Summer’s Almost Gone…

3 Sep

‘Summer’s Almost Gone’ is a song by the hugely influential, 1960s American rock band, The Doors.  It’s taken from their third album, Waiting for the Sun. The song captures perfectly that melancholic sense of golden days coming to an end that one experiences when the harvest has been gathered in and the sun is hanging lower in the sky. That’s the feeling I have right now.

Writing didn’t really happen for me this summer. I began with great intentions. I was going to revise my war novel in the light of readers’ comments. I’ve only managed a few minor revisions. I was going to break the back of my current work-in-progress. I wrote just a few thousand words more. Such is life. And now it’s back to work and the nights are drawing in. Up until Christmas, I’ve lost the day off a week that has yielded my most productive writing. I’m not now expecting to make much progress with the WIP until the New Year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A wintry view lies beyond my East Anglian writing desk…

Through the Writing pages of this blog, I’ve attempted to give the interested reader a flavour of my writing. I mentioned, a couple of posts ago, that I was thinking about putting out a sampler of my work to date, to be called Jamboree Bag. This would provide the reader with the opportunity to explore in greater depth my writing over the last two decades. I’m intending to include a couple of complete short stories, extracts from novels and novellas, some non-fiction pieces and a few old poems and lyrics. The plan is to make the sampler available both as an e-book and as a cheaply-priced paperback. It was the one project upon which I did make progress this summer. I’ve completed a mock-up of the book and shortly, I shall be asking fellow writers – some of whom are readers of this blog – for their views on which extracts I should include and for tips about placement, ISBNs and other publishing issues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summer’s almost gone…

One type of writing that I’m planning to include in my sampler is music journalism. On a few occasions, I had the privilege of writing the lead feature for Record Collector magazine (before the editor and deputy editor, both of whom liked my writing, left the magazine). I particularly enjoyed putting together a feature on The Doors. Their first two albums were marvels of invention and creativity. I noted that the first was ‘a stunning début, arguably one that will never be bettered’ and that the second had been ‘groaning under the weight of expectation’ but was ‘miraculously good under the circumstances’. By their third album, The Doors had begun running out of steam. Here’s what I had to say about ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’:

Krieger’s mournful, lilting guitar, Morrison’s simple, nostalgic lyric – this ballad approaches perfection. Like Keats before him in ‘Ode To Autumn’, you get the impression of a young man in thrall to his own mortality. This is everything that Terry Jack’s ‘Seasons In The Sun’ tried to be but wasn’t, straddling the thin line between sensitivity and sentimentality, between elegy and schmaltz. Though [it’s] wonderfully poignant, it’s merely the final remnant from that great store of songs they’d written before signing to Elektra.

As a writer, you can relate to this. It’s the fear that you’ve used up your stock of good ideas, that your best writing is behind you, that summer’s almost gone…

So as not to end in a minor key, here’s a further extract from that article.

The Beneficiaries of the Morrison Estate

Jim Morrison was the original rock-god, though he would prove sadly mortal. His image was cleverly concocted out of a series of iconic objects and actions. Here we look at how the Morrison legacy has been distributed.

The leather trousers

Shared throughout the ‘80s by Julian Cope (Monday to Thursday) and Michael Hutchence (Friday to Sunday).

The wavy mane

Another ‘80s time-share, this time between Mike Scott and Michael Hutchence (again).

The outsized ego

A gift to all rock stars everywhere.

The drink and drug habit

Ditto.

The bad poetry

The Morrison Prize is open to Sixth Form boys across the USA and UK.

The exhibitionist tendencies

Last seen in the possession of a man in a shabby raincoat on Clapham Common.

The obsession with all things Native American

This has changed hands several times. Originally left to Redbone, it was borrowed by Adam Ant for a few weeks in 1980, before being misplaced by Ian Astbury somewhere in Bradford in the late ‘80s.

The full beard

Demis Roussos.

The designer stubble

George Michael. Or was it the exhibitionist tendencies?

 All text and images © PSR 2013

except extracts from The Doors: an Open and Shut Case? © Record Collector 2002

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12 Responses to “Summer’s Almost Gone…”

  1. www.laurensapala.com September 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    I love The Doors and I love Keats, this post came at the perfect time. Although there is not much change between summer and autumn in San Francisco, I can feel a difference in the air. Especially during the early mornings. That sense of melancholy is definitely there.

    Also wondering if you’ve read Rick Moody? He is another writer who loves music and works much of his music commentary into his writing.

  2. Paul Sutton Reeves September 4, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Lauren and thanks for your comments.

    I love them both too. I’m very fond of Keats’ odes and ‘Autumn’ is an absolute favourite of mine.

    Here in East Anglia, the seasons are very marked. The seasonal fruit is ripe. The evenings are already much cooler. The leaves will soon be falling. It would seem strange to me to experience little change, but I suppose it all depends what you’re used to. It would call for an appreciation of subtleties, I’m guessing.

    I’ve heard of Rick Moody but I don’t know his work at all. Would you recommend investigating it? I do often put musical references into what I write. There were no allusions to rock music in my last book, though, as it had a WW2 setting!

    Taking you up on your open offer, a draft copy of ‘Jamboree Bag’ may be winging its way to you soon…

  3. Mari Biella September 4, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    It takes a while for autumn to get underway here in Italy – it’s still hot and sunny, but the nights are getting longer and cooler, and there is a sense that summer is losing ground. It’s a melancholy time of year, though autumn is my favourite season, and I’m looking forward to some mushroom-gathering and chestnut collecting as soon as it really gets underway. Autumn also brings a chocolate festival to town, so that is a reason to be happy!

    I know what you mean about not getting as much done as you hoped, though often people make more progress than they think they have. Writing is a very, very slow process in my experience, and much of it takes place not on the page but in the mind (or does that just sound like an excuse?!) I too started off the summer with the best of intentions, but my progress has been slow – painfully so, on occasion. Sometimes, it seems that if I have too much time on my hands, I almost lose the ability to focus. When time is precious, I’m more likely to make the most of it. Still, I have got some work done, so it hasn’t been a complete loss.

    If I can be of any assistance to you in getting your book prepared for publication, just let me know. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the technical or practical side of things – I just muddle through as best I can – but I might be able to help in some small way. I’m a member of the ‘Reading Between the Lines’ review collective, and will be happy to flag it up after it’s published. I don’t think anyone has ever sold many books on the basis of my recommendations, but you never know… 🙂

  4. Paul Sutton Reeves September 4, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Mari and thanks for your comments.

    It’s still sunny here – the Indian Summer thing is taking place – but you can see and feel the changes coming all around you. Mushrooms and chestnuts sound good!

    Ah, yes, writing is a slow process and I totally agree that you can still be mulling things over even when you’re not writing. My current WIP was on the back-burner for four years while I finished my war novel. For all that, the too-much-time-on-your-hands scenario can be a definite problem. Edward Upward wrote a novel all about it to which I’m sure many writers would be able to relate. For me, the lack of time I generally have to write exerts a powerful discipline.

    I shall definitely be taking up your offer of assistance and picking your brains over publication. Thank you very much indeed. Do you have time to take a quick look at what I’ve included in the draft copy?

    • Mari Biella September 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Certainly, Paul! Send it over and I’ll be happy to take a look at it!

  5. www.laurensapala.com September 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    I just finished Moody’s collection of short stories, ‘Demonology’ and really loved it. I think he is currently working as a music journalist? But not sure…

    Will look forward to Jamboree Bag!

    • Paul Sutton Reeves September 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      I’ll check him out, then, Lauren. Thanks for the tip.

      A Jamboree Bag PDF will be winging its way to you!

  6. PK Read September 11, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    We’ve had a few blessed days of cooler weather here to drive home the point that summer is almost over, both officially on the upcoming equinox and inofficially with the beginning of school and the end of summer holidays. This brief inbetween period of summer ending and autumn marching in even has a name here in France – la rentrée. The ‘return to work’.
    And since I spent much of the summer in a stasis of non-writing frustration, even while under fine warm skies and in the company of those I love, with more out-of-town visitors than I care to count, I am hoping that I’ll soon have my own writing rentrée.
    Wishing the same for you, even with all the time constraints.

  7. Paul Sutton Reeves September 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Hi Paula and thanks for your comments.

    As you know, I spend quite a lot of time in France myself, but I hadn’t heard of la rentrée. The return to work has certainly made itself known to me! Sorry to hear that you didn’t write much either. What are you working on? What stopped you?

    Thank you for the good wishes with the writing. I’ll just have to be all the more determined. I hope that you find the muse returning to you soon.

    • PK Read September 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      Hi Paul – Finishing up a novel. The muse is there, tapping her foot, but the logistics of daily life just haven’t allowed for much work all summer. As of next week, however, I will be getting back to the book.

      • Paul Sutton Reeves September 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

        Yes, I know that feeling, Paula. I’m pleased to hear that you’re going to be getting time to finish your novel. What’s it about?

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