Golf Philosophy : Lesson 1. Looking Good or Getting the Job Done ?

lookingnotgood

Lesson 1. Looking Good or Getting the Job Done ?

There’s a concept I’ve recently come across in the training room that helps to explain a fair amount of my inability to break 80 with any regularity (I’m currently playing off 18). I learnt this pearl of wisdom attending on a training course run by a psychologist. He was talking to us (a group of trainers, consultants, personnel folk) about management, and more specifically the relationship managers have with staff, customers, etc… In his words (and Freud’s) “It’s all about relationships”. He discussed how the quality of the relationship you have with a client is a measure of the effectiveness with which you do business with them. Which is interesting enough. The particularly relevant aspect to this for me (and my consistency in golf – remember the golf) was the question he asked us about our relationship with our clients;

“What are you committed to? Are you committed to looking good or are you committed to getting the job done?” For me this translates as “Why do I choose a pitching wedge from 3 feet off the green rather than use a putter?” I know a putter will get me closer on 8 out of 10 occasions yet somehow it doesn’t feel right. I feel that I should use a wedge. There’s a pressure on me, a macho, male thing about having to copy the professionals. I can see it in the faces of all my playing partners – they all feel the same. They’d rather lose a hole going for that ‘tiny gap between the trees and fading it around the corner’ shot than adopt the sensible ‘just chip it back on the fairway’ route. Now I know (I’ve come to terms with this at least) that I’m never going to win the Open. I also know that I get a great deal of pleasure by shooting a low score and lowering my handicap. Yet I still can’t quite get that putter out. It’s the same on some tees. I’ll automatically reach for a driver when all the logic in my head is screaming “3 iron! 3 iron!”.

So having attending the training course next time I’m on the edge of a par 5 in 2 I’m going to reach for a putter, lag it up and tap in for a birdie……. well, maybe as long as none of my regular playing partners are watching.

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Golf, Luck, Karma, Dancing and Thinking

183You make your way through the heather and mistletoe onto the 18th tee. It’s an enchanting, but daunting par three. You ease your way through the rowan bushes, hazel and willow trees to get a panoramic view of the whole arcane course from this elevated promontory. You smell the rosemary and cinnamon as the sun starts to fade on what has been a perfect autumn afternoon. Below you the horseshoe lake in front of the green glimmers as the setting suns rays play across the surface. The crickets chirp languidly as you shield your eyes to gaze down onto the crisp emerald putting surface and see a circle of your golfing fraternity performing the ‘lining up of the putt’ ceremony.

They alternate, criss-crossing the viridescent dance floor in a succession of ritualistic choreographed patterns handed down from generation to generation. It’s like watching some ancient gavotte or floral dance as they take their turns with their putters, bow to the flag and move slowly, gracefully around the green stepping nimbly over invisible lines. Slowly they reach the climax of the ceremony and you faintly hear a set of orchestrated incantations and hexes; “eyes over the ball”, “eyes over the ball”, “accelerate the clubhead”, “accelerate the clubhead”, “never up, never in”, “never up, never in”.

As the gentle breeze carries the last cry of the congregation into the light of the waiting clubhouse you make a mistake; you start to think.

You’ve had a decent round and you know you really should be enjoying this. Your swing’s been excellent for the seventeen holes so far. You’ve putting solidly all afternoon up to this point. So, why is it then that all you can think about is the passage in ‘The Right Stuff’ where Alan Shephard is waiting for lift off on the Apollo moon mission. He’s not thinking about the excitement, or even the danger of 7.5 million tons of thrust being generated beneath him. All he’s thinking as he lies waiting for lift off is “Please, Dear God, don’t let me mess this up. Please, Dear God, don’t let me mess this up.” (I paraphrase).

You take a deep breath and repeat this mantra to Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Parsvanatha, Tyche, Hectate, Dagda, Ganesh, Confucious, Allah and your Guardian Angel. There are two scenarios playing in your mind. In the first scenario you hit your 6 iron a mile in the air and it drops like a stone eight feet past the flag, bounces once and spins back to crawls slowly down the green inching toward the flag. It seems to be going in but suddenly stops. “Bad luck” you hear. In the second scenario you clear the pond by an inch. It bounces forward onto the green then spins back slowly, slowly into the enticing, alluring, watery hell. “Oh bad luck” you still hear.

But it’s not really bad luck, is it? Many would argue that it’s karma. This would teach that similar actions will lead to similar results; Buddhists would say, “Good actions lead to happy states”; Wiccans would tell you, “The harm you do returns to you threefold”; The Beatles would sing, “The love you make is equal to the love you take”; Confusians would pronounce, “What you do not want done to you, do not do to others.”; and many Christians would chip in (excuse the pun) with “What goes around, comes around”.

One of the few people who would disagree with this assessment would be Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins is not a big fan of luck, or God for that matter. He’s the ultimate “You make your own luck in this world“type of guy. Richard, should he be on the eighteenth tee with you would encourage you to spend less time praying to Fudo, Fortuna, Bastet and Saint Andrew, and more time considering the club/ball interaction where the energy of the club is transferred to the ball by the mass of the clubhead + the velocity (speed + direction) of the swing and the ball’s flight through the air in terms of the angle of the shot (taking into account the air pressure as it leaves the club (not forgetting, hopefully, the resultant change in pressure (and temperature)) and travels over land, water and land again before gently dropping on the putting surface).

Now you hear the voices of the modern days gurus, “Stay in the zone”, “Visualise”, “Take one shot at a time”, “Stay in the moment”, “Be of the game not in the game”. Oh no this is getting confusing. Stop. Relax. Breathe. Be positive. Calm. Seek Nirvana.

You breathe. You place the ball on the tee peg and step back. You pick up some grass and throw it into the air, yet have no idea where it comes down. You’re operating on automatic now. You take a few perfect practice swings touch the lucky rabbit’s foot in your pocket and step forward to take the shot.

The next thing you know it’s on the green, three feet from the hole. You have no idea how it got there. Your mind has been a total blank. Tiger Woods could have stepped up to you, taken your club, hit the ball and walked away and you would not have known. In fact you wouldn’t really care. All you can see now is your ball on the green.

After your partners have hit you walk nonchalantly down the path trying to pretend that you do this sort of thing every day. As you step onto the green and repair your pitch mark you notice that the putt’s a little downhill, and instead of three feet it’s grown to six feet. You make a mistake. You start to think.

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Real Rules for Real Golfers

oldgolfers

There is very little written down about how golfers should really conduct themselves on a golf course, which seems strange. There are books, dvds, computer games on all other aspects of golf – swinging the club, chipping from 76 yards, putting from 12.7 yards on a North West facing slope, playing out of bunkers containing a particular sand mix,etc.

There are even a number of books on that most bizarre of topics; golf etiquette – with hundreds of things to do or not to do –

don’t fire a gun on your opponents backswing,

shake hands even though it’s killing you inside,

say ‘good shot’ when your opponent’s duffed a chip and bounced backward from a rake to within 2 feet.

Yet nothing apart from the most inane “keep up with the group in front”, on how you actually conduct yourself on the golf course to avoid slow play……… until now…..

Real rules for real golfers …

Rule 1 – Turn up on time, ie turn up 25 minutes early. You need this time to…

a) put your ball on the first tee … to indicate you’re next in the queue

b) get ALL your stuff out of the car… trolley, bag, clubs, tees, pencil….

c) put bag on trolley

d) mess about with trolley battery

e) get tees from bottom of bag (remind yourself to put tees in better place after round today)

f) get least crinkled, driest ‘monkey’s paw’ glove from bottom of bag (remind yourself ………..)

g) saunter confidentially to first tee

h) go back to the car to get your pitchmark repairer

i) walk back to first tee more briskly

j) go back to the car when your mobile phone rings embarrassing you

k) creep back to first tee

l) verbally abuse group in front of you with traditional taunts about not being shy about calling you through when they’ve lost 2 holes

m) prepare and practice – take 3 practice swings and put club back in bag

n) put down mental markers with your playing partners – “I haven’t touched a club for 3 weeks”, “my back’s been playing up”, “My handicap’s down to 19 but I’m nowhere near that”

o) go back to car for golf shoes

p) sprint back from car running verbal abuse gauntlet of jibes from other golfers as your playing partners tee off

q) slice first drive into trees

As the round starts;

It’s slightly misleading of me to say that it will take 2 hours for a round as this is for 1 person. For a group of 4 I guess it will take 8 hours – Well sometimes it feels like that. There is a major, major internal mindshift golfers need to take here – Playing golf involves parallel process, not a serial process. You play golf at the same time as your playing partners – not after your partners.

OK, OK I know what you’re saying but basically I’m correct. As your partners are playing their shots – you should be preparing – pause long enough, of course, to watch where they hit it and praise / heckle /commiserate accordingly but it really should take nearer to 2 hours to play than 8 – shouldn’t it?

You play golf on your own – in a way – what your partners do shouldn’t often affect you – so you need to focus on your own game and conduct and be a little selfish.

Tips for being a little selfish

a) look for your own ball at the same time as others look for theirs. Don’t react like a bunch of 5 year olds playing football and swarm around each ball in turn.

b) prepare your shot even if you are about the same distance from the hole. Of course the furthest-away person hits first but you should then be ready to hit – especially if you are wider than your partners – it should be practically instantaneous

c) line up putts at the same time as your partners – unless you’re a professional and earn your living doing this – if you are putting to win the Ryder Cup then perhaps I’ll allow a little more latitude. If there’s a silence on the green and people are looking at you and you say “On me?” you deserve to have your ball stood on the next time your opponent passes it in the rough.

Positioning on the golf course, or course management as it’s often called, is vital to the game of golf. By this I don’t mean that nonsense of getting the ball on the correct side of the fairway or leaving an uphill putt – unless you’re off scratch I believe hitting a fairway or leaving yourself a putt are as much as you could dream of.

Tips on positioning /green play and generalities

a) put your bag in a sensible position. It should be placed on the edge of the green in the direction nearest the point where you leave the green to advance to the next tee. No-one preparing their approach shot wants to see the situation on the green ahead where a golfer puts the flag in then does a funny run and apologetic wave as he (and it will be a he) moves to the front of the green then has to pull his trolley around the green to catch up with his sensible playing partners.

b) if you’re lucky enough to be the first in your group to hole your putt first grab the flag and be quiet. Do not offer advise on the speed, slope, wetness, firmness of the green as others try to concentrate.

c) mark your card on the next tee – do not EVER, EVER, EVER stand on the green looking down the fairway pointing at various invisible marks mouthing 1… 2… 3… 4 … etc.. then take your card out of a back pocket, extract a pencil from your bag, shout to your partner “How many for you?” and carefully mark the card. In this circumstance for the group behind it should be allowed, no not allowed, it should be mandatory to hit to your green and anyone hitting you should not have to count that shot.

d) stop talking and prepare to take your your shot.

e) stop talking and prepare to take your shot.

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Random Golfing Conversations – Albert

Albert and playing partner contemplating going out for the first doubles match of the Winter

EXT.   COLD AUTUMN WEDNESDAY, MYNYDD BRAWDAFAD GOLF CLUB

2 forlorn figures standing on the 132 yard, par 3, 13th.

Albert, a youngster of 48 takes out a 5 iron and swings it ferociously throughout the conversation. There is no wind.
Barry, a 52 year old writer looks on amazed.

BARRY
You know this is only 132 yards?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
You know you hit that 5 iron 160 yards on the last hole?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
So. Why?

ALBERT
I don’t want to take any chances.

BARRY
Take any chances on what?

ALBERT
On getting it into the hole.

BARRY
But that’s the point, isn’t it?

ALBERT
I never aim at the hole on par 3s on Wednesdays

BARRY
Why?

ALBERT
In case I get a hole in 1

BARRY
?

ALBERT
I don’t want to buy a round

BARRY
It’s Wednesday afternoon. By the time we get into the club there’ll only by 3 people there, including us

ALBERT
I know but Jimmy Pies will be there

BARRY
So

ALBERT
I’m not buying him a drink

BARRY
So you’d rather take 3 more clubs than you need on a hole you’ve never managed to get within 5 feet of in your life because there’s a bloke who may be in the club when you get back you won’t buy a drink for?

ALBERT
Correct

Albert smiles as his tee shot lands 20 yards behind the pin.

*****

EXT.   COLD WINTER THURSDAY, CRIEFF GOLF CLUB.

It was Albert’s first year on the Scotland golf tour. Every 2 years the SMGS went to Scotland on the Wales v Scotland international weekend and played golf for a week, They played a number of golf clubs every day in and around Edinburgh and watched the match on Saturday. Albert was nervous. He’d been playing golf for a few years but had only encountered the electric, intense Saturday Morning Golf Society atmosphere on a few occasions and knew very few people in the group.

It was the first tee at a nameless, but tough and windy proper links course. There were 12 waiting around the first tee pretending to stretch and wake up and have their last cigarette (of the front nine).
Dev (has become the self appointed leader, and welcomer)

DEV
Albert. As a special honour you get to tee off first

Very muted applause, some abuse and a general murmur of ‘bandit’.

DEV
Here you are I’ll even put your tee in the ground for you and line you up. It’s tradition

Albert walks onto the tee and stares into the distance. He shakily places his ball on the tee and mutters to himself

ALBERT
Slow swing…slow swing

His bottom is going like a trout’s mouth as he lifts the club and hits it, not great but straight and quite long. He smiles at Dev.

Dev smiles back, turns Albert around 180 degrees

DEV
Well done. Now there’s the first fairway

He points down the fairway, in the opposite direction to Albert’s tee shot,

DEV
I suggest you wander back to your ball and see if you can hit a couple of 5 irons back in this direction

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Random Golf Conversations – Albert

Albert and playing partner contemplating going out for the first doubles match of the Winter

EXT.   COLD AUTUMN WEDNESDAY, MYNYDD BRAWDAFAD GOLF CLUB

2 forlorn figures standing on the 132 yard, par 3, 13th.

Albert, a youngster of 48 takes out a 5 iron and swings it ferociously throughout the conversation. There is no wind.
Barry, a 52 year old writer looks on amazed.

BARRY
You know this is only 132 yards?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
You know you hit that 5 iron 160 yards on the last hole?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
So. Why?

ALBERT
I don’t want to take any chances.

BARRY
Take any chances on what?

ALBERT
On getting it into the hole.

BARRY
But that’s the point, isn’t it?

ALBERT
I never aim at the hole on par 3s on Wednesdays

BARRY
Why?

ALBERT
In case I get a hole in 1

BARRY
?

ALBERT
I don’t want to buy a round

BARRY
It’s Wednesday afternoon. By the time we get into the club there’ll only by 3 people there, including us

ALBERT
I know but Jimmy Pies will be there

BARRY
So

ALBERT
I’m not buying him a drink

BARRY
So you’d rather take 3 more clubs than you need on a hole you’ve never managed to get within 5 feet of in your life because there’s a bloke who may be in the club when you get back you won’t buy a drink for?

ALBERT
Correct

Albert smiles as his tee shot lands 20 yards behind the pin.

*****

EXT.   COLD WINTER THURSDAY, CRIEFF GOLF CLUB.

It was Albert’s first year on the Scotland golf tour. Every 2 years the SMGS went to Scotland on the Wales v Scotland international weekend and played golf for a week, They played a number of golf clubs every day in and around Edinburgh and watched the match on Saturday. Albert was nervous. He’d been playing golf for a few years but had only encountered the electric, intense Saturday Morning Golf Society atmosphere on a few occasions and knew very few people in the group.

It was the first tee at a nameless, but tough and windy proper links course. There were 12 waiting around the first tee pretending to stretch and wake up and have their last cigarette (of the front nine).
Dev (has become the self appointed leader, and welcomer)

DEV
Albert. As a special honour you get to tee off first

Very muted applause, some abuse and a general murmur of ‘bandit’.

DEV
Here you are I’ll even put your tee in the ground for you and line you up. It’s tradition

Albert walks onto the tee and stares into the distance. He shakily places his ball on the tee and mutters to himself

ALBERT
Slow swing…slow swing

His bottom is going like a trout’s mouth as he lifts the club and hits it, not great but straight and quite long. He smiles at Dev.

Dev smiles back, turns Albert around 180 degrees

DEV
Well done. Now there’s the first fairway

He points down the fairway, in the opposite direction to Albert’s tee shot,

DEV
I suggest you wander back to your ball and see if you can hit a couple of 5 irons back in this direction

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It Must Be Good News Being An Introvert And A Writer? Mustn’t It?

introvert

The discussion below is very general. I know. It is stereotyping. I know. It doesn’t apply to everyone. I know that. It definitely does not apply to everyone who reads this. I know. The person who reads this is a complicated and multi-faceted, elaborate creature made up of an infinite and indefinable sets of higher functions that could not possibly be quantified. I know. You are special. I know. You are unique. I know. Just like everyone else you are unique.

The classic classification for a writer using the Myers-Briggs type Indicator is an INFP – which translates as an Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceiving person. In blunt terms a shy, caring, intuitive type who loves to spend time on their own. Very, very blunt terms.

Focusing on the Introvert / Extrovert aspect seems the most useful for this particular discussion. This aspect of Myers Briggs assessment (there are millions of articles out there if you need a fuller explanation) is concerned with how you get energy and recharge your batteries. Do you energise yourself internally (introvert) or externally (extroverts).  In practical terms – after a long, hard, draining week how would you ideally choose to recharge your batteries in an ideal world. This is a world without the constraints on kids, money, relationships. In a purely selfish scenario how would you choose – Would you ideally go out clubbing, dancing, discoing or whatever you youngsters do these days – raving, garaging? Or would have a have a quiet night in – relaxing, chillaxing? Unsurprising if you choose the relaxing aspect this indicates you have more of an introvert tendency. So, what are you?

As I mentioned before the majority of writers tend to fall into this introvert camp.  This sounds about right to me. Introvertion would be quite handy for the writing process. Being stuck in a room for hours on end would, I suspect, not really be the chosen pastime of most extroverts.

However, writers, certainly modern writers need more skills than just writing.

“Once the writing has finished the work begins.”

We need to sell. This is typical a job for an extrovert, not an introvert. However, it’s a necessity unless you have the skill of J D Salinger. You have to do it –it’s your job. Okay nowadays we can hide behind a laptop and tweet and write and pretend that we are extrovert. That’s quite nice isn’t it? But can we fake being an extrovert in real life? Tough.

I have found some tips for us -

  1. Let it out.  I’m not too sure what you should let out but do it. Let it out. Let your shy personality – honed and fine–tuned by years and years of repression and disappointment – out.
  2. Walk on the wild side. Go crazy. Get into a bar-room fight. Dance on the tables.
  3. Be impulsive. If a wild day for you is one in which you change your tea towel then this is what you need. Be rash. Quit your job. Book a flight to Istanbul and just go.
  4. Join a club. Not too sure about this one. There are so many diverse, dodgy clubs out there. In my local newspaper there are invites for book reading clubs, friends of the theatre clubs, photography clubs. It seems a little dodgy to me. I’m pretty sure they are all covers for wife-swapping clubs. But, hey that should increase your extraversion score.

So, you need to do all of these activities and become a (pretend) activist – don’t forget you’ve still got to write. It’s only a job and the job requires different skills, like building walls or driving a bus. Learn these new skills. Who knows you may even like it.

You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

 

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How Would You Like To Be Remembered?

statue1

 

For many of us writing is not a full time job – yet. We can dream. Until the day we are ‘discovered’ w e have to pay the Government, feed the kids and help pay many, many, many other peoples’ mortgages.  I suspect you find, like me, there is never enough time to write. Life is taken up with all those ‘things that get in the way’. Writing is shoved in between  cleaning the bathroom and mending the brakes on the car. You wonder where the time went as you look back on most days and realise that you’ve achieved nothing. Maybe it’s time to see if  you can manage your time a little more effectively. I know. I know. Time management is usually so boring with activity logs, timesheets time logs, Time Tac, Toggl and Time Tiger. This is different – it’s free. It’s about you and determining what is important to you.

Try this exercise. Imagine it’s ten years in the future. You find yourself in a church at your own funeral. One by one people you know get up and talk about you and your contribution to the world. What are they going to say ? What will your partner, your kids, your colleagues say ? I can bet all the money in my pocket they won’t be like Mr Burns  when he thought he was dying announcing, “I just wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

Ask yourself this question – “How would I like to be remembered ?” What would you like those who care about you, and you care about, to say ? What would you want to leave behind you? You need time to think about this. Once you’ve really got this big picture sorted you can move on.

The next step is an exercise from Stephen Covey. It’s known as ‘Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks’-

Imagine a bucket. Put three or four big rocks in.

“Is the bucket full ? ” I ask.

“No” you reply.

“Of course not” I say and put some smaller rocks in it to fill in the gaps.

“Full now ? “

“No”. I put in some sand. Then I add some water. It’s full.

So, what’s the learning here ? It’s to do with the order. What would happen if I’d reversed the order ? What if I’d put the water in first, then the sand, then the small rocks. There would be no room for the big rocks. These big rocks are the important things in your life. You need to schedule them first, not try to squeeze them in after arranging the water ( writing pointless reports ), sand ( unnecessary travel ) or small rocks ( staff meetings where no-one listens and everyone looks at the clock ).

What are the big rocks in your life ? For many it’s things like family, time to watch the children grow up, time to finish that novel, time for themselves, time to make a difference. You decide. You identify 3 or 4 things you believe are important. The 3 or 4 things that will make a difference at your funeral.

When you’ve decided what they are then schedule them. Schedule time for yourself, time to take that creative writing class, time to spend a week with the children at half term. Once these times are scheduled, fit the rest of your work around them.

It’s not big and it’s not clever to work more than forty hours a week. I repeat, it’s not big and it’s not clever. So stop it. Stop that ‘poor me, look how many hours I work’ nonsense. Work as little as you can. Do as much as you can in the time agreed, but once you’ve done – run away – go home. The surprise will be how little people miss you. It may be hard at first to realise the world of work can carry on without you but give it time. This feeling will be replaced by one of immense joy. “I’m dispensable !” This will give you enormous freedom.

But never forget the big picture. Why save 30 minutes by delegating some work when ‘re only going to spend it playing online poker. (Well, that’s the theory, but maybe becoming an online poker millionaire is one of your big rocks?).

Remember you can’t save time – you’ve only got so much. You know that. So, what do you want to be remembered for ?

 You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

 You can get the ‘Essential Management Skills’ Kindle book here    

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“The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue”

casablanca

How do you get to be a genius and write lines like these? -

Rick: “Not an easy day to forget. I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.”

Ilsa: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’. “

Rick: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

There’s a fair amount of dispute about who actually wrote what for Casablanca. It seems that Julius J Epstein, Philip G Epstein, Howard Koch and Casey Robinson were all involved. Even Humphrey Bogart is given the credit for  “Here’s looking at you, kid”. But how do you produce these genius perfect lines? I could never do it in a month of Sundays. Possibly because I use phrases like ‘a month of Sundays’.

How do you produce similes like -

“By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.” Cormac McCarthy

“I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.” Raymond Chandler

What about this one, by me – “He was tiny. As small as an underdeveloped baby dwarf ant who had been off his food for a week.”

Maybe not.

It’s context as well. Casablanca is set in …. well Casablanca. Transfer this to Risca and -

Ilsa says, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By'” would change to -

Blodwen says, “Play it, Dai. Play ‘Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do'”.

Local Welsh similes and idioms are often quite harsh or simply baffling -

“She had a face like a robber’s horse.”

“He was as angry as ten bears.”

And some of the idioms are particularly strange -

“It’s raining old ladies and sticks.” (“Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn”)

“Don’t lift a petticoat after peeing.” (“Paid â chodi pais ar ôl piso” )

The English equivalent of “Don’t lift a petticoat…” is ” Don’t cry over spilt milk.” It does seem to lack the Welsh charm, though. Don’t you think?

*

 You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

 You can get the ‘Essential Management Skills’ Kindle book here    

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June 6, 2014 · 4:32 pm

How to Write a Successful Novel

cheesy

Words Remembered, Not Said

Distractions of the week

…. Wednesday – release of kindle day-job book ‘Essential Management Skills’ – New update of Scrivener software – Golf competition at Cradoc Golf Club – excellent day, but no cigar – Coronation Street -Eisteddfod at Bala – ‘Fargo’ – Online poker – New books : ‘Child of God’, ‘Frank’ – Cat waking up at 4 a.m. – Su Doku – Twitter – Thinking of idea for golf article for Culture Cymru  -Still managed to write a chapter – result – reading an article on using writing style to predict the success of novels …………………….

I researched the research at …..

http://aclweb.org/anthology/D/D13/D13-1181.pdf

entitled Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels

researched by Vikas Ganjigunte Ashok, Song Feng, Yejin Choi

Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4400

They have uncovered the secret of success. Their research concerned the analysis  of writing styles to predict if a novel will be successful or not. As part of the study there are a number of words analysed and determined as being successful or unsuccessful in novels.

Consider the following 2 paragraphs:

“Not really,” I said. “Words can say much about me, my unicorn and my turtle. Which to choose, that is the question? After the decision I ponder the questions – Where? What? Whom? Whenever I remembered my life, after my birth, I recognized the struggle within. So I must go up, out, into the void within.”

and

“Never take the risk. And worse never hit slaves hard. If a person is murdered, or even bruised on the arm or body the assailant will face a heavy prison sentence.  As I sat in my room on the bay near the beach, watching my boat outside the door, I wanted to promise that I would cry, shout, but never go down that avenue. As I resisted the urge, I became very breathless until I reached a state where I became almost sacred where the slightest thought would make me absolutely perfect. “

Apparently the first one will be the most successful. According to the study (Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels ) there is a way to predict success.

The most successful words to include in novels are – not, said, words, says, I, me, my, and, which, though, that, as, after, but, where, what, as, after, but, where, what, whom, since, whenever, up, into, out, after, in, within, recognized, remembered.

The less successful words are – never, risk, worse, slaves, hard, murdered, bruised, heavy, prison, face, arm, body, skins, room, beach, bay, hills, avenue, boat, door, want, went, took, promise cry shout, jump, glare, urge, never, very, breathless, sacred, slightest, absolutely, perfect

I suspect this would apply doubly to book titles. I guess the more good words you can combine, the better. I did a little research –

My list of ‘should be’ successful novels  -

‘Me and My Brothers’. Technically not a novel but it was co-written by Charlie Kray so it’s technically anything it wants to be.

Who, What, Where, When, Die – Amanda M Lee.

Whenever They Call Me a Dreamer – Marsha L Sisk

Out – Natsuo Kirino

After Me, the Delude – David Forrest

Not I – Samuel Beckett. Again not exactly a novel but included because the list of successful words reads like Billy Whitelaw in a scene from a Beckett play.

List of ‘should not be successful’ novels -

Breathless – at least 10 different authors

Whenever Whenever – Richard Bradley

Beach, Bach, Boat, Barbecue  – Penny Oliver and Ian Bachelor

74 Seaside Avenue – Debbie Macomber – will be about boats, beaches, Bach and barbecues, I suspect

“Don’t Cry for Me Aberystwyth” Malcolm Pryce ( a legend) with one of the best titles ever being a complex mix of good and bad

So, what have I learnt?  – not much. Yes, you’re right – even with all the distractions I have got too much time on my hands. However my next book is going to be -

“Words Remembered, Not Said” – a romantic novel

***

 You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

 You can get the ‘Essential Management Skills’ Kindle book here    

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Marketing

'Madam, could I sell you a collection of encyclopedias that you’ll probably never read?'

My agent said there should be a marketing campaign for my book. “Great,” I said, “where do we start?”

“We?” she said.

I did some research.

1. ‘Start your marketing before you write the book’. Bit late for that. How the hell does that work though? So, I’ve got an idea for a book so I should put the idea on hold and launch a marketing strategy ..… ‘Only 275 days to go before the launch of my new book. It will be something to do with crime and there’ll be a murder and a lot of thrills and excitement. No characters yet. ” Sign me up for that one.

2. ‘Write a Remarkable Book’. Good idea. Never thought of that.

3. ‘Word of mouth recommendation’ – sounds plausible. Sounds more that plausible. Sounds excellent. So how does this happen? I read more…“All you really need for word of mouth marketing is a book worthy of sharing, and a way to get it into the hands of people who will spread the word.” Right.  So, the first part. Have I got a book worthy of sharing? Well of course. I must be unique in this regard mustn’t I? I’m not? What. You say everyone who writes a book believes they have a book worthy of sharing?

So, let’s go for the second part… “Get it into the hands of people who will spread the word”.   Two parts to this – 1. Who are the people who will spread the word? And how do I get it into their hands? I have a think. People who will spread the word – Martha Whatsername from the Newsnight review show thingy on a Friday sometimes. She’d be good. Where does she live? I research. Martha Catherine Kearney. No email address though – shame. How do you get books into the hands of people who will spread the word? Even if I did manage to track her down and force my book into her hands who can I be sure she reads it? Short of a kidnapping and holding her eyes open with match sticks I can’t see how this tactic will work. Bad advice. Try another. Mariella Frostrup. Well I’m going to the Hay festival next week. I’ll take a book for her. I’ll let you know how I get on.

You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

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Filed under Golff Noir, mynydd eimon - private hell, On writing