The idea of ‘voice’ in writing seems a bit odd if you stop to think about it. Consider: you’re reading this sentence. No-one is actually saying anything. What voice are you hearing in your head? It’s very unlikely it will be my Essex-via-East-Anglia twang. It’s more likely to be some version of the way you talk—unless I’ve been artful enough to use slang, idiom or odd turns of phrase to somehow get you hearing me. There’s a real trick to that, and I ain’t sure I’ve mastered it yet.Continue reading The Voice Of The Chef
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 19
I’m trying to spread The Swipe into different distribution vectors (hello to any new readers coming in from Tumblr, Mastodon and LinkedIn) so introductions are in order if this is your first visit to Excuses And Half Truths and The Swipe.
Hello there. I’m Rob Wickings, a writer and dweeb based in England’s largest town, Reading. The blog in which this newsletter is based has been running in some form for 15 years, but the current weekly ‘diary, links and a song to finish’ format comes out of lockdown. What can I say, it keeps me busy.
Expect the content to skew towards thoughts on creativity, communication and language, with a spot focus on art, culture and food. Oh, and I’ll wibble on about my garden a lot. If you want to know more about my novels and anthologies, check out the link in the sidebar. Hope to see you every Saturday.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 19
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 18
You’ve probably noticed I bang on a lot about the garden in the weekly preamble. It’s not just because I have had an epiphany at the feet of Saint Montague of Don and have become an acolyte in the ways of compost and seed rotation. There are clear benefits to the life of a writer in spending time in the garden. Exercise is good for the soul, and the mental peace it engenders can settle the questions I have about a plot point or character quirk. I’m certainly not the only writer to see the similarity in what happens through the seasons and the creation of an artwork. Austin Kleon, for example, is on the money when he compares writing to the old gardening truism of Sleep, Creep, Leap. If nothing else, it’s a creative act TLC and I enjoy together out in the fresh air and greenery, which has to be a good thing, right?
This week: a couple of drinks, some positive thinking on AI and considerations on the concept of penguin.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 18
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 17
A week away has done wonders for the mental batteries. I feel calm, collected and focussed. Just as well, as there’s lots to do on both the writing front and in terms of this year’s garden project. I’ll bore you more on that in a couple of weeks. Still, at least it’s No-Mow May, so I don’t have that chore to worry about. Wildlife of All Hallows Road—you’re welcome.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 17
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 16
We are In The North, well and truly over the border into Danelaw. Warkworth, a pretty village with an imposing castle up on the hill. From here, the fishing port of Amble is an—amble along the coast walk. Northumberland is a happy place for us, a point of peace and joy where we can rediscover ourselves, reenergise and reset for the coming summer. Much fish will be eaten. Much ale will be drunk. Time to get salty air in our lungs and the soft light of the north-east in our souls.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 16
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 15
A brief schedule update before we start. TLC and I will be away next week, so there’s a possibility Chapter 16 may be delayed, running short, or both. The fact we will be in the wilds and away from people during the week of Royalist Foolishness is entirely coincidental. Enjoy your bunting and coronation chicken samosas if you choose to celebrate. We’ll be up a hill somewhere, plotting the inevitable demise of the parasitic monarchy.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 15
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 14
The blossoms are finally on the apple and cherry trees at the bottom end of the garden, and the acers are unfurling their fractal leaves in shades of cream and crimson. We are making plans for the copse end of the grounds, which goes through periods of focus and neglect. It’ll never be done, but then that’s the joy and pain of a garden. Change is the only constant.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 14
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 13
We spent Easter in and out of garden centres, planting up our purchases, digging and tidying and clearing. Under clean blue skies dotted with swooping red kites, serenaded by the occasional sparrow, it felt good to be out in the sunshine. Of course, exercise has a cost, and we paid for it on Easter Monday, muscles groaning and bones twanging, our bodies singing a song with the refrain ‘you overdid it, you silly old sods.’
And the busy time in the garden is only just starting. Oh well. It’s more fun than going to the gym.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 13
The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 12
Easter? EASTER? What is this foolishness? At what point did I doze off on the sofa for five minutes to wake and find the year is a quarter over and we’re into Eggmas?
Obviously, the very nature of a weekly newsletter is to track the seasons—it’s a good way to mine the information catacombs for content. Keep it a bit topical, make it look less like you’ve just instructed GPT-4 to scrape up some links and toss in a bit of context ‘in the style of.’
Incidentally, tried that. Did not work. You’re stuck with the real-life second-rate version of Rob while the engineers try to spin up a less prone-to-surrealist-outbursts host.
This week—nothing about eggs, rabbits, Palestinian freedom fighters from two thousand some years ago or murderous woodworking. We’ll save all that for Whitsun.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.Continue reading The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 12
In Here Life Is Beautiful
‘Come and have a dance.’
Your response to that demand (and it is a demand, not a question or request) depends entirely on who says it. From your beloved? No option but to comply. It’s likely one of Your Songs has hit the decks. You need to throw shapes with them, right now.
If a drunken relative puts out a hand, you have more swerve room. It’s within your rights to fake the flare-up of an old sports injury or the development of a new twinge—say from the strenuous shape-pulling you’ve just thrown with your beloved—as an excuse to cry off. It’s also a good cue to make for the bar and grab a glass of something to ease the imaginary pain.
Exceptions to the rule? If your mum or gran make the demand, get over yourself and get back on deck. It’s the least you can do after what you put them through as a child.
If a large sweaty bloke in pancake makeup and a corset who you’ve never met before invites you up, well, what do you do? More specifically, what did I do when it happened to me last week?Continue reading In Here Life Is Beautiful