Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Who's telling this story?

I often write in third person, and have really been helped by workshop friends to identify whose story it is. Starting as an omniscient narrator I get to be the profound author with an agenda. And then it has to be pared back, generally to be one person's view of the story, and of course removing my telling telling telling.

Listening to 'Queen of Denmark' really highlighted the POV issue and how different the same story, in this case the combination of voice, words and melody, can speak to the audience.

Whilst I do have an opinion on which one works (for me), I think it's more useful as an illustration.

And while I'm talking about John Grant's work, I'm working to his new album 'Pale Green Ghosts' today. I haven't posted a Time Out Track for a while, and this video is hard to beat. You could be laughing 65% more of the time. No wait 63%,  25%…you work it out, but watch out for  rabbits, birds in cages, basketballs in greenhouses, and taking a flame to your skin during a facial. And women who eat pickled peppers out of a jar outside a kebab shop.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Not quite Simon Hoggart's week (The Guardian)

If I run into someone today, or tomorrow, and they ask how my week's been, I'm going to have to warn them that they may not actually want me to respond. Because I won't be able to say, yeah not bad, or pretty good thanks. I won't even be able to stop at, you wouldn't believe how good my week's been. I'll have to give them this:

Booked 3 night trip to meet my 18 year old nephew (and godson) in Belgium. He's part of an organised tour of battlefields with a group of his peers from Adelaide. It's the longest consecutive time I'll have spent with him since 2009, and I will try not to hold his hand and hug him any more than I can sneak in without him or his friends noticing.

Went for a long lunchtime swim and came home to the best rejection letter I've ever had - Graham Connors (Number Eleven magazine) compared writing to a successful writer.
Watched the Swedish film, Play. It's 118 minutes of cinematography so beautiful you could cut and hang most shots as an exhibition. It's 118 minutes of creeping tension that reminded me of the 102 minutes of Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Don't remember dream details but they had an edge.

The text for this week's Reading To Write class was The Field Guide to Getting Lost, and the critique of my homework helped me to shape it into a story almost ready to submit.

Editing ideas meant I couldn't sleep properly.

Walked through Wandsworth Common to the Earlsfield Cemetery for Hauntings: Ghost Stories at The Chapel and sat on heated pews for candlelit readings by Tania Hershman, Alex Preston, Adam Marek and Stella Duffy.

Creativity, and maybe a post-event drink, meant I didn't sleep well.

Joined 24 other writers for the Start Small: Think Big masterclass - Alexa Radcliffe-Hart has posted a great write-up of the weekend here - and (not in anyway detracting from the other sessions), I was introduced to and mesmerised by David Vann. When he began I feared it was going to be far too academic for my brain to absorb, but very quickly he worked incredible intelligence, knowledge and passion into a talk I could have sat listening to for another few hours. Whoever it was that suggested he do a TED talk, here here. Came home and ordered Legend of a Suicide.

Couldn't stop thinking, wrote "important ideas" down during the night, didn't sleep much.

7am coffee in bed, 8am coffee in local cafe writing and watching Clapham wake up with blue sky. Joined the group at Birkbeck College for more incredible hours with inspiring talents, and thanks to Carrie Kania and Deborah Levy, came home in the dark with an ambitious but do-able plan for the focus of my writing to finish up 2013, the year I 'came out'.

Couldn't sleep, excited about the plan.

7am coffee with Evie Wyld. Well the last 70 pages of After The Fire, A Still Small Voice. Sat silent in my reading chair after finishing.

Wrote my list of targets for the week:
- 3 x short shorts to send to workshop partners for feedback
- 1 x short short to update following magazine editor's feedback
- 2 x longer short stories to do last couple of drafts and re-send to workshop partners for feedback
- Draft cover letter while I have the tips and notes from yesterday's session with Carrie Kania

Will I sleep? Don't really mind. Maybe I'll lie awake thinking about how lucky I am, thinking of how many people I've met and shared passion, laughs, coffee and beers with this week, and thanking the people who give their time to make all of these opportunities.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Black Dogs

- 12 Edmondstone Street - was divided into - Three Houses, Many Lives -. It was a - House of Earth - a - House of Exile - A House of Slamming Doors -.

- One Night In Winter - The Outsider - approached, holding - The Golden Notebook-.
It was not the first time she had arrived with - The Notebook -. After - Forty One False Starts - she was - Unbored - , knowing that - This Book Will Save Your Life - . Knowing that in this house there wasn't - Too Much Happiness - and wanting to be - The Help -.

For - One Glittering Moment - Magda - heard - The Goldfinch - and the - Yellow Birds - screaming, as they did at - Inconvenient People -, and it was - Total Chaos -.

- At Last - The Door - opened.
- My Name Is Red -.
- Hello Again - . I am - The Gift Of Stories -. I have - A Tale For The Time Being -.
- Here Comes Trouble - The Son - cried out. - Enter The Evil - he yelled, the - Catastrophe -, the - Night - and - Nausea - The Storm At The Door - .
- Talk Softly - The Girl In The Photograph - whispered. - Like A House on Fire -, here, - Things Fall Apart -.
I bring - Some Hope -.
- In A Strange Room - Mud - The Pattern In The Carpet - .
-Tell Me No Lies -. - Disgrace - has been our - Harvest - of - Plenty -. We need to - Rub Out The Words -.
I bring - The Invisible Writing - Written On The Body -.
- The Book Of Cloud -?
- Tales of Protection - for - Writing Down Your Soul -...
- Inconceivable - !
No, - Stranger -, - The Information - you need is simple:  - All Dogs Are Blue -.

*   *   *   *   *

Response to Sarah Selecky's daily prompt for 1st November - Written at Woolfson & Tay watching Sarah Butler in residence for the Live Writing Series.

Sarah's piece, also using book titles - You Have Been Warned

- not just a fabulous day (as usual), also thoroughly enjoyed my spicy chicken take away for dinner. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Time out track: Wolf's Law

This week I've caught up on a few new and not so new releases: Boy George's first album since 1995, Arcade Fire's Reflektor, the latest from Cut Copy and Mercury-award winner James Blake.

But the title track from The Joy Formidable's latest album is one I'll keep going back to.

This is one of the most dramatic and powerful alignments of image to lyric, melody and rhythm I've seen in a music video.

My walk with Autumn

Autumn and I decided to go for a walk together.

I said - Aren't we lucky, we don't have anywhere that we have to be.

Autumn was silent.

We walked for a long time and I remembered how Autumn can be a dramatic toddler sometimes. 

Autumn said - I can't stay here. With you. I'm sorry. 

Autumn left me last Thursday at 4.55pm. I felt the cold of the abandoned, but kept walking. We've been through this before but I'm not sure how many more goodbyes I have left in me. So I put my scarf on and walked underneath determined trees and kept pace with men with satchels and resolved that in fact it is for the best.

After a 5 hour walk I'd left Clapham for Arsenal. Autumn was fading. I felt that there was someone else just around the corner who may turn out to be more reliable.