Battening Down the Hatches…

A week of full house and survival mode: my parents coming to visit, yet another day off school for the children, lots of admin to do, birthday celebrations to organise and celebrate (no less than three in 2 weeks).

Gopnik, from mhpbooks.com
Gopnik, from mhpbooks.com

So don’t expect any coherent blog posts from me this week. Instead, here are some who can speak much prettier than me:

Children always reinterpret their parents’ sense of obligation as compulsion. It’s not They did it for me but They did it because they wanted to. She wanted to bake that bread; you told those bedtime stories every night, really, for yourself. There’d be no surviving without that move, the debt guilt would be too great to shoulder. In order to supply the unique amount of care that children demand, we have to enter into a contract in amnesia where neither side is entirely honest about the costs. If we ever totted up the debt, we would be unable to bear it. (Adam Gopnik)

Audrey Ferber, from litquake.org
Audrey Ferber, from litquake.org

When we met, you told me The Story of Your Life. I told you about My Writer’s Beginnings, about Why I Write, and How Literature Saved My Life. You said you supported Women Writers at Work and Writing a Woman’s Life. We discussed Aspects of the Novel. Had I finally found the partner who fit into my Narrative Design? Or would you be just another man who Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? (Audrey Ferber punning with book titles)

From Poetryfoundation.org
From Poetryfoundation.org

It’s pleasant and rewarding to tell our acquaintances that the bardic spirit seized us on Friday at 2:45 p.m. and began whispering mysterious secrets in our ear with such ardor that we scarcely had time to take them down. But at home, behind closed doors, they assiduously corrected, crossed out, and revised those otherworldly utterances. Spirits are fine and dandy, but even poetry has its prosaic side. Let’s take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we? (Wislawa Szymborska)

Ann Patchett, Dukechronicle.com
Ann Patchett, Dukechronicle.com

One more thing to think about when putting a novel together: make it hard. Set your sights on something that you aren’t quite capable of doing, whether artistically, emotionally or intellectually. You can also go for broke and take on all three. I raise the bar with every book I write, making sure I’m doing something that is uncomfortably beyond what I can manage. It’s the only way I know to improve over time… (Ann Patchett)

“People are constantly asking me, how do you do it all? And I usually just smile and say like, “I’m really organized.” Or if I’m feeling slightly kindly, I say, “I have a lot of help.”

And those things are true. But they also are not true . . .

How do you do it all? The answer is this: I don’t. Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another . . . That is the  tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil . . . You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.

Something is always missing. (Shonda Rhimes)

Producer and writer Shonda Rhimes, creator of the  "Grey's Anatomy" television series arrives at 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, California February 14, 2008.     REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
Producer and writer Shonda Rhimes, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Words Not My Own

I’m struggling a little to find my words right now.  6 months of corporate speak, constant travelling and consummate professionalism have taken their toll.  Writing and I have never been further apart – or so it seems.

But the good news is that the holidays have started now.  I’m taking all of July and August off.  July will be dedicated to the family, but August is mine, to read, review, blog, read your blogs and … finally nail that novel.  If only the words start flowing again.

Here are some quotes from women poets and writers which currently guide and inspire me:

The joy of writing.

The power of preserving.

Revenge of a mortal hand.  (Wisława Szymborska)

I’m not mad. It just seems that way
because I stagger and get a bit irritable.
There are wonderful holes in my brain
through which ideas from outside can travel
at top speed and through which voices,
sometimes whole people, speak to me
about the universe.  (Jo Shapcott)

For it would seem …  that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. (Virginia Woolf)

Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.  (Adrienne Rich)

 

Pick of the Month – November Reading

It may not look like it, but November has been another slow month for reading. By November 18th or so, I had only read two books – and both of them had been started in October. But then matters improved.  It occured to me that I have been all over the world this month.   Here are the books I read: with some brief thoughts and/or links to reviews.  The first three have been reviewed (or are about to be reviewed) by me on Crime Fiction Lover.

Bogdan Hrib: Kill the General – a Romanian conspiracy thriller

Sergios Gakas: Ashes – set in Athens just before the Olympic Games 2004

Alan Glynn: Bloodland – set partly in Congo, Ireland and US

Mari Hannah: The Murder Wall – set in party capital of the UK, Newcastle – the first in what promises to be a gripping police procedural series

Lemony Snicket: The Austere Academy – set in the world’s grimmest boarding-school

W. Szymborska: View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems – set in Poland and the world; deceptively simple, yet always profound and troubling

Henning Mankell: The Shadow Girls –  set in Sweden and illegal immigrant camps; not a crime novel, an odd combination of tongue-in-cheek description of a writer’s life, and a much more serious description of immigrant life in Sweden

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl – set in Missouri.

Finally I got to read Gillian Flynn’s much praised book and (unlike last month) I felt the hype was justified.  I will write more about it in a later post, but this was most assuredly my Crime Fiction Pick of the Month (see lovely Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise about this meme). Not sure about the ending, rather nasty characters, but so cleverly written – I stayed up all night to finish it.