Sunday, 7 January 2018
Friday, 5 January 2018
Just to mention, I simplified my website at the end of last year. I'm now using the address http://authormgw.blogspot.co.uk/
The URL www.authormgw.co.uk still works, and links to the old website, which in turn links back to the new one. My original site was set up by a good friend, but it's been difficult to get the URL back to redirect it straight to the new site. Something to achieve this year, hopefully.
Monday, 1 January 2018
Well, unlike last year, this year hasn't felt at all quiet. It has turned into a very productive year, despite starting in tragedy, in an incident that damn near broke my heart. You'll be glad to know that Sophie, Howl and Sen (also known as Harold, thanks to our lovely vet Dr. Arum) are all doing extremely well and sitting here watching me type.
So, moving ahead. What have been the highlights of this year?
- More than anything, this has been the year of travel and pianos. I'll get to pianos in a moment, but I've just returned from an incredible trip around India with Dad & Marilyn. We went to Goa, Delhi, Agra, Chand Baori, Ranthambore, Jaipur and Mumbai, with a Kashmiri carpet thrown in for good measure. Seeing the Taj Mahal has been a spectacular end to the year.
- The beginning of the year was also special. Headed out on safari across the Maasai Mara with my friends Tracey and Celia.
- Had a fun away trip with my friends Jo, Maia and their daughters to Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, staying in traditional huts on an island.
- Also hosted my cousin Tamsin and her partner Guido as they passed through Rwanda on their round-the-world tour. Memorable night in a spooky abandoned fairground.
- Had some fun times closer to home. Threw my first and only house party for my birthday, which was excellent, and attended Rwanda's first ever Rock Night, which has become a staple on the social calender.
- Another big change that occurred this year was that I've finally relented in my solitude and started sharing the house with some friends. One of whom is an excellent cocktail maker. But this does mean I'm now living in an apartment I made out of the back shed.
On the writing front, it's been a year of ups and downs. Rosy Hours has been stocked in Books & Convenience in town, and CasaKeza, were I teach the occasional writing course through which I've made some lovely friends this year. I have done some writing, but I need to get my mojo back. I wrote a novella. My publisher asked me to write some more stories to create a collection, then, once I'd completed them, they decided they didn't want them after all, and on top of that offered me back a manuscript they'd been sitting on for two years (Children of Lir) because they'd run out of money and were offering all their authors back their manuscripts. Whereas I appreciate their difficult circumstances, and I did enjoy writing the short stories and will probably self-publish them later this year, it's hard to recover your drive after something like that. However, this year is definitely going to be focused on writing and pianos. Only that.
Editing has proven much more successful for me this year and I've done quite well working for ImagineWe and Perdua Publishing, as well as taking on a couple of manuscripts for private clients. I've also had more work proofreading the national textbooks for Rwanda Education Board, which has been good experience and kept the bank account afloat.
So, how did keeping last year's oath go?
I've really enjoyed learning about the inside of pianos. Instead of getting someone to come and tune it, I've decided to turn Lirika into my own project. This year, my oath is to fix my piano until she plays properly, and to learn about piano refurbishment.
Um, well... that got a little out of hand.
Not only did I learn to fix and tune my piano, I now tune upright and grand pianos across Kigali, and I took my own piano apart to start the Kigali Keys project, attempting to become the only existing piano manufacturer in Africa.
So, um, yes.
I think I can cross that one off the list.
Onwards with 2018...
My oath this year is to finish what I started, and complete the first prototype piano in Rwanda.
Saw the Taj Mahal!
To a little more luck on the writing front.
Friday, 29 December 2017
Had a read of this whilst away on holiday. I stumbled upon it on the publisher's website whilst looking for something else, and the brief synopsis caught my attention:
From a piano abandoned on the strife-torn streets of Dublin in Easter 1916, Mary Morissy spins the reader backwards through the life of one-time enigmatic beauty Bella Casey, sister to the famed playwright Sean O’Casey.
An ambitious novel about love, history and literature.
As you may be aware, I'm currently trying to manufacture pianos in Africa, so anything to do with pianos pretty much has me. The Rising of Bella Casey weaves in a few lovely descriptions:
It was a Broadwood, an upright Broadwood, intact in all this ruin, offering itself to her. Indian rosewood case, inlaid panels and candle sconces, the lid open to show a perfect set of teeth, a music holder with a scrolled inset in the shape of a treble clef. She laid her hand gingerly on it. The wood was silky to her fingertips and she felt a rush of the sublime.It was a Chapell [sic.] upright with turned columns and panels of fretted silk in the top door, with the name Elysian carved in gold above middle C.But her proudest possession was a vertical Cadby, on which she'd made a downpayment at Butler's Instruments. It would not have been a proper home without a piano...Home would always be where the piano was.
The descriptive was beautiful. You could become a pick-pocket of the imagination, listening to the smacking stammer of bunting, feeling a chilly estrangement tinged with shame whilst your breath came in globes on a cold night. Really nicely written. It also introduced me to the concept of gur cake, an Irish staple.
The Rising of Bella Casey stems from an interesting mystery surrounding the Irish dramatist and memoirist, Seán O'Casey. It reimagines the life of his elder sister, Bella, tracking her fall from a bright young schoolteacher to an impoverished mother of many in a tenement building. In his memoirs, Seán O'Casey killed his sister off a full ten years before she actually died. This novel attempts to offer an explanation why.
A really nice surprise of a book. Bought on a whim, read with interest. It was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2014.
Thursday, 28 December 2017
Had a lovely time in India, exploring the Golden Triangle and Goa with family. I'll post more about that soon, but something that was particularly interesting was a visit to the Lotus Temple in Delhi.
For those of you who read Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran, you might be as interested as me to know that this is a Bahá'í temple. Those Rosy Hours touches on the genocide against the Bahá'í that followed an assassination attempt on the Shah of Iran after he executed the Báb, Sayyed ʿAli Muhammad Shirāzi, in 1850.
Later the Bahá’u’lláh, the head of the Bahá'í faith, was expelled from Iran along with all of his followers.
“Haven’t you heard, Shahzadi? Your brother exiled the Baha’u’llah months ago. The Bábí can no longer call Iran their home. Their marriages will be annulled, their books will be burned, and any who resist will find themselves chained in the Síyáh-Chál at Tehran. You no longer need to fear the insurgence. They have left like lambs.” - Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran
Through writing that novel, I knew a bit about the origins of the Bahá'í faith and the period in history which led to their expulsion from Iran, but I really didn't know what came after that, or much about their specific teachings.
It's actually evolved into a really fascinating concept. You can be Bahá'í whilst also being a follower of any other faith or religion. The temple itself is built of white marble, extremely cool beneath the hot sun. There are no icons there and everyone maintains silence within. The idea is that you fill the space with your own thoughts and prayers. They provide the silence, you bring it to life.
I've taken the liberty of scanning the information brochures provided at the temple.
You can also find out more about the Bahá'í via bahai.org.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Heading off to India tonight to meet up with my dad and Marilyn. We're doing the full tourist trail - down to Goa for a few days on the beach, then up to Delhi for the Golden Triangle. Other than Skype, I haven't seen my family in almost two years, which is how long it's been since I last left East Africa. Really looking forward to it, especially the food. Hoping to pick up some new clothes in Mumbai on the way home as I'm looking a little threadbare.
It's dad's birthday on 15th, and we'll be spending Christmas in Mumbai, then home to Rwanda in time for New Year and my annual Oath, Boast & Toast.
Wishing everyone a cool Yule and plenty of nommy muncies.