Cherry Blossom in the Moonlight

Years ago I read a passage in a book about an ancient Japanese party.

During the day the snow had fallen amongst the cherry trees. On the night of the party, someone commanded that snow be brought into the room, and a bough of cherry blossom placed upon it. The lanterns were dimmed so that the scene could be viewed by moonlight.

A poet was present, no doubt the greatest of Japanese poets, for that would make the story better. The poet was asked to write a poem about the scene. He replied

The snow, the blossom, the moonlight. Sometimes things do not need to be improved upon.

Or words to that effect. I’m sure he put it a lot better. I’ve hunted through my books for the passage many times and never found the original passage.

Then again, as the sense of the passage has stayed with me, perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

Something to read on a Sunday morning…

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176056

I often think about this poem when people ask me about a novel I’ve written. Usually people are being polite: they’re making small talk. I ask them about how their weekend went, if they had a successful fishing trip, and they ask me about the family and how the book is going.

But occasionally someone is genuinely asking the question, they really want me to distill 100 000 words down into a couple of sentences. That’s when I think of this poem…

How to Read a Short Story

  1. Put aside some time. A short story is not a novel, it should be read in one sitting.
  2. Turn off the TV and the radio. Rid yourself of any distractions.
  3. The writing in a short story is usually more concentrated: expect to spend a little more time on the page than you would for a novel.
  4. Remember that a short story is like a glass of beer. The first one of the day is always the best.

Leave It to the Experts

I’ve only just resisted the temptation to write a theme for this blog. I’ve looked at the documentation, I’ve downloaded a couple of themes and had a look around inside, but I’ve managed to summon the self control to say "no".

It was difficult. I hand coded the first websites I published, I dabbled in Dreamweaver, I wrote my own WordPress themes… I’m really tempted to get under the bonnet of Ghost, but over the years I’ve come to realise that whatever I do will never be as good as something done by a proper designer – by which I mean someone with a flair for design. I’m a writer first and foremost. I like Ghost because it allows me to concentrate on what I’m good at. It’s the mark of the amateur to think they can do everything. It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect: the less you know, the more you think you know.

So, I’m sticking to writing for the moment, and I’m keeping this blog on the basic Casper theme. No comments, no menus – nothing but blogging and a real sense of freedom. I’ll wait for someone else to make it look good.

eBooks v Paper Books

Nearly every book I’ve read over the past two years has been read on my Kindle. It constantly surprises me that there are people who still prefer paper books. Still, each to their own. Here, as far as I can see, are the arguments for eBooks v Paper Books

eBook

  • Lighter and more convenient than a hardback
  • More convenient than most paperbacks
  • Carry all your books with you, never stuck for something to read on holiday
  • Switch between books whilst you’re reading (I always have three books on the go, Fiction, Non Fiction and Short Story Collection)
  • Read in the dark without disturbing others
  • Look up words using the dictionary
  • Buy and begin reading new books straight away
  • Saves cutting down trees

Real Books

  • There’s something about holding a real book in your hand.
  • The smell. Oh yes, the smell.
  • Ah, you just don’t understand