Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 14

Today is radio day. And tomorrow. I’ve planned today’s show, sort of, if spending 3 hours looking for brand new music and getting 30 songs together is planning. Well, it is, and it can be more time-consuming even than that. I have to admit the process isn’t as intense as it was before Radio Stradbroke started broadcasting daily when Lockdown 1 started. When I was only doing a show once every four weeks, I would put together shows using a spreadsheet and working out the show almost to the second. In a 3-hour show I would leave myself a maximum 15 minutes talk time. And it did work – unless someone sent in a request, and then I’d end up dropping songs. Maybe that’s why I still don’t really like playing requests. I think it also has something to do with the fact that I see my role as an educator rather than someone just playing songs people will probably like. You might even say that sometimes I pick songs to play that I know people will hate because they’re so off the wall. I don’t actually think that’s particularly contrary – it’s important to have broad horizons, and restricting yourself to one particular genre of music (or type of song) is just like restricting yourself to one genre of writing, and you end up missing out on so much good stuff.

The office looks like a tip – again. I spent some of yesterday messing with sound mixers and obsessing about sound levels. If you asked me why, I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. I’ve been thinking about it overnight as well. Why would an amateur radio presenter on a small village internet radio station (with an admittedly very wide reach) get perfectionist about sound levels and quality? Because we want to give our listeners the best? That, actually, is it. I’m just not yet commissioning the mixer (which will mean a different way of me being able to do shows, and also give me the ability to do pre-recorded shows properly) because I’ve not found the perfect position for the screen and my chair in front of the desk, and I need to be comfortable and know my hands are going to be able to work the mixers without thinking about it. I bet Greg James doesn’t spend time thinking about stuff like this. The best thing is that I think I’ll be able to hook up my turntable to this set-up, so I’ll be able to start playing vinyl again. That’s exciting.

The other thing I did yesterday, besides the day job, was to get down to writing more of The Mortality Code. I really did. 2,469 words in probably a total of 90 minutes of writing spread through the day. I’m really pleased with this. Finally through the 60k word barrier, with about 40 or 50k to go, I reckon. And this morning, standing in the dawn having my first smoke of the day (it’s bad for you, kids), I actually came up with the final sentence of the book. The mind is a wonderful thing. What pleased me about my progress with the book yesterday is that things are shaping up nicely for two strong and thoughtful female characters to have a showdown at some point, leaving all the male characters in the shade. All my books have always featured one strong female character (partly because there are still not enough strong and independent female characters in writing, specially not in male writing, partly because I suppose I am attracted to strong women), but I don’t think I’ve ever written a book with two very strong females in it. I’m particularly pleased about this development because one of them initially seemed to be a bit of a chinless wonder, until she slapped me round the face and showed me what she’s really like. I quite like her now. You’ll just have to wait until I finish the book to see who it is and what she does.

The greatest pleasure yesterday was getting an unexpected hand-written letter from a friend of mine who is a brilliant writer and illustrator. I haven’t seen him for 2 years, and he’s in his late eighties. I met him in one of the writers’ workshops I used to do. I was supposed to do one tomorrow, but we cancelled it because of omicron, and I sent the group a load of writing prompts they could do at home instead. I don’t want anyone to be taking any risks. G’s inventive letter was the fulfilment of some of those prompts, and it made my day.

On my to-do list today are letters to my MP (if I ever get round to it), day job, minimum 2-mile daily walk, more messing with mixers, more writing, and the family Zoom later. I am sure to drop into bed as exhaustedly as I did last night. People who say that you need less sleep the older you get are plainly lying. I think it’s all a conspiracy just to exhaust old wise folk so they don’t interfere with younger people’s mistakes.

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