Tag Archives: Starbucks

Nothing to see here….

I'm thinking....I'm thinking...Aren't I?

I find this more than a little ironic. Last year I put a lot of time and energy into blogging. I tried to blog at least twice a week, and tried to find subjects that were connected to my business interests (writing, plays, theatre) and would also catch the attention of people surfing the web.

I was waving a big sign saying “Come read my stuff! Find out how interesting I am and then buy my plays/books/t-shirts!”*

After six months I had radically improved my readership stats. It was hellishly impressive. On the other hand, I hadn’t written any new plays. Or anything else. Sales of the plays already published were slack. I hadn’t improved my situation at all. I had lots of readers who enjoyed my blog, which was nice, but….not a lot of use in terms of my business model.

Since February began I’ve been running this new system, and it’s working. I have produced a full length play, and a one act play that I’ve been MEANING to write since August last year. I’ve also moved on with other writing projects and gained significant confidence about taking on new challenges.

What I haven’t been doing, is blogging. I realised this the other day when I was updating my “Books I read in March” list, and found that I had only blogged once since posting the list from February.

This is my apology, if you’re a regular reader. I enjoy having a blog, and I like the fact that some people have found it a useful conduit. I love being able to talk directly with people about writing, or discussing points raised in the posts. But I’m not a blogger who writes plays, I’m a playwright who blogs. I know it’s important to have an author platform, and be approachable, and interact synergistically with your readership, but hey, I’m on G+ and Facebook and Twitter too.

I’m not going to feel guilty about intermittent blogging when the alternative is reviewing the recipes I’ve used for lunch, or how I prefer Tim Horton’s to Starbucks. I hope you’ll still read what I post, when I post, but if not, I’ll understand.




*Nobody EVER bought the t-shirts.

Fuelling the writing

Almost as important as my keyboard...

In his book “On WritingStephen King does an excellent job of dispelling the myth that great writers need something like whisky or drugs to function better. Hemingway didn’t drink because he was a great writer, he drank because he was a drunk and he happened to be a great writer too. So, drinking beer doesn’t help me get my writing done, and I would never claim taking any kind of narcotics helps you do anything except get poorer and die young. But coffee… Ah, coffee is a different thing altogether.

In the UK, I drank a lot of coffee. Working from home in Bournemouth I worked in the breakfast room, just off the kitchen (Look, it was a weird house, ok? Breakfast room AND dining room…) mainly because it was warm in the winter (because the boiler was in there too) but also because that kept me close to the kettle. I would drink instant coffee in much the same way as other people chain smoke…as soon as the cup was empty, I would hop up to refil it.

Once we arrived in Canada I realised this lifestyle could not continue. Not only because we no longer had a breakfast room, but because the instant coffee here is bad. Really bad. I don’t have a very discerning palette, for anything. I can distinguish between Coke and Pepsi, and red and white wine if I’m allowed to look, but distinguishing between Gold Blend and Full Roast? Pass. Not a chance. Over here, people can tell the difference between different brands of coffee beans just by the aroma BEFORE they’re made into a drink. People can tell the difference between a Starbucks coffee and a Tim Hortons (a couple of bucks, usually) But the instant coffee is so bad, even I couldn’t drink it.

We’d brought over our caffetiere, relic of dinner parties we’d never had, and it got a bit of a thrashing in the first few weeks as we used it every morning. Eventually the inevitable happened, and we smashed the glass bit. That’s when we bought the beauteous machine in the photo. A coffee maker! Load it up and it makes coffee for you! No plunging! You can even program it so that it comes on while you’re doing the school run and you come home to fresh, piping hot coffee! Miracle!

Sadly, all things must end. Yesterday I put on the coffee maker and hopped into the shower. I came out, dressed, and poured myself a cuppa. It was empty. The coffee was not made. I looked out the window, in case the Apocalypse had come to pass. But it was worse than that – the coffee machine was broken.

I’ve had twenty four hours without coffee, as the new machine had to wait until the shops were open. I’ve been that long without coffee before, of course, but that was by choice. This time I didn’t have coffee because I couldn’t and that was harsh, dear reader, harsh. Anyway, normality is restored with the arrival of the shiny new machine and a steady stream of liquid revitaliser, to which I give the credit for the completion of my first full-length play. Less than a year in the making, but at eight cups a day for ten months, that’s….a lot of coffee.

The Great Canadian Adventure – into the third week (originally posted Mar 27/09)

Me and the weasels eat lunch

You call 'em hot dogs if you like, it's indiginous cuisine to us.

The best and worst of this move so far is the confined living space we have chosen for our first few weeks. The apartments here at Stanley Park are lovely, containing pretty much everything a family needs to get by, plus having the advantage of being next to the park with all it’s amenities (and great views etc) and also handy for Downtown, as long as you can manage buses and the Skytrain… The downsides: It’s a two bedroom apartment, so if you’re not in your bedroom or the living room, you’re in the bathroom. Chances are, if you’re in the bathroom, then someone else is hammering on the door because there’s five of you living there and only the one toilet. Long restful baths do not occur here. Another downside is the scale of things here. We really need a car to get out to some of the places we need to go, but that means negotiating the mad roads of Downtown in both directions, and it doesn’t matter when we set off or where we’re going, we always seem to catch rush hour on the way home. One time we got so confused by the “Don’t turn right between 9am and 7pm” signs everywhere that we missed our road and took an unscheduled trip over the Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver. Nice scenery.

For me the main points of the last week have really been the fact that we can’t take much of a break from each other. The Weasels are behaving really well, and when I remember what they’ve had to give up just because we said it would be a good idea, I can’t believe how good they are. Trouble is, I don’t remember that often enough, so things can get pretty stressed at times. We went car hunting, since the Hire Car was approaching the end of it’s lease, but after three dealerships I couldn’t cope anymore. The Weasels viewed each showroom as a playground, and each car on display as an opportunity to wipe the mud from their boots. Also, I don’t do the money thing. Mrs Dim has an accounting brain and she has kept us off the financial rocks all our married life (a claim I’m particularly proud of in these uncertain times) but she has strolled into realms of Quantum Accounting in these past few weeks, juggling multiple accounts here and in the UK, trying to track real and forecast expenditure, trying to sort out living expenses from startup costs, and converting everything back and forth from Sterling to Dollars. I know, roughly, what kind of car I’d like. She knows, roughly, how much we can afford. Getting those two ideas to meet in the middle is hard enough, but if you can’t hear what the salesman is saying about purchase incentives and tax breaks because Biggest Weasel won’t give up her spot and let Middle Weasel put her head out through the sunroof too, then it’s damn near impossible. Plus it means you don’t know where Tiny Weasel is until you hear the crash.

The huge volume of e-mails (going both ways) has tailed off a bit, as have the number of phone calls home. We stumbled a little the other day, having promised a friend we would call at 6pm UK time, without realising that meant 11am our time. We wanted to go out that day, but waiting to call meant we lost most of the morning. And we had the number wrong, so they didn’t answer. Staying in touch with the UK is still important to both of us, and with this being still temporary accommodation, e-mail is the main tool for talking. It’s always good to get mail. The APs are off on their big World Tour shortly, and they surprised me by saying they weren’t taking the laptop with them. I know Dad’s worried about security and theft and whatnot, but I wouldn’t be without the link to the rest of the World if you gave me the choice.

All of this sounds a bit negative, but it’s not meant to. The hard parts are difficult, obviously, but I’m amazed how few of them there are. Me and Middle Weasel took a jaunt to the big mall the other day, riding the Skytrain like locals and shopping until we needed a hit from Starbucks. We knew where we were going and we got there and back safely. On the train journey I saw an amazing thing (if you’re from the UK, that is…) Some Teens got on, one stop after we did. They were dressed weirdly, and talking about their school day in derogatory terms and loud voices. One of the girls remarked that she knew where they were going but had no clue which stop to use. Immediately three people, of varying genders, ages and employment, took time to explain the best route to take to their destination. No one was afraid of these three just because they looked different. No one was afraid they might be knifed for speaking uninvited. No one stared huffily out the window and remarked “There is a map on the wall, you know” to no one in particular*. Ok, so this isn’t the London Underground. Canada’s a nice place! By the way, feel free to jump in and say this kind of thing happens on the Underground everyday…I just know it hasn’t happened anytime I’ve ridden the Tube, and I would have been too scared to offer anyone the time, had they asked, which they never have.

Today we found the car we didn’t know we were looking for, and by forcing a line of terrified numbers to jump through a burning hoop of spreadsheet, Mrs Dim has decided we can afford it. The Hire Car will go back and we will own a little bit more of our Canadian Dream. But tomorrow I take the weasels to the Rental House to wait for my piece of Canada to arrive – the Cable Guy is coming to hook up the house!

*Although it was a close run thing. I managed to restrain myself at the last second.