February 2015

It’s showtime: escape the ‘reality’ of Facebook

The message posted on Facebook puzzled me. Not because of its content but by reason of its timing.

Like so many of the incessant postings on Facebook it was mundane and non-urgent.

But it landed at a time when I understood its sender was intending to be at the theatre.

Then it dawned; I saw the light – it was interval time. And what does one do in the interval these days? You whip out your phone, see who has posted since the curtain went up and do a bit of posting of your own. Or you take selfies of you and yours sitting in your seats.


How can anyone simply shut off so completely the moment the curtain falls for interval? And again, after the final denouement, when all the chatter in the lobby concerns where the car is parked or the time of the next bus/train/tram home.

Doesn’t anyone sit and contemplate what they have seen; mull over the plot, the performance, the script, the production and so on?

Theatre – and that runs the gamut from taut avant-garde plays to Lloyd-Webber musicals – is an immersive experience. It is an escape from reality; a release from the humdrum; it is a stimulus for thoughts and ideas. But it seems no one escapes any more; they remain in the here and now throughout the show and cannot wait to check on the most recent posts and tweets and texts.

So sad – and so very unrewarding for all those who sweat blood, tears and toil to create, produce and perform these “transports of delight.”

A Lesson in Writing

I have long been a fan of Louise Welsh and her slightly offbeat tales – always intriguing, striding across genres and never less than enthralling and entertaining.

It is, of course, all to do with the writing – economical, concise, never a wasted word and yet having maximum impact.

But she really excels in the latest of her books to appear on my reading list.

A Lovely Way to Burn should be required reading by all those “writers” who are flooding the internet with books that they churn out, in many cases, at monthly intervals.

True, they write; in the sense that they use words to form sentences. And, using the narrowest possible meaning of the word, I suppose they are authors, which most of them  also claim to be.

The reality, however, is that they are production line purveyors of words thrown on to a page for consumption by readers  to whom a well-crafted sentence is as foreign as a yeti to a Saharan tribesman.

Louise Welsh, on the other hand, truly is a writer. She takes time to author her work. She revises, polishes and undergoes the editing process.

If only those who populate the web’s plethora of writer sites would do likewise.

A good starting point would be to read the prologue to A Lovely Way To Burn. Here, in three sparse pages and perhaps not much than five hundred words, Walsh spins the threads of three diverse stories. It is taut, concise writing with almost parsimonious use of words. Yet it is full of colourful detail that informs, seduces and entices the reader into wanting to know more; much more.

Better by far than the excessive wordiness of so much that now passes for “writing” but which is nothing more than the regurgitation of a thesaurus in an attempt to impress.

Read Welsh and learn.