July 10, 2008
While procrastinating between revisions today I happened on the obituary of Thomas M Disch:
I hadn’t heard of him before but the descriptions of his writing (doom-laden speculation + the brave little toaster) caught my interest and I read the plot summaries of his books on Wikipedia. The one I would most like to read 334 as it sounds deliciously distopic. I want to go to Waterstones after work and see if they have it, which could be amusing given what happened when I went to look for Zelda Fitzgerald. (well I thought it was funny. The assistant jumped in to assist but all he could tell me was that they didn’t stock it – Femme and I then wandered out complaining loudly about how much Thomas Hardy sucks and yet they carry his entire output. The part I liked was articulate, knowledgeable us acting like children.)
I was also distraught to discover that I in no way was original in the idea of a corpse brothel as Disch wrote about one in the seventies. Is there nothing left for me to create? I suppose it just means reading more and trying harder.
Looking up these books reminded me of other books I long to read. It’s a long list of longings and I’m afraid to formalise it until I’ve conquered a little more of my current backlog. I estimate that I’ve read about 30 books in the last year but have gained around 10, leaving my ‘to read’ pile still perilously high (maybe 100? After I filled the available stacking space I stopped digging them out). Some of the pile books I bought years ago and it has been joyful to finally get to them and eat their lovely brains.
I am slightly afraid to go to Waterstones as I could easily fill a wheelbarrow with things I want to read. Despite this virtually the only time I spend reading is while commuting and on my lunch break. I usually find my house is too bustly and noisy and that cross stitch is much more compatible with the social environment. Of course I wouldn’t want to sacrifice cross stitch either. I have started planning my next design in my head, again for a friend who I hope will like it.
I’ve started to read the story I was writing as a teenager. On one hand I am impressed how much I tried to cover, how varied the character perspectives were supposed to be, but at the same time I can see how limited my knowledge and skills were at that time. I can see the old adage ‘show don’t tell’ flashing out of every page and on one page I used the word ‘such’ about 20 times – surprising as the first half I remember was extensively revised. I haven’t finished reading it yet, it’s quite long. I feel it could have potential, depending on what direction it was going in (I can’t remember what happened in the last 10 pages at all). I had no sense of pace then but the manuscript is mostly dialogue and the characters had a certain degree of individuality. The names are terrible and my naive conceptions of how idyllic such a post-apocolytic society would be are adorable but would have to go. What I do see in this is a lump of clay that I can now sculpt. What I will sculpt it into has yet to be decided.
June 13, 2008
The thing I like about Zelda Fitzgerald is that she is totally jaded but, unlike her husband, she isn’t bitter. She’s like the decaffeinated version, and as a big advocate of decaff coffee that is in no way an insult. In Scott’s writing you can feel the niggling tension headache of withdrawal (from all kinds of substances I don’t doubt) the lack of appetite from dry nausea and an undercurrent of misanthropy that has yet to find a target worthy of trying to muster up some bile. Zelda, on the other hand, loves humanity; she loves the naivity of youth with all its melodrama and foibles and the jadedness of adulthood where there is no point in making a fuss about anything for what good would it do? You might as well make the best of the situation, and it’s not even such a bad situation when you remember you’re still young, insanely rich and a member of American high society. Where Scott saw the poiniency of the lifestyle Zelda laughed at how ridiculous it was – and I imagine that this irritated Scott but I love her for it.
May 30, 2008
There are many approaches to writing. Virginia Woolf took long walks and composed passages of text in her head. She must have had a fantastic memory, though she depended on quiet to get things done. Zelda Fitzgerld wrote her only novel in a sanatorium while recovering from a breakdown. Although the quiet and free time undoubtedly helped, writing about the disintegration of her marriage must have been cathartic and helped her recovery. I saw Phillip Pullman interviewed once and he aims to write 3 pages every day which I guess gives you a draft in about 3 months. The NaNoWriMo crowd work to a strict 50,000 words in 30 day deadline:
When I started this I thought all the styles were different but I am seeing a theme – whether busy or isolated or competitive all the writers are writing consistently with no gaps. There is no time off from writing. It could be an accident of the examples I have chosen but all of them write continuously. Perhaps this is what I need to do if I ever hope to carry an idea through to conclusion. If only I had discipline…
To be frank I am impressed I have lasted this long blogging. It’s a lot easier as I really just sit here talking to myself, but equally as no one reads it there is no obligation for me to keep writing. If I didn’t have the kind of job that gives me a certain amount of freedom I probably wouldn’t do it. I never blog from home but that’s because I don’t have my own computer and I don’t want to be discovered. If someone I know should find this by their own searching and figure out it’s me then good for them, they win a cookie, but I will not lead anyone here on purpose.
So why am I a fail writer? What happened to my capacity for discipline? Even when I have to write things for work I trick myself into doing it by flicking between the text and various websites, I can’t bring myself to read through the piece as a whole – not through any sense of angst, I just can’t get my eyes to focus on it. I think that multiplied by 100 that would be what ADD feels like. So why am I not interested in things I am writing for myself? I get excited about them when I first think of them but then I abandom them utterly like babies in skips.
If I did find the cause of my failings, the root flaw in my psyche (retch, emo-much) would knowing it mean I had control over it? Really shoddy comparison but: I know that if my partner flirts with someone it is meaningless, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to put lit matches into the other person’s clothes until they go away. Not doing that is a pretense of control: changing the action does not change the emotion. This is probably why I am so often surprised by my emotional responses to things; I am so busy not being silly that I don’t recognise an emotional response as justified.
Saying all this gumph about emotions though: I find it easiest to write/art (art is a verb) when in a low mood. It’s like the negativity can channel creativity. Which sucks because I enjoy being a good mood.
May 20, 2008
I plan this to be a departure from yesterday’s tragic emo-fest. In fact there has been a degree of emo-whinging in the last few posts generally. It’s time for the bitch to get back on top.
Last night I was still on my ‘being sensible’ based downer, particularly after falling up two different sets of stairs, begging the question: What the shit? I bathed the stress away and soothed my mind with the chibi delights of Final Fantasy. Ah, cliched girlie game with undertones of misogyny, how I love you. (NB: you can analyse the inherant flaws in something and still enjoy it.)
I also awarded myself a gift which arrived in the post yesterday: the complete works of Zelda Fitzgerald. The cover sleeve says she is to the jazz generation what Marilyn Monroe is to movie fans. The definition of Marilyn in my head says: tragic corpse, once possessor of the most emotive eyes on screen and epic tah-tahs. I bought the book so I could read Save me the Waltz after Tender is the Night (cue stupid Blur song coming in to my head again) and see how they compare. And also to feed my new-found fetish for literature of the Lost Generation (because there is no conceivable way that that doesn’t sound cool) despite my vow to not buy more books until the old books have been read. There are still about eighty books that need to be read. I may need to spend a month in solitary to make even a slight dent in the pile.
I have started collecting jokes with the idea of putting them into a sitcom. After all the encouragement in class to write radio plays, despite being the most unfamiliar with them I could possibly be, I have decided that my many years of TV consumption would make a visual format much more applicable to my experience. I don’t know how far I will go with this; like the vast majority of my pet projects it may never even see a first draft but it’s nice to have something to think of. Knowing the BBC reads unsolicited scripts also gives me hope.
Ah that dirty little word hope. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or whether you achieve anything from it as long as you have hope while you do it. You may have noticed the last time I was having hope was when cross stitching and discovering Etsy as a potential outlet for this little art of mine. I’ve not mentioned it since as I have had very little time to do any of late, though I have designed and started my second piece.