Personal Blog: slow writing and a classic Bristol moment at Bag of Nails

¦ Dialling in from the sky bunker ¦

The sun is shining and the promise of a heat wave is on the wings. It’ll be a nice shift away from the insane winds and chill that’s been blowing through Bristol recently.

Can’t believe I have only been back from Valladolid and Salamanca for just over a week – feels like it was much longer ago. Stress does that. A lot of pressure on at the moment and coming at me from different angles. Makes me even more glad that I have eased back on how much writing I do every day.  Have been faithfully working on Oakfield every morning. Just 45 minutes and that’s it – tick in the box. Daily commitment done.  I am bloody loving this book – layer upon layer of tension building up now towards the big reveal and showdown.   Broken Fury is also getting a lot of attention – have bounced out of Essaouria and back to Norway, using a lot of last year’s road trip through the Arctic Circle as scene setting.  Sunder Gloom is lingering on the edges of my mind but have barely touched it in the past week.

Have got back into Skyrim – Elder Scrolls. Never finished it first time I tried; distracted by too many side missions and with too many long gaps between play (busy writing) I lost the buzz. So started again from the beginning and now loving it.

An old childhood friend of mine came to visit Bristol this weekend. One of three of us who all grew up on the same street together, in Newcastle – we’ve known each other since we were all 9 and 10.  So a long time. He’s now doing well as a commercial photographer. I took him and his lady around a couple of the highlights of Bristol, including a pub that is rapidly becoming one of my favourites: The Bag of Nails

Small, friendly gas-lit terraced free house dating from the 1860s serving up to 6 changing beers from both small or new brewers from all over, including local micros. Over 65 bottled beers, a real cider and occasional beer festivals. Policy of no children or “idiot pub crawls”. The interior features terra cotta colours, sultry wallpaper, portholes in the floor, pub cats roaming free and eclectic music from a proper record player.


Leaving, there was a classic “Bristol moment” when I squeezed past some guy standing in the doorway. I turned round and got talking to him – easy, random flow of conversation. He said he ran a bookstore, I said, “Ah do you like science fiction dark fantasy?” He pulled a face and looked like a bulldog chewing on a thistle, “I like literature, sir!”

We all chuckled in good humour whilst my friend looked at me pointedly – so I confessed that I had written a few science fiction dark fantasy novels. The guy was unimpressed, “Well it’s all a matter of taste I suppose,” he told us, “But you can keep your fake mountains and robots and spaceships. I prefer to read real books.”


We parted company with smiles and back patting. Good and honest communication. The Bag of Nails, if you live near Hotwells, get yourself down there.

That’s it.




4 thoughts on “Personal Blog: slow writing and a classic Bristol moment at Bag of Nails

  1. Hi David,

    I was interested and intrigued by your recent Bristol moment. I must confess to ambivalence about this sort of situation. Consider if the year is 1948, you’re George Orwell and have confessed to writing a fantastical book about a totalitarian future with whizzy tech allowing those in authority to watch you all the time. What should we make of the bloke who says ‘well I prefer to read real books’? Why tolerate such non-thought.

    But, I confess to being a tad hypocritical…

    Some months ago I got drawn into an online discussion over the horror status of The Exorcist. I’d posted that, to me, the film was about so many deep things that it was more a religious thriller, being so much more than horror. Perhaps rightly, I was accused of having a rather narrow view of what horror can accommodate.

    Actually, this set in motion an interesting (to me,anyway) chain of thought about how we categorise films and books. A post on the forum considered The Seventh Seal as horror, but I’d never thought of it that way at all – it would never have occurred to me as a horror film. By contrast, a ‘horror classic’ such as The Wicker Man has little horror content per se compared to many other ‘non horror’ films (it’s a missing person mystery, with some nudity and pagan content starring Christopher Lee – is that really ‘horror’?).

    My point: the way we evaluate things is largely bound-up with the way we categorise those things (e.g. prejudice stems from categorising people as belonging to an out-group). Re the 1984 example, are things only in a particular category (political commentary or sci-fi) simply because we have been told by others it is so? If so, how often do people stop and think about what they have been told by others? More importantly, how often do people stop to challenge their assumptions and attitudes to certain categories (books, films, out-groups)? If only the person you’d bumped into took the trouble to actually read one of your books.

    To judge a book, film or person by category alone is, at the very least, an example of shallow thinking, and at worst reflects something low and dark in the human psyche. It seems we are all easily prone to this way of automatic thinking, and hence should be vigilant of it in both ourselves and other people.

    Eeek, a psycho-sermon! Sorry, I think I will go and have a cup of tea…


    Sent from my iPad


    • Morning Rob. Actually I really enjoyed reading your comment and I think everyone can (or should) relate to what you have described here. People have opinions. It is how we communicate them, share ours, tolerate others and enjoy – constructive – argument and debate. The bloke at the pub had been drinking and was being flippant, in a fun sort of way. And having eye–contact and seeing the smiles made the moment special for what it was. But yeah, it can be really grinding when you make an opinion and people just jump down your throat rather than opening up a dialogue. Internet = easy way to vent. As you say, be vigilant in our own thoughts and communications. Best. David

  2. Rob,

    Christopher Lee = Horror (Haven’t you seen Spielberg’s 1941?)


    Fake mountains? So you made up that ski resort in Edge?


  3. Hey Chris, I sure did. *smiles* The mountain was real mind you. I hiked up the darn thing in 2003 and really does excude an almost other-worldly god-in-stone vibe. Hope life is treating you well over there. Djr

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