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Stuart Lennon

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Merry Christmas

Merry-Christmas-pictures-free

Merry Christmas!

Now is the time for bloggers to write a self-indulgent post about the meaning of Christmas or about how the true meaning has been lost, buried in marketing.

I’ll try to avoid that.

My Christmas is already underway. I have just eaten an illicit prawn baguette – illicit in that the prawns are programmed to be part of this evening’s starter. Fear not, there are sufficient prawns to feed a medium sized army.

The overworked and underpaid Mrs L is at Marks and Spencer, doubtless attempting to prevent the good people of Andover killing each other over the last packet of pigs in blankets “wrapped in apple and chestnut smoked bacon.” I’ll pick her up at the end of the shift and we will swing by to see my Mum, who now lives close by.

Then the beautiful Margaret will start the mammoth task of keeping me fed, starting with a spectacular fish dinner tonight. Tomorrow, Mum will come over, sprouts will be eaten and the Queen will be listened to.

Christmas for us will be filled with great food, British and Italian, plenty of dog walks, laughter and fun. We may even risk a glass of wine or two.

Is that the true meaning of Christmas?

No idea. But I like it.

Whatever you are doing – have a great Christmas.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Editing

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That is the Danube flowing between Buda and Pest.

I have two first drafts. Catchily titled “Sean 1” and “Sean 2”. The first was completed in a burst of writing in October. The second is my NaNoWriMo novel; blitzed out entirely in November.

I suspect that they are both quite crap. I am reassured that this is almost invariably the case and that the real work comes, not in producing a first draft, but in editing and rewriting until that draft becomes a polished bit of writing.

I have had a couple of weeks off and Sean 1 was done and dusted a month and a half ago. I have some distance. I feel ready to think about some editing.

I have been taking a course in editing¬†with the fantastic Anne Rainbow. Well worth looking at her site for information on Scrivener (excellent software to write on) and Red Pen Training (Anne’s approach to editing).

The first question that I need to address is:

“Do I have two first drafts or, two halves of one first draft?”

I had intended to pose this question here in the blog, on twitter tonight at #writingchat, and by email to Anne. However, in looking out the photo above and writing this post, I arrived at the answer all on my own.

Buda and Pest were born as separate cities. As more and more bridges were built across the Danube, they became interdependent, until at last they came to be known as Budapest. So it is with Sean 1 and 2.

Right now, I have a big chunky first draft that needs some pruning.

Time to get to work.

Guns

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Gun control, a debate. There’s a subject that elicits sensible reasoned commentary from around the world.

As I have finished the first draft of my book, I am in the ‘cooling off’ period, where I leave the manuscript in a drawer until I can view it with some perspective.

So, from writing every day, whether I wanted to or not, I have gone to not writing at all.

I found this quite difficult, so I have started a journal and made a promise to myself to update the blog a little more.

It is with some trepidation that I enter into the arena of debating gun control. My first sentence is intended to be ironic. Rarely have I seen so much vitriol thrown about as I regularly see when there has been a mass shooting in the USA. Each side is passionately, irrevocably convinced that the moral high ground is theirs and that anyone holding the opposite view should be…well, shot.

Let me first nail my colours to the mast.

To my own very great surprise, I love the United States of America. Before visiting it, I adopted a peculiarly British position of regarding the USA as a bit of an errant child. A little too full of vim and vigour, but essentially too crass and stupid to do any real harm. Then I went there. Not everywhere, but Minnesota, Denver, Dallas, and California. I went mostly for business, but did manage to squeeze in a little golf too.

What a revelation! I found the people to be kind, generous and welcoming. I was intoxicated by the positive energy that seemed to course through the cities and towns. I loved it.

I own a gun. A shotgun. A Beretta Sportster, if you must know. I use it to shoot game birds and clay pigeons.

There. I love the USA and I have a gun. You are in the picture.

I am going to quote precisely zero statistics here. It is a curious thing, but both sides in the gun control debate have conclusively proved their case using statistics. Therefore, I can only conclude that statistics do not really move us forward.

Nor will I examine intensely the words and intentions of the Second amendment, as again, both sides conclusively prove their case using legal analysis.

In my opinion, it should be harder for people to get hold of guns. Whatever rationale is being used, I cannot reconcile in myself that any citizen has a legitimate need for a weapon that can bring down a passing aircraft or helicopter. Nor do I see that an assault rifle has a legitimate place under the Christmas tree.

I do not argue whether on has a right to these things, I simply believe that there is no need for them in the hands of an ordinary citizen.

“Ban all guns” is, I believe unnecessary, unrealistic and bound to fail. Many people are too attached to them. Regardless of any statistics, some people believe that they are safer armed than they are unarmed. People do hunt. People do shoot recreationally. I am an advocate of a system that licenses gun ownership. I acknowledge that criminals or deranged people are unlikely to apply for a licence, but at least some of them might not have such easy access to weapons – perhaps one life might be saved. Who knows? Maybe lots of lives will be saved.

Securing all guns is another area where I think that there is room for agreement. I believe that responsible gun owners do not leave their weapon loaded next to their child’s toy box. Tragically, there are incidents where a child has picked up a gun and blown its sibling’s head off. Some rules around this probably wouldn’t hurt.

The aim of gun control should not be to infringe on anyone’s rights, nor should it intended to make people feel less safe and secure – precisely the opposite in fact. It should be a national initiative, the idea of different rules in different states is quite obviously utter nonsense.

The United States of America is full of some very smart people, I am confident that those people will work it out.