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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

A New Post! … and why so long between?

The blog thing has weighed on me for several weeks, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there’s not much happening in Prague that can be said without a whole bucketful of negativity. Perhaps this means I’ve been here too long and it’s time to leave. More on that later. Secondly, I’d put so much time into blogging, and most of this toward the “writing craft” side vis-a-vis Twitter-sphere recognition, book marketing, adverts-disguised-as-nicely-worded-discussions, that I had begun to feel burnt out by it. Thirdly, I’m in the midst of a new novel, and my writing schedule is abundant, yet tightly aligned with work and “me & Asia time” that, to be honest, more writing for things that aren’t necessarily poignant nor professionally or artistically important, were a waste of my time.

That was the feeling at that time in early-to-mid-September.

Now I can see the Prague Blog in a different light (no less negative, really, but at least laying down my daily life in this town). As for the Twitter-sphere and all of that work, I’ve basically decided to do far less blogging, at least for now, because it doesn’t do much. Yes, it’s fun, and I do get some feedback from writers & readers, but overall, I’ve only sold a couple books through this experiment with social media marketing. And what I’ve found (to which I’ll elaborate in subsequent posts on the other side of things) is that a whole lot of writers—and many more (too many) wannabe writers—are doing the same thing. In other words, I’ve come upon an echo chamber.

Quite frankly, I could be, and am going to begin, utilizing my time far more effectively by writing for magazines in the same way as I’m writing for blogs. Only with more focused pieces, longer pieces, which get out to a far wider reach with real readers at the end. In fact, I’d been looking around for a subject to write about for a few weeks, and found something interesting inside a FT Weekend edition I bought in Berlin. “The Selling of ‘The Selling of Ideas’ ” is its tentative title.

Basically, it’s time I disquisit on culture, language, books & reading, government & society, and the arts.

NOW ONTO THIS … The Prague Blog:

October has come and it’s colder now; the leaves are changing to a wonderful brightness of autumnal colors. It’s nice to be out & about in one of the city’s many parks. Not so much rain or wind or bad-weather. That’s a relief, because winter is upon us soon, and that means … what it means.

We just returned from Berlin—two weeks ago—and have fond memories of walk through the Tiergarten park, canvasing used-book shops in East Berlin, shopping at Primark, and eating semi-traditional German food. I bought three bottles of German brandy because, as many of you may have learned, Czech spirits were put on the prohibition list after 25+ people died from drinking methanol-laced booze. (Of course, this poison was inserted into cheap-brand vodka and rum, so my top-shelf, foreign brands were likely never tainted. But I wasn’t (and won’t) take further risk. Not until this irresponsible and criminally negligent government does something for its people. Which, unfortunately, and as I’ve learned, won’t be soon. Speaking of which, the gov’t has lifted prohibition after only a week+, citing (and not even confidentially) the loss of gov’t tax revenue. They’ll “monitor deaths” and work further to eradicate poisoned liquor. But do the Czech stop buying this rotgut? Not hardly.)

On Sunday we went to the Berlin Zoo. It’s a special sort of place, with garden walks and lush trees. The animal habitats are well sculpted and are close to the visitors, using those natural barrier methods for the least dangerous animals. (big kitties still must be caged)

At one of the use-book shops, I found a cloth-bound set of Robert Graves’s “Greek Mythology” at a steal-price. Happy about that. We wandered into a huge store off Unter-der-Linden street, perhaps Berlin’s largest bookstore: 4 floors of books, stationery, CDs & DVDs, and a separate “English Bookshop” that was pretty well stocked. Seems like Germans like to read, and there was everything for them.

We stayed at a hostel that was okay, in an off-site building that was a private apartment. This was furnished in what I like to call “retro dorm-room” style. I had flashbacks of doing bongs around a low round table with colored lamps and Jim Morrison posters. Anyway, the location was quiet, and we had a little balcony, and the subway was just down the street with quick connections to the Tiergarden and Brandenburg Gate.

The train ride home was uneventful, and, once the college girls were kicked out of the compartment buy reserved-seat-holding passengers, the trip was quiet. We got back to Prague near midnight, took the subway home, and luxuriated with hot-hot showers and fun-time reading in bed before another work-week dawned the next day.

Now life is back to … life. And I’m writing my new novel and Asia is doing her thing(s) and we’re watching silly movies. I’d complain about classes and people in general, but that’s for another time.

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