Words - cloud 2

It’s always nice when you receive an email announcing another follower of your blog, especially when it’s someone whose name suggests a man of intelligence and standing. So when I saw that a Dr. Joseph Suglia is now following Crotchety Man I was eager to see what I could find out about him. His Gravatar profile was singularly uninformative so I tried one of the links in the email. It took me to an online novel by Dr. Suglia called Table 41.

Coincidentally, Mrs. Crotchety had bought an educational pack recently, which contained “everything you need to know about creative writing and getting published”. It includes a book entitled “Complete Creative Writing Course” and, in the hope of getting some tips for my blog, I had started to read it. Apparently, some respected authors advise writers to avoid using adjectives and adverbs. Although the book doesn’t recommend taking this suggestion too literally, the idea stuck in my mind.

The contents list for Dr. Suglia’s book has 41 chapter headings: Table One, Table Two, … Table Forty-One. It doesn’t look like a conventional piece of literature. Clicking through to Table One I started to read.

You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.

I found myself in the critic’s chair, analysing the text. ‘Steep’ is not a noun; waves can’t sweep across them. With all those ‘s’s and ‘e’s the words sizzle through the mind much like poetry but the images are strained and muddy. What’s more, it’s full of adjectives and adverbs.

After a while I found the writing style tiring and the story developing too slowly to hold my interest so I closed the page and started thinking about my next Track of the Week. One song title immediately came to mind: Words by Guillemots.

Words - beach

Words is a quiet, contemplative song. It might be the soundtrack to a film in which a young man is sitting on a beach at sunset lazily throwing pebbles into the sea. Seagulls glide over the headland, too distant to be heard. The soft muted sound of a ship’s horn is carried on the breeze, drumsticks tinkle against clamped cymbals, plucked double bass notes tumble gently over the rocks.

The scene is one of timeless tranquility. A harmonica blows a wistful tune, dreamy piano chords stroll with us along the shoreline, subtle electronic effects echo the keening of the gulls now wheeling overhead. And then a soulful voice sings out:

Words are never easy,
Words are seldom true.

The figure on the beach is mulling over conversations with a loved one, someone he left a long time ago. As he remembers, the piano and bass are joined by the soft subtle textures of brass and strings.

The beach boy’s thoughts are tinged with regret but there is no bitterness. “You see”, he says to himself, “words are slippery creatures. They twist and turn in the mouth, distorting what you mean to say”. For a moment he imagines what life would be like if there were no words.

I’d smile at you when I was happy, shed a tear when I was sad.

If, in the past, he couldn’t find the right words to express his feelings it wasn’t his failing it was those rebellious wriggling words.

Blame it on the words.

The sun sinks a little lower, turning from dark yellow to a warmer orange and then a fiery red. The scene is coming to an end; the music wraps us in a blanket of duck down as the picture fades away.

Words is a wonderful example of Fyfe Dangerfield’s talent as a composer and arranger. He blends sounds to create an atmosphere of perfect peace and calm that no single instrument could achieve. The other members of the band add complementing layers: a relaxed beat, vocal harmonies, guitar effects – and I just love that tumbling bass part.

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Later, still curious about Dr. Suglia, I googled him and got several useful hits. On Wikipedia, for example, he is described as a screenwriter, novelist and producer. Unlike Crotchety Man he makes a living from writing, so I am in no position to criticise his work. Nevertheless, you may rest assured that I will not be imitating his writing style in these pages.


3 thoughts on “Words

  1. Ah, brave crotchety man, you write about writing but your page is the blogosphere.

    Being another recent beneficiary of a Dr Suglia Follow, I had a remarkably similar experience to yours when I visited Table 41, lasting little more than a paragraph or three. Your comments are fair and relevant, to me at least.

    But there are other pages here, are there not? Relating to a topic we rarely acknowledge but which occupies the thoughts or – dare I say all? – bloggers… Those who write want to be read.

    How to achieve this when even the ubiquitous WordPress account seems to plateau at a certain number of followers/page views? Everything we read about expanding readership says much the same thing. Write well, follow other blogs, respond to comments, etc etc. It’s the second of those that starts to bow the back, I’ve found. The world of the blogger (or at least this blogger, anyway) resembles that picture of Words at the top of your article. There are a small number of blogs I read every post. A few more I read regularly, another level I read when they look like they might be of interest to me… and so on. But here’s the rub. As I keep Following other blogs, the burden of time required to service those ‘Follows’ increases to such an extent that either my own time for writing (precious, limited) feels impinged upon or (perhaps worse) I start to resent the output of others. Neither are desirable responses.

    I’m thinking a lot about this as I review my commitment to (a) Vinyl Connection, (b) Sit Down / Listen Up where I write occasionally, and (c) the long list of articles in my Reader. Yet there is something in the sharing that draws me to respond, despite the blog format so regularly disappointing in its capacity for dialogue. That attraction, that compulsion to communicate… perhaps that’s why we’re here.


  2. Brave? I don’t feel brave. Entering the blogosphere does make you a little more vulnerable, I suppose, but I don’t think I’d take negative comments too seriously. Not that I’ve had any, yet.

    I think there are many reasons for blogging. In my case, I wanted to help my readers find what I regard as good music and take that opportunity to use words in a more creative way than I’ve done in the past. If I enjoy reading back over my own posts in the months and years to come that’s good enough. The potential social aspects of blogging are not really that important to me. (Psychometric tests suggest I’m ‘amiable but not sociable’ – strange, but surprisingly accurate.) So, it’s nice when the follower count goes up but it’s certainly not the primary objective.

    Your motivation may well be different but we both do it for enjoyment. If reading others’ blogs is becoming a burden, my advice would be to shed some of the load and not feel guilty about it. The blogosphere is a very big pond and we are all very small fish; you can’t follow everyone. Besides, nothing of great import happens under the waterlilies of music bay, it’s just a big playground, here. So let’s play!


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