A realisation:

I’m currently reading – and very near to finishing – David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. To say that I’m loving it is an epic understatement. I’m finding it strange, and wonderful, and gripping, and beguiling. Hilarious  in places, the literary scene leg pulling; laugh out loud hilarious. And delightful too, from a writerly, rather than readerly, perspective. When David Mitchell plays with language, he really plays; poetic writing that riots across the page, teasing  with rhythm, with balance, with alliteration, with semantic strings of meanings and oppositions. In my opinion – humble or otherwise – he is a writer’s writer: fearlessly, genre bendingly, inventive.

It’s not overstating the case to say, that whilst reading The Bone Clocks, I arrived at an epiphany. A moment of clarity, if you will. A reference is made, in the novel, to a piece of music I had not come across before. I’m not particularly au fait with Sibelius, but for some reason I had to stop reading to google The Swan of Tuonela. A rewarding hiatus in reading, for it gave me a thing of beauty, and an inspiration, a way back into the story I began in my aborted NaNoWrimo effort. And it gave me the realisation that all stories are maps. They show us the way – if we are receptive to seeing – the way into other stories, and the stories of others. They show us ways into ourselves, and the way through our own stories. They show us the path behind us, that brought us to here, to now. And they show us all the ways forward. This may already have been blindingly obvious to you. Intellectually, I knew it. But, listening to the music, I felt it. Epiphanic. And, ecstatic.

Advertisements

I did it again.

So. Last week I wrote a short story. A very short story. So short in fact, that it qualifies as flash fiction (spot the buzz words!), something I had never attempted before. I’ve always been an epic writer, but now I’m beginning to wonder… but I digress. I liked what I had written, but I wasn’t sure if it quite worked. A close and trusted friend (you know who you are, and thank you so much!) looked at it, and made a couple of suggestions. I took her advice, then immediately submitted it before I could change my mind. And it was accepted. And if you have an iPhone, you can go to Ether Books, and  – using their free app – download it (or any of the other stories available) to read at your leisure. There are some fabulous and fantastic writers who have been published by Ether, and I’m honoured (and alarmed!) to be allowed to be in their company. I just wish I had an iPhone…

Now to see if I can do it again…

(My story, if you’re so inclined to look for it, is called Wet, in the flash fiction category. If you do go looking, I hope you enjoy it. And thank you.)

If I could just have your attention for a moment…

Here’s a thing, a story, an actual story, that I wrote, called Becoming Panoramic, and it was the third story I’ve ever had accepted, and is now the first to be published by the wondrous The View From Here.  (I know that sentence is too long, but I’m too excited to care.)

Yes, I have been bouncing around the room. Loudly.

Baffling creativity.

The Muse – one’s Muse – is a strange beast. Flighty even. But I trust mine. Sometimes, it is true, it does let me down; who has not experienced the allure of a new idea, a new story that promises so much, yet once the writing of it is begun, it peters out, dissolves into nothingness, leaving the writer frustrated, peevish, and in my case, sleep deprived and a nightmare to live with? I know that some of you are nodding in agreement – I’ve read your Facebook posts ;  )

But when the Muse leads me straight and true, and the words flow and time bends – those are the good times. When the scribbled notes that last week appeared only as a random agglomeration of feelings and half-thoughts merge into a cohesive theme, expression, or even – dare I whisper it – a plot, those are the good times. This is why I trust my Muse, even when I am led to write things that I would not normally consider writing, never mind reading. There is no limit to creativity, only moulding, shaping, refining.

The writer writes, the reader reads. Once the chosen words are committed to the page, after all the processes of editing, redrafting, swearing, staring out of the window, finding wondrous new ways of procrastination etc, etc – in short, once the piece is actually finished, then the writer’s involvement in the reader’s experience is over; the old gap between – perceived – authorial intent and the reader’s expectations/experiences, begins here. The writer is not responsible for the reader. The beginnings of that chasm can be seen in the crit process. There will always be those in the crit circle who ‘get’ the writer, and there will be those who see something else on the page, something that the writer didn’t intend, didn’t envisage, or simply did not put there. I find this curious – baffling even, but I have to remind myself that I am not responsible for other peoples’ stylistic preferences, or prejudices. For instance, someone recently made what seemed to me to be a very curious assertion in relation to a short story draft. They suggested that it was wrong for one character to say of another that she looked like a mermaid, because they were nowhere near the sea. The more I think about it, the more baffled I become. Never mind the issues of voice, of what is in keeping for how the characters think, speak, act, never mind even the blurring of the line between realism and verisimilitude. Is it just me? Or is that simply… baffling? (And by the way, this is not to imply that I do not respect the opinion of the one who made this suggestion – I do. But I’m still baffled.)

Burgeoning

The holiday has been, and gone. The weather was wondrously hot, with an occasional spectacular thunderstorm (sometimes three at a time) to keep things loudly interesting – there was even a mighty hailstorm, that left the garden flooded with lumps of ice ranging from marble to golf-ball size. The wine was potent, the food delicious. I finished the books I took with me – although not The Iliad, I ended up not packing that – and enjoyed them immensely. And I made notes. Lots and lots of notes. I’m world building again. I’ve even drawn a map, which I will shortly be redrawing and expanding, on ever larger pieces of paper… the socio-economic structure has worked itself out, as have the social mores, some of the laws, and the traditions tied to the seasons. The music I will need when the time to write this story finally comes, is building its list in my head. Once my daughter goes back to school, I will begin. I’m quietly excited.

A foozling sort of few days

I have a dilemma. And it’s all my own fault. The story that I’m trying – and the emphasis is definitely on trying – to partly re-write/edit/not butcher, has a section that reads like a bad 80s pop video, circa 1983. Think Adam Ant, and lip gloss. This is the story that is on its 8th life. And it is the 80s section that needs most work.( Oh yes, and the ending.)  Now the thing is, I know how to fix it. It’s just actually fixing it. I know what needs to change, and where the changes need to go, more or less. It’s the writing of it that is driving me around the bend. I’ve spent all this month, and most of last month, thinking about this – it takes a few weeks for things to sift through in my head; the breakthrough only arrived properly last Wednesday night, if I recall. And I’ve grasped the edges of it, and have begun to draw the cloth of it towards me, reaching into the middle to change the pattern. So why isn’t it happening?! I’ve done the procrastination thing. I’ve done the housework – most of it anyway. I’ve baked, I’ve cooked, I’ve roasted. I’ve finished reading another two books. (The City And The City, Miéville, and We Are All Made Of Glue, Lewycka – both thoroughly enjoyable.) I’ve got to the point where even contemplating blogging has become a new prevarication. Hence the lack of a new entry up until now. I’ve tweaked things in the story, tightening phrases, cutting extraneous details that add little to the overall effect. But how do I go from 80s pop video to something sleeker, deadlier, darker? I can feel it. I can see it. I just can’t seem to bloody well DO it. Grrr.