Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bikers and Books

Everyone knows what a biker looks like – tattoos, leathers, beards, shaved heads (or long hair), bandannas, and, of course, a motorcycle or trike. But not everyone knows what bikers are like. They assume something, based on looks, but that isn't always the case. As the old adage goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, and that’s true for bikers. Or anyone, come to that.

I’ll admit that, until 26th July, I was wary of bikers. I had formed an opinion of them in general that was based purely on looks and how I imagined they would behave. I had never had anything to do with them before, had never met anyone who was into motorcycles, and only had my imagination to give me any views of anyone in leathers and sporting a hefty number of tattoos.

However, on 26th July, my views changed. I was part of a bike and trike event in Bean, Kent, and I had a stall selling my horror and children’s books. I was nervous, unsure of how my writing would go down (did bikers even read books?), and a little scared of interacting with these people with whom I had nothing in common.

The event started, and the stage in front of me was full of singers and bands. The music? All the old classics that I knew and loved, and could happily song along with. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing scary or (too) loud, no unidentifiable ‘biker’ music (whatever that is – I have no idea and probably made the genre up). It was good.

And then the bikers (or ‘people’ as I like to call them) started to venture over to me. They weren't sure. After all, I wasn't like them (although I do have one tattoo, only it wasn't on view so they weren't to know), and what if I was weird? I do write horror…

Guess what? It turns out that by speaking to other people – even if they have different likes, or dress differently, or come from a different place to you – is fun, and can lead to some interesting exchanges. It can also lead to finding out that, despite all the differences, you do have some things in common. In this case, it was liking horror, reading, and even writing.

I sold some books, and I hope the people who bought them like them.

But it wasn't so much about that. It was about opening my mind, and theirs. It was about having fun on a beautiful hot summer’s day, listening to good music and dancing and watching the children playing (Alice got her face painted as Spiderman and proceeded to sweat most of it off dancing like a mad thing to the 70’s classics).

It was a good day. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Al Fresco Writing

It’s that time of year again. It’s summer. The time when bees buzz (although sadly fewer every year), the flowers burst with colour, the smell of cut grass hovers in the air (fighting for space with the scent of cooking meat and burning coals), and children play outside long into the evening as the sun hangs around for a few extra precious hours.

Summer. Full of long, cool drinks and hot, lazy days. If we’re lucky and the weather is kind to us, of course. Summer. Paddling pools and deckchairs, Pimms o’clock at silly o’clock, and that feeling of not wanting to do much at all because life, the world, and your particular spot in it is so wonderful.

Writers, however, can’t just stop doing their thing. As Eugene Ionesco said, “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” And a vacation doesn’t have to be two weeks away somewhere foreign. A vacation for a writer (or any ‘workaholic’, come to that) can be as little as a day off. Or an evening off. Or an hour off.

The thing with writers is, we don’t necessarily want a holiday (not without a notebook anyway). Or a day off. Or an evening off. It’s just that in the summer, with all that fresh air and warmth, all that outdoor joy, all that world out there, we might be tempted for a moment. That’s why al fresco writing is so fantastic. Grab that notebook, that laptop, that tablet, find a comfortable chair with a little shade or a picnic table, or a sun lounger for that matter, sit back (drink nearby), and relax… Then get writing!