Thursday, 19 February 2015


I've read a lot of Anthony Peake's books whose writing - and I quote from his website - 'deals with borderline areas of human consciousness.' They are fascinating books, so I knew I'd love this one the same. A Life of Philip K. Dick is his seventh book.   

Before reading this I had read two of PKD's book: Counter-Clock World and Time Out of Joint, though I believed I'd read more. Then I realised that I've seen some of his books adapted for screen: Blade Runner, Paycheck, Minority Report, and a favourite, Total Recall. They are Science Fiction, but for PKD, what he wrote about was far from future imaginings, he was seeing the future in his present life.         

Philip K (Kindred) Dick or PKD was born 1928, in Chicago, America. His life was plagued with tragedies leading to his constant fear, anxiety, paranoia, and other phobias, which are reflected throughout his novels and short stories. He was fascinated with science and technology and seemed to gleam advances in this arena before they became mainstream. 

A connecting theme running through his fiction is the question: What is reality? Is it real? Is it an illusion? This resonated in his actual life where his state of mind was questionable. You have to bear in mind he dabbled in drugs, too, recreationally and to support his mental state with his prolific writing output. 

This aside, some of his visions appeared out of this world, but Peake later gives sound esoteric and neurological explanations to back his own theories why PKD experienced what he did.

PKD was a man who remembered the future. In the end, as if taken from one of his novels, he died as he predicted, found lying between the sofa and the coffee table. He'd had a stroke. 

What is real? An explanation from Plato.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


Mr Owl denotes a blog about writing, but this is a piece about one of my hobbies - crocheting. There is a connection, though, which I will explain.

I fell in love with this poncho from Simply Crochet Mag (bottom left corner). The pattern's available to download from Ravelry, by the way.

 I sent off for some gorgeous DROPS Nepal yarn from Wool Warehouse.


Together with my 6mm and 7mm hooks, and
trusted crochet bible, I sent off deciphering the pattern.

 Then came the dreaded blocking. I followed Debbie Stoller's instructions, trusting her words of experience, but felt I was placing my beautiful colours into a bath of acid. The key words I kept in mind were 'Don't Wring!' That would do untold damage.

The next stage was to lay it out and wrap it in a towel and 'squeeze' the water out. 

Then I laid it out on a bath sheet, on the kitchen dining table, manipulating the wool to shape with a gentle massage. I left it to dry naturally, which took a few days.

Hey presto! I have me a poncho!

Why is crocheting like the writing process?

You have a story outline (the pattern), which you follow to create your masterpiece, though, if you're like me you have to unpick and go back to correct minor or major mistakes. The finished product has to look good after all.

You introduce various elements (coloured yarn): structure, plot points, character arc, voice, setting, emotion, etc; and interweave them to form the story. Often you refer to The Hero's Journey, or Self-Editing books to guide you through the process. You should have a finished manuscript.

Leave it to steep in a dark cupboard for a month (the blocking process). When you come back to it with fresh eyes you can rework the MS (reshape the wool), and repeat till fully revised (the piece is dry).

Much like writing my MS I found myself crocheting into the early hours with my mantra: 'Just one more row. One more row.' It took me a week to finish. That's the poncho.

If only writing a MS were that easy.