The Week In Bullets

1. I seem not to be reading at the moment. I absolutely hate it when this happens as my head becomes progressively messier and messier. The reason I am not reading (I think) is that I have several new projects to start, and because I can’t decide where to begin, I am rushing about in a state of confusion, not actually doing anything. I need to start on one and focus, and frankly any one will do. I don’t know how I can manage to be so busy and yet achieve nothing; it’s a complete mystery to me how easily this happens.

2. Mister Litlove told me about a stirring speech by Armando Iannuci, given at the BAFTA television awards. Iannuci is the creative force behind programmes such as The Thick of It and its American counterpart, Veeps. He argues that the system in the UK for commissioning new television programmes is dysfunctional; the relationship between the people holding the money and those with the creativity is all wrong in its power imbalance. Money rules, leading to what he terms ‘a culture of caution and compliance’. In other words, too many programmes are made to order, based on previously successful shows, spawning that irritating rash of clones, and pared back to the bone economically, all of which strangles the proper creativity that could actually produce exciting new television. You can read the lecture here. I think it’s perfectly applicable to publishing at present, too, and it’s good that someone important is speaking up about it. It pains me that creativity, one of the very best human assets we have, is so beleaguered and undervalued. On a different note, when I asked Mister Litlove to give me the details of this story again, he had just taken a bite of lunch and so I thought the guy’s name was Amanda, which was very confusing. Once we’d sorted that out, I asked for the surname again. But he’d taken another bite and we could both see the wisdom in giving up at that point.

3. Last night the bookshop where I work had a party. This was perplexing to all the people walking by on the street who could see the lights on and the staff milling about but couldn’t get in the locked door. It was a very pleasant evening, although I wasn’t in a party mood. I’d sat down in the chair at a quarter past four and the next thing I knew I was waking up at six, and all evening I had that feeling of not being fully conscious. I do work with some amusing people, though. When I arrived, it was to find the manager and one of the most senior volunteers sizing up whether to have another glass of wine (or at least persuading themselves that they could). ‘Now that I’m past 70,’ said the senior volunteer, ‘I find the chances of having a really wild night out are few and far between.’ That made me laugh.

4. Mister Litlove was also telling me about a new kind of predictive text that analyses your messages and starts to make suggestions for words before you have typed anything at all. I call that plain presumptuous. He told me about this after I’d described texting on my ancient phone under the benignly contemptuous gaze of my son, who marvelled at the inconvenience of it beeping with every key I pressed. But at least it is not so rude as to claim to know what I’m going to say before I’ve even said it. It made me want to take the app on, just to prove to it that there would be some people whose messages it could never guess. It makes me want to shout: Resist these attempts to curtail your individual uniqueness! I really do not think I am the prime recipient of new technology.

5. This weekend. Clear head. Finish books that have been hanging around for ages. Fresh start. I don’t even want to suggest titles of books I might read next. I feel the need to surprise even myself. What’s everyone else doing?

6. Oh and I forgot! I happened to catch this blog on technorati, where it turns out I’m in the top hundred book blogs. I found that really cheering as I usually do dreadfully on league tables. So that was a good thing. I must remember now never to check it again, and thereby avoid the inevitable disappointment.😉

20 thoughts on “The Week In Bullets

  1. Hi Litlove,
    Do you know that old quote from the comedian Ernie Kovaks (from the 50s) “Television is a called a medium because it’s never rare or well done.”? It would seem it is still applicable, with a few occasional exceptions!
    Congratulations on your technorati ranking! I didn’t comment on your previous post about giving thanks, so let me do it now. Thank you for your posts. Even if I don’t always comment and am usually lurking. I do appreciate all the effort you put into your blog, which is fantastic and in my opinion, one of the best written blogs on the web.🙂

  2. Of course you’re in the ‘Top 100’, where else would you be?!
    I like the idea of a bullet pointed week- It’s got me thinking how I’d bullet point mine…
    Maybe your inability to read properly at the moment is due to the book you’re reading?

    • Oh bless you – you are a kind friend! Bullet points are such a useful device on a Friday, or indeed any day when you want to impose a little order! And oh I feel for this book. It’s a perfectly good book, but suffering from not being quite right for my mood…. but this probably means either the mood or the book must change!

  3. I know how you feel from not reading. My head gets messy too and I get short-tempered and squirrely. I hope you get back into the reading groove soon! The speech Mr. Litlove heard sounds like a good one and oh so true. Writers of all sorts are undervalued but I think TV writers really get the shaft. Predictive text has shown up all over the place. Google uses it when you type in search queries. I wouldn’t like my email or word processing program to start doing it. My phone has common phrases programmed into it to make texting easier and I can edit the phrases or add some of my own. I tried it out and it was cool for about a day and then I turned it off.

    • Squirrely is a good word. I like it. I don’t know much about writing for television, but I’ll bet it’s a put-upon job. One of my fellow academics was a talking head for a television programme and she said never again, as the producer would ring her up all the time, regardless of what she was doing, and want to discuss the programme with her as if it were the most important thing on the earth. She wasn’t impressed. And your last comment made me laugh!🙂

  4. Horrible, you haven’t got any way of turning off the sound on your phone? I turned off the beeping sounds right away on my phone because having something beep every time I type a letter was too horrible. And predictive text very bad too in my opinion. I hate it when Google does it and I’m sure if I had a smartphone I would hate it there too.

    (Basically I just told you kids to get off my lawn but I am FINE WITH THAT.)

    • Ho, too funny! I think it would be like one of those conversations where the other person tries to finish your sentence all the time and keeps getting it wrong. It would drive me crazy if I had to put up with it all the time.

  5. what a grand summary, which in and of itself, shows your accomplishment (altho’I do know what you mean about being busy and yet having nothing achieved.) And several of these made me smile while the one on Ianucci did not, because of the truth of it. How true, how true, the cloning and the wateriing down of things. I’m even wondering at work how I stay “in the box”and have been gearing up lately to make some kind of change there…so started by cleaning stuff out off my shelves there and off the desk and files. Anyway, I’d forgotten that you work in a bookshop and I persist in believing that to be the best possible job in the world. Please don’t tell me anything different! Cheers!

    • I won’t tell you anything different. Bookshops are undeniably the best work environment ever. And cleaning out sounds good – always an excellent place to start. Can’t bring something new into the world until you’ve cleared some dead wood out of it, and made space and freed up energy and so on. I was so glad to read Ianucci speaking up and out – we need more people to defend creativity in our end-oriented, mass-produced world. It’s so counter to the way we run things generally, and so it must, by its nature, be very, very good for us.

  6. I’m right there with you regarding point 1. It’s awful Busy and nothing done. I’ve read somewhere that if you start too many writing projects that’s a sort of writer’s block as well.
    Regarding point 6 – you are frequently among the Top 100. I know because I’m as well and saw you there. Even Top 20. But do you know what that actually means? It took me a while to figure out. It has something to do with fresh links. Let’s say there are 10 new bloggers, all including you in the blogroll it will or mentioning you. It happened that I was on top 20 and a few days later 160. It could happen to you as well but don’t worry, you are often among the top 100.

    • That’s really interesting about writer’s block because I never really have it – unless I’m in a period like now, when I’m about to start some new projects. Hmm, yes, very helpful. And I did not know how the rankings were calculated, so thank you for that enlightenment! That is also helpful in all kinds of ways!

  7. Oh, Litlove, I totally sympathize with you about not getting much reading done! With my new job, I come home at night tired and either talk on the phone or exercise! My time for reading is really on the weekends, and then I just want to hole up (is that good? Hmm… I don’t know!) I started reading Clarissa and that is going to be my major project for a while (all 1,500 pages of it!) But I also am reading other lighter fare as well as some nonfiction. I sent you an email today and will send you a longer one tomorrow as I feel we are long overdue for a chat.

    • Ali, with a brand new, demanding job I am not at all surprised! It takes so much out of you, a new venture like that. Reading should definitely be all about rest and relaxation, and whatever you do in your spare time should be exactly what you like! Clarissa is a book I have never felt equal to reading!🙂 But I am hugely admiring of people who do tackle it. And thank you for the lovely email. I am just so glad it is all going well, you know your credit with me is very good and I will always understand when life gets in the way of other things!

  8. Viva Armando Ianucci! Last week I was at an event where Mike DIbb and John Christie, directors respectively of the sublime Ways of Seeing and A Way of Tellling with John Berger said sadly that such programmes could not now be made because they sprang from the minds of their creators and would not have fitted at all in any pre-defined and researched box of the TV company’s. And, unlike writers, they don’t have alternative options like micro-presses and self-publishing. Videocams and YouTube – yes (and they were both enthusiastic about YouTube), but lots of things on film do need some upfront financial investment.

    (WordPress hasn’t let me comment for weeks. Let’s see if this works with an alternative email address that doesn’t identify me – but then block me – as a WordPress member)

    • Oh isn’t it a shame! And all those self-publishing and self-promoting realms like youtube are full to bursting point with stuff that is hard to sift through. There’s no certainty that what’s good will rise to the surface (quite the opposite, in fact, as the lowest common denominator tends to be dominant). You need people with both power to make things happen and creative vision. Why aren’t people creatively brave any more, what made us all so fearful? I’m so glad that you could comment, though – I’ve heard of lots of people having problems with wordpress lately. Very frustrating.

  9. Oh, I hate looking at those top whatever lists as I don’t think I have ever graced one of them. But it is always nice to see blogging friends there!🙂 And I know only too well that feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start and can’t seem to pick up anything and move forward. I hope this week will be much more productive–and good luck finding a good book to read/lose yourself in. I was in something of a rut myself and finding little pleasure in books but I feel like things are finally looking up!

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