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]
Excellent documentary about US photographer William Eggleston on BBC1’s Imagine, last night (14 July). When he first started taking photographs he was discouraged by his surroundings which he described to a friend as ‘shit’. ‘Then take photographs of the shit,’ his friend responded …
I like that – location isn’t important, beauty isn’t important – it’s what you observe, what you hear, it’s in the details you include – and in what you leave out, it’s there in the banal and the everyday. Whether you’re writing or taking photographs, the art is in being able to see through the shit, and shape what you see into something new and meaningful.
I like reading about and looking at other writers rooms – here’s mine. Everything’s within arm’s reach: laptop, notebook, pens, pad of plain paper, reference books – last year’s wall planner and chairs with cushions. The one by the wall is for the cat BTW. Ideal? Well it would be if it wasn’t in the kitchen (ah but it is warm and close to the kettle!). Where do you write?
NANO Excerpt II
Outside the hoar frost ran the length of the washing line. Birds flitted from branch to branch and from fat ball to seeds to peanuts before flying across the garden and into the conifer tree. The weather forecast said it would be clear today and sunny but the freezing fog which had appeared last night hung about the garden mingling with the chimney smoke which drifted across the lawn. Orla unplugged the landline. She didn’t want to answer any calls apart from those that came through on her mobile. Anyone she wanted to talk to knew the number, it was only the outside world she was shutting out. It felt good.
© Diane Becker 2008
Lots of coffee this morning to celebrate 61,035 words written over the last twenty four days. Now to begin the slower process of shaping it into something resembling a novel. The story only deigned to emerge in the last 5,000 words but at least now I know what I was writing about!
Up early … again (masochists never have a lie-in). So early that the hens haven’t got round to laying. Bring one egg home – instead of six. Fingers recovered from Writathon (Saturday) but mentally knackered. Managed 13 stories over 10 hours, but only 2000 words, the equivalent of walking a marathon. Broken three resolutions to myself (so far) today. The first – never even think about trying to write a novel; the second – never commit myself to something I might not realistically be able to achieve and the third? Promised myself I would never write about writing on this blog.
Oh well. Convinced myself I could write 2000 words a day for 30 days, then signed up to Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Persuaded (already over-committed) friend to do the same. Impetus to continue creative writing course I’ve signed up for immediately wanes. Spend afternoon googling prospective titles then dumping them. Add favourite authors to my ‘author’ profile: choose Haruki Murakami, Cesare Pavese, Heinrich Boll and Raymond Carver. Of course there are others but there’s not enough space to put them all.
Decide to ask children for advice. Flatter them that they are wise beyond their years (eldest says, ‘I really don’t think I’m very wise’). Could they advise their impetuous mother if she is really doing the right thing. Send them a bunch of titles to look at. Youngest says tonight he is going to a party followed by a ‘mighty boosh’. I ask what that is, and is Noel Fielding going? Emphasise I am only joking, but remain in the dark as to what he’s actually up to. Obviously he won’t be around to judge my titles. Eldest says he is ‘bound for Berlin’. As I thought he wasn’t going until Wednesday, ask if he is packed and ready to go. ‘No’, he says, ‘I must go and sort that out …’ Decide that I really am old enough to take responsibility for my own decisions; so I add a few ‘writing buddies’ to my profile, and get down to plotting my first novel. Well, at least I start thinking about it.