Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Following the unexpected link from Mr Ron's blog, I thought it was time for the poetry website to get a quick spruce-up. Five poems in the Workshack have been killed, and a further ten promoted from the 'shack to the comforting obscurity of the Archives.

I've also re-hung the Showcase - it hadn't been touched for over a year!

One last development: the Rikweb Forum is up and running, and slowly becoming populated with archive data and suchlike - for instance, all my short stories are now ensconsed within its shelves, alongside a single thread for the Rik's Blog Story work in progress. There's even some short excerpts from the book wot I wrote - though that book faces a reasonably major revision in January before being submitted to Agents (again).

On the poetry side of things, I've done threads for each NaPoWriMo bloodbath, together with details on how each day's draft subsequently fared. And there's plenty of stuff for the Conlanging and Conworlding lovers amongst us - in particular, a whole subforum dedicated to Ákat translation sentences (complete with logoscripts), for those who like such things.

As the Man said: enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy feasting ...

(as the Nakap philosophers would write, and say)


The thing that the Pope - and his many, many little helpers - fail to understand is the fact that I am God's creation, just as much as he is. God created me the way that I am, with my middle finger just slightly longer than my index and ring fingers, with my brain wired in such a manner that I find the sight of a man's broad shoulders more sexually attractive than a woman's breasts, with a preference for sucking on lollipops rather than thrusting my tongue deep into the ice cream cone.

Putting aside the controversial subject of a gay gene, my body has been formed as it is without my active consent - indeed much of the handiwork occurred in the hormonal floods of my dear mother's womb. Whether I was conceived gay or not, I was most definitely born gay. And whatever way you choose to stir the figgy pudding, the fact remains that my existence on this planet must be God's will, and thus comes with God's blessing.

In fact, my homosexuality is a boon to the planet's ecology. I've no interest in creating more people, which means that rather than invest my energy into raising my own offspring I can invest that energy into helping to raise the children of my siblings (only two of the five of us chose to breed). I help the society I live in by paying taxes for services, most of which I do not then claw back to meet the needs of my loin's fruit. I am in every way a benefit to society, not a burden.

But no, we all have to bow to the dogma of a misunderstood God and a misrepresented Saviour. Which is a pity, I think.

But this is the season of good will to all men and such like, so may I take this opportunity to thank Pope Benedict for taking the time to think of me, on the eve's eve of the day of his Saviour's purported birth (I won't mention the fact that Jesus was most probably born on 29 September rather than 25 December, a birth date which I fortuitously share ... oops! Sorry about mentioning that), and wish him - and his many, many little helpers - a fruitful, peaceful and serene 2009.

Because people need more hugs; the world needs more hugs. Let's all work together to make 2009 the Year of the Hugs!

Without an invitation, Rik answers some questions

David F. Hoenigman, from the Word Riot website, appears to be conducting interviews with various worthies concerning their writing - including an interview with Ron Silliman.

While David has not invited me to answer his question - it appears that he is completely unaware of my existence, which is both sad and understandable at the same time - I'm still going to answer them. It's Crimbo's Eve, after all, and since my driving instructor has had to cancel my driving lesson the most pressing item on my ToDo list is The Making Of The Sherry Trifle, so I've got a little time available for personal aggrandisement ...


What projects are you currently working on?
The three key projects I'm currently working on are my two SF novels - one drafted and undergoing revision before being submitted to Agent/Publishers, the other a first draft work-in-progress - and my Interminable Work (Snowdrop) which seems to be inching its way towards first draft completion. Though my plans for all three took a hard knock in the last quarter of the year and I've found it difficult to concentrate on any of them since October.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in Junior School (what do they call it now? Year 4?), and I haven't really stopped since then. Why did I start writing? I suppose because my earliest memories involve books - looking at them them, chewing on them - they fascinated me, and I've always had a place (a knot, or maybe a ganglion) in my guts telling me that my key purpose in life was to be a person who wrote books. Maybe it's the destiny I chose for myself before starting this latest lifetime. It must be: if I was a rational person, if I had ever wanted to be well-off, normal, that sort of thing - I'd have become a scaffolder, yes?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My early jobs were practical (labourer, lab technician, soldier, office clerk). So the idea of being a writer - by which I mean earning money from writing - didn't become a reality for a while. My first paid work for writing was in the Civil Service, once I was promoted beyond the tyrrany of the filing cabinets. Of course the stuff I was writing wasn't published in the official sense of the word, though its pedigree as works of fiction (we're talking here about speeches, position papers, briefing notes, etc) is beyond doubt.

As for being a 'poet' or a 'novelist', I've been writing poems since puberty, and I finally finished writing my first novel earlier this year. I've never sold any poems, or short stories, or novels, so at the moment I have to consider myself to be an unwaged writer - which is more honest than being a Civil Servant.

What inspired you to write your first book?
There's this profound belief I have in my guts that I can write better stuff than most of the other people currently publishing novels and poems.

Who or what has influenced your writing?
On the SF side of things, my greatest influences are the swathe of SF writers from the 1890s through to the 1970s - the canon writers, if you like. There's just too many of them to mention. Truthfully, I should be busy reading and being influenced by contemporary published writers, but I can't help but hold a flame for my childhood heroes.

For the poetry, I really don't have a clue - though I suspect I haven't moved much further than Coleridge, Lear, Owen and Eliot.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Books were an escape from the realities of life in rural Kent. They also offered a very real escape route from there. I no longer live on the Romney Marshes.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I have a default style - quite conversational, a little wry, not too heavy on the irony. Sometimes I mix things up for fun; the current work-in-progress is written from a first person present tense POV.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I'm very good at writing speeches, and position papers, and briefing notes. I want to be very, very good at writing genre SF and poetry. Other genres - highbrow literary fiction, for instance, or biography, or romance - have much less appeal to me.

Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
No. I want people to enjoy reading my work. I have no mission to change the world's zeitgeist.

What book are you reading now?
Terry Pratchett's 'Nation'.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Tim Powers. Massive in North America, but almost unheard of in the UK. Which is a great pity.

What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
If my work is being misunderstood, then I'm doing it wrong.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bill Knott, he says ...

Bill Knott issues a challenge in his latest blogpost:

"Hey, Post-Aholes!—: wanna be "radical"? wanna be "socialist"?—

how about performing an anticapitalist act:—

because you're always claiming on your blogs that if people only knew about your work, they would applaud it,—and that the Poetry Establishment/Official Verse Culture is blocking your path to greater acceptance and readership recognition—

so why don't you take all your poems or "poetries" or whatever you call them, and post every one of them onto a website for open access and free download by anybody with a modem anywhere in the world—

put your money-ass where your adorno-mo is."

And Rik says: "I'm there already, Bill. Been there for the best part of a decade. And still I'm not a socialist!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Poems about light hitting desks

Seems to be a lot of angst around the bloggy sphere at the moment re poems about light hitting a desk. Particularly after a certain Mr Goldsmith said they were the most dreadful sorts of poems (to read, I suppose).


What is it about a desk in particular, and the light that reflects from said desk, that castigates a poem about it into the outer realms of despicability? Call me a crusty old Quietist (I won't be hurt), but if you can't pull off a desk-light poem then you can't be much of a poet, can you.

Am I a poet? Rather than force others to acknowledge my poethood as an act of faith, I'll let you both judge for yourselves. Below, two poems about desks and light, written waybackwhen, before people told me that writing such poems was Just Not Very Cool, You Know ...


In an island of hard-polished desk
squats the stump of a candle, wax spat
on the green, chipped dish. Once
it was tall, hard: a column of opportunity.
The flame has stroked too often, the bright wick
is aged too soon. The sun is guttering
and my windows are smeared.

There is no clock on my wall
to tick me to grey. I am sat before a mirror
to watch my face fade to patterns
in reflected walls. When the sun surrenders,
I am gone: un-mirrored, I cannot be.

Somebody stole the moon, leaving half
a milky mug-stain where once the silver tureen
overflowed. Now that I am not human, I can smile, creasing
what was once a face. I do not know
who stole the moon, but they stole my clock
and my candle too.

Had enough yet? No? Here's the other one:


The desk sits square on the side of the room.
Touch polished panels meld with the dusk.
Hard drawers grin half-shut
and gabbled papers stray, confused
between cups and pens edging
to cascade on the floor.
Midway, brass handles spit brass reflections
across the bed - unmade -
towards the door, unlocked.

Behind the desk stands the oval mirror,
baroque curves and tainted glass.
In the mirror of the desk, papers are stacked.
Pens line the rim of the cup
in stout regiments, headless stalks.
In the mirror of the room, curtains are hung,
the floor is swept, carpet tufts are spright.
The bed is made, the door is locked
and I am not here.

I think everyone should write a poem about light hitting a desk, as a Celebration of Crimbotide. On your marks; get set ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If you love Facebook ...

... then all well and good. But best not be posting your artwork, short stories or poems to the site. Not before reading this little snippet from the website's Terms of Use:

"When you post User Content to the Site, you authorise and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide licence (with the right to sublicence) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorise sublicences of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the licence granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content."

Yes, you retain copyright to your work. But that licence is as good as transferring your copyright of your work to them for 0.0 peanuts. And yes, the licence expires when you remove your content from their website, but while it's up on their site, they can do what they damn well please with it. And I bet they keep the copyright to any derivative works, too!

Compare this to the blogger.com TOS:

"Your Intellectual Property Rights. Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third-party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content at its sole discretion."

Again - Google are saying you grant them a licence to use your copyrighted material, but they then put a limit on the ways they can use your material. Distasteful, yes, but much more honest and open (until they unilaterally change their TOS, of course).

Always read the TOS before posting. You know it makes sense!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Updates and stuff

So having played with the shiny new toy, I've now updated the RikVerse website to include links and stuff on each of the chapbook pages. I also took the opportunity to spruce up the Rikweb Bookshop (on lulu.com) - just in case someone stumbles across the thing and in a mad fit of generosity decides to purchase the book.

I'm thinking that one further addition to the Rikweb website, on the Kalieda side of things most probably, should be the addition of a bulletin board (phpBB3). Not that I want to start my own community or cult or anything, but I think having something like a BB will be useful place to store background stuff - stuff like map tutorials or biology ideas which I find myself posting to other BBs which then get pruned.

I'm also thinking of maybe setting up a forum as a guestbook for the website - I always liked having a guestbook (and coded the old one up myself), but had to decommission it in the end because of the amount of spam it was attracting. Maybe the inbuilt spam controls on the current phpBB thingy could come in useful ...

What else am I doing? Well, I've failed this year's NaNoWriMo in spectacular fashion (unlike young Scavella and the other TUF stalwarts, who get a line of Conga Rats from me on their achievements).

Instead, I've been re-reading and annotating my first novel (now rejected by three Agents) with a view to a major redraft in January and sending out to more agents in the early spring. Believe me, this book is good - maybe a touch more spit'n'polish will help convince others of its goodness next year.

On the Rik's Blog Story (RBS) front, I'm not giving up on it yet! I might not have written much of it this NaNo, but I've certainly been thinking about it and have a good idea about where I want it to go. And I've also decided that I'm not going to go down the agented route with this one; rather, I'm just going to publish it via lulu.com - if only to keep the RikVerse book company in the otherwise bare shelves of the Rikweb Bookshop.

I might also carry on writing it on the Rikweb BB rather than here - one of the major drawbacks of writing anything long on a blog is the insistence of the software that posts appear in date-descending order, which I think is a real turn-off for both of my casual browsers.

As for this year, I'm planning to pull my finger out of my creative arse and do some work on both the RBS and on the Long Poem. I want the LP to be published (again via lulu.com) by spring next year - why wait to new year's eve to make resolutions, huh?

And I've just noticed that lulu.com appear to have extended their Publsihed By You service to the UK - which means that Rik's Sparky Little Printing Press may in fact become a reality rather than just a line on the frontpage of the RikVerse book and chapbooks.

I can't believe I haven't posted any cat photos on the blog this year - have to do something about that this week ...