Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Extra holiday, a monster of a book and poetry success

An extra day off today, hurrah! No particular reason, except that I never use my full quota of holiday during the year so I always end up having to use it before I lose it. I'm allowed to take 5 days over into the next holiday year (which starts in April), so I still have two more of these to go before March is over. Not that I'm complaining - extra short working weeks are always welcome, naturally.

Here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 59

You hold your grief
in silence,

letting only the dying fire

Sometimes words
say nothing,

cannot match
the heart.

Imprison the truth
in your mouth’s bitterness

and taste it
to the full.

For most of the day, I've been struggling with Hallsfoot's Battle. Lordy but it's been a huge effort, I can tell you. Each ruddy word dragged out with the aid of only a rather raggedy rope and a lot of grunting. Hmm, not much change there then. Why is writing sometimes so bloody hard??? My dears, it's quite exhausting. Anyway, I've managed to drag myself, kicking and screaming, to 83,000 words, and I've got to the end of a scene. Thank the Lord. I think tomorrow I'll return to see what Ralph is doing. At least I might possibly have some ideas for him. But let's not count on it yet, eh ...

Mind you, my own particular writing battle has driven me to fit in a totally delicious late afternoon nap, so at least that's one good thing. And it's meant that the slow grumbling headache that's been nagging at me all day has faded away, so that's a relief for sure.

Talking of monsters of books (which we were, sort of), I've just finished Christopher Rush's mammoth tome, Will. That's been something of a struggle too, even though it's a fascinating book. Which doesn't quite succeed, in my opinion. Still, it's a brave effort and Rush certainly needs points for courage. It's supposed to be about Shakespeare's retelling of his life story on his deathbed to his lawyer. A wonderful premise for sure, and the writing is very poetic on occasion. But maybe that premise is where the trouble starts. First off, there's no real plot, as such. It's simply one man telling another about his life, and you're never allowed to forget that fact. This means that the action and emotion is unfortunately very distanced from the reader and you're told everything rather than being directly shown it through the text. It would have been much better if you'd had a prologue setting up the scene and an epilogue drawing it back again, with the rest of the book being allowed to sing unaccompanied. In a strange way also, it's slightly easier to read if you try to forget it's supposed to be a novel at all, and take it as a long - very long! - prose poem. Slightly easier anyway. It would definitely be interesting to see what Rush's poetry is like. I must also admit that the man Shakespeare as portrayed here rapidly became very wearisome and my sympathies were for those poor unfortunates he rubbed up against, such as Anne Hathaway and the long-suffering lawyer (just let the poor man eat his pie without carping on about it, for goodness sake!). So, as I imagine the real Shakespeare must have been quite fascinating, I suppose in making me dislike him so, Rush must at least be performing some kind of literary miracle. In a negative way. That said, the historical details are very vibrant and obviously well researched. Perhaps it would be better rewritten as a non-fiction study of the age? And it certainly needs an editor who's not afraid to cut - it outstays its welcome hugely in terms of length. So, a brave attempt at something different by an author who can obviously write (but needs much much tighter control), but in the end a magnificent failure, I fear.

On a far more minimalist front, I'm pleased to say that Faith Hope and Fiction webzine has been kind enough to accept three of my meditation poems for publication in March. Hurrah! And the lovely Tricia (thanks, Tricia!) must surely get a special prize for sending me the acceptance email only a few minutes after I submitted the work. I've never had such a speedy response! The good news (bearing in mind today's book review) is all together the three poems only come to 113 words, so nobody can accuse me of wordiness ...

Tonight, there's not much on TV so it looks like the sudoku pile calls to Lord H and myself. And ah I see he's left the tough killer one blank. Dammit. Cover your ears, people - there will probably be screaming ...

Today's nice things:

1. Holiday
2. Poetry
3. Getting to the end of a difficult writing session
4. Napping
5. Doing battle with an interpretation of Shakespeare (strangely ...)
6. More poetry success.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - having monster-like tendencies itself


Jenn said...

I've had a writing day like that too. Perhaps I need to make a list of nice things.

Anne Brooke said...

Glad it's not just me, Jenn! The nice things do help!...



Anonymous said...

Hi Anne, just doing a bit web travelling and Your blog is my first stop. My writing day has consisted of blogging and finishing a short story. Congratulations on your poetry success! Wish me luck, I have two articles out on submission and I'm hoping they get back to me before I turn 99.

Your blog is interesting and I've bookmarked it.

Anne Brooke said...

Hi, Val - lovely to see you here! And huge well done on getting a short story finished - always very satisfying.

And good luck with those articles!



litlove said...

It's always reassuring to find other people struggle getting the sentences out. So much of my life has passed groaning over a keyboard. Really one sometimes wonders..... but you are doing splendidly with your word count!

Anne Brooke said...

Groaning over a keyboard - someone should write a short story with that title! And I suspect most of that glorious word count will be changed beyond recognition in the eventual edit, LL ...