If you were to score my weekend on the number of words written, it would do very badly indeed. However, if you scored it on reading and art enjoyed, wine and ice cream consumed, and general good times, then it would do infinitely better.
In a weekend stuffed with pleasures both big and small, here’s my highlight: While looking at the Turner watercolours at the National Gallery in Edinburgh, I was chatting to my seven-year-old son, trying to get him to engage with the pictures. I was reading bits of information from the cards and saying startlingly dull things like ‘look, a square in Venice on a stormy day’ and ‘gosh, look at those mountain peaks’. He bore my involvement with good grace and obliged me with comments like ‘smudgy but nice’ and ‘yes, it’s a boat’. Counting the visit as a complete success, I turned to round up my husband and daughter and, when I turned back, he was staring at a painting with a swirling wave of cloud tumbling down from the sky. He said: “It’s like the cloud tripped over the mountain.” And, you know what? It was.
It’s Monday, but don’t be blue… The Flight of The Conchords are on hand to brighten your day!
*This was supposed to be a super-quick post, but it took me ages to choose a Conchords’ video, and I still feel bad for the other top contenders; ‘Sugarlumps’, ‘Foux da fa fa’ and ‘Boom’. Sigh. So, go on – which would you have chosen?
Reading Bill Bryson is like watching QI; it’s enjoyable and always leaves me feeling that little bit smarter than before.
In At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bryson tackles the subject of domesticity through the ages. He points out that history tends to focus on famous figures, politics, royalty and battles, while the vast majority of history is actually made up of everyday life.
He has the kind of enquiring mind that wonders why we live in private houses (and not, say, tents, or communal halls), why it took us so long to achieve even basic levels of comfort, and why we say ‘room and board’ when we mean ‘meals included’. *
What works for me, may not work for you. It doesn’t even work for me all of the time, but this is what I think I know about writing a novel:
Write every day (to keep the world and the characters fresh and alive).
Keep writing – no matter how badly – until you get to the end. Then you can rewrite. And edit. A lot.
As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not a planner. I make collages and soundtracks that ‘feel’ like my book and keep notes in a journal, but to find out what’s going to happen in the story and who the characters are, I need to write it. Which means I need to write straight through a craptastic first draft before I can think about making the story work.