Days pass like shadows – especially when it’s dark, winter or foggy. It’s been almost a year since I last posted anything here.
For a while I’d contemplated giving up this blog. The majority of people seem happy to share personal information online, but as an introvert, I’ve always felt uncomfortable about it. I go through phases. When there’s a lot going on in my life, I embrace periods of radio silence when – and I’m sorry – I can’t reply to emails, even to close friends, until that phase has passed. I call it self-preservation, others call it annoying, but it’s what I do.
2015 was the year I found myself knitting 17 cats, one for each year our cat Polly had been alive (she died at the beginning of last year). They’re still around, living in a small wicker basket (currently under the TV table) as is the wooden box containing Polly’s ashes which we can’t bring ourselves to scatter until we find somewhere that feels right.
2016 is, so far, all about printmaking. A focus on images, narrative structure (something I picked up from last year’s knitting marathon) and the printmaking process.
More about words and images, the tactile qualities of ink, paper, linoleum and sh*t hot carving tools in future posts!
A song for Jeff. Wasn’t going to post this – we said our goodbyes many years ago – but he is someone I remember being full of life, and I was sad to hear he’d gone.
where is my hot chocolate no thank you mummy’s hand here George take the teabag out bring a spoon please John you’ll have to put it there here fine so it would be hello folks hello darling how are you you’re going to knock it off try and lick it from the top mind your tee-shirt hahahaha every year you dig it out oh yes charity what’s charity for …
The past couple of years I’ve been posting #throughthewindow images to Instagram. Most were taken where I live – up on the hill in the spring, summer and autumn, and from a first floor apartment window in a town nearby during the winter. None of the views are in any way remarkable, but I take a lot of photographs and it became a habit of sorts. Like just now, sat by the window and distracted by the sky, my eyes glued to the hillside opposite, I grab my camera and take this.
This is not my usual view. This is what it’s been like for the last couple of years (previous through the window photos]. The main components? An unremarkable hedge and expanse of sky, uncomplicated by distant hills, trees and fields.
Personally I like the new view but – from a photographic point of view – no. The old view is properly unremarkable. Leylandi have few aesthetic qualities. My interest has been in the sky, the balance of light and dark, the angle of sunlight or rain.
Now the hedge has been cut and is 8 feet lower and the new view is not quite properly unremarkable so this will probably be the last photograph I take from here, unless the hedge grows.
Spent spring and summer on the hill and many hot afternoons in the ‘van catching up with friends and family. Also caught Lorrie Moore and Joshua Ferris reading at the Hay Festival which was brilliant!
This time here (our third summer) I’ve read a LOT: Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams; Richard Ford, Canada; Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud; Paul Theroux on The Old Patagonian Express; Bruce Chatwin On The Black Hill; Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways; Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories; Kyle Minor, In The Devil’s Territory; Don DeLillo – Americana; Anthony Doerr, The Shell Collector.
Currently reading (bad habit but yes, I do read several simultaneously): Lee Rourke’s Vulgar Things (captivating read in caravan!); Sarah Hilary’s debut crime novel Someone Else’s Skin (and my first crime novel); Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist; Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki; Joshua Ferris’s Man Booker shortlisted novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; Kelly Link’s collection Pretty Monsters – and after I’ve been to the library tomorrow, the J. Robert Lennon collection, Pieces of the Left Hand.
Writing? Had a year of writing/drafting only – no editing no rewriting no submissions – to work out (again) what sort of a writer I am. It was scary to step back and not submit, and there were times when I nearly waded back in, but the year I spent working this out, will I hope, be worth it.
[Photo: Golesworthy’s window. 2014. Diane Becker]
Most days I cross the border from Wales to England, on foot, either to pick up the car or do some shopping at the local supermarket. I’ve taken these photos over the last few months. Some were taken in the afternoon on my way back home across the border, others – rare ones that show the sun shining directly into the lens – were taken in the morning. These remind me that I’m facing east.
Pretty much a fictional version of my New Year’s Eve (above), one in which I didn’t stay in, play Scrabble – or win. Two very different novels to start the year too: Travis Jeppesen’s The Suiciders to take me out of my literary comfort zone and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (recommended here), a huge cake of a book I’m going to indulge in over January.
Here’s the list of books I read in 2013. Particularly enjoyed the Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr and George Saunders’ short story collections but they were all worth reading.
Canada, Richard Ford.
Wildlife, Richard Ford.
The Secret History, Donna Tartt.
The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower.
The Paris Review: Interviews Vol 3, ed Philip Gourevitch.
The Brief & Frightening Reign of Phil, George Saunders.
The Women, TC Boyle.
Budding Prospects, TC Boyle.
Goodnight Nobody, Ethel Rohan.
Pastoralia, George Saunders.
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett.
This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz.
Drown, Junot Diaz.
The Tortilla Curtain, TC Boyle.
The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane.
Wildwood, Roger Deakin.
Tenth of December, George Saunders.
Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr.
Holloway, Robert MacFarlane.
May We Be Forgiven, AM Homes.
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, Roger Deakin.
The Colour of Memory, Geoff Dyer.
The Lighthouse, Alison Moore.