Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pizza on Wyndham Street

I had further pain and suffering this morning; all last night the cat was doing circuit training: jumping off the bookshelves onto the bed, jumping onto the headboard, jumping off onto our heads, kicking jewellery off the bedside table, again and again until she'd reached some spurious fitness goal.

On top of my sleep-deprived zombification, I've picked up a great big bruise on my shin, in a perfect position for when I cross my legs in the fey way  I'm given to do so, at which point my legs clang together and I give a little yelp of pain.  I suppose it gives the office something to laugh at.

Thus I was in a foul mood all day, and almost bit my sister's head off when she asked me about the best place to buy an iPad in Hong Kong (a shop?) but we ended up with my parents in a new Italian restaurant at the end of Wyndham Street.

For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, Wyndham Street is what Hollywood Road turns into*, a minor thoroughfare handy for parking your Lamborghini outside Seven-Eleven, or standing outside Wagyu shouting drunkenly at your mates, or just enjoying being young, drunk, and it being Wednesday tomorrow. I preferred drinking in other parts of town (perhaps a bit grimier, if not really any more gritty) but towards the end of Wyndham Street the bars peter out, replaced by art galleries, shops selling yoga clothes for yummy mummies that live on the Peak, and the occasional restaurant.

Vivi came highly recommended, and it's a lovely little place. Staff were very attentive, despite my family's attention deficit disorder that makes the five of us ordering dinner a trial of my patience that usually has me gripping the table to stop myself from exploding at the vacillation of my nearest and dearest. And seeing as sixty percent of us had the same asparagus and artichoke salad, maybe they really don't have minds of their own, and I should have ordered for everyone, like an ill-mannered modern day James Bond.

My bad attitude aside, the salad was great - lots of pine nuts, lots of asparagus, lots of artichokes. As advertised. Bread with our meal was ok, although probably a bit too much of it, given we then had a pizza each. The high point, though, was probably dessert - a plate of meringue, chocolate cake and lemon tart, each bite-size, and each so flavourful that you wished it had been bigger, but didn't need it to be. Plus they have decaf espresso, and I know that sounds like a very stupid idea, but if you want a coffee with your meal and don't want to be a boggle-eyed madman for the whole night, it's actually quite pleasant. Even if it irks the purists.

Pizza: not the best margarita pizza I've ever had, a little bit chewier than I was expecting, with lots and lots of cheese, spread a uniform thickness over the whole, when I was expecting something more like a Pizza Express bufalita, and not quite enough tomato. But I inhaled my half of it, so it was fine: I shouldn't try to assess the merits of food when I haven't eaten all day. Next time I think I'd have pasta, though - if you want pizza, there's enough elsewhere in Hong Kong to satisfy your cravings.

1100 words added to the novel. Must catch up. Got to catch up.

* Yes, that comparison is also useless to somebody unfamiliar with Hong Kong. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Please tell me your secret for regular writing. I have a couple of days when I am oozing inspiration from every pore (don't worry, I clean it up before anyone treads in it) and then weeks where I can't muster a single word that doesn't beging with ummmmmmmm... or errrrrrrrrr...

Mr Cushtie said...

Why, thank you - I'm not sure how I've managed to get through almost a year of daily blogging now, but I think the key has been resolving to write something, anything, every day, even if it wasn't very good (look at some of the desperation I had in groping for a subject in December of 2009, or indeed slightly earlier this week). Charles Stross and Richard Herring (the twin inspirations for this) both stress a lot that this is an occupation that you have to do, and keep doing, to get good at.
I was reading the afterword to Good Omens last week, and in there Neil Gaiman writes that Terry Pratchett *always* writes 400 words every day. Even if he finishes a novel at the 300 word count, he'll do the first 100 of his next. Similarly, some successful authors (Ludlum, I think) would just write 3,000 words every morning, as if that was just what you did.

Now the trouble with that is that you'll probably have days where you don't want to write, or you don't have anything to write, or (in my case) my girlfriend might get mad at me for writing when I should be concentrating on her. But if you accept that, and still push yourself to write something, anything, then over time, you'll get better at being able to just pump out that many words every day.

Which sounds rather soulless, but I think of it as being a bit like studying Japanese calligraphy. You keep writing the same kanji for fifty years, exactly the same way every time, until you're *really really* good at writing that kanji. Then you get to do something creative. If you're lucky, you can do something creative earlier, but then you might not.

So basically you're upping your chances: if you want to take a good photograph, you need to take 50, and you'll probably have one good one. You might get the good one on the first shot, but if every time you go for 50, you'll be more likely to get one good one, and then gradually over time you build that ratio up, until 2 out of every 50 are reliably good, then 3, then 4 ... Similarly, the more you write, the more utter bilge you may produce, but even if you're doing 10% brilliance and 90% bilge, that still means more brilliance.

(Not that I think what you write is bilge - everything you write fills me with envy that I can't put something as succint together as you do, yoked as I am to my bash-out-a-random-number-of-words-every-day harness. Particularly those little conversational snippets with old Italian ladies, that I find really affecting.) But it's all about doing lots, and then filtering out the good stuff.

And you don't have to stick everything up on the web, but if you do, it means you've got more incentive to write something every day, so people don't start asking you why you've stopped.

But I guess that all I've done there is describe my motivation for writing every day, not for where you get inspiration. That's much harder to describe, but I guess every day something happens to you (unless you were in bed all day, which is sort of an event in itself). So you always have something to capture. And if really nothing happened, you could always read the newspaper until you find an example of human stupidity to be offended by. The only thing I don't like reading (or writing) is somebody writing about the creative process, because that so often feels like just writing for the sake of it.

Er. I've gone on a bit there. And I'm tired enough that I keep typing the wrong homophone (had to correct fills to feels at least twice in the above) so I'll stop now. Does any of that help?

Mr Cushtie said...

I wrote a reply to this, but it broke Blogger's comment box. So I had to put it here instead: http://comments-zero.blogspot.com/p/why-i-write.html
Does that help?

Mr Cushtie said...

Hmm. And now I see that Blogger likes to muck about and hide comments so it looks like I'm repeating myself. Naughty Blogger! Silly Blogger!

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Cushtie!
Only just got back to your reply, having been up to my armpits in stupid Shamanism translation which seems to have broken my spirit as much as it has drained my powers of coherent thought.
Everything you say makes a lot of sense, and now I have a little more time free of power animals, dream masters and travel to the fifth dimension, I will endeavour to put your words of wisdom into practice.
Thank you also for saying nice things about my writing. I am deadly envious of your turn of phrase, and ample vocabulary. I think leaving England so young has left me with a pretty poor word pool in which to fish.
SV (and Pooch)

Mr Cushtie said...

Power animals and travel to the fifth dimension? Has your Shamanist made you translate into English a Pokemon rulebook that's already been translated from Japanese into French?

There's a useful story told by Diogenes involving grapes and pigs, but I don't think it's very useful at this juncture, and I should leave it to my friend Evil Hugh to retell it. Hmm. That wasn't very helpful, was it?

Perhaps that evens out my earlier comments back to my usual level of fecklessness.

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