When The Music's Over

My new Ibanez arrived yesterday but I couldn't catch a break to spend some time with it so I checked it had arrived in one piece and put the lid back on until today... where we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other a little better.

I've been playing the 12 string for so long, I forgot how over-sized it was compared to a regular guitar. I think we're going to have fun together when we've ironed out some creases. 

The idea of putting Deadbirds together (keep up) won't leave me alone. I know I don't want to do the 'full blown thing' - I can't go down that road again - but I've been wandering through some great old unplugged video footage this week and the fire for something like that excites me. Four or five guys/girls with a bunch of guitars having some unplugged fun? I could handle that in the extreme.


The writing has taken something of a back-seat because of this new love affair but that's OK. The ideas have been building up and sometime in the last few days, I did this:

Trying to figure out a way to promote your work in a world in which people like to look but can't stop for a few seconds to read more than three words is tough, so I figured I had best start getting creative.

To wrap up, I feel a need to drop this into the run too. This is beautiful work from Léa Nahon and deserves more than a mention. You can find her here.

Sion Smith
The Return Of The Analogue Man

This week has shaped up to be packed to the rafters . Two magazines sent to print, two birthdays celebrated, one guitar purchased, quest to save bears improved (more on that in a couple of days), the only two things I haven't done that were on the mental list are wash the car and get two years cut off my hair - both of which can wait.

Without going off the deep end here about the new six string addition to the family thats due to arrive tomorrow...

I changed my mind about the colour to go for. It's very possible that a man can own too many black things

I changed my mind about the colour to go for. It's very possible that a man can own too many black things

...I realise that this year has so far been about a lot of analogue love. I've fallen back into playing guitar (a lot) which has led to writing (songs - but not as much as I would like), spending a lot less time in front of a screen (which sadly includes posting here - file under collateral damage) and generally feeling as though I'm putting my life back together when I hadn't even noticed that it had come (slightly) undone.

I think there are books out there that call noticing these things 'mindfulness' - but honestly, if this happens to you, it's just plain careless.

Not that I've got time to add anything else to the list of things to get up, I thought I might add something to the list anyway.

I've never heard of Lomo before - if I had, I might have bought somebody one for their aforementioned birthday. Now, I'm thinking it might be a great tool for putting together a book of some kind... maybe one of the poetry book ideas I've got lurking at the back of my head. Pictured here is the Lomo Belair X 6-12 City Slicker:

They have a huge range of cameras and what's appealing about this - as opposed to shooting on your phone - is no matter how lo-fi it is, you've still only got a limited number of shots to choose from, meaning you need to think about what you're doing and I like that a lot.

On the other hand, they also have a great range in instant cameras - this Lomo’Instant Bora Bora delivers credit card sized photographs on the spot which could also be fun:

I think it's going to be the Belair. My photographer friends would laugh me out of the ballpark if they read this but I don't want to be Fin Costello. I just want to capture a few moments in a different way.

And now I must write something before I go to bed because are the rules of the house - no matter how short.

Sion Smith
Interlude: Something About Gods...

One of the finest books ever written surely? And if you happen to have mislaid your signed first edition of American Gods from back in the day... well, I guess this looks very much like a worthy replacement:

There's going to be a lot of press about this as a TV show when it lands but even if it's the finest TV ever made, it still won't eclipse the novel. If you're in the market for such a thing of beauty you can get yourself a copy right here.

Everything Neil Gaiman touches may turn to gold but everything Dave McKean works on was gold before it even left his head.

The Man In The Ruined Castle

Holy Moly. My Small Person will be 16 next week. I probably shouldn't call her that anymore but if you have kids yourself, you'll know that they will always be small people whether they be 16 or 46... though the very idea of her being 46 strikes fear into my heart. That will make me what I'd call an 'old person'. I'd like to think that I'll be finished with my laser tattoo removal by then (because no matter what anybody tells you, it hurts like a bitch) but most of all, I'd like to think I had achieved something of value in this life and that everybody I currently need to watch out for has it all figured out so I can revert to being irresponsible and hit the road now and again in some peculiar glam rock variation on Seasick Steve while funding the whole adventure with money from writing.

Pretty simple if you ask me.

Anyway - small people: over at the Big Bear Rescue donation page today, a tenner got dropped in the kitty... by an eight year old girl called Hope. I've met her a couple of times at family orientated tattoo shows around the country through her Mum, Sarah - she's very funny and for an eight year old, has a heart of gold along with a huge passion for art. I'm not sure I would have thrown £10 of my own cash into a project to save anything at eight, twenty-eight or even thirty-eight. This seemingly small, but really quite huge gesture, restored my faith in the whole project because frankly, if I can inspire a little girl who has better things to spend her pocket money on enough to dig into her own pocket, then it's entirely possible I can reach anybody.

I seem to have bitten off just about as much as I could ever chew on the reading front.

Because I'm writing, I decided not to read at all but I missed it, so I figured I would read something out of the ordinary and went down the rabbit hole into Russian lit with a Bulgakov novel which has been lying around on the shelf here for a while now.

But I also favour a good audiobook in the car or on a train, so I'm also letting Murakami's 1Q84 wash over me... except 'wash over me' is something that Murakami doesn't do - it's more like jumping into his fire and being consumed from the inside out.

I have to say though, neither of them are a struggle. I didn't know much about Bulgakov but with a rummage, I found that he began writing The Master in 1928 and it was finally published by his widow in 1966 - twenty-six years after his death... which provides hope for anybody that may be struggling even though you may never get to see your magnum opus in action.

...and now, back to work.

Sion Smith
Should Have Known Better

Apologies to those of you like to check in natively at my site and blog... I took it back to its original design this weekend (broke it for a little while) and I see that a lot of the images are now running at 100mph in Full Size. I could go back and edit them but that's not a great use of time. I will post as much as possible and try and bury them in the depths of yesterday.

I still have a few bits and pieces to fix up here but it all works. I'm going reintroduce the calendar I used to have here too. I find it useful to know where I should be even if you don't - which is another way of saying, I finally got around to figuring out where I'm going this year, when and what for - although the little things I like to bolt on along the way are still up in the air for the most part. I'm working on raising the bar this year but I gotta tell you, with kids and dogs to take care of, it's tough getting out of the house sometimes.

This last few weeks has also seen me pick up the guitar more often than not and get quite serious about it. I didn't know quite how much I had missed it until we started spending a lot of time together and now I've got a serious hunger on for a new machine... namely this Ibanez:

I'll report back on what this beast is capable of later because there's very little online about it - though with a little research from my friend Mr Simmons, there may well be a couple of others in the running.

Having said that, old habits die really hard and I already have some ideas on where to go, along with a potential name for the project which will either be Deadbirds or Phantom Lullaby. I just can't help myself you know...

Sion Smith

It's the last day of the Big Bear Rescue for February and I have to say, it's pretty frustrating selling 'a few' and after the expenses of printing and mailing, pocketing what amounts to small change. That's not to say I'm not grateful to all of the people who have bought a shirt along the way so far - and it's not even saying that I think everybody in the world should want one. In fact, if I were to say anything negative about the whole thing, it would kind of cheapen it and I don't want to do that because I still believe in what I'm doing with it.

But there has to be a better way because when just 2% of people who visit the page actually make a purchase, I'm doing something wrong. There has to be a better way because when you ask the very organisation you're doing it alongside of to give you the briefest of mentions on social media as they have the hotline to the audience that cares the most - and they don't - I'm doing something wrong.

Seems to me that for all the fireworks in the sky over social media and all the Big Talk about 'everything being in your control thanks to the internet' - real media (radio, television and magazines) still rule.

I didn't want to take another break from the project but I might have to put March on the sidelines to figure it out. I feel guilty over the time the artists have put in that there's not more comeback from it. I've got guilt over the sanctuary I promised I'd support - but most of all, I'm beginning to wonder if my time wouldn't be better spent handing over cash out of my wages and lying around watching TV in the evening instead of trying to save a tiny corner of the world.

Somewhere inside, I know I'm just not reaching the right people but you get where I'm coming from right? People get famous in 2017 for being filmed watching TV and that's what I'm up against.

But the truth is, being like everybody is the same as being nobody and that road never was for me. 

Time for Plan B - because this is still unacceptable.

Meanwhile, on the writing front, aside from Neil Gaiman, I seem to be the only person in the entire universe who is still keeping a blog alive. I saw in the last week that Nikki Sixx had even given up his .com domain in favour of solely using instagram and he's not the only one out there. People of the world have so much information to consume, they don't have time to read anything properly let alone get involved on a grand scale with anything even if they wanted to, which mostly, they don't.

It's tempting to hit the instagram route. Twitter is dying on its knees - I lost 15 followers in the 15 minutes I chose to write about my own funeral... go figure, but I think I might be able to do some damage on instagram if I made that commitment.

Food for thought huh. I need to get some solid ground under my wheels if I'm going to crack this writing lark the way I want to.

Which means Plan B on that front also.

Every which way I turn, there are Plan B's lying all over the floor just waiting to be picked up and inspected. 

Sometimes, when you listen to the world, it doesn't have to shout at you. Let's get it on... soon.

Sion Smith

Dear blog fans/people who arrived here by accident:

I have nothing to blog about right now. I've put myself on a schedule of something called 'Actual Work' which involves umm... writing mostly. This is where a blog falls flat on its face. When you don't go out of the house other than to get more coffee or occasionally go to the gym so you don't seize up entirely, there's not a whole lot to say. I haven't even picked up a book since the beginning of the month.

I could post about the dog walks - there are plenty of those - but there's very little to report in this rainy season in which we are the only stupid people who still go out three times a day.

Thus, I shall proactively - though temporarily - retract myself from my own timeline because knowing it's here not being done is like wondering you let the gas on when you go out.

I shall return in a couple of weeks with updates, some news, travel plans for the year and with the wind behind me, I should have gotten very close to the end of what I'm up to.

That said, I'll also add this: yesterday I decided to close my flickr account where - because they kindly handed the whole world 1TB of free storage space - I opted to stash over 13,000 images. It took all day for a bit of software to download everything but now it is done and that's one less thing I belong to/worry about.

Mostly, I knew what was in there but there were a few surprises (not those kind of surprises) and a pic of something I had completely forgotten about. About eight years ago, I wrote a rough draft of a pulp-style detective comic-book story called Broken and a guy - whose name I can't remember but I thought was pretty good with a pencil - said he was up for illustrating it. Many, many, many months later, this one image found its way to my inbox so I mocked it up to see if it had legs.

...and even though it did have legs, that was where that story ended. Shame. 

Now my interest is piqued, I must dig back in the Box of Words and see if it's still around... 

Sion Smith
Time To Play The Game... Almost

I always know when things are going well because time I usually spend writing things for here is swallowed up by writing things that will appear somewhere else. To reveal very little - I'm a third of the way through the first draft of novel that didn't exist two months ago. The idea came fully formed and wouldn't go away - not that I wanted it to.

Running, running, running... not fallen over yet and neither am I running with scissors. Just a fountain pen that's proving to be quite the work-horse. Here's a thing that I've learned over the last few weeks: when you buy a sexy notebook to work in, such as a Moleskine type-thing, you will want to write sexy things in it neatly and make it into the sort of notebook that looks like del Toro created magical wonders in there. Who knows, maybe one day an important library might want to archive it because you rocked so hard. 

But what you really need to do to get rolling when you're nowhere but standing on a cliff with your face to the wind, is buy a negasonic truck-load of yellow legal pads on which to hammer your words out without worrying about messing up your sexy Moleskine... and when you are done and have typed all your words up, you can burn them in the garden because The Dead need stories to relax at night too.

This is what I have learned to be my truth - and if you try it out, I think you might find it's yours as well.

Talking of The Dead needing stories too, I got wind of this coming down the line in the next few months. John Connolly's work is such a massive buzz for me, its one of the rare occasions I take two days off work to 'do it'. This one will be no exception - and so far, the man has never let me down.

The Independent quote on the cover does not lie, but like I say every year, if you're going to do this, you have to start at the beginning (which is Every Dead Thing).

I got nothing else to add right now. Busy doncha know.