, and the bloated over-hyping of Mike Tyson, the saga of the Waters’ boys, the rise and fall of Lester Ellis and Jeff Harding. From there, like fans of any pursuit do, I discovered history: the greats, the not so greats, the classic moments, the controversies, the gods, the villains. The story. And I discovered my own favourites, many of them from the land of my birth, perhaps because they represent a story that I sidestepped, or maybe because they’re just, somehow, better. More exciting. Greater.

That is, perhaps, an argument and a list for another day. For now, here are five bouts that never fail to get me going.

 

5 for Friday: Ready to Rummmmmmmmmmmble

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5 FOR FRIDAY: THIS IS IT, FOLKS. OVER THE TOP.

And we’re back! It’s been some time since I’ve inflicted a 5 for Friday post on you all. Blame Real life ™ and the fact that editing has a tendency to crowd all other considerations out of my teensy, tiny little mind. What has also occupied my mind, at least that section devoted to music, while I’ve been editing is an old, old favourite band of mine. The Angels have been on high rotation, jacked up to 11, and making the walls bounce.

I’ve spoken elsewhere about my love for this band, particularly in response to the death of their iconic front man Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson a few years back. While every bogan that surrounded me in my teenage years was obsessed with AC/DC, The Angels were my particular escape of choice. They were nastier, edgier. AC/DC celebrated drinking, sex, and a particular thick form of fuck-the-police-ishness that resonated with the junior thugs of Rockingham. The Angels were more pointed, more personal, political without the fine edge of rage (and also without the overweening smugness) or Midnight Oil, describers of street level culture and community rather than the nebulous drinking culture reflection of AC/DC. I once described the two bands in the terms of a bar fight: AC/DC was the loud, drunken thug throwing beer glasses and overturning tables; The Angels the guy who waited quietly at the bar until the combatants stumbled past, and then silently shivved them in the ribs with a flick knife.

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5 FOR FRIDAY: BOOKS EVERY WRITER SHOULD HAVE

It’s been a couple of weeks: full-time employment called, and while I may not have been engaged in the writah-dahlink life I crave, my son’s Scout Jamboree for next year has been paid for, so that’s a thing that happened.

While I desperately try to re-insert writing back into my daily routine, I’ll need a bit of help and guidance. Here, then, are five books that form the cornerstone of my industry reading, and the pillars upon which my library of books about writing stand.

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5 FOR FRIDAY CALLS BULLSHIT ON YOUR WRITING MYTHS

Every month, patrons of my Patreon account who pledge $3 or more have the opportunity to choose the topic of a 5 for Friday post. This month, thanks to the generosity of patrons Narrelle M Harris and Andrew McKiernan, I’m looking at five myths about the writing process that make my teeth itch.

We all know the myths the general community believe about writers and writing: anyone can do it; we must all be rich from those sweet, sweet publishing dollars; yet somehow we’re all willing to do anything for free because exposure…… Sure, it’s risible, but at least the general community has the excuse of ignorance. We actually do the business, and yet, somehow, we manage to perpetuate just as many harmful myths about the process amongst ourselves.

Perhaps it’s because, deep down, we know that the only true secret to writing is to sit our arse on the chair and keep doing it until we get better. And because it really is just that simple, we have to build up an air of mystique  to prove to ourselves that we’re really magical, mysterious artistes. Here are five lines of bullshit you hear authors spinning to each other while we all nod sagely as if we believe it, even though we damn well know better.

5 FOR FRIDAY: HONEST, WE’RE SPECIAL.

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5 FOR FRIDAY WILL, 5 FOR FRIDAY WILL, ROCK YOU.

We’re still in the midst of Battcon, and while the focus is on the inevitable writerly pursuits– writing, drinking, bitching about the successes of others, drinking, hanging around the pool, complaining that my career is over, drinking, watching TV and drinking, with the occasional bout of writing and self-hatred– it’s important that it all be done to the correct soundtrack, because, you know, generation that grew up on The Breakfast Club.

Queen is the first band for whom I ever felt a fannish attraction, predating even my all-encompassing and lifelong Madness love. Outside of Bohemian Rhapsody (the only song to realistically challenge Stairway to Heaven for the unofficial Greatest Song Ever Recorded title), their catalogue up until the demise of their hypnotic genius front man Freddie Mercury is a wall to wall layer of brilliance and bona fide superhits. I have owned their Greatest Hits Volume 1 album in at least 4 different media, and worn it through in each one.

Between Mercury’s voice, guitar god Brian May’s soaring riffs, and the joyous flip-flopping between whimsical Victoriana and tear-your-balls-off rock and roll, they are unforgettable, and simply impossible to recreate. What we can do, however, is take a moment to step outside the long list of radio staples we still teach our children (boom boom, CLAP, boom boom CLAP…) and highlight five works that haven’t stuck in the general consciousness, despite their brilliance.

Here, then, are five of my favourites from outside the long, long list of giant monster hits we all know and sing regularly wherever there’s an outdoor event with a taped soundtrack (boom boom, CLAP, boom boom CLAP…)……

 

5 for FRIDAY: KILLER QUEEN

 

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5 FOR FRIDAY: A MATHOM OF OPENINGS

The longer you write, the more you begin. The more you begin, the more you accumulate false starts, mis-steps, and generally unusable fragments.

Writers are hoarders, at least of ideas: a good writer never throws anything away, and it can be years between writing a false start and finding the one perfect moment, idea, or circumstance that allows us to finish the story. My personal record is 11 years between abandoning an opening, and completing– and selling– the finished story (At The End There Was a Man, which appeared in the Coeur De Lion anthology Anywhere But Earth). I know of other authors who have gone more than 20 years between beginning and finishing a story. Ask around: we’ve all got one.

So, for your entertainment and education, here are five openings I’ve been carrying around for over 5 years, waiting for that spark to see them through to completion.

 

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