Well, after waxing lyrical about my 1B5, I'm ashamed to say that I have started an affair. With something sexier and more expensive. A birthday gift from my husband: a three pack of Moleskine journals/cahiers. They are matt black, with lines; the last 16 pages are detachable and they have a little pocket in the back to slip loose notes and whatever else takes my fancy.
Of course, once I have used all three of them I will no doubt be back to my dependable, affordable red books, but for now, my day just got a little bit more exciting.
You have probably noticed that my entries of late have been shorter and more inane. I'm just going through a bit of a dry patch. I'll be back to all my navel-gazing and musing and pondering (three words for the same activity?) very soon. Promise.
Monday, July 14, 2008
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you think so? I think you have been seduced !
happy birthday by the way ( I have you in my head as a cancerian?)
Do you work on other writing while you are writing your novels, or are you totally focussed?
I heard a Laurie Anderson interview recently where she talked about how she thought all artists/creative people ought to be "polyartists" (her word) because that way, they wouldn't get blocked, they would just go pick up another project for a while. She said: "Sometimes if an albumn isn't going well, I find it comforting to know I can go home and do some potato prints." The idea of Laurie Anderson doing potato prints delights me for some reason...
...but what I'm getting at is, maybe you could write something else for a bit and take a break from the novel? Write a short story, or some poems, or a creative non-fiction piece....
Hi Helen -
When I first took up this writers' residency in March and things weren't going so well I wrote a short story because one came to me and I found it quite satiisfying. But now that I'm so far into the novel I am absolutley focused on it. I have a number of teaching commitments coming up, so if things get bad I can go and plan for those, but once I'm into a novel I hate being taken away from it, even if I'm feeling a bit blocked about the whole thing. I would rather go for a walk or to the gym or the museum (or more likely, surf the internet looking for the answers to all my problems!). I don't know how other work but novels have to be all or nothing for me. I am a bit scared of even prepping for a panel I'm doing in September - that it will take me away.
I think if writing was just a hobby for me I might feel differently, but for me it would be like getting bored at my job and so going and doing another job for a while. I'd be disrespecting my boss (in this case, me, or perhaps my novel. Yeah, my novel is my boss, definitely).
I hope that makes sense! Things aren't going badly enough to stop, they are just going a bit more slowly than I would like, but I am working my way through it methodically, just writing scenes and scraps and seeing where they lead me.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHAEL! I'm so excited you have a July birthday too. And I don't think you'll come back from those moleskines. They are seductive as Gondal-Girl says. It's something about the quality of the paper, the way they open, the weight of them, the name 'cahier', the plain covers, the relationship with Hemingway ....
Although I prefer the ones with blank pages and cardboard covers.
It's interesting that your experience of writing novels is this way - like it becomes an all consuming 'job'. I can certainly see that there is a single-mindedness and doggedness that novel-writing requires!
I think writing poetry is quite different to that, in that poets need a constant stream of 'incidental' material, and the best way to glean that is to be doing a lot of different things... do you know what I mean? Which isn't to say that I don't crave and long for some focussed, extended time to work on my writing, but just that the poet always needs to have one eye on the world, in a way that novelists don't perhaps (because they are creating a world from within.)
Interesting stuff to think about, anyway, I always love talking writing!
The Moleskines have claimed me among their many conquests. Just when you think you might dally away from them, they lure you back with classy postcards, or sticker seals.
Thanks Gondal-girl and Mary for birthday wishes.
Helen - I think you are right about poetry. I can't imagine writing poetry all the time. I can imagine doing lots of other things, and having my brain tick away and be inspired by the things I'm doing. A novel really does need a whopping amount of focus. there are so many threads, things to juggle. That said I also think you need to live a little before you start writing novels, before you take yourself out of the world to write about it.
I think the poet and novelist have a lot in common - I often use poetry as an elixir when writing, helps me plug into the source of condensed images and words a bit - I try and keep one eye on the world and one on the book, as i try to weave the two together into some semblance of an imagined world.
Though after saying that, poetry is a spurt and a novel a long river -
Rachael - yes, I agree about living a little before novel writing, however there is something to be said for the lessons learned from those first attempts, mine is a pastiche and lives in a drawer, and may be unsalvagable, but has taught me a lot over the years, particularly how i don't want to write!
I want one of those!
Gondal girl - yes of course you should still be writing through all those years. Otherwise you'll have lots to say but not have the practised skills to say it! I am making a huge generalisation.
I was thinking some more about what Helen was saying about taking a break from writing the novel when it's not going well to work on other things, but there are so many aspects of the novel that you can do other things and still be working on it: researching, planning, editing, even reading inspiring novels. It keeps things from becoming too monotonous anyway!
oops, I agree with what was being said - no worries there. Have just posted about music and the novel writing process on my blog, would be grateful if you could add any of your own thoughts....
hope you are having a great writing day - I am on fire - perhaps it is because there is a full moon tomorrow or something ( or the three coffees I have had!!) must dash, starving for my lunch at 2pm!
Also, finished the Erica Jong book on Henry Miller - would you like it? if so, i can post to you
great i'll take a look when I get a mo - as for the book, very kind offer, but I have WAY too much to read right now!
Interesting discussion on the application needed for poetry vs. novel-writing.
One poet friend of mine talks about 'inhabiting' a poem and hates it when too many distractions take her out of that mode. Another poet I know spends two to three weeks on every poem before calling it 'finished'. Considering the size of the average poem that's a lot of time spent...
On the other hand, a novel is a huge - at times overwhelming -commitment and a lot of slog verging on drudgery at times. In my experience poetry isn't that.
I could be completely wrong, but I imagine a lot more sweat goes into a novel. 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration and all that. What's the ratio for poetry? Anyone?
From my own poetry writing experience it is prob 60% inspiration and 40% work, have to milk those flights of fancy ( but ask me tomorrow and no doubt I would have changed my mind) maybe the first burst has that percentage, but the editing the same 1% / 99%
I too am a Moleskine addict, having been given one after years of resisting them. There's just something so yummy about them...
I agree about swapping arts when you're stuck. My best refuelling is done in art galleries, or taking photographs, but I suspect messy painty things or shamelessly singy things, being more physical, would be even better.
Moleskines! I love them! Apart from being useful, they make me feel very intellectual and Bohemian. Especially when I'm wearing a beret.
(Sorry for comment deluge, am reading through your blog)
That's spooky - have you been spying on me? I just got back from the cafe where I was writing in my moleskine whilst wearing a beret. True story!
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