Catching up.

May has been a challenging month. I’ve spent most of it enduring chronic back pain, which has involved a great deal of bad language, hobbling around with a stick, and more bad language. It has meant that I have been unable to spend very long at my desk, as sitting for too long resulted in being unable to stand easily. I’ve gone through anti-inflammatories, strong painkillers and a can of Deep Heat. Nice! But I’m much better now, and much happier for being able to move freely and easily. (And happier still for no longer smelling of Deep Heat…)

So while writing has been problematic, I’ve had more time to catch up with reading, generally while propped up against the wall, or the fridge. In no particular order then; A.S. Byatt’s The Matisse Stories, Françoise Sagan’s The Unmade Bed, Muriel Barbery’s The Gourmet, and this afternoon I whizzed through Andrew Losowsky’s The Doorbells of Florence. However, it’s been a long hot day and I have no desire currently to review them. I will say that if you love Françoise Sagan, you will love The Unmade Bed, and The Doorbells of Florence is just delightful.

Also delightful is the wisteria tangling over the front of the house, the aquilegia in pinks and purples in their medieval panoply, and the clematis that I’d forgotten about clambering over the water butt tucked in the corner of the back garden. I love summer, the impossible blue skies, the constant stream of birdsong. I’m not so keen on the heat – it makes me either stupid, cross or both. Oh dear! I can’t spend long in the sun, even with factor 50, as my pale skin frizzles. This year I have resorted to the stuff in a bottle in order to have a skin-coloured skin-tone. So far the effect is not orange…

In other news, since my back stopped trying to beat me up,  I have – at last! – rewritten La Nouvelle Cendrillon. Hooray and other jubilatory noises. It just needs the final polish, and then it goes back to the editor who requested it. One thing intrigues me though – what is in a name. When first I began to draft this story – October 2008 – with the idea of subverting a few fairy-tales with a sci-fi twist, it seemed a logically good idea that the heroine should be named Bella. Since then of course, Christine Meyer has been bent on taking over the world. So is it entirely co-incidental then that the only real editorial interest came after I changed Bella’s name? Or is that doing both my writing and the editor a disservice? And why does the word disservice look wrong? I think that I’d better stop now, or I’ll be going round and round and making myself dizzy. Time to close everything down and go to bed, so I can look forward to leaping out of bed in the morning, something I will never take for granted again.


Beginnings and Endings

Things have been a little slow here lately, largely owing to the ongoing battle with my own head. A combination of stress and poor sleep has culminated in a rather ugly migraine, which is still doing its best to linger. I am winning however, and damn me if I don’t prevail!

Before my head started doing its best to beat me up, I managed to finish my little unexpected foray into the genre of Horror. It still needs a proper title, and a major editorial overhaul at a later stage, but it was jolly good fun to write. I’ve shown it to a couple of people – and even though horror isn’t their thing, either – they loved it. This one might have legs…

I will be reworking the story that is currently on its 8th life, as soon as the new printer cartridge arrives. This one needs editing on the page in order to be effectively rewritten. And of course, the play-list will need reviving too; I’ll be listening to a lot of Muse, later this week; I need to, to get the right feeling for the Main Character. She’s a whole year old, born of listening to Muse after seeing The Watchmen at the cinema, last February. And recently I changed her name, just a little. The prospect of revisiting her, and her first story, makes me rather happy.

What else? I finally finished reading The Pregnant Widow. I have to say that I quite liked it. Bits of it – chunks of it – I found quite puerile. But then to take the meaning literally, perhaps that is Amis’ intent? Of course, I have not the experience of having been a confused young man trying to get laid – and more – during the sexual revolution; given that this is sold as an autobiographical novel, then I pity the poor sod. I seriously doubt that to have been his intent however. And the rest of it? Once into the swing of it, I rather enjoyed the reading of it. Interesting, thought provoking, even at times, arresting. I can’t say that I’m inclined to rush out and read his back-list though; too many books, too little time! So what will it be next? China Miéville’s The City and The City? Or Marina Lewycka’s We Are All Made of Glue? Or perhaps a change of pace, another foray into historical biography? Decisions…

Another thing which makes me inordinately happy is that the apple tree is about to firework into blossom – gloriously heady scented white blossom, and then the aquilegias will be out, and the wisteria will acquire fatly swelling buds, and then it all rushes together, this lovely season we call Spring.