10/19/2013

My current favourite displacement activities

There are two of them: cycling is the main one, with photography sneaking up on the outside.

I think I get the same thing out of cycling some writers claim to get out of running, with the exception that I consider the latter to be a form of torture. I've gone running in the past, but more with a sense of steely determination than anything resembling enjoyment. I rarely last long.

Cycling is different. I've always cycled, and unlike driving, you can start from around the same age you start walking. One of the first things I bought with money from Angel Stations was my Ridgeback hybrid, and that's been carrying me around Glasgow for about ten years. I took driving lessons back in the mid-90s and hated it. After about a dozen lessons that were going nowhere I never wanted to sit behind the wheel of a car again. And now, with rising fuel prices and self-driving cars just over the horizon, getting a licence now just seems kind of pointless.

Put me on a bicycle and it's a different matter. Just in the past year, however, it began to slide into something closer to obsession, I think in part because it's an opportunity to get out of the house and into the open. It's also a reflection of my improving health. If you suffer from a relatively minor but nonetheless debilitating illness, it can sap you of the desire to even walk out your front door much of the time, which is why in many ways writing is the perfect work for me. The fact I've been going out almost every day to cycle in the past several months is a clear sign of improvement.

Then I had a sudden hankering to get myself a half-decent point and click camera. I've rarely taken photographs, so this came as a surprise even to myself, but on reflection the reasons are clear. 1: it's another reason to get out of the house. 2: there have been too many occasions when I've wished I had a half-decent camera to take pictures. 3:  the basic low-resolution camera on my cheap-as-chips smartphone is never going to cut it.

There's another reason, which is my impending return to Taiwan for an extended period of time. Taiwan is an eminently photographable place. If I'd had a decent camera last time round, I might have taken a lot more and a lot better pictures.

This is the first picture I took outside with the camera - a Canon Powershot SX220, since you ask, got via Ebay for a song. And, yes, I'm aware it's an amateurish shot. That's because I'm a desperately amateurish photographer. I don't care. I hadn't even yet discovered you had to hold the button halfway down for a few moments so the camera could correctly focus before clicking. But, still. It's my bike, next to the Clyde, on a damp October afternoon. I read a few online guides to taking better snapshots after I got home and, believe me, this is the best of the bunch. Given time, maybe I'll improve.



In the meantime, I'm finally trying to get myself into gear for the next book. I have a halfway-to-rough idea of its shape, and the next step is to knock together a coherent, detailed outline. The first book is called EXTINCTION GAME, and this next one will follow on directly from that. For the moment it's untitled, but if it turned out to be called 'EXTINCTION [something or else]', I wouldn't be too surprised. 

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