Fever.

I just finished a diary entry which basically amounts to how badly I wish I were a Coen Brother. I don’t really, of course, because I’d miss being in this girl body, with the mind I grew into, and I’d miss being an only child, being thirty, being , and and and.

Also, if I were to choose someone else to be, I couldn’t really choose. The whole point Continue reading

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Women Who Write the World

Yesterday, I left the house. This has happened before, so let’s refine the previous sentence: Yesterday, I left the house and went to Sheffield.

There was a purpose: the Women Who Write the World event, at Union St.

It was part of the Women in Translation month, an event organised by Tilted Axis press.

Present were Aoko Matsuda, there to discuss her recently published short ‘The Girl Who Is Getting Continue reading

Old Writing

I’m working on old writing, which, like old money, accumulates, only unlike old money the something it accumulates is not value but problems.
Every time I read over an old story, one I set aside on the advice of writing tutors and writing guides, I see more things that make it imperfect, its plot line faint or jumbled, its characters distant or lacking padding. Sometimes, it’s the voice that needs work, sometimes it’s the dialogue, or the underlying Continue reading

The Impossible Fairytale (Han Yujoo)

I’ve recently spent a lot of time inside a book with a pink and green and obnoxious cover. This isn’t the book’s fault. Nobody really chooses their skin.

The skin was given to the book, as a means of selling it to those passing it by (on shelves, on Instagram squares, on websites, in the hands of strangers on public transport). The way you put clothes on a model, saying, sell it, meaning, sell yourself wearing it. Regardless. I spent a lot of time in this book, maybe because it was slow-going, maybe because I am a slow reader. Maybe both. It’s a book that worships the ‘both’, the way one worships a gun. The violence (though not that of guns) is everywhere in this book: it starts Continue reading

Twenty-Six

The cat dances on the largest leaf of a potted plant. It is a small cat, tiny, hardly bigger than a bumble bee. The cat seems to levitate above the dusty surface of the leaf. The leaf is dusty because the house has not been cleaned in a while, and skin cells keep sloughing off its inhabitants. The inhabitants are watching TV with the sound off in a brightly lit living room. The sound is off so the inhabitants can have a conversations, but they’re all just silent, looking at the people flickering on screen. A man shoots another man through the back of the head. In the room, one of the inhabitants flinches and remembers where he is. He looks around, meets no-one’s eye, and extends a hand towards the table where a glass bowl is filled with nuts. His hand puckers into a kind of beak, like delicate water fowl, and collects a few nuts. The man sinks back into his chair and places the nuts in the palm of his other hand, above his lap in case he spills any. It is a mix: some walnuts, some hazelnuts, which he discards, and some cashews. The hazelnuts return to the bowl in pairs, and the rest are slowly placed into his mouth and chewed into a paste to which more nuts are later added. His teeth are grinding cement. Eventually, he swallows the paste and on screen a man surprises his wife, perhaps, in the shower. Their relationship isn’t clear because the subtitles aren’t reliable and never addressed their marital status. The inhabitants all assume that it doesn’t matter what the naked woman’s official title is, because all we know about her from the way the scene is shot is that she is young, pretty, and that she is played by an actress with an unfortunate contract. The houseplant glimmers in the TV light. The cat is so small the inhabitants cannot see it slide off the dusty leaf of the houseplant and into a watering can at the foot of the pot. Yes: the cat has fallen into the watering can and is seen no more. Presumably, it can swim; but only for so long. It cannot fly, yet there is only one way out of the watering can, and that is through flight. A few hours later, the cat is presumably dead but no-one checks on it because the inhabitants don’t know it’s there. One by one they stretch and yawn and leave the room until the last one, the man who ate the nuts, gets up, stretches for the benefit of no-one in particular, and turns off the last light in the room, the TV.

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[In other news, NaNoWriMo nears its end. Today is the second-to-last day, and I’ve amassed about 43000 words so far, which means I’ve got some serious work ahead of me if I want to reach the required 50ooo by Wednesday night.]

Twenty-Five

I’m not sure what possessed me, but I seem to have started NaNoWriMo this morning. There was only minor peer pressure, and there is peer pressure every year, yet this is the first time I’m going for it. I don’t have a clear idea of what I’m writing, and I’m not signing up officially either. So, really, it’s not NaNoWriMo so much as just Write-A-Fuckton-Of-Words-All-Month-And-See-What-Happens. I think I might just be desperate for a project, a project that involves writing new stuff without any pressure to publish or end up with anything in particular (other than a word count of 50.000). This will be good for me, I hope, after three months of doing nothing but editing my own writing.

So far, I’ve written 1300 words. It felt bizarre to flex those muscles again, to write spontaneously in a way that isn’t a diary (or blog) entry. To write fiction without any idea of what the story is or who the character might be. But as the morning progressed I got into it. It helped that I had a 1h break between writing sessions in which I walked in the cold air and took a couple of trains to meet up with friends for our weekly writing session in a café. The break and walk allowed me to think through what I’d written earlier in the morning, shortly after waking up, and see themes emerging already.

I think I might actually be excited about this. Let’s see how it progresses. But to have a project, a set of creative tasks, in November, especially a November as cold and grey as this one promises to be, has got to be a good way to keep any weather-related sadness at bay.