Friday, January 22, 2010

Chasing Words

Where do the words come from?

Words come to me when I have no time, when I'm under pressure, when I'm tired, when I'm locked in a plane, or trapped in an airport. They race across my mind like bitches in heat, willing to be caught but determined to make me work for it.

Words do not come to me when I clear my desk and my mind and set aside time to write. Then I have to go to them. I seek them like a dog looking for rabbits in an empty field. I work at it, poking my nose into one empty rabbit hole after another. When I'm tired, and almost out of time the words will pop up out a hole I've already looked in, right on the edge of my vision, and make me chase them with what little energy if have left.

Sometimes, when I have left the chase behind and turned my mind to real life, words will come to me in dreams, pouring themselves across my consciousness like spilt ink. To catch them I must wake swiftly and work hard and at the end it seems to me that the best of them escape to haunt me another day.

I may never write a catch enough words to write a novel but I have learnt that I will always be chasing words

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is there Veritas in Vino?

Write what you know, they say. But should you write what you know when you are drunk? Do you really find veritas if you consume enough vino?

Tonight I am more than a little drunk.

This is an unusual condition for me; my control needs are normally stronger than my desire for alcohol.

Tonight marks the end of several too-long days in the service of winning business through the display of words, finely tuned to bring a carefully balanced sense of warmth and opportunity, threat and courage, challenge and achievement to our clients. I have been spinning proposals the way a spider spins silken thread from her arse. I am tired, a little ill and in much need of energy and joy.

In a few days, I will be fifty three. I've been doing consultancy of one kind or another for sixteen years. On the whole it was a mistake – too many nights away from home – too much time spent spinning dreams others will live, too much commitment to something I do only because I'm good at it and it pays well.

If I could go back to my thirty seven year old self, yet to embark on a consulting career, what would I say?

The answer seems simple to me now: there is no business goal that merits missing a night in my wife's bed.

I do not normally drink. Does this mean that the truth is not normally mine to hold or does it mean that normally I lie to myself with enough skill to live with the compromises that have shaped my life?

Tonight I shirked my duty. I should have been at dinner with my team in the heart of Brussels, making them feel valued and special. Inspiring them to strive harder. Validating their belief that what they do matters. But I have been mildly ill since the beginning of the year, I have not had enough sleep, I'd just learnt that my father in law, who I have known for thirty four years and who is fading fast from cancer but suffering more from the dignity-robbing blight of dementia, has lost the top of his thumb courtesy of a slamming door in the facility we thought would grant him safety and care.

So, I shirked my duties as a leader and did what I always do under this kind of pressure, I took my self and my book (Jim Butcher's “High Lord's Fury”) to an Italian restaurant.

I love Italy. It is all the things I am not: friendly, expansive, family orientated, passionate, certain of its own endurance. It also has the best cuisine in the world.

The UN should declare Italian restaurants to be world heritage sites. Wherever I travel, I seek them out. I look for small places, where the tables are too close together, where Italian is the mother tongue, where the ping of the microwave is never heard and where peasant cookery is treated with the respect that so much haute cuisine does not deserve.

To me, Italian restaurants are refuge, a place where I am welcome, where being a vegetarian is not an issue, where the food fills the belly, refreshes the spirit, and stuffs the heart to bursting with a sense of being home.

Then there is the wine. Nothing, absolutely nothing, matches the intensity of Italian wine: Amaroni, Vino Noble, Brunello de Montepullciano, all are works of magic that prove that passion can be bottled.

Tonight I went to a small Italian restaurant in Waterloo, in the French speaking part of Belgium. I had a minestrone made from scratch from whatever vegetables where left over from yesterday and a penned al pesto where the spinach is fresh and the aroma is enough to make me sigh with pleasure.

I tried to order three decilitres of Montepullciano but they only had bottled wine available and I settled for a bottle of Tuscan wine. Two things were bad news about it: it told me only that it was bottled in Tuscany but not where in Tuscany. The Tuscan are fiercely and rightly proud of their wines. Normally I would know which vineyard the wine came from and whether or not it was worthy of being a reserva. To know only that it was Tuscan was to tell me it was strong, cheap and suitable only for foreigners. The second thing that was wrong with it was that it was a 2009 wine. This means that it was at least three years too young to be worth drinking.

I sampled it. Raw, intense, ragged around the edges and completely lacking in sophistication. It matched my mood so I drank the bottle. Alone. Even with a litre of water, this is more than I would ever consume on a normal day.

The harsh vibrance of the wine blended perfectly with plain, solid confidence of the food. I started to feel as if life was, on the whole, better than the alternative, and that tomorrow might prove interesting enough to be worth living through.

I was also completely and passionately convinced that the book I was reading was profound and that crying while reading it was a sign of my own humanity.

The older, well only slightly older than me, couple who had carefully not commented on the fact that I was drinking a whole bottle of not very good wine by myself, left the too-close-to-me table next to mine and were replaced by two women in their twenties They were French Belgians: thick dark hair, long symmetrical faces, broad shoulders, narrow waisted and relatively short. They ignored me completely, which showed good judgement, and engaged one another in a conversation that spoke of strength and confidence and long familiarity.

I like watching women together. I don't mean in the porno girl-on-girl action to get the men hot kind of way (although it is impossible to resist -,let's face it, men ruin porn). To have two women doing everything a man could do only with more grace and a lot more sex appeal, what could be better?

I like watching women because it seems to me, in my present drunken state, that I understand more of how women interact, what they expect of each other and what they are willing to offer each other than I do men.

Men have always puzzled me. I rarely know what they want or why and how they want it.

I think I have some form of guy-dyslexia. Men look at me in a way that clearly has some meaning for them but which leaves me baffled. When I was young, high cheekbones and slim, a proportion of those looks were offers to have have sex. Now that I'm older, wider and look more like a thug, those kinds of looks have dropped away and I'm left only with those “you know what I'm talking about” looks that I have no frame of reference for.

So what veritas did I get from my vino? Firstly I need a job where I can go home at night; secondly, that I would prefer to sit silently among women than be in the company of men; and finally, that 2009 Tuscan wines are much stronger than you might expect and cause you to spew words at your keyboard that you have no ability to evaluate.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Mike Kimera is back

Hello everyone,

Have you ever seen the dry stone walls that divide the fields in the North of England? There's an art to building them. Each stone is a diffent size and shape. No mortor is used and the stones are not cut or reworked. The trick is to lay the stones in such a way that they fit together in a patterb that allows their weight to add strength to the wall.

Although the walls are sturdy, sometimes they will start to sag either because of the slow but inexorable action of the rain and the wind or because some external event puts them under pressure. When this happens, the wall can't just be patched up, it has to be completely rebuilt. The stones have to be rearranged. The strength-giving pattern has to be re-established taking into account the changes in the stones over time.

It seems to me that my life is like a dry stone wall. I've built it with the materials that I had to hand and I've tried to make it as strong as I can.

In 2008 I realized that the pattern of my life had shifted. Stones that who's weight had once added strength had slipped so that all they brought was a pressure that put the wall at risk.

So I've been rebuilding. As part of this process, I put my writing and my Mike Kimera persona to one side.

Now I find myself with the "Mike Kimera's Erotic Fiction" stone in my hand and needing to decide what to do with it.

I realized that I couldn't discard it. It's not just that I need to write, it's that I value what I've already written (at least some of it) so, with help from a friend who's good at this stuff, I've set up a site on to hold Mike Kimera's stories. I thought this might be enough but it turned out I was wrong. I have stories in my head, some new, some that have been around for a while, that won't leave my imagination alone.

It seems that writing erotic fiction is still going to be a sizeable stone in my wall. I just have to put it in the right place.

I've bought myself a little netbook that I will use only for writing. I've put time aside to be Mike Kimera. I've rejoined ERWA. I've started to write again.

I'm aware that this is a stone with sharp edges. I will still write under a nom de plume. I will still not share what I write with those who know me, not even those who love me. But I will not let this be a source of shame. I'll just accept it as part of the shape of this stone.

On the other hand, I am keen to here from those of you who read my stories. I want to know what you think of them and how they affect you. That's why I selected WordPress rather than continuing to post stories here. Please take a look at the site "Mike Kmera's Erotic Fiction" and feel free to leave comments on any of the stories.

I will continue to use this blog and I will place the links to new stories here.

Happy New Year to all of you.